Dr. Thames Dr. Shelby F. Thames

Dr. Shelby F. Thames drives the internationally-recognized polymer science research group known as Thames-Rawlins Research Group.

Dr. Thames served as the eighth president of The University of Southern Mississippi from took office on May 1, 2002, continuing an illustrious career of 38 years at Southern Miss.

His previous administrative positions at Southern Miss were chair of the Department of Polymer Science, dean of the College of Science and Technology, vice president for Administration and Regional Campuses, and Executive Vice President. In 1970, he was the founder of the Department of Polymer Science, and in 1973, cofounder of the Waterborne and High-Solids Coatings Symposium, an event that has expanded to the annual International Waterborne, High-Solids, and Powder Coatings Symposium in which he continues as its codirector. He sought and gained approval for the enhancement of the College of Science to the College of Science and Technology by creating several new technology programs.

He was instrumental in the implementation of the "2+2 Degree Program" between the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College system and USM Gulf Coast, which provided a bachelor's degree program course work on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in over 26 subject areas. Another of his many accomplishments involves three entities created to improve statewide economics: Mississippi Polymer Institute; International Coatings and Formulations Institute; and Southern Diversified Products, LLC (a Mississippi University Research Authority company).

Among his numerous honors and awards are the designation as Distinguished University Research Professor of the Department of Polymer Science; recipient of the first Distinguished Professorship by the Southern Society of Coatings Technology; the 1996 USM Alumni Association Continuous Service Award; the 1998 NUC Wheeler McMillan Award for his work with agricultural products; inductee in 1998 to the USM's Alumni Hall of Fame; the 1999 AAIC Anson Ellis Thompson Career Achievement Award for his career in promoting the use of agricultural-based materials as industrial raw materials; and the 2002 recipient of the Special Recognition for Energy Innovation and Technology Transfer by the Mississippi Development Authority, Energy Division. In 1998, USM's $29 million Polymer Science Research Center was named in honor of Dr. Thames and is now known as the Shelby Freland Thames Polymer Science Research Center.

At the time of his selection as president of Southern Miss, Dr. Thames had a research team of 50 people and supervised seven graduate students. Most recently this team is known for the new paint based on agricultural products, which is environmentally safe in that it emits no odors or volatile organic compounds into the environment. One of the initial uses of the paint named "American Pride" is its intended use in the construction and repair of the Pentagon in Washington, DC.

Dr. Thames earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi in chemistry and organic chemistry and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Tennessee in organic chemistry.

Dr. Thames is married to the former Shirley Diane Duff. Shelby and Shirley have three children, Scott Freland, Dana Gay, and Clay Barton Thames, and four grandchildren, Brittany Elizabeth Thames, Scott Freland Thames, Jr., William Lawrence Thames, and Clay Barton Thames, II. The Thames family has earned six degrees from USM and will soon add the seventh when Brittany graduates this semester. Scott was a member of the Gold Key Society, an Honor graduate, a member and officer of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity and graduated as a chemistry major. He attended the University of Mississippi dental school and later trained to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the Medical College of Virginia. Dana earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in USM's College of Education and completed her Ph. D. degree from Louisiana State University. Clay is also a USM graduate and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Fraternity. He attended the Louisiana State University Dental School in New Orleans, Louisiana and later trained to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the John B. Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas. Scott and Clay are partners in the practice, The Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Center, P.A., in Hattiesburg and Laurel, and Dana is Chair of the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education at USM. Dr. Thames is exceedingly proud of his children and grandchildren.


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Thames-Rawlins Research Group    |    118 College Drive #5217 Hattiesburg, MS 39406    |    Phone: 601.266.5618    |    Fax: 601.266.5880
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