Guest commentary: LSU leading the way in solving problems

LSU is committed to providing solutions for Louisiana’s biggest challenges through the research and expertise of our faculty. Our federal grants and contracts bring to Louisiana nearly $600 million, impacting more than 250 fields of study. The result of our research efforts provide day-to-day solutions influencing everything from the food you eat to the safety of your family.

However, the solution that has the greatest impact to you and our state is the high-quality education LSU provides even while keeping tuition more than 20 percent below state flagship university levels. But we don’t stop there. We work with state leaders to ensure that our programs meet Louisiana’s projected workforce needs, so that the more than 8,700 LSU students who graduate every year won’t have to leave Louisiana to find a great career after graduation. By maintaining value, LSU provides a workforce filled with skilled leaders to support our state’s economy.

Storm surge and flooding are growing concerns as our coast recedes and subsides. LSU offers a range of solutions, including better predictive modeling/tracking, more-efficient evacuation routes, sturdier flood protection and broader land reclamation strategies, not to mention the preservation of culture and heritage unique to the coastal zone.

Energy is always a top priority in our state, especially with recent fluctuations due to events around the globe. LSU’s one-of-a-kind petroleum engineering blowout facility trains students and professionals in real-world simulations, offering our graduates a distinctive advantage in the industry. Our fracking laboratory aims to develop environmentally safe and economically efficient hydraulic fracturing methods. And LSU AgCenter researchers have a $17.5 million USDA grant supporting experiments that take cash crop waste and convert it into biofuel, making money for our state from a byproduct that would otherwise be thrown away.

Health and health care remain a major challenge for all our citizens. The LSU AgCenter-supported 4-H program reaches nearly 240,000 Louisiana children, helping them form positive nutritional habits early in life. LSU Health Sciences Center-New Orleans led a landmark research study proving secondhand smoke causes cancer and administers smoking cessation programs. And scientists at Pennington Biomedical Research Center discovered a new protein influencing how fat is deposited in the liver and other organs to produce insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. This will be used to develop new treatments for Type 2 diabetes, a disease that affects more than 10 percent of Louisiana’s adult population.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. LSU is filled with scientists, engineers, artists and scholars who are, at their core, problem-solvers and solution generators. Their work, whether in the classroom, laboratory or research station, plays a vital role in helping to build a much more vibrant and dynamic Louisiana, which ensures a promising future for us all.

F. King Alexander is president and chancellor of LSU.