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Celebrated Primatologist Set for Honors College Spring Convocation

 By Edwin B. Smith

University of Mississippi

Scientist and explorer Mireya Mayor is set to share her experiences and discuss her approach to work-life balance during the spring convocation of the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, set for Feb. 7 in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Submitted photo

Renowned primatologist and explorer Mireya Mayor is the keynote speaker for the spring convocation of the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, set for Monday (Feb. 7).

The annual event, at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required.

“Dr. Mayor was selected because she invites audiences to open their imaginations to different possibilities,” said Ethel Scurlock, interim dean of the Honors College. “I heard her speak at the annual meeting of the National Collegiate Honors Council and loved the way that honors students responded to her presentation. 

“I wanted to put her in front of our students in hopes that she would inspire them to think creatively about their classes and research questions.”

A former NFL cheerleader, daughter of Cuban immigrants and mother of six, Mayor followed her unlikely dreams.

In short order, she became a respected primatologist, audacious explorer, fellow of the National Science Foundation, Fulbright Scholar and an Emmy Award-nominated wildlife correspondent for the National Geographic Channel.

Mayor’s exploits have earned her the nickname “the female Indiana Jones,” but the fashion-loving anthropologist always packs a black dress for more formal occasions.

The Honors College also will host its inaugural honors poster symposium, featuring Ole Miss honors students representing a variety of disciplines. The public is welcome to walk through the symposium and talk with some of the university’s top citizen scholars from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. in the Ford Center lobby.

“Our inaugural poster symposium is designed to showcase the incredible research that many of our student are already engaged in at the Honors College,” Scurlock said. “Many of our students are winning awards and garnering national attention for their research. 

“The symposium gives us a chance to celebrate their research at their home institution and provide a model for students who are in the nascent stages of research projects.”

The 2022 Barksdale Award winners also are to be announced during the event.


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