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Northern Gulf Institute's Cebrian and Geosystems Research Institute's Turnage, Recognized for Outstanding Research Accomplishments

April 27, 2021

Mississippi State recognized outstanding research accomplishments from across the university during its annual research awards ceremony.

The ceremony marked the culmination of an academic year that saw continued growth in research funding and impact despite the many challenges presented by the pandemic. MSU President Mark E. Keenum, along with Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan, and Vice President for the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine Keith Coble, applauded the hard work of the university's researchers and support staff, which has helped place MSU as a top 100 research university nationally and the leading research university in Mississippi. Keenum noted that MSU's research efforts continue to make a positive impact in Mississippi and attract new students.

"The work that you do in research helps make us the most comprehensive university in the state," Keenum said. "You bring that knowledge into your classrooms, you inspire young people who want to be involved in your research, and you are great mentors. This is a great day to celebrate your achievements."

The awards are co-sponsored by the offices of the MSU vice presidents for Research and Economic Development and the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.

Chemistry Professor Todd Mlsna was presented with the program's top honor, the 2021 Ralph E. Powe Research Excellence Award. The Powe Award is a memorial to the MSU alumnus and longtime research vice president who died in 1996. It is selected at the university level from nominations received from the MSU community.

An MSU faculty member since 2009, Mlsna's research focuses on miniature chemical sensor systems, water remediation and soil amendment using byproducts from the biofuel generation industry. In addition to generating $2.7 million in external funding to support his research at MSU, Mlsna has mentored 20 doctoral students. In 2020, he was named the Mississippi Chemist of the Year.
During the ceremony, MSU recognized outstanding research contributions from individuals in every academic college, as well as MSU-Meridian, university research centers and institutes, and the Office of Research and Economic Development.

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and MAFES
  • Faculty: Sam Chang
  • Research Support: Beverly Catchot
  • Graduate Student: Charles Hunt Walne
College of Forest Resources and Forest and Wildlife Research Center
  • Faculty: Dana Morin
  • Research Support: Mack Fondren
  • Graduate Student: Gabrielly dos Santos Bobadihla
College of Veterinary Medicine
  • Faculty: Todd Pharr
  • Research Support: Michael "Mike" Dewberry
  • Graduate Student: Isaac Jumper
  • Undergraduate Student: Claire E. Cross and Anne-Marie Ross
College of Architecture, Art and Design
  • Faculty: Joe Morzuch
  • Undergraduate Student: McKenzie Johnson
College of Arts and Sciences
  • Faculty: Lamiaa El Fassi
  • Research Support: Ashley Miller
  • Graduate Student: Chanaka Navarathna
  • Undergraduate Student: Nathan Frey
College of Business
  • Faculty: Nathan Berglund
  • Graduate Student: Haoyang Xiong
  • Undergraduate: Dawn Jackson
College of Education
  • Faculty: Kenneth V. Anthony
  • Research Support: Veronica Murray
  • Graduate Student: Sachini Kodithuwakku Arachchige
  • Undergraduate Student: Stephen Ramsey
Bagley College of Engineering
  • Faculty: Farshid Vahedifard
  • Graduate Student: Dylan Ray Boyd
  • Undergraduate Student: Erin Parker
Meridian Campus
  • Faculty: Ksenia Zhbanova
  • Faculty: Joy DuBose
University Centers and Institutes
  • Faculty: Just Cebrian
  • Research Support: Gray Turnage
  • Graduate Student: Wondimagegn "Wondim" Beshah
  • Undergraduate Student: Anna Sibley
Office of Research and Economic Development
  • Research Support: Gretchen Crawford
  • Graduate Student: Caroline Edmonson

MSU also recognized researchers that developed new intellectual property and licensed new technology. The Office of Technology Management presented awards to FY 2019 and 2020 patent recipients:

  • Mark White's--Catalysts and Process for Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuel Production
  • Brian Baldwin and Brett Rushing--Switchgrass 'Cultivar Panir'
  • Brian Baldwin--Switchgrass 'Espresso'
  • Mark McConnell and Wes Burger --Precision Conservation Decision Support Tool
  • John Riggins--System Methods for Pest Reduction
  • Shien Lu, Stephen Pruett and Frank Austin --Occidiofungin, Formations and Uses Thereof
  • Shien Lu and Frank Austin--Occidiofungin, A Unique Antifungal Glycopeptide

The Office of Technology Management also presented the inaugural Innovation Award to Ryden Smith, a mechanical engineering graduate student, for developing the "Improved Portable UV Sanitation Method," which was used to sanitize face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the Office of Research and Economic Development at or the Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine at

MSU is Mississippi's leading university, available online at

By James Carskadon