Reception held for ‘Insight’ exhibit

January 29th, 2016 Comments Off on Reception held for ‘Insight’ exhibit

(Photos by Marissa Landon)

A reception was held on Jan. 26 for the exhibition currently on display in the Colvard Student Union Art Gallery.

“Insight- Paintings and Drawings by Jungshuo Yang” will remain on display through Feb. 6.

Student entrepreneurs create liquid-activated beverage lights

January 22nd, 2016 Comments Off on Student entrepreneurs create liquid-activated beverage lights


By Zack Orsborn | via Daily Journal

When Kaylie Mitchell, CEO of Vibe and Mississippi State University senior, began working on a branding project for a graphic design course last year, she never expected the project to evolve into a business that creates a colorful social atmosphere.

For the project, Mitchell made up a company that produced glowing drinks. She wanted to go above and beyond, so she asked her now business partner, Hagan Walker, electrical engineering major at MSU, to create an apparatus to make actual glowing drinks for product shots.

“Slowly but surely, we came to this liquid-activated drink infuser created by Hagan,” Mitchell said.

Thus, Glo Drinks was born under Vibe LLC.

Mitchell and Walker met with Eric Hill, director of the Entrepreneurship Center at MSU.

“We had these poorly made prototypes that weren’t liquid-activated,” Mitchell said. “We had some fail in front of Eric. Our pride was hurt. We left that meeting, and Hagan was like, ‘I can’t let that go.’”

At first, the Glo Drinks apparatus consisted of using a pull string between a battery and an LED light that could be dropped in any kind of liquid.

“You pulled the string, it made contact with the battery and the light came on,” Walker said. “We failed at that in the beginning. I was thinking of different ways to make this automatically light up. What came to mind was an apparatus where the water or liquid you put the drink in acts as a switch.”

When the circuit detects water or liquid, the Glo Drinks technology recognizes the liquid, causing the light switch to stay on.

As the Glo Drinks apparatus sits in a glass of liquid, it cycles through nine different colors, going through the whole rainbow. The Glo Drink apparatus stays at the bottom of the drink so it won’t bump into any noses or lips. Once out of liquid, the Glo Drinks apparatus automatically turns off.

To take it one step forward and to separate themselves from competitors in the market, the partners combined the light component with a flavor component.

“As far as we’ve researched, there isn’t anything that combines the light component and the flavor component together for a drink,” Mitchell said. “We are currently patenting that design.”

With the help of the Entrepreneurship Center at MSU, Mitchell and Walker earned a fully funded seed round that enabled them to work full time on the company for a year. Two investors from Mississippi and one in New York expressed interest and funded a portion of the company. In April 2015, the partners won Entrepreneurship Week and joined the MSU incubator program.

Mitchell and Walker want to create a new atmosphere with an innovative product.

“We want to bring a light to people’s hands and make beverages an experience,” Mitchell said. “We want to make something you won’t forget.”

Currently, the partners are researching different markets for Glo Drinks. They’ve met with restaurants, bars and a musical artist on the West Coast interested in bringing the Glo Drinks on tour.

“We are working on presenting to MSU about the potential of a partnership with them with football games, basketball games, concerts or whatever they would deem fit,” Mitchell said.

The partners found that Glo Drinks could have potential in endless markets, including the medical field.

“It all comes back to the experience of it and the versatility of the product,” Mitchell said. “It doesn’t just have to be used in alcohol or a bar setting. It can be used in the medical field to get kids to take their medicine and enjoy that experience. Kids love them. They can’t get enough.”

Simply, they want to brighten someone’s day. To watch Glo Drinks in action, visit

Read the story from E-Week, where Kaylie won a $10,000 prize.

Read the story in The Clarion Ledger.

Reception held for ‘LUSO’ exhibit

January 22nd, 2016 Comments Off on Reception held for ‘LUSO’ exhibit

(Photos by Marissa Landon)

A reception was heldon Jan. 21 for the current exhibit on display on the second floor of the Cullis Wade Depot Welcome Center.

“Luso-American Surrealism of the 21st Century” features recent surrealist art by more than 20 Portuguese and American artists. Works include painting, photography and three-dimensional pieces.

On display through Feb. 19, the exhibit is being made possible by MSU’s Department of Art and Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, along with support from Chalet Arts in Starkville. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

See the full schedule of exhibitions here.

‘Insight’ exhibit opens at MSU’s Colvard Student Union Fine Art Gallery

January 21st, 2016 Comments Off on ‘Insight’ exhibit opens at MSU’s Colvard Student Union Fine Art Gallery

“My Friend Manzi” by Jingshuo Yang

“My Friend Manzi” by Jingshuo Yang

By Georgia Clarke | Mississippi State University

The unique paintings and drawings of Jingshuo Yang are on display at Mississippi State through Feb. 6.

Titled “Insight,” the art department-sponsored exhibit is located in the Colvard Student Union Fine Art Gallery. To honor Yang, a reception will be held Tuesday [Jan. 26] from 5-6:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Union. Both the exhibit and reception are free and open to the public.

A Starkville resident, Yang received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou in 2008. In 2011, she received a Master of Fine Arts from the renowned Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. As a student, Yang won an “Outstanding Award” at the International Student Championship in Hangzhou. Additionally, she was awarded both a First Prize Undergraduate Scholarship and a National Graduate Scholarship.

Yang attributes her initial interest in art to the natural beauty she observed growing up in China’s countryside. Such observations continue to inspire her to explore the fascinating relationship between nature and humankind through her exquisite drawings and paintings. Yang’s works represent both traditional and modern artistic styles, which transform her pieces into powerful, yet delicate works of art.

As a professional artist, Yang enjoys teaching workshops and working with art students, some of whom have been MSU art majors. She also is a member of the Starkville Area Arts Council. “Insight” is her first one-person exhibit.

Art students, faculty, alumni recognized by Creative Quarterly

January 19th, 2016 Comments Off on Art students, faculty, alumni recognized by Creative Quarterly

“IV” by senior art/painting major Reagan Watts of Arizona is among the works by current and former MSU students being featured in Creative Quarterly, one of the world’s premier art and design publications.

“IV” by senior art/painting major Reagan Watts of Arizona is among the works by current and former MSU students being featured in Creative Quarterly, one of the world’s premier art and design publications.

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Works by three current students, two faculty members and four alumni of Mississippi State’s College of Architecture, Art and Design are included in recent issues of a major art and design publication.

Based in New York City and distributed worldwide, Creative Quarterly: The Journal of Art and Design showcases graphic design, illustration, photography and fine art work by talented students and professionals.

A series of posters created by senior art/graphic design major Allison R. Berler of Birmingham, Alabama, received first place honors and will appear in CQ’s spring issue to be released in March.

Also featured in the latest issue are works by summa cum laude art/painting alumna Molly M. Howell of Estill Springs, Tennessee; art/sculpture alumna Shelby K. Nichols of Aberdeen; and senior art/painting major Reagan M. Watts of Sierra Visa, Arizona.

Receiving second place, Howell and Nichols competed in the Fine Art/Student category; Watts, in Fine Art/Professional.

Senior art/fine arts major Kathryne G. “Katye” Drew of Ellisville was a runner-up in the Fine Art/Student category of CQ’s most recent issue. Joining her was Professor Jamie Burwell Mixon, the MSU art department’s graphic design coordinator who was named a runner-up in the Graphic Design/Professional category.

In another recent issue, associate art professor Alexander Bostic took first-place honors while Thomas M. McBroom of Starkville, a magna cum laude art/painting graduate, was runner-up. Both competed in the Fine Art/Professional category. Additionally, fine arts/photography alumna and associate communication professor Wendy Roussin received first-place honors in the Photography/Professional category.

In addition to Barnes & Noble and other major retail bookstores, issues of the publication may be purchased online at

Art alumna’s Oscar winning passion shapes outlook on life

January 11th, 2016 Comments Off on Art alumna’s Oscar winning passion shapes outlook on life

By Sasha Steinberg | Alumnus Magazine | Mississippi State University

Many young women wouldn’t dream of turning down a job at the Dolce and Gabbana Showroom in downtown SoHo—New York’s premier contemporary-art locale. Val Cripps, however, had her heart set on a different dream when she made that decision nearly 20 years ago.

Looking back, she said it was one of the greatest decisions she’s ever made.

“All of these fashion people were coming in all week with their portfolios, desperate to work there, but they only hired temps. You had to be able to speak Italian fluently,” Cripps recalled.

A graduate of Indiana University with a double major in art history and Italian, Cripps had been working in the showroom for just a week when she was offered a full-time job as an office assistant. But she had silver-screen dreams and a degree from Mississippi State University in mind.

“I told my supervisor, ‘Thank you for the offer, but I’m going to have to decline. I’m going to Los Angeles to work in film,’” Cripps remembered saying with confidence.

After completing a master’s degree in electronic visualization from Mississippi State in 1997, that’s exactly what she did.

Photography by Hilary Stauffer

From falling leaves, clouds, rain and snow to breaking glass, puffs of crayon dust, champagne bubbles and spider webs, Cripps’ visual effects work has appeared in a variety of feature films over the years. She has 15 movie credits to her name, including “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Spider-Man 3.”

Most recently, Cripps worked as a visual effects technical director for Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California. There, she was one of more than 50 effects artists who lent their talents to “Big Hero 6.” In addition to winning the Oscar for Best Animated Film, the movie was also named the highest-grossing animated film in 2014.

Prior to working at Disney, Cripps was an effects animator for Los Angeles-based Rhythm and Hues Studios. One of the films on which she worked was “Life of Pi,” which received, among others, the Oscar for Best Visual Effects in 2013.

“I loved it, and my kids were really excited about it, too,” she said of her film work. “It’s fun when I show them movies like these, and they’re like ‘Hey, Mommy did that!’”

When asked what advice she would offer those who aspire to work in the film industry, Cripps stressed the importance of having exceptional social, interpersonal and communication skills, as well as the attitude of a team player. Being receptive to new ideas and concepts also is important in film production, she adds.

“Trying to rock out in production can be tricky due to rapid changes in technology,” Cripps admitted. “I’ve learned a lot, but I’m no computer genius by any means. The people with whom I worked were absolutely brilliant and steeped in amazing, deep skill. I learned to ask a lot of questions and in doing so, made a lot of friends.”

Since completing her visual effects work on “Big Hero 6,” Cripps has taken a break from production to spend more time with her family and develop her own business, Valtopia. She is designing a coloring book for adults and hopes to use a portion of its proceeds to benefit the California-based Unstoppable Foundation.

Cripps was inspired to become involved in the charity after hearing the organization’s founder speak about the need for education for each child around the world.

“As a mother, I can’t fathom the inability to have or provide my children with the basic necessities in life—food, water, shelter and education—which allow an opportunity for a better life,” she said.

Through this charity, she was able to fund a self-sustaining African village for a year. She said she has always intended to use her talents to help make the world a better place. Through creativity and inspiration, she is creating a positive ripple effect by sharing images, music, and messages through social media and soon through her coloring book and Valtopia.

“It doesn’t matter where you are. Anybody can find a cause that they believe in and contribute to it,” Cripps said. “When you help, the energy you generate comes back to you and makes everything go a little better.”

Surrealism exhibit opens at MSU this month

January 8th, 2016 Comments Off on Surrealism exhibit opens at MSU this month

“Etcetera Etcetera” by Michigan artist Jay Garfinkle is among more than 30 works by American and Portuguese artists to be featured in Mississippi State’s “Luso-American Surrealism from the 21st Century” exhibit.

“Etcetera Etcetera” by Michigan artist Jay Garfinkle is among more than 30 works by American and Portuguese artists to be featured in Mississippi State’s “Luso-American Surrealism from the 21st Century” exhibit.

By Sasha Steinberg | Mississippi State University

Works by more than 20 contemporary American and Portuguese artists will be on display Jan. 21-Feb. 19 in Mississippi State’s Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery.

Free to all, the “Luso-American Surrealism from the 21st Century” exhibit features more than 30 paintings, drawings and sculpture creations exploring the popular art movement.

Lori Neuenfeldt, the university art department’s coordinator for gallery and outreach programs, described surrealism as a visual expression of dreams or play with reality. Spanish artist Salvador Dali (1904-89)—whose melting clocks are pop-culture icons—remains the best-known representative of the creative movement dating from the early 20th century, she added.

Regular gallery hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday, as well as by appointment.

Also free to all, an opening reception for the exhibit takes place 5-6 p.m. Jan. 21 in the second-floor gallery at the MSU Welcome Center. Refreshments will be provided.

“Antipodes,” a large pen-and-ink drawing combining the talents of 14 artists, will be on display during the reception.

Additionally, visitors will have opportunities to meet artists Shahla Rosa of California and Joe MacGown of Starkville during a casual talk at noon on the 22nd, also in the gallery.

Other featured artists in the exhibit include Jay Garfinkle of Michigan; France Garrido and Olga Spiegal of New York; Victor Lages, Santiago Ribeiro and Francisco Urbano of Portugal; K.D. Matheson of Nevada; Patrick McGrath Muniz of Texas; and Laurie Burton, also of Starkville.

In addition to the MSU College of Architecture, Art and Design’s art department and Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, the exhibit is made possible with support from the Portugal-based International Surrealism Now, as well as the local Chalet Arts supply store and frame shop.

The Cullis Wade Depot is located just west of Davis Wade Stadium. Situated above the Welcome Center office, its gallery is among several art department venues that regularly feature traveling exhibits, student shows, and group and solo exhibitions by professional artists.

Additional information on this and other exhibits is available from Neuenfeldt at 662-325-2973


Art alumna lands job at Twitter, featured in Alumnus

January 6th, 2016 Comments Off on Art alumna lands job at Twitter, featured in Alumnus


By Sasha Steinberg | MSU Alumnus

Many students dream of working for one of the world’s top social networking companies in one of the country’s most culturally-rich cities.

Brittany Forks (BFA ’08) felt the same way when she applied to work at Twitter in San Francisco, California. But first, she had to pay her dues.

“I really wanted to move to San Francisco, but I was too scared at first,” the graphic design graduate said, explaining her transitional move from her native Starkville to Austin, Texas.

In Texas, she worked for a small start-up company while she adjusted to life in a bigger city and mustered the courage to relocate to the even larger San Francisco.

Once there, she spent nearly two years at various companies honing her design, marketing and branding skills until she received a life-changing call.

“I got a call from Twitter about my portfolio,” Forks said. “They liked that I had lots of ad and e-commerce experience, and they asked me if I would like to come for an interview. I said, ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’”

For nearly four years, she has been happily employed at the popular social media company. As a product designer for the company’s revenue team, her primary responsibility involves designing advertisements.

“Since Twitter has more than 4,000 employees, all of the designers are split up into different teams. You work on one team for a while, and then you switch around and work on a different team,” Forks said. “We want Twitter to be accessible for everyone, and we want the service to be easy to use on every platform. There’s a lot of work that goes into making that happen.”

The process begins when product managers advise Forks and the other product designers on what they want users to be able to do. Three of this year’s projects, for example, have included the ability to buy products on Twitter, create collections on Twitter and see more information about a product being advertised.

“After the product managers, designers and engineers discuss and decide on a plan, the other designers and I go into Photoshop and make the mocks, which are files that show exactly what the website or app will look like,” Forks explained.

Forks said the teams must meet frequently to consider many factors in the design process to ensure accessibility and consistency.

“We need to make sure everything we do looks like and fits in with the rest of Twitter, so we design for Web, iOS and Android platforms all at the same time,” Forks explained.

After creating mock-ups, designers are tasked with making interactive prototypes.

“The prototypes we design are not always full-featured, but you can do things like scroll through a timeline or tap a button,” Forks said. “We make a really elementary version of what we’re trying to build, so we can explain to the product managers and engineers what we’re trying to achieve with the design.”

Once they’ve received feedback on the prototypes, Forks and her colleagues continue creating different versions until they come across one that everyone likes. The engineers then take the selected prototype and build it. It then goes through multiple forms of testing before being released to the public.

“We typically have to launch one tiny part and then another and another, until over time, the grand vision appears,” Forks explained.

For those who aspire to work for companies like Twitter, Forks said the ability to network with others and effectively discuss one’s work are crucial skills to possess.

“Now, more than ever, there are so many animations and little effects that go into apps. I have to know how to use all of my tools and explain my work to others who aren’t designers,” she said. “You have to really care about your work and put your all into it, so you need to make sure you’re ready for that commitment.”

Art alumnus one of several at MSU making a difference in storm disaster research

January 5th, 2016 Comments Off on Art alumnus one of several at MSU making a difference in storm disaster research

Via Alumnus magazine | Mississippi State University | Fall 2015 | By Zack Plair

Storm Season: A decade after Katrina, continued research seeks to prevent devastation

Preparing to walk into her bridal shower in September 2005, Laura Buchtel McWhorter struggled to wipe the tears from her eyes and regain her composure.

A Metairie, Louisiana, native and 2003 graduate of Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast meteorology, she had evacuated her south Louisiana residence just days before Hurricane Katrina’s catastrophic landfall on the Gulf Coast.

As she arrived to her shower in Tupelo, she received on her cell phone the first images of her parents’ home sitting in more than a foot of water. Her grandparents’ home, she later learned, was in the same shape.

Her family members, thankfully, were fine. But unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for everyone.

More than 1,800 people on the Gulf coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi died after Hurricane Katrina, the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, made landfall as a Category 3 storm on Aug. 29, 2005. The storm laid waste to entire communities on the Mississippi coast, while the storm surge caused levees to fail and flood New Orleans, displacing hundreds of thousands of residents.

McWhorter and her husband, Kelley, married on Oct. 8 that year at the Chapel of Memories on Mississippi State’s Starkville campus. Immediately after their honeymoon, she said they went to Metairie to help her family sift through the waterlogged rubble and start the process of getting them back on their feet.

“It was a happy time because of the wedding, but it was a trying time, too, because of the storm,” McWhorter said, recalling the upheaval. “It was definitely a crazy time.”

That December, McWhorter had the opportunity to fill in for the beleaguered chief meteorologist—who had worked months straight without a day off since Katrina—at WWLTV in New Orleans, a CBS affiliate where she had interned during her senior year at MSU. Her interim work led to a full-time meteorologist job at the station, where she’s worked ever since.

But when she and her husband moved to New Orleans in the spring of 2006, they faced a city still wounded from Katrina’s wrath and man’s failures.

“It didn’t even look like a city,” McWhorter said. “At night, it was so dark and the silence was deafening. Even in the day, everything was just so brown and gray. Nobody knew if New Orleans would come back. There was a period when we thought, ‘This is never going to be right again.’”


More than 500 miles away, Michael McDaniel was appalled. He said it was the only word that came to mind when he saw the mess before him in early autumn 2005, and 10 years later, he still can’t think of a better one.

A graphic designer working in Austin, Texas, at the time, he saw firsthand what life was like for those living in Houston’s Astrodome after being moved from the Superdome in New Orleans­—the original “refuge of last resort.”

He said he vividly remembers instances where desperate people, who had presumably lost most of their worldly possessions, wandered around the stadium holding up makeshift signs with names of family members they couldn’t locate scrawled across the front. The chaos there was “mind-boggling,” he said.

And so, that’s what he’s trying to do—using a disposable coffee cup as a template.

A Centreville native and 1999 Mississippi State graduate with a bachelor’s degree in art, McDaniel developed the idea for Exo, a portable emergency shelter. Reaction Housing, his Austin-based company, will soon begin full-scale production of the shelter, along with other emergency shelter products.

Built similar to a teepee using a lightweight, durable, proprietary material, McDaniel said the latest version of the Exo weighs about 375 pounds. The units can sleep two to four people, but there is also a model with desks and shelves that can be used as a mobile command center at a disaster-relief staging area.

All furniture and elements of an Exo fold flat, meaning four people can quickly set up, take down and carry the shelter without machinery. It doesn’t contain its own power source, but with 110-volt outlets, each unit can connect to an outside power source, such as a generator or a car battery with an inverter.

Exos use keycards, similar to those at hotels, but can also be accessed with a regular key. McDaniel explained Reaction uses a software system to control access to the units and track registered Exo users, which would allow people to more easily locate their loved ones if the product was employed during a disaster.

McDaniel started developing the Exo in 2007. He said he basically worked on the concept and design in his backyard at nights and on weekends for the first six years.

He started Reaction in 2013, after his product acquired its first angel investor. McDaniel said Reaction now has more than two months of orders to fill. Most of those are from commercial or individual customers who are willing to spend the roughly $12,000 per unit on recreation or other personal use.

While that might get the Exo noticed, McDaniel said he is still striving for his product to serve a greater purpose and create sales volume that will drive down the price. He said he hopes, in time, government agencies and private aid organizations will purchase Exos in advance of an emergency. That way, if a hurricane is headed for the Gulf Coast, for instance, the agency or organization could quickly stage a mass shelter area.

“We see this as becoming a tool for planning, rather than just a knee-jerk reaction,” McDaniel said. “A hurricane is the only disaster that you can see coming and plan for. And with these, people won’t be sleeping on Army cots in sports arenas. It’s a way to better keep the people and their belongings safe.”

Read more about McDaniel’s work in our summer 2012 newsletter.


Mississippi State University faculty and staff are also doing their part to improve disaster forecasting, response and recovery.

The university’s Geosystems Research Institute teamed up in 2014 with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and California-based Liquid Robotics to test the effectiveness of an unmanned ocean-surface vehicle in more accurately predicting the paths and intensities of hurricanes.

Associate research professor and meteorologist Pat Fitzpatrick, who is stationed among three GRI teams at the John C. Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, said
institute researchers field-tested three Liquid Robotics-manufactured Wave Gliders last summer in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Wave Glider looks like it’s on a surfboard. Its main structure floats on the ocean’s surface tethered by a cable to underwater flaps that use waves for propulsion. The glider’s floating structure carries battery- and solar-powered instruments to measure wind, pressure, waves, currents, water temperature and more.

The data from the gliders is collected via satellite.

Weather buoys are the standard for reading environmental measurements of storms, but if a storm doesn’t cross over a buoy, storm path and intensity predictions can be inaccurate. With more study, Fitzpatrick said he hopes NOAA can one day deploy a fleet of gliders to fill in gaps where there are no buoys.

“All it takes is a little more information to completely change the predicted path of the storm,” he said. “NOAA was very pleased with our work last year, but I think this needs more study. We need to get one of these into an actual hurricane and see how it does.”


Mississippi State’s Social Science Research Center is developing technology using “human sensors” that could make future emergency response quicker and more effective.

Sponsored by a $150,000 grant from NOAA, SSRC researchers have accessed Twitter’s archives and sifted through almost 5 million tweets posted from the New York and New Jersey areas during Hurricane Sandy in 2008. The majority of the tweets deal with the storm, including hundreds of thousands of photos of flooding and other storm damage, and each is geocoded to within 5-10 feet of where it was posted.

The team, which includes Fitzpatrick, John Edwards and Somye Mohanty, also surveyed 20,000 residents of the Sandy-affected area, to find out how they received information about the storm and how they responded.

“This data is as useful, if not more useful, than traditional survey data,” said SSRC director Arthur Cosby. “People were using social media during Sandy to ask for help and offer help, while others were organizing aid efforts.”

Using what they’ve learned about how people use social media to request and offer assistance, the team is now developing software that emergency management services can use during disasters to see tweets from the affected area. This will help first responders use Twitter to directly contact those who need help and respond more quickly to issues.

Mohanty said it would also allow emergency managers to more easily convey accurate information to the public during weather events or other disasters.

“The more information you have, the better decisions you can make,” Mohanty said. “The better decisions you make, the more lives you can save.”


The Biloxi-based Gulf Coast Community Design Studio, a Mississippi State research center, has taken charge of making the post-Katrina Mississippi Gulf Coast better than it was before the storm.

Using a federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as several regional partnerships and community volunteer hours, the studio’s professional staff has helped design and build more than 230 new homes and rehabilitate another 100 in Katrina-affected communities in Mississippi.

David Perkes, the design studio’s director, said the focus on resiliency rather than speed helped plot a better long-term vision for the coast. In other words, the studio doesn’t just want to build basic housing that would become rental property in five to 10 years, he said. Instead, the plan is to work with property owners to build homes that will stand the test of time and be passed down from generation to generation.

“An important lesson we learned through this rebuilding work was the value of involving community members in the design process,” Perkes said. “In doing that, we hope we will instill in them a stronger sense of ownership.”

Perkes’ team of designers and landscape architects have earned American Institute of Architecture recognition for their home designs. Most recently, the studio won an Environmental Protection Agency Gulf Guardian Award for restoring Bayou Auguste in east Biloxi, which Katrina devastated.

Through that project, the team removed debris and repaired the bayou’s wetland habitat by building a neighborhood wetland park. Mississippi State students and community volunteers also engaged in educational programs about improving the bayou’s functions of restoring and improving the nursery habitat for fish and shrimp, reducing pollution and debris entering the ocean through the integrated bayou and storm water system, and creating a marshland to contain floodwater from extreme storm events.

“Resiliency is not just about becoming better prepared for a disaster,” Perkes said. “It’s about improving the day-to-day quality of life in these communities. We’re wanting to take the awareness that comes from Katrina, and use it to build a sustainable, resilient community mindset.”


Back in New Orleans, despite McWhorter’s fears and those of many who trudged through the early post-Katrina days, the city has bounced back.

Neighborhoods organized after the waters receded, she said, and people, all bound together by crisis, started helping one another. The storm and its aftermath, it seems, became part of the New Orleans DNA.

“There was such a sense of community because we were all going through the same thing,” McWhorter said. “We all have our Katrina story, and we’re all connected by that bond.”

That bond the storm created in New Orleans, however, also brought with it a sort of hangover for residents, especially in dealing with the threat of severe weather, she said. And it’s changed the expectations for meteorologists in the area.

During the run-up to Hurricane Gustav’s landfall in 2008, which fortunately fell short of its “Katrina-like” force projections, McWhorter said a sort of weather-related post-traumatic stress became evident.

She explained that Gulf Coast residents have learned the storm terminology and want to see all the hurricane models, but most of all, they want meteorologists’ advice on how to stay safe.

“I don’t think I was prepared to be part meteorologist, part psychologist when I got into this business,” she said. “Here, you don’t just tell people what the weather is like; you actually have to coach them through it.

“People here are gun-shy about any storm. They want all the information you can give them, even what you would consider to be the more scientific stuff. They expect it.”

In the decade since the storm, she said, the city built back little by little—rebuilding houses, businesses and infrastructure destroyed by Katrina’s wrath. With better levees, better evacuation plans and more accurate weather forecasting, McWhorter said New Orleans is much better prepared if another Katrina hit.

What guarantees the city’s survival more than anything else though, she added, is the same force that pulled it through the pain Katrina wrought – its people.

“The storm toughened us up, and it taught us just to live our lives day to day,” she said. “If another Katrina hits, there’s definitely going to be damage. When the inevitable happens and a bad storm comes, we’ll survive and rebuild. If we made it through Katrina, we can make it through anything.”

Hester’s Typography I students design holiday cards

January 5th, 2016 Comments Off on Hester’s Typography I students design holiday cards

Cassie Hester, assistant professor of graphic design, recently had her Typography I students work on a holiday card project.

Hester’s students each had to create two cards that represented all of the four units within the College of Architecture, Art and Design – architecture, art, interior design and building construction science.

The top designs were brought before the college’s dean, Jim West, and four were selected.

Winning designs included:


Designed by Erin Frazier


Designed by Erin Frazier

Dean personal_web

Designed by Ryan Fierro


Designed by Jeremy Childress

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