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Adrian Andrews, originally from Atlanta, Georgia, came to MSU as a first-generation college student, because after he visited it felt like a place he could call home and where people were valued and could feel comfortable and safe. “I also loved the fact that I could see stars at nighttime here, something I did not see often in Atlanta.” Adrian always wanted to be an engineer, specifically a mechanical engineer, but after taking an anatomy and physiology course in high school, he discovered a passionate interest in the human body and its maladies. “With biomedical engineering I can tie together my fascination with helping people medically and my desire to be an engineer.”
Aside from academics, Adrian has also stayed involved in campus activities. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, plays on MSU's club rugby team, and is a 3rd-year Resident Advisor. He has also gained invaluable professional experience as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Lauren Priddy’s lab in ABE, having been involved in research on the degradation of magnesium and its alloys as materials for orthopedic implants. After graduation, Adrian plans to pursue a career as a Development Engineer in a biotechnology company where he can follow his passion for improving public health and welfare through biomedical engineering.
Ashleigh Dunaway, a native of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was drawn to MSU because her friends and family members who graduated from MSU shared their remarkable experiences with her. “Two of my brothers graduated from MSU, and I saw that they received quality educations while acquiring professional skills and developing long-term relationships during their time at MSU.” As Ashleigh searched for her college home, she was drawn to MSU’s culture and academics. When deciding on a major, “I chose Biological Engineering (BE) because I loved biology and physics in high school and was interested in environmental restoration.” She learned about ABE’s distinguished status in environmental research from her brother, who graduated from ABE’s biomedical engineering program in 2016. He spoke very highly of the department and suggested she give it a try. “After talking with my brother about my interests and career goals, I decided biological engineering was the right major for me.”
Ashleigh’s favorite MSU experience has been getting to know so many exceptional people and creating lasting relationships. “I have formed deep friendships with students both in my major and in other majors, and I have learned from wonderful professors who have been instrumental in my success.” Ashleigh has been engaged in activities across campus and in the Starkville community. “I have been a member of the Famous Maroon Band since freshman year, and this year I’m in the women’s basketball pep band. I play the French horn in concert season and mellophone in marching season. I am active in the Baptist Student Union (BSU) and my church, First Baptist Church (FBC) Starkville.” At BSU, Ashleigh has served in several leadership roles such as family group leader, worship band, and prayer team coordinator. At FBC, she plays French horn in the orchestra every Sunday and leads 1st and 2nd grade girls in Bible study every Wednesday.
In the summers Ashleigh has gained professional experience working at MSU’s Coastal Research and Extension Center (CREC), where she assisted in coastal conservation research. After graduation Ashleigh will remain there for work in CREC’s Coastal Conservation and Restoration department. She will pursue a master’s degree in BE and work on designing “living shorelines.”
Christopher Robinson, originally of Brookhaven, MS, and a first-generation college student, chose to attend MSU after his very first campus visit. “Everyone I met from faculty to students made me feel part of the bulldog family.” Chris was drawn to biomedical engineering (BME) because he “wanted the skill set to solve problems in the context of human health.” Chris’s route to engineering was based on his love for math and science, but he also loves to help others. “I am interested in combining those passions to help people live longer, healthier lives. I have especially enjoyed the BME curricula because we study a broad array of topics relative to other engineering majors.”
“Throughout my time at MSU, I have been blessed to serve in many capacities on campus from president of the Biomedical Engineering Association of Mississippi State (BEAM) to Senator in MSU’s Student Association, and also as a campus tour guide through Roadrunners.” Chris has developed professionally within the ABE department as an undergraduate researcher in the lab of Dr. LaShan Simpson. Since his freshman year, Chris has worked with Dr. Simpson on her research addressing cardiovascular calcification. “Dr. Simpson has served as an ideal mentor for my academic pursuits, both in and out of the laboratory, and she has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams.” Chris is also interested in public policy and studied policy analysis at Princeton University as a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow during Summer 2021. “As one of two engineering students in the program, I learned to apply the unique skills BME has given me to solve pressing policy problems.” In addition to these experiences, Chris was named a finalist for both the Harry S. Truman Scholarship and Rhodes Scholarship. Recently, Chris was also named a Hall of Fame inductee within MSU’s Bagley College of Engineering as well as Engineering Student of the Year. Outside MSU, Chris was named Outstanding Senior Engineer by the Mississippi Engineering Society (MES). Upon graduation in May 2022, Chris plans to attend medical school and pursue a career at the intersection of patient care, public policy, and biomedical research.
Cole Bingham, a native of Trumann, Arkansas, first became acquainted with the MSU campus by coming to countless football and basketball games with his best friend and his best friend’s mother, who is a MSU alumnus. After his first visit, Cole fell in love with MSU and Starkville. “Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and it just felt like home. MSU also offered a great and affordable education that provided me excellent opportunities to build my future career.” Growing up on his family’s farm, Cole was always intrigued by agriculture. “I was first introduced to ABE and the AETB program as a high school student attending the Mid-South Farm and Gin show in Memphis, TN. I met Dr. Chesser, and he told me all about the department and degree program.”
Cole originally came to MSU to study Civil Engineering, but after his first semester he decided to change his major. He emailed Dr. Chesser and asked to meet with him to discuss changing to AETB. “Dr. Chesser was very welcoming, and I remember going to his office and sitting there for an hour talking about what some of my career goals and aspirations were, and he showed me how AETB could get me there.”
In addition to his studies, Cole has been heavily involved on campus and met many people outside his major. He is a member of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences ambassadors and a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Cole’s favorite experience at MSU has been the people and relationships he’s made. “As an out-of-state student, I was worried about making friends when coming to college. However, I have been blessed to meet so many genuine people all over campus.” Cole has also enjoyed getting to know the ABE professors. “These professors truly care for the students and make them feel like family. Some of my personal favorites are Drs. Chesser, Lowe, and Paz. All are great professors, but they are even better people.”
Based on his experience in the AETB program so far, Cole has determined that his passion is for the business side of the agriculture industry. “Learning this has helped me decide that after graduation I want to obtain a graduate degree in Agribusiness Management before pursuing a career in industry.”
Conner Wright hails from the rural town of Gates, Tennessee, and he came to Mississippi State to pursue an M.S. in Engineering Technology. In Fall 2021 he graduated from University of Tennessee at Martin with a B.S. in Agricultural Business and a concentration in Farm and Ranch Management. When Conner investigated graduate school, he searched for a university that met his criteria for an excellent agricultural institution, including a strong program in precision agriculture. “The main reason I chose the AETB graduate program was my interest in Precision Agriculture. With the help of Drs. Chesser and Lowe, I found a research project that will help me excel in this field.” Conner appreciates all his MSU professors and their desire to help him excel. “They are all great people and extremely knowledgeable in the advanced technologies associated with precision agriculture. In particular, Drs. Chesser and Lowe have helped me through everything graduate school has thrown at me so far.”
Conner’s favorite experience at MSU is going to all the sporting events on campus and meeting new people who share his interest in agriculture. His biggest struggle at MSU has been adapting to a new and larger university. “Coming from a smaller school, MSU was a huge change for me. But with the collegial atmosphere and camaraderie of everyone in ABE, I realized that no matter the size of the school, people at MSU will guide you to the best path possible and provide an experience no other university can offer.” In the future, Conner hopes to pursue a career in Precision Agriculture, particularly working on ways to improve GPS guidance of farm equipment. “I want to help farmers from all over the U.S. improve their farming operations and productivity with the newest technology available.” Conner’s M.S. research project focuses on characterizing the utility, performance, and accuracy of low-cost GPS guidance systems to simplify investment decisions for livestock producers based on the needs of their specific operations. “I am thankful for my opportunity to further my education here and I’m proud to call myself a Mississippi State Bulldog.”
Dani Janus, a native of Starkville, Mississippi and currently a sophomore majoring in biological engineering (BE), started out like many college students with difficulty in selecting a major. “I knew I loved math and science pretty equally. My dad is a retired MSU aerospace engineering professor, and he encouraged me to pursue BE since my favorite subject is biology and I have always been curious about engineering as a career.”
Raised in Starkville, Dani was apprehensive about going to nearby MSU and missing out on the adventure of “going off to college” in a new place. “Thankfully, that thought was a total misconception, as MSU has provided excitement and a great community for me within my classes and extracurricular activities. I would describe MSU as its own town within Starkville, because its sense of community is so strong.” Dani has been heavily involved on campus, with two student worker jobs, her church group at MSU, Shackouls Honors Council, the Shackouls fall radio drama, shadowing research efforts in the Priddy Lab, as well as several events on campus. “MSU has so many different clubs and activities that there is a place for everyone and always new people to meet. I have loved my time here and made many special memories.”
Dani’s favorite experience at MSU was living on campus freshman year and building many great friendships by going to campus events, study sessions, and other activities around town. “These relationships gave me a family here at MSU, and this sense of family includes outstanding faculty members that inspire and challenge me every day.” Within ABE, Drs. Elder and Priddy Dani has been her favorite mentors up to this point. In particular, “Dr Priddy stands out, having been gracious and inviting when I expressed interest in exploring research, even though I wasn't sure where to begin.” Dani’s favorite ABE class so far is Introduction to Engineering Design with Dr. Elder. “I am fascinated with 3D printing and thoroughly enjoyed designing components in the class projects. Engineering is rigorous, but the way the classes challenge me and the wide range of knowledge I am gaining will prepare me for any career I pursue.”
Dani says she “may not have a career path planned out yet, but I am focusing on the main reason I came to MSU, which is to expand my knowledge of subjects I’m interested in by fully engaging in my classes and exploring research and student clubs.” In addition to enjoying math and science, Dani has been intrigued by forensic science. She would like to integrate biological engineering with forensic science by applying engineering techniques and methods to solve forensic problems and present evidence in court.
Haley Delcher, a senior biomedical engineering (BME) student from Pensacola, FL, grew up with a passion for learning and discovering new things. “I took a liking to all my science classes in school, so I quickly realized that my future career would be science related. I chose BME because having knowledge in science, engineering, and math gives me a versatile skill set that is unique from other majors.” MSU was the first campus Haley visited where she felt at home. “Each professor has made me feel like I belong and am valued as a student.”
Since coming to MSU, Haley has been actively involved on campus as a New Maroon Camp Counselor, an Engineering Mechanics I Supplemental Instruction Leader, and a member of the MS Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society. She has also taken advantage of research opportunities, joining a team in the College of Medicine at the University of South Alabama and also the new Neural Engineering and Research Division at MSU with ABE’s Dr. David Vandenheever.
While MSU has felt like a second home for the last four years, Haley plans on exploring opportunities outside of Starkville after graduation. “I have enjoyed every moment of being a part of the BME undergraduate program, but I will continue my education at the University of South Alabama in their Ph.D. program for Basic Medical Sciences. I look forward to applying the skills and lessons I learned at MSU to graduate school and my future career.”
Harrison Broadaway, a senior in the biomedical engineering (BME) program, grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi and enrolled at MSU in 2018. His father is an alumnus of Mississippi State and an avid sports fan, so the family made many trips down Highway 45 to Starkville for game days. “Having an interest in medicine and engineering, the BME program was very appealing with the challenging coursework, numerous research opportunities, and invaluable connections within the ABE department. I always knew MSU had a renowned engineering program, but my official visit confirmed my decision to attend the university. Being on campus felt like being at home, and so I knew I wanted to spend my next four years at MSU.”
Harrison’s favorite experiences at MSU involved the people and connections he’s made. He has become lifelong friends with students entering various career fields and remains close with many students from his freshman design class. “As someone who values collaboration and having a supportive network, I greatly appreciate the opportunities the ABE department has provided through classes, group work, and the senior design capstone experience.” Harrison has also established relationships with the faculty. “Dr. To is a wonderful resource to BME students and takes a genuine interest in us. He was a huge help to me as I navigated my undergraduate degree, and we are fortunate to have him in ABE.” Harrison says the ABE department has numerous outstanding faculty members who are establishing a superior BME program at MSU. “My biggest problem at MSU was not reaching out to my teachers and asking for help on projects and homework, but this was quickly remedied when I got involved in research. After meeting with a few faculty members, I quickly became comfortable in the department and was able to thrive as a student.”
Harrison currently serves as a lab assistant to Dr. Elder and has helped conduct research on projects ranging from mechanical testing on bone fastening screws to data analysis and processing. “Being able to establish my research skills in a supportive environment has been a great opportunity that I have really appreciated.” Over the summer of 2021 Harrison participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) at the University of Florida. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the REU was restricted to online literature review over the microbiota-microglia axis, but it was still highly valuable. In addition to creating a new research interest, this experience opened the door for him to pursue a graduate degree. “I have applied to the Ph.D. program in BME at University of Florida and am awaiting their decision. Additionally, I am applying for the M.S. program in BME at MSU. I want to further develop my research skills and academic knowledge before pursuing a career in research and development.”
Jennifer Hinton, a senior in Biomedical Engineering (BME), grew up in Horn Lake, MS. Her original dream was to write music for movies while sharing her passion for music with students. “I applied to MSU as a Music Education major because I loved the music faculty here. However, all the years of severe noise exposure from band and choir worsened my congenital partial hearing loss and gave me tinnitus as well. With my ears ringing nonstop, I had to consider a new career… As my condition declined in my last year of high school and my search for treatment came up empty, I realized how many people like me struggle to cope without a cure or certain treatment for tinnitus.” Because math and science came easily to her, Jennifer investigated MSU’s reputable BME program. “I decided to switch to Biomedical Engineering to help solve the problem of tinnitus.” ABE’s courses related to biology, engineering topics like electronics and computer coding, as well as design and research, have given her a broad foundation she can apply to study cellular mechanisms of tinnitus and potentially to design or improve devices like hearing aids to relieve the problem.
Jennifer has participated in the Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Scholars Program for three summers. The program was developed to benefit deaf and hard of hearing students as well as African American and Latino students. “I did my research internships with Dr. Dwight Bergles at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where I studied the genes that affect tinnitus mechanisms.”
Despite her hearing loss, Jennifer has played clarinet for the Famous Maroon Band, Wind Ensemble, and Clarinet Ensemble at MSU, giving her many great memories at MSU. She is also Vice President of the Gamma Beta Phi Honor Society and a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. “These organizations have made me appreciate the wonderful community and traditions at MSU.”
A big struggle for Jennifer at MSU has been navigating the pandemic with hearing loss. As someone who relies heavily on reading lips, her ability to communicate was affected by face masks. “I had to work twice as hard and find ways to quickly adapt in and out of class.” My BME professors, especially Dr. Simpson and Dr. Priddy, have always accommodated my needs whether I asked for help or not, and they’ve given me advice that I needed for success. Without them, I might have failed classes and considered dropping out of school. Having had these experiences, I know I made the right choice in coming to MSU for biomedical engineering.”
Before she graduates, Jennifer hopes to establish a disabled-student organization for MSU. “DREAM at Mississippi State, a platform for disability activism and mentoring, would be my proudest achievement here.” Jennifer will graduate in May 2022 and plans to work in an engineering position for a while, but she intends to go to graduate school in the future in order to combine the skills she’s developed in biomedical engineering with the research skills and auditory knowledge from her internships. “I want to dedicate my career to improving the quality of life for those like me who struggle with hearing loss or tinnitus.”
Kamryn Davis, originally from Jackson, Mississippi, initially considered attending college elsewhere to be different from her family members; her dad and both her sisters graduated from MSU. However, a visit at MSU with one of her sisters when Kamryn was a high school senior changed her mind. “During that visit I started to pay more attention to the campus and the people. This may sound like a cliché, but I truly felt like MSU was where I was supposed to be.”
Kamryn also followed her oldest sister in choosing biomedical engineering as her major. “When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to attend medical school, but I also knew I can be indecisive, so I chose engineering in case my college journey led me in a different direction.” She knew majoring in engineering would open doors to many other opportunities if she changed her mind about medical school.
Kamryn is convinced she made the right decision coming to MSU. She has loved her experience here and had countless advantageous opportunities on campus. “I tell people all the time that MSU has more to offer than people might imagine. I have been amazed at the number of opportunities and support services MSU has established to ensure the success of its students.” Kamryn has taken advantage of opportunities to participate in organizations that have helped her, even outside of academics. “Figuring out what organizations to join was initially a bit overwhelming, but I ultimately determined what organizations were doing things I was passionate about,” which is helping other people. As a freshman, Kamryn joined the Student Association's Freshman Council, where she worked on policies and initiatives to benefit students at MSU. She also joined the Lambda Eta chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, a historically African American sorority committed to servant-leadership, where she served as chapter president in 2020. As a sophomore, she joined the Lambda Sigma Honor Society, which fosters leadership, scholarship, fellowship, and service among college students, as well as Maroon V.I.P., a volunteer student organization that greets MSU guests with a warm southern welcome. As a junior Kamryn was inducted into Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and joined the Alumni Delegates, which serves as a liaison between Mississippi State University students and alumni.
Kamryn graduates in May and plans to attend medical school. “I have not yet decided which school to attend, but I am thankful for my engineering background because it has prepared me to solve problems and think on a different level to learn and understand material that will help me be successful in medical school.”
Luke Tucker, a native of Tupelo, MS, had ties to MSU from a young age. His aunt completed her MBA, and his older brother earned a B.S. in chemical engineering, both from MSU. “As I became passionate about engineering in high school, I also wanted to pursue a medical degree, so ABE’s biological engineering (BE) program was a logical choice.” As an undergraduate BE student, Luke worked in Dr. Lauren Priddy’s lab and thoroughly enjoyed the research being conducted there. This research experience, as well as ABE’s new official program in biomedical engineering (BME), led him to pursue an M.S. in BME at MSU after he finished his B.S. in BE. “I was able to continue my research on novel treatments for osteomyelitis alongside Dr. Priddy by starting on a master’s degree. My project focuses on developing a natural polysaccharide-based hydrogel that is loaded with antibiotics to treat a Staph infection in bone.” Luke’s research has afforded him numerous opportunities to present his research professionally. Most recently, he presented his research at the Orthopaedic Research Society annual meeting, where he also learned new research techniques and networked with other orthopedic researchers.
In addition to conducting research, Luke enjoys exploring the Starkville community with other graduate students and making music. “The path to this point has been paved with great memories that I could have had only at Mississippi State. One of my favorites is having been in the pep band when the Mississippi State Women’s basketball team broke University of Connecticut’s 111 game win streak in the final four! Now that was a crazy time!” Luke now plays saxophone in the orchestra of Starkville’s First Baptist Church.
During the last two years of Covid-19, Luke’s MSU experience has been a struggle, as it has been for other students. He started his graduate degree in the middle of the pandemic and had to conduct his animal study alone in the lab so that personal contact would be minimized. “I was lucky not to have to change labs during my transition from undergraduate to graduate research, but there was a steep learning curve that was exacerbated by not my being able to meet with others in person. On the other hand, I learned a lot about the importance of communication and have improved significantly in that area from my undergraduate years.” Upon completion of his M.S. in BME, Luke plans to pursue a Ph.D. “I want to continue growing in knowledge and research capability through a Ph.D. program so that I’ll have the experience and educational background to run my own lab one day!”