Greetings Colleagues and Friends,
What an exciting year!

As 2016 draws to a close, there is much on which to reflect. It has been a year of ups and downs. A record flood challenged us as we began the fall semester at LSU, and our Baton Rouge community has experienced unrest. At the same time, we have had a strong year in the College of Science. It is important to consider all of the outstanding  discoveries and achievements of our faculty and students. I have often said that many of LSU's best and brightest reside in the College of Science and I stand by this statement. Our students are top academic performers making up more than 20 percent of the students in the LSU Honors College and nearly half of LSU's University Medalists, who are students graduating with the highest grade point averages. These accomplished students are supported by faculty that work tirelessly to help them succeed. Among our faculty is HENAAC's Scientist of the Year , the  SEC's Professor of the Year , and a host of other stellar researchers and scholars who are helping the College of Science advance its research initiatives and stake our claim as a national leader in science.

I am proud to be a part of the College of Science and hope that you share in my enthusiasm. I am equally enthusiastic about 2017 and expect our faculty, students and staff to explore even greater heights. As we move into the new year, we will continue to build upon our strong commitment to advancing STEM education in Louisiana, implementing programs and activities that support an inclusive science community, and leveraging our collaborative activities to make a greater impact in our research initiatives.
Thank you for all that you do to support the College of Science. I appreciate each and every one of you and wish you a joyous holiday and a happy new year.

Cynthia B. Peterson, dean
Seola Arnaud and Richard Vernon Edwards Jr. Professor


And the Award Goes to...

LIGO Scientific Collaboration Receives Physics World 2016 Breakthrough of the Year
Physics World announced today that the 2016 Breakthrough of the Year goes to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for "their revolutionary, first ever direct observations of gravitational waves."

LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy Professor Gabriela González, who is the international spokesperson for the 1,000-member LIGO Scientific Collaboration, accepted the recognition on behalf of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Physics World announced its top 10 breakthroughs of the year.

"What's been achieved by LIGO, particularly in a relatively short space of time, is truly incredible. The observations it has made are the first direct evidence of the existence of black holes, so LIGO has already changed our view of the universe," said Physics World editor Hamish Johnston.

It's Time to Celebrate!

College to Hold Fall Diploma Ceremony, December 16 at 9 a.m.

This fall, the College of Science will be celebrating the hard work and dedication of more than 170 graduates during its fall 2016 diploma ceremony, to be held Friday, December 16 at 9 a.m. in Maddox Fieldhouse. This semester's graduates include 127 who will receive bachelor's degrees, 18 master's degree recipients and 28 who will be hooded as part of the PhD graduation tradition.

The speaker for this year's ceremony is Dr. Isiah Warner, an internationally recognized chemist, educator and advocate for students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers. Warner is an LSU Boyd Professor, the highest professorial rank in the LSU System. He is also Phillip W. West Professor of Chemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, and vice president for LSU's Office of Strategic Initiatives.

> More

Julie Butler in Karen Maruska's Fish Lab.
Photo by Paige Jarreau.

A Fish Called 'Burt'

Julie Butler's 'Fish Tale' Wins
Three-Minute Thesis Competition at LSU

Julie Butler, PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences, took top honors in a Three-Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) hosted by LSU's Graduate School in November. Her prize included $1,000 and an opportunity to represent LSU at the Southern regional 3MT competition in March 2017.

Three Minute Thesis celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students throughout the world. Developed by The University of Queensland, the exercise cultivates students' academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Check out "Little Fish in a Big Noisy World" on the College of Science Blog to learn more.

For the Birds

Museum Researchers Author
Birds of Bolivia Field Guide

LSU Museum of Natural Science researchers and research collaborators in Bolivia have authored the first field guide book to birds of Bolivia. The museum has the world's largest collection of Bolivian birds, which is the backbone of data for the book and its illustrations.

The field guide illustrates all 1,425 bird species of Bolivia and provides a concise synopsis of distribution, habitat, feeding behavior and diet, plumage variations, vocalizations, and behavior for each species, much of which was previously unpublished.

> More

Cameron Thrash shows the OAR Northwest crew around his microbiology lab.

After months on the Mississippi River, OAR Northwest rowers Audra and Calli arrived in Baton Rouge. Researchers at LSU met the rowers near the new bridge to retrieve water samples the rowers had collected for analysis of microbe DNA.
A Rowing Adventure
for Science

LSU Biologist Teams with
OAR Northwest to Document
the Microbial Life in the
Mississippi Rive

Cameron Thrash, assistant professor in LSU's Department of Biological Sciences, has teamed with OAR Northwest, an adventure and education rowing team, to transect the Mississippi River to collect samples of the microorganisms living in the Mississippi as they row the entire length of the river under human power. The OAR Northwest Team made a   stop in Baton Rouge on November 17th to visit with Thrash and share their citizen science adventure with hundreds of East Baton Rouge Parish students. The group also shared their experiences with students in LSU's Science Residential College and the Ogden Honors College.

Thrash's work with OAR Northwest has generated the most comprehensive dataset of microorganisms in the Mississippi River to date.

Check out the blog to learn more about this citizen science adventure and take a look at some of the awesome pics from OARNorthwest's takeover of the College of Science Instagram page. 

Mark Your Calendars!

Join LSU Biological Sciences Associate Professor and Curator of Fishes Prosanta Chakrabarty, a visiting program officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF) this year, as he shares his insights into the funding agency and funding trends. 
When: Friday, January 13,  
1st floor Hatcher Hall Conference Room, 9 am to 11 am

Brian Mal­ow,  sci­ence 

This event is  FREE and open to all LSU students, faculty and staff.

On the Blog:

Check out the latest posts on the College of Science Blog
(like, share, or post a comment)

Shooting for Mars
Fishes of Instagram
Study Tips to Rock Finals Week

An Experience Abroad


Tabetha Boyajian

Sam Bentley

Jerry Draayer

Gabriela Gonzalez

Sophie Warny

Tabetha Boyajian
, assistant professor in the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy, talks with Discover magazine about the KIC star.   > More

Sam Bentley, professor in the LSU Department of Geology & Geophysics and director of the Coastal Studies Institute, has been named the Erich and Lea Sternberg Honors Professor in the Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College at LSU.   > More

Jerry Draayer, professor in the LSU Department of Physics & Asronomy, has been honored with the rank of "Fellow" by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, the world's largest scientific organization.   > More 
Gabriela González , professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy and spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, has been named HENAAC's Scientist of the Year for 2016.   > Check out video from the award presentation

Sophie Warny, associate professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics and curator in the Museum of Natural Science, has been named the first AASP Endowed Chair in Geology & Geophysics by the Louisiana Board of Regents.   > More

Preparing to Launch

LaSPACE Researchers to Capture Video of Solar Eclipse

A team of researchers from LSU's Louisiana Space Grant Consortium in the Department of Physics & Astronomy
will be traveling to Southern Illinois University Carbondale next summer for the total solar eclipse. The team, made up of students and researchers, plans to launch two large weather balloons from Saluki Stadium about 90 minutes or so before the eclipse totality, set for 1:21 p.m. on Aug. 21. The team will coordinate the expected climb rate of the balloons with the event in order to capture live video and conduct student-driven experiments. The balloon will send back real-time video images as the moon blots out the sun.

> More

Rewarding Scholarship
David Susko
Don Hood
LSU Geologists Awarded LaSPACE Graduate Research Grants

David Susko and Don Hood, PhD students in LSU's Planetary Science Laboratory (PSL) in the Department of Geology & Geophysics, have been awarded grants from the LaSPACE Graduate Student Research Assistantship program under the supervision of Suniti Karunatillake, assistant professor in the Department of Geology & Geophysics and principal investigator for the PSL. Both Susko and Hood have been awarded $8,000 grants to support their research during the summer of 2017. Susko's grant will allow him to pursue the project entitled "The geomorphology of martian supervolcanoes and implications for a shift in volcanism at the end of Noachian Mars," during the summer of 2017. Hood's grant will fund his research project entitled: "Developing the Martian Boulder Automatic Recognition System: MBARS."

An Exceptional Tutor

Biological Sciences Student featured in NCLCA Newsletter

Harley Bordelon, senior biological sciences major and tutor in LSU's Center for Academic Success, is featured in the latest edition of the  National College Learning Center Association newsletter.

Bordelon views his work in the CAS as an opportunity to build student confidence and and create lasting learning experiences that benefit students beyond the classroom.


Dean Cynthia Peterson, William and Versa Stickle
A Legacy of Giving

Stickles Join Laureate Society

College of Science Dean Cynthia Peterson presented LSU Professor of Biological Sciences William Stickle
and his wife, Versa, with a plaque in recognition of their membership in the

The foundation introduced the Laureate Society in November 2006 to recognize individual, couple and organizational lifetime giving to LSU through the LSU Foundation. 

Support Research
and Scholarship at LSU

J oin the LSU College of Science 
Dean's Circle

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

Dean's Circle 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 may also become members.

To join by mail, make your check payable to "LSU Foundation-Science Dean's Circle" and mail your check to:  LSU Foundation,  3838 West Lakeshore Drive,  Baton Rouge, LA  70808.

To join online , go to

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