Sparks named interim State Chemist, director of Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory

Contact: James Carskadon

Studio portrait of Darrell Sparks

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Darrell Sparks has been named interim State Chemist and director of the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, pending confirmation from the Mississippi Senate.

Sparks has served as associate State Chemist since 2017 and also is an associate professor in MSU’s Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. The Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory is a state-funded agency housed on the MSU campus. Sparks succeeds Ashli Brown, who recently was named associate vice president of MSU’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine.

“The Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory provides a critical service to several key industries in Mississippi,” said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. “Dr. Sparks is well-prepared to lead MSCL and maintain the excellent service the lab’s stakeholders rely on.”

The Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory works in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to develop regulations for and conduct analysis of animal feeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural limes and petroleum products sold in Mississippi. The lab assures the quality of retail foods, fuels, livestock feeds, crop protection products and more.

Sparks is a two-time graduate of MSU, earning bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering. He has worked at the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory in various administrative positions since 2012. His service and teaching record as a faculty member have been recognized by the university’s Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

For more on the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, visit

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