BioMolecular Sciences

University of Mississippi ----- December 2020 Newsletter

Message From the Chair

Dear Friends and Alumni,

I know that Thanksgiving was not the same this year as many of us were unable to spend time in person with our family and friends. That said, we still have much to be thankful for here in BioMolecular Sciences. Today is #GivingTuesday and should you decide to donate to BMS, I assure your contributions will be used to support our thoughtful, productive, and engaged graduate students.

Just have a look below at all the activities our BioMolecular Sciences Student Advocates (BSA) organized during the fall semester despite the pandemic, social distancing, and a shortened academic semester! During our welcome back new student orientation, five of our students were recognized with graduate awards including the newest alumni-funded BSA Excellence Award.

Please also check out the rest of our newsletter highlighting two of our alums (it could be you next issue!), Dr. Sharp and his colleague’s new COVID-19 research, Drs. Paris and Ashpole’s new R01 from NIDA, and our team’s efforts to reduce lead exposure via drinking water in Mississippi. And…if you would like to hear more in depth about any of these topics, we invite you to check out our new virtual seminar series where BMS faculty can speak with your group about our ongoing research discoveries.

As the students indicate below, we truly appreciate your support of our department and look forward to hearing from you soon. Please stay safe, and Hotty Toddy!


Kristie Willett

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2020-2021 BioMolecular Sciences Student Advocates (BSA) officers

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Joonseok Oh, Ph.D., 2015

What was your graduation year and Division/department at the time?

I graduated in 2015 and my division was Pharmacognosy.

What is your favorite memory of grad school/the department?

My favorite memory is to have taken Dr. Ferreira’s classes regarding pharmacognosy and learned fundamentals about natural product chemistry from him.

What did you do after graduation and where are you now?

Since I graduated, I am doing a postdoc at Chemical Biology Institute, Yale University. The institute is located in West Haven, CT.

What is a something you like to do outside of work?

I spend time on watching movies.

Do you have any advice you have for our current students?

In my humble opinion, we all have to strive to publish quality studies, which would facilitate us to move to next career steps.


Mindi Ansley Ducomb, M.S., 2014

What was your graduation year and Division/department at the time?

May 2015- Department of BioMolecular Sciences- Environmental Toxicology division

What is your favorite memory of grad school/the department?

I always loved our annual cookout. It was nice to just hang out and get to know everyone! Also the Etox students would often have lunch on Friday together.

What did you do after graduation?

I immediately started as an Environmental Scientist with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. I work specifically in the Field Services Division under the Coastal Monitoring Program

Where are you now?

I am still at MDEQ but I am also starting graduate classes at William Carey University for my teaching license!

What is a something you like to do outside of work?

I am a football coach’s wife, so most of my time is consumed by football. I also just had a little boy in April, so learning how to be a mom and watching him grow has been a joy. I also love to take fitness classes, run, bake, and curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Do you have any advice you have for our current students?

Do not forget that your mental health is just as important as your academic achievements. Remember to take breaks, even if it is just a walk outside. Sleep is just as important as studying. Never be afraid to ask questions for fear of looking dumb. It is better to learn the answer that assume and something go wrong

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OXFORD, Miss. – The infection processes of the COVID-19 virus was the topic for a virtual Oxford Science Cafe held on Nov. 17 by University of Mississippi faculty researchers.

The program was hosted by Joshua Sharp, associate professor of pharmacology and director of the UM Glycoscience Center of Research Excellence, and discussed “COVID-19 and Heparan Sulfate: The Carbohydrate Handle that SARS-CoV-2 Uses to Grab Your Cells.”

Read More: "Understanding COVID-19 Topic for Virtual Oxford Science Cafe"

Watch the Virtual Oxford Science Café Presentation: "COVID-19 and Heparan Sulfate"



OXFORD, Miss. — A team of researchers, including faculty from the University of Mississippi schools of Pharmacy and Medicine, are developing a treatment that could be effective at preventing COVID-19. The good news is that it’s something that you can easily carry in your bag.

The treatment would take the form of a nasal spray that could be prescribed by a doctor and self-administered. A daily dose of this spray could make those taking it more resistant to COVID-19.

Read More: “UM Researchers Working on Nasal Spray COVID-19 Treatment”


OXFORD, Miss. – Recognizing that clean drinking water is a necessity of life, a group of University of Mississippi professors is using community-based research, education and outreach to work with communities in addressing water quality challenges.

Most Mississippians receive their drinking water from a network of more than 1,100 public water systems. The smaller systems serve dozens of people, while larger ones supply tens of thousands of citizens with water. Other Mississippians obtain their water from private wells.

Read More: "Researchers Tackle Challenges of Safe Drinking Water in Mississippi"


OXFORD, Miss. — Jing Li joined the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy as an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry in July. He comes to the school from the University of Chicago, where he spent five years as a postdoctoral research associate.

Li brings an extensive background based in biomolecular science and academia to the school, which he hopes to pass on to his students. In addition to his work with the University of Chicago, Li also received his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014.

Read More: “Faculty Feature: Jing Li”

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OXFORD, Miss. – Karli Anders, a third-year professional student at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been named a recipient of the Gateway to Research Fellowship by the American Foundation for Pharmaceutical Education.

Karli trains in the lab of Dr. Nicole Ashpole and works closely with Jessica Marshall, a research and development biologist who is also pursuing her Ph.D. in the BMS program!

Read More: "Pharmacy Student Receives Gateway to Research Fellowship"


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