Navy gives UNO nearly $1 million grant

A new research center at the University of New Orleans has received a nearly $1 million grant from the Navy to study how to mine and visualize large amounts of data, the school announced.

The university said that Mahdi Abdelguerfi, chairman of the computer science department, had received the grant for the Joseph Canizaro and James Livingston Center for Environmental Informatics. That center, which will study the application of information science to environmental science, was launched in September.

Researchers will produce techniques meant to scour meteorological, oceanographic and open source intelligence information.

“UNO researchers will build a big geospatial data cloud for the Navy,” Abdelguerfi said. “As a result, the Navy will be able to reduce its costs for future system development and ultimately decrease its time and manpower in planning and executing missions.”

UNO and the Navy have worked together closely for the past 20 years, according to Abdelguerfi, training many graduates for work in the federal government.

LSU Health IDs protein for ALS research

A doctoral candidate at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Graduate Studies was a first author on a scientific paper published Jan. 4 which identified a protein that could help treat ALS, often known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Ph.D. candidate J. Gavin Daigle, along with former LSU Health faculty member Udai Pandey, discovered that a protein called Pur-alpha is one component of “stress granules,” which help protect cells. The researchers believe that Pur-alpha can help protect against the degeneration of cells seen in ALS patients, and they found that supplying more of the protein suppresses motor neuron degeneration.

The research is at an early stage, but the scientists believe Pur-alpha could become a new “therapeutic target” for ALS treatment.

Eleven more scientists were co-authors on the paper, which was published in the journal Acta Neurpathologica.

Former Saints safety Steve Gleason is afflicted by ALS.

More than 12,000 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the disease, which rapidly degenerates the nerve cells controlling voluntary muscles, such as those in the arms and legs. No cure has been found for ALS, which kills most people who have it within three to five years.

Daigle is scheduled to graduate with a doctorate in genetics in May. He is working as a fellow at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center, where he will continue his research.

Pandey has moved on to become an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Loyola library adds 1960s basketball films

Loyola University’s Monroe Library has added 38 16mm films of the Wolf Pack’s 1960s basketball team to its digital collection, the school announced.

The films, which can be viewed online, show the Loyola team playing in games from 1960 to 1969.

The school said donations from former basketball player John Erb, ’67, and former Vice President for Institutional Advancement Charles Young, ’64, both alumni, helped make the addition to the campus library’s special collections possible.

The films were digitized by the Center for Louisiana Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The films feature Loyola stars such as Charles Powell, Charlie Jones, Tyrone “Ty The Guy” Marioneaux, Bob Bissant, Wayne Pietri and Lawrence J. Hoyt, as well as opponents like LSU’s “Pistol” Pete Maravich.