‘Rainmakers’ in Research Recognized


At the LSU Rainmakers event were, left to right: Provost Rick Koubek, Campus Federal Credit Union President and CEO Dawn Harris, Associate Vice President for Research & Economic Development Stephen David Beck, Associate Professor Donghui Zhang, Associate Vice President for Research & Economic Development Gus Kousoulas, the Mary P. Poindexter Professor of Mass Communication Lance Porter, Assistant Professor Rendy Kartika, Vice President of Research & Economic Development Kalliat T. Valsaraj, Professor Kermit Murray, the Louise & Kenneth Kinney Professor of Black Drama and Playwriting Femi Euba and Assistant Professor Benjamin Kahan.Photo Credit: Cody Willhite, LSU

BATON ROUGE – Six faculty members who are leaders in their fields have received the Rainmakers Awards for Research and Creative Activity from the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED. Rainmakers are faculty members who balance their teaching and research responsibilities while extending the impact of their work to the world beyond academia.

“It is my honor to congratulate this year’s Rainmaker recipients,” said LSU Provost Rick Koubek. “LSU is home to world renowned faculty who are working to solve today’s most pressing challenges while training the next generation of leaders and we are very proud of their accomplishments.”

These leading faculty also have established track records in securing external research funding and publishing in high-impact journals. The Rainmakers include faculty who are at the early, middle and senior stages of their careers.

“The talent and dedication of the LSU ‘Rainmakers’ are part of what makes this university great,” said LSU Vice President of Research & Economic Development Kalliat T. Valsaraj. “We thank Campus Federal Credit Union for their support of our commitment to academic and research excellence.”

ORED and Campus Federal Credit Union recognized this year’s Rainmakers on March 15 with a special reception at The Club at LSU Union Square.

“The mission of Campus Federal can be summarized in three words: ‘We Help People.’ We have supported LSU faculty and staff for more than 83 years; so sponsoring the Rainmakers Awards to recognize these distinguished faculty’s research and innovation ties the credit union’s mission perfectly to the LSU flagship agenda,” said Campus Federal Credit Union Chief Development Officer Ron Moreau.

Each of the following award-winning faculty members has met one or more of the criteria for high-quality research or creative activities and scholarship. The criteria include, but are not limited to: publication in a high-impact journal(s); a highly cited work; external awards; invited presentations at national and international meetings; high journal publication productivity; critically acclaimed book publication(s), performance(s), exhibit(s) or theatrical production(s); high grant productivity and for more senior candidates, outstanding citation records and high-impact invited presentations at national and international meetings.


Emerging Scholar Award               
Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences
Benjamin Kahan, Department of English, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Benjamin Kahan is an assistant professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies. Along with interests in 20th century American literature and culture, Kahan’s scholarship focuses on the history of sexuality and gender, queer theory, psychoanalysis and sexology, race and ethnicity and critical theory. 

He is the author of “Celibacies: American Modernism and Sexual Life” and the editor of Heinrich Kaan’s “Psychopathia Sexualis (1844): A Classic Text in the History of Sexuality.”

He has held postdoctoral fellowships at Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Sydney. He is currently a Fellow at the National Humanities Center for 2016 and 2017. 


Emerging Scholar Award
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Rendy Kartika
, Department of Chemistry, College of Science

Rendy Kartika is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. After conducting postdoctoral research at Yale University, Kartika joined the LSU faculty where his research program focuses on the discovery of new organic reactions that produce biologically and pharmaceutically relevant molecular scaffolds. At LSU, Kartika has independently published 12 peer-reviewed articles in various high impact journals and delivered more than 40 invited lectures, including the prestigious Gordon Research Conference in Natural Products and Bioactive Compounds. In 2015, Kartika successfully secured a highly competitive chemical synthesis grant from the National Science Foundation as a single PI. 

In recognition of his teaching contribution at LSU, Kartika received the Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award in 2015. He was also named the Outstanding Non-Tenured Professor in Natural and Physical Sciences by LSU Phi Kappa Phi in 2017.

He immigrated from Malang, Indonesia, to the U.S. to attend California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and received his B.S. degree in chemistry with summa cum laude in 2003. As an undergraduate researcher, he explored the synthetic utility of super electrophilic species. In 2008, Kartika earned his Ph.D. degree in organic synthesis from the University of Notre Dame and developed applications of the electrophile-induced ether transfer reactions in the synthesis of anti-cancer natural products.


Mid-Career Scholar Award           
Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences
Lance Porter
, Mass Communication, Manship School of Mass Communication

Lance Porter directs the Social Media Analysis and Creation, or SMAC, Lab in the Manship School of Mass Communication, where he holds the Mary P. Poindexter Professorship. Porter’s current research focuses on the cultural effects of social media. Some of his students work with the nonprofit organization Dialogue on Race in Louisiana to encourage productive conversations about race on social media. His work has appeared in numerous journals and books devoted to advertising, journalism, public relations, health communications and sport. 

Before coming to LSU in 2004, Porter spent four years as executive director of digital marketing for Disney, where he oversaw the creative and digital media strategies for more than 80 films. Porter won a Clio Award for excellence in advertising. 

After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, Porter continued his interdisciplinary work at LSU through a joint appointment with the Center for Computation and Technology, where he helped develop an undergraduate minor and master’s degree in digital media.


Mid-Career Scholar Award
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Donghui Zhang
, Department of Chemistry, College of Science

Donghui Zhang is an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. Her research interests include polymer catalysis, synthesis and characterization of biomimetic, bioinspired and bio-relevant functional polymers, high precision macromolecules. She joined the LSU faculty in 2007.

She received the Phi Kappa Phi Non-tenured Faculty Award in 2013, the LSU College of Basic Sciences Faculty Research Award in 2012, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2010 and the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award in 2009.

After graduating from Peking University in 1998 and receiving a Ph.D. in organometallic chemistry from Dartmouth College in 2003, Zhang’s postdoctoral research focused on the synthesis and characterization of polymers from bio-renewable source materials at the University of Minnesota. She previously served as a faculty researcher at New Mexico State University.


Senior Scholar Award                     
Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Sciences
Femi Euba
, College of Music & Dramatic Arts, School of Theatre    

Femi Euba is the Louise & Kenneth Kinney Professor of Black Drama and Playwriting in the School of Theatre. He has acted and directed professionally in Nigeria, London and the U.S., along with having written numerous plays for BBC Radio. A selection of his plays is published in a database collection “BLACK DRAMA” by Alexander Street Press including “The Eye of Gabriel,” which had its premiere production at the LSU Theatre in 1998.

Euba received a master’s degree in Afro-American Studies and a Master of Fine Arts in playwriting and dramatic literature from Yale University. He also earned a Ph.D. in literature at the University of Ife, Nigeria. He holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Theatre and English.

A recipient of the LSU Alumni Association Faculty Excellence Award and the LSU Distinguished Faculty Award, he has worked with the 1986 Nobel Laureate for Literature Wole Soyinka on various works including Soyinka’s presentation of his long poem, Samarkand, in 2005 at the Shaw Center for the Arts in Baton Rouge.


Senior Scholar Award
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Kermit Murray
, Department of Chemistry, College of Science

Kermit Murray is a professor in the Department of Chemistry. His current research focuses on instrument development and applications of laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry. He developed a novel spray ionization method for matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, or MALDI, mass spectrometry. Before coming to LSU in 2001, Murray’s postdoctoral research focused on infrared spectroscopy.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982. He received a Ph.D. in chemical physics at the University of Colorado in 1988, working with Professor W. Carl Lineberger on the chemistry and spectroscopy of negative ions.


Additional Links:
Rainmakers Awards for Research and Creative Activity: http://www.lsu.edu/research/research/council_on_research/rainmaker.php

Campus Federal Credit Union: www.campusfederal.org.



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