SUNO enters DNA research agreement

Southern University at New Orleans and Pressure BioSciences Inc. in Massachusetts have entered a collaborative agreement to improve and extend the applications of the company’s patented pressure cycling technology for the detection of DNA in forensic samples.

The program will be under the direction of Dr. Pam Marshall, interim director of the forensic science program and assistant professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at SUNO.

While a graduate student at the University of North Texas’ UNT Health Science Center, Marshall and her colleagues showed that incorporating pressure cycling technology into the testing for poor quality bone enabled more DNA to be detected as compared to standard methods. As part of the Pressure BioSciences collaboration, Marshall and her team also will investigate other areas in which pressure cycling technology could enhance forensic sample testing.

For example, one project will include the extraction of DNA from seized African Elephant ivory samples in an effort to reduce poaching.

“A critical yet often difficult task in forensic analysis is the extraction of high quality DNA from challenged or inhibited samples,” Marshall said.

Loyola adding degree in computer information

Loyola University New Orleans is introducing a bachelor of science degree in computer information systems in the fall.

The course will include 21 hours in computer science and computer information systems, 15 hours in the supporting area of management science and five credit hours of practical experience through a project or internship.

“It is designed to appeal to students who are looking to go into business,” said Ralph Tucci, professor of mathematics and director of computational science. “It will give a person a good, solid background in computers and show them just how computers are needed to conduct business.”

The College of Humanities and Natural Sciences currently offers a major in computational mathematics and an interdisciplinary computational science minor. These programs emphasize mathematics and are more theoretical. The new major will add more practical knowledge and is more career-oriented.

According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 778,300 new jobs in “Computer and Mathematical Occupations” will be added to the job market by the year 2020, representing a growth rate of 22 percent and making it the sixth-fastest growing major occupational group.

Horticulture industry lecture, open house set

The Margie Jenkins Azalea Garden Horticulture Lecture Series and Industry Open House will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 15 at the Hammond Research Station.

The station is at 21549 Old Covington Highway (La. 1067), east of Hammond.

The educational event is designed for nursery growers, landscape contractors, landscape maintenance firms, retail garden center owners, managers and their employees.

Topics include problem solving in dogwoods, roses and hydrangeas; the use of south Louisiana natives and some of the improved varieties; and also garden tours and plant trials.

There is no registration fee, but reservations are required. A RSVP is needed to get a count for the hamburger lunch that will be served in the gardens.

Additional information is available by calling Allen Owings at (985) 543-4125 or visiting the website at www.lsuagcenter.com/Hammond.

USDA rural business grants available

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is seeking applications for grants to support rural businesses and help create jobs.

More than $28 million is expected to be available nationally under the Rural Business Development Grant program. Eligible applicants include public bodies, government entities, Indian tribes and nonprofit organizations.

The program is designed to assist the startup or expansion of small and emerging private businesses and/or nonprofits in rural communities.

The grants can be used to acquire or develop land, buildings, plants and equipment; build or improve access roads, parking areas, utility extensions, and water and waste disposal facilities; provide technical assistance; establish revolving loan funds; and to support rural distance learning programs that provide educational or job training.

For additional information on how to apply, contact the Rural Development state office or see Page 15,665 of the March 25 Federal Register.

Classes set for code verifiers, contractors

Two classes for contractors and code verifiers to help ensure homes meet provisions of Louisiana’s new residential building energy code will be offered April 28-30 at the LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse Resource Center.

HVAC for Home Performance will be held April 28-30 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Duct and Envelope Tightness Verifier certification will be April 29-30.

Those who satisfactorily complete the two-day DET training and written and field exams will be designated Southface Energy Institute certified DET verifiers qualified to perform the diagnostic testing now required for new homes by the 2009 IRC energy chapter.

The three-day HVAC class includes DET training and certification testing plus insights into building science concepts key to prevent, diagnose and solve heating, cooling and ventilation problems.

LaHouse is located on the LSU campus on Gourrier Avenue, just off Nicholson Drive, and across from Alex Box Stadium.

Registration, course fees and more information about the classes are available at www.lsuagcenter.com/LaHouse on the Seminars and Events page.