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Student Highlights

Degree being sought: Polymer Science BS
Institution: University of Southern Mississippi
Research group: Storey Group
Hometown: Petal, MS

Give a brief synopsis of research/work being done:

Current efforts are focused on developing novel, out-of-autoclave curable systems via photo-initiated                azide-alkyne cycloaddition to aid in the manufacturing of aerospace composites. This research will provide further insight into developing efficient and environmentally-friendly curing processes for heavy-load aircraft components such as wings and fuselages.

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

With my strong background in polymer chemistry, engineering, and leadership afforded to me by USM, I hope to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from Cambridge University. Afterwards, I intend to launch a Mississippi-based company dedicated to the research and production of polymeric materials for biomedical use. Launching this company will allow me to achieve my overall goal of improving the poor economic conditions in Mississippi by offering higher paying jobs and encouraging the pursuit of higher education in young people.

An interesting (personal) fact about yourself

In high school, I operated my own online business to earn extra money. The product was of original design and was sold across both North and South America before I closed the business to start my freshman year at USM.

What USM-related scholarships did you receive?

2015-2018 Toyota-Haley Barbour Scholarship

2015 Thames High Ability Scholarship

2014-2018 Academic Excellence Scholarship

2014-2018 Boy Scout Eagle Award Scholarship

2014-2017 Waterborne Scholarship

Awards won

2016, 2017 Honorable Mention for Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship

2016 Outstanding Junior in the College of Science and Technology

2017 Polymer Science Undergraduate Student of the Month


Pledger, K.L.; Marshall, C.A.; Cooke, R.H., III; Prine, N.; Heskett, M.D.; Parada, C.M.; Holbrook, T.P.; Storey, R.F. Joint Army-Navy-NASA-Air Force (JANNAF) Meeting, paper number 4232, Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek, Salt Lake City, UT, December 7-10, 2015. “Analysis and Characterization of HTPB.”

Your most profound turning point while at USM?

During a USM-sponsored internship over the summer, I conducted research at Mississippi State University on hydrogels formed from porcine aortic tissue. The principle investigator of our research group allowed me to provide guidance on the synthesis and characterization of the gel. This project ultimately reinforced my interest in developing biomedical materials and honed my leadership abilities.

What are your plans for next year and beyond?

In the next year, I plan to pursue a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering from Cambridge University. Afterwards, I aspire to take an active leadership role in the research and development sector of a biomedical company.

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

I consider receiving honorable mentions for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship two years in a row one of my greatest academic accomplishments to date. The Goldwater scholarship award and honoree status are considered the most prestigious national awards for undergraduate engineers and I am honored to have been named a recipient.