About MRC

Chief Research Officers

Kelly Lucas, Ph.D.

University of Southern Mississippi
Vice President of Research
Chair of the Mississippi Research Consortium

Dr. Lucas is responsible for shaping the institution's research and economic development vision and mission. With a focus on fostering innovation and collaboration, Lucas expands research opportunities across disciplines and cultivates partnerships with industry, government agencies, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations. She provides oversight for research activities across four academic colleges and manages 10 research centers, two innovation clusters, and various research support units spread across multiple campuses and research sites at Southern Miss.

In her leadership roles, Lucas serves as the Executive Director of the USM Research Foundation, President of the board for the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, and Chair of the Mississippi Research Consortium. She also sits on the boards of The Gulf of Mexico University Research Collaborative, the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research/Institutional Development Award (EPSCoR/IDEA) Foundation, and the Governor’s Gulf Coast Advisory Committee for Eco-restoration.

Lucas previously served as the Associate Vice President for Research Coastal Operations and in directorial roles at the Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center and the Gulf Coast Geospatial Center. Before rejoining USM, she was the first Chief Scientific Officer for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Lucas worked in sales and marketing.

A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Lucas holds a Doctoral degree in coastal science from USM, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, and a Bachelor of Science degree in microbiology from Mississippi State University. She has also served as the USM Science Fellow in the Office of Senator Thad Cochran, advising on ocean and atmosphere legislation and policy. Lucas has authored numerous scientific publications throughout her career and played a key role in establishing industry partnerships and securing grant funding.

Julie Jordan, Ph.D.

Mississippi State University
Vice President for Research and Economic Development

Dr. Jordan has served as Vice President for Research and Economic Development at Mississippi State University since 2019. As the chief research officer for Mississippi’s leading research university, she oversees MSU $300M research portfolio. As VPR, she serves as president of the MSU Research and Technology Corporation, and oversees the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park.

Since becoming Vice President, Dr. Jordan has worked to maintain MSU’s growth and momentum in research. The portfolio has grown from $244M in FY18 to more than $300M in FY22. The Office of Research and Economic Development works to foster an innovative culture of multi-disciplinary teams of researchers with the right mix of administrative support to grow external funding that has an impact on the state and nation. Her teams works closely with state and local economic development leaders to advanced the university’s role in creating research and innovation-driven economic growth in Mississippi.

Prior to her VP role, Dr. Jordan served as Associate Vice President for International Programs and Executive Director of the MSU International Institute from 2017-2019.

Jordan served seven years as director of MSU’s Research and Curriculum Unit. While at the RCU, she helped launch Computer Science for Mississippi (CS4MS), paving the way for MSU and the state of Mississippi to become a leader in computer science education at the K-12 level.

Dr. Jordan is a two-time graduate of MSU, earning a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and a master’s degree in education technology. She also earned a Ph.D. in international development from the University of Southern Mississippi. A resident of Columbus, MS, she is married with three sons and five grandchildren.

ConSandra McNeil, Ph.D

Jackson State University
Interim Vice President of Research and Economic Development

Dr. McNeil oversees Research, Sponsored Programs, Research Compliance, Technology Transfer and Commercialization, Federal Relations and JSU Global. McNeil is an action-oriented researcher, grant writer and scholar whose work brings together scholarship, engagement, and community. Most recently, she served Jackson State University as assistant provost, focusing on research engagement; activity director of the Institute for Social Justice & Race Relations; and professor of sociology. From 2018-2020, she served as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science & Technology Policy Fellow with the National Science Foundation. As part of her fellowship, McNeil worked with a team on evaluating NSF Sexual Harassment Term and Condition, Office of Diversity and Inclusion. She also has experience in policy oversight and implementation, compliance with laws and regulations that govern federal-sector EEO and civil rights in the grantee community.

McNeil has received numerous awards and accolades for her academic and community outreach accomplishments, including the IHL Diversity Leadership Award in 2021. She was selected to participate in the Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) Leadership Institute at Wellesley College. McNeil earned her master’s degree in sociology, alcohol and drug studies from Jackson State University and a graduate certificate in homeland security-disaster management from Texas A&M University. She received her doctoral degree in sociology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Greg Easson, Ph.D.

University of Mississippi
Interim Vice Chancellor for Research and Sponsored Programs

Dr. Easson, professor of geology and geological engineering, was named interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs in summer 2023. Since 1995, he has served as a faculty member, chair, director of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, associate dean and interim dean of the School of Engineering.

Easson has extensive experience with the regulations that govern research and the dynamics of managing programs with externally generated resources. In his role, Easson leads the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, which serves and supports UM faculty, staff and students who are pursuing research or other sponsored projects funded by federal, state, local and private agencies and organizations.

Easson’s research focuses on the use of remotely sensed imagery to understand earth and environmental processes and concerns. He also researches energy resources in Mississippi to ensure wise use of the state’s resources. One of the key disaster-related activities in Easson’s career was being part of a team of volunteers from universities in Mississippi that provided geographic information system support in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Before joining the university, Easson worked for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri at Rolla. He also holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Science degree from Southwest Missouri State University. He has been honored by the School of Engineering with Junior Faculty Research awards in 2002 and 2007, a Senior Faculty Research Award in 2010 and a Faculty Service Award in 2011.

Easson and his wife, Darlene, have three children, Cole, Lee and Carina, all of whom earned degrees from the University of Mississippi.