Dean Clark gives ultoday.com an update on what's happening in the University of Louisiana College of Sciences.

What's new in Sciences?

In Health Information Management, Anita Hazelwood just picked up another award, from the Lafayette Commission for the Needs of Women. She was named "A Woman of Excellence in Public Service" and will be honored at a luncheon in October. In different years, she has been named Distinguished Professor and Outstanding Teacher, one of the UL faculty few to win both.

The Health Information Department continues to be nationally recognized. We're looking for a second Endowed Chair, in Telehealth. The department is also now working in a faux electronic medical record system that is being used nationwide for the students in the classroom, so they can use medical data without patient compromise. So they're constantly upgrading their labs and their curriculum.

In Renewable Resources, we're interviewing two people this month for an assistant professor in plant science. The purpose of this position, in addition to teaching, is to do research on new plant species to be used for bioprocessing and chemical crops. This position will ask how do we grow such plants, what environments do they need? This is an area that is sorely neglected in bioprocessing. Everyone is looking at the crops, but no one is looking at the production side. The University has a farm and greenhouses in Cade for the research. We also have several companies who are talking to us about the problem, they can't find places to do this kind of research. In addition, there aren't many growing seasons like ours. So we have many advantages.

We've hired Jenneke Visser, a well-regarded biologist in coastal restoration. She is also in Renewable Resources, and she's starting up her lab. She was fully self-supporing on soft money [grants and contracts] at LSU for a decade or so, she was more interested in a tenure-track position. So we hired her, and she's off & running. She's interested in the plants we could grow along the coasts to stop erosion, but her work is much wider than.

In Physics, Dwynn Lafleur is retiring, and we're splitting that position. We'll get an instructor and an assistant professor. Our goal is to increase the number of labs, while keeping our research strengths.

Pete Braun has retired as head of Chemistry, the interim is Gus Gallo. We've hired two instructors, one is Michael Price, a PhD in Chemistry from UC Davis. The other one, Dr. Michael Silveira, has been at Our Lady of the Lake in Baton Rouge, where he was the Chair of the Department of Sciences. We hired him away, but he has years of experience teaching. So we'll have two continuing instructors, and we're hiring two assistant or associate professors there. We want one to be in organic, the other in analytic. And we're also looking for Department Head, which could be combined with one of these two.

Our graduate student enrollment is up this year 20% over last year, from the low 300s to the high 300s, I'm not sure of the exact numbers. Biology is one of the big contributors to that growth. We have increased departmental budgets for teaching assistants, and that has allowed the College to bring in more doctoral students. We've also have a Board of Regents grant to recruit more minorities, and we've used that to fund two minority PhD fellowships, as well to attract graduate students. We have also seen growth in Mathematics and Physics, and phenomenal growth in Geology, even though they're giving oil away at $92 a barrel. Go figure.

One of the things we are going to do is start some fund-raising. I would love to have some scholarships, particularly endowed scholarships for graduate students. This would allow us to compete with other major universities for graduate stipends.

The primate center at the New Iberia Research Center reports directly to the Vice President for Research. But we have a common interest out there. What they're working on right now is a strategic plan, and I'm involved with that. We need to strengthen the relationship between the Colleges Sciences and NIRC. They're world-class. They have a number of veterinarians down there doing important research, and we'd like to collaborate with them.

Finally, we got a renewal of our large National Science Foundation grant for Grid Computing. We're the lead institution on that grant, in a consortium that includes LSU and Southern.