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Biology Graduate Student Research Spotlight: Griffin Williams

Posted on: September 30th, 2021 by erabadie
Griffin Williams with other students in a forrest setting

Griffith Williams is on the far left.

Meet Griffin Williams, a doctoral student working towards developing solutions for the lack of tree regeneration and invasive species in Southeastern forests. His field site is the Strawberry Plains Audubon Center in Holly Springs.

I’m originally from the Gulf Coast and grew up playing in and around old-growth trees and the wetlands of the Mobile Bay. The coast has boomed in population and development and, as a result, the natural beauty of the coast and the native ecosystems are being destroyed by human degradation, negligence, and/or pollution. I love wetlands and the coast as a whole, but I felt more of a calling to the woods and trees in terms of conservation. I started to learn about forest restoration in college and the process of transitioning southern forests or woodlands to their historic state before the Indian Removal Act and intense agriculture of the 1800’s. Forests in the Southeast have changed dramatically since European arrival and barely resemble their previous state in many areas. Despite the century-long changes, restoration treatments have increased native plant diversity and been successful in transitioning the forests back to their historic states. An unintended consequence of these restoration treatments is an increase in invasive plant species. These invasive plants can stall the restoration process and prevent native diversity from flourishing. Ultimately, I am studying the mechanisms by which these invasive plants become so competitive to native plants and the underlying mechanisms that may prevent successful restoration.

I, like most other biology graduate students, chose a professor and a project rather than a school or program when applying to graduate schools. I looked for scientists actively doing restoration work in the Southeast with a focus on hardwood species and understory plant diversity. In my undergrad career, my research was on hardwood tree reproduction and understory vegetation in Memphis, Tennessee. I wanted to expand on the hypotheses I encountered in that research and work towards developing a solution to the issues of the lack of tree regeneration and invasive species in Southeastern forests. Dr. Brewer just so happened to fit perfectly for those goals and the University of Mississippi is in a great location to where I wouldn’t have to travel far to be at my field sites. Talking with other professors after I arrived helped me develop my ideas further and incorporated areas I didn’t consider on my own. Overall, everything seemed to fall into place perfectly.

I initially came into graduate school thinking I would go into academia and become a professor, but I am considering going into governmental research or a conservation organization instead. I still enjoy teaching, but I’ve seen the benefits that come from the other side of the research coin too. I may be able to focus more on exploring and solving the questions and problems I have with restoration and invasive species in a research focused job. However, I may have more freedom in a traditional academic career and be able to teach undergrads while including them in my research on a wider variety of topics.

Research interests are greatly varied in the Department of Biology. Considering a variety of factors including the distance to a field site or availability of lab machinery, the University of Mississippi offered the best graduate school situation and breadth of studies relating to my research goals.

Michel Ohmer Ph.D.

Posted on: September 13th, 2021 by capurdo1

Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
The University of Mississippi


Office: 410 Shoemaker Hall
Telephone: (662) 915-7751

Research Interests:

  • Amphibian biology, disease ecology, ecophysiology, global change, and conservation biology


Postdoctoral fellow, 2020-2021, Living Earth Collaborative, Washington University in St. Louis, USA
Postdoctoral research associate, 2016-2020, University of Pittsburgh, USA
Ph.D. 2016, The University of Queensland, Australia
M.S., 2011, Otago University, New Zealand
B.S., 2008, Cornell University, USA



Dr. Keyana Mitchell Washington, MD – Alumna Spotlight

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by ahmeisel

Keyana Mitchell Washington

Pediatrician, Children’s Hospital of Georgia and Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth

BS in Biological Science (2002)


Recipient of the nationally prestigious Truman Scholar Award, Dr. Washington was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Phi Beta Kappa honors organization, Alpha Epsilon Delta pre-med society, a student judicial council chair, vice president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, secretary of Habitat for Humanity, and a volunteer with Increasing Minority Access to Graduate Education (IMAGE).


“The University of Mississippi provides an array of opportunities to follow on whatever path you choose upon graduation. I felt confident in my future knowing that I could leave UM and go to medical school, pursue a PhD, or teach. The faculty are superb and their relationships with other departments provide many opportunities for multidisciplinary learning.

“My interest in biology blossomed in my high school microbiology class at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. I enjoyed learning about the intricacies of the microbial life cycle and how it intertwines with other living things—including humans. That class ended with a fascinating field trip to one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention infectious disease labs. I considered a career as a microbiologist, before I decided to become a physician.”



Dr. Demondes Haynes, MD – Alumnus Spotlight

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by ahmeisel

Demondes Haynes headshot

Associate Dean for Admissions, School of Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care, UMMC


Hometown: Jackson, MS
BA in Biology (1995) 
MD in Medicine, UMMC (1999)
LinkedIn Profile




Currently, I serve as associate dean for admissions for the School of Medicine at UMMC, and I remain a practicing pulmonary and critical care physician although my clinical practice is less since taking on the admissions role. I have a passion for medical school admissions and have served on the medical school admissions executive committee for the past 10 years. My future career goals definitely involve a continued career in academic medicine.

I was always fascinated by the human body and how it functions so biology was a natural fit for my college major. One class of particular fondness was comparative anatomy. I found the class exciting because we performed animal dissections, and this put my mind in overdrive as I thought about the future and cadaver dissection in medical school.

I completed medical school at the School of Medicine at The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson before a 3-year Internal Medicine residency at UMMC and a 1-year stint as chief resident in Internal Medicine at UMMC, followed by fellowship training for three years in pulmonary and critical care medicine at UMMC. After one year in private practice with Jackson Pulmonary Associates I returned to my first love of academia at UMMC where I became professor of medicine and served as the Fellowship Program Director for Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and the executive vice chair for the Department of Medicine.

Fond memories from my undergraduate days: Of course, the beautiful campus at Ole Miss and the Grove on game day. More importantly though are the friendships formed that last until this day. Many of these friends were other students majoring in biology, premed, or pre-pharmacy.

Dr. F. Clarke Holmes, MD – Alumnus Spotlight

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by ahmeisel

F. Clarke Holmes headshot

Physician, Impact Sports Medicine & Orthopedics


Hometown: Nashville, TN
BA biology, University of Mississippi
MD medicine, University of Mississippi School of Medicine
Residency, Tallahassee (FL) Memorial Health Care, chief resident
Sports Medicine Fellowship, Ball Memorial/Central Indiana Sports Medicine
LinkedIn Profile



I am a practicing physician with a specialty in orthopedics and sports medicine. I served as a professor in two academic medical centers—the University of Mississippi in Jackson and Georgetown University in Washington, DC, before I opened a sports medicine private practice in Nashville. Patients from several surrounding states seek my opinion, and it is a privilege to care for individuals, both athletes and non-athletes, with a variety of medical conditions. Ole Miss prepared me well indeed, both academically and socially, to succeed in the medical profession.

I decided to pursue a degree in biology at the beginning of my undergraduate experience. I had intentions of attending medical school from the age of 15, and I felt that a biology degree would prepare me well for a career in medicine. Ole Miss is a special place for me. My undergraduate experience was marked by the development of deep friendships, fantastic memories, and a challenging and rewarding academic curriculum. I distinctly recall studying long and consistent hours, particularly Sunday through Thursday, but then making time for social life once my work was done and on the weekends. I was named “Marshall” of the College of Liberal Arts at commencement, finishing with a 4.0 GPA. Upon graduation, I headed immediately to medical school at where I graduated magna cum laude. This was followed by a residency in Florida and a fellowship in Indiana.

Dr. Holmes has appeared on CNN, ABC’s World News, and Nightline and several local news programs in Washington, DC and Nashville. He has been quoted in print media, including People Magazine, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and The Tennessean. He lectures on sports medicine topics.

Dr. Brandon W. Lewis, PhD – Alumnus Spotlight

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by ahmeisel

Brandon Lewis headshot

Study Director/Toxicologist
AmplifyBio in West Jefferson, Ohio


Hometown: Vicksburg, MS
BA in Biological Sciences, minor in Chemistry (2009)
LinkedIn Profile




Currently I am in my postdoctoral fellowship at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, investigating mechanisms of pediatric asthma. My ultimate career goal is to lead my own research program at a top tier research institution as a principal investigator/tenure-track faculty member. I hope to continue conducting biomedical research relating to the immunological mechanisms of pediatric lung diseases such as asthma and cystic fibrosis.

Ole Miss was a very rewarding experience in my educational development. My biology and chemistry professors provided a challenging and supportive environment that cultivated my interest in biomedical research. The concepts from the courses taught proved to be a valuable foundation throughout my scientific development.

My graduate work focused upon immunological responses in cystic fibrosis, a fatal inflammatory lung disease. I have published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Immunology and presented my work at national conferences. During my time at LSU, my work received the Toxicological and Exploratory Pathology Charles River Award, Society of Toxicology Comparative and Veterinary Specialty Section Award, and Society of Toxicology Immunotoxicology Specialty Section 2017 Paper of the Year.

As an Ole Miss student, never hesitate to reach out to the professors and alumni to discuss ideas, career paths, research opportunities, and life in general. This will provide valuable experience that may lead to future opportunities such as professional school interviews, fellowships, and other gainful employment opportunities.

Amanda Gerard – Alumna Spotlight

Posted on: December 15th, 2020 by ahmeisel

Amanda Gerarad headshot

Pediatric Genetic Counselor, Baylor College of Medicine


Hometown: Houston, Texas
BA in Biological Science and Psychology (2015)
LinkedIn Profile


I primarily work with pediatric patients in the genetics clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital. I see patients, contribute to research within the genetics field, and train new genetic counselors as a supervisor for the Baylor College of Medicine Genetic Counseling Program. My job is immensely enjoyable and rewarding, and I hope to continue contributing to this unique and growing field of science in the future.

My interest in biology developed in high school science classes when I was fascinated by many aspects of the field—particularly the unit about genetics. My specific career path was not set when I started my undergraduate coursework, but I knew biology interested me and I chose to explore it further. I discovered my current field of genetic counseling through online research and some biology courses.

Undergraduate courses helped determine my interests and what I wanted from my future career. I enjoyed the biology department’s variety of course offerings, which allowed me to learn about different specialties within the field. Once I decided on genetic counseling as a career, I took prerequisite courses for graduate school and participated in activities to strengthen my applications. I was also a psychology major, a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, a member of the Ole Miss Band, and a frequent visitor of Big Bad Breakfast.

Research Associate Position available

Posted on: October 8th, 2018 by kdbyrd

The Bloomekatz laboratory is seeking a research associate to assist in their investigations of the fundamental mechanisms underlying cardiac morphogenesis and disease using zebrafish. For more information see below or contact Dr. Josh Bloomekatz.

Summer 2017 Undergraduate Research Opportunity

Posted on: May 11th, 2017 by kdbyrd

UM Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (STEMS REU) Program provides educational science research opportunities to undergraduate students who are seeking research experiences and considering a career in research or academia. For more information, UM STEM Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates 2017. To apply, UM STEMS REU Application 2017.

Instructor Position in Biology

Posted on: January 24th, 2017 by kdbyrd

The Department of Biology at The University of Mississippi invites applications for an instructor position.