DoD awards prestigious SMART scholarship to MSU researcher



Contact: Diane Godwin

Meilun Zhou (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Mississippi — A recent graduate of Mississippi State Bagley College of Engineering, now employed at the university’s Geosystems Research Institute, receives prestigious scholarship from the United States Department of Defense Science, Mathematics and Research for processing.

Meilun Zhou is a Computer Engineering graduate from MSU in Fall 2020 who has done undergraduate research at GRI with a special focus on machine learning and remote sensing. The Hattiesburg native attended Oak Grove High School and graduated from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science in Columbus.

Zhou plans to use the SMART scholarship to pursue his doctorate. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Florida.

The SMART Scholarship Program is a combined education and workforce development opportunity for bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate. students to acquire technical skills in the critical areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to support the national security mission of the DoD. The scholarship provides students with a full tuition fee and covers related educational expenses, summer internships in the country’s most innovative laboratories, and a stipend. After graduating from graduate school, SMART Fellows get full-time employment with DoD, the country’s largest employer of scientists and engineers with nearly 300,000 STEM professionals.

“I am honored to receive this scholarship and after obtaining my PhD I look forward to serving my country by conducting cutting-edge research with the Directorate of Space Vehicles at the US Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland AFB, New -Mexico, ”Zhou mentioned.

Sathish Samiappan, GRI research assistant professor who served as Zhou’s undergraduate research advisor and supervisor, said Zhou started work last year to develop deep learning models for automated classification of wildlife. from images collected by drones as part of a USDA-funded GRI project.

MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute provides capabilities in remote sensing computational technologies, visualization techniques, agriculture and natural resource management and the transition of these to operational research, planning programs. and decision support.

For more information on MSU’s Geosystems Research Institute, visit The university’s Bagley College of Engineering is online at

To learn more about the SMART program, visit

Mississippi State University is the state’s premier research university, online at



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