Department News

How Will Disease Outbreaks Change as Global Temperatures Rise?

LSU biological sciences associate professor Bret Elderd recently received a $2.1 million Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate how abiotic—physical—factors occurring from environmental changes, like rising temperatures, can shape the coevolutionary dynamics of host-pathogen interactions. Read more about Dr. Elderd's grant.


Doerrler lab discovers protein required for resistance to last resort antibiotic colistin

The Doerrler laboratory has identified a protein called DbcA required for resistance of the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia thailandensis to the antibiotic colistin. Read more about the discovery.


Lagomarsino Lab Publishes A taxonomic synopsis of Virola 

Virola is an ecologically and economically important group of plants that is known to by dispersed by toucans and taken as a hallucinogenic drug by indigenous tribes of the Amazon. Read the publication.


Teruyama Lab Receives NIH/NIMH Award

The Teruyama Lab has been awarded a new NIH/NIMH grant to study the sexually dimorphic oxytocin receptor-expressing neurons in the brain. Oxytocin is released in the brain and modulates many aspects of social behaviors, including social recognition, maternal behavior and pair bonding. Read more about the research


Brown Lab Awarded NSF Grant

A major goal of evolutionary biology is to understand how all living things are related to one another (a field known as phylogenetics). To do this, we can use the sequences of thousands of different genes from all across the genomes of different species. However, analyzing these datasets can be very challenging, not only because they're big, but also because they're complicated. Genes evolve differently and offer different perspectives on evolutionary relationships. Only when we consider all of this variation together do we really understand both how species are related and what forces shape a gene's evolution. Continue Reading


Professor John Caprio Retires After 43 Years at LSU

Dr. John Caprio officially retired from the department in June 2019 after serving LSU for 43 years. Dr. Caprio earned his Ph.D. at Florida State University before joining the faculty in the Department of Zoology and Physiology in August 1976. Through his 43years at LSU Dr. Caprio has had a highly productive, internationally recognized research program. John has a stellar record of federal funding from both NIH and NSF, and has received 4 patents derived from his research on chemical senses. Dr. Caprio has earned many awards, both within and outside of LSU. These include: the Max Mozell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Chemical Senses from the Assoc. for Chemoreception Sciences (2007), the LSU Distinguished Research Master Award (2001) and the LSU Foundation Distinguished Faculty Award for Research, Teaching & Service (1992). Furthermore, he was awarded both the George C. Kent Professor of Biological Sciences (1997-) and the Mary Lou Applewhite Professor of Zoology and Physiology (1993‑97) endowed chairs. He also contributed extensively to the growth and productivity of the Departments of Zoology and Physiology and Biological Sciences. John will continue to teach and collaborate with the faculty and students in Biological Sciences over the next year. Tribute to Dr. Caprio.


Dassanayake Lab Has Great Success in 2019

Grants and Awards for the Dassanyake lab for multiple projects in 2019. Read more about the Dassanayake Lab


Missing Link in Algal Photosynthesis Found, Offers Opportunity to Improve Crop Yields

Photosynthesis is the natural process plants and algae utilize to capture sunlight and fix carbon dioxide into energy-rich sugars that fuel growth, development, and in the case of crops, yield. Algae evolved specialized carbon dioxide concentrating mechanisms (CCM) to photosynthesize much more efficiently than plants. This week, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team from Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of York report a long-time unexplained step in the CCM of green algae—which is key to develop a functional CCM in food crops to boost productivity “Most crops are plagued by photorespiration, which occurs when Rubisco—the enzyme that drives photosynthesis—cannot differentiate between life-sustaining carbon dioxide and oxygen molecules that waste large amounts of the plant’s energy,” said James Moroney, the Streva Alumni Professor at LSU and member of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). “Ultimately, our goal is to engineer a CCM in crops to surround Rubisco with more carbon dioxide, making it more efficient and less likely to grab oxygen molecules—a problem that is shown to worsen as temperatures rise.”. Read the entire article


 LSU Researchers Find Clue to ‘Maternal Instinct’

Oxytocin is widely referred to as the love hormone and plays an important role in the regulation of social and maternal behavior. In recent years, the oxytocin system in the brain has received tremendous attention as key to new treatments for many mental health disorders, such as anxiety, autism spectrum disorders and postpartum depression. New research led by a biologist and his students at LSU have discovered a group of cells that are activated by oxytocin in one area of female mouse brains that are not present in the same area in male mouse brains.

“Many researchers have attempted to investigate the difference between the oxytocin system in females versus males, but no one has successfully found conclusive evidence until now. Our discovery was a big surprise,” said Ryoichi Teruyama, LSU Department of Biological Sciences associate professor, who led this study published in PLOS ONE. Read the Press Release


Lauren Frankel Receives Undergraduate Research Prize from  the American Society of Plant Taxonomists

Lauren Frankel just completed a bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.A., and is a recipient of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize. Frankel was nominated for research she completed after being awarded a competitive summer fellowship to study with Dr. Laura Lagomarsino at Louisiana State University to study computational phylogenomics last year. Over the course of the summer of 2018, Frankel analyzed two sequence capture datasets to infer phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships within Neotropical bellflowers. Nominator Lagomarsino says that “as a senior undergraduate, [Frankel] already performs bioinformatic research at a level well above what I expect of graduate students, and even many postdoctoral fellows.” Frankel was also a participant in a National Science Foundation funded REU program at the Ohio State University where she generated and analyzed RADseq data for a population genomic study of Palmer’s amaranth. She has also studied tropical biology during a semester in Peru.


Vinyard One of 73 Scientists to Receive DOE's Early Career Award

the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science announced selection of 73 scientists from across the nation – including 27 from DOE’s national laboratories and 46 from U.S. universities – to receive significant funding for research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program. The effort, now in its tenth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. Under the program, university-based researchers will receive about $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses. For researchers based at DOE national laboratories, where DOE typically covers full salary and expenses of laboratory employees, grants will be about $500,000 per year to cover year-round salary plus research expenses. The research grants are planned for five years. Read more about the award.


Esselstyn Promoted to Associate Professor

Congratulations to Dr. Esselstyn on his promotion  to Associate Professor! Esselstyn is the Curator of Mammals at the Museum of Natural Science and Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. In the lab, we study island biogeography, phylogenetics, systematics, co-evolution, and community ecology. Most of our research focuses on small mammals from Southeast Asia and Africa. In general, we conduct biodiversity surveys and use genetic and morphological characters of organisms to understand how species and populations are related to each other and how they interact with their environment. Our efforts help inform how biotic and abiotic processes produce the patterns of biodiversity we see today. The species-level diversity of mammals remains poorly documented, and we devote a lot of time and money to documenting this diversity. Click here to view Dr. Esselstyn's lab website.

Cormier Lab Published in PubMed

The Cormier Lab has three publications in PubMed that were accepted in June 2019. Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals: Linking Air Pollution and Poor Respiratory Health?; Elevated Levels of Type 2 Respiratory Innate Lymphoid Cells in Human Infants with Severe RSV Bronchiolitis; and Maternal childhood and lifetime traumatic life events and infant bronchiolitis.Click here for a detailed description and a link to the papers.


Maruska's Research Published in General and Comparative Endocrinology

The Maruska Lab has a new paper out showing that the mTOR kinase is involved in reproductive plasticity in male cichlid fish as they rise in social status to dominance - some similarities to mammals, and role in male reproduction may be conserved across vertebrates. Read the paper in General and Comparative Endocrinology.


The Kelly Lab's Research Featured on the Cover of Molecular Ecology

Lab member and Graduate student Joanna Griffiths asks whether physiological and transcriptomic responses to acidification differ among corals from different upwelling regimes. Ocean acidification (OA), the global decrease in surface water pH from absorption of anthropogenic CO2, may put many marine taxa at risk. However, populations that experience extreme localized conditions, and are adapted to these conditions predicted in the global ocean in 2,100, may be more tolerant to future OA. By identifying locally adapted populations, researchers can examine the mechanisms used to cope with decreasing pH. Read the paper in Molecular Ecology


 

Department of Biological Sciences Selects New Chair

Professor Evanna Gleason has been selected as the next chair for the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Gleason began her role as chair in May of this year. Read more about Dr. Gleason.


Dr. William R. Lee (February 14, 1930 – April 30, 2019)

Dr. William R. Lee was a professor in Biological Sciences at LSU where he taught genetics for 33 years, and employed many students on his grants to do research in numerous areas of genetics. Respected by his students, a postdoctoral student of Bill’s established the Dr. William R. Lee Professorship in Genetics through the LSU Foundation. Bill established the Institute of Mutagenesis to draw together the expertise of scientists in various departments for creative research proposals that were awarded competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency. In 1996, he received the international award of the year in “recognition of his sustained research on the genetic effects on environmental mutagens in Drosophila” by the Environmental Mutagen Society. He presented his research to international conferences across the globe. Bill will be deeply missed. In remembrance of Bill, contributions may be made to the Dr. William R. Lee Professorship in Genetics through the LSU Foundation. For more information contact lsufoundation.org/williamlee

Dr. William Lee at his microscope


Inventorship Showcase

LSU recognizes patent holding faculty at an award ceremony held at the Lod Cook Alumni Center on April 23. Learn more about LSU Innovation &Technology Commercialization.

LSU faculty recognized at the inventorship showcase for innovations


 

Congratulations to Dr. Siebenaller

Dr. Joseph Siebenaller was presented with the Dr. Marion D. “Soc” Socolofsky Award for Teaching Excellence at a ceremony today.  This award is given to a faculty member in the College of Science who embodies the pedagogic qualities Dr. Socolofsky was known for, i.e. strong mentoring, student involvement, going above and beyond the classroom, passion for the student experience, and public outreach.  The recipient should also embody the personal qualities Dr. Soc was known for, i.e. genial, engaging with students, and seen as a resource/advocate.

Congratulations Dr. Joseph Siebenaller !Dr. Siebenaller (bottom middle) recieves award among colleagues


Scientists Construct New Family Tree for Perching Birds

Scientists have reconstructed the tree of life for all major lineages of perching birds, also known as passerines, a large and diverse group of more than 6,000 species that includes familiar birds like cardinals, warblers, jays and sparrows. LSU researchers led the massive project using 221 bird specimens from 48 countries, including 56 tissue samples from the LSU Museum of Natural Science’s Collection of Genetic Resources.

Read Press Release


Pediatric Health Researchers Offer Insights for RSV Vaccine

A new publication in Frontiers in Immunology by Stephania Cormier, the LSU Department of Biological Sciences Wiener Chair professor, and colleagues offers new insights for vaccine development, both active and passive, to prevent this deadly disease. This study is of particular interest following the recent failure of ResVax, an RSV vaccine by Novavax, to prevent RSV disease in infants via maternal immunization. Read More


Superfund Research Program Community Outreach

Louisiana State University SRP Center team members participated in STEM night at Westdale Middle School. They showed students how to use Legos to model air chemistry and pollution.

 Louisiana State University SRP Center team members participated in STEM night at Westdale Middle School. They showed students how to use Legos to model air chemistry and pollution. (Photo courtesy of LSU SRP Center)


First Steps: Scientists launch evolutionary study to explore the origins of fish that walk

A new research collaboration with support from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, begins an unprecedented study of walking cavefish to better understand the “fin-to-limb” transition that enabled the first vertebrates to walk on land more than 350 million years ago. This new research collaboration between LSU, New Jersey Institute of Technology, or NJIT, and University of Florida is set to launch the first evolutionary study of the unique pelvic structure and walking mechanics of the waterfall-climbing blind cavefish, or Cryptotora thamicola — the only living species of fish known capable of walking on land with a similar motion as four-limbed vertebrates, or tetrapods, which include mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Read More


LSU Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Laine Named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow

LSU Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Laine has been named a Fellow to the National Academy of Inventors. With the 2018 class, Laine is one of 148 NAI Fellows selected this year, and the fifth from LSU. More than 1,000 fellows represent more than 250 research universities and government and non-profit research institutes. The 2018 Fellows are named inventors on nearly 4,000 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 35,000 issued U.S. patents. Read More


Three LSU Faculty Among Top Cited Researchers 2018

The three LSU faculty included in the 2018 list of 6,078 scholars worldwide are Charles D. Nichols, professor of pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans; Johnny Matson, professor of psychology and Distinguished Research Master; and Brant C. Faircloth, assistant professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences and a research associate at the LSU Museum of Natural Science.

This is the first year that Clarivate Analytics has looked specifically at cross-field citations, and both Matson and Faircloth are included in this prestigious category, listing 2,020 scholars. As stated in the report, “...as frontier areas of research are frequently interdisciplinary, it is even more important to identify scientists and social scientists working and contributing substantially at the Cross-Field leading edge.”

Read More


Four LSU Professors among 2018 AAAS Fellows

Four LSU faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society. The four LSU professors are among the 416 AAAS members, who have been elevated to the rank of Fellow because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Read More


Three Graduate Degrees, Meditation and Drug Repurposing Research: It’s All a Balancing Act

Take it from someone who’s earned a Ph.D. and two masters degrees all while conducting cutting-edge drug repurposing research: knowing how to handle your stress is important. Recent graduate Misagh Naderi is involved in research to combat rare or orphan diseases. By using an online database of rare disease research, he and his team have created a system to repurpose existing FDA-approved drugs to treat orphan diseases. Since 2011, Misagh has taught the longest running student-lead program at the International Culture Center (ICC): Meditation at LSU. Misagh had been involved with mediation long before he came to LSU, and he also enjoys yoga, running, rock climbing, listening to audiobooks and making visually striking scientifically inspired graphics. We asked Misagh to tell us about his research and how he was able to keep his stress at bay while earning his two latest degrees. Read More


Being a Student Can Be Stressful. Science Can Help.

There’s no doubt about it – being a student can be stressful. From scheduling classes and waitlists, to taking exams, to waiting on grades, to lining up a summer job, to managing roommate drama, to making sure you on are track to graduation, to deciding what you will “do with your life” when you finish school, stressful events lurk in every corner. No matter how prepared you are, there’s always going to be a failed grade, a missed deadline or a miscommunication with a professor here and there.

But what is stress? Stress can be defined as a behavior or physiological change in an individual in response to a real or perceived stressor. Not all of us perceive the same stressors in the same way, however, meaning that one person may deal with a stressful event and remain happy and healthy, while another may become anxious and ill as a result. Read More


Larkin Lab featured in a Plant Physiology Magazine Cover Story

In work featured on the cover of the August 2018 issue of Plant Physiology, Narender Kumar and colleagues from the Larkin lab have identified the functions of specific amino acid motifs that are shared among SIM and related cell cycle regulators.  Dr. Kumar and colleagues have identified sequences in the SIM protein that are important in allowing SIM to bind to and inhibit the function of proteins called cyclin-dependant kinases that would normally promote cell division, as well as sequences that are essential for the SIM to enter the cell's nucleus.  The cover photo is a scanning electron micrograph taken by Dr. Kumar in LSU's Shared Instrument Facility showing a multicelllular leaf hair in a mutant lacking a functional SIM protein.  Dr. Kumar is now doing postdoctoral work on root development in the lab of Dr. Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi at Purdue University."


The Artist of Surgery: An LSU Alum Shares His Experience as a Plastic Surgeon

Biological Sciences alum Dr. Sam Sukkar owns The Clinic for Plastic Surgery in Houston, Texas, and has 18 years of plastic surgery experience. He has completed over 5,000 procedures. He and his team pride themselves on providing the best patient care and procedures to fit their patients’ needs and expectations. Read More


LSU Emeritus Professor Honored with Fungi Festschrift

The scientific journal Mycologia has honored LSU Boyd Professor of Biological Sciences Meredith Blackwell with a complete collection of her academic research on fungi. The collection, called a Festschrift, is often presented to a researcher or scholar to recognize their years of dedication and contributions to a particular field of study. Mycologia published Blackwell’s full anthology online on June 4, and it is the first Festschrift issued in the journal’s 110-year history. Read More


Purple, Gold and...Green?

Researchers at LSU recently discovered a group of lizards in New Guinea that have lime-green blood. Prasinohaema are green-blooded skinks, a type of lizard, that somehow thrive with what would be toxic human levels of biliverdin, a green bile pigment. We humans do have some biliverdin in our blood, but these lizards have levels of biliverdin 40 times higher than those in humans. Read More


College of Science Will Induct Five New Members onto its Hall of Distinction

The LSU College of Science will induct five new members into its Hall of Distinction on Friday, April 20. This year's honorees include field ornithologist Ted Parker, distinguished College of Science alumni H. Dupont Durst and James Lange, Boyd Professor Emeritus Robert O'Connell, and Professor Emeritus Ronald Siebeling. “The College of Science is excited to celebrate the achievements of five pioneering scientists who have contributed to historic discoveries and innovations in their fields,” said Cynthia Peterson, dean of the LSU College of Science and Seola Arnaud and Richard V. Edwards Jr. Professor. “These scientists dared to soar and forge new paths of discovery and innovation for future generations of scientists. We look forward to honoring their hard work and unwavering commitment to advancing science at LSU.” Read More

Fish Species Rapidly Diversified in the Wake of Dinosaur Extinction

Following a mass extinction event 66 million years ago known as the “end of the dinosaurs,” or the “K-Pg extinction,” fishes began to rapidly diversify, giving way to the incredible number of fish species known today. This finding, published recently in Nature Ecology and Evolution by researchers at LSU, the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Michigan and Yale updates the understanding of relationships among the largest group of fish species, known as the spiny-rayed fishes, as well as the timing of their diversification. Read More


Pat DiMario Awarded the TAF/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award

LSU Discover is proud to announce that the winner for the inaugural Tiger Athletic Foundation/LSU Discover Undergraduate Research Mentor Award is Dr. Patrick DiMario, professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Science. This award honors faculty who actively and effectively guide undergraduate researchers, helping them to move toward independent work, and encouraging them to publish or present their findings. Dr. DiMario will be honored at the annual LSU Distinguished Faculty Awards ceremony on May 2nd in the Lod Cook Alumni center. Read More


Outstanding Faculty to Receive Rainmaker Awards for Research and Creative Activity

Three faculty members from LSU's Biological Sciences [6 faculty members total] who are leaders in their fields will receive the Rainmaker Award 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. Among these honored were: Morgan Kelly, Karen Maruska and Anne Grove. Read More


Researchers Computationally Find the Needle in the Haystack to Treat Rare Diseases

Researchers at the LSU Computational Systems Biology group have developed a sophisticated and systematic way to identify existing drugs that can be repositioned to treat a rare disease or condition. They have fine-tuned a computer-assisted drug repositioning process that can save time and money in helping these patients receive effective treatment. Read More


Big Fish at TEDxLSU 2018

 March 3rd 2018, several LSU researchers will take the stage at TEDxLSU to tell stories about their work and lives as scientists. One of these scientists is Julie Butler, a graduate student in LSU's Department of Biological Sciences who is studying fish neuroscience, or how fish brains light up in response to various signals including noise pollution and interactions with other fish. Read More


Naohiro Kato Invents Biodegradable Mardi Gras Beads

LSU biologist Naohiro Kato is passionate about developing an innovative way to solve this problem by creating Mardi Gras beads... that can biodegrade! And the coolest thing about Naohiro's biodegradable Mardi Gras beads is that they were originally created from algae biomass Read the Press Release

LSU NEWS

LSU Introduces New Online Undergraduate Sociology Degree Program
LSU in the Galapagos: A Living Laboratory
Troy Blanchard named Dean of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences
Studying the Enigmatic Dance of Electrons in Graphene
Gubernatorial Campaign Strategists & Politicos to Discuss 2019 Louisiana Elections at LSU Manship School, Louisiana Public Broadcasting Event


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