Following graduation from Mississippi State University in 1970 with a master’s degree and after serving three years in the U.S. Army performing electronics research, Everette Beers travelled around Europe and Asia for two years. During this time, he resolved to use his electrical engineering for medical purposes, recognizing that the body is bristling with electrical impulses.
Completing work on his Ph.D., Dr. Beers re-entered the U.S. Army in 1982 to perform neurophysiological research for the medical defense against nerve agents at a time when concern for possible nerve gas poisoning was high. Selected in 1988 to be the first U.S. Army Research Exchange Officer to the United Kingdom, he was assigned to the renowned Chemical Defense Establishment, Porton Down, to perfect medical prophylaxes against nerve agents, a critical function leading up to the 1991 Gulf War.
Retiring from the Army in 1993 as a Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. Beers joined the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the Division of Ophthalmic Devices as an expert reviewer in the areas of toxicology and biomedical engineering, becoming Deputy Division Director in 2006. In addition to work on various first-of-a-kind intraocular liquids, he was instrumental in the FDA’s first approval of, and subsequent approvals for, lasers for refractive eye surgery, improving vision for many individuals. As the FDA’s only Professional Engineer and Certified Toxicologist, the FDA recognized Beers as the FDA’s national and international expert in several areas of toxicology and biomedical engineering, including intraocular devices, intraocular fluids, telemedicine, and surgical lasers.
Beers states that he has been able to utilize his electrical engineering background in every endeavor of his career, asserting that there is no question that his education at Mississippi State University prepared him for success in a wide variety of areas, including electronics, neurophysiology, and biomedical engineering.
Dr. Beers is currently retired and lives in Martinsburg, WV and Washington, DC. He is married to Marija Futchs Fine-Beers and has one son, a graduate of West Point and currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army.
Dr. James Bert Nail terms himself an obsolete engineer, but he still spends time at The Idea Shop with younger entrepreneurs, developing tools to combat honeybee pests for a startup LLC.
Dr. Nail barbered to pay his way through his Mississippi State University B.S. and received a graduate fellowship for his master’s, which he completed in 1968. James Bert Nail and Betty Janice Allen were married the same year. He began his Ph.D. as she finished her B.S. in zoology, graduating while he endured military training. The couple then moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where Dr. Nail worked in the Flight Dynamics and Control section at Boeing. This work was very interesting and cyclic enough to allow involvement with new ventures.
As Dr. Nail was interviewing for his next job, Dr. Jerrel Mitchell suggested he return to Mississippi State University to work on a research contract while completing the Ph.D. He did, and that contract folded during the move back to Starkville. Dr. Nail gives the Lord credit for that career change; teaching never made his short list, but he was now fortunate to have a temporary teaching position. He spent the rest of his career in teaching and research, enjoyed interacting with students and helping in their development. Mississippi State graduates have a well-deserved reputation for accomplishing the near-impossible, sometimes with very limited resources. He notes that reputation is largely inherited, as seen in the following history: Electrical Engineering at Mississippi State nearly died five years prior to Dr. Nail’s enrollment in 1962. Dean Harry Simrall refused to fold, hired Dr. Billie Ball as head of the department, and promised to help him succeed despite limited funding. Years later, Dr. Ball confided that he would not have come if he had he known anything about budgets. His budget to buy essentials and pay his faculty that first year was … $15,000. The stalwarts that stood with him deserve credit, too: Paul Jacob, Bob Guyton, Karl Carlson, Bill McDaniel, Jimmy Dodd, and John Herring. They were soon joined by Claude Irby, Frank Ingels, and others. Imagine the loss to the world had they failed! With his best smile, Dr. Ball would often assure a prospective student that the department at Mississippi State would provide them opportunity for failure. Successful people face that opportunity often – but just will not quit.
Dr. Nail insists he is not in the same class as the corporate leaders receiving a similar award, but they may have been in his class at one time. He simply ran a lap with the baton. It was a good race. Betty was supportive throughout his career; he reciprocated by guest lecturing occasionally in her second grade class. They have two children, David and Carole, and two grandchildren, Zoe and Malcolm. Betty died in 2017 after nearly 49 years of marriage. Only the Lord can provide a purpose in life after that loss, and He has.
Dr. Jeannette Herring Russ lives in Jackson, Tennessee, where she serves as Professor and Department Chair for the Department of Engineering at Union University. She is delighted to still be a “Bulldog,” since Union and Mississippi State share that mascot!
After graduating from Mississippi State in 1984 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering, Dr. Russ moved to Loveland, Colorado, to work for Hewlett-Packard’s Manufacturing Test Division. She held several positions in new product development, corporate training, and manufacturing, and finished her career at Hewlett-Packard as lead engineer for her group.
While at Hewlett-Packard, Dr. Russ attended Colorado State University and earned her M.B.A. in 1994. She moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend Vanderbilt University, earning her Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1999. Her research focused on biomedical applications of signal processing, and she developed an algorithm for image-guided minimally invasive back surgery that involved the extraction of a three-dimensional surface from a pre-operative CT scan that could be aligned with an ultrasound image taken during surgery.
Dr. Russ joined the Union faculty in 2002, where she has been instrumental in establishing the engineering program. The first Union engineering students graduated in 2005 and have been successful in both industry and graduate school. Dr. Russ enjoys sharing the knowledge gained from her industry experience and her academic research with the next generation of engineers. She was named “Faculty of the Year” at Union in 2008 and became Department Chair in 2012.
Dr. Russ greatly values the foundation provided by Mississippi State University during her undergraduate years. She is a second-generation electrical engineering graduate, following in the steps of her father, John W. Herring, Jr., who served Mississippi State as an electrical engineering faculty member for many years.
Jeannette is married to Bobby Russ and has two children, Rachel and Timothy. She is an active member of West Jackson Baptist Church and is heavily involved in the many activities of her children and her students at Union University.
Dr. Eric Welch is a Starkville native and second-generation engineering graduate from Mississippi State University, having graduated with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1991. His father, George Burns Welch, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering in 1947. After completing his graduate education, his father returned to Mississippi State and was an engineering faculty member in the Agricultural Engineering Department. (Later renamed the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department).
Dr. Welch has many wonderful memories of growing up on the Mississippi State campus. He was fortunate to be able to visit the MSU library regularly, enjoy delicious milkshakes at the old “DI,” more formally known as the Dairy Industries Building, and spend his summers swimming in the old MSU pool.
Dr. Welch lives in Memphis, Tennessee. He is currently a tenured professor and Chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Christian Brothers University. Dr. Welch has served as an electrical engineering faculty member in the Christian Brothers University School of Engineering for thirty years. He has twenty years of experience in university administration in various capacities. During his time in administration, Dr. Welch has successfully worked with the faculty and administration on multiple ABET reaccreditation reviews.
Recently, he has focused on unmanned aerial systems or drone, and has developed several new electives on drone applications and design. Additionally, Dr. Welch has developed a course in ancient engineering in conjunction with the international studies program, which includes a trip to sites of ancient engineering marvels, such as the Pantheon and the Flavian Amphitheatre in Rome, Italy.
Dr. Welch is married to Susan Middleton Welch, and they have a teenage daughter, McKenzie. He has a variety of interests, including aviation, travel, history, particularly history of engineering, and of course, engineering. When he is not on the CBU campus or at home, he can generally be found spending time with his wife and daughter at the horse barn, flying, or doing judo.
Anthony L. Wilson is chairman, president and CEO of Mississippi Power, which provides clean, safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to southeast Mississippi. It is a subsidiary of Southern Company — one of the nation's largest energy companies.
Wilson has worked his entire professional career for Mississippi Power and the Southern Company system, starting in 1984 as an engineering cooperative education student in Biloxi, Mississippi. He is a statewide advocate for economic development, workforce development and education. He served as the chair of the Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), the state’s Chamber of Commerce. During his term, the 2020 MEC “It’s Time” campaign garnered more than 1,000 businesses and individuals in support of the legislature’s historic votes to change the divisive state flag that had flown since 1894. It was replaced with an inclusive design that has changed perceptions about the state and enhanced its image globally.
Wilson recently served as chair of the Mississippi Aquarium Foundation to support and open the state-of-the-art facility, one of the state’s major tourism attractions. In another statewide leadership role, Gov. Tate Reeves appointed him to lead the Energy Impact Committee for the Restart Mississippi Commission on Economic Recovery related to COVID-19. He was also appointed chair of the Economic Development Committee for the governor’s Gulf Coast Advisory Committee.
He serves as chair of the Mississippi State University Foundation and on the Bagley College of Engineering Advisory Council. He is also chair for the Mississippi Partnership for Economic Development and he is immediate past chair for the Gulf Coast Business Council. He is also an executive director on the Mississippi Energy Institute board.
Wilson earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mississippi State University and an MBA from the University of Southern Mississippi. He is also a graduate of the Oxford University Advanced Management Program as well as Leadership Mississippi.
A native of D'Iberville, Mississippi, Wilson and his wife Tonya have three daughters – Meghan, Katie and Natalie – and one grandson, Leo.