Sermin Aras, MS, RD, LD



Sermin Aras is the Research Manager, and a registered dietitian, licensed in the state of Mississippi. She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Master’s Degree in Dietetics Practice in 2018. She completed her dietetic internship in Hattiesburg area, which included various community rotations to expand her knowledge and better serve her community. Sermin joined Telenutrition Center in 2019 and feels proud to be involved in research activities that engage academics and community stakeholders to improve people’s quality of life.

Lanena John

Lanena Grace John, a tribal member of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, is the Community Engagement Coordinator. She graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in American Indian Studies in 2018 and a Master of Science degree in Mass Communications in 2020. She served as an intern for her Tribe’s Office of Public Information for many summers, from 2014 until 2021. With the experience and knowledge gained from the internship, she joined the Telenutrition Center to assist in community outreach and event planning.

Willie McKennis


Willie McKennis has a Bachelor of Science In Business Management with a focus on finance from the University of Phoenix. Willie has worked at the University of Southern Mississippi for 2 years in the Office of Research and Admin. Willie loves helping others and is currently the Budget and Personnel Coordinator for the School of Nursing and Health Professions at the University of Southern Mississippi.


Dr. Sean Buckelew

I was born and raised in Hattiesburg, MS, and got my bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM). I completed my master’s degree in history from San Diego State University in 2013. I received my PhD in history from USM with an emphasis on the cultural history of modern America. I currently serve as the Research and Grants Coordinator for the College of Nursing and Health Practitioners at USM.