June 20, 2018  

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Southern Miss Faculty, Students Participate in Better Mississippi Conference

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Dr. Sondra Collins, (right) Senior Economist with the University Research Center, presents University of Southern Mississippi student Amy Henderson with a book scholarship for her paper, “Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents in Mississippi Schools.” (Submitted photo)

Identifying solutions to some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems was the focus of the “Advancing Mississippi: Research for a Better Mississippi for More Mississippians” Conference held last week in Jackson.

University of Southern Mississippi faculty members and students delivered presentations during the conference. Five Southern Miss students earned recognition for their research papers.

“I cannot think of a more important conference and work,” said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. “The key to improving a state like ours, with limited resources, is to tap into the power of synergy. Working together, we can use our university expertise and research capabilities to solve problems and advance the state.”

Hosted by the University Research Center (URC), the conference featured some of the brightest minds in Mississippi Public Universities as they covered topics organized into four categories: Estimations, Employment, Being Healthy and Education, and addressed the systemic challenges that Mississippi faces.

Southern Miss faculty who offered research presentations included:

Being Healthy

Transforming Lives Through Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment

Authors: Laura Richard and Kathryn Rehner

University of Southern Mississippi

  • Mississippi adults and children are significantly more likely than adults in the rest of the nation to be uninsured. The E³ (Educate, Enroll, Empower) Health Initiative was a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Social Work and local city government. The study found that the efforts of the E3 Health Initiative resulted in a 65.8% growth in Medicaid/CHIP enrollment in the targeted zip code area.


Applied Behavior Analysis in Mississippi: New Opportunities, New Challenges, and New Solutions

Authors: Meleah Ackley, Shawn Bishop, BreAnna Newborne and James Moore

University of Southern Mississippi

  • According to the 2015 Mississippi Autism Advisory Committee Report, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated 10,743 children in Mississippi. ASD causes social and communication issues as well as repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, tantrum behaviors, and aggression. The authors proposed using Telehealth to provide an economic and efficient way to overcome the challenges in assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in children.

In addition, three student papers were recognized with book scholarships:

  • First Place: “Improving Developmental Mathematics Courses: A Study of Various Methods for Replacing Developmental Mathematics Courses in Higher Education” by Aaron Lyle Wallace, Chris Kelly, Marti Pulido, Flora Sumrall and Selah Weems (Mississippi State University- Meridian Campus)
  • Second Place: “Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents in Mississippi Schools” by Amy Henderson (University of Southern Mississippi)
  • Third Place: “Blueprint Health: A Social Solution to Obesity in the Workforce and Communities of Mississippi” by Cecilia Snyder, Molly Chaffin , Brian Street and Timothy King (University of Southern Mississippi)