Loyola undergrads win competition

Two Loyola University students won top prizes at a national competition after presenting their scientific research on white-tailed deer, spiders, invasive plants and honeybees.

Both students are member of the University Honors program at Loyola, where undergraduate students work side by side with professional researchers on federally and state-funded scientific grants.

Environmental science major Melanie Sferrazza and biology major Michael Pashkevich presented their research in the Mentored Undergraduate Research Poster Competition at the annual Professional Development Conference of the National Association of Biology Teachers, held this month in Denver.

Competing against other college students, they were judged by scientists and science educators in their respective fields.

Pashkevich, who last year won a national 2016 Goldwater Scholarship honoring students pursuing scholarly research in science, technology, mathematics or engineering, placed first in the new competition for his work on “indirect effects of white-tailed deer on southeast Louisiana spider communities.”

Sferrazza placed second for her study titled “Use of Invasive Plants by Honeybees in an Urban Setting.”

Last spring, the honors students studied invasive species in Florida's Everglades with Partners in the Parks, an outdoor experiential learning program coordinated by the National Collegiate Honors Council.

UNO names 1st holder of endowed professorship

The University of New Orleans and Eurofins Scientific Inc. have announced that Matthew Tarr has been named the Eurofins Professor of Analytical Chemistry, a UNO position funded by Eurofins and matching state dollars.

The endowed professorship will help drive a curriculum aimed at preparing biotechnology students for productive careers in the bioanalytical arena, school officials said.

Tarr is the first person to hold this position at UNO. However, the professorship continues a collaboration between UNO and Eurofins, which are working jointly to create a trained laboratory workforce to meet a burgeoning demand for scientists involved in the analytical testing of food products.

Tarr is university research professor of chemistry and a faculty fellow in UNO’s Advanced Materials Research Institute. He served as chairman of the chemistry department from 2009 to 2015. He came to UNO in 1995 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the Environmental Protection Agency and holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from Georgia Tech.

Tarr conducts research in many fields and also coordinates outreach programs that provide research experiences for undergraduates, high school students and high school teachers.

The food testing industry has been a rapidly growing market for the last 10 years, driven by increased regulations for food labeling and food safety. This trend has led food manufacturers to rely more heavily on third-party testing laboratories such as Eurofins for support on verifying the quality, safety and compliance of their products.

By the same token, the food industry has put pressure on these independent laboratories to deliver reliable results.

According to Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences, the collaboration between UNO and Eurofins seeks to meet the need for well-trained scientists prepared to make meaningful contributions to this industry.

LSU board names interim president of foundation

The board of directors of the LSU Health New Orleans Foundation has named Denise Flock-Williams as interim president of the foundation.

Flock-Williams has a 20-year history with the foundation, most recently serving as senior director of development for corporate and foundation relations. Through the years she has raised millions of dollars to support the mission of the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans through annual giving, grant writing and endowments.

Flock-Williams also has administered special projects such as the LSU Biomedical Research Fund, helping to secure capital and operate the $5 million Pfizer-funded program.

Her appointment is part of restructuring efforts designed to position the nonprofit to take its success to the next level, Dr. James Leonard, chairman of the LSU Health New Orleans Foundation, said in a release.

The foundation was formed in 1988 to support the charitable, scientific and educational mission of the LSU Health Sciences Center. Incorporation was guided by the School of Medicine Alumni Association supporting the LSU Medical Center.

In 1999, the LSU campus transitioned to become the LSU Health Sciences Center, comprising six schools: Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Allied Health Professions, Public Health and Graduate Studies.

The foundation also transitioned to become a support organization for the six schools. A 1999 agreement with the LSU system defines its role as a recognized LSU-affiliated organization.

The foundation's assets have grown from $2 million in 1988 to more than $100 million today.

Houma college signs pact with LSU nursing school

Graduates of Houma's community college can now use those credits to get a nursing degree in one year at the LSU nursing school in New Orleans.

LSU Health New Orleans said the agreement will let registered nurses with an associate degree from Fletcher Technical Community College earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree in one year.

Applicants must meet all admission requirements of the "RN to BSN " program.

Fletcher graduates are eligible for admission to the LSU Health New Orleans School of Nursing for the 2017 spring semester.

The agreement is similar to one made several years ago with the Delgado/Charity School of Nursing.

The program's general education and nursing courses are designed for registered nurses. 

Follow Della Hasselle on Twitter, @dellahasselle.