Points of Pride 2021

  • Despite COVID-19 challenges, DAFVM research programs continued unabated, with grants and contracts totaling nearly $100 million for the second year in a row.
  • In FY 2019, MSU ranked 12th nationally in the National Science Foundation’s ranking of research expenditures in agricultural sciences and natural resources and conservation, with a total expenditure of $109 million—an increase of $4.7 million from the previous year.
  • Private gifts to DAFVM units in FY 2021 totaled $29 million, the second highest since FY 2000.
  • MSUES served more than half a million direct contacts, nearly one in six Mississippians.
  • DAFVM enrollment totals for the 2021–22 academic year remain strong. CVM=512; CFR=573; CALS=2,563
  • CVM celebrated 40 years of training the best and brightest students interested in animal-health careers. Graduating its first class of veterinarians in 1981, CVM has graduated more than 2,200 students over the years, and students are in the top 10% of a large applicant pool.

Faculty Recognition:

Dr. Derris Devost-Burnett , assistant professor in Animal and Dairy Sciences and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station scientist, has joined the 2021 Executive Officer team for the National Society for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS). Dr. Burnett will serve as the National Secretary for the 2021-2022 year of service. Devost-Burnett was also recognized with the Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning Diversity Award.

Dr. Kristine Evans , assistant professor in the College of Forest Resources/Forest and Wildlife Research Center’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture received the Outstanding Paper award by the Weed Science Society of America. The paper represents the culmination of over a year’s work developing models of distributions of several dozen invasive plants in the region.

Dr. Richard Harkess and Dr. Raja Reddy, both in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and scientist in the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, received prestigious teaching awards. Harkess was named a John Grisham Master Teacher and Reddy was named a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor.

The Mississippi Academy of Sciences has awarded the status of Fellow to Dr. K. Raja Reddy, a research professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Mississippi State University. Reddy, is a William L. Giles Distinguished Professor, and a research scientist in the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. He has previously been named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.

Dr. Margaret Khaitsa , professor of international veterinary epidemiology at MSU CVM, was recently named to the One Health High-Level Expert Panel (OHHLEP), an international panel focused on the ways humans, animals, and the environment interact to impact global health. Dr. Khaitsa is one of 26 selected from a pool of more than 700 applicants worldwide and is now serving to advise key international organizations on the potential emergence and spread of new diseases.

Dr. Stephen Reichley , assistant clinical professor and associate director of the Global Center for Aquatic Food Security and MSU CVM Department of Pathobiology and Population Medicine, was elected the 2021 president of the World Aquatic Veterinary Medical Association (WAVMA). A global resource for aquatic veterinarians, WAVMA is the largest international aquatic animal health organization and administers the globally recognized Certified Aquatic Veterinarian credentialing program. Dr. Reichley and eight other veterinarians representing countries across the globe comprise the WAVMA Executive Board.

MSU CVM Professor Dr. Mark Lawrence, who serves as director of both the MSU Global Center for Aquatic Food Security and USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish, is now serving on the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Technical Working Group for the Progressive Management Pathway for Aquaculture Biosecurity. The group is charged with the ongoing development and implementation of a risk management pathway to assist national and international improvement of biosecurity in aquaculture production.

Student Recognition:

The MSU student chapter of the Society of American Foresters in the College of Forest Resources is the outstanding student chapter in the nation. The chapter has been ranked in the top three for the last 25 years.

COVID-19 Response:

In August 2020, President Keenum called on MSU CVM to work with the Longest Student Health Center to help ensure COVID-19 diagnostic tests were processed effectively and efficiently. Samples from nasal swabs obtained from patients at LSHC began being—and continue to be—transported to CVM in sealed tubes where they are processed in a biosafety level-2 laboratory. Teams of CVM staff are using polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, which are considered the gold standard and had processed almost 10,000 tests by early fall this year.

Grants and Contracts:

Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station scientist Dr. Ganesh Karunakaran is leading a study to establish national economic metrics for the U.S. aquaculture industry. Funded by the $1 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Sea Grant College Program, Karunakaran is guiding a team of nearly a dozen university researchers from eight institutions. Karunakaran is in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture and stationed at the Delta Research and Extension Center.

Dr. Jan Chambers and the Center for Environmental Health Sciences (CEHS) at MSU CVM are currently leading a newly NIH-funded $3.3 million project to identify better therapeutic medical countermeasures to protect the brain against chemical threats. Permanent brain damage from seizures is a major concern for chemical attack survivors. Dr. Chambers and her team hope to develop an antidote to help prevent such long-term effects.

MSU CVM is currently the only college of veterinary medicine to lead a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) innovation lab. Under the direction of MSU CVM Professor and Global Center for Aquatic Food Security Director Dr. Mark Lawrence, the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Fish, which was established with a $15M award in 2018, continues to allocate funding for projects to improve nutrition, food security and livelihoods in developing countries through reliable provisions of fish. The lab recently announced $1.15 million in grants, supporting six projects spanning aquaculture and fisheries activities along the fish value chain in Bangladesh, Ghana, Malawi and Zambia.

MSU CVM Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Margaret Khaitsa has been named the lead for a new United States Department of Agriculture-Foreign Agriculture Service (USDA-FAS) grant. The $974K grant is aimed at facilitating scientific exchanges between Mississippi State University and key players in Africa and will assist in establishing and harmonizing sanitary and phytosanitary regulatory measures in Africa for better and safer agricultural trade.


Mississippi State has been named a Bee Campus USA affiliate, a designation of the Xerces Society. The effort was led by faculty, staff and students in the College of Forest Resources and College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.