April 18, 2019  

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College of Science and Technology Recognizes Outstanding Students at Annual Awards Program

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The University of Southern Mississippi College of Science and Technology recently recognized outstanding students at the Annual College of Science and Technology Awards Banquet.

The awards program began in 2003. For 12 years, the college has been recognizing the “best of the best.” Nominations are solicited from department chairs and directors, faculty and staff. Academic units can nominate one person in each category with awardees being determined by the College Awards Committee.

College of Science and Technology Dean Dr. David T. Hayhurst presented the following outstanding student awards for 2015:

Outstanding Sophomore – Mark Norman, School of Polymers and High Performance Material

Norman is majoring in polymer science and engineering. He is a member of the Honors College and is an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Sarah Morgan’s Research Group. Norman is active in community service projects, playing music and performing in community theatre, and has earned his first degree level three black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

In nominating Norman, Dr. Heather Broadhead said, “Mark is an extraordinary young man. I have known Mark for two years and have had the pleasure of teaching him for three polymer science courses as well as serving as his academic advisor. He has consistently demonstrated an ability to rise to any challenge and has maintained an exceptional degree of academic excellence.”

Dr. Sarah Morgan said of Norman, “From the moment Mark joined the research group, he has been an integral part of the team. Mark is an enthusiastic participant in our weekly group meetings and demonstrates an insatiable desire to learn about polymers and master new laboratory techniques.”

2015 Outstanding Junior – Ellyn Dunbar, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Dunbar returned as junior winner after being named outstanding sophomore in 2014. Dunbar is pursuing the American Chemical Society-certified emphasis in biochemistry. A member of the Honors College and a Presidential Scholar, Ellyn is also a black belt and volunteers as a Tae Kwon Do instructor.

Dr. Masterson, associate professor and associate chair in the department says, “Ellyn is among the top students I have taught since I came to USM eleven years ago. She is a bright and highly motivated student. Ellyn arrives in class prior to the start and always engages in scientific conversation. I believe Ellyn will be among our most productive and accomplished alumni.”

Dr. Sabine Heinhorst, professor and chair of the department, says “Ellyn is mature, has remarkable self-discipline, and is determined to prepare herself for graduate studies in her field of choice (human genetics) at a prestigious university. Based on my role as her instructor, academic advisor and research mentor, I rank Ellyn among the top two percent of the undergraduate students I have taught in my 27-plus years at this university, and have no doubt that she will reach her educational and career goals.”

Outstanding Senior – Hannah Roberts, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry

Roberts has won numerous awards and honors including Barry M. Goldwater National Scholar, Presidential Scholar, and she has represented the University twice as Miss USM.

Dr. Masterson says he immediately knew that Roberts was one of the special students that only come around every now and then. “Hannah is as close to an ideal student as you can hope for. She is always studying, coming to office hours to ask questions, and coming to class better prepared than any of her peers.”

Dr. Karl Wallace, one of Roberts’ professors, says, her academic achievement to-date can only be described as “superb.”

Outstanding Master’s Student – Laura K. Stewart, Department of Biological Sciences

Stewart is pursuing her degree in ecology and earned her B.S. in Marine Biology at USM. Her research interests include evolutionary ecology, physiology, conservation biology, and population genetics. She has many publications and presentations and awards including being awarded the McCarley Award from the Southwestern Association of Naturalists for her research.

Dr. Jake Schaefer, professor in Biological Sciences, says Stewart is exceptionally motivated and enthusiastic about her research. “At this early stage of her career, she has already published three papers in top ecology and evolutionary biology papers. She is a promising young scientist who has been extraordinarily productive and is enthusiastic about all aspects of her project.”

Professor Dr. Brian Kreiser says Stewart is a strong and motivated student. “Her work ethic and enthusiasm is also evident in everything she does. In all aspects Laura is an outstanding graduate student and one worthy of recognition through this award.”

Outstanding Doctoral Student – T.J. Zenzal, Jr.

Zenzal, Jr has his bachelor’s degree in environmental science with a minor in philosophy. His doctoral research involves the biology of ruby-throated hummingbirds, North America's smallest migratory bird, during autumn migration. Zenzal has done many teaching activities including working with high school teachers through the National Science Foundation GK-12 Program. He also is an avian surveyor with the U.S. Forest Service identifying breeding birds in Mississippi. He has numerous publications, presentations, and awards including having twice won Best Graduate Research Poster at the USM Graduate Student Forum Research Symposium.

Robert Diehl, Research Ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey, says, “Of special interest is that T.J. has sought and received training in Costa Rica and now finds himself within the seemingly rarefied community of permitted hummingbird handlers.”

Distinguished Professor Dr. Frank Moore says, “T.J. is one of those rare individuals who combines enthusiasm for his studies, excellent scholarship, an exceptionally strong work ethic, and a creative imagination.”

For more information about the College of Science and Technology, visit www.usm.edu/cost.