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Langford named 2022 Hero of Science, student science scholars recognized at annual Ward Society dinner

Kim Chaudoin | 

Paul Langford greeting guests at dinner

Dr. Paul Langford in the McFarland Science Center chemistry lab that bears his name.

For nearly half a century, Paul B. Langford inspired and mentored Lipscomb University students who dreamed of entering medical professions or pursuing careers in chemistry. 

In honor of his impact on generations of students, Langford was named the 2022 Ward Society Hero of Science and was recognized at the annual dinner, hosted by the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences on April 8. At the dinner, the establishment of the Paul B. Langford Endowed Professorship in Chemistry was also announced as well as annual student research and fellowship awards. 

Reflections on the career of Paul Langford

A native of Lockesburg, Arkansas, Langford joined the Lipscomb faculty in 1962 as an assistant professor of chemistry after earning his Ph.D. in organic/physical chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He taught at Lipscomb for 33 years, rising to the rank of full professor and serving as chair of the Department of Chemistry from 1980 until he retired from teaching in 1994. In 1973, then-president A.C. Pullias established the Premedical Advisory Committee and appointed Langford as chair, a position he also held until 1994. Under his leadership, and in collaboration with other visionary Lipscomb science faculty, Lipscomb’s reputation for excellence in premedical education became widely recognized. Medical school acceptances annually surpassed — often by great margins — the national averages of the day. 

Paul Langford and Kent Gallaher

Paul Langford and Kent Gallaher, associate dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Langford’s dedication and personal mentorship guided many students into medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, nursing, optometry, podiatry, chiropractic, physical therapy, and other allied health schools. He treated each student as though he or she were his highest priority, working with students of all backgrounds without condescension or prejudice. His students often describe him as a caring, thorough, and careful scientist whose instruction, wisdom, counsel, encouragement, influence, kindness and ready smile were essential to their faith, and their success in academics and in life. Following his retirement from teaching, Langford continued to help recruit science majors by working part-time in the university’s admissions office from 1995 to 2011.

Ward Society Dinner

The Paul B. Langford Endowed Professorship in Chemistry was established by former students who provided initial funding for the scholarship. The purpose of the scholarship is to recognize Langford’s scholarship, spiritual leadership, friendship, profound influence in the lives of students and elevation of Lipscomb University’s academic reputation and prestige. The distinction of the Langford Professorship will be bestowed upon a faculty member who is selected based on achievements in teaching, performance and research.

Dr. Kent Gallaher interviews Dr. Paul Langford

Student Recognition

Another important component of the evening was the recognition of students who were named Langford-Yates Fellows, LaVelle Scholars, Ward Fellows and Ward Scholars. 

Langford-Yates Fellows

The Langford-Yates Fellows program honors two icons of the sciences at Lipscomb University, Langford and his colleague H. Oliver Yates, longtime biology professor and chair of the department. Students selected for this honor receive a stipend to participate in faculty-directed research projects during the summer. Applicants for this competitive fellowship submit research proposals and selections are made by a research committee led by Florah Mhlanga,  associate dean for curriculum and students services in Lipscomb's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.  
 

Langford Yates Fellows

2022 Langford -Yates Fellows, left to right, David Saakov, Kierolles Shehata, Joseph Helmy, Angelica Sarcona, Joy Osipchuk, Madeleine Enos, Isabelle Gaona and Sidney Hinson. Not pictured: Lindsey Reynolds.

Langford-Yates Fellows 2022, their research topic and faculty mentors: 

  • Isabella Gaona, neurobiology. “The effect of Topoisomerase II on zebrafish behavior and neural  organization.” Faculty Mentor: Bonny Millimaki 
  • Sidney Hinson, biochemistry. “Isolation of Fibronectin Binding Protein A and B for Thermodynamic  Analyses of Adhesin’s Surface Energy.” Faculty Mentor: Brian Cavitt 
  • Angelica Sarcona, biology. “Isolation and Thermodynamics of sdrF protein.” Faculty Mentor: Brian Cavitt 
  • Madeleine Enos, molecular biology. “Elucidating the role of fat metabolism inhibition in breast cancer stem cells.”  Faculty Mentor: Josh Owens 
  • Joy Osipchuk, molecular biology. “Synthesis of Cyclopropanes.” Faculty Mentor: Kent Clinger 
  • David Saakov, chemistry. “Synthesis of Cyclopropane Fatty Acids.” Faculty Mentor: Kent Clinger 
  • Lindsey Reynolds, biochemistry. “Intestinal Permeability Analysis by Liquid Chromatography with Tandem  Mass Spectrometry Using Micro-Plasma Collection Cards.”  Faculty Mentor: Matt Vergne 
  • Kierolles Shehata, biology. “Nutrient, Pathogen and Sediment Pollution Characterization and  Mitigation in Mid-Tennessee Rivers and Streams.” Faculty Mentor: Stephen Opoku-Duah 
  • Joseph Helmy, biology. “Nutrient, Pathogen and Sediment Pollution Characterization and  Mitigation in Mid-Tennessee Rivers and Streams.” Faculty Mentor: Stephen Opoku-Duah

The Herman G. LaVelle Scholars Program

The LaVelle Scholars program honors the life and legacy of Herman G. LaVelle. LaVelle was the first member of his family to attend  college and medical school. In doing so, LaVelle paved the way for  generations of his family to have hope and a future. The purpose of the LaVelle Scholars program is to assist qualified pre-health professions students who demonstrate financial need to pay application and testing expenses associated with gaining admission to health professions schools. Student awards are funded by the Herman G. LaVelle Jr. MD Health Professions Student Assistance Funds. Selections are made by Lipscomb’s Health Professions Advisory Committee. Each LaVelle Scholar receives a free Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) prep-course.  

Lavelle Scholars

2022 LaVelle Scholars: Tarek AlHamami, Sam Attalla, Alexus Brown, Lily Dao, Mohraeil Endraws, Jayla Fisher, Megan Guzman, Gabriela Hinojosa, Kamkshi Patel and Miyati Pathak.

2022 LaVelle Scholars and their majors are:

  • Gabriela Hinojosa, neurobiology 
  • Jayla Fisher, biochemistry 
  • Kamakshi (Kim) Patel, biochemistry 
  • Alexus Brown, biochemistry 
  • Lily Dao, biology 
  • Mohraeil Endraws, molecular biology 
  • Megan Guzman, neurobiology 
  • Niyati Pathak, biochemistry 
  • Sam Attalla, molecular biology 
  • Tarek AlHamami, biochemistry 
     

J.S. Ward Summer Research Fellows

J.S. Ward Summer Research Fellows is a partnership between Lipscomb University and the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Clinical Research Internship Program. Ward Fellows work for a research mentor at Vanderbilt University. To be selected, students are first nominated by faculty members at Lipscomb and then apply through the Health Professions Advisory Committee. In addition to research, students shadow their assigned doctor.

Ward Fellows students

2022 Ward Fellows, left to right, Timothy Khalil, Mina Ibrahim, Lucas Domberg. Kaylee Wu, Seth Meyer, Lexi Brown and Gray Pullias.

2022 J.S. Ward Summer Research Fellows and their majors:

  • Lexi Brown, biochemistry
  • Lucas Domberg, molecular biology
  • Mina Ibrahim, biology
  • Timothy Khalil, biology
  • Seth Meyer, biochemistry
  • Gray Pullias, biochemistry and Spanish
  • Kaylee Wu, biology

J.S. Ward Scholars

Lipscomb's most prestigious science award, the J.S. Ward Scholarship, is awarded annually to students planning on pursuing a health science career. Scholars are selected through faculty nominations and a rigorous application process based on academic merit and overall involvement in the Lipscomb community. 

Ward Scholars

2022 Ward Scholars, left to right, Pola Abdelmessih, Libby Gould, Lucas Domberg and Lexi Brown.

2022 J.S. Ward Scholars and their majors:

  • Lexi Brown, biochemistry
  • Lucas Domberg, molecular biology
  • Libby Gould, biology
  • Pola Abdelmessih, biology

J.S. Ward Society

Created in 2014, the J.S. Ward Society is named for James Samuel Ward, a member of the University of Tennessee medical faculty who served as interim president of Lipscomb in 1905-06 and 1913. He was invited by university founder David Lipscomb to join the faculty in 1893 as founding dean of the science department, thus establishing the university’s focus on the highest-quality science instruction and an unbroken lineage of medical doctors serving on the faculty. The purpose of the Ward Society is to connect science alumni and friends to Lipscomb in meaningful ways while making a Lipscomb pre-professional health science education accessible to current and future students through a robust endowed scholarship program. To learn more about investing in the lives of future Ward Scholars or to contribute to the Paul B. Langford Endowed Professorship in Chemistry contact Jenny Lovell at jenny.lovell@lipscomb.edu.

Photos: Kristi Jones