Jackson State University civil engineering professor Lin Li and senior biology major Harrison Watson were recognized recently during the annual HEADWAE program that honors outstanding students from 34 Mississippi public and private universities and colleges.
Higher Education Appreciation Day – Working for Academic Excellence (HEADWAE) was established by Mississippi Legislative Resolution. The event pays homage to academically gifted students and faculty members statewide.
The awards luncheon at the downtown Marriott in Jackson featured Gov. Phil Bryant as keynote speaker. Afterward, faculty and student guests were publicly recognized for their commitment to the future of Mississippi.
Before the official acknowledgment at the banquet, honorees visited the Capitol and were greeted by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. They also toured the building to observe the operations of the legislative bodies.
Watson, a senior biology major in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology, said he was grateful to be recommended for the prestigious honor by the biology chair, Dr. Timothy Turner.
He said, “Dr. Turner admired my proactive efforts in looking for research and outreach opportunities. The academic experience has made my education much more well-rounded as I’ve been able to advance myself and help others along the way.”
Watson, a native of Mobile, Alabama, said he chose JSU because of strong family connections in the area. He credits the urban HBCU for providing greater insight into his academic and research abilities and for creating an atmosphere that allowed him to focus on his studies.
He’s also traveled to conferences under the auspices of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Watson recently attended a forum in Washington, D.C.
Meanwhile, Li started at JSU in 2005 as a professor in civil engineering. He has been successful in securing several grants to aid students in their research, including three from the NSF.
“It’s an honor to be recognized because teaching students offers me a lot of encouragement as I observe their growth and their successes. I’m very confident in what JSU is doing in their lives.”
Aside from his recent recognition, Li earned another prestigious honor as a fellow by the American Society of Civil Engineering in 2016. He said he will continue to provide support to JSU students so they can excel and contribute significantly to their discipline.
“Several students already have done work as undergraduate assistants and have gone to training for various research opportunities,” Li said. “These experiences are important because the training prepares them for the start of their careers while still enrolled in college.”