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.

Dr. Brian Olson

Dr. Brian Olson is a High Performance Computing Specialist in the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi. He graduated with a Ph.D. in Physics from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. Following a postdoctoral appointment and an Assistant Research Professor position at the University of Southern Mississippi, Dr. Olson now maintains the Magnolia HPC cluster and interfaces with researchers to provide technical support, training and programming expertise for the development of HPC and data-intensive applications.

Byron K. Buck

As a Native of Jackson, Mississippi, Byron K. Buck received his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Jackson State University under the concentration area of Pre-Medicine. For six years, Byron has served as a Researcher III for the University of Mississippi Medical Center originally assigned as a Retention and Recruitment Research Associate. Byron has participated in various research projects that focused on young black men’s health concerning HIV/STD Prevention and PrEP Promotion.

Currently, Byron serves as a full-time Behavior/Clinical Research and Evaluation Coordinator for My Brother’s Keeper Inc./Open Arms Healthcare Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Byron is also a part-time collaborative Research Coordinator for the Mississippi INBRE Telenutrition Center. With experiences in behavioral and clinical research studies, Byron is a researcher who is devoted and compassionate about the protection of human subjects and HIPPA, maintaining research protocol execution, and the promotion of health policy, patient education, and public health. 

Marcus Johnson

For 8 years, Marcus Johnson has worked in the HIV/STD field. He began and gained his experience working at South Mississippi Task AIDS Force, caring for people living with HIV/AIDS between the years of 2014 through 2016. Currently, Marcus Johnson is a Program Coordinator for My Brother’s Keeper/ Open Arms Healthcare Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Open Arms is a nonprofit community-based organization that focuses on HIV/AIDS preventive services. Also, their goal is to design and deliver an innovative range of educational and training programs in public health. Marcus is also a part-time collaborative Research Coordinator for Mississippi INBRE Telenutrition Center. Marcus has dedicated himself to the fight to end HIV in the south and fighting inequality through comprehensive educational services for the LGBTQ community and people living with HIV/AIDS.

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.