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HPC2 Administrator, GRI, NGI, and CAVS Researchers Earn Recognition for Exceptional Research and Leadership Honors

April 3, 2019

Left: Brandy Akers, Director of HPC2 Business Operations; Upper Right: Haibo Yao, Geosystems Research Institute and Northern Gulf Institute Associate Research Professor; Lower Right: Raj Prabhu, Associate Director for Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems
Photos by Megan Bean and Beth Newman Wynn
More than 50 Mississippi State students, faculty and staff are 2019 selections for exceptional research and leadership honors.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum welcomed honorees, their guests and senior administrators to a celebration of the university’s research achievements during a campus awards luncheon last Friday [March 29] in the Hunter Henry Center’s Hal and Linda Parker Ballroom.

During his keynote address, Keenum applauded their work and significant impact in the state, the nation and globally. Classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1-Very High Research Activity institution, he noted that Mississippi State is the leading research university in the state and ranked among the nation’s top 100 institutions by the National Science Foundation. He also cited the university’s top 10 ranking in agricultural and natural resources research and development expenditures—a position it has held for the better part of two decades.

Steve Demarais, a Dale Arner Distinguished Professor and the Taylor Chair in Applied Big Game Research and Instruction in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, was recognized with the afternoon’s top honor—the 2019 Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award.

“We congratulate Dr. Demarais on this very well-deserved honor,” said Reuben Moore, interim vice president for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine at MSU.

The program and banquet are co-sponsored by the offices of the vice presidents for Research and Economic Development and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.

Since joining the MSU faculty in 1997, Demarais has generated more than $6 million in support of a research program that has produced 140 peer-reviewed publications by 38 graduate students, plus dozens of popular articles to get research results to practicing managers. As co-director of the MSU Deer Lab, he enjoys answering deer and wildlife habitat questions of interest to managers and landowners.

A Fellow of The Wildlife Society, his professional involvements include chairing two technical reviews on deer management issues, chairing the Deer Committee for the Southeast Section of The Wildlife Society for 13 years, and serving multiple terms as Associate Editor for the Wildlife Society Bulletin and Journal of Forest Research.

Demarais earned his bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology at the University of Massachusetts. He earned a master’s degree in wildlife ecology and doctoral degree in forest resources from Mississippi State.

The Powe Award is a memorial to the MSU alumnus and longtime research vice president who died in 1996. It is selected at the university level from nominations received from the MSU community.

The annual research awards program honors individuals who contribute significantly to MSU’s mission of research. In addition to faculty, it recognizes and rewards students and staff for accomplishments and creative endeavors, as well as for increasing awareness of the university’s many research programs and capabilities.

“The Annual Research Awards Banquet is always a highlight of the year and a true celebration of Mississippi State’s remarkable researchers,” said David Shaw, the university’s vice president for research and economic development.

Faculty, Staff and Student Winners

Other 2019 research award winners include (alphabetically, by academic unit):
  • Bagley College of Engineering: Linkan Bian, faculty; Michael Gibson, research support; Ge He, graduate student; and Paulino “PJ” Jarquin, undergraduate student.
  • College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station: Caleb Lemley, faculty; Ryan Whitehouse, research support; Bhupinder Singh, graduate student; and Austin Drury, undergraduate student.
  • College of Architecture, Art and Design: Dominic Lippillo, faculty; Thomas Gregory, research support; and Justin Tyler Scott, graduate student.
  • College of Arts and Sciences: Keith Moser, faculty; Rhonda Hannah, research support; Melanie Stearns, graduate student; and Katrina Kosatka, undergraduate student.
  • College of Business: Merrill Warkentin, faculty; Will Tabor, research support; and Bryce Given, graduate student.
  • College of Education: Jennifer Cmar, faculty; Lori Staggs, research support; Shengtian Wu, graduate student; and Blake Haney, undergraduate student.
  • College of Forest Resources and Forest and Wildlife Research Center: Garrett Street, faculty; Edward Entsminger, research support; Guangmei Cao, graduate student; and Isabella Durham, undergraduate student.
  • College of Veterinary Medicine: Matthew Ross, faculty; Wei Tan, research support; Navatha Alugubelly, graduate student; and Thomas “Tom” P. Miles, undergraduate student.
  • MSU-Meridian: Lindon Ratliff, faculty; Matthew Blackwell, graduate student; and Megan Moffett, undergraduate student.
  • Office of Research and Economic Development: Jacqueline Monnet, graduate student.
  • University Centers and Institutes: Haibo Yao, faculty; Brandy Akers, research support; and Lucas Whittenton, undergraduate student.
Inventors, FY 2018

Mississippi State’s success with developing intellectual property and licensing new technology also was part of the day’s celebration as the Office of Technology Management recognized Fiscal Year 2018 patent recipients:
  • Shien Lu, jointly with Ganya Gu: “Engineering the Production of a Conformational Variant of Occidiofungin That Has Enhanced Inhibitory Activity Against Candida Species.”
  • Steve Demarais, jointly with Bronson Strickland and Jeremy Flinn: “Buck Score Aging Application.”
  • Edilberto D. Redona, jointly with Timothy W. Walker and Dwight G. Kanter: “Thad (Oryza sativa L. Rice, RU9804054, RU1104077).”
  • Nathan S. Little, jointly with John J. Riggins and Tor P. Schultz: “Enhancement of Subterranean Termite Bait Stations With the Use of Wood Bait Containing Blue Stain Fungi (Ophiostoma spp.).”
  • Raj Prabhu, jointly with Mark Horstemeyer and Gustavus Alston Rush: “Shock-Wave Mitigating Helmets.”
  • Mark L. Lawrence with Attila Karsi: “Development of live attenuated Edwardsiella ictaluri vaccine ESC-NDKL1 against enteric septicemia of catfish and evaluation of immersion, oral, and immersion-oral vaccinations.”
  • Wilburn Whittington jointly with Andrew Oppedal: “Serpentine Load Monitoring Apparatus.”
2018-2019 William L. Giles Faculty Leadership Program Graduates

Graduates of the university’s 2018-2019 William L. Giles Faculty Leadership Program were also recognized:
  • Todd Archer, associate professor, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • Critz Campbell, associate professor, Department of Art.
  • Adam Knight, associate professor, Department of Kinesiology.
  • Jamie Larson, associate professor, Department of Animal and Dairy Science.
  • Yucheng Liu, associate professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
  • Julia Osman, associate professor, Department of History.
  • Mabel Okojie, professor, Department of Instructional Systems and Workforce Development.
  • Brian Shoup, associate professor, Department of Political Science and Public Administration.
  • Darrell Sparks, associate professor, Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology.
  • Kathleen Thomas, professor and head, Department of Finance and Economics.
Learn more about the Office of Research and Economic Development at or the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Writer and Contact: Jim Laird