From proving a century old theory to reimagining some of the world’s most iconic photos of scientists in Antarctica, this has been a breakthrough year for the LSU College of Science. As we prepare to take our first steps into the New Year and make good on our New Year’s resolutions, let’s take a moment to look back on some of the outstanding research and cutting-edge discoveries to come out of the college in 2016.
Listening to the Universe: Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein’s Prediction
By far, the top story of 2016 is proof that gravitational waves do in fact exist. On February 11, 2016, before a packed house at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration confirmed the existence of gravitational waves. The waves were detected September 14, 2015 at 4:51 a.m. CST by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory detectors located in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash., confirming a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opening an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.
“This detection is the beginning of a new era. The field of gravitational wave astronomy is now a reality,” said Gabriela González, LSU physics and astronomy professor and spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Read more...
LIGO Accolades and Awards:
- Physics World announced that the 2016 Breakthrough of the Year goes to the LIGO Scientific Collaboration for “their revolutionary, first ever direct observations of gravitational waves.”
Understanding the Flood of 2016
In August 2016, just a week before the fall semester was to begin, Louisiana sustained a major disaster in the form of extreme flooding in central and southern regions of our state. In an effort to help our community better understand this catastrophic event, LSU researchers contributed to a blog post to answer key questions about the flood.
Antarctica: Persistence of Vision
With the help of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic Artist and Writers Program grant, LSU faculty Trish Suchy and Vince LiCata have reimagined some of the world’s most iconic photos of scientists in Antarctica. Read more...
Medical Success: LSU College of Science Medical School Acceptance Rate Exceeds National Average
More than half of the physicians in Louisiana began their academic careers in the LSU College of Science. For the 2015-16 entering medical class, over 83 percent of LSU’s accepted medical school applicants were graduates of the College of Science. Overall, 323 LSU students applied to medical school and 54 percent were accepted, which is significantly higher than the national average of 42 percent. What sets the LSU College of Science apart from its peers? Read on to find out...
LSU Researchers Spearhead
New Innovations in Cancer Screening and Treatment
A number of College of Science researchers are exploring new and innovative ways to improve the way we detect and treat cancer. Dr. Wayne Newhauser, Dr. Charles M. Smith Chair in Medical Physics, and a team of graduate students are researching the application of 3-D scanning and printing technologies to improve cancer treatments. Physics professor Guang Jia and medical physics doctoral candidate Joseph Steiner are revolutionizing prostate cancer screening with a new device to produce more accurate CT scans of the prostate and improve prostate cancer diagnoses. Joseph Steiner presented on this device during LSU's 2016 Three Minute Thesis competition. Chemistry Professor Kermit Murray has secured an NSF grant to develop a single-cell ablation instrument to better detect cancer cells.
A New Frontier: LSU Researchers Explore the Possibilities of Life Beyond Earth
Researchers in the LSU Planetary Science Laboratory (PSL) including Don Hood, Department of Geology & Geophysics doctoral candidate, are studying a particularly unusual region on Mars, an area with high elevation called Thaumasia Planum.
Another PhD candidate in the PSL, Nicki Button, is setting her sights on exploring space as an astronaut. Nicki visited NASA's spacewalk training facility in Houston to learn more about how astronaut's prepare to walk and work in space.
Also, Noelle Bryan, a researcher on the MARSLIFE project: Modes of Adaptation, Resistance, and Survival for Life Inhabiting a Freeze-dried-radiation-bathed Environment, is collecting and characterizing microorganisms from the troposphere and the stratosphere, or the almost-space regions at altitudes reaching 30 miles above Earth. The MARSLIFE project research is unique in quantifying or determining the concentrations of bacteria present at these high altitudes. One of the reasons for doing this is because environmental conditions including pressure, temperature and radiation levels at altitudes more than 100,000 feet above Earth are similar to the conditions on the surface of Mars. If bacteria from Earth can survive stratospheric conditions for long periods of time, not only could they potentially journey to Mars on our spacecraft, but this could be a positive sign for the potential of bacterial life on Mars.
Chemistry in Space: Experiment led by LSU Chemistry Professor John Pojman Aboard the Historic Suborbital Space Flight
An experiment led by LSU Chemistry Professor John Pojman was aboard the historic flight by Blue Origin in June. LSU was one of three universities, including Purdue University and Braunschweig University of Technology in Germany, selected to have an experiment aboard the flight. Read more...
Contributing to New Knowledge: LSU Researcher Jackie Stephens Identifies New Player in Type 2 Diabetes
After 25 years studying the links between Type 2 diabetes and obesity, Professor Jackie Stephens and a team of LSU researchers have identified a new player, the protein oncostatin, that could help us better understand how inflammation in fat tissue affects insulin resistance. Read more...
Mapping the Mississippi: LSU Biologist And OAR Northwest Explore Microbial Communities in the Mississippi River
Cameron Thrash, assistant professor in LSU's Department of Biological Sciences, teamed with OAR Northwest, an adventure and education rowing team, to transect the Mississippi River to collect samples of the microorganisms living in the Mississippi as the rowers paddle the entire length of the river under human power. Thrash's work with OAR Northwest has generated the most comprehensive dataset of microorganisms in the Mississippi River to date. Read more...
An Important Chorus:
40-year-old LSUMNS Chorus Frog Tissues Prove Vital to LA Hybrid Zone Study
LSU researchers Jeremy Brown and Eric Rittmeyer, in collaboration with colleagues at Florida State University, are shedding light on how often and where species hybridize or interbreed through time, thanks to the rediscovery of 40-year-old tissue samples preserved at LSU’s Museum of Natural Science.
Meet Lolo the Ghost Snake: LSU Postdoc Helps Discover New Snake Species
In 2014, Sara Ruane, a postdoctoral fellow in the LSU Museum of Natural Science, and a group of researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and from Madagascar, came upon a snake in their path they had never seen before. Earlier this year, Sara helped describe the new species, named Madagascarophis lolo, the “ghost” snake, in a paper in the journal Copeia. Read more...
"Lolo is the Malagasy word for ghost, and we thought this was an ideal name for a pale grey snake that has been eluding detection for so long." - Dr. Sara Ruane
A Tale of Two Fishes: Doctoral Student Wins 3MT Competition at LSU
Julie Butler, a PhD student in Karen Maruska’s lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at LSU came in first place out of nine finalists in the Three Minute Thesis competition (3MT) hosted by the LSU Graduate School. She won a prize of $1,000 and will be representing LSU at the Southern regional 3MT competition in March 2017. Read more...
For the Birds: Museum of Natural Science Researchers Publish the First Birds of Bolivia Field Guide
LSU Museum of Natural Science researchers and research collaborators in Bolivia have authored the first field guide book to the birds of Bolivia. The museum has the world’s largest collection of Bolivian birds, which is the backbone of data for the book and its illustrations. The field guide illustrates all 1,425 bird species of Bolivia and provides a concise synopsis of distribution, habitat, feeding behavior and diet, plumage variations, vocalizations, and behavior for each species, much of which was previously unpublished. Read more...
Math Communication: Math Professor Robert Lipton Secures $1 Million MURI Award to Help Improve Long Range Communication
LSU Math Professor Robert Lipton and his research team are key contributors to a national project to amplify high fidelity waves and improve long-range communication. He has been awarded $1 million over the next five years as part of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, or MURI grant, on Transformational Electromagnetics Research. The goal of Lipton and his research team is to amplify high fidelity waves while maintaining the shape, allowing for sophisticated messages to be clearly communicated over longer distances.
We will have even more exciting stories to share in 2017, so subscribe to the blog below (scroll down to beneath our Logo)! Here's to a new year of scholarship, innovation and discovery. Happy New Year from the LSU College of Science!