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Student Highlights

Degree being sought: Polymer Science BS, Chemistry BS
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi 
Research group: McCormick Group 
Area of study: Stimuli-responsive RAFT polymers 
Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done:
My research focuses on using RAFT polymerization to synthesize well-defined stimuli-responsive polymers. Some of my previous projects include developing pH-responsive micelles for drug delivery, synthesizing star polymers with multifunctional RAFT chain transfer agents, and investigating the pH-responsive behavior of sulfonamide containing polymers. I am also working with the Masterson Group in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry for my departmental capstone research to develop unnatural glutathione analogues as potential glutathione reductase inhibitors.

From your current perspective, what do you see as an ideal fit for your skills, goals and career moving forward?
Research is very appealing to me. If there’s one thing I love doing, it’s working in a lab. After I complete my Ph.D, I hope to get a research-intensive industry job that complements my passion for the laboratory.

What's an interesting (personal) fact about yourself?
I’ve got a lot of family history at USM. My parents, my grandparents, and all my aunts and uncles on my mother’s side graduated from here. That makes me the first of a third consecutive generation at Southern Miss, which I think is pretty unusual.

Why did you choose USM?
Southern Miss is the premier institute for undergraduate polymer research, so it was really an obvious decision considering polymer science has been my main academic interest since middle school.

What USM-related scholarships did you receive?
I received a USM Presidential Scholarship, covering the cost of tuition, housing, and textbooks for four years. I have also received a Sidney Lauren Memorial Scholarship through the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials.

Awards won
Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, 2013 College of Science and Technology Outstanding Junior Award, 2012 Conference USA Commissioner’s Academic Medal, Mississippi Eminent Scholar’s Grant *Publications

Main USM extracurricular activity – why is this important to you?
The Southern Miss Debate Society will always be dear to my heart because of my role in its founding. The summer of my sophomore year, a few of my friends and I decided that it was a travesty there was no debate club on campus. After many long nights and multiple-hour long meetings over the next semester, we finally became a chartered organization. We now have a funded travel team that has competed at national tournaments and gives students the chance to develop lifelong speaking skills.

Your most profound turning point while at USM?
Becoming a Senator for the Student Government Association was definitely one of the most significant moments in my college career. For the first time, I was part of something that was much bigger than me for the purpose of serving others. It has been a very humbling experience and continues to develop my character in ways I never expected when I first started.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?
When I complete my bachelor’s degree, I plan to go to graduate school and conduct research in synthetic polymer chemistry for my Ph.D. After that, I see myself working in an industry research position developing smart polymeric materials.

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

Two experiences in particular come to mind. My freshman year, I had the opportunity to play on the varsity tennis team. Managing my time between class and the team was difficult, but being able to represent USM both athletically and academically was extraordinarily fulfilling. More recently, in my junior year, I ran for vice president of the Student Government Association. I had never been a candidate for any type of elected position before, so stepping up and attempting to sell my vision for student government was very new and exciting

http://www.usm.edu/undergraduate/michael-sims