Southeastern faculty receive $610,360 in Regents support grants
Contact: Rene Abadie
(1) EXPLORING OXIME ETHERS -- Southeastern Louisiana University chemistry majors Richard Rucker of Pearl River, left, and Smitty Smith of Amite operate lab equipment under the guidance of Debra Dolliver, assistant professor of chemistry. Dolliver's research, funded by a Louisiana Board of Regents enhancement grant, analyzes chemical compounds that have potential use in agricultural and pharmaceutical products.
(2) PROMOTING LOUISIANA CLASSICS -- Southeastern Louisiana University pianist Kenneth Boulton has been awarded was a $50,000 ATLAS (Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars) grant to support the recording and production of “Louisiana – A Pianist’s Journey,” a compact disc to promote unexplored Louisiana-inspired classical music.
HAMMOND – Twelve Southeastern Louisiana University faculty members were awarded a total of $610,360 in grants from the Louisiana Board of Regents.
The grants cover a wide variety of creative projects, basic scientific research, and new equipment purchases. Grant applications are submitted to the Board of Regents by institutions throughout the state and are evaluated competitively by outside reviewers who rank order the projects for funding. Of the 22 Southeastern proposals, 12 (55 percent) were funded in full or partially.
The amount funded is significantly higher than last year’s $477,000. Southeastern had the highest percentage of programs funded among the eight University of Louisiana System universities.
Among the grants awarded was a $50,000 ATLAS (Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars) grant to pianist Kenneth Boulton to support the recording and production of a compact disc entitled “Louisiana – A Pianist’s Journey,” a project designed to promote the unexplored facet of Louisiana-inspired classical music.
“This will be the first recording of classical solo piano music inspired by Louisiana or one of its many famous landmarks,” Boulton said. “Everyone knows about the origins of jazz in New Orleans and Louisiana, but this collection will be ground-breaking, because no previous attempt has been made to document piano music tributes to Louisiana.”
The repertoire will include such pieces such as “La Vavane” by Louis Moreau Gottschalk, “Louisiana Story” suite by Virgil Thomson, “Louisiana Suite” by Walter Niemann, “New Orleans Minatures” by John Parsons Beach and “Louisiana Nights” by silent film composer R. S. Stoughton. The actual recording will be done at Skywalker Sound near San Francisco, a company that has established itself at the forefront of record production, having earned 16 Academy Awards. The project will be released in 2007 on the Cambria Masterworks label.
A three-year $136,512 grant was awarded to biologist Roldan Valverde to develop a more reliable assay that can help detect exposure of freshwater turtles to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCBs), two well-known pollutants present in Louisiana waters.
"These chemicals are toxic and can disrupt hormonal systems by blocking or mimicking the actions of natural hormones," Valverde said. "The research is relevant not only to turtles and wildlife in general but to humans as well, since results could provide a technique to allow the detection of potential long-term health effects from pollutants that affect both the thyroid and the adrenal glands."
Organic chemist Debra Dolliver’s three-year $90,196 project focuses on developing new methods of synthesizing oxime ethers, atom groupings that can increase the biological activity of certain molecules.
“Because of their biological effects, oxime ethers are beginning to be incorporated into many compounds used in agriculture and pharmaceuticals that have antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects,” Dolliver explained. “Our intent is to discover new and very controlled routes for making oxime ethers. These routes offer the potential to make pharmaceutical and agricultural compounds in more efficient ways.”
Her research project is designed to involve undergraduate students, providing them with a real-world laboratory experience.
The Board of Regents approved a two-year graduate fellowship for $36,000 for the university’s Integrated Science and Technology (ISAT) program under the direction of Melinda Holt, associate professor of mathematics. The ISAT program is designed to prepare studies to apply scientific knowledge in industry and research with special focus on areas that are key to Louisiana’s economy.
Five grants were awarded Southeastern professors in the undergraduate enhancement category.
Michael Beauvais, assistant professor of industrial technology, was awarded $72,936 to develop a rapid prototyping laboratory designed to help emerging and recovering businesses and industries solve technical design problems. Students enrolled in industrial technology will work with a local industry to select and define a problem, then design, draw and – using the new equipment – build a prototype of the mechanical device needed. When not in use in these projects, the equipment will be available to students enrolled in the eight to 10 industrial technology classes each semester.
“This project is especially timely since Hurricane Katrina, because so many businesses in the area were decimated and in need of technical assistance and support,” Beauvais said. “It’s a win-win project, because business and industry get assistance at a time when it is most needed, and our students gain valuable educational and work experience, researching, solving and implementing solutions to real problems.”
With a $42,000 grant, Barbara Schuldt, associate professor of management information systems in the College of Business, will work with a team to implement a Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS) Laboratory designed to be used in service learning activities with area businesses. GDSS software is used to minimize problems that occur during group decision-making activities, such as planning, problem-solving, assessing risk or designing work. The software provides a structured process for the group.
“Our objectives are to provide a stimulating and exciting learning experience for students by exposing them to highly sophisticated technology that facilitates teamwork, either in the classroom or the community,” Schuldt said. “The lab and our students also will be available as a resource for area businesses, non-profit and government agencies by providing a computerized decision making tool that can be used at any location.”
Other undergraduate enhancement grants include:
-- $23,163 to Mary White, professor of biological sciences, to develop a molecular biotechnology teaching laboratory, allowing students to work in areas such as DNA isolation and DNA sequencing. The lab would be dedicated exclusively to teaching.
-- A $21,580 grant to biologist Nick Norton to purchase hardware and software to enhance the operational capabilities of the university’s scanning electron microscope.
-- A $20,000 grant to Ghassan Alkadi in the Department of Computer Science and Industrial Technology to develop a facility that provides a variety of sophisticated computing environments to enhance computer science instruction for both undergraduate and graduate students.
In the Traditional Enhancement category, the Board of Regents made the following awards:
-- $40,000 to Troy Kammerdiener, assistant professor of computer science, to support and equip a new classroom to provide a computer-assisted learning environment for computer science instruction;
-- $39,000 to Gary W. Childers, professor of biology, to develop the Unified Microscopy Laboratory Network through the purchase of a confocal laser microscope to complement the university’s current array of microscopy equipment. The new instrument, which is now an integral part of current biological research, would provide students with valuable exposure and experience with this technology.
-- $38,973 to Kyle R. Piller, assistant professor of biology, to enhance instruction and research in biology through the development of a workgroup cluster of computers, a sort of “mini-supercomputer,” that can manage, organize and analyze large data sets associated with DNA research. Southeastern does considerable research involving DNA sequence data of fish and snakes, and the equipment will provide researchers and students with the computational power to analyze the data sets more efficiently.