From the desk of President Leslie K. Guice

A wonderful mix of science, art and gumbo

Feb 20, 2016 | Weekly Update


With Dr. Wilma Olson

I had the opportunity to meet with several world-class scientific researchers this week. My first meeting on Monday morning was with Dr. Wilma Olson, distinguished professor of chemistry and biology at Rutgers University, who was visiting campus as part of Tech’s New Frontiers in Biomedical Research Series. I enjoyed talking to her about her research interests in genetics and packaging using computational approaches, and also about some of her personal genealogical roots in north Louisiana. What a small world!

L-R Dr. Woodcock (FDA), Dr. Collins (NIH), Dr. Cordova (NSF) & Mary Wooley of Research!America

Later in the morning, I headed out in the middle of thunderstorms to New Orleans for meetings with more great scientists. Senator Bill Cassidy had organized a dinner for Monday evening and a Louisiana Research Symposium for Tuesday, to focus on pursuit of major research opportunities that could elevate Louisiana’s success nationally. Senator Cassidy invited several federal agency leaders, including Francis Collins (Director of NIH), France Cordova (Director of NSF), and Janet Woodcock (Director of the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research), to speak about research activities and opportunities in their organizations. It was absolutely an incredible opportunity to have these and other great national research leaders together in Louisiana to meet with our faculty research and business leaders from across the state. In my role as a chair of some of our state-wide research programs, I will help coordinate some of the next steps necessary to help Louisiana’s research community to capitalize on the opportunities presented to us. As a side note, Dr. Collins is widely recognized as the leader of the Human Genome Project and Dr. Cordova is a highly recognized astrophysicist who served as NASA chief scientist and President of Purdue.
Nick Bustamante

Discussing digital painting with Nick Bustamante

I had several administrative meetings on Wednesday with VP Terry McConathy, VP Jim King, and VP Brooks Hull, and then participated in a Ruston/Lincoln Chamber strategic focus group meeting to discuss the potential impacts of state budget cuts on Tech and our community. It is wonderful to live in a place where leaders recognize the great value that the university brings to the community and the future of our citizens. After lunch, I joined my Leadership Team for a emergency response training exercise, something that we do on a regular basis. Later Wednesday, I was thrilled to join art Professor Nick Bustamante’s Digital Painting class to see what his students are doing to create art that showcases science, in collaboration with Dr. Mary Caldorera-Moore (biomedical engineering) and Dr. Jamie Newman (biology). Mary and Jamie had approached Nick about developing some scientific-related art for their “New Frontiers in Biomedical Research” program. Nick jumped at the opportunity and with the generous support of one of our alumni, acquired the digital hardware and software tools necessary to make this type of collaboration feasible. According to the professors and the students, the class has been a huge success. This is the type of exciting unparalleled interdisciplinary educational experience that is central to Tech’s vision. You can follow the class activities on the New Frontiers blog.
Whos who 2016

Who’s Who class of 2016

Later Wednesday, I joined Union Board at the DAC to recognize the 2016 class of “Who’s Who.” What a fantastic group of students who contribute so much through their excellence and leadership across the campus! We were so pleased to have their parents, family and friends in attendance to enjoy the celebration. Early Thursday morning, I headed over to Bossier City to meet with Craig Spohn of the Cyber Innovation Center to prepare for our mid-morning meeting with Barksdale AFB senior leadership. The activities of the Louisiana Tech Research Institute, formally organized between Tech and the CIC, are continuing to make good progress.
AEP Gumbo 2

Serving gumbo to AEP staff with Dr. Joanne Hood

After those meetings, I returned to Ruston to visit with our AE Phillips Laboratory School and thank them for their excellent work in educating our young students at the lab school. College of Education Dean Don Schillinger and I served the staff gumbo as they took their brief lunch breaks. We are so proud of the excellent performance of that school and the value it brings to our university and the community. After lunch at AEP, I had the opportunity to walk through the Tonk to visit with many of the companies and students who were there for Spring Career Day. As always, our Career Center staff did an excellent job in organizing the event to maximize opportunities to match up our great students with job and internship opportunities. Late Thursday afternoon, I joined Dr. Jeremy Mhire and the Waggonner Center as they hosted a special event to help our faculty, staff and students understand more of the fundamental issues leading to the state’s budget crisis. Jeremy invited Barry Erwin, President of CABL, to provide the overview and answer questions. Barry is one of the most respected leaders in the State of Louisiana and has been strong vocal proponent for higher education for many years.
James Davison & Alma Mater

James Davison leading students in Alma Mater

Thursday evening, Kathy and I hosted the leadership of SGA and Union Board for a reception at our home. We like to do this to recognize and thank our students for their tremendous leadership throughout the year. Those students also connect to so many other student organization across our campus that are such an important part of the Tech experience that makes the institution special. Before the event concluded, one of our young campus leaders asked the group to join in on singing of our alma mater. What a special treat! We left the reception in time to make it over to the TAC to watch the Lady Techsters defeat UTSA.
Bob Birgeneau

with LSU Eminent Scholar Ward Plummer (far left), Dr. Birgeneau (Center), Dr. Mike Khonsari (Distinguished Professor at LSU) and some great Regents staff members

On Friday morning, I headed out early to Baton Rouge for a meeting with the Commissioner of Higher Education and staff of the Board of Regents. Commissioner Rallo had invited Dr. Bob Birgeneau to speak about the interests of research institutions of higher education in Louisiana. Dr. Birgeneau is one of the nation’s leading scientists who is leading an effort for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences called the Lincoln Project that is considering the implications of reduced state investment in public higher education across the nation. It was great to get his perspectives on an issue that is certainly front and center in Louisiana. Dr. Birgeneau is Chancellor Emeritus of UC Berkeley and former Dean of Science at MIT.
Christa Anne Swafford 4

Christa Anne Swafford plays original score of Tech’s alma mater at SGA/UB Party in 2015

Courtney Swafford

Courtney Swafford (Christa Anne’s sister) plays the same song at the SGA/UB Party a year later