Comedian to speak at Tulane commencement

Actress and comedian Maya Rudolph, who gained fame as a cast member of “Saturday Night Live” and has appeared in films such as “Bridesmaids” and “Away We Go,” will deliver the keynote address at Tulane University’s 2015 commencement ceremony May 16 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Rudolph’s father, Richard, a musician, songwriter and producer, is a Tulane alumnus, and her cousin Sabrina Rudolph is a member of Tulane’s 2015 graduating class.

“Maya Rudolph has entertained legions of fans through her television appearances, dead-on impersonations and movies. We look forward to her sharing a lot of good advice and humor with our graduates and their families,” Tulane President Mike Fitts said.

The 2015 commencement, Fitts’ first as president of Tulane, will feature the pageantry and New Orleans flavor for which Tulane commencements have become known, including live jazz, herald trumpets, confetti cannons and a traditional New Orleans second-line procession.

UNO biologist wins prestigious fellowship

University of New Orleans biologist Nicola Anthony is one of 20 North American researchers awarded 2015 Leopold Leadership Fellowships by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment.

The Leopold Leadership Program provides outstanding academic environmental researchers with intensive leadership and communication training to help them engage with leaders in the public and private sector so that science can be integrated into decision-making.

This year’s fellows come from 16 institutions in the United States and Canada; Anthony is the only one from a university in the Gulf South.

Anthony is an associate professor of biological sciences whose research focuses on evolution and conservation of tropical and island biodiversity. In 2014, she helped lead a pioneering undergraduate field course in the African country of Gabon.

Fellows participate in a weeklong training session on leadership and communications, followed by a year of practicing skills that will advance their efforts to lead change.

LSU researchers make discovery on blindness, stroke

A research team led by Dr. Nicolas Bazan, director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans, has discovered gene interactions that determine whether cells live or die in such conditions as age-related macular degeneration and ischemic stroke.

These common molecular mechanisms in vision and brain integrity can prevent blindness and also promote recovery from a stroke.

The paper was published online in Cell Death & Differentiation.

“Studying the eye and the brain might hold the key to creating therapeutic solutions for blindness, stroke and other seemingly unrelated conditions associated with the central nervous system,” Bazan said. “The eye is a window to the brain.”

“During the last few years, my laboratory has been immersed in studying gene regulation,” Bazan said. “We have uncovered a novel control that makes definitive decisions about whether a retina or brain cell will survive or die when threatened with disease onset. The gene mechanism that we discovered is the interplay of two genes turned on by the messenger Neuroprotectin D1.”

The work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants and the Eye Ear Nose and Throat Foundation of New Orleans.

Delgado to sponsor Family Fun Fest in April

The Delgado Community College Arts and Humanities Division and the Joey Georgusis Center for Children will hold a Family Fun Fest from 4 to 7 p.m. April 10 in the Joey Georgusis Center at Delgado’s City Park campus.

The event will feature activities for the entire family — food, face painting, arts and crafts, a tween-teen game room, a bounce house, a tumble bus and a bean bag toss — with the goal of promoting movement and family bonding.

A silent auction will support infant, toddler and preschool programs.

Advance passes are $10 per child or $8 per child for two or more children. Day-of-event passes will be $12 per child. Food will be sold separately.

For information, call (504) 671.6372 or email esande1@dcc.edu.