Letter: LSU getting notice in science

Great things are happening at LSU, but it is often difficult to share our more technical and scientific accomplishments with those outside the campus gates. But it is important, because these successes aren’t ours alone — they belong to all Louisianians. As the state’s flagship university, it is our responsibility to drive science and innovation that contributes to our economy while placing us firmly as competitors in the national and international arena. And right now, we are doing better than you might think.

At the international level, on Oct. 28, Dr. Jim Gavigan from the European Union visited our campus to discuss potential collaborations between our universities and EU partners. LSU engineer Michael Khonsari was awarded the international Mayo D. Hersey Award for his work increasing the longevity of complex, expensive industry machinery that keeps our plants running safely. And George Voyiadjis, chairman of LSU’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, was inducted into the prestigious Polish Academy of Sciences. In other words, we are attracting attention from around the world, providing an international showcase of the expertise located right here in Louisiana.

Nationally, LSU’s Innovation Park received the Emerging Research Park Award from the Association of University Research Parks for its success in converting university research into thriving businesses. LSU faculty have also been selected to the National Academies Panel on the Gulf of Mexico, tasked with the long-term health of both humans and the environment in the Gulf region,; given the prestigious American Chemical Society Award for Creative Advances in Environmental Science and Technology for groundbreaking work on the impact of toxic waste on human health, received multimillion-dollar grants from the National Science Foundation to improve Big Data capabilities, amplifying LSU’s supercomputing strength to 1 quadrillion computations a second so that scientists can solve increasingly complex problems for Louisiana’s residents and received $2 million from the National Institutes of Health to train more Louisiana students in biomedical fields. On a regional note, earlier last month, all research vice presidents of SEC universities converged at LSU for a meeting to discuss leveraging research strengths across the Southeastern Conference states to capitalize on areas of growing demand.

Meanwhile, after significant strategic planning, LSU is streamlining our commercialization processes to bring our research to market more efficiently. We are reaching out directly to industry to make connections that drive economic development and build careers. And we are strategically growing areas important to Louisiana’s success, like coastal science, energy, bioscience, engineering, arts, social sciences and digital media. Our success around the world and right here at home means that we can better serve Louisiana by providing industry partners a talent pool and technological base, building a more robust economy and a better future for our state.

K.T. Valsaraj

LSU vice chancellor of research and economic development

Baton Rouge