Hattiesburg, MS, United States

University of Southern Mississippi

Hattiesburg, MS, United States

The University of Southern Mississippi, known informally as Southern Miss, is a public research university located in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. It is situated 70 miles north of Gulfport, Mississippi and 105 miles northeast of New Orleans, Louisiana. Southern Miss is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award baccalaureate, master's, specialist, and doctoral degrees. The university is classified by the Carnegie Foundation as a "Research University" with "High Research Activity" .Founded on March 30, 1910, the university is a dual campus institution, with the main campus located in Hattiesburg and the Gulf Park campus located in Long Beach, with five additional teaching and research sites.The university has a particularly extensive study-abroad program through its Center for International Education, and is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the nation for the number of students studying abroad each year. It is especially noted for its British Studies program, which regularly sends more than 200 students each summer to live and study in the heart of London. The university is also home to a major polymer science research center, and one of the strongest fine arts programs in the southeastern United States.Originally called the Mississippi Southerners, the Southern Miss athletic teams became the Golden Eagles in 1972. The school’s colors, black and gold, were selected by a student body vote shortly after the school was founded, and while mascots, names, customs, and the campus have changed, the black and gold colors have remained constant. Wikipedia.

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Chevron and University of Southern Mississippi | Date: 2016-09-30

Provided herein are methods for preparing a functionalized polyolefin from an unsaturated polyolefin containing one or more non-aromatic main-chain double bonds and for reducing the size and/or polydispersity index (i.e., increasing the homogeneity) of the unsaturated polyolefin.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: TECTONICS | Award Amount: 270.74K | Year: 2016

There is an extensive instrumental, historical, and geological record of tsunamigenic-earthquakes originating from the northern and middle parts of the Japan Trench that documents the last several thousand years of earthquakes and tsunamis, including the magnitude 9 Tohoku earthquake in 2011. This earthquake ruptured five segments along the northern and middle parts of the Trench, but failed to rupture through the southern part, which is near metropolitan Tokyo. The seismic risk for this portion of the trench is uncertain because of the possibility that stress transferred southwards during the 2011 earthquake and that this part of the subduction zone is locked. Furthermore, the instrumental and historical record is sparse with only one tsunamigenic-earthquake on record (CE 1677 Empo earthquake) and lack of long-term geological data. A research team from University of Southern Mississippi and Rutgers University in collaboration with Japanese researchers will employ an innovative combination of field, laboratory (sedimentary, microfossil, and radiometric analyses), statistical, and modeling techniques to a series of possible tsunami deposits in order to determine the tsunami and earthquake history of the southern Japan Trench, data which is very important for anticipating future disasters. Besides providing an improved understanding of seismic risk in the Tokyo region, additional benefits to society include improved STEM education though outreach to middle school students and development of a globally competitive STEM workforce through training of graduate and undergraduate students and post-doctoral fellow mentoring.

The detection and characterization of tsunami deposits preserved in coastal sediments provides a long-term record of past earthquakes. This project focuses on three candidate-tsunami sands that are preserved in coastal rice fields in the Kujukuri beaches, a strand plain located on the Boso Peninsula approximately 50 km east of Tokyo. The identification of tsunami deposits using proxy analyses (grain size and microfossil), with Bayesian age-depth models and tsunami simulation models, will resolve whether the southern part of the trench can produce future earthquakes that are similar in size as the 2011 Tohoku event. Well-constrained ages for each candidate tsunami will permit an accurate estimation of the shoreline position, and thus, inundation distance at the time of deposition. By integrating these changing shoreline positions into previously developed tsunami simulation models (e.g., 2011 Tohoku and CE 1677 Empo models), the research team will test whether previous middle/northern or southern trench ruptures could have deposited the tsunami sands on the Boso Peninsula.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: FIELD STATIONS | Award Amount: 218.73K | Year: 2016

Natural history research collections provide vital references and resources for taxonomic, phylogenetic, ecological, natural disaster, invasive species, developmental, genetic and biodiversity research on an extraordinary diversity of animals, plants and other natural objects. Those collections allow researchers to examine a broader range of material, both geographically and temporally, at a substantially lower cost than would be possible if samples had to be obtained independently by the scientist. Such collections also contribute to the training of the next generation of graduate and undergraduate students, providing them with hands-on research experience and an understanding of current museum practices, and expose members of the public, K-12 students and their teachers to this type of research via tours, workshops and presentations. To best serve the scientific community, however, such collections must have carefully maintained, environmentally-controlled housing and must remain updated with the potential for expansion to meet the ongoing research needs of the community.

The University of Southern Mississippis Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL; http://gcrl.usm.edu) is home to the GCRL Museum, which houses extensive ichthyological and invertebrate collections dating back to 1958. More than 36,500 lots of fish specimens, representing 3,400 species from 270 families, are catalogued within the Museum, as are 6,536 lots of invertebrate specimens. The facility serves as the primary repository for specimens obtained during ongoing local, national, and international research programs conducted at GCRL and at other institutions and provides support for regional and federal programs such as NOAAs SouthEast Area Monitoring and Assessment Program (SEAMAP). Current infrastructure and equipment for the Museum are outdated and do not support efficient maintenance or utilization of this vast collection. Improvements to the Museum will include renovation of current facilities: (a) to accommodate modern, space-efficient compactorized shelving units and (b) to integrate upgraded safety and containment systems. Renovated Museum facilities and associated storage efficiency will allow for a completely centralized collection of fish and invertebrate specimens that will aid in better internal management of the collection and foster increased use of the collection for academic and research purposes.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Cooperative Agreement | Program: | Phase: RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROV | Award Amount: 4.00M | Year: 2016

Non-technical Description

Ten researchers across six institutions in two states (MS, AL) will collaborate to develop advanced polymer-based, selective sensing technologies for detecting and analyzing pollutants in Gulf Coast aquatic ecosystems which represent a critical nexus of water-energy-food for the region and the nation, hosting important fisheries, aquaculture, trading ports, and off-shore oil exploration and production industries. The effort combines approaches from chemistry, biochemistry, geochemistry, marine science, computational science, polymer science, and engineering to develop portable, rapidly deployable polymer-based sensing technologies for detection of pollutants. Professional development and education efforts, including proposal writing workshops, seed funding opportunities, and team management strategies, will support and promote junior faculty. The project includes summer research programs for undergraduate and high school students to broadening participation.

Technical Description

This project will design new sensing technologies for deployment in the marine environment to detect pollutants (CO2, nitrates, phosphates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)). New modular receptor-analyte interactions for CO2, nitrates, phosphates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) capable of specifically transducing an analyte-binding event into a useable signal will be designed and evaluated. Computational and experimental approaches will be combined to gain understanding of the molecular parameters controlling the strength and stability of analyte-receptor interactions of designed systems in complex aqueous environments. Promising receptors will be incorporated into polymeric systems, where the influence of polymer structure on sensitivity of the sensors will be studied and used to develop predictive models. Selected receptors will be integrated into prototype organic field effect transistor (OFET) devices and colorimetric detection technologies.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Systems and Synthetic Biology | Award Amount: 629.53K | Year: 2016

Plant oils are a vital part of human life and are utilized as food, chemicals, and fuels. It is predicted that world output of plant oils must double by 2040 to meet the needs of the growing human population, and even larger increases are needed if plant oils will be used to increasingly replace petroleum as fuels and chemicals. To meet this rising demand we need a better understanding of the metabolic reactions that control plant oil biosynthesis and oil composition. The goal of this project is to quantitatively describe the control exerted by key oil and membrane lipid biosynthetic proteins over the flux of vital intermediates into either oils or membrane lipids in the model plant, Arabidopsis. To prepare the next generation workforce the PIs will incorporate their research into training of undergraduate and graduate students and a post-doctoral fellow. Since plant oils are valuable renewable resources used for food, fuels, and chemicals this research will further our ability to guide plant lipid metabolic networks for the production of designer oils.

Little is known about what controls the flux of de novo diacylglycerol into alternative branches of the lipid biosynthetic network in different plant species. The PIs hypothesize that a crucial control point is the partitioning of de novo synthesized diacylglycerol between phosphatidylcholine and triacylglycerol synthesis. The aims of the research are: 1) deciphering the roles of the non-redundant diglyceride acetyltransferase 1 and diglyceride acetyltransferase 2 triacylglycerol synthesizing enzymes in partitioning of de novo diacylglycerol between direct oil production and membrane lipid synthesis; 2) characterize the role of phosphatidylcholine synthesis enzymes in partitioning of de novo diacylglycerol into different branches of the lipid biosynthetic network; 3) develop quantitative kinetic models for the control of glycerolipid fluxes in Arabidopsis; and 4) explore protein:protein interactions to characterize the molecular components that make up the lipid metabolic complexes that control diacylglycerol fluxes. The above approaches will be combined with computer modeling to produce a quantitative description of the control of metabolite fluxes through the plant lipid metabolic network that can then guide the production of designer plant oils.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Continuing grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 248.94K | Year: 2016

This project is jointly funded by the Polymers Program in the Division of Materials Research and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).


The research objective of this CAREER project is to gain fundamental knowledge of the correlation between morphology at the nanoscale and optoelectronic properties of chemically doped one-dimensional conducting polymer aggregates. The planned research and educational activities have broad impacts by tackling current national needs in both materials and human workforce development. The knowledge gained in the project will promote rational design of more efficient organic materials for electronic applications, as well as more efficient processing and fabrication techniques for future organic electronic devices. With the current world organic electronics market size expected to grow significantly in the next decade, enhancements on just a fraction of the organic electronic materials could have an impact on US and global economy.

This program also provides a platform for participating students to gain expertise from interdisciplinary fields including materials science, chemistry, and surface science. Hands-on activities involving polymer science and nanoscience will be offered to K-8 students for early exposure to scientific topics. High-school polymer nanoscience workshops will provide students hands-on experience on preparing and characterizing functional nanostructures. Extra efforts will be devoted to recruiting and involving underrepresented and economically disadvantaged K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students into these outreach activities. Successful execution of these integrated research and education activities will enhance diversity in US scientific research and inspire more K-12 and undergraduate students to pursue STEM careers.


The systematic local morphology-property correlation of non-doped and doped 1D conjugated polymer aggregates gained by AFM-based methods is the primary goal of this project. To achieve this goal, monolayer and multi-layer conjugated polymer nanowhiskers are chosen as the model systems in this program because most of the polymer molecules within monolayer nanowhiskers are surface molecules that can be directly investigated by surface characterization tools. Multi-layer nanowhiskers will be subsequently studied in a layer-by-layer manner on the basis of what was learned from monolayer nanowhiskers. Local morphology-property relationship for doped and non-doped conjugated polymer nanowhiskers will be analyzed using AFM and its advanced modes. The doping reaction in solution will be systematically studied by UV-vis spectroscopy to reveal the influences of many parameters, particularly the aggregation forms, on the chemical doping reaction kinetics. The charge transport in and between 1D conjugated polymer aggregates will also be interrogated at nanometer scale. This program is expected to reveal structure and property fluctuations at nano- to micrometer scales that are otherwise hidden in ensemble measurements. The conductivity studies within and between nanowhiskers will elucidate the interrelated roles of defect sites, ordered/disordered domains, connection points, and chemical doping on the charge transport of conjugated polymer materials. The results of the chemical doping reaction kinetic dependence on the reaction conditions, especially conjugate polymer microscopic aggregation forms, will supply practical solution-based applications with crucial macroscopic doping reaction kinetics information that is largely missing so far. The comprehensive understanding of the chemical doping of conjugated polymers accumulated in this program will enable researchers in this field to seek suitable strategies based on concrete organic doping knowledge rather than through empirical trials.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: OFFICE OF MULTIDISCIPLINARY AC | Award Amount: 2.87M | Year: 2015

This National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award prepares Ph.D. students at the University of Southern Mississippi with the competencies to address grand materials challenges of 21st Century ranging from pharmaceuticals to energy. This traineeship will provide students with interdisciplinary skills needed in industrial, academic, and national laboratories to drive American competitiveness in advanced materials innovation. The program transcends the divide that currently exists across experimental, theoretical, and computational scientists to train a new cadre of scientists and engineers capable of leading the data-driven design of materials in biolubrication, biomaterials, and renewable energy. Through internships and training opportunities, trainees will develop exceptional content knowledge and scientific skills, with honed professional skills, with readiness to communicate science with a wide audience, including K-12 students. This traineeship also seeks to increase the participation and retention of women and underrepresented minorities in doctoral programs by strong linkages with effective programs and organizations.

The central research theme of this NRT program is complex interfaces of polymeric materials. Faculty from polymer science and engineering, chemistry and biochemistry, and physics, as well as staff scientists from national labs and industrial partners, will co-advise trainees in a multidisciplinary team environment. Trainees will engage in both computational and experimental research projects related to bioinspired interfaces, biomaterials interfaces, and charge transport at interfaces. The education program is designed to provide trainees with hands-on access and training in computational and experimental research tools, to encourage critical analysis of the state of literature, and to identify unmet research challenges. Trainees will also receive extensive training in professional skills such as project management, problem solving, conflict resolution, high performance teams, business etiquette, research ethics, and oral and written communication via a series of professional development workshops. As a final element, trainees will participate in internship opportunities designed for exposure to multiple career paths in academia, industry, national labs, and government policy.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: INTEGRATED EARTH SYSTEMS | Award Amount: 293.29K | Year: 2016

The physical processes dictating the spectrum of fault slip modes (spanning destructive earthquakes
to slow slip events and aseismic creep) and the links between these behaviors and long-term
morphotectonic evolution of subduction systems are not understood. There is a fundamental
need to address this important problem with an integrated, system-level approach combining
geodynamical modeling with high-quality geophysical and geological constraints on subduction
margin characteristics.

This project will conduct an interdisciplinary, multinational collaborative program involving the USA, New Zealand, Japan and the UK to evaluate system-level controls on processes that govern both slip behavior and long-term deformation at subduction zones. The focus is on the Hikurangi margin in New Zealand, where GPS data show a transition in slip behavior from predominantly stick-slip
in the south to aseismic creep in the northern North Island, and where a wide range of subduction-related
processes and characteristics vary along-strike. The aim is to rigorously investigate the feedbacks
between plate interface slip behavior, solid and fluid mass fluxes, and manifestations of plate boundary mechanics in the long-term geological record that likely reflect common driving processes linking forearc uplift, sediment transfer and underplating, plate boundary strength, and seismogenesis. The Principal Investigators will address this important problem through an integrated approach combining large-scale seismic imaging, paleoseismology, and geomorphology, focused through the lens of state-of-the-art numerical modelling.

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: MAJOR RESEARCH INSTRUMENTATION | Award Amount: 622.99K | Year: 2016

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) will acquire a supercomputer to support research and training in computational and data-enabled science and engineering (CDS&E) in a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines. With this supercomputer, computational resources will be made available to students, staff, and faculty at both USM and regional community colleges and high schools, thereby providing enhanced capabilities for training and education. This instrumentation will also include an institutional repository for archiving data sets and scholarly output, and disseminating these resources to the scientific community and to the public.

This instrumentation will establish critical cyberinfrastructure needed to facilitate student learning and research in four main thrusts whose common denominator is computing: (i) Materials Science, (ii) Biological Sciences, (iii) Coastal and Marine Sciences, and (iv) Data Mining, Bioinformatics, and Geoinformatics. The instrumentation will comprise standard compute nodes, high-core compute nodes, large memory nodes, and nodes equipped with graphics processing units (GPUs). The instrumentation will enable academicians, researchers, and students to pursue research and education in areas of national and international importance, such as climate change, coastal hazard mitigation and resilience building efforts, advanced manufacturing, natural resource management, the materials genome initiative, and big data science. The instrumentation will reduce researchers reliance on external cyberinfrastructure, and will aid their transition to national user facilities such as the NSFs eXtreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE).

Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: CONDENSED MATTER & MAT THEORY | Award Amount: 213.43K | Year: 2016


This award is made on a collaborative proposal and supports computational and theoretical research and education on novel complex materials for which the arrangement of atoms cannot be described by regular spatially periodic patterns typical of a crystalline material. These non-crystalline materials have complicated atomic-scale structures and are part of everyday life. They are important for the development of new devices, corrosion-resistant coatings, artificial bone, and other advanced materials. Conventional computational modeling approaches involve a simulation process that leads to a computer model which is then compared to experiment. In contrast, the research team aims to build known experimental or other information into the process of the simulation itself through a new approach with a basis in information theory. The research contributes new methods and computational tools for materials modeling and the discovery of new materials.

This project includes a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics outreach program focused on the southern Mississippi region. It involves the participation of minority students at the high school and college level, and the development of a tutorial program for gifted undergraduates at the University of Southern Mississippi. The program will build on the experiences of the entire team. This award also contributes to the development of a computational materials program with a focus on complex materials. The PIs aim to create a broader collaborative program on materials computation that builds on the strengths of neighboring universities and serves the southern Mississippi region. The research will involve international collaborations with the University of Cambridge, and provide international research experience to students supported under the award.


This award is made on a collaborative proposal and supports theoretical research and computational modeling of complex amorphous materials and educational outreach. The research team aims to develop a new approach to the modeling of complex non-crystalline materials that incorporates experimental information through an appropriate total-energy functional that jointly satisfies both theory and experimental data. The determination of structure of complex amorphous solids is posed as an inverse or hybrid problem. The problem is mapped onto a multi-objective non-convex optimization program. The team will utilize recently developed bio-inspired global optimization techniques to address the problem. An integration of theory and experiments will be achieved by developing a mathematical framework to enable the search for structural solutions in an augmented solution space consisting of a direct product of the configurational space of a suitable total-energy functional and the solution space spanned by a set of input experimental data.

The resulting experimentally constrained molecular/atomic relaxation approach will be applied to several problems in amorphous materials ranging from superionic conduction in solid glassy-electrolytes and modeling large-scale inhomogeneities in amorphous solids to the structural and dynamical properties of few representative metallic and bulk metallic glasses at the intermediate length scale. In particular, the superionic conduction in solid glassy-oxides will be reviewed in light of the new hybrid models by incorporating structural information at the intermediate length scale from experiments, which is of direct significance in developing durable solid-state batteries, smart sensors, and portable, fuel cells.

This project includes a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics outreach program focused on the southern Mississippi region. It involves the participation of minority students at the high school and college level, and the development of a tutorial program for gifted undergraduates at the University of Southern Mississippi. The program will build on the experiences of the entire team. This award also contributes to the development of a computational materials program with a focus on complex materials. The PIs aim to create a broader collaborative program on materials computation that builds on the strengths of neighboring universities and serves the southern Mississippi region. The research will involve international collaborations with the University of Cambridge, and provide international research experience to students supported under the award.

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