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STEM ACTIVITIES AT MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC UNIVERSITIES BUILD FUTURE WORKFORCE, IMPROVE LIVES OF MISSISSIPPIANS

10/16/2020 - Jackson, Miss.

Technological advancements, the coronavirus pandemic and the changing ways we live, work, learn, and shop have highlighted the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. STEM activities at Mississippi Public Universities help train the future workforce, highlight advancements in these fields and conduct research that improves the lives of all Mississippians.

Mississippi State University has a decades-long legacy of solving real-world problems through technology and ingenuity. Housing the 4th fastest academic supercomputing system in the U.S., MSU's students have an edge in research and hands-on experience. This "Orion" supercomputing expertise benefits not only the state of Mississippi, but the nation and world by enabling innovation-driven advances in such high-tech STEM fields as autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity, biological engineering and geosciences. In addition to NASA and NOAA, MSU's high performance computing capabilities have led to critical partnerships with the U.S. departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Energy and Agriculture, with the latter housing its "Atlas" supercomputer at MSU for carrying out the most sophisticated food security and crop production research possible.

Mississippi University for Women (The W) holds annual events focusing on STEM fields. The Department of Mathematics hosts the Sonya Kovalevsky High School Mathematics Day to honor the first woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics, Sonya Kovalevsky. The goal is to foster high school girls' interest in mathematics beyond their high school graduation requirements. The one-day event usually features a mathematics competition exam and workshops for female high school students and their teachers. The W also hosts the II+C (Imagine. Inspire Challenge) Symposium, which focuses on heart disease in underserved communities and has attracted more than 500 participants. Practicing professionals from around the region, as well as university and high school students, are encouraged to attend and interact with those at the top of their STEM fields.

The University of Mississippi has created a new Institute for Data Science (IDS) to help educate the next generation of data scientists in response to the demand for data-savvy professionals in a variety of disciplines and across all industries. IDS will educate students to harness the power of big data ethically for industries, increase entrepreneurship and external connections, foster an intellectual and engaged environment, increase research and creative achievement, and support faculty excellence. Students will have opportunities to develop data science knowledge and skills to unlock insights in large data sets by participating in new or enhanced interdisciplinary electives, workshops and seminars, internships and faculty-mentored research or experiential learning projects.

The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) is one of only 131 universities in the nation to earn the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education's "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity" designation. In addition to high-quality research conducted by faculty and staff, USM students also contribute to the University's robust research enterprise, which includes strong STEM activity. USM students have collected 36 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, which supports graduate students in STEM disciplines, and USM students have earned 24 Goldwater Scholarships – the most of any Mississippi institution – which are awarded to college sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering.

Alcorn State University's Shakara Johnson, a senior mathematics education major from Hollandale, Mississippi, is the University's first Be Brave, Teach STEM Robert Noyce Scholarship Program recipient. The scholarship is for $10,000. The program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, unites Alcorn's education and psychology, biology, chemistry, and mathematics departments, along with six surrounding K-12 public school districts and Hinds Community College, Utica Campus, to enhance the quality and quantity of STEM teachers in secondary schools. The program's aim is to offer undergraduate students annual scholarships to encourage them to enter STEM education careers in high-needs school districts.

Delta State University's Division of Mathematics and Sciences offers camps for elementary, middle and high school students during Spring Break and the summer in an effort to raise awareness and spark interest in STEM-related disciplines and careers. A DSU Spring Outdoor Youth Camp for children ages 9 to 11 held during Spring Break exposes students to ecology, conservation and GPS technology while encouraging them to hunt and fish responsibly. Open to middle school students and science teachers, the ATT Summer STEM Camp is designed to train teachers and students in STEM-related activities. The DSU Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program holds a residential STEM Discovery camp for rising high school seniors. Campers conduct research with division faculty, attend seminars, and take field trips to STEM-related businesses and research laboratories.

Through a grant from Verizon, Jackson State University's College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET) is one of four leading HBCU's participating in the company's Minority Male Makers Program, which helps to instruct male students of color in STEM disciplines during the summer. The College of Education and Human Development, in partnership with CSET, has been awarded a $46,000 National Math and Science Institute HBCUTeach: Diversifying the STEM Teacher Workforce Planning Grant. The grant will support the college in organizing a secondary STEM teacher preparation program based on the nationally recognized UTeach STEM teacher preparation model. The National Science Foundation has awarded JSU a nearly $400,000 grant that would help underserved communities with storm preparedness, provide mental therapy for weather-related trauma and inspire minority women to pursue STEM careers.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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