USM Makes Huge Leap in U.S. News & World Report Rankings New

The term “quantum” might crop up from time to time in any discussion about engineering. And that would be an appropriate way to describe the leap made by The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) in the Best Engineering Schools – Graduate rankings released this week by U.S. News & World Report.

USM jumped an impressive 58 spots from No. 199 in the 2024 rankings to No. 141 for 2025. For its ranking methodology, U.S. News weights reputation at 25%, research expenditures at 30%, and research impact at 50%.

Dr. Derek Patton, Director of USM’s School of Polymer Science and Engineering, calls the jump a testament to the exceptional quality and impact of the school’s programs.

“It signifies the recognition of the hard work, dedication, and excellence of our faculty, students, and staff,” said Patton. “This ranking underscores the dedication of our trailblazing faculty to delivering an exceptional graduate education, to facilitating cutting-edge research opportunities, and to empowering our graduate students to make significant contributions to the field of polymer science engineering.”

Added Patton, “This recognition enhances our ability to attract and retain top talent to our faculty and to recruit students into our academic degree programs – Ph.D. and ABET accredited undergraduate programs.”

Patton explains that the significant climb in U.S. New’s rankings can be attributed to several factors. In addition to hard work and relentless dedication of faculty and students, he emphasizes the faculty’s innovative research, high-quality publications, and substantial research expenditures that have contributed significantly to the newest ranking.

USM Engineering

“Our strategic focus on interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships has broadened our research impact and visibility,” said Patton. “The School of Polymer Science and Engineering’s ability to achieve these results with a relatively small number of research-active faculty, compared to larger engineering colleges, is particularly noteworthy. This success underscores the high level of talent and commitment within our school, and it is a collective achievement that we can all be proud of.”

Dr. Katie Anthony, Dean of USM’s Graduate School, notes that during the 2023-24 academic year, 65 graduate students were enrolled in doctoral Polymer Science and Engineering program. In fall 2023, three en route master’s degrees and three doctoral degrees were awarded in Polymer Science/Engineering. This past spring, five en route master’s degrees and five doctoral degrees were awarded.

“I am thrilled to see the well-deserved recognition of the graduate programs in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering,” said Anthony. “The faculty is exemplary in both research activity and in mentoring students. Their graduate students are very research active, and they are quite successful in all the professional development award opportunities the Graduate School provides.”

Patton stresses that ongoing research in the school is addressing complex and societally important challenges that, in many cases, require collaborative efforts across multiple fields.

“This research has far-reaching impacts on advanced materials, environmental sustainability, and biomedical applications,” said Patton.

Recently researchers have:

Reported the conversion of waste plastics into advanced carbon-based materials for innovative clean water, carbon dioxide capture, and electrification initiatives.
Engineered degradable polymers that enable fabrication of sustainable polymer composites with end-of-use strategies capable of recovery and reuse of building blocks.
Created high-performance materials that help protect our warfighters.
Developed composite materials and processes that will enable the advancement of next-generation urban air mobility.
Broadened the range of conducting polymer materials available for use in wearable organic electronic devices.
Demonstrated the potential of preparing sugar-based polymers to target interactions with biological molecules for applications within the biomedical field.
“These projects highlight our commitment to driving scientific innovation and contributing to a sustainable and healthier future,” said Patton.

See the full rankings.

To learn more about the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at USM, call 601.266.4868.

Categories: Arts and Sciences Graduate School

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