REACHing Mississippi’s future scientists

REACHing Mississippi’s future scientists

What’s the difference between a mixture and a compound?

What are the three parts of an atom? What’s a homogeneous substance? A heterogeneous substance? 

Fifth-graders at Davis International Baccalaureate (IB) Elementary in Jackson can tell you all about it. They learn about science not just from their classroom teachers, who heavily emphasize that subject, but from students in the School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences.

Throughout the school year, future scientists such as Kristin Shirey, a graduate student and fourth-year doctoral student in biochemistry, visit all Davis classrooms in grades 3-5 once a month for 30 minutes to reinforce ongoing science lessons by giving them a fresh, hands-on twist. 

The initiative is called Project REACH, and the kids love it. The teachers love it. And, all benefit, including Shirey, who sees herself leading a classroom on the university level after graduation.

“What kind of mixture is this?” Shirey last week asked a roomful of animated fifth-graders in Janet Wallace’s class. She held up a plastic cup filled with different sizes and brands of miniature candy bars.

“Heterogeneous!” the kids shouted in unison. “That’s because it’s not uniform,” Shirey said.

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Dr. Hayden Perkins: ‘He’s an inspiration’

There’s a huge tree growing out of the floor in Hayden Perkins’ Oxford office.

Against one wall, a bank of video game systems, mobile and standard, beckons his eager clients. A huge saltwater aquarium serves as a divider between two waiting rooms.

And as if the furniture in bright primary colors isn’t enough, original artwork and hundreds of photographs brighten the office at every twist and turn. The ceilings are vaulted. It’s airy and full of sunshine.

A large Golden Retriever patrols the halls, collecting love pats, totally unruffled by the commotion and chatter.

And on most days of the week, the Children’s Dental Center brims with 80 to 90 children, from toddlers to teens. Perkins is their pediatric dentist, and his patients come from as far north as Corinth and far south as the deep Delta.

His staff is crazy about him. So are his patients and their parents, especially those whose children cope with health challenges, including autism, paralysis, Down syndrome, seizure disorders and congenital heart failure.

“Special-needs parents are saints,” said Perkins, 38, a 2004 graduate of the School of Dentistry who received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Mississippi in 1999.

His practice includes a specialization in caring for disabled patients, and to many of those families, Perkins is likely seen as a godsend: Unlike a lot of dentists in the state, he accepts Medicaid and the state Children’s Health Insurance Program.

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Dr. Hayden Perkins: ‘He’s an inspiration’

New partnership provides powerful model for neuroscience innovation in Mississippi

New partnership provides powerful model for neuroscience innovation in Mississippi

On April 28, the Mississippi Institutes of Higher Learning approved a historic affiliation agreement between Methodist Rehabilitation Center and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

In the months since, attention has mainly centered on the short-term impact of the agreement—consolidation of inpatient rehabilitation services at MRC and the transfer of patients and staff by Nov. 1.

But behind the scenes, visionaries from both organizations have been focusing on the long view as they consider big picture goals for the partnership. What they’ve imagined is a powerful new model for neuroscience research, education and clinical care in Mississippi.

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Blood drive, holiday parties planned for festive week

A number of interesting events is scheduled for the upcoming week at the Medical Center.

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Blood drive, holiday parties planned for festive week
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