Official newsletter of the LSU College of Science  |   April 2015 
Discovery made beneath Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys

View video of the researchers experience in Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys


Researchers Find Evidence of Groundwater in Antarctica's Dry Valleys     


Using a novel, helicopter-borne sensor to penetrate below the surface of large swathes of terrain, LSU hydrogeologist Peter Doran and a team of researchers supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) have gathered compelling evidence that beneath Antarctica's ice-free McMurdo Dry Valleys lies a salty aquifer that may support previously unknown microbial ecosystems and retain evidence of ancient climate change.  > More 

Daniel Lepkowski, an undergraduate LSU student, left, postdoctoral researcher Tapas Samanta and LSU Physics Professor Shane Stadler works on magnetocaloric material inside science lab.

Physicist Discovers New Material Set to Revolutionize the Cooling Industry

A team of researchers led by LSU Physics & Astronomy Professor Shane Stadler has discovered a breakthrough magnetocaloric material that may change the energy industry, including air conditioning and food refrigeration. 


Stadler's research focuses on the next generation of magnetic cooling technologies, which are simpler in design, quieter and more environmentally friendly than the conventional compressed-gas systems currently used.   > More  



Top to Bottom: Museum of Natural Science student Vivien Chua with visitors to the table exhibit and visitors stop by the LSU Society of Physics students table and the LaSPACE LaACES table for science demonstrations.
College of Science Programs
Celebrate Earth Day 2015
Louisiana Earth Day celebrated its 25th anniversary April 19th in downtown Baton Rouge. The event featured hands-on educational activities for the whole family to help foster individual and corporate environmental awareness and action using creative exhibits.

The Museum of Natural Science set up an exhibit table featuring specimens from the museum's research collections. The Mobil Astronomy Resources System, or MARS, truck was stationed at the Old Governor's Mansion in the designated children's area. MARS, operated through the Louisiana Space Grant Consortium in partnership with the LSU Cain Center, Highland Road Park Observatory and the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy includes computer controlled telescopes, a digital portable planetarium and other materials to provide visitors with an astronomy/space science learning experience.  > More 


College Recognizes Top Performing Students, Faculty at Honors Convocation 


The College of Science honored the achievements of its stellar students and faculty during the 40th Annual Arthur R. Choppin Honors Convocation on April 28. More than 60 awards were given including College of Science Outstanding Senior, Junior and Sophomore Awards, the Dean's Award, Tiger Athletic Fund Undergraduate Teaching Awards, Distinguished Dissertation Awards, and various departmental recognitions.


Houston Energy Co-founder Ron Neal
to Address May Graduates

The College will celebrate the hardwork and dedication of its 2015 spring graduates during its May 2015 Diploma Ceremony, Friday, May 15, 9 a.m. at Maddox Field House. The keynote speaker is geology graduate and co-founder/co-owner of Houston Energy, Ron Neal.

Neal earned a bachelor's degree in zoology in 1974 and a master's degree in geology in 1977 from LSU. In 1988, he co-founded Houston Energy, L.P. with fellow LSU graduate Billy Harrison. One of the leading independent oil companies in the central and Gulf South regions, Houston Energy was named to LSU's inaugural Top 100 Fastest Growing Tiger Businesses in 2011.

Neal and his wife, LSU graduate Dr. Mary Neal, are avid supporters of LSU and the college. They have been members of the LSU Foundation since 2000 and members of the College of Science's Dean's Circle (DC) since its inception in 2007. Mary currently serves as the DC Executive Committee chair.

Undergraduate Research at the LSU College of Science

College Releases Undergraduate Research Experiences Video

The LSU College of Science, with support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, has developed a five-minute video of students sharing their undergraduate research experiences at LSU.
Take a look!


Brooks Ellwood
Mette Gaarde
Fernando Galvez
Chris Gregg
James Oxley
Ambar Sengupta
Stephen Shipman
J. Cameron Thrash
Dottie Vaughn
Graca Vicente
Mark Wilde
  • Brooks Ellwood, Robey Clark Distinguished Professor in Geology & Geophysics, contributed to research that presents new evidence of the importance of carbon to the ocean life that survived the Permian-Triassic mass extinction that occurred 252 million years ago. The new study is led by scientists at the University of Texas at Arlington where Ellwood holds the rank of Emeritus Professor of Earth and Environmental Science.  > More
  • Each year, LSU recognizes and rewards the outstanding work of its distinguished faculty. This year, the College of Science has six award recipients. They are Physics & Astronomy Professor Mette Gaarde, LSU Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award; Biological Sciences instructor and Science Residential College Rector Chris Gregg, Tiger Athletic Foundation Outstanding Instructor Award; Mathematics Professor Ambar Sengupta, LSU Distinguished Faculty Award; Mathematics Professor Stephen Shipman, LSU Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award; Chemistry Professor Graca Vicente, LSU Foundation Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award; and Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy Mark Wilde, LSU Alumni Association Rising Faculty Research Award.
  • Fernando Galvez, associate professor in biological sciences, was featured in the National Geographic news article, "How Oil Spills Can Literally Break Fish Hearts."  > More
  • Annals of Combinatorics, a journal that publishes outstanding contributions to combinatorial mathametics, dedicated its most recent issue to James Oxley, LSU System Boyd Professor in Mathematics, on the occasion of his 60th birthday. The focus of the special issue is matroid theory, a subject to which Oxley contributed most of his 140 research papers.
  • J. Cameron Thrash, assistant professor in biological sciences, has been invited to present his research at the 2015 General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology this May in New Orleans. His presentation, "Catch 'Em All: Culturing and monitoring microorganisms to help understand natural and human disturbances in the northern Gulf of Mexico," will also be highlighted in the ASM's conference press room.   > More
  • In recognition of her innovative teaching techniques in Business Calculus, mathematics instructor Dottie Vaughn won this years Phi Kappa Phi Outstanding Instructor Award.


Biological Sciences Professor Gary King published "Carbon monoxide as a metabolic energy source for extremely halophilic microbes: Implications for microbial activity in Mars regolith" in the March edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  



Six College of Science Students
Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships   

The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program supports outstanding graduate students pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science and engineering. This year, six College of Science students have been awarded Fellowships: 
  • Bruno Beltran, mathematics major and LA-STEM scholar, is preparing to pursue doctoral studies in chemical and systems biology at Stanford University.
  • Ansonia Badget, Office of Strategic Initiatives (OSI)/NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Fellow, is pursuing her doctoral studies in chemistry at LSU.
  • Rachel Keller, math major, will begin her doctoral studies this fall at Columbia University's Applied Math Program.
  • Jacob McAlpin, chemistry graduate and LA-STEM scholar, is pursuing doctoral studies in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • Melissa McDowell, biology graduate and LA-STEM scholar, is pursuing doctoral studies in biological and biomedical science at Cornell University.
  • Zachary Rodriguez, OSI/NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Fellow, is pursuing doctoral studies in biological sciences at LSU.



Students Rock!

Geology Department Hosts
Annual Rock Star Competition  


The Department of Geology & Geophysics showcased a wide range of student research during its annual Rock Star Poster contest Monday, April 20.

This year had the largest number of entries to date, with 29 students submitting their research; 16 graduate students and 13 undergraduates.


The top winners in the graduate poster presentation session are first place, Edwin (Jeff) Bomer, Anthropogenic Sediment Diversion in the Mississippi River Delta: The Feasibility of Building Land for Coastal Restoration; second place, Tara Jonell, Using U-Pb detrital zircon geochronology in the
Himalayan rain shadow: evidence for summer monsoon control over erosion in the Zanskar River basin, northwest Indian Himalaya; and third place, Tasha Hoffmann, Plagioclase Halos around Garnet: Implications of Pressure-Temperature Paths in Metapelites.

Undergraduate student winners are first place, Megan Borel, Petrogenetic Significance of Tertiary Granite Trace-Element Contents in the Sawtooth Range, Idaho, USA; second place, Ashley Thrower, Implications of rare earth elements in Sawtooth Metamorphic Complex Calc-Silicate Gneiss, Idaho; and third place, Jennifer Kenyon, Investigating the effects of selenium on fungal growth and mineral production, from her summer internship at the Smithsonian Institution. 


Chemists for a Cure

Student Organization Raises Funds

to Support Cancer  Research  


LSU's Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society raised over $1,000 for cancer research throughout the semester by giving students the chance to be placed in a lottery to toss a pie at their professors in preparation for the university's Relay For Life event held April 18.  > More 


Math Students Excel  

at Putman Mathematics Competition


LSU had eight students who earned a positive score during this year's annual Putnam Mathematics Competition, a prestigious and very challenging six-hour exam held each December. Avery St. Dizier  led the scoring with 22 followed by Shawn Williams with a score of 21.These strong performances rank in the top 15 percent nationwide.

More than 4,000 students from over 500 institutions competed, and more than half of them scored less than three points out of a possible 120. The LSU students were mentored by Karl Mahlburg, assistant professor of mathematics.   > More  

Photo by Ronnie Bourgeois (LSU Reveille)


Biochem Student Performs
with Baton Rouge Ballet


Between classes, an on-campus job and strict dance schedule, first-year biochemistry student Katie Rose DeLeo said she doesn't have much free time.


Despite the added pressures and commitments of dancing in the Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre Company, she wouldn't have it any other way.  > More 


Ashley Pagnotta

Physics Grad Discusses
Our Cosmic Address


LSU Physics & Astronomy PhD graduate
Ashley Pagnotta was featured in "Looking Up and Finding Our Cosmic Address," published on Stanton Island Live. Currently, Pagnotta is a Kathryn W. Davis Postdoctoral Fellow studying observational astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. Pagnotta was interviewed just before her "Astronomy Life! presentation where she talked about Earth's position in the solar system, the solar system's position in the Milky Way and where our galaxy fits in the observable universe.
  > More  

Jenna P. Carpenter

Math Alumna Named Founding Dean
of Campbell University
School of Engineering


Jenna P. Carpenter, a highly-regarded national figure in science, technology, engineering and mathematics higher education, will be the founding dean of Campbell University's proposed School of Engineering launching in 2016.


Carpenter earned her bachelor's in mathematics from Louisiana Tech and her master's and Ph.D. in mathematics from Louisiana State University, where she was an Alumni Federation Fellow.  > More

Dr. Mary Neal counsels a patient at the San José Clinic in Houston, TX.

DC Member Mary Neal
Helps Keep Houston Healthy  
LSU graduate and Dean's Circle member, Dr. Mary Neal is doing her part to help keep Houston healthy. Dr. Neal practiced for 18 years with Obstetrical and Gynecology Associates in the Houston area and held appointments at The Woman's Hospital of Texas and the Harris County Hospital District. Now retired, Dr. Neal continues to serve her community by volunteering at the San José Clinic in Houston, TX. Recently, she was featured in the Texas Catholic News article, "San José Clinic: Keeping Houston healthy physically, medically and spiritually."

Dr. Neal is also an unwavering supporter of LSU and the College of Science. She and her husband, LSU geology graduate Ron Neal, have been members of the LSU Foundation since 2000 and members of the College of Science Dean's Circle since its inception in 2007. Currently, Dr. Neal chairs the College of Science Dean's Circle Executive Committee.
  > More

Pat and Antonio dancing Jive at 2015 Texas Challenge

Dancing and All that JIVE! 
College of Science alumni are quite a multi-talented group. Case in point, LSU math graduate, College of Science Dean's Circle member and former ExxonMobil chief information officer Pat Bodin is also a veteran on the Texas amateur dance competition circuit. Check out Bodin's fancy footwork as she dances the jive during the 2015 Texas Challenge Dancesport. Bodin and her partner, Antonio, placed first during the competition. 


Photo (left to right): Dean's Circle Executive Committee member Terry Latiolais, Socolosky Award recipient Chris Gregg and Dean Cynthia Peterson

Science Residential College Rector Receives Marion D. Socolofsky
Excellence in Teaching Award 
Recognized for his achievements in teaching and mentoring, Chris Gregg, Science Residential College (SRC) rector and instructor of biological sciences, is this year's recipient of the Dr. Marion "Soc" Socolofsky Award for Teaching Excellence.   > More



The College of Science would like to welcome the newest members of the Dean's Circle.
Thank you for your contribution to the teaching and research activities in the college.


  • Mr. Robert and Judith McNew, March 2015
  • Dr. Marco Moran, March 2015
  • Dr. Jorge Pullin and Dr. Gabriella Gonzalez, March 2015


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