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The University of Mississippi

Graphic with text: The University of Mississippi; Pharmacy Matters

September 2022

Cellas Hayes in the lab

Cellas Hayes’ journey in science and research began as a college sophomore. 

An on-campus job in the lab of Nicole Ashpole, associate professor of pharmacology, sparked a passion for science and research. Now a doctoral student in pharmacology in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, Hayes has been busy building a legacy. Over the years, he has received numerous awards for his research and has made presentations at state and national conferences.

This year, Hayes was chosen for the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award by the National Institutes of Health, one of the highest honors a doctoral student can receive. Hayes is just the third Ole Miss student to receive this type of fellowship, and the first since 1987.

“It is a surreal feeling to be the third recipient, and the second was in the 1980s,” Hayes said. “To be the first recipient in almost 40 years, it is absolutely wild and no one could have imagined or expected this, not even myself.” 

He is also the first Black UM student to receive this fellowship, a fact that he takes immense pride in.

“I am the first Black recipient from the institution ever,” Hayes said. “That carries more weight than any other factor because there is not one aspect of my life that has guaranteed me a place in science or academia.”

Not content to rest on his laurels, Hayes has his eyes on what’s next. He has already accepted a postdoctoral position at Stanford University in California, which he will start later this fall. He’ll be approaching the future with the same mindset that brought him to this point.

“Whatever or wherever my journey takes me, I want to and will be the best,” Hayes said. “Because in the back of my mind, nothing in my life guaranteed me a spot in today’s world, but people like me will be changing that world.”


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