Loyola honored for community service

President Barack Obama has honored Loyola University for the school’s community service efforts.

The university has been included in the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, officials said. This is the highest federal recognition colleges and universities can receive for community service, civic engagement and service learning.

The Loyola University Community Action Program and community-based federal work-study program were cited in particular.

During the 2013-14 academic year, 564 students did 16,359 hours of community service, and 30 faculty members taught community service courses. As part of the community-based federal work-study program, 27 students worked for 12 nonprofit off-campus employers, and 22 students worked in on-campus positions that directly benefited the community.

“Service learning is a tremendously important pedagogical tool. It is proven to increase student learning and helps students and faculty make valuable connections between academia and the community,” said Jennifer Jeanfreau, interim director of the Office of Community Engaged Learning, Teaching and Scholarship.

As part of the programs, students tutored, built backyard vegetable gardens for low- and fixed-income New Orleanians and repainted restrooms in a local charter school.

UNO faculty awarded research prizes

Three University of New Orleans faculty members have received 2014 Research Recognition Prizes.

John Wiley, professor of chemistry, won the Research Excellence Prize; Malay Ghose Hajra, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, won the Early Career Research Prize; and Martin O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, won the Competitive Funding Prize.

The Research Excellence Prize is given to a professor with an outstanding record of creative and scholarly activities. It comes with a $10,000 grant. Wiley has been a faculty member since 1993 and has published 116 peer-reviewed journal articles. He also has secured several grants through the Louisiana Board of Regents and the National Science Foundation.

The Early Career Research Prize, with a $7,500 grant, is awarded to an assistant professor who has distinguished himself or herself in creative and scholarly activities. Since 2011, Hajra has been busy researching geotechnical and geo-environmental engineering and has secured grants from local and regional agencies.

The Competitive Funding Prize recognizes the UNO researcher who has achieved the highest amount of competitive external funding awards in the past year. O’Connell, who earned more than $700,000 in grant funding in the past year, will receive a $10,000 grant. He joined the UNO faculty in 2006 and oversees the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Sciences.

$25,000 grant to aid pediatric dentistry

The LSU Health Sciences Center School of Dentistry has received a $25,000 grant from Kool Smiles, a provider of dental care for children and families in underserved communities around the United States. The grant will allow students to provide dental care to 65 pediatric patients and allow additional pediatric training and experience to as many as 65 dental students.

“The partnership with Kool Smiles is a wonderful avenue to provide dental care to children in need while furthering the education of our dental students who have a passion for pediatric dentistry,” said Janice Townsend, associate professor of pediatric dentistry. “This grant will allow children to receive life-changing dental procedures that they might not otherwise have access to.”

The grant matches students with patients who have limited financial resources but are not eligible for government assistance.

Dental services under the grant will include a preventive visit, an initial diagnosis, a treatment plan and necessary restorative care. Students will receive training in common pediatric restorative procedures in children 8 and younger.

The school will select participating patients based on financial need and suitability as a teaching case. To apply, guardians must complete a Kool Smiles Dental Need Grant application form and provide proof of income and evidence of denial of Medicaid benefits or noneligibility. Parents should call (504) 941-8201 to set up a screening.