Fall 2018 - Spring 2019 Points of Pride

Enrollment in the colleges in the Division continues to increase. The combined enrollment this fall of 3,596 students is 131 students above the fall of 2017 and an all-time high! CALS, with 2,512 students, is up 104; CFR, with 601 students, is up 17; and CVM, with 483, is plus 10. The Division played an important role in helping MSU reach an all-time high of 22,201 students!

Lonnie and Karen Fortner
A 1991 CALS graduate has been named Farmer of the Year for 2018. Lonnie Fortner, who farms approximately 3,700 acres in southwest Mississippi, is this year’s winner and will represent Mississippi at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in October in Moultrie, Georgia. This is a 10-state competition, and we wish Lonnie and his wife, Karen, the best!

We were pleased to learn recently that private gifts to the units in the Division reached an all-time high in FY-18! Total gifts of over $31 million were substantially higher than in FY-17 and almost $4 million above the previous record set in FY-15! CALS and CFR led the way with substantial increases over previous years.

We are moving up! Data released in November 2018 by the National Science Foundation shows MSU ranks number 9 nationally in R&D expenditures in the agricultural sciences and natural resources and conservation. That’s number 9 out of 277 higher education institutions reporting! With FY-17 expenditures of more than $109 million, we advanced three spots and got back into the top 10. Texas A&M and the University of Florida are the only SEC schools that rank ahead of us. Congratulations to all Division employees on this significant achievement!

The Meat Science Lab
The new meat science lab is complete and became operational on August 1, 2018. This new facility is located near the Wise Center and replaces the old lab that was located in Ballew Hall. The new facility cost about $8 million and was built with state bond money. It is a one-story, 15,000-square-foot structure.

 Mark E. Keenum presents the Ralph E. Powe award to Steve Demarais.
MSU President Mark E. Keenum, left, and Steve Demarais
(Photo by Logan Kirkland)
Steve Demarais, A Dale Arner Distinguished Professor and the Taylor Chair in Applied Big Game Fisheries and Aquaculture, is the 2019 Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award recipient. Since joining the faculty in 1997, Demarais has generated more than $6 million in support of a research program that has produced 140 peer-reviewed publications and dozens of popular articles to get deer and wildlife research results to practicing managers.


Bekah Sparks

Bekah Sparks, an instructor in the Extension Center for Technology Outreach, was one of 16 Extension professionals across the country to earn an Impact Collaboration Facilitation certification from the eXtension Foundation. Sparks uses her training to conduct workshops designed to help Extension professionals generate local programming for their clients. The process considers how and when the effectiveness of a new Extension program is evaluated in its development.

LaShan Simpson
LaShan Simpson
LaShan Simpson, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, received the CALS Teacher of the Year Award and the Excellence in Teaching Award (upper division). Simpson advises graduate and undergraduate students who conduct research in her lab. She also helped charter the Biomedical Engineering Association of MSU (BEAM) student chapter.

Taylor McNair
Taylor McNair

Taylor McNair, a 2017 MSU agribusiness graduate, has been named  2019 Miss Rodeo  America! Taylor, a native of Learned, will travel extensively over the next year as the official representative of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. She is planning to pursue a law degree with a master’s in agricultural and food law.

Several MSU Extension Service employees were recognized at the 2018 National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Receiving the Achievement Award were Amanda Blakeney, Simpson County, Alex Deason, Sunflower County, and Stephen Meyers, North Mississippi R&E Center. Receiving the Distinguished Service Award were Anthony Bland, Tunica County, Erick Larson, Plant and Soil Sciences, and Jeff Wilson, Extension Northeast Region.

Katrina Henn
Katrina Henn, a senior forestry major in the College of Forest Resources, received a competitive scholarship from an international nonprofit focused on advancing research and education in arboriculture and urban forestry. Henn is one of three recipients nationally to receive the $5,000 Robert Felix Memorial Scholarship. The scholarship was awarded by the Tree Research and Education Endowment Fund.

Three men laughing while conversing at the Mid-South Forestry Equipment Show.
Dr. George Hopper, Mississippi Ag Commissioner Andy Gipson (center), and Mississippi Representative Randy Boyd (right).

The recently completed Mid-South Forestry Equipment Show was, again, highly successful, as reported by Misty Booth, executive vice president of the event. The 2-day attendance was a near-record high of more than 7,000, and exhibitor participation, at 91, was the second-highest ever. Money collected during the show for Log-A-Load for Kids set an all-time record at more than $20,000. These funds benefit the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson.

Elizabeth Gregory
Elizabeth Gregory North, head of the MSU Extension Service Office of Agricultural Communications, is the newest member of the Southern Public Relations Federation’s Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame recognizes exceptional accomplishments, commitment, and leadership of public-relations educators across the Southeast. North has worked for more than 25 years as an Extension and land-grant communication and marketing professional.


The College of Veterinary Medicine will lead a new, $15 million U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative that continues efforts to reduce poverty and improve health outcomes worldwide. CVM will lead the initiative through the Global Center for Aquatic Food Security under the direction of Mark Lawrence, associate dean and professor. MSU will lead this 5-year effort because of its expertise on fish health and production issues.

Shandrea Stallworth
A doctoral student in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences received a prestigious NASA/Mississippi Space Grant Consortium graduate research fellowship. Shandrea Stallworth is the recipient of the $20,000 award designed to help produce engineers and scientists of the future. The fellowship will provide support for Stallworth’s research and academics, as well as a K-12 outreach project.

Michael Newman

Michael Newman
, director of the School of Human Sciences, is taking on a new leadership role in the American Association for Agricultural Education (AAAE). Newman is serving as president-elect and will begin his term as president in spring 2019. AAAE is a national society focused on social-science scholarship in food, agriculture, and natural resources. Newman was also honored as a senior fellow at the organization’s recent annual conference.


Jimmy Avery

Jimmy Avery, aquaculture professor with the MSU Extension Service, was recently elected president-elect of the World Aquaculture Society. Avery will assume his role at the annual meeting held in France in the summer of 2019.

John Byrd
John Byrd
(Photo by
Megan Bean)
A MSU plant and soil sciences faculty member is now a fellow of the Southern Weed Science Society. John Byrd, a research and Extension professor, received the honor at the organization’s annual meeting held recently in Oklahoma City! The highest honor the society presents, fellows are recognized for their significant contributions to the society itself and advances they have made in the weed science discipline across the South!