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Student Highlights

Degree being sought: Polymer Science BS
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi
Research group: Thames-Rawlins Research Group
Hometown: Long Beach, MS

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done:

Currently, I am working on my senior thesis project for the Honors College. This work involves studying the initiation of corrosion on steel panels via fluorescent probes. These probes will be able to sense the generation of the iron (II) ion at anodic corrosion sites on the panel, and I will be able to track this fluorescence with a confocal microscope. I will be working alongside my research advisor, Dr. James Rawlins, as well as other PhD and postdoctoral students in the lab.

From your current perspective, what do you see as an ideal fit for your skills, goals and career moving forward?

This past summer I had the privilege to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, MS. I was able to incorporate my knowledge of polymers and materials with different reinforcing materials to increase the performance and mechanical properties of the polymers. I believe that this type of research is a good fit for my skills, and would be a great place to start my career.

What's an interesting (personal) fact about yourself?

I grew up on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so I have a passion for fishing. Anytime I go home for the weekend, the first thing I do when I get home is grab my fishing pole and go to the harbor.

Why did you choose USM?

My Chemistry teacher in high school was the most difficult teacher I had ever had. She was also the best teacher I had ever had. She inspired my to love the subject of Chemistry, and she put a spark in my heart to pursue a career in a related field. One of my cousins was earning his PhD in polymer science from USM, and he invited my to come on a visit. When I came, and I was able to work with another PhD student in a lab for a day. It was amazing, and I knew then that I was coming to Southern Miss for polymer science. It was the perfect combination of everything I was passionate about.

What USM-related scholarships did you receive?

Shelby F. Thames Polymer Science High Ability Scholarship

Honors College Keystone Scholarship,

University Scholarship

Sidney Lauren Memorial Scholarship.

Awards won

President’s list (Fall 2015, 2016, 2017; Spring 2017)

Nominated for the Barry Goldwater Nationally Competitive Scholarship

Nominated for Most Outstanding Freshman of the Year

Who or what influenced your USM education the most?

My USM education has been most influenced by the sense of community we have in the polymer science department. People go out of their way to make sure that you are doing well. The professors strive to make sure that you are learning, and the students will always be there to study and bounce questions off of. I would not want to be anywhere else.

Main USM extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?

I am involved in the Baptist Student Union (BSU) at USM. The goal of the BSU is to know Christ and to make Him known on campus. This organization has given me a purpose on this campus, as well as the world. I have been able to develop life-long friendships with some amazing people from all different backgrounds and majors. It really represents the word “community” for me.

Your most profound turning point while at USM?

The turning point for my career at USM would be the Physics I class I had in my first year. I had not been introduced to many of the concepts in Physics in high school, so I was mostly going into this course blind. This obviously did not help my cause, and after the first test, I realized that things were not going well at all. Being in my first year at USM, I had not yet been challenged by many courses. At the end of the semester, I ended up passing the course, but not with the grade I “wanted”. I realized then that school was not all about getting an “A” grade, but it was truly about learning more about a subject and growing to have an appreciation of it. That class has helped me to learn in a completely new way, and without the hard times experienced in that class, I would not be who I am today.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

I plan to attend graduate school and obtain a PhD. After obtaining my degree, I intend to work in an industrial research position. I am interested in stimuli responsive polymers, and have been fortunate enough to work with these materials in both Lott Research Group and McCormick Research Group, so I feel this would be a good fit for my skill set.

While at USM, what other accomplishments/activities are you most proud of? 

I am most proud of achieving a 4.0 in my polymer courses in my junior year. These courses truly tested my knowledge as well as my perseverance. The way to achieving a 4.0 involved countless hours of studying in the library at one a.m. as well as many questions in class. Without the help of my peers and the amazing faculty at USM, this would not have been possible. It has truly shown me that when you work hard and have people there along side you supporting you, anything is achievable.

What was one of your greatest challenges attending USM?

When I was considering college my senior year of high school, I was very worried about money, which we all are. I did not want my parents to have to be burdened by debt so that I could go to college, so I decided that I needed to pursue as many scholarships that I could so that my college would be paid for. I was blessed beyond all measure once I got to USM. Through the Thames High Ability Scholarship as well as the University Scholarship, I did not have to pay a dime for school. This eased my mind, and allowed my to focus solely on my studies.