Mark D. Hersey has been chosen as the 2019 Deans Eminent Scholar in Humanities at Mississippi State. Hersey's selection is recognition of his manifest contributions to the historical profession, especially in the field of environmental history. His most recent labors have been on a study of the history of Alabama's Black Belt. Some of the richest farm land in the south, the region is marked by massive poverty. Hersey's work integrates the Black Belt environment with its people and institutions. He demonstrates how rampant discrimination and other forms of inequity have combined with established practice to turn what otherwise could have been a flourishing area into an economic and social disaster.