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Thirteen Ole Miss Students’ Projects Selected for Support
The inaugural Stamps Impact Prize recipients at the University of Mississippi are, front row left to right, Autumn Payne, Phoebe Johnson, Dylan Barker and Christina Nguyen; second row, Anna Owens, Emma Cochran, Lindsay Ashton, Ella Jordan and Joey Pham; and third row, Isabella Arthurs, Rod’Kendrick Harrison, Logan Baggett and Angel Morgan. The new competitive award program, which supports undergraduate-initiated, faculty-mentored research and creative achievement, was funded by E. Roe Stamps and his family and the university. Photo by Amy Howell

The Stamps Impact Prize, a new competitive award program at the University of Mississippi to support undergraduate-initiated, faculty-mentored research and creative achievement projects, has announced its 13 inaugural recipients.

The program is the first of its kind in the nation to receive a renewable $100,000 gift from E. Roe Stamps and his family, which is being matched by an investment from the university. Ole Miss students were invited to apply for the awards, which provide financial resources for their research projects.

The program’s leader, Ken Sufka, said he’s “thrilled to see many high-quality projects (submitted for consideration) from extraordinary students across a diversity of disciplines represented on our campus.

“UM’s ability to support, in a significant way, these student-initiated, faculty-mentored research and creative achievement projects makes for an exceptional undergraduate experience which we hope will launch students into high-impact careers and/or entry into highly competitive graduate programs,” said Sufka, distinguished professor of psychology and pharmacology and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

“It is exciting to see through the lenses of our students’ bright young minds the important issues needing to be addressed in science, culture and society,” he said. “To have these creative minds explore their great ideas as UM undergraduates certainly makes you wonder what larger impactful issues they will tackle in the years to come. This is exactly what the Stamps Impact Prize wants to support and nurture.”

In 2012, significant gifts from Stamps established the Stamps Scholars program at Ole Miss. The Stamps Scholarship continues to be the most comprehensive, full scholarship package for UM students. The highly competitive scholarship is unique as it features a generous enrichment fund for exceptional educational pursuits, including travel, research, internships and academic conferences. The 2023-24 class of freshman Stamps Scholars rounds the total number at Ole Miss to 60, making UM the third-largest program in the nation.

Now, any Ole Miss undergraduate student is eligible to apply for exceptional educational pursuits through the Stamps Impact Prize.

Christina Nguyen of D’Iberville, Mississippi, a junior biomedical engineering major, was selected for her project “Modeling Whole-Eye Deformations in Response to Intraocular Pressure.” Her faculty mentor is Yi “Jason” Hua, assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

“Receiving the award allows me to attend my first-ever summer conference, where I aim to deliver my first podium-style presentation on my research project,” said Nguyen. “This marks a significant milestone in my research journey, as it holds the potential to make a tangible impact in the field of medicine. The computer eye model I am developing will open up new possibilities for fellow researchers, offering broader opportunities within the research community.

“My main goal in all of this is to see what kind of an impact I am capable of, and from there, I will follow any opportunity to improve myself and the lives of people who will ultimately be affected by the research conducted based on my eye model. I feel as though I have a refreshed purpose for my undergraduate studies, and I am very excited to see where this goes,” the student said.

The other 12 students and their faculty mentors selected to participate in the Stamps Impact Prize program during the fall 2023 cycle are:

  • Isabella Arthurs of Jackson, Tennessee, a junior English major, for her project “From Poem to Performance: The Professional Production of an Original Studio Album.” Her faculty mentor is Bruce Levingston, the Chancellor’s Honors College Artist-in-Residence and holder of the Lester Glenn Fant Chair.
  • Lindsay Ashton of Franklin, Tennessee, a junior biology major, for her project “Investigating the Role of microRNAs in Shoot Negative Gravitropism in Plants.” Her faculty mentor is Yongjian Qiu, assistant professor of biology.
  • William Baggett of Petal, Mississippi, a senior international studies and Spanish major, for his project “Comparing Drag Performance in the Americas: Rio de Janeiro, Guadalajara and Oxford.” His faculty mentor is Marcos Mendoza, associate professor of anthropology.
  • Dylan Barker of Oxford, Mississippi, a senior political science, public health and anthropology major, for his project “Clean Air Project; UM CAP.” His faculty mentor is Allyson Ford-Wade, associate dean of community engagement and professor of health, exercise science and recreation management.
  • Emma Cochran of Sumrall, Mississippi, a junior exercise science major, for her project “The Impact of the Menstrual Cycle Phases on Upper Extremity Injury Risk in Female Athletes.” Her faculty mentor is Chip Wade, research assistant professor of biomedical engineering and co-director of the Center for Diagnostics, Design, Devices and Biomechanics.
  • Rod`Kendrick Harrison of Batesville, Mississippi, a junior public health major, for his project “Empowering Minority College Students for Mental Health Well-being: A Mental Health First Aid Initiative.” His faculty mentor is Hannah Allen, assistant professor of public health and health sciences.
  • Phoebe Johnson of Little Rock, Arkansas, a sophomore mechanical engineering major, for her project “Ballistics Characterization of Graphene-Infused Lunar-Inspired Concrete.” Her faculty mentor is Damian Stoddard, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
  • Ella Jordan of Roseville, California, a junior political science major, for her project “Breaking Barriers or Building Resistance? Female Undergraduates’ Response to Body Politicization and Its Impact on Legal Attitudes.” Her faculty mentor is Miles Armaly, associate professor of political science.
  • Angeline Morgan of Olive Branch, Mississippi, a senior art major, for her project “Skin to Skin: A Photographic Investigation into Identity and Collaboration.” Her faculty mentor is Brooke White, professor of imaging arts.
  • Anna Owens of Madison, Mississippi, a junior biomedical engineering and general business major, for her project “Drug Delivery Device for In-Vitro Fertilization.” Her faculty mentor is Thomas Werfel, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, affiliate assistant professor of chemical engineering and joint assistant professor of biomolecular sciences.
  • Autumn Payne of Union, Mississippi, a junior film production major, for her project “Autistic Women: On Overlooked Community.” Her faculty mentor is Sarah Hennigan, associate chair of theatre & film and assistant professor of film production.
  • Joey Pham of Greenville, Mississippi, a junior computer science major, for his project “GLIDE Proposal.” His faculty mentor is Brenton Laing, assistant professor of pharmacology and research assistant professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The application portal for the spring 2024 Stamps Impact Prize ( opens March 1 with the next recipients announced on April 15.

For information on supporting programs at UM, contact Katie Morrison at or 662-915-2135. To make a gift to the university’s ongoing Now & Ever Campaign, click here or visit

By Tina H. Hahn/UM Development


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