Gazebo Gazette

Faculty and staff of Coastal Operations at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) have been awarded funds to support their individual and collaborative pursuits through the Faculty and Staff Development Awards program.

Dr. Jacob Breland, Interim Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Coastal Operations, explains that the awards were originally conceived as part of the Coastal Operations Symposium planned for fall 2021. This event would provide faculty the opportunity to give micro-presentations about their research leading to collaborative work that contributes to the three pillars guiding Coastal Operations’ vision: Understanding the Ocean and Coasts, Improving Coastal Resilience, and Supporting the Blue Economy.

“While we decided to postpone the Symposium due to continuing COVID-19 concerns, the Faculty and Staff Development Awards were an important complementary component we wanted to maintain,” said Breland. “These awards represent an investment in the continued success of our highly qualified faculty and staff by providing needed funds for individual and collaborative research, travel, professional development, etc.”

Coastal Operations staff were invited to submit proposals for Staff Development Awards to be used for activities such as travel, professional development, training, purchase of materials and/or equipment, etc. The maximum award amount is $1,000 for individual proposals and $2,000 for group proposals.

Eleven proposals from 16 unique staff members were received. Four of the proposals were collaborative. The committee chose to fund seven of the proposals – six individual and one collaborative. Altogether $8,000 in funding was allocated.

Staff Development Award recipients are required to submit a post-award report describing the use and impact of awarded funds.

Coastal Operations faculty were invited to submit proposals for Faculty Development Awards to be used to for activities such as materials and/or equipment purchase, travel, professional development, training, etc. The maximum awarded amount was $3,000 for individual proposals and $5,000 for group proposals.

Nine proposals were submitted, and the Committee chose to fund all nine – five individual and four collaborative. Altogether, $33,500 in faculty development funding was awarded.

Staff awards included:

  • Laura E. Blackmon – Awarded $1,000 in funding for a professional retreat for all Marine Education Center staff members.
    • “The staff development retreat will have a twofold impact on the MEC and the University. First, the MEC staff will fortify team bonds and enhance understanding of workplace expectations to deliver exceptional participant experiences during MEC programming. Second, the University will benefit from a staff retreat that will provide structured time for long-range strategic planning at the MEC.”
  • Colette Byrnes – Awarded $1,000 in funding for attendance at the Association of Collegiate Conference & Event Directors, International (ACCED-I) conference in Atlanta, GA.
    • The ACCED-I conference will provide trainings and discussions on how events are handled at colleges and universities across the United States. This is an opportunity to learn best practices from other institutions and engage in valuable networking. Event Services has also prioritized unit funding to allow their Graduate Assistant, Nikeshia Hunter, to also attend the conference and gain valuable professional development and experience.
  • Marci Calcote – Awarded $1,000 in funding to purchase an iPad
    • Purchasing an iPad will allow Marci to transition from her desk to the One Stop easily allowing for better service to students in the One Stop and assistance in training for the Student Service Specialists. Additionally, Marci will be able to transition to other spaces during high-volume events such as Orientation and others.
  • Stacy Henley – Awarded $1,000 in funding for attendance at the 2022 Women in Higher Education Mississippi Network (WHEMN) conference in Oxford, MS.
    • The conference provides tips and strategies around becoming even more efficient and effective in the workplace. WHEM provides an opportunity to join peers in an atmosphere built on collaborative support and experiential sharing.
  • Tiffany Kersten – Awarded $1,000 in funding for attendance at the Envisioning a Student-Centered Future conference in Denver, CO.
    • The conference provides a wealth of learning opportunities surrounding advisement strategies, online learning, adult degree programs, retention, and professionalism, all of which will benefit Tiffany, and the Advisement Center greatly.
  • Mary Maner and Dylan Tyner – Awarded $2,000 in funding for attendance at the National Career Development (NCDA) Career Practitioner Institute 2022 Conference.
    • The 2022 conference focuses on “Career Development Strategies for Marginalized Groups” and will benefit the ongoing collaboration between Career Services and Advisement & Recruitment, which includes outreach ad sharing of resources between the University and underserved communities in coastal Mississippi.
  • Joyce Powell – Awarded $1,000 in funding for attendance at the 2022 Women in Higher Education Mississippi Network (WHEMN) conference in Oxford, MS.
    • Attendance at WHEMN will help Joyce further develop her skills and perform even more effectively in her new role as Assistant Director of the School of Leadership. The conference will provide exposure to other practitioners and their best practices and allow her to brainstorm new topics and ideas to share with others at Southern Miss.

Faculty awards included:

  • Dr. Lin Agler:  Awarded $3,000 to assess how the diverse coastal population of adults engage in decision-making processes that impact their health-related actions in response to hazardous events. Dr. Agler’s study will center around coastal residents’ decisions to evacuate in the face of a Category 5 hurricane and their decision to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Drs. Heather Annulis, Gregory Bradley, Quincy Brown, Bradley Winton, Casey Maugh Funderburk, and Ken Zantow:  Awarded $5,000 to perform a needs assessment to determine the workforce needs of the Mississippi Blue Economy. The project is created with the intent of producing data to inform both academic and non-academic programs to develop a well-trained workforce and further strengthen relationships between the Gulf Park Campus and the local Blue Economy business community.
  • Dr. Douglas Bristol:  Awarded $3,000 to assess the environmental impact of naval warfare on the Gulf of Mexico during World War II. The project will use historical records to determine the amount of oil was released into the Gulf when German U-Boats sank Allied tankers; draw insights from recent scholarship surrounding shipwrecks that serve as artificial reefs; and identify the benefits to North Atlantic fisheries from being restricted due to World War II. Dr. Bristol will consult with leading scholars at the Annual Meeting of the America Society for Environmental History and conduct research for a resulting article.
  • Dr. Damon Franke:  Awarded $1,500 for The Mississippi Everyday Heroisms Project. Dr. Franke’s project seeks to nurture and gather personal narratives from students, faculty, and community members and house them on a University web page which will become an ongoing project. The project will culminate in a screening of O Brother, Where Art Thou and a writing contest for Southern Miss students.
  • Drs. Rachel Gisewhite, Christopher Foley, David Holt, and Jennifer Walker:  Awarded $5,000 to develop and implement an Environmental Justice Heat Mapping Program to identify the most sever urban heat islands across the three Mississippi coastal counties. The project funds allow for the purchase of heat mapping equipment and engage local 6-12 grade students at Boys and Girls Clubs along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
  • Drs. Michael Mong and Kenji Noguchi:  Awarded $5,000 to examine the social and psychological resiliency of coastal residents in light of recent natural disasters and stressors. The project seeks to measure participants’ self-reported levels of anxiety and depression, their unique experiences of potentially traumatic events (Hurrican Zeta, Ida, and the COVID-19 pandemic), their coping strategies, and intention to remain in the community.
  • Drs. Katrin Pesch, Gregory Carter, Wei Wu, Patrick Biber, Carlton Anderson, and Mr. Vincenzo Mistretta:  Awarded $5,000 to explore how to communicate research about the impact of ecosystem changes on coastal wetlands through a series of videos. The project will result in a 30-minute documentary and a series of short videos featuring individual researchers or projects with the intent to develop a proposal for an upcoming NSF program.
  • Dr. Shuyan Wang:  Awarded $3,000 to examine and describe student and instructor experiences in graduate online courses where interaction and collaboration among students are promoted by synchronous and asynchronous communication tools. Funding will allow Dr. Wang to travel and present research at an international conference.
  • Dr. Bradley Winton:  Awarded $3,000 to study how marine tourism can be marketed to increase its impact on the Blue Economy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The project will allow Dr. Bradley to collect high-quality data to be used in the drafting of a manuscript intended for peer-reviewed publication.