Four University of Southern Mississippi students awarded prestigious National Science Foundation fellowships

Published 2:38 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

Four outstanding University of Southern Mississippi (USM) students have achieved a significant milestone in their academic and scientific journeys by being awarded prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships.

Damien Cooper, Carmen Dunn, Zacchaeus Wallace, and Baylor Lynch, hailing from diverse academic backgrounds, have been recognized for their exceptional contributions to their respective fields of study.

Upon learning about the fellowship, Damien Cooper, a chemistry major from Batesville, Miss., expressed disbelief and joy. Cooper’s research focuses on the synthesis and derivatization of a nitrogen heterocycle called piperidine, which has implications for pharmaceutical applications. With the fellowship’s support, he plans to pursue a doctorate in chemistry at Rice University.

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Carmen Dunn, a doctoral candidate from Lenoir City, Tenn., working in the field of polymer science, highlighted the crucial role of support networks in her journey. Dunn’s research centers on sustainable polymer materials and aims to address challenges in polymer recycling methods. She intends to shift her focus towards designing dynamic graft blend compatibilizers to enhance recycling processes.

Zacchaeus Wallace, a senior majoring in polymer science and engineering from Jackson, described receiving the fellowship as a testament to his dedication and mission to contribute to scientific advancements. Wallace’s research targets therapeutic strategies to mitigate the effects of reactive oxygen species, focusing on cancer metastasis and cardiovascular disease. He plans to pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University.

Baylor Lynch, a recent USM graduate in conservation biology, shared his initial anxiety followed by immense joy upon receiving the fellowship notification. Lynch’s research interests lie in ecology, particularly marine and riverine ecosystems. He aims to specialize in utilizing chemical tracers to understand ecological processes and plans to pursue a master’s degree in fisheries and aquatic science at the University of Florida.

These four exceptional individuals exemplify the talent and dedication fostered within USM’s academic community. Their achievements underscore the university’s commitment to nurturing diverse talents and preparing students for success in their chosen fields. With the support of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Cooper, Dunn, Wallace, and Lynch are poised to make significant contributions to science and engineering, advancing knowledge and innovation for the betterment of society.