Below is a list of mentors to aid the Mississippi INBRE Research Scholars in finding a mentor for their summer internships. This is not an extensive list; you are welcome to find a mentor outside of this list from one of our host universities.

Click on each university to see mentors from that institution:
Jackson State University
Mississippi State University
University of Mississippi
University of Mississippi Medical Center
The University of Southern Mississippi

Please note: Students are expected to contact chosen mentors and have confirmation from the mentor that they will allow the student to work in their lab before filling out the application for the Mississippi INBRE Research Scholars program. Students who fail to complete this step will be disqualified from the program.

Jackson State University

Wellington Ayensu, PhD, Jackson State University

Research focuses on psychoneuroimmunology with areas of environmental health related to public health issues, and developmental issues affecting the neonate.

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Joseph Cameron, PhD, Jackson State University

Research focuses on biochemical mechanisms of toxicity and hormone action, hormonal control of mammary gland development and function, influence of diet on atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis and fat deposition during pregnancy and lactation, and mechanisms of hypertension.

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Clement Yedjou, PhD, Jackson State University

Research focuses on pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutics.

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Mississippi State University

Matthew Brown, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on genomics and bioinformatics.

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Padmanava Dash, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on studying ocean color remote sensing, limnology, harmful algal blooms (HABs), harmful microorganisms (pathogens), toxic metals, nutrient flux, biological oceanography and ocean biochemistry.

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Nick Fitzkee, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on understanding the relationship between a protein’s flexibility and its function, and in particular how proteins can use structural disorder to their advantage during catalysis. An additional research focus is understanding protein structure on nanoparticle surfaces.

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Donna M. Gordon, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on characterizing the cellular response(s) induced in S. verevisiae and Candida spp exposed to the anti-fungal, occidiofungin, with the goal of identifying the biological target of this compound.

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Renita Horton, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on better characterizing the mechanisms that lead to the onset and progression of heart disease.  My group is especially interested in the role of microenvironmental cues such as substrate stiffness, mechanotransduction, and biomolecules in cardiac tissue health.  My second area of interest lies in enhancing our current understanding of the mechanisms that trigger sickle cell disease related co-morbidities.

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Barbara Kaplan, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focus is to elucidate the mechanisms by which cannabinoid compounds (i.e., those derived from marijuana) alter immune function. Interested in characterizing the mechanisms by which plant-derived compounds alter T cell function and examining the role of CB1 and CB2 in cannabinoid-mediated suppression of B cell function. Two different model systems are being utilized for these studies. The first model is a mouse-adapted influenza strain, A/PR8/34. The second model is the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model of multiple sclerosis (MS).

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C. LaShan Simpson, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on cardiovascular disease, target therapies (cell and gene therapies) and nanotechnology to treat cardiovascular disease.

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Justin Thornton, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on both sides of the host-pathogen interaction by characterizing how the innate immune response functions to limit progression of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) infections and also how virulence mechanisms of the pneumococcus enable it to cause disease. The overall goal of our research is to identify new targets for intervention which will help to decrease the morbidity and mortality associated with this pathogen.

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Mark Welch, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on how natural populations respond to changes in their environment. A major focus of his lab is to identify molecular mechanisms that increase phenotypic variation by altering gene expression. To do this, he preforms functional genomic analysis on variable, natural populations of sunflowers.

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Lakiesha Williams, PhD, Mississippi State University

Research focuses on biomechanics of tissues and organs.

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University of Mississippi

Lainy Day, PhD, University of Mississippi

Research focuses on understanding the evolution, function and neuroendocrinology of brain regions involved in spatial and motor learning, principally the hippocampus and cerebellum. Projects revolve around steroid induced neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in the avian brain with some work in the non-avian vertebrate models as well.

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University of Mississippi Medical Center

Hamed Benghuzzi, PhD, FAIMBE, FBSE, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on the development and applications of novel drug delivery systems.

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David Brown, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on employing the techniques of molecular genetics to generate stable cell lines that over express normal or in vitro mutagenized H1 variants.

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Heather Drummond, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on identifying proteins that form mechanosensitive ion channels in sensory neurons and vascular smooth muscle, understanding how mechanosensitive channels transduce force, and seeing how these channels are affected by disease states such as hypertension.

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Roy Duhe, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on personalized, molecularly-targeted chemotherapy focuses on “who, when and how” questions surrounding dysregulated Janus kinase (JAK) activity in cancers and the importance of reactive oxygen species in radiotherapy, chronic inflammation and in other aspects of cancer. This will allow a better understanding of how novel therapeutic agents, with targets ranging from JAK2 to 20-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid (20-HETE), can be effectively integrated into clinical cancer treatment modalities.

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Lir Wan Fan, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focused on investigating whether perinatal brain inflammation may contribute to perinatal brain damage, as well as to late onset of neurodegenerative diseases.

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Kevin Freeman, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on investigation of the determinants of drug choice over non-drug alternatives and interventions for decreasing drug choice. The study of drugs as punishers with the aim of developing abuse-deterrent technologies for prescription medications. The study of interactions between obesity/eating disorders and drug abuse.

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Michael Garrett, PhD, MBA, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on understanding the genetic basis of complex diseases, including kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes.

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Christian Gomez, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on hypoxia-regulated genes in carcinogenesis and prognosis, immunotherapy for cancer, and the effects of advanced age on inflammation, immunoregulation and injury.

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Bernadette Grayson, MCR, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on central and peripheral control of obesity and diabetes using rodent models. Research also focuses on the hormonal and dietary effects of maternal in utero environment on the transmission of metabolic disease to offspring.

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Raymond Grill, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

My areas of research are focused primarily on models of spinal cord injury as well as traumatic brain injury. The goal of this research is to better understand how such injury promotes a “whole body” response that shapes long-term outcomes. Our additional goal is to use the information gained from these studies to develop novel therapeutics for treatment of spinal and traumatic brain injury.

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Babbette LaMarca, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on identifying immune mechanisms that cause hypertension during pregnancy.

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Mary Marquart, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on Streptococcus pneumoniae ocular pathogenesis and therapy.

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Jose Javier Miguel-Hidalgo, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on the neurobiology of alcoholism with an especial emphasis on the role of glial cells in the vulnerability and maintenance of alcohol dependence. This research uses animal models of alcohol preference and human postmortem tissue and applies immunohistochemical, biochemical and pharmacological methods to the study of changes in morphology, cell proliferation and the expression of proteins related with crucial functions mediated by glia such as glutamate transport.

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Radhika Pochampally, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focusses on studying cellular communication between cancer stem cells and normal stem cells in breast and bone cancers.

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Drazen Raucher, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on developing an approach that allows peptide therapeutics to be delievered specifically to the tumor site.

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Jane Reckelhoff, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on postmenopausal hypertension, polycystic ovary syndrome, and sex steriods and renal injuries. Interested in studying the mechanisms of hypertension and increasing blood pressure to determine treatments for such conditions.

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James Shaffery, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

My area of research is focused upon the role that rapid eye movement sleep appears to play in brain development. We aim at understanding the changes initiated when sleep, especially rapid eye movement sleep, is suppressed in early life that lead to negative outcomes later in life.

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Stanely Smith, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on understanding disease models and mechanisms, characterization of biomarkers for human illness, prevention of adverse drug response, disparities in health treatment and outcomes, and drug metabolism and pharmakinetics.

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Stephen Stray, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on virus evolution, using influenza virus as a model, and the intracellular assembly of influenza virus and hepatitis B virus.

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Donna Sullivan, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on mycology and virology.

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Michelle Tucci, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

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Parminder Vig, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on neurodegenerative disorders.

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Kendra Wallace, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on the role of activated T lymphocytes in contributing to the breakdown of the blood brain barrier in women with HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver enzymes, Low Platelet) syndrome.

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Ian Webb, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses to understand the mechanisms underlying diurnal rhythms in drug reward and their influences on the development and expression of drug addiction. Currently using a DREADD approach to examine the effects of mPFC glutamatergic neuron inhibition on daily rhythms in psychostimulant-induced CPP and self-administration.

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Jan Williams, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on renal physiology and diabetes and hypertension-induced nephropathy.

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Xinchun Zhou, MD, PhD, University of Mississippi Medical Center

Research focuses on exploring lipid markers in diagnosis and prognosis of cancers, as well as on the metabolic pathways of identified lipid biomarkers.

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The University of Southern Mississippi

Jason Azoulay, Ph.D., The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis: synthesis, behavior and performance, kinetics and mechanisms, new functionality, controlled polymerization reactions, catalysts composites. Electronic, photonic, and magnetic materials: synthesis molecules and self-assembly, fundamental atomic and molecular level mechanisms, structure-function-property relationships, device fabrication and engineering.

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Fengwei Bai, Ph.D., The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on virology and immunology.

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Stephen Curran, PhD, The University of Southern Mississippi, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

Research focuses on taxonomy, systematics, biogeography and evolution is Digeneans.

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Janet Donaldson, PhD, The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on Listeria monocytogenes, a very dangerous food-borne pathogen with a high mortality rate. This lab is working to develop novel therapies that are non-antibiotic.

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Mohamed Elasri, PhD, The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on global gene regulation of virulence in Staphylococcus aureus.

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Alex Flynt, Ph.D., The University of Southern Mississippi

Research broadly focuses on the role of RNA biology in post-transcriptional gene regulation. Current projects are focused on the biogenesis and function of non-coding, small regulatory RNAs.

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Yanlin Guo, PhD, The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on the study of molecular mechanisms by which endothelial cells assemble into blood vessels and the roles of p38 MAP kinases in the regulation of endothelial cell physiology and vascular biology.

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Shahid Karim, PhD, The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on the arthropod vectors of deadly infectious disease agents and attempts to use functional genomics tools to identify tick-derived proteins required for prolonged blood-feeding and pathogen infection in the mammalian host.

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Dmitri Mavrodi, Ph.D., The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on the functional role of natural antibiotics. Mavrodi is a molecular microbiologist who is interested in the ecology of antibiotic-producing and plant-associated bacteria.

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Vijay Rangachari, PhD, The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions and molecular recognition, specifically delineating the underlying molecular mechanisms that dictate protein aggregation and amyloid formation. Research also focuses on developing structure-bases design of ‘conformation-specific’ molecules that are directed towards recognizing pathogenic ‘cross-beta sheet’ polypeptide structures.

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Gopinath Subramanian, Ph.D., The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on computational materials science, molecular dynamics and accelerated molecular dynamics, condensed matter physics, physics based modeling, and high performance computing.

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Hao Xu, Ph.D., The University of Southern Mississippi

Research focuses on a particularly important membrane-mediated trafficking event that takes place in mast cells. Xu’s research team will unravel the catalytic and regulatory machineries of mast cell degranulation, initially building a reconstitution system to identify and characterize important regulators. The ultimate goals are to combine biochemical, molecular and cell biology approaches to delineate the signaling cascades that control mast cell degranulation, and to establish functional assays for proteins that are potential drug targets for the control of allergic inflammation.

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