Department News

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 All About It

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 All About It

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."

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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.

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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.

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 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.

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 College of Science Will Induct Five New Menbers 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.”

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 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.

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 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.

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 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 thise honored were: Morgan Kelly, Karen Maruska and Anne Grove.

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Reserchers 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.

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 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.

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 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

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 Former LSU Grad Student Elected into National Academy of Science

David Sibley, who received his PhD in 1985 from LSU’s Department of Zoology and Physiology, was elected this spring into the National Academy of Sciences. He is currently a professor of molecular microbiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

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 Nicholas Reid Accepted to Prestigious NSF Summer Research Experience

LSU Biological Sciences undergraduate student, Nicholas J. Reid gained acceptance to the prestigious NSF Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU): Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley, from Molecules to Ecosystems. This 10-week program has only a 4% acceptance rate and is designed to expose participating students to core Molecular, Cell, Developmental, Evolutionary, and Ecosystem Biology.

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Study Links Recovery of Oiled Marsh with Return of Salt Marsh Vegetation

Emeritus Professor John Fleeger's research on recovery from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is featured on the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiatives website. The article details the response of the benthic community in oiled sediments in Louisiana salt marshes. The research team in a recent publication with Fleeger as the lead author found that many benthic invertebrates recovered in about 3 years and that this recovery was strongly associated with the recovery of the principal marsh plant species Spartina alterniflora. However some invertebrates are still recovering from the spill after 4 years. Fleeger and the research team will continue to investigate these marsh sites to determine when all benthic species might recover and when the marsh will regain its full range of ecological services.

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 LSU Faculty Bring Antarctica’s ‘Heroic Age’ to Life

LSU Department of Biological Sciences Professor Vince LiCata and Department of Communication Studies Associate Professor Trish Suchy received a National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists & Writers grant for a project in Antarctica in January and February. They will work with scientists and staff at the U.S. Antarctic Program’s research center, McMurdo Station, on a project called “Antarctica: Persistence of Vision.” They will recreate modern versions of some of the most iconic photography of the Antarctic continent captured more than 100 years ago....

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 TED Selects LSU Museum of Natural Science Curator as 2016 TED Fellow

TED, the international nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading ideas — usually in the form of short, powerful talks – has selected LSU Associate Professor and Museum of Natural Science Curator of Fishes Prosanta Chakrabarty as one of 21 TED Fellows for 2016...

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 Paper by Osborn and Homberger highlighted in "Anatomy Now"

Dr. Dominique G. Homberger and her former graduate student, Dr. Michelle L. Osborn (currently in the Department of Pathology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia in Athens) have recently published their study “The Human Shoulder Suspension Apparatus: A Causal Explanation for Bilateral Asymmetry and a Fresh Look at the Evolution of Human Bipedality” (Osborn ML, Homberger DG. The Anatomical Record, 298 (9): 1572-1588. doi: 10.1002/ar.23178). Their article was featured in the September edition of “Anatomy Now”, the official newsletter of the American Association of Anatomists.

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 Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium Ribbon Cutting and Symposium

On Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 2 p.m. there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by a symposium to celebrate the endowment and naming of the LSU Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium. 

Dr. Irwin Brodo of the Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, and Dr. Chelsa D. Specht of the University of California, Berkley,  will deliver talks during the symposium.

More information about the events can be found here.

 LSU Museum of Natural Science Curator of Mammals Jacob Esselstyn and colleagues discover a new type of shrew rat.

The Sulawesi snouter (Hyorhinomys stuempkei). Image credit: Kevin C. Rowe / Museum Victoria, Melbourne.

The Sulawesi snouter (Hyorhinomys stuempkei). Image credit: Kevin C. Rowe / Museum Victoria, Melbourne.

Featured in Ocobter's "Journal of Mammalogy, " Esselstyn and his international colleagues describe their discovery of the animal on the Indonesian island of Sulaweisi. 

This is not the first new species that Esselstyn has discovered. In 2006, he announced his findings of a new type of bat on the Philippines' Mindoro island.

You can view more about their discovery here.

 Bravo for Paleo: Biology Student Offers Healthy Alternative to Fatty Game Day Food

LSU College of Science highlights senior biology student, Monica Bravo and 'Bravo for Paleo'


2015 National Academies Gulf Coast Summer Institute

GCSI Group PictureThe Department of Biological Sciences hosted the 4th National Academies Gulf Coast Summer Institute (GCSI) on Undergraduate Education in Science July 20-24. LSU is one of seven national sites to host Summer Institutes. This HHMI-supported program aims to foster innovative approaches to teaching undergraduate biology. There were thirty participants from fifteen institutions in eight states, Puerto Rico and Lebanon. The GCSI was directed by Chris Gregg and Bill Wischusen. Twelve faculty from seven universities served as facilitators. Chris Gregg, Lori Patrick, Joe Siebenaller and Bill Wischusen were among the presenters and facilitators. As a result of their successful completion of the GCSI the following Biological Sciences faculty and postdoctoral researchers were bestowed the title of National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences: Joanna Bajsa-Hirschel, Jake Esselstyn, Brant Faircloth, Hollie Hale-Donze, Marylou Machingura, Dong-Ha Oh and Johnna Roose. Since 2004 thirty-three members of the Department of Biological Sciences have received recognition as National Academies Education Fellows in the Life Sciences. Nation-wide from 2004 to 2013, there have been 963 participants and 145 facilitators in the National Academies Summer Institutes on Undergraduate Education in Biology.


LSU Alumni Association International Student Scholarship

Congratulations to Sandra P. Galeano, PhD student in the Harms lab, who has been awarded the 2015 LSU Alumni Association International Student Scholarship!

Karen Maruska featured in LSU News

May 15, 2015

Twin Genes: Researchers Discover Second Stress Response Hormone in Louisiana Garfish

 Undergraduate Student Recognition

The following undergraduate students received awards:

Biological Sciences Undergraduate Research Award

  • Stanley Fuentes, Dr. Anne Grove’s laboratory

Biological Sciences Outstanding Senior in Biochemistry Award

  • David Odenheimer, Dr. Pat DiMario’s laboratory

Charles S. McCleskey Award in Microbiology

  • Cersten Bradley, Dr. Bill Doerler’s laboratory
  • Dante Johnson, Dr. Anne Grove’s laboratory
  • Shannon McDuff, Dr. Gary King’s laboratory

Robert L. Amborski Award

  • Erin Oliver, Dr. Brent Christner’s laboratory
  • David Pitre, Dr. Cameron Thrash’s laboratory

Marion D. Socolofsky Award

  • Jessica Lee Weckhorst

Geaux Teach Senior Award

  • Sidney White

Graduate Student Recognition

The following graduate students received awards:

Simon Chang / Ezzat Younathan Outstanding Biochemistry Teaching Assistant Award

  • Kapataru Mukherjee
  • Aaron Landry

Daisy B. and William J. Luke Botany Teaching Assistant

  • Robert DiMario

C.R. Komma Memorial Outstanding Graduate Student Award

  • Sujeet Kumar
  • Ashish Gupta

McDaniel Award

  • Dinesh Deochand

Congratulations to all!

Faculty Recognition

The following received a LSU College of Science Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award:

  • Barry Aronhime
  • Ginger Brininstool
  • John Larkin
  • Khoa Nguyen

Vince LiCata received the TAF Undergraduate Teaching Award from the Ogden Honors College

Chris Gregg received the LSU Tiger Athletic Foundation Outstanding Instructor Award

Congratulations to all!

NSF GRFP Fellowships

Congratulations to Zach Rodriguez, Andre Moncrieff, Jonathan Nations!

View full press release.


Chris Gregg is this year’s recipient of the Dr. Marion “Soc” Socolofsky Award for Teaching Excellence.  This award is in recognition of his achievements in teaching and mentoring, as both a Science Residential College (SRC) rector and instructor of biological sciences .  Congratulations, Dr. Gregg!

View full story.

College of Science Hall of Distinction 2015

Congratulations to College of Science Hall of Distiction honorees Meredith Blackwell and John O’Neill!


View full story.

Rainmakers Announced

Dr. James Moroney has been awarded a 2014 Rainmaker award, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Senior Scholar award.

View full story.

Mechanisms of Biodiversity

Kyle Harms’ research highlighted in the Daily Reveille.

See full story: University researcher sheds light on mechanisms of biodiversity


2018 LSU 100 Ranked List Announced at Gala
National Opera Association Recognizes LSU Productions
LSU Featured in Princeton Review's 2018 Guide to Green Colleges
LSU Rolls into New Orleans with the Annual APLU Conference, Bringing Together the Nation’s Land-grant Universities, and Second Lines Out
LSU Faculty in Stitches at Louisiana Book Festival


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