Strategic Planning Document

Strategic Planning Document
June 11, 2015

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

 

MISSION AND VISION:

The mission of the department is (1) to create and disseminate new knowledge in the biological sciences through research, (2) to provide for our majors the highest quality, nationally recognized, graduate and undergraduate educational programs, (3) to provide exceptional science training to support the university's general education requirements, and (4) to contribute expertise in support of science education in the community, including the use of available resources to improve K-12 science outreach.

The educational goal of our program is to prepare students to pursue advanced and professional degrees successfully and/or enter the workforce with the tools to continue life-long advancement, educate voters on scientific policy, and to contribute to our ever-expanding understanding of biological processes. Our research goals are to build, expand and/or establish nationally recognized programs, and conduct research that has both basic and applied value. As such, we serve as a resource for the state and nation by helping to establish science and environmental policy, and providing economic development via the active transfer of biological research into practical applications.

CURRENT STATUS:

The department currently serves approximately 2,039 undergraduate majors, including 873 declared majors in UCAC and UCFY and about 135 graduate students most of whom are Ph.D. students. There are 59 tenure-track faculty members, 15 instructors, 15 administrative support staff and 3 technical personnel. The department offers undergraduate degrees in Biological Sciences, Biochemistry and Microbiology. The department offers advanced degrees in Biological Sciences and Biochemistry. In addition to teaching our majors, the department also offers a number of service courses bringing our yearly SCH to over 57,000. The faculty is organized into three divisions: 1) Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB); 2) Cell, Developmental and Integrative Biology (CDIB); and 3) Systematics, Ecology and Evolution (SEE). Extramural funding in fiscal year 2013/2014 was about 9.1 million dollars.

GOALS:

Discovery: Maintain, develop and enhance our research programs to create and disseminate new, cutting edge knowledge in biological sciences and to serve as a resource for economic development for the state.

Performance Indicators:

  • Increase research productivity as shown by the number and quality of publications.
  • Increase research productivity as shown by the number of national/international research presentations.
  • Increase the number of publications by graduate students and undergraduates.
  • Increase the number of research presentations by graduate students and undergraduates.
  • Increase both research and economic development by increasing the number of grants and extramural support.
  • Increase the department’s association with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, especially in the area of bioinformatics and our graduate program
  • Modernize and enhance the multiuser facilities on campus such as the microscopy center, Center for Advanced Microstructures and Devices (CAMD) and the genomics facility.
  • Enhance the visibility of LSU researchers through increased faculty editorial positions
  • Enhance the visibility of LSU researchers through professional service by faculty (review of proposals and manuscripts)
  • Enhance the visibility of LSU researchers through increased participation and presentations at national and international conferences.
  • Increase participation of faculty in environmental and scientific issues that face Louisiana (such as post-hurricane wetlands recovery or the BP oil spill).
  • Enhance economic development through patent applications and business ties.

 

Strategies:

  • Hire young faculty who complement our research strengths. Future tenure-track hires would ideally include structural biology, comparative/integrative physiology, epigenetics, biodiversity, computational biology and genomic science.
  • Target some future hires to areas where NIH funding would be possible would include those who should be able to secure NIH funding for their research.
  • Encourage the submission of more interdisciplinary, multi-investigator proposals. As we develop areas of expertise we will be in better shape to submit multi-investigator proposals.
  • Maintain accounting staff to help faculty manage post award success.
  • Encourage accounting staff to utilize educational opportunities regarding grant management.
  • Enhance the microscopy facility. The migration of the Socolofsky Microscopy Center to the Shared Instrumentation Facility in the Chemistry and Materials Building has enhanced our imaging capabilities, but have also provided challenges. We plan to continue to upgrade our imaging capabilities through multi-user equipment proposals.
  • Enhance the animal care facility. We have created a departmental aquatic facility, which is currently being expanded to accommodate toxicological research on the effects of the BP oil spill in coastal fish and behavioral physiology. These improvements should help attract young faculty who will need these facilities.
  • Enhance the genomics facility. The recent addition of the Illumina Sequencer greatly increased our ability to obtain large amounts of sequence data. We will improve this facility at both the infrastructure and personnel levels.
  • Strengthen ties with other research units, such as the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, , the Center for Computational Technology, the AgCenter and School of Veterinary Medicine.

 

Undergraduate Learning: The department if committed to providing challenging and rewarding learning experiences for our undergraduate majors, our graduate students and for the many students who take our service courses. We will enhance a faculty-led and student-centered learning environment that prepares students to pursue advanced and professional degrees successfully and/or enter the workforce with the tools to continue life-long advancement.

 

Performance Indicators:

  • Increase the retention of students pursuing undergraduate degrees within the department.
  • Increase the number of students who engage in an undergraduate research experience.
  • Increase the percentage of students who complete their degree in 4 years.
  • Increase the number of students with strong skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, and effective communication.
  • Increase the number of students pursuing advanced and professional degrees.
  • Ensure that the service courses provide an engaging and stimulating learning environment

 

Strategies:

  • Support programs aimed at improving success and retention of Biological Sciences majors during their freshman year (BIOS, BioSpring, involvement in the College of Sciences Residential College)
  • Support professional development programs that enhance faculty teaching effectiveness (National Academies Gulf Coast Summer Institute)
  • Sustain and promote undergraduate research experiences such as encouraging faculty to mentor students in BIOL 3999 and to include REU experiences in their research programs and supporting the HHMI and REU programs.
  • Expand offerings of CxC courses and student exchange opportunities
  • Improve tracking of undergraduate majors
  • Increase the number of sections offered for high demand courses
  • Increase the number of students in our education concentration
  • Work to modernize and upgrade our teaching laboratories

 

Graduate Learning: Improve our graduate education program, while maintaining our strengths in structural biology, conservation biology and biodiversity.

 

Performance Indicators:

  • Improve the percentage of our graduate students who complete their degree, particularly increase the percentage of students who finish in six years or less.
  • Increase the number of graduate students with independent funding
  • Maintain our ability to support all of our incoming graduate students and maintain our ability to support them throughout their studies.
  • Work to promote and increase diversity in our graduate program
  • Work to recruit more graduate students from Louisiana
  • Determine the stipend levels and benefits provided to graduate students at our peer institutions
  • Expand tracking of graduate students
  • Expand course offerings for graduate students

 

Strategies:

  • Make sure that all Ph.D. students have completed their qualifying exam by the end of their first year and their General exams by the end of their third year.
  • Maintain better tracking and communication with students who have completed their PhD’s
  • Develop a questionnaire for finishing students
  • Develop new seminar and special topics courses
  • Submit proposals for training grants

 

Diversity: The department is committed to providing an environment that promotes a diverse student, faculty and staff community. Strengthen the intellectual environment by broadening the cultural diversity of the Department of Biological Sciences

 

Performance Indicators:

  • Increase the percentage of women and under-represented minorities on the faculty
  • Increase the percentage of under-represented minorities in our graduate and undergraduate programs
  • Maintain our good distribution of men and women in our graduate and undergraduate programs
  • Strengthen our international research ties
  • Increase the diversity of our faculty

 

Strategies:

  • We have had some success with recruiting under-represented minorities into our graduate programs having graduated six African-American Ph. D.’s in the past three years. However, recruitment of new students has been slow, and we need to proactively recruit minority students.
  • Apply for fellowships designed to attract minority students into our program

 

Engagement: The department will work to improve K-16 STEM education in Louisiana. We will work to cultivate relationships with regional schools, governments and industry. Promote the engagement of faculty, staff and students in the transformation of communities

 

Performance Indicators:

  • Obtain funding for educational outreach programs for high school and college science teachers and faculty.
  • Increase availability of web-based educational sites in the department, the Museum of Natural Science and the LSU Herbarium.

 

Strategies:

  • Promote the continued commitment to the curation and enhancement of our nationally and internationally recognized natural history collections in the Museum of Natural Science
  • Promote the continued commitment to the curation and enhancement of our herbarium outreach events/forums and written publicity to improve public visibility of our collection resources
  • Continue our programs for educational and research training through programs such as GCSI, INBRE, LBRN and HHMI.