Class Notes


Four Mississippi State-degreed researchers with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg have earned Women of Color STEM awards. Research computer scientist Vickey Moore (M.S. computer science, ’05), research mathematician Reena Patel (M.S., Ph.D. computational engineering, ’04, ‘18) and research engineer Lulu Edwards (B.S. biological engineering, ‘01) were selected as WOC Technology All-Star winners. Computer scientist Barbara Pilate (B.S., M.S. computer science, ’12, ‘14) earned the New Media Leadership Award in Government.



Lex Taylor Bestselling author John Grisham (B.S. accounting, ‘77) joined the board of directors for Centurion, the Princeton-based nonprofit that works to free innocent people from prison.



Randall Dong (B.A. political science, ’87) is now legal director of protection and advocacy for People with Disabilities Inc., an independent, statewide, nonprofit corporation that protects and advances the legal rights of people with disabilities in South Carolina. Since 2006 he has been part of the legal staff of the Public Service Commission of South Carolina where he advised on utility regulations.

John Singer (B.A. communication, ‘89) was appointed to the strategic advisory board for Decode Health, a Nashville-based predictive analytics company focused on early identification of health care risk from chronic diseases and COVID-19. With more than 30 years of experience in business strategy, consulting, policy and communications in health care, he leads Blue Spoon Consulting.



John McRae (B.B.A. banking and finance, ‘91) has been recognized as one of the top financial advisers in Mississippi. In a recent listing of top financial advisers by state, Barron’s Magazine named the senior financial adviser for Raymond James Financial Services in Citizens National Bank’s Wealth Management Division second in Mississippi.

Bob Scott (Ph.D. weed science, ’97) has been named director of the Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service within the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. He joined the division in 2002 as an extension weed scientist and moved into administrative roles in 2013. In 2018, he was appointed director of the Rice Research and Extension Center.



Ryan A. Frederic (B.B.A. marketing, ‘01) has been appointed to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners staff subcommittee on law by the organization’s president Brandon Presley. He serves as senior adviser to Chairman Dane Maxwell of the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Brittney RyeJoel Tillery (B.S. biological engineering, ’01) is now part of the Freese and Nichols’ coastal and navigation services practice at its New Orleans office. He is a senior project manager with 17 years of experience in coastal restoration, flood risk reduction and the use of green infrastructure to protect communities from severe storm events.


Kimberly NealBonnie Boudreaux (B.S. biological sciences, ’02; DVM, ’05) has been named associate dean of academic and student affairs at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. She is responsible for overseeing curriculum, orientation, class scheduling, conflict mediation, counseling and wellness. She was previously an associate professor in the veterinary clinical sciences department.

Gary McKenzie Kourtney Hollingsworth (B.B.A. business administration, ‘05) was named the new civil rights analyst, lead investigator and lead equal opportunity specialist for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C. A native of Laurel, she is also three-time alumna of William Carey University having earned a doctoral degree in 2017.


Through MM Strategies LLC, a litigation technology company, Sarah Beth Jones (B.S. political science, ’08) and her business partner have launched Prep App+. The tablet-based platform gives litigators real-time access to asbestos product photos from a variety of companies.



Tommy PayneJennifer Sloan Ziegler (B.S., M.S., Ph.D. civil engineering, ’10, ’12, ‘13) will serve a three-year term as one of two new governors for the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Region 5, which encompasses Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Puerto Rico. She is an engineer with Cypress Environment & Infrastructure in Jackson. She is also the 2020 president of the Mississippi section of ASCE, a member of the Energy, Environment and Water Resources Policy committee and is the New Professionals Chair for the 2021 EWRI World Congress.

Joanna KingMcKenzie Gates (B.S. biology, ‘16) was named a 2020 recipient of the Mississippi Vision Foundation’s Helen Allison St. Clair scholarship for students of optometry. A Corinth native, she is a third-year student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham School of Optometry.


Chris Vagasky (B.S., M.S. geosciences, ’14, ’17) was named chair of the American Meteorological Society Task Force on Leadership Development and named to the National Lightning Safety Council.



William O. “Witt” Vaughan IV was born Dec. 26, 2019, to Will Vaughan (’13) and Katelyn Ussery Vaughan of Little Rock, Arkansas.