August 14, 2018  

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Southern Miss Professor Receives Early-Career Research Fellowship

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Dr. Davin Wallace

Dr. Davin Wallace, an assistant professor in the Department of Marine Science at The University of Southern Mississippi, has been awarded a prestigious Early-Career Research Fellowship by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Gulf Research Program.

The Early-Career Research Fellowships recognize professionals at the critical pre-tenure phase of their careers for exceptional leadership, past performance, and potential for future contributions to improving oil system safety, human health, or the environment in the Gulf region.

Wallace, a member of the Southern Miss faculty since 2013, is a field geologist who uses state-of-the-art analytical tools combined with data collection. The nature of his research involves understanding the coastal system – how it evolved in the past, and how it might respond in the future.

“I aim to understand the dynamics of coastal barrier islands, bays, and marshes along the northern Gulf of Mexico in response to variable rates of sea-level rise, storm impacts, and sediment supply,” said Wallace. “I will be investigating these topics over a variety of timescales, allowing me to place changes in a geological context.”

To foster leadership development, fellows will receive professional guidance from two mentors: a senior faculty member at their home institution and a senior expert in their field. Each fellow will receive $76,000, in the form of a two-year grant paid to the awardee’s institution, for research expenses and professional development.

Wallace credits his mentors John Anderson at Rice University, Jon Woodruff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Jeff Donnelly at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for helping him secure the NAS fellowship.

“The three wrote letters for me that were submitted along with my scientific description of research plans,” he said. “There is absolutely no way I would have received this fellowship without their teaching, patience, knowledge, and help over the years.”

Wallace notes that the fellowship will provide important benefits toward supporting students, as well as providing resources for his research initiatives. But the potential impact of the research extends beyond the University’s walls.

“The northern Gulf of Mexico is a highly vulnerable area to coastal hazards, so understanding how these factors help shape the ecosystem, coastal environment, and oil system safety are of primary importance to anyone living in the region,” he said.