2019-2020 Preparing Future Faculty Class

Caleb Aldridge was born and raised in rural northwest Alabama. His early experiences set him on a career path in aquatic ecology and conservation. Caleb has participated in a variety of projects that include: responses of streamside salamander assemblages to forest road-effects; investigation on the life history of southern brook lamprey; optimizing sample sites to draw mechanistic inferences while accounting for cost; and improving a rapid survey protocol for the invasive Mediterranean gecko. He is currently developing a planning support tool that helps fisheries biologists formulate lake management plans in a structured decision making framework.

Rebecca Bracken is a current PhD student in Forest Resources, with a concentration in wildlife, fisheries, and aquaculture. She holds a BS and BA in Zoology from Miami University in Ohio, and an MS in Biology from Texas State University. After spending 6 years working in the veterinary field, she switched paths and decided to focus on wildlife conservation and research, specifically with birds. She has worked in numerous locations around the US, including New Hampshire, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, in addition to working in Australia. Her current research focuses on the impacts of timber management and vegetation structure and composition changes on avian diversity and abundance in privately managed pine forests here in Mississippi.

Claudia Castañeda has a Ph.D. from the department of Poultry Science. Claudia is originally from Honduras, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Food Science. She completed her master’s degree and Ph.D. in the department of Poultry Science. She has been studying methods to reduce the use of antibiotics in broiler production while reducing the incidence of illness in chickens. Her career goals are focused on finding ways to reduce the prevalence of pathogenic bacteria in the broiler gut, and ultimately in chicken products for human consumption.

Emily Grubbs is pursuing a Masters degree in Human Development and Family Science with thesis research on the sleep of young adults living with developmental disabilities. For the past two years she has been a Graduate Teaching Assistant for Dr. Joe Wilmoth and is now working as a Research Assistant for Dr. Lori Elmore-Staton and Dr. Alisha Hardman on a grant project, "Trauma-Informed Parenting Strategies: A Parenthood Initiative to Improve Family Stability and Functioning."

Victoria Jefferson is from Tupelo, MS, andhas earned both BS and MS degrees in Biochemistry from MSU. She is continuing her research from her Master’s program and pursuing a PhD in Molecular Biology. Her teaching experience includes working as a tutor for many years, beginning as an undergrad, and also as a teaching assistant for the human anatomy and human physiology courses for the department of biological sciences. Victoria's research entails increasing the accuracy and annotation of the genome for Bovine Herpesvirus I, a prominent agricultural pathogen, using proteomics and transcriptomics.

Monika Jankun-Kelly

Karleigh Kimbrell is a lecturer at Mississippi State University where she teaches English Composition to first year university students. She received her master's degree in English in May 2019; her master's thesis focused on adaptation and work in the creative industries in Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones series. Her research interests include contemporary women's fiction, diary fiction, adaptation studies, and popular culture studies.

ShirDonna Lawrence holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology, minors in Chemistry and Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a Master of Education in College Student Personnel Services from the University of Louisville. Currently, ShirDonna is a Doctoral Candidate in the Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Higher Education Administration. ShirDonna’s research investigates how higher education policy perpetuates inequity and disparity toward marginalized individuals within higher education.

Adrián Lázaro Lobo has a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in Restoration Ecology. He is currently working on a PhD in Biological Sciences about plant ecology. He has always been fascinated by nature and wants to dedicate his life to study how organisms interact with one another and with their physical environment. He had the opportunity to participate in multiple ecological and conservation projects in Europe and the United States which made him improve his skills and grow as a researcher. He has taught several courses and workshops, supervised undergraduates, and attended conferences and other oral presentations to help spread scientific knowledge.

Adrián Naveda-Rodríguez has a B-Tech in Renewable Natural Resources by the Instituto Universitario Tecnológico de Yaracuy (2001, Venezuela), currently he is a PhD student in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University. Since 2001, Adrian has worked as a field ornithologist in management and conservation projects in northern South America and Eastern US. Adrian is a former Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Conservation Science Trainee and Associated Researcher of Wildlife Conservation Society in Ecuador. During his career he has been responsible for the design and implementation of monitoring protocols for landscape species and data analysis and publication. His interests are in the field of wildlife ecology and conservation. Since 2017, Adrian's dissertation project aims to understand spatial and population dynamics of avian scavengers in North America and Northern South America.

Raul Osorio is a Ph.D candidate from Quito-Ecuador. He got his Bachelor’s in Environmental and Development Engineering at El Zamorano University in Honduras. He completed a Master’s in Natural Resources from Kansas State University. Nowadays, Raul is doing his Ph.D. at Mississippi State University in the department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering. He is using wave modelling and remote sensing to find optimal designs for marsh terraces at reducing wave energy and therefore land erosion at coastal Louisiana.

Folly Patterson holds a BS in biological engineering and a MS in biomedical engineering, both from MSU. Her master’s research focused on the use of machine learning to predict brain tissue mechanical properties. She is currently pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering on the effect of whole-body vibration on pain and inflammation using a rat model. Her research interests include neural tissue biomechanics, injury modeling, and materials informatics applications in biomedical engineering.
Carlos Ramirez Reyes.

Dr. Alison Paulson is a forest ecologist interested in disturbance, community ecology, and long-term patterns of ecological change. She is currently a Postdoctoral Researcher at Mississippi State University, studying post-fire forest dynamics and associated carbon cycling in Siberia. She received her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied shifts in forest composition resulting from land cover change, deer herbivory, fire suppression, and climate change.

Meena Raju's passion towards academics and being an academician since undergraduate days (Civil Engineering discipline), motivated her to a Master’s in Environmental Engineering in 2003. Coupled with an industrial experience of 11 years in a Defense Public Sector Undertaking in Bangalore, India, she is pursuing her dream of acquiring a doctoral degree in Water Resources. Mississippi River led to take up a research program in Civil and Environment Engineering department at MSU. She feels fortunate to work on Mississippi Delta region focusing on the impacts of streamflow changes due to Climate Change, which is a global concern.

Muhammad Riaz is  pursuing a doctoral degree in human development and family science (HDFS), with gerontology concentration in intergenerational relationships. He is committed to creating a difference in the lives of families through research-informed practices fostering life satisfaction among older adults in multigenerational families, implying diversity, innovation, and commitment. Riaz served over two decades as a veteran, a master educator, trainer of trainers, and an administrator in professional institutions cultivating assessment strategies through professional training to pre- and in-service educators. He intends to optimize potentials of future generations by transforming them into professionally and educationally skilled and committed professionals, the nation can be proud of their services. Riaz is learning new skills that match the evolving world challenges, ever-evolving technologies in teaching, and interdisciplinary approaches aimed at finding cost-efficient pragmatic solutions to significant problems faced by the humanity through proactive education, research, and service par at excellence.

Elizabeth Thorne has received her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Early Childhood Education and is currently pursuing a PhD in Human Development and Family Science. She has previously worked in Head Start and other grant-funded and non-profit organizations and currently serves as a Graduate Assistant in the School of Human Sciences. Her research interests include parenting practices and its relation to social and emotional development and school readiness in young children.

Lara Threet has her Bachelor of Science, Industrial Technology with a Concentration in Distribution; Bachelors of Business Administration, Marketing; and Master of Science Instructional Technology with a Concentration in Distance Education. Her current discipline is Instructional Technology, Distance Education. Her research focus is attracting and retaining minorities, especially women, into STEM fields.

Sweta Tiwari is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geosciences at Mississippi State University. Her principal areas of research include food geography, environmental migration, race, and urban inequalities. In particular, her research traces socioeconomic and spatial processes related to food insecurity, to human migration in the face of environmental crisis, and to neighborhood segregation. Further, as a graduate teaching assistant, she has been teaching undergraduate geospatial course named, "Maps and Remote Sensing" since 2017. Before joining the Department of Geosciences in 2017, she pursued her master's degree in agriculture economics from the same university. During her master's program, she worked as a Graduate Research Assistant. Her research work was focused on examining whether price risk of crop revenue insurance could be hedge through the options market. Besides academic engagement, she loves to dance, to exercise, and to explore new places.

Courtney Heath Windhorn graduated from Mississippi State with a B.A. in Sociology in 2017 and an M.S. in Sociology in 2019 and is currently pursuing a PhD. Her Master’s thesis explored schooling in rural Mississippi using qualitative data collected with children who attend private school and their parents. Her research interests include race, family studies, religious socialization, and rural Sociology. During her time in the Sociology graduate program, Courtney has worked on family-based, qualitative research with Dr. Nicole Rader and Dr. Margaret Hagerman and a content analysis of country music data with Dr. Braden Leap.

Jianling Xie is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at Mississippi State University. She teaches all levels of educational and psychological statistics and motivation factors in education. Her research unites two strands of significant educational inquiry: (a) the development of motivational processes associated with learning and academic outcomes in school settings, (b) functions of affect for motivation and achievement (e.g., the effect of boredom on students’ academic agency).