Our 2022 class of Mississippi INBRE Outreach Scholars (MIOS) had a landmark year. They spent the summer conducting community outreach and research at our Telenutrition Center, headquartered at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in Hattiesburg, Miss. The program concluded with three placements in the research poster competition at the inaugural Mississippi IDeA/EPSCoR Conference 2022 in late July.
Led by Telenutrition Center Director Dr. Jennifer Lemacks, the MIOS program is a 10-week summer research internship for Mississippi and Louisiana college students. The program introduces students to the world of community-based research. It begins in late May and ends in late July each year.
The scholars spent their first week in orientation at the Telenutrition Center. The students attended workshops based in community-based participatory research methods, cultural competence, health disparities, social determinants of health and more. After orientation, the students embarked on a 9-week mentored internship, engaging in outreach events with the Mississippi community and conducting research on topics concerning chronic diseases, COVID-19, lifestyle health or mental health.
This year, the MIOS Scholars offered free health assessments and nutrition and physical activity education to communities across Mississippi through the Move & Eat 2 Live Program. Hosted by the Telenutrition Center, Move & Eat 2 Live is a free voluntary research program designed to address obesity among adults in Mississippi.
MIOS Scholar Dakota Kilcrease, a 29-year-old OMS-II student at William Carey University, thinks the outreach events truly made an impact on the community. “It was amazing. I wanted to conduct research where I could directly interact with local communities and help inform on healthy preventative medicine practices, and MIOS delivered. I truly feel like I made a difference in people’s lives. And we helped make a difference not only in Hattiesburg, but throughout the state of Mississippi,” said Kilcrease.
Drawing from their experiences and research conducted at the outreach events, the scholars created abstracts and research posters to present at professional meetings. This year, the scholars presented at the inaugural Mississippi IDeA/EPSCoR Conference 2022, co-hosted by Mississippi INBRE and the Mississippi Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (Mississippi EPSCoR) on July 28, 2022.
The scholars dominated the research poster competition at the conference. MIOS Scholars Maria Matory and Tylan Hunt of USM won third and second place in the Community-Based Poster Competition, respectively. Kilcrease, quoted above, won Overall Best Poster in both the Community-Based and STEM Laboratory Poster Competitions for his presentation, “The Power of Green: Examining Nature’s Influence on Vegetable & Fruit Consumption Amongst Mississippi Adults.”
Congratulations to the 2022 class of Mississippi INBRE Outreach Scholars. Not only did you represent Mississippi INBRE well at Mississippi IDeA/EPSCoR Conference 2022, but we are proud of your efforts to improve the health of our Mississippi communities. We wish the best of luck to you in all your future endeavors.
See more photos from this year’s program.
Read our interview with Kilcrease.