Graduate student success on display at A&S graduate awards program

Graduate student success on display at A&S graduate awards program


STARKVILLE, Miss.— Mississippi State University’s College of Arts and Sciences this spring inducted its newest member into the Graduate Student Hall of Fame and celebrated the academic achievements of more than a dozen graduate students at the spring graduate student awards program.

“We were looking for students who were distinguishable from their peers based on their research, leadership, and/or teaching contributions,” said Kathy Sherman-Morris, assistant dean for academic affairs in the College of Arts and Sciences, who chaired the selection committee. “Our departments each chose one graduate student to recognize and nominate for the College level awards. It was a truly impressive group of students and difficult to choose the winners.”

To be selected for induction into the Graduate School Hall of Fame, the selection committee was seeking students who “contributed significantly to the growth of MSU through their exemplary leadership abilities.”

The 2024 selection for the Graduate School Hall of Fame—and also the overall Outstanding Graduate Student—was presented to Jenna Russo


Russo, a Ph.D. student in applied psychology, is examining as part of her dissertation research school-community partnerships for children’s equity in education. 

“Over the past two years, the MSU psychology department has supported me in seeking external work as a policy consultant for a national policy organization—Center for the Study of Social Policy. As I head off to my internship, I will take these experiences and learnings with me and continue using my research to transform practices and policies that allow all children and families the opportunity to thrive,” Russo said. 

The Outstanding Graduate Student—Doctoral Level was presented to Logan Moore


As the founding graduate student in Assistant Professor Matthew Ballinger’s lab in the Department of Biological Sciences, Moore was credited with helping Ballinger start his research program. He has also organized and led sampling trips as well as helped train a dozen undergraduate students in lab safety.

“MSU and faculty have provided an incredible research environment where I am able to answer important scientific questions about the microbial symbionts of insects. My passion for science and research has only continued to grow during my time at MSU and I will be thrilled to follow this passion after I leave,” Moore said.

The Outstanding Graduate Student—Master’s Level was presented to Joseph Newell.


Newell is pursuing a Master of Arts in English and his interests include 20th century British and American fiction, women’s studies and narrative theory. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was a winner of the graduate research symposium’s oral competition. 

“MSU has equipped me with the skill set to form innovative and creative ideas that help me navigate a community of scholars in the field of English. I had the opportunity to present research at multiple regional, national and international conferences, and it is through these experiences that I feel prepared to continue scholarly research and writing and pursue a doctoral degree. This fall, I am joining MSU’s English department as a lecturer and hope to inspire other students’ inquisitive nature and provoke them towards research journeys that foster creativity and complexity in their own writing,” Newell said.

For their excellence in academic pursuits, an Outstanding Graduate Student was chosen from each department. Recipients include:

Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures: Jaylyn Gustafson        
Biological Sciences: Logan Moore    
Chemistry: Dhanush Amarasekera            
Classical & Modern Languages and Literature: Catalina Revelo
Communication: Alena Read Sowell    
English: Joseph Newell
Gender Studies: Megan Phillips
Geosciences: Leta McCullough            
History: Jackie Perkins            
Mathematics and Statistics: Jacob White
Physics and Astronomy: Binod Regmi            
Political Science and Public Administration: Latara Arterberry        
Psychology: Jenna Russo                
Sociology: Emma Biddles

For more details about MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, visit

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