Department News

Biological Sciences Student Among Ogden Honors College seniors receive Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and Study/Research awards to work in Spain and the Czech Republic

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The Program operates in over 160 countries worldwide. Read more about the award.


 As humans continue to impact the world around us, often resulting in the destruction of wildlife and their habitats, LSU researcher Christine Lattin believes better understanding how some animals thrive while others fail to adapt will allow us to better understand human and animal stress. Read the article.

2022 University Faculty Awards Announced

LSU faculty are among the brightest scholars and educators world-wide. Each year, LSU recognizes and awards faculty for their sustained dedication to research, instruction and service, and we are pleased to announce this years’ recipients of the 2022 University Faculty Awards. These individuals, along with the 2021 faculty award recipients, will be recognized at an awards ceremony and reception on Wednesday, May 4, from 3-5 p.m., in the Noland Laborde Ball Room of the Lod Cook Alumni Center. The entire LSU community is invited to attend. Read the list of awards.

Urbanization is driving evolution of plants globally, UTM-led study finds

BATON ROUGE - Humans re-shape the environments where they live, with cities being among the most profoundly transformed environments on Earth. New research now shows that these urban environments are altering the way life evolves. Read the press release.

Tribute to Joe Siebenaller, Long Time Professor and Past Chair

Read about Dr. Siebenaller's career, education and awards as well as memories from friends and colleagues. Read the tribute.

Vinyard Among Six "Rainmaker" Professors Recognized by LSU

The LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED, has selected the six LSU faculty members, who are leaders in their respective fields, to receive the Rainmaker Award this year. Rainmakers are faculty members who balance their teaching and research responsibilities while extending the impact of their work to the world beyond academia. Read more about the Rainmaker awards. 

LSU Researchers Feed Worms a Natural Plant Extract; Watch Them Fatten, Live 40% Longer

A research team in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences led by Assistant Professor Adam Bohnert has published a landmark study linking greater metabolic health—achieved through a natural plant extract—with longer lifespans in C. elegans, commonly known as roundworms. Although worms and humans don’t appear to have much in common, the researchers say there is good reason to assume the results could be replicated in people, as the study builds on previous work on metabolic health in mice, conducted at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center under Professor Jacqueline Stephens. Read more about the study.

Beyond Biodegradable Mardi Gras Beads

Five hundred strands of biodegradable Mardi Gras beads— formulated at LSU and made in Louisiana—will be handed out along parade routes in New Orleans this year as concern over the tens of thousands of pounds of discarded plastic beads and their impact on the environment grows. LSU Department of Biological Sciences Professor Naohiro Kato has been concerned about the problem the excess plastic from Mardi Gras poses for the environment for years; and as a biologist, he is creating solutions. Read more about Dr. Kato's efforts to decrease the use of plastic.

Our Next Renewable Energy Source Could Be an Artificial Leaf

BATON ROUGE – LSU researchers are exploring new ways to use the oldest energy source on our planet—sunlight—to create truly green energy on demand. You’ve already heard of solar cells and solar panels, but David Vinyard, assistant professor in LSU’s Department of Biological Sciences, is looking at another method of harnessing the power of the Sun: photosynthesis. Read more about an artificial leaf.

Simon Chang, long time LSU professor, dies at 92

Click here to read about Dr. Chang's tenure at LSU.

On Looking Across Scales and Disease Ecology and Evolution

To look across scales, we must first define what constitutes different scales. This, it turns out, is a surprisingly difficult task—where does one scale end and the next begin? While it is tempting to define discrete scales (e.g., within host, among host, across patches), assigning particular studies to specific bins is nontrivial. For example, a study that seeks to identify the mechanistic underpinnings of differences in virulence between two pathogen strains or species sounds decidedly “within host.” Yet predictions about virulence evolution (which may have motivated such a study) rely on between-host models, and/or the study may consider the implications of its results at this (or another) scale. In reality, studies of the ecology and evolution of infectious diseases fall along a spectrum from molecules through individuals, communities, ecosystems, biomes, and even the entire planet (as has become abundantly clear during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.) Read the focused topic articles from journal the American Naturalist.


Lattin Lab Releases Paper on Neophobia in Male house Sparrows

A fearful response towards new things (“neophobia”) partly determines whether animals will be to take advantage of new food sources and nesting sites and avoid novel dangers. Because humans have altered wildlife habitats worldwide, understanding more about why some individuals avoid and others interact with new things may be critical to understanding which animals will be able to live in novel urban and suburban habitats and which will not. Read more about the house sparrows response.

Elderd Paper Featured in journal Evolution

Journal Evolution has highlighted a paper that Elderd wrote with post-doc Miguel Acevedo (who is now an assistant professor at the University of Florida) in their new section of “Evolution Highlights”. The new series “highlights some of the interesting and varied papers published within the last few years in Evolution. See the paper in "Evoloution Highlights"

Earth & Fire, Water & Air

Please take a trip (online) to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and see the new play EARTH & FIRE, WATER & AIR.  Written by me and directed by Andy Jordan, and starring 3 actors performing from London and one from Singapore along with sound design by a composer in Canada.  (There are some advantages to being in an online world.)  The show is a biographical docu-drama performance-piece about four real astronauts mixing science, engineering, history, and personal stories into an hour long one act that we hope you'll find interesting and moving. 

The show is online, on-demand (watch it anytime) and free.  It just opened yesterday, it is hosted by TheSpaceUK production venue and will be playing in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until Sunday Aug 29th. Read More about the SciArt play.


LSU Biologist Awarded the Linnean Medal

World renowned evolutionary biologist and LSU Department of Biological Sciences Research Associate Mary Jane West-Eberhard is a recipient of the prestigious Linnean Medal for 2021. She was bestowed the medal for her “significant contribution to the science of natural history and to the wider natural sciences community,” according to The Linnean Society of London. She is one of seven women to have been awarded the Linnean Medal in Zoology, which was first given in 1888. Read more about Dr. West-Eberhand.

Dassanayake Among Six Faculty Members Awarded Rainmaker Award

Six LSU faculty members, who are leaders in their respective fields, have been selected to receive the Rainmaker Award 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. Read more about the winners.

What Makes Some Oysters More Resilient than Others?

Oysters live and grow in saltwater. However, the saltiness of their habitat can change dramatically, especially where the mighty Mississippi River flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana oysters from the northern Gulf of Mexico may experience some of the lowest salinity in the world due to the influx of fresh water from the Mississippi River. In addition, increased rainfall and large-scale river diversions for coastal protection will bring more fresh water that does not bode well for the eastern oyster. New research led by LSU alumna Joanna Griffiths from Portland, Oregon, and her faculty advisor LSU Department of Biological Sciences Associate Professor Morgan Kelly reveals new information on why some oysters may be more resilient to freshwater than others. Read the press release.

Stephania Cormier studies a newly discovered class of environmental contaminants, shedding light on their role in respiratory diseases.

Environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) may reduce people’s ability to fight respiratory infections, according to Stephania Cormier, Ph.D., of Louisiana State University (LSU). Cormier, director of the LSU Superfund Research Program (SRP) Center spoke to NIEHS on March 31, as part of the Keystone Science Lecture Seminar series. Read the story by Environmental Factor.


Porto Wins BES Robert May Prize

The Methods in Ecology and Evolution (MEE) Robert May early career researcher award is named after Lord May, from the University of Oxford. The prize is awarded annually to the best paper submitted by an early career author at the start of their research career. The winner is selected by the Senior Editors of the Journal. Read More about  BES awards.


Award Winning Research

Congrats to our award winning faculty, staff, postdoctoral and graduate students in 2021. See the list of award winners.

South Featured in NOVA Special

Without the chemistry of photosynthesis, ozone, and a molecule called Rubisco, none of us would be here. So how did we get so lucky? To find out, host David Pogue investigates the surprising molecules that allowed life on Earth to begin, and ultimately thrive. Along the way, he finds out what we’re all made of—literally. Watch the episode.

How does the duration of plant flowering give us insight into the effects of climate change?

In a newly published paper, one LSU researcher sought the help of citizen scientists across the country to better understand the effects that geographical locations coupled with climate changes have had on plants that flower.

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Daijiang Li and his colleagues at the University of Florida in Gainesville mined hundreds of thousands of data entries submitted by nature enthusiasts around the U.S. between 2017 and 2019 to iNaturalist, one of the world’s most popular social networking apps for sharing biodiversity information. This app-based initiative of the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic allows anyone with an internet connection to upload location-coded images and sounds of plants and animals. Read more about Dr. Li's research on climate change

Bohnert Receives American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) 2020 Glenn Foundation for Medical Research/AFAR Grant for Junior Faculty  

—The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR) announce the 2020 recipients of three grant programs: the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and AFAR Grants for Junior Faculty, the Glenn Foundation for Medical
Research Postdoctoral Fellowships in Aging Research, and the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research Breakthroughs in Gerontology (BIG) Awards. Collectively, these three grant programs will provide close to
$2.2 million in support of biomedical research on healthy aging. Read More about AFAR's Grant


New Large-scale Bird Genome Project Yields Insight into Evolution of Genomic Diversity

Researchers at LSU are contributing significantly to the Bird 10,000 Genome Project, or B10K, an initiative to sequence the genomes of all living bird species, as it announces the completion of its second milestone—the release and analysis of genomes representing 92 percent of all bird families. Read LSU's press release on the 10,000 Bird Genome Project

Understanding leaf growth could be key to creating resilient farming

LSU biologists John Larkin and Maheshi Dassanayake have been awarded a three-year, $890,720 grant by the National Science Foundation to research the role of cell cycle regulation in leaf development. Read more about the NSF grant

NSF Awards $3.6 Million Grant to Louisiana State University Among Others

LSU is part of a multi-million dollar grant to digitize and study bryophyte and lichen, two important species in cryptobiotic communities. Laura Lagomarsino, Director, Shirley C. Tucker Herbarium and Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and colleagues from 25 institutions across the US received a $3.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to image and digitize associated metadata for close to 1.2 million lichen and bryophyte specimens housed in their collections. Read more about the herbarium's NSF grant

New Study Shows Birds Can Learn from Others to be More Daring

House sparrows can be found on nearly every continent including North America, South America, Africa and Australia, where they are not native but an invasive species. New research into these highly social songbirds reveals that they can learn from each other and adapt their behavior.

“Our study demonstrates that house sparrows can extrapolate information gleaned from the social environment and apply it to new experiences,” said Tosha Kelly, LSU Department of Biological Sciences post-doctoral researcher and lead author in this study published in Biology Letters. Read the press release about house sparrows behaviors

Batzer Elected NAI Senior Member 

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) has named 38 academic inventors to the August 2020 class of NAI Senior Members. Among these are Mark Batzer, a Boyd Professor & Dr. Mary Lou Applewhite Distinguished Professor with the Department of Biological Sciences at LSU. Read the press release about Dr. Batzer's achievement

Lattin Encourages Students to Focus on Good Science Communication

Dr. Christine Lattin added a unique twist to her Spring 2020 syllabus for a group of PhD students; she had each of them pick and interview a faculty member from Biological Sciences whose research they find interesting or exciting. For this assignment, students were asked to write a short (~500-1000 word) interview feature. The students were instructed to ask questions related to a recent publication, an ongoing research project, or other topics (biography, career path) of interest to the interviewer. Read the interviews


Dallas Receives NSF Grant

Species that are more geographically widespread also tend to occur at higher numbers in each sampled location. Decades of research has attempted to use this relationship to understand how habitat degradation might affect species abundance at different sites. Read more about Dallas' NSF Award

LSU Postdoc Receives LSRF Fellowship

For the first time ever, the prestegious Life Sciences Research Foundation (LSRF)'s Postdoctoral Fellowship has been awarded to LSU Postdoctoral Researcher, Tosha Kelly with the Lattin Lab. Read about Kelly's research

Change of direction in immune defence: frankincense reprograms inflammatory enzyme

The Newcomer Lab uses techniques in structural biology to determine the 3D structures of enzymes, the molecular machines that promote the chemical reactions necessary to sustain life. We primarily use X-rays for this work, and sources of intense x-ray beams such as CAMD make it possible to “see” these nano machines. Nathan Gilbert, Ph.D., determined the structures described in this work, and graduate student Erin Schexnaydre studied the effects of frankincense on the targeted enzyme.  Read more about how frankincense can help with inflamation

Jeremy Brown Receives NSF Grant

The grant was funded through the Division of Environmental Biology (DEB)’s Opportunities for Promoting Understanding through Synthesis (OPUS) program. The award supports a collaborative project with my long-term collaborator at the Univ. of Hawaii, Bob Thomson. The grant will allow us to synthesize a series of statistical and computational approaches that we’ve been developing for phylogenomics and hopefully resolve some long-standing problems in the field. Read more about the NSF Grant

Prosanta Chakrabarty Receives Fulbright

Chakrabarty will have a 9-month appointment as 'Fulbright Canada Distinguished Chair in Environmental Science at Carleton University” in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada’s capital. He will be there during his sabbatical in this upcoming academic year. Read more about the Fulbright

Two From Biological Sciences Selected for Tiger Twelve

Each spring, LSU recognizes 12 outstanding seniors who contribute positively to the life of the campus and surrounding community. This year, Amanda Hussein and Hailey Simpson from Biological Sciences are recognized among the 12. Read more about the Tiger Twelve


Interdisciplinary LSU Superfund Team Receives $10.8M to Fight Pollution from Waste Sites

LSU researchers have been working to protect communities from dangerous pollution from hazardous waste sites since 2009 through the Superfund Research Program. Now, an interdisciplinary LSU team has received $10.8 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue and expand their efforts over the next five years. Read more about Dr. Cormier and the LSU Superfund.  

Evolution: How Some Fishes Can Adapt Even Under Extremly Harsh Circumstances

Cave-obligate animals are some of the most mysterious creatures on the planet with their lack of eyes and pigment. Surprisingly, the evolution of these animals is still not well understood. We examined evolutionary relationships, ancestral eye-state, and body shape variation to understand how some North American fishes have become cave-adapted. I was very fortunate to go caving and collect DNA from these amazing fishes with my co-authors. We found that these fishes invaded caves and lost eyes at least three times. We found that cave and surface fishes have different body shapes, indicating that living in caves does have an impact on how these fishes look. By examining cave-adaptive evolution, we can better understand how animals are impacted by harsh or changing environments. See the paper in Evolution.

Simon Chang Biochemistry Support Fund

Dr. James J. Schnabel made an irrevocable $50,000 donation in January 2020 to establish the Simon Chang Biochemistry Support Fund, honoring Dr. Chang’s profound impact on Dr. Schnabel as his biochemistry professor at LSU. The fund shall provide general support of the Division of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the College’s Department of Biological Sciences, and its teaching and research activities, including but not limited to equipment, labs, faculty and students.

Excellence is in Our DNA: LSU College of Science Announces 2020 Hall of Distinction Honorees

The endless pursuit of excellence and the fervent dedication to scientific leadership is woven into the DNA that makes up the College of Science. Join us as we recognize the exceptional accomplishments of the College of Science 2020 Hall of Distinction honorees. Though these leaders have plenty of countable achievements in their individual fields, their stories reveal a common thread—a fierce devotion to their work and a deep-rooted passion to give back to their communities. See the honorees.

American Association for Anatomy Announces Their 2020 Class of Fellows

Congratulations to Dr. Dominique Homberger who has been selected as a 2020 Fellow for the AAA. The rank of Fellow of the American Association for Anatomy (FAAA) is designed to honor distinguished members who have demonstrated excellence in science and in their overall contributions to the anatomical sciences. Fellows can self-nominate or be nominated by another member, and are selected by the Fellows Circle. Congratulations to this year's class! See the entire list of AAA Fellows

LSU Biologists Reveal Cellular Architecture of Potential Fountain of Youth

Alyssa Johnson and Adam Bohnert, assistant professors in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences and experts in cell and molecular biology, have discovered a new class of lysosomes that they refer to as “tubular lysosomes.” This breakthrough could lead to medical therapies and treatments to slow—or even reverse—aging and disease in humans and animals. The researchers recently received a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation to advance their work. Read more about Bohnert and Johnson's work with tubular lysosomes

LSU Researchers Enter Semifinals for the $5M IBM Watson AI XPRIZE

People and pharmaceutical companies around the world are increasingly challenged by antibiotic-resistant bacteria as well as new and rapidly evolving pathogens. The discovery of new drugs, meanwhile, can be a slow and costly process as companies must make sure their drugs are both effective and safe. It currently takes on average 10 years and over $2 billion to create a new drug and get it approved. Now, an interdisciplinary LSU team led by Supratik Mukhopadhyay, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, and Michal Brylinski, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences with a joint appointment in the Center for Computation & Technology, suggests using artificial intelligence, or AI, to try to solve this growing problem. Read the news release about the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE 

Feeding and Fueling the Future

Dassanayake is going to apply her recent advances in plant research—discovering the genes that allow certain plants to grow in extreme environments—to engineer more resilient biofuels. Maheshi Dassanayake, associate professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences, shares a 2.6 million grant from the US Department of Energy with Stanford University. Read the news release about the Dassanayake Lab.

Highly Cited Researcher

Professor Brant Faircloth is one of 6,216 researchers in various fields from nearly 60 countries who were named to the 2019 Highly Cited Researchers list released by Web of Science Group. Read More

See the entire list from Web of Science

How Will Disease Outbreaks Change as Global Temperatures Rise?

LSU biological sciences associate professor Bret Elderd recently received a $2.1 million Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate how abiotic—physical—factors occurring from environmental changes, like rising temperatures, can shape the coevolutionary dynamics of host-pathogen interactions. Read more about Dr. Elderd's grant.

Doerrler lab discovers protein required for resistance to last resort antibiotic colistin

The Doerrler laboratory has identified a protein called DbcA required for resistance of the Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia thailandensis to the antibiotic colistin. Read more about the discovery.

Lagomarsino Lab Publishes A taxonomic synopsis of Virola 

Virola is an ecologically and economically important group of plants that is known to by dispersed by toucans and taken as a hallucinogenic drug by indigenous tribes of the Amazon. Read the publication.

Teruyama Lab Receives NIH/NIMH Award

The Teruyama Lab has been awarded a new NIH/NIMH grant to study the sexually dimorphic oxytocin receptor-expressing neurons in the brain. Oxytocin is released in the brain and modulates many aspects of social behaviors, including social recognition, maternal behavior and pair bonding. Read more about the research

Brown Lab Awarded NSF Grant

A major goal of evolutionary biology is to understand how all living things are related to one another (a field known as phylogenetics). To do this, we can use the sequences of thousands of different genes from all across the genomes of different species. However, analyzing these datasets can be very challenging, not only because they're big, but also because they're complicated. Genes evolve differently and offer different perspectives on evolutionary relationships. Only when we consider all of this variation together do we really understand both how species are related and what forces shape a gene's evolution. Continue Reading

Professor John Caprio Retires After 43 Years at LSU

Dr. John Caprio officially retired from the department in June 2019 after serving LSU for 43 years. Dr. Caprio earned his Ph.D. at Florida State University before joining the faculty in the Department of Zoology and Physiology in August 1976. Through his 43years at LSU Dr. Caprio has had a highly productive, internationally recognized research program. John has a stellar record of federal funding from both NIH and NSF, and has received 4 patents derived from his research on chemical senses. Dr. Caprio has earned many awards, both within and outside of LSU. These include: the Max Mozell Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Chemical Senses from the Assoc. for Chemoreception Sciences (2007), the LSU Distinguished Research Master Award (2001) and the LSU Foundation Distinguished Faculty Award for Research, Teaching & Service (1992). Furthermore, he was awarded both the George C. Kent Professor of Biological Sciences (1997-) and the Mary Lou Applewhite Professor of Zoology and Physiology (1993‑97) endowed chairs. He also contributed extensively to the growth and productivity of the Departments of Zoology and Physiology and Biological Sciences. John will continue to teach and collaborate with the faculty and students in Biological Sciences over the next year. Tribute to Dr. Caprio.

Dassanayake Lab Has Great Success in 2019

Grants and Awards for the Dassanyake lab for multiple projects in 2019. Read more about the Dassanayake Lab

Missing Link in Algal Photosynthesis Found, Offers Opportunity to Improve Crop Yields

Photosynthesis is the natural process plants and algae utilize to capture sunlight and fix carbon dioxide into energy-rich sugars that fuel growth, development, and in the case of crops, yield. Algae evolved specialized carbon dioxide concentrating mechanisms (CCM) to photosynthesize much more efficiently than plants. This week, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team from Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of York report a long-time unexplained step in the CCM of green algae—which is key to develop a functional CCM in food crops to boost productivity “Most crops are plagued by photorespiration, which occurs when Rubisco—the enzyme that drives photosynthesis—cannot differentiate between life-sustaining carbon dioxide and oxygen molecules that waste large amounts of the plant’s energy,” said James Moroney, the Streva Alumni Professor at LSU and member of Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE). “Ultimately, our goal is to engineer a CCM in crops to surround Rubisco with more carbon dioxide, making it more efficient and less likely to grab oxygen molecules—a problem that is shown to worsen as temperatures rise.”. Read the entire article

 LSU Researchers Find Clue to ‘Maternal Instinct’

Oxytocin is widely referred to as the love hormone and plays an important role in the regulation of social and maternal behavior. In recent years, the oxytocin system in the brain has received tremendous attention as key to new treatments for many mental health disorders, such as anxiety, autism spectrum disorders and postpartum depression. New research led by a biologist and his students at LSU have discovered a group of cells that are activated by oxytocin in one area of female mouse brains that are not present in the same area in male mouse brains.

“Many researchers have attempted to investigate the difference between the oxytocin system in females versus males, but no one has successfully found conclusive evidence until now. Our discovery was a big surprise,” said Ryoichi Teruyama, LSU Department of Biological Sciences associate professor, who led this study published in PLOS ONE. Read the Press Release

Lauren Frankel Receives Undergraduate Research Prize from  the American Society of Plant Taxonomists

Lauren Frankel just completed a bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.A., and is a recipient of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists 2019 Undergraduate Research Prize. Frankel was nominated for research she completed after being awarded a competitive summer fellowship to study with Dr. Laura Lagomarsino at Louisiana State University to study computational phylogenomics last year. Over the course of the summer of 2018, Frankel analyzed two sequence capture datasets to infer phylogenetic and phylogeographic relationships within Neotropical bellflowers. Nominator Lagomarsino says that “as a senior undergraduate, [Frankel] already performs bioinformatic research at a level well above what I expect of graduate students, and even many postdoctoral fellows.” Frankel was also a participant in a National Science Foundation funded REU program at the Ohio State University where she generated and analyzed RADseq data for a population genomic study of Palmer’s amaranth. She has also studied tropical biology during a semester in Peru.

Vinyard One of 73 Scientists to Receive DOE's Early Career Award

the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science announced selection of 73 scientists from across the nation – including 27 from DOE’s national laboratories and 46 from U.S. universities – to receive significant funding for research as part of DOE’s Early Career Research Program. The effort, now in its tenth year, is designed to bolster the nation’s scientific workforce by providing support to exceptional researchers during the crucial early career years, when many scientists do their most formative work. Under the program, university-based researchers will receive about $150,000 per year to cover summer salary and research expenses. For researchers based at DOE national laboratories, where DOE typically covers full salary and expenses of laboratory employees, grants will be about $500,000 per year to cover year-round salary plus research expenses. The research grants are planned for five years. Read more about the award.

Esselstyn Promoted to Associate Professor

Congratulations to Dr. Esselstyn on his promotion  to Associate Professor! Esselstyn is the Curator of Mammals at the Museum of Natural Science and Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University. In the lab, we study island biogeography, phylogenetics, systematics, co-evolution, and community ecology. Most of our research focuses on small mammals from Southeast Asia and Africa. In general, we conduct biodiversity surveys and use genetic and morphological characters of organisms to understand how species and populations are related to each other and how they interact with their environment. Our efforts help inform how biotic and abiotic processes produce the patterns of biodiversity we see today. The species-level diversity of mammals remains poorly documented, and we devote a lot of time and money to documenting this diversity. Click here to view Dr. Esselstyn's lab website.

Cormier Lab Published in PubMed

The Cormier Lab has three publications in PubMed that were accepted in June 2019. Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals: Linking Air Pollution and Poor Respiratory Health?; Elevated Levels of Type 2 Respiratory Innate Lymphoid Cells in Human Infants with Severe RSV Bronchiolitis; and Maternal childhood and lifetime traumatic life events and infant bronchiolitis.Click here for a detailed description and a link to the papers.

Maruska's Research Published in General and Comparative Endocrinology

The Maruska Lab has a new paper out showing that the mTOR kinase is involved in reproductive plasticity in male cichlid fish as they rise in social status to dominance - some similarities to mammals, and role in male reproduction may be conserved across vertebrates. Read the paper in General and Comparative Endocrinology.

The Kelly Lab's Research Featured on the Cover of Molecular Ecology

Lab member and Graduate student Joanna Griffiths asks whether physiological and transcriptomic responses to acidification differ among corals from different upwelling regimes. Ocean acidification (OA), the global decrease in surface water pH from absorption of anthropogenic CO2, may put many marine taxa at risk. However, populations that experience extreme localized conditions, and are adapted to these conditions predicted in the global ocean in 2,100, may be more tolerant to future OA. By identifying locally adapted populations, researchers can examine the mechanisms used to cope with decreasing pH. Read the paper in Molecular Ecology


Department of Biological Sciences Selects New Chair

Professor Evanna Gleason has been selected as the next chair for the Department of Biological Sciences. Dr. Gleason began her role as chair in May of this year. Read more about Dr. Gleason.

Dr. William R. Lee (February 14, 1930 – April 30, 2019)

Dr. William R. Lee was a professor in Biological Sciences at LSU where he taught genetics for 33 years, and employed many students on his grants to do research in numerous areas of genetics. Respected by his students, a postdoctoral student of Bill’s established the Dr. William R. Lee Professorship in Genetics through the LSU Foundation. Bill established the Institute of Mutagenesis to draw together the expertise of scientists in various departments for creative research proposals that were awarded competitive grants from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Energy, and Environmental Protection Agency. In 1996, he received the international award of the year in “recognition of his sustained research on the genetic effects on environmental mutagens in Drosophila” by the Environmental Mutagen Society. He presented his research to international conferences across the globe. Bill will be deeply missed. In remembrance of Bill, contributions may be made to the Dr. William R. Lee Professorship in Genetics through the LSU Foundation. For more information contact

Dr. William Lee at his microscope

Inventorship Showcase

LSU recognizes patent holding faculty at an award ceremony held at the Lod Cook Alumni Center on April 23. Learn more about LSU Innovation &Technology Commercialization.

LSU faculty recognized at the inventorship showcase for innovations


Congratulations to Dr. Siebenaller

Dr. Joseph Siebenaller was presented with the Dr. Marion D. “Soc” Socolofsky Award for Teaching Excellence at a ceremony today.  This award is given to a faculty member in the College of Science who embodies the pedagogic qualities Dr. Socolofsky was known for, i.e. strong mentoring, student involvement, going above and beyond the classroom, passion for the student experience, and public outreach.  The recipient should also embody the personal qualities Dr. Soc was known for, i.e. genial, engaging with students, and seen as a resource/advocate.

Congratulations Dr. Joseph Siebenaller !Dr. Siebenaller (bottom middle) recieves award among colleagues

Scientists Construct New Family Tree for Perching Birds

Scientists have reconstructed the tree of life for all major lineages of perching birds, also known as passerines, a large and diverse group of more than 6,000 species that includes familiar birds like cardinals, warblers, jays and sparrows. LSU researchers led the massive project using 221 bird specimens from 48 countries, including 56 tissue samples from the LSU Museum of Natural Science’s Collection of Genetic Resources.

Read Press Release

Pediatric Health Researchers Offer Insights for RSV Vaccine

A new publication in Frontiers in Immunology by Stephania Cormier, the LSU Department of Biological Sciences Wiener Chair professor, and colleagues offers new insights for vaccine development, both active and passive, to prevent this deadly disease. This study is of particular interest following the recent failure of ResVax, an RSV vaccine by Novavax, to prevent RSV disease in infants via maternal immunization. Read More

Superfund Research Program Community Outreach

Louisiana State University SRP Center team members participated in STEM night at Westdale Middle School. They showed students how to use Legos to model air chemistry and pollution.

 Louisiana State University SRP Center team members participated in STEM night at Westdale Middle School. They showed students how to use Legos to model air chemistry and pollution. (Photo courtesy of LSU SRP Center)

First Steps: Scientists launch evolutionary study to explore the origins of fish that walk

A new research collaboration with support from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, begins an unprecedented study of walking cavefish to better understand the “fin-to-limb” transition that enabled the first vertebrates to walk on land more than 350 million years ago. This new research collaboration between LSU, New Jersey Institute of Technology, or NJIT, and University of Florida is set to launch the first evolutionary study of the unique pelvic structure and walking mechanics of the waterfall-climbing blind cavefish, or Cryptotora thamicola — the only living species of fish known capable of walking on land with a similar motion as four-limbed vertebrates, or tetrapods, which include mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Read More

LSU Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Laine Named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow

LSU Professor of Biological Sciences Roger Laine has been named a Fellow to the National Academy of Inventors. With the 2018 class, Laine is one of 148 NAI Fellows selected this year, and the fifth from LSU. More than 1,000 fellows represent more than 250 research universities and government and non-profit research institutes. The 2018 Fellows are named inventors on nearly 4,000 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI Fellows to more than 35,000 issued U.S. patents. Read More

Three LSU Faculty Among Top Cited Researchers 2018

The three LSU faculty included in the 2018 list of 6,078 scholars worldwide are Charles D. Nichols, professor of pharmacology at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans; Johnny Matson, professor of psychology and Distinguished Research Master; and Brant C. Faircloth, assistant professor in the LSU Department of Biological Sciences and a research associate at the LSU Museum of Natural Science.

This is the first year that Clarivate Analytics has looked specifically at cross-field citations, and both Matson and Faircloth are included in this prestigious category, listing 2,020 scholars. As stated in the report, “ frontier areas of research are frequently interdisciplinary, it is even more important to identify scientists and social scientists working and contributing substantially at the Cross-Field leading edge.”

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Four LSU Professors among 2018 AAAS Fellows

Four LSU faculty members have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, the world’s largest general scientific society. The four LSU professors are among the 416 AAAS members, who have been elevated to the rank of Fellow because of their efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Read More

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 More

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 More

BioSci Archives

News before 2020


LSU Awards More than 900 Degrees during Summer Commencement
LSU Employees Recognized During Summer Commencement
LSU Students to Begin Moving Back to Campus Aug. 12
Avoyelles Parish School Board Signs Dual Enrollment Agreement with LSUA
LSU Health New Orleans Discovers Major Contributor to Alzheimer’s Disease

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