JSU Innovates 2013-12Jackson State University celebrated its innovative faculty and staff and the programs they lead during Innovation Day on Nov. 18.

The event is one of several scheduled across the state as Gov. Phil Bryant has proclaimed November Innovation Month.

Along with roundtable discussions on innovation hosted by each of JSU’s five colleges, 17 faculty and staff were honored for their contributions to the university and for utilizing technology in the classroom.



The 2013 JSU Innovators include:

College of Business

Gwendolyn Catchings-59-2

Gwendolyn Catchings

Dr. Gwendolyn Catchings is an Assistant Professor in the Management & Marketing Department in the College of Business.  In addition to her teaching responsibilities, her research interests include higher education recruitment and marketing, sales education, CRM technology, social media networks and career development.  With a passion for higher education marketing, Dr. Catchings has developed a recruitment and retention model and presented a paper at the SAM conference entitled “Implementing CRM Cloud Technology with HR Recruitment Structure and Strategies to Improve Student Recruitment at HBCUs”.






People - Mary-2

Mary White

Dr. Mary M. White is chairperson and associate professor of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Professional Development in the College of Business. A recognized pioneer and innovator in the academic, entrepreneurial and service community, she offers a unique blend of executive acumen, team building, and commitment credited with the strong academic enhancement of many students.  Her passion for entrepreneurship and business extends internationally to the Caribbean (Fulbright), South Africa (Fulbright), China, Puerto Rico, Romania, India, Spain and France. She is a co-author of the book, The Engrossed Entrepreneurial Campus: What Our Economy and Our Academy Needs Now.


Nick Hill2

Nicholas Hill

Nicholas J. Hill is an Associate Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics, Finance and General Business. He has conducted research with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Economic Research Service (ERS). His current research emphasis focuses on Contemporary Issues in Health and Urban Economics.



College of Education and Human Development


Lennie Little

Lennie Little

Dr. Gloria Smith and Dr. Lennie Little are presently mentoring 31 pre-service teachers at Jackson State University to help them become familiar with the Five Core Propositions of accomplished teaching and the standards that are the basis for becoming a National Board Certified Teacher as part of The Southwest Mississippi World-Class Teaching Project, at JSU. The Southwest Mississippi World-Class Teaching Project offers the following components to meet the needs of teachers seeking National Board Certification:  Mentoring Program, The Pre-Candidacy Program, and Standards Study/Prep Course. To support the efforts of certifying accomplished educators, and providing programs that support excellence in teaching, the World Class Teaching Project (WCTP) has received a grant from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards to work with pre-service and early-career teachers in Mississippi to help engage them in transforming the profession. This grant was made possible by the Gates Foundation in the Fall of 2013 and will continue through June of 2016.


Dr. Gloria Dansby-Giles was trained and received supervision of her counseling and instructional skills through eCollege and Adobe Acrobat.  She completed the eCollege certification in 2011, received training on Blackboard and has taught hybrid and traditional classes using Blackboard. Dr. Dansby-Giles completed updated Blackboard trainings in July and August of 2013. Other innovations included offering a service-learning project through Stewpot Community Services, developing and presenting multimedia projects from these experiences, which were presented with students at the JSU Urban Education Conference, and the International Festival Symposium and Mississippi Counseling Association. She is currently co-conducting a study on the Internet and social media practices of rehabilitation counselors using Qualtrics.



College of Science, Engineering and Technology


Kamal Ali

Kamal Ali

Dr. Kamal Ali joined JSU in 2005, after 20 years of teaching at the University of Southern Mississippi. He has a PhD in Physics and a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Since joining Jackson State, Dr. Ali has worked closely with the Army Research Labs at Adelphi and Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. His collaboration has resulted in the award of several grants from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense. Dr. Ali’s research focuses on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Autonomous Navigation. Dr. Ali’s collaborative work with ARL has resulted in the award of a patent for the development of Hardware in the Loop Simulator that can be used to test and evaluate autopilots in the lab. This JSU/ARL technology will be transferred to the US Air Force by the end of this year.


Himangshu Das-119

Himangshu Das

Dr. Himangshu Das is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He has more than 15 years of experience in computational hydraulics, hurricane surge modeling, feasibility studies and design analysis. He has conducted numerous hydrodynamic and environmental studies in river and wind dominated coastal regions in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf coasts. One of his recent achievements is the development of a computational tool called REAL (Rapid Estimates for Approaching Landfall) which is a storm surge forecasting system bearing the JSU logo and currently used by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. The technology was used for estimating hurricane Isaac’s devastation in August 2012 and is being used for operational analytics in current and future hurricane seasons.


Tor A. Kwembe

Tor A. Kwembe

Dr. Tor A. Kwembe is the Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences and Professor of Mathematics. His assignments at Jackson State University revolves around administrative, teaching and research regarding the development of academic programs, teaching and research infrastructure to advance undergraduate and graduate mathematics education. His research and teaching expertise are in the broad areas of classical analysis, biomathematics, ordinary and partial differential equations with the Wentzell or dynamic boundary conditions, modeling tumor growth and tumor cells metastasis, modeling physiological disorders such as aneurysms evolution, growth and rupture potentials. His publications in these areas are frequently cited. His current research direction is focused on developing formal mathematical and statistical theories and applications to genome science (bioinformatics) and climate and tropical cyclone/hurricane forecasting to aid in a deeper understanding of nature and to provide answers to unanswered questions of nature through quantitative exploration of real time large data by remote utilization of cyber infrastructure enabling technologies.



College of Public Service


Carol Cannon 7

Carol L. Cannon

Carol L. Cannon has been a member of the Communicative Disorders program at Jackson State University.  She serves as an Instructor and as the Clinical Coordinator of the program’s Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic.  In this latter role, she is responsible for the clinical education of the program’s undergraduate and graduate students.  She is a licensed and nationally certified speech-language pathologist.  As such, she has worked in five states serving the adult population in acute care, long-term care, rehabilitation and outpatient facilities, private practice, and home health.  Her special interest area is dysphagia (i.e., swallowing disorder) but she also enjoys serving children in early intervention, head start settings, and the Central Mississippi Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic.


Public Serivice Faculty-25

Gina Scutelnicu

Dr. Gina Scutelnicu is an assistant professor at Jackson State University. She has a Ph.D. degree in Public Affairs from Florida International University. She has a strong commitment to professional excellence. She has published in peer-reviewed journals such as the Journal of Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management, Public Organization Review and Economic Development Quarterly and Public Administration Quarterly. Dr. Scutelnicu’s teaching philosophy promotes active learning that encourages students to develop problem-solving strategies to assist them in their future careers. During the past year, she has developed two online classes for the Public Policy and Administration Program, for which she received a Certificate of Achievement for instructional design and innovation in asynchronous online teaching. In addition, Dr. Scutelnicu is currently working on developing a multi-digital textbook on Comparative Public Policy.


Dr. Julie Schroeder, Associate Professor of Social Work, has conducted and published research on web-based teaching technologies developed to enhance student writing skills and plagiarism detection prior to paper submission providing students with additional learning opportunities to enhance their writing, critical thinking, and citation skills. She began using web-based platform instructional methods and teaching research via compressed video in 1999. She continues to embrace web-based advances, hybrid and online course development and instruction, and participates in policy development relevant to distance education best practices. Dr. Schroeder uses teaching strategies that motivate students to adopt empirically based practices that ensure quality services and consumer protections, while inspiring students to act for social justice for the most vulnerable Dr. members of society. She has used, tested, and published teaching strategies that allow her to share her passion for social justice by requiring students to learn about and apply empirical evidence and research methods that can serve as a foundation for personal empowerment and a catalyst for mass social reform.


College of Liberal Arts



David Akombo

Dr. David O. Akombo is assistant professor of music education and graduate coordinator in the Department of Music. Dr. Akombo’s educational training began in his home country of Kenya where he taught music for several years in public schools and colleges before moving to the United States. He holds two masters degrees – from Point Loma University in California, and Bowling Green State University in Ohio. His Ph.D. degree in Music Education is from The University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Akombo has authored several articles and three books and presented at regional, national, and international conferences including Music Educators conferences. Akombo is recognized as an “Innovator in Research and Teaching” because of his interests in artistic phenomena and interdisciplinary approaches between the arts and sciences.


Dr. Taunjah Bell is assistant professor of psychology. She earned a BA in psychology from University of South Florida in Sarasota in 1995, MA in experimental psychology from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls in 1999, and a PhD in experimental psychology specializing in behavioral neuroscience from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 2007. Dr. Bell teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in experimental psychology whereby she emphasizes experimental design, research methodology, and statistical analysis. Her student mentees have designed and presented original research at regional and national conferences. Under her mentorship, two students have won prestigious awards based on their research with Dr. Bell. Through innovative approaches to solving problems, Dr. Bell’s students work in teams on design experiments and they ascertain advanced level research skills in coding, scoring, entering, analyzing and interpreting statistical results.


Hyun Chong Kim

Hyun Kim

Hyun Kim is professor of ceramic arts. Kim completed her MFA in ceramics at Indiana State University. She teaches undergraduate courses in ceramic arts and serves as a consultant with many local community arts agencies in the metropolitan area. Kim serves as a reporter for the Korean edition of the Ceramic Art Monthly Magazine. In 2000 and 2009, she was selected as a recipient of the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher’s Award. Kim led JSU students during the 2013 spring and summer semesters as the made their mark on the city of Canton, Mississippi, by creating a mural featuring some of the city’s brightest spots. More than 3,200 six-inch tiles were hand painted to create the mural that stands more than 13 feet high and 67 feet wide.

Division of Academic Affairs



Robert Blaine

Dr. Robert Blaine, conductor, soloist and scholar balances diverse artistic and academic worlds with agility and aplomb.  Serving as Jackson State University’s Assistant Provost for CyberLearning, Director of GEAR, Global Education through Analytical Reasoning, Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Studies at Jackson State University, Robert Blaine is highly active through his multifaceted career. Dr. Blaine’s most recent leadership initiatives have resulted in the development of INNOVATE, a new center for the development and dissemination of digital content and the recent designation of Jackson State University as one of only five Apple Distinguished Schools in the nation.

Division of Research and Federal Relations


Ray 5

Paresh Ray

Dr. Paresh C. Ray is a Professor of Chemistry in the College of Science, Engineering, and Technology.  His vision is to continue research at the interface of chemistry and biology that includes exploring new chemical strategies for the imaging and therapy of cancer cells, multi-drug resistance bacteria, creating new nanobased sensors for different chemical and biological toxin, designing multifunctional nanomaterial for multimodal imaging, and enhancing our understanding of biomolecular interaction with nanosurface. Dr. Paresh Ray has a pending patent application with the USPTO for his photothermal therapy system and has the most invention disclosures filed with the Division of Research and Federal Relations.





  1. Farah Christmas says:

    Congratulations to all on their accomplishments.

  2. Nola Radford says:

    Congratulations to all our innovators for recognition of their accomplishments.

Leave a comment