UNO engineering professor wins award

An engineering professor at the University of New Orleans has earned a teaching award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Malay Ghose Hajra, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, will be awarded the 2014 ExCEED New Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.

Ghose Hajra, who earned his doctorate degree from Kansas State University, researches soil mechanics, geo-environmental engineering and coastal restoration.

“This is an honor for a faculty member who is doing so many great things in so many different arenas,” said Norm Whitley, dean of the College of Engineering.

Ghose Hajra will be presented with the award at an American Society of Civil Engineers conference in Indianapolis on June 17.

Loyola communication department accredited

The School of Mass Communication at Loyola University has become the first Jesuit university program in the United States to hold national accreditations from both the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and the Public Relations Society of America’s Certification in Education for Public Relations.

It is also the only program in Louisiana to hold both national endorsements.

“For parents and students looking for the best university mass communication program possible, these accreditations give Loyola a critical stamp of approval,” said Sonya Duhe, director of the School of Mass Communication.

Duhe said the accreditations will help Loyola graduates get jobs because communications professionals seeking to hire experienced candidates look to accredited programs first.

According to a statement from the university, both accreditations were awarded after rigorous evaluations by the respective organizations.

Tulane to host young African leaders

Tulane University has been selected as a host institution for President Barack Obama’s Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative.

The program will bring 500 of Africa’s promising young leaders, ages 25 to 35, to top U.S. universities for academic programs and leadership training in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership or public management.

Tulane will host 25 fellows from sub-Saharan Africa for a six-week academic institute on civic leadership.

The program includes lectures on health, education, environmental studies, geography, music and demographics. It includes service placements with area nonprofits and presentations by New Orleans nonprofit, business and governmental leaders.

Obama announced the Washington Fellowship in South Africa in 2013 to emphasize the importance of Africa’s youth.

The president will host a summit for the fellows in Washington in July. A select group of 100 fellows will remain in the United States after that for an eight-week internship at a U.S. business, nonprofit or government agency.

The Washington Fellowship also includes programming in Africa, including networking opportunities, continued professional development and access to seed funding.

For more information about the fellowship program, visit

UNO student wins chemistry award

A doctoral student in chemistry at the University of New Orleans has won a $5,000 prize from the International Precious Metals Institute to fund research into small gold particles.

Taha Rostamzadeh, a native of Iran, will receive the Gemini Industries Student Award at the group’s conference in June in Orlando, Florida.

Rostamzadeh’s research involves the fabrication of gold nanoparticle arrays that form small peapod-like structures. Such nanoscale structures are about 10,000 times smaller than a human hair and have the potential to be used in solar conversion, drug treatment or small circuit devices.

“This is a well-deserved award,” said John Wiley, associate director of the UNO Advanced Materials Research Institute. “Taha’s contributions to this research have been essential. Such funding is greatly needed to continue this work.”

Gemini Industries, the provider of the award, is a leading precious metals refinery based in California.

The company has presented the award annually to graduate students since 1981. Previous recipients have included students at MIT, Princeton, Northwestern, Cornell and Brown.

Rostamzadeh works in Wiley’s group in the department of chemistry and the Advanced Materials Research Institute. The research into peapod structures was started in 2011 under the Louisiana Board of Regents Post-Katrina Support Fund.