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Nicholls Receives More Than $1 Million in Grant Funding

Board of Regents Grant Recipients 2014
THIBODAUX — The Louisiana Board of Regents has awarded Nicholls State University $1,005,843 in grants that will enhance the university’s research opportunities, classroom instruction and community outreach.

Grants will fund 14 projects, including oil spill research, high-tech scientific equipment, student learning initiatives and undergraduate research opportunities. This is the most grant money the university has ever received in a single year from the Louisiana Board of Regents, said Debi Benoit, director of research and sponsored programs. Typically the university receives about $350,000 per year.

“We’ve had a tremendous success with our grant applications during the past couple of years,” Benoit said. “Even though our faculty are doing more with less and taking on additional teaching loads, they still find the time to devote to research. Securing this funding is ultimately for the good of the students, who will benefit directly from these grants.”

Grant funds will allow Nicholls to:

  • Purchase equipment for heavy metal analysis, allowing the university to better study environmental issues such as heavy metal toxicity in local waters and species (Dr. Enmin Zou, professor of biological sciences);
  • Transform a room in the Ellender Memorial Library into a state-of-the-art workshop and teaching venue with up-to-date presentation technologies and software for student and faculty research (Dr. Allyse Ferrara, associate professor of biological sciences);
  • Equip physical science classrooms with high-quality projectors, interactive presentation tools and integrated sound systems (Dr. Chadwick Young, associate professor of physical sciences);
  • Furnish a classroom with tools and hands-on learning stations to prepare future math teachers for modern classrooms (Dr. DesLey Plaisance, associate professor of mathematics and director of graduate studies);
  • Equip the Department of Physical Sciences with a more sophisticated server and develop instructional videos and hands-on activities for the teaching of computational chemistry (Dr. Yusheng Dou, associate professor of physical sciences);
  • Acquire a 300-megahertz nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer needed for chemistry curriculum and research (Dr. Vincent Sichula, associate professor of physical sciences);
  • Provide teacher education candidates with iPads to aid K-5 students struggling with reading (Drs. Cynthia Vavasseur and Frances Crochet, associate professors of education);
  • Purchase two state-of-the-art portable telescopes to enhance astronomy education and promote science (Dr. Kaisa Young, associate professor of physical sciences);
  • Obtain hardware and software needed to develop engaging online course content in the College of Business Administration (Dr. Chuck Viosca, associate professor of marketing);
  • Establish a graduate research fellowship in the marine and environmental biology program (Dr. Aaron Pierce, associate professor of biological sciences);
  • Fund an 11.5-month mathematics professional development project designed to help teachers better understand and communicate math concepts (Dr. DesLey Plaisance, associate professor of mathematics and director of graduate studies);
  • Acquire a gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer, allowing students to separate and identify organic compounds and better understand the complex chemistry in the environment (Dr. Darcey Wayment, associate professor of physical sciences and Dr. Jim Baker, associate professor of physical sciences);
  • Create a compound that can be used to make cheaper solar cells, used to generate solar energy (Dr. Vincent Sichula, assistant professor of physical sciences);
  • Research the optimum conditions for oil degradation in contaminated oyster beds and estimate the recovery time needed for oyster cultivation (Dr. Raj Boopathy, distinguished service professor of biological sciences).


CAPTION: Nicholls faculty were awarded more than $1 million in academic grants by the Louisiana Board of Regents. (left to right) Vice President for Academic Affairs Laynie Barrilleaux; Dr. Darcey Weyment, associate professor of physical sciences; Dr. Raj Boopathy, distinguished service professor of biological sciences; Dr. Frances Crochet, associate professor of education; Dr. DesLey Plaisance, associate professor of mathematics and director of graduate studies; Dr. Vincent Sichula, associate professor of physical sciences; Dr. Aaron Pierce, associate professor of biological sciences; Dr. Enmin Zou, professor of biological sciences; Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur, associate professor of education; Dr. Chadwick Young, associate professor of physical sciences; Dr. Allyse Ferrara, associate professor of biological sciences; Debi Benoit, director of research and sponsored programs; Dr. Chuck Viosca, associate professor of marketing; Dr. Yusheng Dou, associate professor of physical sciences; Dr. Jim Baker, associate professor of physical sciences; Nicholls President Bruce Murphy. Not pictured: Dr. Kaisa Young, associate professor of physical science.

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