Accomplishments for 2013

(2013-11-07) Congratulations to Biological Sciences students that received awards at the South Central and Texas Branches Joint Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology, November 1-2, 2013. Bill Boyle (Dr. Job Lopez’s Lab)received the Strawinski Award for best M.S. student presentation. Morgan Wright took 2nd Place (Dr. Janet Donaldson’s Lab) and Brock Drumheller, 3rd Place (Dr. Job Lopez’s Lab) in the undergraduate poster competition.

(2013-10-29) Assistant Professor Position Department of Biological Sciences Mississippi State University The Department of Biological Sciences at Mississippi State University invites applications for a 9-month tenure-track faculty position in Microbiology. We seek a candidate who will complement existing strengths and allow for new collaborations in the department and across Mississippi State University. Appointment will be at the rank of Assistant Professor, with a start date of August 16, 2014. Successful candidates are expected to develop an externally funded research program, direct graduate students, teach at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and contribute to the service mission of the department. Minimum requirements include a Ph.D. in a relevant area of Biology or Microbiology, post-doctoral experience, evidence of sustained scholarly productivity, and evidence of teaching competence. Candidates with expertise in microbial symbioses, microbiomes, or community structure and function are strongly encouraged to apply. Mississippi State University is a comprehensive land-grant university that serves more than 20,000 students. The university is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a “very high research activity” university, placing it among the nation’s leading major research universities. Faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences have diverse research interests in bioinformatics, cell biology, developmental biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, microbiology, physiology, and systematics and are funded by the NIH, NSF, USDA, and USGS, as well as numerous private foundations. The Biological Sciences department offers degrees at the B.S. (Biological Sciences, Medical Technology, and Microbiology), M.S. (Biological Sciences thesis and non-thesis) and Ph.D. (Biological Sciences) levels. Research space in Harned Hall was recently renovated providing modern facilities for cutting-edge research. Campus research infrastructure includes supercomputing resources, and proteomics and genomics instrumentation at the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology, computing resources and statistical expertise at the Center for Computational Sciences, microscopy and imaging through the Institute for Imaging and Analytical Technologies, and geospatial technology through the Geosystems Research Institute. A Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE, NIH) was also recently established on campus. The Biological Sciences department offers degrees at the B.S. (Biological Sciences, Medical Technology, and Microbiology), M.S. (Biological Sciences thesis and non-thesis) and Ph.D. (Biological Sciences) levels. Research space in Harned Hall was recently renovated providing modern facilities for cutting-edge research. Additional details on research facilities, faculty expertise, and potential for collaborations across campus are available at To apply, submit a CV, statement of research expertise and goals (2-page maximum), a statement of teaching interests and competency (2-page maximum), three letters of reference, and reprints of up to 3 publications. These materials should be submitted to Applicants should also complete the Personal Data Information Form associated with this position at (PARF/position 7551). Screening of applications will begin December 1, 2013 and will continue until the position is filled. MSU is an AA/EOE.

(2013-10-10) Dr. Matthew Brown, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, is the lead author of a paper describing a new genus of eukaryotic microbe in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (see full citation below*). The new organism, Pygsuia biforma, is an anaerobic flagellate originally found in marine sediments from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The cells resemble little Razorbacks under the microscope, which became the inspiration for the genus name which sounds like the University of Arkansas' Hog Call, "PIG-SOOIE-a". More importantly, Brown's research has found that the organism makes up a previously unrecognized group that is most closely related to the animals and fungi on the tree of life, which was formally introduced as Obazoa. Moreover, Brown identified a suite of genes that were once believed to be specific to animals, which pushes back their evolutionary origin, predating the evolution of animals. For more information on Dr. Brown's research, visit *Brown, MW, Sharpe S, Silberman JD, Heiss A, Lang BF, Simpson AGB, Roger AJ. 2013. Phylogenomics demonstrates that breviate flagellates are related to opisthokonts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 280:20131755. Articles describing the discovery in more detail may be found at and

(2013-10-09) Jessica Wilson, M.S. student in Biological Sciences, presented a winning poster at the September 10, 2013, Arkansas Association for Food Protection Annual Education Conference. The AAFP Annual Conference covers emerging food safety issues. Jessica received the IEH Laboratories Poster Award for Interventions, Pre Harvest for her poster entitled “Providing Lipid-Producing Bacteria as a Probiotic Can Alter the Response to Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections In vivo.” Jessica performs research under the direction of Dr. Janet Donaldson, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences.

(2013-09-27) Dr. Janet Donaldson, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, is co-principal investigator for a recently awarded $10 million National Institutes of Health COBRE grant entitled "Center for Biomedical Research Excellence in Pathogen-Host Interactions." Dr. Donaldson's portion of the funding will be approximately $1.2M.

(2013-05-23) Jeff Echols, Biological Sciences Instructor and Director of Lab Operations, recently received MSU's Office of Regulatory Compliance and Safety Outstanding Research Associate Award. The award honors Mr. Echols' relentless and outstanding safety efforts to ensure Harned Hall is a safe place for students, faculty, and staff.

(2013-05-22) Ashley Helton, a 2009 Mississippi State graduate in Biological Sciences, was recently selected as Valedictorian for the Southern College of Optometry's Spring 2013 graduating class. Southern College of Optometry, located in Memphis, Tennessee, ranks as one of the nation’s leading institutions of optometric education.

(2013-05-03) Dr. Janet Donaldson, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, recently received the 2013 National Pork Board Swine Industry Award for Innovation. The research that garnered this prestigious award was entitled "Novel Use of Lipid-Producing Bacteria to Increase Circulating Triglycerides in Swine." Identification of Pictured (left to right): Mr. Brandon Cox, National Pork Board SE Representative; Dr. Donaldson; Dr. Wayne Green, President of the Southern Section of American Society for Animal Science.

(2013-04-30) The Biological Undergraduate Research Program held it's 6th annual Research Symposium on April 12, 2013, in Harned Hall. Twenty poster entries and presentations were judged by a panel of MSU Faculty and graduate students and the top three were selected for Downer Undergraduate Research Awards. The students receiving awards were Connor Dennison, First Place (Dr. Donna Gordon's lab); Kelly Callahan, Second Place (Dr. Justin Thornton's lab); and Rushil Randive, Third Place (Dr. James Stewart's lab). In addition, Dr. Donna Gordon, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, received the First Place Mentor Award. The students each received an engraved plaque, a cash award, and Connor also received an engraved cowbell--GO RESEARCH DAWGS!

(2013-04-24) Dr. Gary Ervin, Professor of Biological Sciences, is the recipient of a Spring 2013 Henry Family Research Fund award. The award of $5,000 will be used to fund research using microscopic algae to study processes of community assembly and invasion in aquatic ecosystems.


(2013-02-28) CONGRATULATIONS to the Recipients of the Department of Biological Sciences Scholarship Awards for 2013-2014 Ramsey & Elaine O’Neal Scholarship Jerry Leonard Rodgers, Hannah Lynn Hults, Haley Nicole Jenkins, Frances Belle Carter John C. Longest Pre-Med Scholarship Caitlin Renee Henley Harned Memorial Scholar-Microbiology Jacob Morgan Stout Coy E. Patton Memorial Scholarship Andrew James Harper Scott Ferguson Memorial Fund Samuel Anton Twedt Mildred Watkins Brand Pre-Med Scholarship Dejanae Dilworth