College of Arts and Sciences recognizes graduate students of the year

CAS Grad Students 2021

MSU Office of Public Affairs

News Bureau (662) 325-3442

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

April 29, 2021


     STARKVILLE, Miss. – The College of Arts and Sciences this month recognized two graduate school students, one for induction into the 2021 Mississippi State University Graduate School Hall of Fame and one as the College’s master’s level student of the year.


     Frances Crawford, a master’s level student in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, and Seth O’Conner, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences, were selected for their skills in both the research arena and the classroom.


     Crawford received recognition as the College of Arts and Sciences outstanding master’s student of the year.


     In addition to being recognized as the College’s outstanding doctoral student, O’Conner was inducted into the MSU Graduate School’s Hall of Fame.


     “In reviewing the nominations for the Graduate School’s Hall of Fame, we decided to recognize two students,” said Kathy Sherman-Morris, a professor in MSU’s Department of Geosciences and an administrative faculty fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences. “We congratulate both students as well as their major professors and departments.”


     Head of the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literature Peter Corrigan said, “Frances is perhaps the most talented and dedicated GTA to have come through

our master’s degree program in some time, with an unparalleled skill in the classroom. She is the epitome of an excellent graduate student educator.”


     Corrigan said in Crawford’s two years as a graduate student at MSU, she was an “exemplary student” as well as an “exceptionally gifted” instructor.


     “She has shown herself to be a passionate and inspiring teacher. She aims to create an environment in the classroom that is fun as well as rigorous, engaging students in a broad range of activities through which they may practice their German skills, examine German culture, and explore the intersection of their own interests and their growing command of the German language. Frances is a gifted instructor with an innate talent for teaching. She brings a welcoming demeanor to the classroom, and she is thoroughly invested in channeling her own experiences learning German to make the language approachable to as many students as possible,” Corrigan said.


     O’Connor is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate and a graduate research assistant in the Department of Biological Sciences.


     Angus L. Dawe, Donald L. Hall Distinguished Professor of Biology and head of the Department of Biological Sciences, said, “Seth O’Connor is an excellent student—a model student willing to help others. He works exceptionally hard while also being unfailingly respectful and cheerful.”


     During his time as a graduate student, O’Connor produced four publications, one of which was published in Frontiers in Plant Science—a leading journal in the field—and has delivered poster and oral presentations at national and international meetings both in the U.S. and abroad, diligently seeking travel funding throughout his years at MSU, Dawe said.


     Joining MSU’s biological sciences program in 2017 along with Ling Li, a new faculty member at that time in the department, Li said O’Connor’s contributions to her lab were “foundational” for many of her other students.


     O’Connor is a member of the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, from whom he received a Graduate Education Scholarship earlier in his graduate career.


     He also was chosen for the American Society of Plant Biologists Conviron Scholars Program, which is “open to exceptional undergraduate and graduate students studying plant biology.”


     “The College is proud to benefit from Seth’s contributions to foundational research and teaching,” Sherman-Morris said. “We believe Seth O’Connor is in an outstanding position to become a productive member of the academy where he will make important research and teaching contributions.”


     MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences includes more than 5,200 students, 325 full-time faculty members, nine doctoral programs, 14 master’s programs, and 27 undergraduate academic majors offered in 14 departments. It also is home to the most diverse units for research and scholarly activities, including natural and physical sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and the humanities. Complete details about the College of Arts and Sciences may be found at MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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