FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 7, 2006
Contact: Marle’ M. L. Murphy
MUW mathematics and science majors garner honors at
COLUMBUS, Miss. – Mathematics and science majors at
Mississippi University for Women recently made
strong showings at meetings respective to their
areas of study.
Mathematics students garnered honors at the
Louisiana-Mississippi section meeting of the
Mathematical Association of America on the campus of
Louisiana Tech in Ruston, La., where 25 teams
competed. The team of Johnny Bratan, Blair Vernon
and David Wages placed 10th in the competition, and
the team of Mary Hawkins, Johanna Rodriguez and
Chris Willbanks placed 22nd.
The competition consisted of 15 problems from a set
of 20 challenging mathematical problems including
calculus, number theory, topology and probability.
The students had a two-hour window to
collaboratively find and submit solutions to the
In preparation for this event, Dr. Dorothy Kerzel,
Department of Science and Mathematics chair, and Dr.
Jane Wenstrom, professor of mathematics, worked with
the students for six weeks by creating practice
problems from past competitions and review of
previous mathematic coursework.
Other faculty members accompanying the students were
Tess Creel, instructior in mathematics; Dr. Bonnie
Oppenheimer, associate professor of mathematics; and
Dr. Shaochen Yang, professor of mathematics.
The meeting also included a student paper
competition, keynote speakers and presentations by
undergraduates, graduates and faculty.
MUW’s science students and faculty participated in
the Mississippi Academy of Science (MAS) 2006 annual
meeting in Vicksburg, where they experienced the
professional side of science.
Science major Brandy Roberts represented MUW well by
winning the award for best undergraduate
presentation in the Cellular, Molecular and
Developmental Biology division.
Her talk was titled “The Molecular Mechanism for the
Unipolar Surface Expression of IcsA in Shigella
flexneri,” which was based on her summer internship
at MUW. She worked with MUW student Katreece Ellis
in the laboratory of Dr. Lauren Brandon, MUW
assistant professor of microbiology and genetics,
this summer on a project involving the molecular
mechanisms of Shigella pathogenesis.
Dr. Ross Whitwam, associate professor of biology,
served as primary organizer of the students
attending. Whitwam said various colleges across
Mississippi are represented at the meeting. He added
that the science department chooses to send the
students to this meeting because “it is easy to get
to and offers the students their first real
experience of a science conference.”
Whitwam said the meeting gives students a chance to
see what research has been done in the science
world. Many graduate students give presentations at
the meeting and students are able to learn more
about what it means to be a science grad student and
what research is involved throughout the process. In
addition, the meeting gives students exposure to the
thought of going to grad school and which schools
are out there to pursue, he said.
Some MUW science majors do summer research
internships on campus or at other universities of
their choice. At the professional meeting, Whitwam
said, these students present the research they have
done in a 50-minute talk in front of other
These students have the “beneficial experience of
how to present research in a professional way to
The students who presented such talks were Katie
Grace Carpenter, Amarachukwu Imediegwu, Ryan Beatty,
Brandy Roberts, Jeremy Whitten and Sidney Taylor.
Faculty members Jiben Roy, assistant professor of
chemistry, and Michael Elioff, assistant professor
of chemistry, also presented talks at MAS, and
students Susie Baker and Katreece Ellis presented
Dr. Dionne Fortneberry, associate professor of
chemistry, served as chair of the chemistry and
chemical engineering division session at MAS.
Other students and faculty who attended the meeting
were Katie Brinkman; Juna’uh Allgood; Jessica
Walker; Amy Newton; Desiree Jones; Bolanle Bukoye;
Mary Oyeleye; Jahnavi Chatterjee; Ashley Garriga;
Kristie Blair; Jessica Elmore; Jill Nagel, Dr. Marty
Harvill, associate professor of biology; Dr. Lauren
Brandon, assistant professor of microbiology; Dr.
Supreetha Kumar, assistant professor of biology;
Erica Schlickeisen Tietjen; instructor of biology;
Jill Arnold, instructor of biology; and Dr.Carl
Doumit, professor emeritus of chemistry.