Divisional Reports

Agriculture and Plant Science

Division of Agriculture and Plant Science had a successful year. Members were prompt in submitting abstracts for the 61st Annual meeting, and in responding to other requests.

A total of 15 exciting and informative research titles and 6 posters, covering many aspects of agricultural research in Mississippi were presented at the meeting. Seven of the presentations were made by graduate students. Both morning and afternoon sessions were well attended.

The Division held its business meeting on February 20, 1997, at 3:30 pm. Dr. Frank Matta, Mississippi State University was elected to the position of Division Chairman. Dr. Llang Huam, Alcorn State University was elected Vice Chairman. An award committee that includes Drs. Frank Maffa, MSU; Liang Huam, ASU; Kenneth Curry, USM; Jim Robbins, MSU; and Suresh Tiwari, ASU was established. The members are to assist with future fund raising and judging students' presentations.

Cash awards were made to all students that presented research papers at the meeting. Because it was not possible to find judges at the beginning of the presentations, members decided to split the award money evenly among the seven graduate student presenters. Each graduate student received a check for $30.00. The only undergrduate presenter received a check for $60.00. The graduate student awardees were: Tanachal Pankasemauk, MSU; K.A. Valentine, UM; J. Kirk Noble, USDA-ARS/USM; Girish Panicker, MSU; Susmita Ghosh, JSU; Pannee Barrera, MSU; and M.S. Gonzalez, MSU. The undergraduate award went to Christina Wilson, ASU.

The division members, especially the awardees, expressed their gratitude to the management of Piggly Wiggly the Supermarket, P.O. Box 426, Port Gibson, Mississippi; Farmers' Cooperative, P.O. Box 1015, Port Gibson, Mississippi; and A and A Wholesale Inc., P.O. Box 9371, Jackson, Mississippi for providing the funds used for these awards and to Dr. Patrick E. lgbokwe (outgoing Chairman) for soliciting the award funds and for his cash donation. He briefly explained why donations from contributors were possible, and suggested how members could improve on his effort to attract more funds. With the closing remarks from the new Chairman the 1996­97 Divisional meeting was brought to an exciting end.--Patrick Igbokwe

Cellular, Molecular and Developmental Biology

A total of 23 oral presentations and 7 posters were delivered during four sections of the divisional session at the annual meeting. Representatives from eleven different institutes in Mississippi participated. The number of oral presentations was slightly lower than in previous years, and therefore the time allotted for each talk was increased to 20 minutes. The consensus opinion on this change was very positive in that the discussion period following virtually all talks was much more extensive and interactive than in previous years. The number of posters was much higher than in the past and the response was very good. Discussions surrounding the posters were quite enthusiastic, and I encourage continuing an extensive poster session in the future.

The division made two awards; both were provided by Fisher Scientific and consisted of a certificate and a cash prize of significant size (at least by student standards). The award for Best Undergraduate Student Paper was presented to Aimee Anido of Millsaps College. Her work was done in collaboration with the laboratory of Dr. Steven Case of the University of Mississippi Medical Center and titled "Use of a Novel Plasmid for Transposon-mediated DNA Sequencing." The award for Best Graduate Student Paper was presented to Gregory Martin of the University of Southern Mississippi. His work was done in collaboration with Dr. Gordon Cannon and Dr. Charles McCormick and was titled "Characterization of the Aggregation Process during Self-assembly of Fungal Hydrophobins and an Associated Polysaccharide."

The Division elected Dr. Robert Hamilton of Mississippi College to the position of Division chairperson and Dr. Sarah Lea McGuire of Millsaps College to the position of Vice-Chairperson. It is the opinion of myself and that of all of the Divisional "regulars" that the overall quality of the work presented and the presentations was much higher than in the past. This is an extremely encouraging trend and speaks highly for the current state and future outlook for science in Mississippi. I hope this trend continues.--David Brown

Health Sciences

The Health Sciences Division of the Mississippi Academy of Science had a very successful meeting in Biloxi in February. There were 32 abstracts in the Health Sciences Division submitted for presentation at the meeting. The program consisted of 12 oral presentations and 20 poster presentations. The Division devised a new format for poster presentation this year in which each student presented a short synopsis of his/her poster and accepted questions from the audience. The students enjoyed the sessions more in this way and it allowed them the opportunity to discuss their best work. The Division voted to make the poster presentations an annual event and suggested that the entire Academy may want to adopt this format for posters in the future. The Douglas-Walker Award for best student abstract was given to Heath Scott. Heath was unable to attend the meeting, however, and the presentation was made by his advisor, Dr. Hari H.P. Cohly, University of Mississippi Medical Center. At the Divisional meeting, Dr. Marcy Petrini, Assistant Professor of Medicine, University of Mississippi Medical Center, was elected as the new Chairman of the Division for 1997, and Dr. John Piletz, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Mississippi Medical Center, was elected as co-chairman. The Division also voted to change the Divisional Award to make separate awards to graduate and undergraduate students and include either the abstract or poster presentation as part of the criteria for the making the award. From the meeting we found that research in the Health Sciences in Mississippi is innovative and exciting, and many of the state's universities and colleges are participating in research activities. The Health Sciences Division is proud to produce a forum for presention of this data and to support students in their work at the annual MAS meeting.--Jane Reckelhoff

Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

This past year there have been a number of important events and milestones of interest to the members of the Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Division, and to the MAS membership in general. One important change was the formal consolidation of marine science activities at the University of Southern Mississippi under a single administrative umbrella, the newly formed Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS). The physical location of marine academic and research programs will continue to reside at the John C. Stennis Space Center (SSC), the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) at Ocean Springs, and the main campus at Hattiesburg. The important step of formation of the IMS was followed by the hiring of a new director, Dr. D. Jay Grimes. Dr. Grimes was previously in Washington, D.C. where he served as program manager for the Department of Energy. He has already moved forward in appointing Associate Directors for Marine Outreach Programs (Dr. Sharon Walker) and Marine Academic Programs (Dr. Denis Wiesenburg).

An important milestone for the division this year was the celebration of the GCRL 50th anniversary. The laboratory was established in 1947 by the MAS, with the purpose of advancement of marine science through education and research.

A number of excellent presentations were made by division members at this year's annual meeting in Biloxi. A total of 26 papers and 8 posters were presented. Students were particularly well represented in both posters and presentations. During the business meeting, key items for which there was a consensus included exploring the possibility of establishing awards for best student paper and best student poster, and working to expand participation by all groups within the discipline, especially those in industry and government areas. Dr. Thomas Lytle (IMS/GCRL) will take over as Chairman of the Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Division for the upcoming year. Dr. Dawn Lavoie (Naval Research Laboratory at SSC) was elected as Vice-Chairperson.--Steven. E. Lohrenz

Physics and Engineering

There were 36 papers presented on Thursday and Friday morning in the Physics and Engineering section. Twenty-one of these papers were presented by students, with a majority of them presented by undergraduates and one paper included work done by a high school student. Three of the undergraduate student papers were posters. During the poster session, coffee and cokes were provided and the students presented their posters to the those in attendance. Since their were only three poster papers, each student was given five minutes to discuss their poster. The "coffee-atmosphere" made this part of the session informal and the format was well received by the membership.

During the divisional business meeting the chair and co-chair were elected for the 1997­1998 terms. These are S. Kant Vajpayee of University of Southern Mississippi, chair, and Amin Haque of Alcorn State University, co-chair. At the meeting the membership agreed to renew the best student paper award program. The Physics and Engineering section will give cash awards for the two best undergraduate and graduate students papers. We also discussed attracting broader representation from the state's colleges and universities at our section meeting. The new chair will prepare an enhanced mailing list to announce the call for abstracts. This will include a letter to department chairs along with the standard mailing.--James Sabatier

Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience

Seven talks and one poster session were presented this year, with four presentations each in psychology and behavioral neuroscience. The early sessions were well-attended. Effort needs to be made to revive interest in the division and increase both membership and number of abstracts submitted for the MAS meeting. New officers are Dr. Stephen Black of Millsaps College (chair) and Dr. Pamela Banks of Jackson State University (chair-elect).--Carol A. Hayes

Science Education

The Science Education Division had excellent turnouts for sessions on both days of the 1997 MAS meeting in Biloxi. Twenty-two papers were presented on Thursday, February 20. The focus of the Thursday morning session was the use of multimedia technology in the science classroom. Faculty from Millsaps College and researchers from Gulf Coast Research Laboratory gave excellent overviews of their respective work in developing innovative software for teaching the sciences. Thursday afternoon's session was highlighted by a presentation by Dr. Donald Cotton of the Public Education Forum in Jackson. His talk, entitled "Education Shortage: Impact On The Sciences and Mathematics" drove home the importance of developing strong science and math education programs in the state to meet projected future teacher shortages in Mississippi.

The Friday session focused on student papers and posters. Six student papers and posters were presented. The annual business meeting was held after the morning session. New officers were selected, including John Barker of the University Medical Center and Theophilus King, Murrah High School, both of Jackson, as co-chairs for the upcoming year. The Division elected Dr. Sharon Walker of the Scott Marine Education Center in Biloxi as the vice-chair for 1997­98.

Dr. Samuel Faulkner of Delta State, the outgoing chair, proposed creation of a fund for outstanding student presentations and poster sessions within the division. This proposal was overwhelmingly approved by the group. Both Drs. Faulkner and Walker donated funds to initiate the new program.

Following the business meeting, a brief meeting was convened by Dr. Robin Rockhold of the University Medical Center to field questions and answers concerning a proposed MAS Journal issue featuring science education issues. It was agreed that academic liasons from state colleges and universities would in the near future contact their respective administrators regarding development of statements of committment to the critical science education needs of Mississippi.--Samuel P. Faulkner