Department of BioMolecular Sciences
The University of Mississippi


Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! I hope you had a chance over the holiday season to reflect on your accomplishments over the past year as we are doing here in BioMolecular Sciences. Below are some of our 2019 highlights including student achievements, faculty scholarly successes, and our new alumni spotlight feature.

This year represents the 5 year anniversary of the formation of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences following the merger of the Pharmacology, Pharmacognosy, Medicinal Chemistry and Environmental Toxicology programs. We formulated our first strategic plan as a “super” department, conducted a self-study, and external evaluation. I was proud that our evaluator noted that “BMS has a significant strength in its people”. I couldn’t agree more! The department now numbers 18 full time faculty, 39 graduate students and many more undergraduates and research support staff.

I am especially proud of the newly reorganized BioMolecular Science Student Advocates organization. These student leaders have been active in promoting diversity, professional development, and public service in the department. Please read about their many student driven initiatives. It is programming like their journal club, wellness seminars, and social events that enhance the Pharmacy Phamily atmosphere for which our School of Pharmacy is known. I sincerely thank the many of you that have donated to our department this year. Please know that your donations are used to help support these student development events.I wish you all the best in 2020. We will be in touch to feature more alumni in future issues.
Hotty Toddy!

Kristie Willett, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of BioMolecular Sciences


Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Dennis Carty

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

I was in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences – Division of Environmental Toxicology and graduated in 2017.

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

It is impossible to pick just one favorite memory. I greatly enjoyed my time at Ole Miss and cherish all of the moments equally. However, if I had to discuss only one memory, it would be the incredible faculty that fostered an environment of insightful mentorship and scientific intrigue.

What did you do after graduation?

I moved to California for a postdoc position at the University of California Davis in the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Where are you now?

I am now at Boehringer Ingelheim in the role of Occupational / Drug Safety Toxicologist.

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

I like to try new restaurants and watch live music. I also love to play drums!  

Do you have any advice for our current students?

One tidbit of advice: I never imagined being where I am now when I was in graduate school. You can attempt to plan the next five to ten years, but try to be flexible and take opportunities as they come. Oh, and another thing, enjoy life outside of the lab!!  

 Dr. Anand Sridhar

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

Academic year 2007-2008, from the Medicinal Chemistry department. Dr. John Rimoldi was my dissertation director.

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

The camaraderie between all the graduate students, independent of the research group we came from. This made school a lot of fun. The Ph.D. is a long road and we had good times along the way.

What did you do after graduation?

After four years as a post-doc, I joined the ranks of faculty in pharmacy schools, first as an assistant professor, and now as an associate professor.

Where are you now?

The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy – Boston, where I am an Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry since July 2019.

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

I enjoy hiking nature trails when the weather is good. Since I just moved to Boston, I enjoy exploring the city, for the history and for the food.

Do you have any advice for our current students?

Graduate school will be one of the important phases of your life: you will learn a lot about yourself. Call it “academic bootcamp”: you will find it tough and unrelenting, but it is meant to shape you positively. Know that your advisor, department, and school want you to be successful. Be patient and be persistent. Work hard, but also find time for yourself to be healthy, both mentally and physically.

Eli Lilly Scientist Named Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus

OXFORD, Miss. – Maria Alvim Gaston, a 2000 University of Mississippi graduate with a doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry, was named the School of Pharmacy Department of BioMolecular Sciences’ 2019 Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Award honoree. Gaston, a principal research scientist at Eli Lilly and Company, delivered the Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus Lecture on September 23 with a presentation titled “A Scientist Journey—Moments of Truth.”

Read More: “Eli Lilly Scientist Named Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumnus”


Pharmacy Alumni Recognized with UM Distinguished Alumni Awards

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss Alumni Association honored eight recipients for its Distinguished Alumni Awards in 2019 in recognition of their service and accomplishments.

Two of those honorees are School of Pharmacy alumni, as Kimsey O’Neal Bailey will be inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame and Sly Lee, a 2012 Environmental Toxicology graduate, will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Read More: “Pharmacy Alumni Recognized with UM Distinguished Alumni Awards”


Student News

In 2018, a department student leadership group BioMolecular Sciences Student Advocates (BSA) was formed with the following mission.

The BioMolecular Sciences Student Advocates are committed to enhancing the graduate student environment by:

  • Promoting fellowship and embracing diversity among graduate students
  • Improving graduate student experience through leadership development
  • Impacting the broader community through public service projects
  • Providing an avenue for student-initiated departmental advancement

BSA has had many accomplishments! Here is a glance at the last year:




  From Desert to Ocean, Toxicology Student Absorbs Marine Sponge Knowledge
OXFORD, Miss. – It wouldn’t seem Amelia Clayshulte was destined to study marine sponges living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. However, the University of Mississippi BioMolecular Sciences doctoral student grew up going to the coast of North Carolina with her mom’s family, where she would spend a week each summer exploring the salt marshes that opened her mind from its land-locked state.

Read more: “From Desert to Ocean, Toxicology Student Absorbs Marine Sponge Knowledge”



BMS Welcome Back Orientation and Awards Ceremony!
The Department of BioMolecular Sciences kicked off the new school year with its Welcome Back Orientation on August 23. We welcomed 6 new graduate students to the department, for a total of 39 BMS graduate students, and 2 new faculty members! We also presented 5 Graduate Student Awards! Congratulations to James Gledhill, Mohammed Salahuddin, Sweta Adhikari, Erik Hodges and Taghreed Majrashi!

See more pictures at the Facebook gallery: “BMS Welcome Back Orientation” 



UM Senior Wins National Collegiate Honors Council Portz Scholarship
OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi senior in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College has been awarded a prestigious scholarship from the National Collegiate Honors Council. Kennedy Dickson, a forensic chemistry major from Whittier, California, has been named a 2019 NCHC Portz Scholar. She is one of three recipients nationwide and presented her honors thesis in November at the NCHC conference in New Orleans. Kennedy’s work has recently been published in the Fall 2019 Arizona Journal of Environmental Law and Policy  entitled “Cannabinoid Conundrum: A Study of Marijuana and Hemp Legality in the United States”

Read more: “UM Senior Wins National Collegiate Honors Council Portz Scholarship” 



Hao LiuGraduate Students Receive Grants for Research Efforts
OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-one University of Mississippi graduate students, including six from the School of Pharmacy, have been awarded Graduate Student Council Research Fund grants to support their research, study and creative scholarship. The $1,000 competitive research grants, funded by the UM Graduate School and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, are for projects conducted through April 2020.

Read More: “Graduate Students Receive Grants for Research Efforts” 



Ole Miss Pharmacy Graduate Students Recognized for Research Accomplishments
OXFORD, Miss. ­– Numerous graduate students in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences within the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy earned awards for their presentations at the UM Neuroscience Research Showcase in April and the Mississippi Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting in February. Erik Hodges, a graduate student from Norman, Oklahoma, was honored at the Neuroscience Showcase. Student award winners at the MAS meeting included Stephanie Burr of Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Amelia Clayshulte of Las Cruces, New Mexico; Mallory Harmon of Meridian, Mississippi; and Alaa Qrareya of Palestine.

Read more: “Ole Miss Pharmacy Graduate Students Recognized for Research Accomplishments”



Graduate Students Enhance Skills with Scientific Writing Workshop
OXFORD, Miss. ­– For graduate students, the ability to summarize the results of a laboratory experiment can be as important as the result themselves. To emphasize the skill of writing in science, the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy offered a Graduate Student Scientific Writing Workshop, sponsored by the school’s Graduate Student Program office, the BioMolecular Sciences department and Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery department.

Read more: “Graduate Students Enhance Skills with Scientific Writing Workshop” 



Fulbright Scholar Makes History
OXFORD, Miss. ­– Abidah Parveen has taken a unique path to the University of Mississippi, that wound through Pakistan, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, back to Pakistan, and then finally to Oxford. A Fulbright Scholar in the PhD Pharmacognosy program, she has a bright future ahead of her. Upon graduation, she will be the first Pakistani to achieve a Ph.D. degree in Pharmacognosy from the United States. 

Read more: “Fulbright Scholar Makes History”


Faculty and Research News

Opioid Researcher Delivers the 2019 Coy W. Waller Lecture

OXFORD, Miss. – Laura M. Bohn, professor of molecular medicine and neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute, delivered the 2019 Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture at the University of Mississippi.

The Oct. 11 lecture, “Refining Opioid Receptor Signaling to Improve Therapeutic Potential,” built on her nearly three decades of research into the impact of opioids on the brain. The School of Pharmacy and its Department of BioMolecular Sciences hosted this free event at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

Read more: “Opioid Researcher to Deliver 2019 Waller Lecture”


An established source of biologically active natural products, predatory myxobacteria coordinate as multicellular swarms to devour microbial prey using a combination of excreted, lytic enzymes that disrupt prey cells and a variety of antimicrobial metabolites unique to myxobacteria. The continued discovery of natural products is critical to help address drug resistance. This funding from  NIGMS and  NIAID provides our group the opportunity to explore how myxobacteria respond to the small molecule chemical signals produced by prey bacteria as a means of communication to determine if predatory eavesdropping might facilitate the discovery of novel antimicrobials.




With University of Mississippi – Department of BioMolecular Sciences’ Jason Paris serving as PI on a cross-disciplinary team, a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant brought a “Seahorse analyzer” to The University of Mississippi – Ole Miss. The instrument performs at a high production rate and sensitivity that will help researchers with better measurements of cellular metabolism.






Currently, the global epidemic of tuberculosis is affecting millions of lives, and needs new and effective anti-tuberculosis drugs to overcome the problems of antimicrobial resistance.

Our research will provide a critical step in treating these infections by providing structure-based drug design insights for the development of new therapeutic strategies for drug-sensitive and drug-resistant tuberculosis cases.

Four Pharmacy School Faculty Recognized for Innovation, Service

OXFORD, Miss. – Two BMS faculty, Kristie Willett and Nicole Ashpole, were among four School of Pharmacy faculty members recognized for their innovative teaching, service and research at the school’s annual Faculty and Research Scientist Summer Advancement in July.

“Ole Miss Pharmacy is fortunate to have stellar faculty and researchers,” said David D. Allen, dean of the pharmacy school. “It’s an honor to celebrate their commitment to their field and our students.”

Read more: “Four Pharmacy School Faculty Recognized for Innovation, Service”


University Professor Awarded Cancer Research Grant

OXFORD, Miss. ­– After nearly 50 years of cancer research in the U.S., the search for a cure continues at the University of Mississippi.

The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy received a research grant from the National Cancer Institute for the cancer prevention research work done by the university’s Cole Stevens and Kristie Willett, both of whom are professors in the School of Pharmacy’s Department of BioMolecular Sciences.

Read more: “University professor awarded cancer research grant”