LSU College of Science Pursuit Annual Report - 2020

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LSU College of Science



H OW AR E W E FI G H T I N G COV I D - 1 9 ?

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2 ,796 Dear Friends of the LSU College of Science, I extend well wishes to you amid a rather unique time. Since March, we have been inundated with messages about physical distancing, directives for safe engagement, and advice on how we can mitigate risks to our health and the health of those we care about. Needless to say, this can be daunting, but we have the privilege of being connected to a community committed to using our research, knowledge, and care for our fellow citizens to make our state and our world better. When our healthcare professionals needed personal protective equipment to treat those sufering from COVID-19, our faculty and students rallied their partners in good and called upon their ingenuity to meet the need. As a result, the Pete Maravich Assembly Center was transformed into a large-scale PPE production site that created more than 20,000 protective gowns for those on the front lines of the pandemic. Other members of our community assessed their laboratories to pull together equipment and supplies to donate to area healthcare facilities. And, when testing was at an all-time low, our researchers partnered with area hospitals to create a COVID-19 testing laboratory to help advance the state’s testing capabilities. Now more than ever, we see the value of science and math and the importance of providing quality education and research experiences to build a next-level scientifc community. This community must be ready to answer today’s pressing questions and have the foresight to prepare for the challenges of the future. I am pleased to present the 2020 edition of the Pursuit annual report. Aptly titled, this publication highlights a sampling of the research pursuits and accomplishments of our college and showcases how we are answering questions and tackling issues that matter to all of us. In this run of the publication, we celebrate members of our community who have fercely stepped up in the face of the pandemic. We also catch up with our faculty and students that have traversed the Antarctic landscape and talk with a resident quantum physicist to gain valuable insight into quantum computing and its impact on today’s and tomorrow’s technologies. I invite you to take a moment and read about our College of Science and all of the people committed to using their research to make our community, state and nation stronger. Sincerely,

Cynthia Peterson Dean, LSU College of Science

Here in the LSU College of Science, we are answering the questions that matter to you. Questions that impact your health. Questions that impact the world we live in — and the worlds beyond. Questions that spark your sense of adventure. These are the challenges we pursue. And we don’t mind difcult. In fact, we on it.


We know the most valuable discoveries can come from the most unexpected places. We are driven to fnd the answers — because science is everywhere. We all have the power to achieve extraordinary things. This is the LSU College of Science.


ABOUT THE COVER: Photo of Centaurus A galaxy taken by astrophotographer and LSU geology graduate Connor Matherne.



Green Blooded Lizards and Gravitational Waves: I Want to Know More


QuBits: Ten Things You Should Know About Quantum Computing


The Coldest Place on Earth


One Student’s Passion Inspired His Students to Give Back



C ORO NAV IRUS UN F O LDING How are LSU Scientists Contributing to Frontline Eforts?


On New Year’s Eve, when cities around the globe were preparing to welcome in the next decade, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission in China was reporting a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province. A novel coronavirus was eventually identifed. In the months since, more than 25 million cases have been recognized, sending much of the world into an unprecedented lockdown. Scientists are problem solvers, using unanswered questions and unaddressed issues as stepping stones on the path of success. So when the world shut down, there was an immediate need for experts to step up and create solutions for their communities, both locally and globally. And LSU College of Science researchers were no exception.

Equipping the Frontline

Dr. Wayne Newhauser, director of LSU’s Medical Physics Program and Dr. Charles M. Smith Chair of Medical Physics, is well-known for his work on cancer prevention and cancer survivorship— but now, he may be recognized for his handiness with a sewing machine. When cases of COVID-19 began decimating stocks of personal protective equipment used by healthcare professionals who worked directly with coronavirus patients, Newhauser turned his home’s driveway and garage into a manufacturing site with a purpose. “A constellation of factors drove (my decision to use my home space),” Newhauser said. “The biggest driver was the need for speed. Many hospital staf lacked basic PPE, and stocks of ventilator parts were low. We had to act fast. The LSU campus was closed. My home was an expedient location to conduct timecritical R&D, prototyping, and testing.” Working with biomedical engineering student Meagan Moore, who was recently featured in an LSU Experimental Podcast episode regarding these COVID-19 eforts, and in partnership with the Bella Bowman Foundation, Newhauser began

developing prototypes for gowns and other PPE items. The supplies were then shipped of to hospitals in both Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Once his efforts became known, the university’s COVID-19 response team evaluated the gown design and determined it could be scaled, and under the directive of LSU’s Interim President Tom Galligan, began assembling a cross-campus team to bring the operation to reality. The “Gown Project” expanded into large-scale production that flled

LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center. Coming together to assist the scientists were other experts across campus: The Theater Department donated sewing machines and helped adjust the design of the gowns to ft the recommendations from the Governor’s Ofce of Homeland Security & Emergency and physicians, while Facility Services worked with the College of Engineering’s Advanced Manufacturing and Machining Facility, or AMMF, to fabricate custom metal stencils for the gown’s creation. Even Athletics contributed to the

Members of the LSU “Gown Project” transformed the Pete Maravich Assembly Center into a PPE production site.



work by facilitating the use of the PMAC and supporting logistical and communications eforts; and Environmental Health & Safety designed a safe and operational space that facilitates scaled production. “At every pivotal moment in our history, the LSU community has come together for the good of our state and our nation,” said LSU Interim President Tom Galligan. “What’s happening today is an example of our university’s unwavering commitment to providing solutions to the most challenging problems facing society. I am proud of the outstanding and innovative work being conducted by our faculty, staf and students in the face of such great adversity.” Within the PMAC, LSU employees actively worked with physicians both in New Orleans and Shreveport to develop and produce two types of critically necessary PPE: Heavy-duty, reusable gowns made from billboard vinyl donated by Lamar Advertising and Circle Graphics, and face shields with donated materials and design feedback from Baker Hughes. “It was just breathtaking to behold,” Newhauser said. “I expect that someday I will tell my grandkids about the good old days when the nation was united in purpose. Individuals and units from across the campus came together, harmoniously and collegially, to do what

needed to be done, and quickly. From textiles to engineering, high school students to full professors, the team was incredibly diverse. We had lots of help from other institutions, too, including area hospitals, industry, even NASA was helping us with ventilator flters at one point. “It also reminded me why we moved here almost a decade ago; LSU is a great university and Baton Rouge is a great community. I hope we, as an institution and a community, will continue to work together. If we remain united in purpose, our future will be very bright, indeed.”

Confrming Coronavirus Cases

Long before most people recognized the threat the coronavirus would pose to the world, two LSU researchers were far ahead of the curve, ensuring their labs had the capabilities to run PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, -testing for coronavirus. And their foresight may have saved countless lives. To help alleviate some of the burden placed on Louisiana hospitals when COVID-19 surges began happening across the state, Stephania Cormier, a respiratory immunologist and the Wiener Chair Professor in the

Anthony Mai, chemistry Ph.D. student, and John Pojman, chair of LSU’s Department of Chemistry, oversaw the creation of more than 5,000 bottles of hand sanitizing rub that was distributed throughout Louisiana.


Department of Biological Sciences, along with Veterinary Medicine’s Rebecca Christoferson, an infectious disease and emerging viruses expert, worked around the clock to prove to federal regulators that they had the ability to run rapid testing for coronavirus samples. Through an expedited process, they received their federal license and the LSU River Road Testing Lab was born. In the early virus days, patients who showed symptoms of COVID-19 would visit area hospitals, receive a coronavirus test, and then wait, sometimes several days, to receive their results. But the LSU River Road Testing Lab, which is housed in the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine, began providing the most critical patients their results within hours. “As COVID-19 cases began growing exponentially across the U.S., medical facilities, including some that might surprise you, began to respond,” said Cormier. “Because of a dire need for more rapid test processing in south Louisiana, the River Road Testing Laboratory began processing COVID-19 tests for some Louisiana medical facilities and frst responders.” The lab conducts PCR-testing, which detects genetic components specifc to SARS-CoV2. Within the frst two weeks, the researchers created and processed more than 1,200 sample kits and diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. At its peak, the testing lab served almost 20 medical facilities, with samples arriving daily from Louisiana hospitals as far as Lake Charles. “There was a need, and we could help,” said Christoferson, who is also a LSU

College of Science alumna. “But really, this is what science should be. Science as scholarship is wonderful, and we come into academic research with a romantic idea of hallowed halls and ideation. But the privilege of exploring every day comes with a responsibility: When there is an emergency that you have the ability and capacity to respond to, get in the trenches and go.” Besides Cormier and Christoferson, the LSU River Road Testing Lab team is comprised of Dr. Luan Dinh Vu, postdoctoral researcher; Anh Phan, research associate; Thaya Stoufet, pathobiological sciences research associate; Dr. Abbie Fish, biosafety manager; as well as graduate assistants Handly Mayton, Christine Walsh, and Erik Turner.

A New Approach to Modeling Disease Outbreaks

LSU disease ecologists Tad Dallas and Bret Elderd are modeling the intensity of epidemics or pandemics, like COVID-19, using a suite of disease models through a National Science Foundation’s Rapid Response Research grant. “(When modeling disease outbreaks, researchers) are using the same models the whole time—at the beginning and throughout the life of the epidemic,” said Dallas, assistant professor in LSU’s Department of Biological Sciences. “What we’re trying to do is to be more fexible with how we think about the epidemic in terms of modeling it and see what diferent models tell us about potential mitigation strategies.” Much of the current pandemic models are based on foundational work done in the 1930s. These models, known as the SIR—Susceptible, Infected, Recovered— models, place individuals in only one of those three compartments. During the beginning of an epidemic when limited data are available, simple models should work best like the SIR model. However, as the epidemic progresses, more complex models may then perform better as more data become available. “Often what we look for from science is the answer,” said Elderd, associate professor in LSU’s Department of Biological Sciences. “We want to know how many people will get this disease, and we want to know it exactly, but in reality, what we get out of these models is akin to a weather report—the probability that it will rain today—, so there is

some uncertainty about the weather forecast. It is important to think about and incorporate this uncertainty into disease forecasts, as well.” In general, this research will use a multi-model approach that considers a range of mathematical models from relatively simple compartmental models to more complex ones that incorporate age-and/or network-structure based on social contacts. The models considered will provide estimates of important epidemiological parameters, like the R0, along with their associated uncertainty. “It’s like we’re all molecules in a beaker, and we’re all sort of bouncing around each other, and we all have equal likelihood of bouncing into each other,” described Elderd. “If I’m sick, I have the likelihood of bouncing into someone and making them sick. Well, we know that’s not true.

“This highlights the value of an institution like LSU, where we were able to respond quickly in the midst of a crisis.”

“To a certain extent for some diseases that take of relatively rapidly, it’s not too bad, but we know that you have more interactions with your family, your friends, with your classmates. You have more interactions with your age group. These factors can be important, as well.” While the LSU researchers’ work will develop models focused on COVID-19, the models, along with the statistical approaches to ft models to data, will be applicable for future infectious disease outbreaks.

The Chemistry of Hand Sanitizer

LSU Chemistry Department Chair John Pojman researches polymers and nonlinear chemical dynamics in his lab. But when stocks of hand sanitizer and other disinfecting products ran low across the state, Pojman and his Ph.D. student Anthony Mai used their

Rebecca Christoferson

Stephania Cormier

Bret Elderd

Tad Dallas

knowledge of chemical balances to create large batches of quality hand sanitizer to share with the public. “We had to use our knowledge of chemical structures and purity and dilution,” Pojman said. “Mixing 670 gallons of liquids and assuring uniformity is completely diferent than what we do in a research lab where we will typically deal with 100 milliliters at a time.” Following the World Health Organization’s recipe, inmates at Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, Louisiana began mixing isopropyl alcohol, glycerol, hydrogen peroxide and water in a 700-gallon polyethylene tank. The LSU chemists oversaw the formulation of the batches of hand rub sanitizer, which were placed into 5,300 bottles for distribution through the state in late March. Eventually, Pojman, Mai, and the workers at the soap plant warehouse mixed and bottled thousands more of the sanitizer used to combat the coronavirus. Their eforts ensured more than 5,000 gallons of sanitizer would be made. “This highlights the value of an institution like LSU, where we were able to respond quickly in the midst of a crisis,” Pojman said. “Our work was a partnership between Prison Enterprises, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Governor’s Ofce of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, local industry and LSU.”




GREEN-BLOODED LIZARDS AND GRAVITATIONAL WAVES Tell Me More! The podcast is entirely nonfction, but some of the stories Becky Carmichael shares in her LSU Experimental podcast ring true with the kind of monumental storytelling found in fctional narratives. The podcast is housed in LSU’s Communication across the Curriculum, or CxC, program and features researchers from across the campus, including faculty and students alike. The episodes provide listeners with a window into a world of science not often viewed by those who are not knee-deep in the research themselves. “I had been looking and thinking about what we already had covered,” said Carmichael, LSU Experimental host and CxC coordinator for the College of Science. “We were already doing videos, people were already doing TED Talks, there was the blogging, there was social media. [But] I’d always been interested in this idea of being able to listen to stories and being able to visualize them with words and sounds.” When Carmichael realized there were no podcasts coming from LSU’s campus, she seized the opportunity with thenstudent Mark DiTusa. DiTusa eventually graduated and handed over the project fully to Carmichael, who has since been joined by Kyle Sirovy, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences. The podcast was frst introduced with a feature on Vince LiCata, the Louis S. Flowers Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. The episode titled, “Proteins with Superpowers,” discusses the researcher’s work in biochemistry and gives an insight into how one may get into biology. Visit “If you have any LSU pride or LSU Experimental if you’re curious what comes out of LSU, (our podcast) is featuring Craziest, Weirdest, what’s on the frontiers of science,” Most Dangerous Sirovy said. “And we’re trying to Miniseries blend that in with, not just asking (our researchers) about the research, but we get to know the person themselves. People are really hungry for this type of information.” Since that inaugural episode, LSU Experimental has featured more than 30 researchers and covers topics from what it is like to launch an SUV-sized rover on another planet to the evolution of Antarctic ice sheets and how they can predict the ice’s future behavior to how small, blind cave fshes aid in uncovering the story of continental movement.


Becky Carmichael, LSU biologist and podcast host

Each story shared may have a common theme of researchheavy topics, but the two podcasters also engage their subjects in uncovering what makes these researchers do what they do. Most recently, with the success of the podcast emerged a spin-of mini-series called, “Craziest, Weirdest, and Most Dangerous,” where Carmichael and Sirovy pull past interviews that feature some “of-the-wall” experiences that interviewees have found themselves in or some of the more MacGyver-like maneuvers researchers have done to remove themselves from certain situations. “You see how passionate these researchers are when they tell those stories,” Sirovy said. “If you’re, say, Prosanta (Chakrabarty), you are passionate, and you’re going to go into that hole that no one else will go into, and now you’re stuck underground. You didn’t have to do that, but you did because you’re passionate about what you do.” But there may be something extra that helps Carmichael in being able to communicate with such enthusiasm in her interviews. Carmichael doesn’t moonlight as a science enthusiast—she’s a scientist herself. With a doctoral degree in disturbance ecology from LSU and about 20 years of experience in the feld—eight of those spent with CxC, Carmichael has been able to use her background as a bridge between herself and those featured in episodes. “I think that one of the things that has helped me is knowing that it’s okay in science to ask the question and to continue to ask even for basic understanding—and the appreciation for basic knowledge,” Carmichael said. “The other thing, in being a scientist, that has helped me is understanding sometimes the amount of work that goes into what you’re trying to do and that the questions you’re trying to answer can be really super taxing, and you want somebody to be appreciative of that.” LSU Experimental is supported by CxC and LSU College of Science. Its episodes can be found on the LSU Experimental web page.

HOW IS LSU ADVANCING OUR REPUTATION AS A LEADER IN MATERIALS SCIENCE? LSU has secured a $10 million Transmission Electron Microscope, TEM, through a grant from the U.S. Army. These microscopes are the only instruments that allow researchers to examine physical and chemical properties at levels smaller than the atom. They are a crucial tool in analyzing materials for biomedical research, micro-electronics, and nano-electronics research, as well as for superconductivity research and for the development and manufacturing of materials.

“With this new instrument, we will be able to image and measure all kinds of natural and engineered materials— from cellular to molecular to subatomic scales—at a level of detail found at very few universities,” said LSU Vice President of Research and Economic Development Samuel J. Bentley. “This will form the basis for frontier research in partnership with the Army and other agencies and


universities. It will also be a magnet for the best faculty and students to join our LSU team to continue to push the envelope of human knowledge.” The TEM will be housed at LSU’s Shared Instrumentation Facility in the LSU College of Science. It will beneft researchers in multiple disciplines, including faculty from the College of Science and the College of Engineering.

More than 70 percent of this support comes from federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, NASA, the U.S. Department of Education, and others.

LSU Superfund Team Awarded $10.8M The National Institutes of Health awarded $10.8 million to an interdisciplinary team of LSU researchers to expand their eforts to fght pollution from hazardous waste sites. Co-led by Stephania Cormier, a pulmonary immunotoxicologist and Wiener Chair in LSU’s Department of Biological Sciences, the Superfund Research Program (SRP) at LSU has been working to protect communities from environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) since 2009. The SRP is the only federally funded research program aimed at improving the health of Louisiana citizens who live close to hazardous waste sites. Currently, there are no regulations for limiting or monitoring EPFRs in the environment, but the LSU SRP is working diligently to come up with enough data to change this, having already changed how some Louisiana sites are remediated. “We know there are health efects associated with particulate matter,” said Cormier, who is also an associate vice president for LSU’s Ofce of Research & Economic Development. “But if you break it down to see what’s causing the health efects—the particles, the organics, or the metals—the health efects are not fully explained by any one of these components alone. We propose that EPFRs, acting as a complex entity, are the missing link.” The SRP team consists of 20 faculty from the College of Science, College of the Coast & Environment, and the School of Veterinary Medicine. The SRP also includes regional and global experts from the LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans, North Carolina State University, Dominican University in northern California, and the University of Queensland, Australia.

Q What are EPFRs? EPFRs, or environmentally persistent free radicals, are a newly recognized class of pollutants discovered in the early 2000s that have been linked to lung cancer, heart disease, childhood obesity, and enhanced severity of respiratory tract infections. EPFRs, pronounced ep-fers, are created during thermal processing of hazardous wastes. The emitted particles remain in the air for a long time increasing the likelihood of inhalation exposure.




“I have always found a love for the natural world around me,” she said. “Ever since I could speak, I was trying to identify everything I saw. It quickly evolved into wanting to study my surroundings, which led me down a path into science.” Drawing and studying the diferent specimens has become a tool for Mutchler, helping her to visualize the research she’s either reading or conducting. Alternatively, working with the specimen at the museum has also shown Mutchler the more vivid details to carry into her artwork, including the way feathers lay together and how birds’ bodies move. “I always like capturing what I see,” she said. “And art can represent that reality, but it can also show what’s outside of reality, and things you may never have seen before, or things you only see in your mind but you want to be real.” Most recently, she did a frontispiece for “The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.” She’s even launched an Instagram page with the handle @aploart to share and sell her work, which also connects her to individuals interested in the complexity of science and art in parallel. She has an additional Instagram account, @aplomado1, where she posts photography of her bird subjects. “Conveying your science in more than just one way is very important,” Mutchler said. “Art is one of those ways that you can reach a wider audience, so I think art and science should be connected. They shouldn’t be separate. We shouldn’t be fxed on, ‘You can only be one or the other, left brain or right brain’ kind of stuf. We should defnitely try to connect them because a lot of science is about communication.”

Kirtland’s Warbler done in colored pencil: The Kirtland’s Warbler was once an endangered warbler (as of 2019) but due to intense recovery eforts, they have now been delisted. They are found breeding in only Michigan and parts of Wisconsin.

What could science and art possibly have in common? One runs parallel with “truth,” while the other is often a form of interpretation or imitation. But both are human attempts to understand and describe the world around us. More than ever, scientists and artists are working together to demolish the wall that separates the two and are instead working to build a bridge to create a converging path. For years, two LSU scientists-turned-artists have used their creative talents to strengthen their connection to the scientifc world. Using diferent mediums of expression, both have developed alternative skills that allow them to view their research in diferent lights.

The Bird Artist

By day, Marquette “Marky” Mutchler studies birds. A senior biology major in the College of Science, Mutchler prepares bird specimens at the LSU Museum of Natural Science and tries to decipher the mysteries of how birds have evolved over time. In her downtime, however, Mutchler leaves the scalpel and thread and enters a diferent world—her studio space—where drawing books and acrylics await. Understanding the science behind the specimen permits Mutchler to capture the true essence of the birds she draws. And working in diferent artistic mediums aids in her ability to see beyond the biological mechanisms that she so often studies.


Tricolored Heron done in colored pencil: This piece was a special commission for the frontispiece in the Wilson Journal of Ornithology. The paper that was highlighted in the journal issue focused on the birds of Louisiana, and the Tricolored Heron, AKA the “Louisiana Heron” was a perfect subject.

A large nebula, mainly only visible from the southern hemisphere. The large shell shape is due to the central star shedding of material as it enters a pre-supernova phase. This image resulted in Connor Matherne being shortlisted for 2020 Astronomy Photographer of the year.

A collaborative image Connor Matherne made of the moon with friend, Andrew McCarthy. Matherne captured the lit side of the moon and the stars in this image, while he captured the dark side of the moon and blended the images together for a single, fnal composite image.

Photographing the Hidden Universe

The Andromeda galaxy, our Milky Way’s closest neighbor, is the most distant object in the sky that a human can see with their unaided eye, and that’s only on a clear night with a dark, unpolluted sky. Beyond that, however, the only way to see into deep space is through a “telescopic” lens. One evening in 2014, sitting behind a basic DSLR camera and a borrowed telescope, Connor Matherne was able to capture his frst astrophoto of Saturn. The rings encircling the sixth planet from the sun, though hazy, were recognizable. Matherne, a Department of Geology & Geophysics master’s graduate who focused on planetary sciences, has since become well-known outside of his feld of research for his ability to capture some of the more mysterious elements that make up our universe through what is known as astrophotography. “What I love is getting people engaged in science, and astrophotography, as a whole, has really accomplished that,” Matherne said. “What better way to just get someone to look up at the stars than to show them a pretty picture of them?

“What better way to just get someone to look up at the stars than to show them a pretty picture of them? It’s something a huge portion of the population can get behind.” Connor Matherne

It’s something a huge portion of the population can get behind.” His website,, is flled with images of nebulae with names, like the Dolphin Nebula and the Tarantula Nebula. Other images include those of galaxies, like Andromeda and the

Sunfower Galaxy, and, of course, of objects in our own solar system. Most recently, Matherne was contacted by a group of astronomers in Australia who noticed something interesting in a photo he took of the Centaurus A Galaxy. The galaxy has a distinctly giant, relativistic jet being ejected from it (see inside cover for photo). The jet is prominent in hydrogen alpha, which, according to Matherne, makes it an excellent target for amateurs because it is entirely within the visible spectrum. The dramatic red jet is seen shooting from the upper left corner of the galaxy, and because it is only seen from the one area, researchers tend to focus only on the one side of the galaxy. But in Matherne’s photo, on the opposite side of the Centaurus A, a smaller—but still visible— jet propulsion can be seen. “I never thought I’d be a co-author on an astronomy paper, but it’s something cool that’s come from my photography,” he said. Aside from being able to contribute to new research with his hobby, Matherne was also recently shortlisted for London’s Royal Museum of Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Two of Matherne’s photos were shortlisted and will be displayed in an accompanying exhibit. This is his third straight year being selected. Matherne’s art can be found on his website, additional images and descriptions can also be found on his Instagram account, @cosmic.speck.




Image of Jezero crater on Mars, the landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.

Over the past two decades, missions fown by NASA’s Mars Exploration Program have shown that Mars was once a diferent planet from the cold, dry landscape it appears to be today. Billions of years ago, Earth’s neighbor was once covered in liquid water lakes and streams. In a published collaborative study led by LSU Geology & Geophysics doctoral graduate Don Hood and his mentor, Suniti Karunatillake, associate professor of geology and geophysics, the researchers were able to identify a key compositional irregularity in soils found on Mars, as it relates to soil hydration. “Water is an important component in many geologic processes that produce minerals useful for human exploration of Mars,” Hood said. “By fguring out how much water was present, we can get a better idea of what to expect when we get there and what we will need to bring with us.” The three-year, $360,000 project has been funded through a NASA Mars Data Analysis Program. The LSU researchers were joined by scientists across NASA-Ames; Institut de Recherche


en Astrophysique et Planetologie, France; Rutgers University; University of Florida; Idaho State University; and Korea Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources, South Korea. Hood and the group examined the chemistry of the soils from both regions using nine chemical maps derived from Mars Odyssey Gamma-Ray Spectrometer data, which maps the amounts and types of chemical elements at or near the planet’s surface by measuring the way gamma rays from space change when they interact with diferent surface materials. What the researchers found were trends in spatial correlations among sulfur, chlorine, and hydrogen. “In general, we expect that these three elements will vary together, collectively increasing and decreasing in abundance,” Hood said. “This is broadly true, but subtle shifts in that relationship—like the ones we detected—show that other processes, like small amounts of liquid water, have afected their distribution.” The group’s fndings were published in the American Geophysical Union’s Geophysical Research Letters.

LSU scientists lead the discovery of new “Fountain of Youth” The secret to the fountain of youth may already exist in the cells of fruit fies and worms. Two LSU biologists are at the forefront of a breakthrough in the study of cells: the discovery of a new class of Lysosomes. Alyssa Johnson and Adam Bohnert are the cell and molecular experts that frst discovered what they refer to as “tubular lysosomes.” This new class of lysosomes could lead to unprecedented medical therapies and treatments to slow--or even reverse--aging and disease in humans and animals. They are supported in their work by a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation. Lysosomes, generally known as cellular "garbage dumps," are recycling and disposal stations for obsolete and undesirable materials, including bacteria and viruses. Johnson and Bohnert, have found that lysosomes can also form complex, lattice-like networks, which can greatly afect the outcome of aging, disease and other stressors. Johnson mostly studies fruit fies (Drosophila) and Bohnert's focus is on worms (C. elegans). They have studied their fndings in both, as well as mammalian cells. Fortunately, their fndings translate well between organisms. "We're really the only ones studying tubular lysosomes in the world, which puts us in a unique position to break open this feld," Johnson said. "There's the basic, fundamental science part of our work and then the

biomedically relevant part, where we use our new knowledge of lysosome biology to see how it could be used for therapeutic purposes. That's what made it possible for us to get support from the Keck Foundation. We'll do genome-wide screens, biochemical screens and broad analysis of tissues. We'll fnd new genetic players that regulate and control these tubular lysosomes." The impact of Johnson and Bohnert’s research has wide implications. In the short term, the researchers' discovery could help examine the benefts of intermittent fasting. In the long term, their work could fnd ways to induce tubular lysosome activity in human and animal tissues to extend health and longevity for not just one individual, but for multiple generations.

Alyssa Johnson and Adam Bohnert, assistant professors in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences


At the top of the list was the detection of gravitational waves by LIGO. Also making the list: the world's tiniest frog, a discovery by Chris Austin, professor biological science and director of the Museum of Natural Sciences, and LSU Geography & Anthropology Juliet Brophy's contribution to the discovery of a new hominin species Homo naledi.

L SU AST R O N O M E R S EX PL AIN TH E FU TU RE EXPLO S I O N O F V SGE Astronomers Bradly Schaefer, Juhan Frank, and Manos Chatzopoulos estimate that star V Sge will be the brightest star illuminating the night sky of 2083. Today the faint star V Sagittae, or V Sge, in the constellation Sagitta, is barely visible in mid-sized telescopes. But 43 years into the future, this star will explode making it what researchers anticipate will be the brightest star in the night sky. The researchers, all members of LSU’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, shared their prediction for the frst time at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu earlier this year. “We now have a strong prediction for the future of V Sge,” said Professor Emeritus Bradley E. Schaefer, LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy. “Over the next few decades, the star will brighten rapidly. Around the year 2083, its accretion rate

will rise catastrophically, spilling mass at incredibly high rates onto the white dwarf, with this material blazing away. In the fnal days of this death-spiral, all of the mass from the companion star will fall onto the white dwarf, creating a super-massive wind from the merging star, appearing as bright as Sirius, possibly even as bright as Venus.” V Sge is a star system in a large and diverse class called Cataclysmic Variables, CVs, consisting of an ordinary star in a binary orbit around a white dwarf star, where the normal star’s mass is slowly falling onto the white dwarf. V Sge has been systematically brightening by a factor of 10X, 2.5 magnitudes, from the early 1890s up until the last decade. This unprecedented behavior was confrmed with archival data collected from the database of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, AAVSO, showing V Sge brightening by

nearly a factor of 10X, 2.4 magnitudes, from 1907 until the last few years. In anticipation of this fast decaying of the orbit, the fate of V Sge is sealed,” stated Schaefer. “The critical and simple physics are derived from V Sge having the companion star being much more massive than the white dwarf star, so forcing the rate of mass transfer to rise exponentially. Anticipating the next few decades, V Sge will in-spiral at a rapid pace with increasing brightness. Inevitably, this in-spiral will climax with the majority of the gas in the normal star falling onto the white dwarf, all within the fnal weeks and days. This falling mass will release a tremendous amount of gravitational potential energy, driving a stellar wind as never before seen, and raise the system luminosity to just short of that of supernovae at peak.”



WHERE W I LL O UR FARMLAN DS BE IN THE N EXT DE CA DE ? LSU scientists proactively look at ‘extreme’ environments for crop production Maheshi Dassanayake

In September of 2005, Louisiana rice farmers struggled with the efects of Hurricane Rita’s storm surge, which drove salt water into the rice felds and pastures of south-central Louisiana. And as recently as July of last year, Hurricane Barry submerged felds of soybean and sugarcane, two of the state’s top agricultural products. “All major crops are being challenged,” said Maheshi Dassanayake, an associate professor of biological sciences in the College of Science. “Every year in Louisiana, the rice production is going down because of salt water intrusion and drought among other environmental stressors. We are not capable of keeping up with the demand.” In order to potentially combat such issues in the coming years, a group of researchers are looking at plants known as extremophytes to learn how plants can survive in difcult environments. Extremophytes are plants unique in their biology, being able to withstand environments so intensely hot, cold, salty, acidic, alkaline, pressurized, Visit dry, radioactive, or barren that conventional crops cannot be grown. Through a $1.5 million National How are Earth’s Most Science Foundation and United Resilient Plants Key to States-Israel Binational Science Humanity’s Future? Foundation EDGE grant, an international collaboration led by Dassanayake and several collaborators, John Larkin, a professor in biological sciences; Aaron Smith, an associate professor in biological sciences; and Dong-Ha Oh, a research assistant professor in biological sciences, are developing a genomic toolkit to study these wild plants that can be used as models to investigate how plants tolerate environmental stressors. In this collaborative project LSU scientists are partnering with scientists at University of Michigan to create maps of genes expressed at single-cell-scale, in addition to scientists from Ben-Gurion and Tel Aviv Universities in Israel to generate molecular tools to monitor plant stress from single cell to entire organism scale.


The researchers have narrowed their models down to two extremophytes: Schrenkiella parvula and Eutrema salsugineum. These two plants represent excellent models for understanding mechanisms of stress tolerance that may not be present in stress-sensitive species, including many of the current rice or soybean cultivars. Beginning with the most basic aspect of the research, Larkin and University of Michigan collaborator John Schiefelbein are looking at what genes are expressed in diferent cells of the plants. “What makes cell types diferent is that not every gene is actually functioning in every cell type. Cell types are diferent because diferent genes are expressed, or in other words switched on, at any given time,” he said. “(We’re taking) many diferent tissues in diferent growth stages and cataloging what genes are expressed in diferent tissues, which will be then a publicly available database.” In the next step to understand how these genes function in using nutrients and surviving stressful conditions, Smith is focusing on where exactly nutrients, like calcium and phosphate get stored and transported inside the plant. He and Israeli collaborator, Simon Barak, are using biosensors, or engineered molecular tools, to detect plant stress and nutrient use. “Not only will these biosensors allow for rapid quantifcation of the target molecule in live cells,” Smith said, “we will be able detect these stress signaling networks at cellular scale through a change in fuorescence of biosensors. Imagine taking a small seedling and looking at it under a fuorescent microscope,” he explained. “You can see exactly what cells have the fuorescence and how much phosphate is in each cell type.” While the grant’s purpose is to support the building of the genomic tools, the researchers, like Dassanayake, said they can already see the potentials in their own research once fnished. “Millions of years of evolution have made these extremophytes real champions to survive harsh environments,” Dassanayake said, “and that’s what we need to tap into quickly. We need to be able to pick the genetic elements that we could use in our breeding programs to make our crops grow better.”

Are Neutron Beams the Future of Hip Replacements and Medical Imaging?

Hip replacements are one of the most popular and fastest growing elective surgeries. But about fve percent fail. Assistant Professor Joyoni Dey of the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy hopes her research can increase these success rates by applying her research on neutron beams to medical imaging. Dey’s work at LSU has been on developing more efective X-ray imaging by exploring the ways in which scientists can make inferences based on the scattering and shifting of X-rays as they pass through a body. Current X-ray imaging focuses more on attenuation, or gradual absorption of the X-rays as they pass through a patient, but Dey believes that by comparing the scatter and shift of those same X-rays with and without a patient, inferences can be made that go beyond seeing the shadow of organs and onto recognizing even more detail. This would even make it possible for radiologists to diferentiate between the X-ray images of healthy patients and those with illnesses such as emphysema and cystic fbrosis while using the same X-ray dose. Though traditional attenuation images are important, Dey believes that combining them with smallscale scatter images will be a great help in the development of future X-ray machines. The main focus of this work is actually on neutrons, which have similar absorption, phase-shifting, elastic and in-elastic scattering efects. Dey’s team is focused on the elastic scatter, as well as the attenuation and phase. Neutrons have already been studied as particles, including how much they attenuate and scatter, and her team’s contribution will be to add the phase-shifting to the already

known simulators for attenuation and scatter. This will be useful for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and neutron researchers at other places. With a $227,680 EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Track 4 grant from the National Science Foundation, Dey and her team will collaborate with NIST and their Center for Neutron Research in Maryland. Why neutrons? According to Dey, “They probe deeper. They interact relatively weakly with metal compared to X-rays. They interact strongly with hydrogen or oxygen. For medical applications, this is useful, as neutrons will be better for imaging bonemetal joints, where X-rays would lead to strong metal artifacts. Neutrons give highquality information about surfaces, and they are very useful for looking at bone-metal implants, such as hip replacement joints.” Because of radiation concerns, neutrons cannot be used for patient imaging anytime soon, but materials scientists can still learn a lot about metal implants in the body ex-vivo. Dey recognizes there are several benefts to this work: Determining the best visibility and sensitivity for a simulator to help other researchers, exploring diferent dual gratingssome borrowed from LSU Professor Les Butler’s lab- and the hope that their bonemetal imaging techniques can help improve the success rate of hip replacement surgeries around the world, and contribute to the knowledge of materials scientists who make hip replacements.

Q In the global kingdom of scientifc research, the highly cited are among those who have demonstrated signifcant infuence in their felds. In the LSU College of Science, one has garnered national recognition for his research and the number of times that his research fndings have been cited in other research works and publications. Brant Faircloth, assistant professor in LSU’s Department of Biological Sciences, has been cited a total of 8,149 times during 2018 and appeared in more than 856 publications, landing him on the Highly Cited Researchers (HCR) list published by the Web of Science Group. And this is not Faircloth’s frst time. He has made the list two times in a row!

What does it mean to be a highly-cited researcher? The HCR list identifes global research scientists and social scientists who have demonstrated exceptional infuence in their felds. These highly cited papers rank in the top one percent by citations for a chosen feld or felds and year in Web of Science. Of the world’s population of scientists and social scientists, the listed researchers are one in 1,000, according to the Web of Science Group. The 2019 list included 6,216 researchers in various felds from nearly 60 nations, and the U.S. is home to the highest number of HCRs, with 2,737 authors, representing 44 percent of the researchers on the list. “It’s really exciting and also pretty darn humbling to be in the company of the other researchers who made the list,” said Faircloth. “And I’m still wrapping my head around making the list (two years in a row). It basically boils down to the fact that it is incredibly rewarding to fnd out that other scientists value and are using research results and techniques developed by my group and our collaborators.” LSU.EDU/PURSUIT


Q U BI TS Ten Things You Should Know About Quantum Computing


Big tech companies like Google and IBM are pouring billions of dollars into quantum mechanics research with the hope that these investments will keep them in the international race to build the frst universal quantum computer. Compared to today’s classical computer systems, quantum computers will have the ability to encode much more information and solve long, complex problems in minutes. So how exactly do these quantum computer systems work? We reached out to Michelle Lollie in LSU’s Quantum Science and Technologies Group to explain ten things we should all know about quantum computing.


First things frst, there is no such thing as a universal quantum computer, yet. Theoretical physicist Richard Feyman is often linked with the phrase universal quantum computer, but he was actually referring to a universal quantum simulator in his seminal 1982 paper on the subject. But, I’ll let my colleagues hash that one out. Moving along, there are several universal quantum computer hopefuls in the game (think Google, IBM Q, Intel, Rigetti) that use quantum bits on superconductors to process information for specifc problems but we have yet to be able to do “all the things” because these systems use a relatively small amount of quantum bits. More on that later.


Quantum computers use the concepts of superposition and entanglement. Think of classical bits versus quantum bits or qubits. Consider the classical bit states of zero or one. Now consider a qubit state. It can be a zero, one, or every fuid state in between simultaneously, until observation. Once a qubit state is observed, its environment is disturbed and it collapses into, or basically goes back to “being,” a zero or a one. This is the concept of superposition. Now take the one qubit and connect it to another one. If they are connected in a particular way, such that their intrinsic properties are shared, they are said to be entangled. If you observe something about one, you automatically know this information about the other. This infers that in describing one qubit, information about the other is known, even if they are then displaced light-years apart. This intrinsic information can even be teleported between the two qubits. And no, the information is not teleported faster than the speed of light because, in order to extract the realized teleported information, classical bits are required, thus slowing down the process. Einstein is sighing with relief somewhere.


Computational power for quantum computers goes as 2^n, where n is the number of qubits. It can be roughly shown via a linear graph that the amount of qubits on superconducting chips doubles about every six months as a function of time (2016-2018). So the processing power increases yearly as 2^(2^n). Let’s say you have three qubits, this implies a processing power eight times that of a classical computer with three bits (2^3). I’ll let you do the math for 60 qubits. Imagine one million qubits!



accuracy of the message is communicated. Not so hard for two people, right? Well, what about ten people? 100? 1,000,000? Yes, quantum computers are able to hack public key encryption. Public key encryption is used ubiquitously to secure high-level information (think bank cards, government information, etc.). There are even quantum hackers (yikes!). If all classical computers existing today (including your laptop) were combined yielding very high computational processing power, they would be unable to crack public key encrypted information if the key is long enough, but one universal quantum computer could potentially crack this information in a matter of milliseconds! Fret not, we don’t have fully universal quantum computers yet. These devices will be able to run Shor’s algorithm, a set of directions to factor the large numbers that we use to make the public keys that secure our data. Enter quantum hackers - they are on our side helping us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of our quantum systems. Also fret not because…

So what is all the hoopla about entanglement? Well, entanglement is shy. It cannot be observed directly. Quantum systems that exhibit entanglement must be kept in pristine environments in order to harness this processing power. If even one photon, a light wave-particle, interacts with the system, the system will collapse into discrete zeros and ones no longer exploiting the necessary superposition or any entanglement. Furthermore, entanglement would have to be maintained for practical time periods like hours, days, etc. Imagine trying to put yourself in a vacuum (just go with it despite self-preservation interests). How would you go about it? How can you remove all of the air and light around you and for how long could you do it? Well, this is the case from the qubit perspective. This is not easy to do in a lab setting, let alone the real world.

We need millions of qubits to build universal quantum computers. For reference, IBM Q and Google boast quantum computers with an order of ~60 qubits. Although they are doing interesting work in building their quantum devices and utilizing them for small applications, scalability is the saving grace here when it comes to information security. In order to run Shor’s algorithm, the quantum computer has to be large indeed (size = number of qubits)




Ideally, a universal quantum computer will be virtually hack-proof. If an eavesdropper were to secretly try and access a secret code, the resulting message would be distorted and the recipient would know. However, we live in the real world where nothing is certain (kudos to Heisenberg for quantifying this), so there are ways to access secure info even with a quantum computer. This is interesting-- if a distorted message is received, was it hacked or just acted on by its environment? Researchers are actively working to reduce the uncertainty due to environmental factors and increase the fdelity of secure messaging.


This leads to the characterization of uncertainty and accounting, which is error-correction. Mathematical probability plays a fundamental role in quantum mechanics, so it’s not a secret that there is an area in quantum computing known as error-correction. For every parcel, if you will, of information stored in qubits, there has to be an error-correcting code to account for the environmental and computational loss of this information as it is stored as well as the method of its communication and realization. Remember the game telephone? One has to think of a message, store it in memory, and share this information with another individual securely ensuring the


There are a few popular materials or approaches used to build the hardware that will power universal quantum computers. The most well known (some realized) are superconductors, semiconductors, all optical devices, and ion traps. If you’re interested in a quantum engineering career, look into atomic and optical physics! Beam Me Up Scotty - Quantum Teleportation is not Star Trek. But it is useful for moving around quantum data. On the fip side of the quantum computing coin is advanced communication. Enter the quantum internet! Information is teleported between networks and computational devices (classical and eventually quantum) across the quantum internet. The Chinese satellite Micius is an integral part of this endeavor. The satellite is the frst quantum satellite ever. It has used entanglement between photons to distribute secure quantum keys enabling a secure call between ground stations in Vienna and Beijing, a distance of about 4600 miles! It is exciting to think about the processing power and security of quantum computers, but we are still years away from having these systems in our homes and ofces. Some researchers predict that we will be able to buy our own quantum computers by 2050. For now, we will have to be content with observing big tech companies and top universities, like our own, as they stake their claim in the global race to conquer the quantum domain.

About Quantum@LSU Michelle Lollie is a second-year graduate student and member of LSU’s Quantum Science and Technologies Group in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. The group conducts research on atomic, molecular, and optical physics, the foundations of quantum mechanics, photonic bandgap and metamaterials, quantum information theory, quantum complexity theory, quantum error correction, quantum optics, optical quantum computing, quantum sensors, quantum imaging, and relativistic quantum information theory.


An all-female expedition team follows in the footsteps of an internationally known German naturalist, LSU’s Deep Drug Team named semifnalists for the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, and the college creates virtual outreach opportunities for K-12 students. These are just a few exciting highlights from the 2019-2020 academic year. LSU.EDU/PURSUIT


SCIENCE COMES ALIVE, IN REALITY AND VIRTUALLY For the second year in a row, the College of Science has leveraged funding from Halliburton to support fun and interactive, math and science experiences for children in grades K-12. The LSU Geaux Science Explorations program included math and science storytimes for boys and girls in grades K-3 and the widely successful Girls Day at the Museum Program for girls in grades 4-6. The college partnered with LPB on a new initiative this year—Girls Virtual Road Trip to the Museum. Building on the success of Girls Day at the Museum, Girls Virtual Road Trip gave 70 girls in grades 4 - 6 a Valerie Stampley, coordinator of outreach and special initiatives in the College of sneak peek at the upcoming PBS Science, guides participants in the Girls Virtual Road Trip to Museum through a strawberry DNA extraction activity using items that they can fnd at home. three-part series Prehistoric Road Trip, hosted by Emily Graslie, chief curiosity correspondent at the Field Museum and host of the YouTube series The Brain Scoop. The girls also participated in virtual chats with women scientists representing several math and science felds at LSU including geology, ornithology, ichthyology, and mammalogy. You can learn more about this activity and our scientists at Each attendee was mailed a Girls Virtual Road Trip to the Museum science kit with activities the girls can complete at home including a fossil excavation kit, clay and other supplies needed to build a specimen like the researchers in LSU’s Museum of Natural Science, an insect box, net, magnifer and tweezers to catch and analyze backyard critters, and instructions for a strawberry DNA extraction activity using household materials.


LOCATION Carver Library


Eden Park Library


Goodwood Library


LSU Center for River Studies







Parent session participants 16 LPB GIRLS VIRTUAL ROAD TRIP TO THE MUSEUM



TOP STUDENTS Mary L. Werner, chair of the LSU Board of Supervisors, was the keynote speaker for the college’s fall diploma ceremony. While the December class of 2019 enjoyed the traditional pomp and circumstance, the May class of 2020 will never forget their graduation—one because we were in the middle of a global pandemic and two because a crowded graduation arena was a recipe for COVID-19 spread. So while in-person celebrations were out, our community of faculty, staff, and students rallied together to make sure that the Class of 2020 was celebrated

MAY 2020



in grand fashion. More than 4,000 LSU graduates were celebrated during a virtual graduation watch party on the LSU Facebook page. Following the ceremony, the graduates’ names were displayed on the scoreboards in Tiger Stadium. The College of Science joined the fun and developed a virtual graduation scrapbook with messages from the dean, faculty, and even some of the graduates family members. Visit the College of Science web site at to view a sampling of graduation well wishes to the class of 2020.



“Some of you may have dreams of conquering the world, and you should go and do that. Looking out, I see future researchers tackling our greatest challenges, doctors and nurses who will heal, and innovators who will change the disciplines they work in.” Mary L. Werner, chair, LSU Board of Supervisors


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Mary L. Werner, chair of the LSU Board of Supervisors, addresses the College of Science Class of 2019


(MAY 2020) Of the 198 graduates that received the University Medal in May, 49 were from the College of Science. The University Medal recognizes students with the highest GPA.


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Brianna Robertson is the 2020 Goldwater Scholar. The Slidell, La. native is a junior majoring in physics in LSU’s Department of Physics & Astronomy. Robertson is also an LSU Honors College student and Stamps Scholar. She secured one of the 482 scholarships awarded from a pool of 1,300+ applicants, at over 460 institutions. She will receive a scholarship of up to $7,500 from the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Foundation to pursue undergraduate research in a STEM feld.








More than ten decades ago, Emilie Snethlage, a German naturalist, left her homeland behind and traveled alone to the loosely studied terrain of Brazil’s seemingly boundless Amazon Rainforest. For the frst time in LSU’s history, an all-female expedition team took a page from Snethlage’s notes and spent several weeks in August 2019 surveying an unexplored area of the country’s dense junglescape. Snethlage’s achievements are still impacting scientifc felds today. “In her time, she was one of the only naturalists to say, ‘I want to study the specimen, but I’m also going to be the one to go out and collect them,’” said Glaucia Del-Rio, a Brazilianborn, ornithology doctoral student who organized the trip. A hundred years later, ornithology is a feld still predominantly led by men, which is why Del-Rio said it’s vital now more than ever to expel the myths that surround females in potentially treacherous expedition opportunities. The expedition team also included LSU’s Jessie Salter, an ornithology doctoral student with the museum, and Marquette Mutchler, a biology undergraduate student. The group began their journey in Carauari, a small town located in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, and departed on a boat, which also served as their camp, that will follow the Juruá River. They then made scheduled stops along the Visit river bank to collect samples and identify potentially unknown species. Of all the Amazon’s major tributaries, the only one Snethlage A biology student, never sampled was the Juruá, but the river’s head holds more a pilgrimage and a than 700 bird species. Even more specifc to the group’s fock of genomes research, the drainage area encompasses multiple welldocumented “contact zones”—zones in which diferent bird species meet. The research group documented the bird fauna from the region and collected data to understand the extent of hybridization, or the interbreeding of species, responsible for the contact zones. In addition to the research, the scientists also employed an all-female flmmaking crew to document their voyage. The documentary will showcase the difcult and remote trek through the Amazon, as well as the science behind the trip.

The LSU DeepDrug team brings together researchers Michal Brylinski, Supratik Mukhopadhyay, and Adam Bess

An interdisciplinary team of LSU researchers led by Michal Brylinski, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, and Supratik Mukhopadhyay, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, were semifnalists for the $5 million IBM Watson AI XPRIZE. The team, known as Deep Drug is developing a computer-aided drug design software that uses AI-based techniques to process very large datasets thereby creating an improved method for identifying new drug compounds rapidly, dramatically shortening the early-stage discovery of new drug compounds from years to months, perhaps even weeks. The competition has been extended and will culminate in 2021.





Antarctica is incomparable: A vast and remote wilderness shaped by the elements. The frozen continent is still largely untouched by humans and remains the domain of its wildlife. But over the past 200 years, since its discovery, researchers have focked there to better understand the mysteries that lay within—and below—the ice. Asking questions about the continent that covers approximately 20 percent of the Southern Hemisphere can give scientists answers not only about the planet’s past but also about humanity’s future. Two LSU College of Science researchers are no exception, having spent decades surveying the frozen terrain—and months living on it.

What Happens If the Antarctic Ice Sheets Destabilize?

Phil Bart has traveled to Antarctica seven times since the late 1980s—a feat that very few can say. Thirty years is a microscopic blip on a geological time scale, and although the continent’s ice cover may seem to be stable, there are ongoing changes that have been afecting the icy landscape over recent decades. Marine geologists, like Bart, who is a professor in the College of Science’s Department of Geology & Geophysics, study patterns and timeframes of past changes in ice sheet confgurations. At the short-end of the spectrum, those paleo-changes span decades to centuries, but at the long end, the last large-scale glacial fuctuations of ice sheets occurred over a climate cycle of a hundred thousand years. Recent studies by Bart and others have shown that even during the course of these long-term oscillations, abrupt catastrophic changes can occur. To further understand what’s happening below Antarctica’s seascape, Bart is investigating two fundamental questions concerning Ross Bank, a large, shallow submarine bank in the central part of the continent’s Ross Sea, over the next four years. “Was the Ross Ice Shelf formerly pinned to the Ross Bank? And if so, how, when, and why did the Ross Ice Shelf unpin from the bank?” he asked. “These questions are crucial in understanding the stability of the ice sheet, especially right now, in a world where we are seeing pretty dramatic climate changes.” Ice shelves are thick—sometimes as thick as 3,300 feet—suspended platforms of ice that are formed when ice from an inland

glacier fows down to the ocean. They surround about 75 percent of Antarctica’s coastline and cover an area of just over 579,000 square miles. Pinning points are where the ice shelf physically touches the seafoor, attaching often to a bank or an island. The pinning points assist in ensuring that Antarctica’s mainland stays a particular geographical size and volume. But when unpinning occurs, the ice sheets become more prone to faster fow and contraction. This could mean the return of ice volume to the global ocean, which in turn causes sea levels to rise. In January 2021 during the Austral summer, Bart will spend about 30 days at sea in the Antarctic waters collecting geological and geophysical data. These data include multibeam swath bathymetry, high-resolution seismic refection, sediment core samples, and seafoor photographs. Bart will be accompanied by his team, which will consist of several graduate and undergraduate students from LSU. Before Bart, few researchers have focused solely on the ice sheet’s paleo-pinning points. Not only will his study provide a better insight into how ice sheets behave, it will provide a clearer time frame of the changes occurring in environments across the world. “If you’re heating up a pot of water, it doesn’t just immediately start boiling. It takes maybe fve minutes,” he said. “In the case of a planet, if the ocean is warm enough to melt below the ice and the atmosphere is warm enough to melt the surface of the ice, those two things are going to cause changes. “And those ‘fve minutes’ in this case may be a few centuries for signifcant efects to happen. So, it might not be in our lifetime, but it will be in someone’s lifetime. Antarctica researchers are concerned because there is a current acceleration in ice shelf melting in several regions of Antarctica.” Today, the Ross Ice Shelf covers an area as big as Texas, but Bart knows from previous research that the ice shelf was much larger. Since unpinning, the calving—the sudden

breakaway of a mass of ice from a glacier or ice shelf—front of the Ross Ice Shelf has receded over 124 miles. The radiocarbon dates generated thus far indicate that the unpinning and retreat may have occurred as recently as about 350 years ago. And Bart wants to understand how and why the unpinning occurs. “In order to understand the big picture of how the ice sheets may oscillate in the future, we have to understand how this part of Earth’s climate system has fuctuated in the past,” Bart said. “The results of this new study focus on an important prior unpinning of the Ross Ice Shelf from Ross Bank. “Approximately 30 percent of the ice sheet fow converges into Ross Sea. Thus, the data on a paleo-unpinning from Ross Sea should provide much detailed insight into how and why such events occur as well as how ice sheet and ice shelf fow subsequently reorganize.” There are pinning points, like those in the Ross Sea, all around Antarctica, so what happens if all of the ice shelves become unpinned and send the continent into a state of instability? Hypothetically, if all of the Antarctic ice sheets were to melt, the sea level would rise

Phil Bart



180 feet. Much of Louisiana would fnd itself underwater, as would Florida and all other coastal areas. “The unpinning from the Ross Bank, left only two pinning points, Ross and Roosevelt Islands, that stabilize the extent of the Ross Ice Shelf. Their unpinning would be devastating for the stability of this large sector of the ice-sheet.” But Bart says it’s important to keep in mind that this won’t happen in the short-term future. “With an enormous amount of ice, there would have to be a tremendous transfer of energy to melt such a huge volume,” Bart said. “Maybe it won’t happen in our lifetime, but we can’t discount the strong geologic evidence that even in the relatively recent geologic past, there have been large sectors of the ice that have disintegrated and retreated.”

Where Can Life Thrive?

Like Bart, Peter Doran is no stranger to Antarctica, having conducted more than 20 feld seasons there. However, Doran, the John Franks Endowed Chair and a professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics, focuses more on the continent’s McMurdo Dry Valleys, a row

of snow-free valleys—and one of the most extreme deserts in the world. “Less than 1% of Antarctica is ice free, and (the McMurdo Dry Valleys) is one of the largest areas,” Doran said. “Robert Scott, who discovered the Valleys in the early 1900s, called it the ‘Valley of the Dead,’ but there’s actually an abundance of life. There are things living in the soils, the lakes, in the streams, and even in the glaciers. It’s a unique ecosystem.” The valleys have intrigued scientists for decades. While the rest of Antarctica is the picturesque white landscape, the McMurdo Dry Valleys are an anomaly: ice-and-snow free. According to researchers, the landscape is Earth’s closest replication of Mars’ own environment, which has led to Doran’s participation in several astrobiology projects funded by NASA. But despite what Antarctica’s alien terrain may seem like, the land is not barren of life. Microbes grow in the valleys as the lake levels rise and the soil becomes inundated. Doran is part of the McMurdo Longterm Ecological Research, or MCM LTER, program, which is located in the McMurdo Station, a U.S. research center on the southern tip of Ross Island—a territory claimed by New Zealand. McMurdo is the largest station in Antarctica, capable of supporting 1,250 residents. The MCM LTER is investigating how the zone’s bionetwork reacts to amplifed physical connectivity in response to climate change. Amplifed physical connectivity is when all of the ecological communities in an area are united. For example, if the lake levels change and the valley is submerged, then the connectivity between the lakes, the moats, and the soils has been enhanced.

The scientists hypothesize that the increased environmental connectivity— within the McMurdo Dry Valley’s ecosystem will amplify the exchange of biota—species, populations, and communities—, energy, and matter, therefore regulating the ecosystem’s structure and performance. The group is part of a long-term ecological research network that asks the same questions but studies various areas throughout the world. Doran’s work largely consists of gathering meteorological data and researching the permanently ice-covered lakes. More specifcally, he wants to know how these ecosystems are doing under changing climates. His current focus is on the ice cover around the edges of the lakes, which the researcher expects to disappear as warming occurs. They are also examining the liminal space between the lake and the soil—the transitional environment—because the lake is supposed to be rising with warming temperatures, but, according to Doran, they are not cooperating right now. What the researchers discovered through the continual data sets could potentially show how negative impacts to a single element of an ecosystem could afect another. Ecosystems around the world may become less stable and species’ populations decline following dramatic climate events. “Climate change is obviously a big part, and we have to monitor that,” Doran said. “We’re measuring parameters in the lake, like temperature, light levels, and lake levels, which are all sensitive indicators of the changing environment. “We are studying an extreme ecosystem and what controls life and life on the edge. It’s like we are asking, ‘Where does life start and end?’”

Peter Doran


Undergrad Researcher Earns Opportunity of a Lifetime Elizabeth Sicard, a senior undergraduate natural resource ecology and management major, joined up with LSU geology professor Peter Doran’s research group and traveled more than 8,600 miles away from home. Working with the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long-term Ecological Research crew, Sicard spent months within the Dry Valleys, a row of snow-free valleys—and one of the most extreme deserts in the world— investigating how the area’s ecosystem reacts to amplifed physical connectivity in response to climate change. What they fnd could show how negative impacts to a single element of an ecosystem could afect another. Ecosystems around the world may become less stable if food chains are disrupted and species’ populations decline following dramatic climate events. “It’s important to understand the mechanisms and the efects of climate change,” Sicard said. “Doing any sort of climate research can help further the limited knowledge we have on the subject. It is relevant to everyone, no matter if you are a researcher or not. “It afects everyone, and even the research our team is doing is afecting those who know nothing about the Antarctic.”



We are proud to call Louisiana home. We demand—and are developing—better access to the worlds of science and math. And we are leveraging what we learn and create to help make a better life for every Louisiana resident. LSU.EDU/PURSUIT



LO UIS IANA Macy Terrebonne


When COVID-19 reached pandemic proportions, educators were given two to three weeks to transition their in-person teaching platform to a virtual experience, and parents had to fll in the gaps as the classroom, in some instances, took place at the kitchen table. This experience reinforced the importance of quality educators. Simply stated, teachers are essential and have always been. According to a report by the Learning Policy Institute, “A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand, and Shortages in the U.S.,” an estimated 300,000 new teachers will be needed per year, and by 2025, that number will increase to 316,000 annually. How is the College of Science helping fll this gap? Since 2007, the Geaux Teach Math and Science program has been helping students upgrade their STEM degrees by earning a degree in their science discipline and teaching certifcation at the same time. Geaux Teach alumni can be found in classrooms throughout the state and beyond including alums like Macy Terrebonne and Alyssa Fontenot. During the pandemic, Terrebonne, a geometry teacher at Destrehan High School, used Google Meet and Flipgrid to teach her students. The distance reminded her of a motto she used in her classroom each day, “Relationships frst, everything else second.” “Students will respect you when they know you care. I emailed them on their birthdays, sent out postcards to

Alyssa Fontenot


check in on them, and was sure to include personal tidbits about them in the feedback I gave them while teaching virtually to make them smile,” said Terrebonne. “ School is so much more than a building to teach students in, and it’s easy to forget that with the many responsibilities you have as a teacher. Believe it or not, you have the opportunity to positively impact so many students every day as a teacher, and it is a duty I will never take for granted.” Fontenot, a chemistry and powerlifting coach at Zachary High School, admitted that it was hard not seeing her students every day. “I think the pandemic has shown many people that school is much more than a place where kids learn facts and fgures. Creating meaningful relationships has always been important to me and has become even more so during this pandemic,” said Fontenot. Both Terrebonne and Fontenot credit the Geaux Teach program for giving them the foundation skills needed to be efective teachers. “The GeauxTeach program always challenged me to think about ways to better myself as a teacher and to better reach the students and is a huge part of the creative component of my teaching style,” adds Fontenot. “From thinking about higher-order questions to ask during lessons, the structure of my tests, voice, and choice in the classroom, creating a student-centered environment, and becoming comfortable with the 5E model – I felt beyond prepared as a new teacher.”

Lee High School teacher Katy Ullrich teaches Introduction to Computational Thinking. Photo credit: Elsa Hahne

A COMPUTATIONAL EDGE An interdisciplinary team of LSU faculty and staf, in partnership with East Baton Rouge Parish School System, or EBRPSS, teachers and administrators, received a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Computer Science for All program, followed by an additional $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. With a total of $5 million in federal support, LSU will be able to improve and expand opportunities in computational thinking and computer science from East Baton Rouge Parish to four additional parishes in rural Louisiana—Pointe Coupee, West Feliciana, Washington and Evangeline. “Everybody on our team is passionate about providing opportunities for all students in EBRPSS and throughout Louisiana to engage in high-quality computing courses,” said Juana Moreno, associate professor in the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy and the LSU Center for Computation & Technology, and principal investigator of both projects. “The Department of Education award will allow us to study the efect of LSU Computing STEM Pathway curriculum in student math scores, accumulation of computer science and advanced math credits, and graduation rates.” The initial $1 million grant from the NSF supports the project titled “BRBYTES: Baton Rouge: Bringing Youth Technology, Education and Success,” which began Oct. 1. With the additional $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the team will also be able to further develop the curriculum for the 9th grade course, Introduction to Computational Thinking, and be able to assess its efectiveness over the next fve years. Juana Moreno, associate professor in LSU’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, led an interdisciplinary team of educators to garner a $5 million grant to provide computational skills courses to area middle and high school students.

SCIENCE AND ART COLLIDE The arts and sciences collided this year in LSU’s frst annual SciArts Play Festival. The LSU College of Science collaborated with the LSU School of Theatre and the LSU Ofce of Research and Economic Development to explore the intersection between the arts and sciences. The call for submissions was nationwide and incentivized applicants with a monetary prize to submit 30-120 minute scripts for review by a panel of faculty and students from the theater and science departments. In the end, three were chosen out of over 190 submissions to be read live, and each playwright received a $1000 reward for their hard work, provided by LSU Professor George Judy. The festival occurred over three days last year from October 20 until October 22. Each night included one of three plays: Another Revolution, an astrophysics drama written by Jacqueline Bircher and directed by Vastine Stabler, explores the triumphs and tensions between two polar opposite Ph.D. students working side by side in 1968 as anti-war protests engulf their university campus. The Surest Poison, written by Kristin Idaszak and directed by George Judy, tells the story of a murder investigation in a forensics laboratory during the prohibition era. And fnally, Maize, a biology based drama written by Judith Pratt and directed by Rachel Aker, navigates the trials and tribulations of Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Barbara McClintock. The live reading of each script was followed by a response from the audience and a discussion session with the writer. Two of the presentations also included a keynote speech by Leigh Fondakowski, world renown playwright and author of the play, Spill, which premiered at Swine Palace Theatre, and Nina Fedorof, a world-renown geneticist who worked alongside Barbara McClintock and is depicted as a character in the play Maize.




We pride ourselves on preparing the next generation of health professionals who will care for our family, friends, and community. 26

WHAT ARE THE MAKINGS OF A SUCCESSFUL MEDICAL SCHOOL APPLICANT? College of Science has new tool to help students succeed

DYK? Did you know that any LSU student aspiring to attend medical school can be advised in the College of Science? Robby Bowen leads the pre-health advising ofce housed in the College of Science. Bowen also chairs the LSU Pre-medical/Predental Review Committee at LSU and works with a population of about 2,500 pre-health students. Nationally recognized for his work as a pre-health advisor, Bowen is a recipient of the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions’ (NAAHP) Carol Baf-Dugan Service Award.

The Medical School Admit Program (MSA) at the LSU College of Science is adding to the college’s recipe for successful medical school applicants. To date, more than 140 College of Science students have been accepted to medical school for fall 2020 putting the college on a trajectory to eclipse the national average for medical school acceptance rates. This level of success requires a precise mixture of GPA, exceptional MCATs, math and science coursework, and lots of academic and professional support. The college joined forces with Dr. Gia Tyson to provide a program for students who are relatively early in their pre-med journey and need support to become a strong medical school applicant. Enter the Medical School Admit Program. Since 2019, 41 College of Science students have participated in the program. The Med School Admit Program is founded by Dr. Tyson, a gastroenterologist, transplant hepatologist, and clinical assistant professor of medicine in Baton Rouge. Over the last 18 years, Dr. Tyson’s journey from undergraduate to thriving medical professional has given her valuable insights into the feld. Creating the Med School Admit Program was a platform for her to share those insights and provide opportunities for promising future doctors.

“I was inspired to start Med School Admit after meeting numerous pre-medical students who wanted to go to medical school but did not have strong enough applications to get in,” said Dr. Tyson. “I realize students need knowledge, guidance and resources, coupled with follow-ups to make their dreams of becoming a doctor a reality.” According to Dr. Tyson, Med School Admit ofers more than the traditional Visit medical preparation programs. This ninemonth experience “What Does it Take includes an online to Get into Med School?” component that students can do on their own time, repeated interactions with a physician advisor, and specifc resources to help students become competitive medical school applicants. As part of the online course, students create an MSA notebook that will serve as a great resource for when they apply to medical school. Candidates for the Med School Admit Program are sophomores pursuing a degree in the LSU College of Science. Visit to learn more about the program.




3 .7 4


3 .6 8






76 %

USED LSU REVIEW COMMITTEE (68% 1st time use of committee, 8% Reapplicants)



“I realize students need knowledge, guidance, and resources, coupled with follow-ups to make their dreams of becoming a doctor a reality.” Dr. Gia Tyson

founder of Med School Admit Program


34 5

1 80

5 1 ,1 8 6




52.1% ACCEPTED (significantly higher than the national average)





11,8 7 3

6,1 22



**2018-19 national data





MEDICAL SCHOOLS WHERE LSU STUDENTS WERE ACCEPTED Allopathic (MD) LSUHSC-New Orleans LSUHSC-Shreveport Tulane Alabama Baylor University of Buffalo Columbia U-C-San Francisco Emory Florida International Florida State Georgetown George Washington Harvard Morehouse Texas-Galveston Texas-Houston U of Texas-San Antonio Wake Forest Wayne State Vanderbilt Osteopathic (DO) AlabamaCOM Arkansas-COM A.T. Still Incarnate Word Kansas City U Lake Erie-Bradenton Lincoln Memorial Midwestern NYIT-Arkansas Rocky Vista Touro-California VCOM-Auburn William Carey

DENTAL SCHOOLS WHERE LSU STUDENTS WERE ACCEPTED LSU A.T. Still Alabama Howard Indiana Lake Erie Meharry Midwestern New England Ohio State Penn South Carolina Tennessee University of Texas Tufts

The MD Anderson Summer Externship program has been open to LSU students since 2016, and LSU has flled at least fve of the 12 spots available for four of those years. Participants spend a demanding four weeks shadowing MD Anderson’s worldrenowned physicians in real-time, learning the ins-and-outs of patient care, surgical practices, and cancer research. The experience is more


STUDENTS HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THE MD ANDERSON EXTERNSHIP PROGRAM SINCE 2016 than just a shadowing opportunity. It’s a unique foundation created by real physicians to help better defne these critical years before medical school. LSU Biological Sciences students Morgan Alston, Benjamin Chanes, Mary Kathryn Maxwell, Jonathan Aphaiyarath, and Peter Issa were selected to participate in the 2020 summer program. However, due to Coronavirus, MD Anderson was forced to cancel their summer programs, but the students have been invited to reapply for next year’s internship opportunity.



Robb Brumfeld, associate dean of research and administration in the College of Science and Roy Paul Daniels Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, the world’s largest general scientifc society. Fellows are chosen because of their eforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifcally or socially AAAS FELLOWS distinguished. IN THE LSU Brumfeld’s research focuses COLLEGE OF SCIENCE primarily on the evolutionary genomics of birds, which often involves traveling to international locations, like Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil, to conduct feldwork. He previously led the university’s Museum of Natural Science as its director from 2013 until 2019, when he moved into his current FACULTY BY THE NUMBERS position. He has also continued to serve as the Museum’s curator of genetic resources since 2003, helping to grow what has become one PROFESSORS of the world’s largest university-based tissue collections of birds.

Joseph Giaime, professor in LSU’s Department of Physics & Astronomy and head of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory in Livingston, Louisiana, has been named LSU’s Distinguished Research Master. He is a member of the team that made the frst detection of gravitational waves in 2015. Giaime completed his Ph.D. at MIT in 1995, where his research focused on laser interferometer design and vibration isolation systems for interferometric gravitational wave detectors. He joined the faculty at LSU in 1999. Through a collaboration with Caltech, he leads the Livingston observatory, which runs what’s called Advanced LIGO since 2015 with two four-kilometer perpendicular arms stretching out into the fat, green landscape. To learn more about Giaime’s work with LIGO, go to


110 55






Dominique Homberger, an LSU alumni professor of biological sciences, has been selected as a Fellow of the American Association for Anatomy an international leading organization for anatomists, physical therapists, educators, cell biologists, physical anthropologists, veterinarians, and others working in the anatomical sciences. Homberger primarily roots her work in comparative anatomy as an experimental science, attempting to understand how the body’s complex systems can evolve further while remaining functional at all stages. This includes studying a variety of species—from lampreys to sharks and salamanders, and from alligators, birds, and mammals to humans—in her lab, as well as in feld locations in Australia, India, and southern Patagonia, to better understand the ecology and evolution of parrots and cockatoos.



Q How is “Dutrowite” formed? The new mineral “dutrowite” is a member of the tourmaline family of gemstone minerals. They are composed of silicon, aluminum, oxygen and boron and, in this case, precise amounts of sodium, iron and titanium. This mineral formed from the compression and heating of a volcanic rock called rhyolite during the collision of the African plate with the European plate about 20 million years ago. Thirty-four species of tourmaline have been cataloged so far.

Dutrowite (brown) and Dravite (blue) tourmalines in meta-rhyolite from Italy.


“Gems, and especially minerals, have been my life’s passion.”


It’s rare for a new mineral to be named after a living person, but for noted mineralogist and gemologist Barbara Dutrow this honor befts her extensive contributions to mineral sciences and crystal chemistry. The International Mineralogical Association named a new mineral of the tourmaline family of gemstone minerals in honor of Dutrow, aptly named “dutrowite.” Of the 34 tourmaline species, “dutrowite” is the frst to be named after a woman. Tourmalines have been prized for their intense color and clarity since ancient times. The mineral was discovered in the Apuan Alps of Tuscany, Italy, near the Grotta del Vento (Cave of the Wind). “I am surprised and thrilled to be honored in this way,” said Dutrow, Gerald Cire and Lena Grand Williams Alumni Professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics at LSU. “A lifelong passion has been to discover and decode the geologic information embedded in tourmaline; this recognition is a highlight of our discoveries!” Dutrow is also a Board of Governor for GIA, the largest, most respected nonproft source of gemological knowledge in the world. She has also authored and co-authored several publications, including the Manual of Mineral Science, a worldwide standard and reference for the study of minerals now in its 23rd edition.

Susanne Brenner, LSU Boyd Professor in the Department of Mathematics, has been named president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), an international organization with more than 14,000 members. The goals of SIAM include advancing the application of mathematics and computational science and promoting research that will lead to efective new mathematical and computational methods and techniques for science, engineering, industry, and society, and providing media for the exchange of information and ideas among mathematicians, engineers, and scientists.

STELLAR STAFF LSU mathematics faculty, Promad Achar, Shirley Blue Barton Professor, and Robert Lipton, Nicholson Professor, have been named Fellows of the American Mathematical Society.

Soula O’Bannon (left) with the LSU Department of Mathematics and Vickie Thornton (right) with the LSU Department of Chemistry receiving the LSU Foundation’s Staf Outstanding Service Award

Soula O’Bannon, tutorial coordinator in the Department of Mathematics, and Vicki Thornton, operations manager in the Department of Chemistry received LSU Foundation Staf Outstanding Service Awards. Both have been staf members at the university since 1981. “My time has been long at LSU,” said O’Bannon. “I learned to swim in the Huey P. Long Pool, taught swimming there, graduated from LSU, and will probably have my ashes spread at LSU one day with a cell phone in my urn. Just in case the chair of the math department wants to ask me a question, all they’d have to do is ‘call.’” Thornton oversees the structure and efciency of the chemistry department and earned her bachelor’s degree from LSU in 2015. “I agree with Mark Twain in that when you fnd a job you enjoy it never feels like work,” said Thornton. “I am extremely blessed to have a job I want to come to every day.” LSU.EDU/PURSUIT





BOYD PROFESSORS The Boyd Professorship is the highest professorial rank awarded by the LSU System and is given only to professors who have attained national or international distinction for outstanding teaching, research, or other creative achievements

Astrophysicist Manos Chatzopoulos and physical chemist Tuo Wang are recipients of the 2020 DOE Early Career Research Award, a highly competitive grant designed to bolster the nation’s scientifc workforce by providing signifcant funding to researchers during crucial early career years when many scientists do their most formative work. Chatzopoulos and Wang are among 76 scientists across the nation to receive the award. Chatzopoulos, an assistant professor in LSU’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, broad research interests range from massive stellar evolution to supernovae and unusual transient phenomena. Wang, an assistant professor in LSU’s Department of Chemistry, research interests mainly focus on the development and application of solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to investigate the structure, dynamics and interactions of insoluble macromolecules in various biological systems such as the energy-rich plant biomass, disease-related fungal cell walls, viral proteins, and phospholipid membranes.

NSF CAREER AWARD Three from the College of Science have received fveyear Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) awards from the National Science Foundation. The awardees include Tuo Wang, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and former assistant professors Weiwei Xie (chemistry)and Andrew Zimmer (mathematcs). The NSF CAREER program supports earlycareer faculty who demonstrate the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organization.










RAINMAKERS Two from the College of Science have been selected for the Rainmaker Award for Research and Creative Activity from the LSU Ofce of Research & Economic Development. Weiwei Xie, former assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry is a recipient of the Emerging Scholar Award. Xie researches non-molecular inorganic materials involving nearly the whole periodic table and diverse theories and methods to design, predict and synthesize new materials. Michal Brylinski, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences with a joint appointment at the Center for Computation & Technology, is a recipient of the Mid-Career Scholar Award. Brylinski’s research focuses on the design and development of novel tools for the modeling and analysis of biological networks.


College campuses are more diverse now than ever. The number of students from diferent backgrounds continues to grow as opportunities abound for previously underrepresented groups to obtain a postsecondary education. LSU.EDU/PURSUIT



Leading diversity and inclusion eforts on college campuses is vital work but can also be challenging and stressful as students and university leadership, alike, navigate these newly emerging pathways. So why is the efort worth it—and what kind of impact can it have? In the U.S., colleges and universities difer in a number of ways. Some are public, while others are private institutions; some are large urban universities, some are two-year community colleges, and still others are small rural campuses. Some ofer graduate and professional programs, and others focus primarily on undergraduate education. But no matter where—or how—a student seeks out their higher education experience, hard work and ambition should be met with equality of opportunity. Dr. Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy has been a champion for underrepresented groups long before flling her current role as assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the LSU College of Science. So when she saw the disconnection between students who were considered “low-income” and their counterparts when it came to educational prospects, she wanted to address the gap. “Growing up in rural Mississippi, I had an opportunity to see a number of my fellow students who were smart but weren’t able to fully take advantage of their talents,” said Wilson-Kennedy. “For any number of reasons, they weren’t able to break out of generations of poverty to build a future for themselves and their families. Working in higher education, I am passionate about designing and implementing support systems that aid talented students in achieving their dreams.” Because of this, she secured a $998,837 grant from the National Science Foundation’s program Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, or S-STEM. The project, Scholarship Opportunities Aimed at Retaining Science Scholars, or SOARS, is designed to support economicallydisadvantaged, academically talented students as they enter into undergraduate courses in the College of Science through both scholarships and mentorships. The S-STEM program has helped higher-education programs across the country in their eforts to provide a better foundation for students who may need the additional assistance. SOARS scholars can receive up to $7,800 in scholarship funding each year over the course of four years. But Wilson-Kennedy said she knows fnances are not


always the only element that puts these students at a disadvantage. In addition to funding, the scholars receive a one-week science boot camp over the summer semester, a one-on-one mentoring opportunity with an LSU science or math faculty member, career coaching, personal and professional development opportunities, and guidance in research preparation. “Financial support is critical for low-income students, but scholarships alone are not enough! Equally important are support systems that guide the students’

passion for science. This is more than scores on an exam, but an inquisitive nature which we seek to discover and cultivate through SOARS programming and supports. Our application provides us the opportunity to discover this talent in a variety of forms.” While the SOARS scholarship meets many of the needs of these students, Wilson-Kennedy said it’s not enough to meet all of the needs. Engaging faculty members and creating an additional connection between the students and their professors will assist with additional retention eforts.


1,141 (61%) WHITE

13 (0.7%) UNKNOWN


241 (13%)



165 (9%)



146 (8%) BLACK

104 (6%) HISPANIC

Provided by the LSU Ofce of Budget and Planning (fall 2019)

academic and social integration into scientifc and University culture, and their building of the intellectual and social capital needed to successfully enter into a science or math career,” she said. Eleven College of Science undergraduates have been selected for the scholarship beginning Fall 2020. Their selection was based on their residency, fnancial need, GPA, statement of purpose, and an interview—a holistic approach designed to target students with a passion for pursuing a career in science. “We want to discover students with talent and a thirst for scientifc exploration,” she said. “We want to discover students with a

National studies have shown that while admission of lower-income students into university programs is on the rise, these economically disadvantaged students are still leaving their educational opportunities behind at higher rates when compared to their more afuent peers. “Within the scientifc community, mentoring plays a major role in the cultivation of talented young scientists and mathematicians,” she said. “Faculty are gateways into opportunities and experiences in our disciplines. I believe in the holistic support of students, and that we should strive to help them do more than survive our programs, but to thrive!”

INCREASIN G DIVERSITY IN BIOM EDICA L RESEARCH MARC award builds on decades of work to encourage diversity In STEM research The Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program at LSU will build on decades of work to boost diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). This National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative replaces The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development (IMSD) R25 program at LSU. MARC focuses on college juniors and seniors interested in pursuing PhD or PhD-MD in biomedical or behavioral sciences. Graça Vicente, Charles H. Barré Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, IMSD program director at LSU since 2007, is now principal investigator for the MARC program. “One of the reasons we were successful in securing this funding is that we had 14 years of experience with the IMSD program and were able to unify our eforts,” said Vicente. “LSU has emerged as a national model for advancing and promoting inclusion, equity, and diversity and improving the success rates of underrepresented students.” More than half of the students who participated in the IMSD program as undergraduates pursued PhDs after graduation. Six incoming juniors will now be selected as MARC scholars for the fall— this year’s application window for students opens on June 24, 2020—with a total of 30 undergraduates participating in the program over the next fve years.




SAM ANTH A L EE Senior biological sciences major Samantha Lee has spent the majority of her life seeking out opportunities to engage others in science. With her involvement as one of the 16 SCI Lead—Student Champions for Inclusion—council members, Lee has used the program’s guidance in professional leadership and communication skill building to “ignite” the curiosities in others, while becoming more involved in the community herself. Q: How has SCI Lead’s leadership learning contributed to your future in science? A: I defnitely fnd that leadership, communication and education all really go hand in hand. It’s kind of inspired me to open my eyes and open my arms to more tasks and more obligations outside of just my normal degree. Q: In what way has being a part of the SCI Lead council helped you to grow as a scientist? A: The experience has helped me to understand more of what it means to go in with a research question, to identify that there’s a situation that could use amendment, and—and I’m speaking kind of abstractly here—then determining what the methods in which I could apply to resolve that situation. It’s given me insight into problem solving on the fy and confict resolution.

Samantha Lee (top) and Onesty Culpepper (bottom) are senior biological sciences majors and members of the SCI Lead council.

ONESTY CU L PEPPER Onesty Culpepper, a senior biological sciences major and SCI Lead council member, has always seen herself on the path to medical school. When presented with the opportunity to apply to be a member of the council, she saw her chance to grow her network and hone in on her leadership and communication skills, something she knew would be useful in coming years she’ll spend as a medical professional. Q: Why did SCI Lead appeal to you as a pre-med student? A: LSU is a big campus, and it could be difcult coming onto it while searching for your little niche in life. Being a pre-med student, I wanted to take this opportunity to learn about leadership and to be a part of a council that creates all of these things for the College of Science. This was a chance I could show my leadership skills and have my voice heard, which I know is important when you work in healthcare. Knowing your stuf is incredibly important but being able to communicate with people during certain situations is, too. Q: What has SCI Lead done for you since you’ve joined? A: Networking is everything, and to be


Q: Can you give me an example? A: Walking into this past year, we didn’t expect classes to be moved online and for conferences to be canceled. Personally, I was supposed to go to Washington D.C. for a science policy workshop, so that was an opportunity I missed. We got together and talked about how we wish there could have been a supplemental engagement for college students, especially for seniors or for people having to defend their thesis online. So the council created Research Re-Do, which was like a brainchild that was sparked out of the current situation. It established a community over the course of a few days and gave students from all over this platform to celebrate their accomplishments and have others listen and discuss the research they’ve worked hard on.

able to have this council of people that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise, it’s been a cool experience seeing people from diferent areas of the college come together. Having that community of like-minded people has been amazing to me. Q: How do you think SCI Lead has helped prepare you for medical school? A: In the council, we are all learning together, which means our group has similar goals. That comradery has been nice because we’ve been able to ask each other, “Oh, what was your opinion of this class?” or “How would you go about solving this problem?” I know I’ll have those same interactions in medical school. The networking has pushed me into diferent areas.

The College of Science has been a springboard for trailblazers across the felds of science and mathematics. Our community is made up of entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, and advocates for the advancement and support of research across STEM disciplines. Our faculty, students, staf, and alumni are some of the chief problem solvers of our day lending their expertise to create solutions needed for present-day problems. LSU.EDU/PURSUIT



ON E TE AC HE R’S PASSION I N S P I R E D HIS STU DE N T TO GIVE BAC K LSU science alumnus donates $3M in former professor’s name During his lifetime, Professor Pasquale Porcelli was many things, including a prominent mathematician at LSU from 1959 until his death in 1972, even earning a Boyd Professorship—the highestranking professorship at the university. But to some of his students, including David Lenaburg, an LSU alumnus from the late 1960s, he was much more than a professor standing in the front of the classroom. “He was a presence, an incredible person,” said Lenaburg, “He taught me what it was like to work, and he dominated my life for years.” The professor’s lasting infuences pushed Lenaburg to recognize and immortalize Porcelli’s infuences at LSU by making a provision in his will to provide a bequest of $2 million to establish an endowed Chair in Porcelli’s name. The chair endowment, which will be known as the Dr. Pasquale Porcelli Mathematics Chair, will establish and support an endowed chair in the Department of Mathematics in honor of the professor. The donation will support the chosen chair’s salary, as well as research, instruction, faculty improvement, and graduate support, among other items. Lenaburg is also bequeathing an additional $1 million to establish the Dr. David Lenaburg Postdoctoral Fund, which will be used to provide support in the recruitment of postdoctoral fellows to the Department of Mathematics. The alumnus, who graduated with his doctorate in mathematics from LSU, was forced to overcome some heavy obstacles before having the opportunity to study underneath the academic. On the same day Porcelli invited his newest mentee to campus, Lenaburg had passed his


“I’m so happy for what LSU did for me. It’s not degrees, it’s a life change. I love what I learned there and how far it got me in my life, which is a long way. It’s part LSU, and it’s part (Porcelli) who did that for me.” physical exam and was being drafted into the military. Like thousands of other able-bodied men at the time, his destination was Vietnam. Knowing the opportunity he had just been presented, it didn’t take long before he petitioned the Dean of Men at his then-university, the University of North Dakota, who moved Lenaburg’s case to the state draft board. Fortunately for him, the state decided to overturn the local draft board, and the student was on his way to Louisiana, accompanied by his wife and young child. His memories paint a diferent picture of campus from when he arrived in the ‘60s. He traveled from the most northern parts of the U.S. to one of the most southern during a period of unsettlement in the South’s history. But Lenaburg said in his most recent visit, he couldn’t believe the change. “Campus is diferent. There is a diferent atmosphere. Even the funding (for STEM) is diferent.” Soon after his arrival, he began his

Pasquale Porcelli photographed in April of 1961 in Chicago, Illinois. Source: Who’s That Mathematician? Paul R. Halmos Collection — Authors Janet Beery (University of Redlands) and Carol Mead (Archives of American Mathematics, University of Texas, Austin)

studies under Porcelli, which became a decision that ultimately changed his life, he said. Porcelli was a mathematical force who came to the university after previously serving on the faculty of the Illinois Institute of Technology. His former student said studying under Porcelli was a time he’ll never forget. If the professor’s pupils were not in their ofces pouring over their work into late evening hours, he’d question the level of their interest. But his assertiveness wasn’t intended to intimidate or demean. It was meant to push the budding mathematicians to their limits—and then some—in order to see their true potentials, said Lenaburg. Without that constant encouragement from Porcelli during those infuential academic years, Lenaburg said he may not have ended up where he is today. “I’m so happy for what LSU did for me,” Lenaburg said. “It’s not degrees, it’s a life change. I love what I learned there and how far it got me in my life, which is a long way. It’s part LSU, and it’s part (Porcelli) who did that for me.” The Department of Mathematics continues to honor Porcelli with the Porcelli Lecture Series, which has hosted more than 20 lecturers since its conception; the Porcelli Research and Academic Excellence Awards for graduate students; and the Porcelli Scholarships for undergraduates.

DISCOVE R I N G SOLUTIO N S LSU alum patents potential antiviral to combat COVID-19 As president and CEO of Ennaid Therapeutics, a development-stage biopharmaceutical company, Darnisha Harrison has made fnding solutions to human health challenges her life’s work. At the onset of the pandemic, she joined the race to create an antiviral drug to treat COVID-19 with promising results. A Baton Rouge native and graduate of LSU’s microbiology program, Harrison knew early on that she wanted to own a pharmaceutical company. Many of her friends could attest to this because she said it openly, even as a young college student. The summer before her senior year at Baton Rouge High School,

“Now one thing that we know as a company is that to eradicate diseases, it’s going to take a combination of the right diagnostics of therapeutics, such as ENU200, and vaccine.”

Harrison had an opportunity to work with Professor James Miller at LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “With Dr. Miller's group in the department of epidemiology and community health, we were doing some pretty amazing research around epidemiological diseases and community health, which is also very similar to public health. It was there that I decided I wanted to be a scientist,” said Harrison. “The research that we were doing was so intriguing to me, that I decided, ‘Hey, I

want to stay right here at LSU—stay right in my hometown, a great university, and study microbiology.’” After LSU, Harrison spent three years as a scientist, most notably at Amgen and the University of Georgia, and 16 years in business development/licensing as a director in various companies within the pharmaceutical research and development industry. Today, she is a nationally recognized pharmaceutical entrepreneur by Newsweek Magazine and an accomplished negotiator and deal-maker known for identifying, negotiating, and closing drug development deals and strategic collaborations. After more than 24 years’ experience in the life sciences, Harrison has also facilitated the discovery of a potential solution to those sufering from COVID’19. Harrison and a team of discovery scientists from Spain have submitted a provisional patent for ENU200, a repurposed, antiviral drug previously approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a diferent disease. “We’ve seen that this particular repurposed drug blocks two of the key proteins in coronavirus,” said Harrison. “The frst protein is responsible for the virus entering into the healthy host cell[ called the (S) glycoprotein, also known as the spike glycoprotein. Simultaneously, it also blocks the main protease inside of the virus that is responsible for the virus

replicating in the healthy host cell. So, we’ve got a simultaneous blockage with our discovery.” Harrison has been in talks with the FDA to get the drug to market. “We know this drug from its previous life. It’s got good safety data already. We’re simply asking to go into a phase three clinical trial that will allow patients to self-dose at home, almost like a virtual clinical trial, if you will, where they will be able to enter daily dosing on an app-based or web-based platform that is FDA approved,” said Harrison who anticipates having a drug to market by September or October. She admits that when you hear infectious disease, the frst thing you think of is a vaccine, but she ofers this analogy to clarify the need for both a vaccine and medicine: “If your house was on fre, who would you want to come? The fre department or a fre inspector?” asks Harrison. “Ennaid Therapeutics is much more like the fre department. If you get the disease, we put it out. But a vaccine is like a fre inspector in this example so that you don’t have a fre. It doesn’t mean you will never have a fre. But you will have the tools, if you will, to know how to prevent a fre. Now one thing that we know as a company is that to eradicate diseases, it’s going to take a combination of the right diagnostics of therapeutics, such as ENU200, and vaccine.”



MAKING M O R E SPACE F O R SCIENC E College to build interdisciplinary science facility


There are more than 30,000 students at LSU and for many of them among their frst stops on campus is a math or science class. College of Science faculty teach more than one-third of the total hours taught across the entire university. Whether they are among the 2,000 plus College of Science students or enrolled to fulfll their math or science requirement for another program, the LSU College of Science is important to the successful matriculation of LSU students. As the university grows, so does the College of Science. And not only are we growing, but we are evolving to create a space that addresses a new normal in scientifc research that is

guided by scientifc collaboration and information sharing across academic disciplines. This sharing extends to diverse sectors outside of academia, and a successful research program must respond to these changes and make room for progress. The college is responding to this need through the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science building at LSU. Making space for scientifc innovation includes ofering facilities that better refect the changing landscape of research, the quality research eforts of our faculty and students, and the changing needs of our growing student population. “This facility will empower a new generation of highly collaborative

and generationally diverse scientists,” said Cynthia Peterson, dean of the LSU College of Science. “It will be the epicenter of collaborative research at LSU providing state-of-the-art space for science creatives to work together.“ College of Science leadership has worked with LSU’s master planning team to identify a site for the 148,000 square foot facility. It will be located at what is now the LSU Dairy Store, which is along a primary pedestrian pathway on campus. But, don’t worry about the Dairy Store. It will be relocated inside the facility with other food services on the ground foor of the building, which encourages use by the entire campus community. “The Interdisciplinary Science Building will be a landmark that identifes the science corridor of the campus,” said Eric Guerin, senior director of development for the LSU Foundation and chief development ofcer for the College of Science. “With cutting edge research and teaching laboratories, classrooms that promote active learning and spaces that facilitate collaborative learning and sharing, this facility will be key to the growth of cross-disciplinary work at LSU.” The completion of this project addresses $22,700,000 of deferred maintenance for the University.

“This facility will empower a new generation of highly collaborative and generationally diverse scientists.” Cynthia Peterson

Dean of the LSU College of Science

$ 1 0 1 , 0 0 0,0 0 0 APPROXIMATE COST OF PROJECT

$ 1 3,7 2 5 ,0 0





EXCELLE N C E IS IN OUR DNA A Salute to the Hall of Distinction Class of 2020

The endless pursuit of excellence is woven into the DNA of the LSU College of Science. Research achievement, academic excellence, community leadership, make up the strands of the college’s DNA. These characteristics best describe the 2020 Class of Hall of Distinction (HoD). Their stories reveal a common thread—a ferce devotion to their work and a deep-rooted passion to give back to their communities. Our 2020 honorees are Col. James Cole, retired mathematics professor and former head coach of the LSU Men’s Golf Team; Rick Rauch, distinguished physics alumnus and NASA project manager; Van Remsen, ornithologist and professor emeritus in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences; Harold Silverman, former vice provost and professor emeritus in the Department of Biological Sciences; and Winnie Wong-Ng, chemistry alumnus and research chemist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The late Col. James Cole was a true servant to LSU, the Baton Rouge community and the State of Louisiana. Col. Cole arrived on the LSU campus in 1908 and was a member of the inaugural freshman football team. Colonel Cole graduated from LSU in 1912 with a degree in civil engineering. As an ofcer in the U.S. Army, Col. Cole served in the 1914 occupation of Veracruz and as a World War I battalion commander. In 1918, Col. Cole was injured in France and retired with the rank Major in 1919. That same year, he returned to LSU as a mathematics instructor and assisted in the formation of the Louisiana-Mississippi section of the Mathematical Association of America. Colonel Cole held numerous leadership positions at LSU including dean of student afairs, head of mathematics, coach of the Men’s golf team. He was


Rick Rauch

also the inaugural director of Louisiana’s Boys State and Girls State and is credited with helping to create the campus War Memorial Tower. Rick Rauch received his bachelor’s in physics from LSU in 1977. His undergraduate years were spent shadowing Professor Emeritus Bill Hamilton who is considered the “father of gravitational wave detection research” at LSU. Today, Rauch is a Project Manager at NASA Stennis Space Center. During his career, Rauch infuenced the conceptual design and systems engineering of ballistic missiles, manned spacecraft, and ballistic missile and air defense systems; rocket propulsion testing project management; as well as the engineering, design, analysis, and management of propulsion ground test facilities and special test equipment. His present work includes the design and testing of NASA’s new Space Launch System. A catalyst in science research and education at LSU, Van Remsen was a curator of ornithology at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, a professor of biological sciences, as well as the John S. McIlhenney Distinguished Professor of Natural Science. Remsen’s tenure elevated the reputation of the museum both on the national and international fronts, making it the most actively growing research museum and most important university museum in the world for the study of birds. Remsen is considered one of the world’s foremost ornithologists, with special expertise in Neotropical birds. Papers that he published in the 1980s and 1990s are now considered classics

Col. James Cole

in research, as they laid the foundation of our understanding of the ecology and biogeography of South American birds. Throughout his 26-year career at LSU, Harold Silverman made signifcant contributions and transformative changes to both the university and the College of Science as a faculty member through research, teaching and service, and as an administrator in the roles of Department Chair, Dean, and Interim Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost. Although he retired from LSU in 2007, Silverman’s impact on the College of Science, the Department of Biological Sciences, and across the entire LSU campus is still very much apparent. Celebrated internationally for her contributions in the feld of

Van Remsen

“Our 2020 class of honorees have distinguished themselves as pioneers in their felds. We are excited to add such distinguished researchers and educators to the Hall of Distinction�

When was the frst Hall of Distinction ceremony? The frst class of Hall of Distinction honorees was inducted in 2004. The inductees were Dr. Mary Lou Applewhite, Dr. Purnell W. Choppin, Dr, Robey C. Clark Sr., and Dr. Reinosuke Hara.

Cynthia Peterson

Dean of the LSU College of Science

crystallography, crystal chemistry, and phase equilibria, Winnie Wong-Ng is a distinguished LSU alumna, philanthropic supporter, and mentor to young scientists. Wong-Ng received her Ph.D. in chemistry in 1974 from LSU. From there, she became a research scientist at the University of Maryland before moving to the National Bureau of Standards. Her work revolved around Powder Difraction File at the International Centre for Difraction Data, and in the early 1980s, Wong-Ng was in charge of converting the difraction data to a computerized system. Following the success of modern computer databases, she continued to be involved in the preparation of high-quality experimental standard reference patterns for a variety of high-tech materials to be included in the Powder Difraction File. To date, she has been involved in more than 800 reference patterns. The College of Science will be hosting a virtual celebration in honor of the 2020 honorees. The details will be coming soon. Go to the College of Science website to learn more about the HoD Class of 2020.


Harold Silverman



Winnie Wong-Ng




Visionaries 200





Number of Members


MEM B E R S AS OF JULY 31, 2020

120 100 80 60

5 6% INCRE ASE F RO M FA LL 2 012

40 20 0 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011

2012 2013


2015 2016 2017


2019 2020



$4 1.6 MI L L I O N AS OF MAY 31, 2020

$45,000,000 $41,611,413.28


















$10,000,000 $5,000,000 0















$1,749,255.69 TOTAL




The LSU College of Science provides the highest quality education and programs to create and disseminate knowledge through scientifc research and discovery. Through fulfllment of this mission, all LSU students become scientifcally literate citizens. College of Science graduates pursue successful careers in science and related disciplines using the critical thinking, communication, research and analytical skills honed in the College of Science to make a meaningful impact on our world. Our commitment is to be the primary scientifc intellectual resource for Louisiana and the nation, to promote scientifc literacy and to foster economic development by putting scientifc knowledge into practice.

Cynthia Peterson, dean Robb Brumfeld, associate dean, research Maria Cazes, assistant dean, fnance and administration Eric Guerin, senior director of development Kathryn Loveless, assistant dean, academic services Andrew Maverick, associate dean, academic services Gretchen Stein, assistant dean, research development and operations Zakiya Wilson-Kennedy, assistant dean, diversity and inclusion EDITORIAL TEAM Dawn Jenkins, director of communications Jessica Manaf, communications specialist Stefani Wheeler, science communications intern CONTRIBUTORS


S TAT E M E N T The vision of the LSU College of Science is to be an international leader in scientifc research and instruction, elevating LSU to the highest level of excellence among major research universities in the United States and the world.


Our vision is a sustainable future for the LSU College of Science that will ensure the longevity and success of future generations of scientists. Our mission is to foster a culture of philanthropy that engages stakeholders and inspires meaningful investments in scientifc education, innovation and research.

Jolie Cornay Kasi Davis Soula O’Bannon Elsa Hahne Mimi LaValle Rachel Ray Nicolette Ross Alison Satake Gretchen Schneider Valerie Stampley PHOTOGRAPHY AB Photography LSU Division for Strategic Communications Zehno Cross Communications


Dr. Gary S. Grest Albuquerque, NM

Dr. James V. Lange New Orleans, LA

Dr. John B. Sardisco Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Mary Lou Applewhite New Orleans, LA

Mr. Marshall J. Harper Shreveport, LA

Mrs. Linda K. Messina Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. William B. Stickle Jr. Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Halvor Aaslestad Waynesboro, VA

Mr. Thomas E. Harrington III Carrollton, TX

Mrs. Laura C. Moftt Bellaire, TX

Dr. Sam M. Sukkar Houston, TX

Mr. Gregg A. DeMar Stamford, CT

Mr. James R. Hart Houston, LA

Dr. Mary T. Neal Bellaire, TX

Dr. Mel L. Triay III Metairie, LA

Dr. Kate B. Freeman Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Wayne J. Homza Shreveport, LA

Mr. Charles C. Pinckney Birmingham, AL

Dr. Edward F. Zganjar Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Stewart T. Gordon Baton Rouge, LA

Dr. Bryan T. Kansas Austin, TX

Dr. Gil Rew Shreveport, LA



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JOIN THE DEAN’S CIRCLE The Dean's Circle (DC) is a loyal group of alumni and friends who share a passion for advancing scholarship and research at LSU. Our DC provides the working capital needed to fund pursuits of the College, including scholarships for frst-year students, student organizations and educational travel expenses, faculty recruitment and recognition activities, and development initiatives that build alumni and community relations.


DC membership recognizes the generosity of alumni and friends who make annual gifts of $1,000 or more to the Science Development Fund. For a gift of $250, alumni who have graduated within the last ten years are also eligible for DC membership. Members enjoy invitations to the annual Dean's Circle fall celebration and other events throughout the year.

TO JOIN BY MAIL Make your check payable to “LSU Foundation-Science Dean’s Circle” and mail your check to: LSU Foundation 3796 Nicholson Drive Baton Rouge, LA 70802 TO DONATE ONLINE Go to

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Image of the Milky Way taken by astrophotographer and LSU geology graduate Connor Matherne from River Road just outside of Baton Rouge