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Student Highlights

Degree being sought: Polymer Science BS
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi
Research group: Thames-Rawlins Research Group
Hometown: Saint Louis, MO

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done:

The purpose of my undergraduate research is to understand the role of polymer matrix composition and structure in the development of interfaces and corrosion protection of multi-layer coatings systems. By understanding how interfaces influence the transport of water in organic coatings, the network structure and composition can be tuned to facilitate control over multi-layer coating corrosion performance.

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

I would like to continue my education and pursue a graduate degree in Materials Science & Engineering with a focus in polymer technology. After earning my PhD and completing any additional requirements, I see myself staying in academia and becoming a professor in Polymer Science & Engineering. I would like to one day run my own research group and become a tenured faculty member.

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

I was named after the Jimmy Buffett song “Delaney Talks to Statues.”

Why did you choose USM?

As a child, I wanted to become a cosmetic chemist when I grew up. So when it came time to choose an institution to attend to further my education after high school, I did what any student would do and searched best cosmetic chemistry schools on the internet. After barely any investigating, I came across The University of Southern Mississippi. I visited campus, fell in love, applied, and was accepted with enough scholarship money to make my undergraduate education affordable. No other school I applied to was able to match the affordability of USM.

What USM-related scholarships did you receive?

The University of Southern Mississippi – Regional Scholarship

The University of Southern Mississippi – Academic Excellence Scholarship

 Coatings Industry Education Foundation Scholarship

 Shelby F. Thames and Shirley D. Thames Scholarship for High Ability Students Endowment – This scholarship is awarded exclusively to incoming high-ability students pursuing any degree in Polymer Science & Engineering.

Awards won

National Association of Corrosion Engineers Lee Magnon Memorial Scholarship – One scholarship given annually to recognize an outstanding student within the boundaries of the NACE Central Area who is interested in pursuing a career in the field of science and/or engineering.

Who or what influenced your USM education the most?

When joining the Thames-Rawlins research group my freshman year, I was placed under the guidance of Sharathkumar K. Mendon. Having Mendon as my mentor for my first two years of college was the biggest blessing in my life. He taught me everything about research, from the basics like washing dishes to the more advanced like helping me design an idea for my undergraduate thesis. Mendon pushed me to present my research and was the major factor behind me applying to participate in an REU.

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

After serving for three years as an Ambassador for the Honors College at USM, I was recently elected Vice-President of organization. The Honors College has given me so much in my few short years at USM. It has given me the confidence to apply for positions I never thought possible, pursue passions of mine outside of polymer science, and helped spark my interest in research and independent education. As vice-president of the Honors College Ambassadors, I am in charge of recruiting the next generation of Honors scholars to USM.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

I am hoping to continue my education by pursuing a graduate degree in Materials Science & Engineering with a focus in polymer technology. After completion of my PhD, I would like to stay in academia and gain a tenure track professor position at a research institute.

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

I was selected to participate in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology where I studied the printability of various polymers for use in the security printing industry under the guidance of Dr. Cassandra Degen.

I was offered a Research & Development Intern position at Chemline Inc.

I accepted a Research and Development Intern position with Axalta Coatings Systems in High Point, NC. During this internship, I worked closely with Dow Chemical Company on a project studying the use of novel isocyanate free polyurethanes in the wood coatings industry.

What was one of your greatest challenges attending USM?

I was born and raised just outside of St. Louis, MO and moved to South Mississippi for college. My biggest challenge attending USM was learning to adjust to the changes, especially the humidity!