Nicholls Professor Receives Patent for Postdoctoral Research

Dr. Uttam Pokharel

THIBODAUX, La. — A Nicholls State University professor of chemistry has been awarded a patent for a process that converts an industrial waste product into a useful organic molecule.

During his postdoctoral research at Louisiana State University in 2014, Nicholls assistant chemistry professor Dr. Uttam Pokharel was part of a team that developed a process that captures carbon dioxide and converts it into oxalic acid, a value-added compound. The patent was issued from the office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization at LSU.

Having faculty on staff like Dr. Pokharel helps further Nicholls chemistry’s mission of educating and equipping students to become the best doctors, pharmacists, researchers and chemists in the nation.

“We are different from other Louisiana universities in that we have an intense focus on mentorship,” said Dr. Chad Young, Nicholls chemistry department head. “Professor Dr. Uttam Pokharel mentors some of our best students, and they look to him as a model for what it means to be a scholar and scientist. This patent is further evidence of his excellence as a researcher, and it confirms his students’ high view of the work they do in his lab.”

During this research, Dr. Pokharel developed a system in which a binuclear copper complex selectively captures carbon dioxide from the air and converts it into oxalate. The oxalate can be released from the complex in the form of oxalic acid using commonly available acids.

Oxalic acid is primarily used in the dye industry but can also clean iron, wood, stone or vinyl. The molecule can also be further converted into ethanol or ethylene glycol, which could help address the fuel shortage problem.

“I contributed to perform the experiments, Dr. Frank Fronczek, a crystallographer, contributed in the characterization of complexes”, Dr. Pokharel says. The project was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Maverick, a chemistry professor at LSU. “As an inventor, I will get a part of its royalty if the patent gets commercialized.”


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Students Bring Home 12 Culinary, Hospitality Awards

THIBODAUX, La. — Twelve Nicholls State University current and future students were awarded scholarships from the Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation. Nicholls student Dustin Rockwell also received the top prize, the Jim Funk Scholarship.

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation Scholarship Fund in 2019 awarded $52,400 more than 24 ProStart and LRA Board scholarships. Current and future Nicholls students earned 12 of those scholarships.

Rockwell, who graduated from Slidell High School in 1998, enrolled at the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute with the hopes of learning how to operate a café. His goal at Nicholls is to attend Institut Paul Bocuse in France. This his second year of receiving an LRAEF scholarship and he continued a Nicholls tradition in earning the top award.

The Jim Funk Scholarship is named after the former LRA President & CEO who created the educational foundation during his 30 years with the organization.

The recipients were honored on March 21 at an LRAEF event “Serving the Future — Celebrating Careers in Hospitality” at Generations Hall in New Orleans. The scholarships range from about $2,000 to $2,400.

Created in 2009, the LRAEF Scholarship Fund has awarded nearly $50,000 in financial support for students interested in advancing their education in culinary, hospitality or related fields since its inception.

The LRA Board Fund Scholarship is presented to students who intend to pursue a career in the restaurant, food service, tourism or hospitality industry. The fund is supported through an annual donation by the LRA Board of Directors. Current or future Nicholls students receiving the scholarship are Sara Baiamonte, a freshman from Robert; Blane Coley, a freshman from St. Francisville; Claire LeBlanc a sophomore from Abita Springs; Jenna Duryea, a junior from Mandeville; Janesa Buras, a sophomore from Abita Springs; Taylor Mattox, a junior from Baton Rouge; and Kiersten Wegman, a junior from Chalmette.

The ProStart Scholarship is presented to students who have or will receive the National ProStart Certificate of Achievement. This year’s current or future Nicholls recipients are Cade Kershenstine, a graduating senior at Hammond High Magnet School; Kacey Kile, a graduating senior at West Feliciana High School; Brock Nicholls, a sophomore from Sulphur; and Andrew Cambre, a freshman from Cambre.

Central Louisiana students pursuing a culinary or hospitality career can receive the LRA Cenla Chapter Scholarship. This year’s recipient is Taylor Mason, a Nicholls student from Anacoco High School.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls, Bollinger Announce Foundation Endowment

Boysie Bollinger, center, poses with a check honoring the $1 million he has contributed to Nicholls State University and the Nicholls Foundation in 2019. From left: Nicholls President, Dr. Jay Clune; first lady, Allison Clune; Bollinger; Nicholls Foundation President, Chris Riviere; and Nicholls Foundation Executive Director, Jeremy Becker. (Misty McElroy/Nicholls State University).

THIBODAUX, La. — Boysie Bollinger and Nicholls State University are proud to announce a new $700,000 endowment to the Nicholls Foundation.

Bollinger, the former president and CEO of Bollinger Shipyards and current chairman of the Nicholls Foundation Board, has now contributed $1 million to the university in 2019. In March, Bollinger donated $300,000 to renovate the Donald G. Bollinger Student Union, named for his father.

“Boysie Bollinger is an icon in Louisiana as both a leader in industry and philanthropist,” said Jeremy Becker, executive director of the Nicholls Foundation. “We are already grateful for his leadership on the Foundation Board, and this gift will ensure his impact continues long into the future.”

Known for his contributions to the shipbuilding industry and his generous philanthropy, Bollinger has long-supported Nicholls State University. Among his many contributions to Nicholls was the first $1 million endowment in school history. He was recognized for his work with Nicholls with an honorary doctorate at the Fall 2018 Commencement.

“In recent years, higher education hasn’t received the support from the state that it needs, so it is important for the community to help supplement that gap,” Bollinger said. “The Nicholls Foundation supports all areas of the campus, from endowed professorships to scholarships to facility renovations and new buildings. This endowment will help the Foundation work day-to-day to reach its goal of uplifting Nicholls.”

The Nicholls Foundation manages approximately $25 million in endowed funds and provides about $2 million annually to the university through over 26 endowed scholarships and 63 professorships. Additionally, the Foundation assists with ongoing needs across the campus through annual funding and major donor acquisition efforts with a focus on facility improvements and construction.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Makes Hidden Gems of the Southeast List

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University was named one of 25 Hidden Gems of the Southeast by

In its methodology, used criteria including small annual enrollment, small class sizes, retention rates, student reviews from reputable resources that index college and university statistics, accreditation and prestige.

Of Nicholls, OnlineSchoolsCenter wrote: “Nicholls State University is a place of joy and passion. Students are extremely dedicated to their academic success, as well as their social experience. The campus setting is rural and the student body is culturally rich and diverse.”

The southeast region includes universities and colleges from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia.

Nicholls was one of two schools to make the list located in Louisiana. is a school resource geared toward helping business professionals, busy stay-at-home moms and dads and those with full schedules who would prefer an online option versus its brick and mortar counterpart.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Professor Heads to New York for STEM Program

Dr. Brigett Scott (Photo by Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences, Director of the Honors Program, and Associate Professor of Dietetics Dr. Brigett Scott has been selected to participate in the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture On the Farm STEM professional development in Syracuse, New York from May 21-23.

Dr. Scott was one of 60 participants selected among 550 applicants.

“Learning more about sustainable agricultural practices and ways that we can teach these concepts to consumers is an integral part of increasing knowledge about nutrition, the food supply and the health of our communities,” Dr. Scott said.

On the Farm takes educators from various fields, including health and science, to visit farms and ranches, meet with farmers, learn from leading experts and discuss ways to advance STEM education. The program also offers lessons, activities, online learning tools and professional development events designed to bring science to life with the help of beef cattle ranchers, researchers, nutritionists and veterinarians.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture works to educate the public on the importance of agriculture by reconnecting the American public with the people that grow their food, equipping agricultural leaders with the skills needed to educate Americans of all ages and by building relationships with schools to enhance ag educational tools and resources.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Bank Case Study Team Selected to Advance

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University’s Community Bank Case Study Competition student team is one of 15 nationwide that have advanced to a second round of the 2019 Conference of State Bank Supervisors competition.

The team, selected by finance faculty, partnered with a local community bank to develop a case study using the bank’s story through media including essay, charts and video.

This year’s competition examines how the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act has helped community banks foster economic growth.

Teams advancing to the second round were chosen from a pool of 58 undergraduate student teams representing 44 colleges and universities.

The CSBS’ competition aims to give students first-hand knowledge of the banking industry.

The students’ work will be judged by two additional panels of experts, with the top three teams being announced on May 23 at the CSBS State-Federal Supervisors Symposium in San Antonio. The announcement will be streamed live on Twitter, at @CSBSNews.

Winners receive an academic scholarship, a chance to get their work published in an academic journal and an opportunity to attend the seventh annual CSBS-Federal Reserve Community Banking Research Conference, which will be in St. Louis in October.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Ranked Safest University in Louisiana By Security Resource

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls State University has been ranked the safest campus in Louisiana by online security resource,

Using data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security analysis and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, looked at the main campuses of public, private and non-profit colleges that offer two- and four-year degrees and have at least 5,000 students. A total of 435 schools met the criteria, and from there, factors to determine safety included hate crimes per enrolled students, violence against women per enrolled females, property crime per population and violent crime per population.

University Police Department Chief Craig Jaccuzzo said one impressive factor is that Nicholls is a four-year residential institution with every extra-curricular activity and a full list of athletic programs, and similar institutions struggle to make lists such as this.

“UPD maintains the foundations of community policing, in that our officers are responsive to the particular needs of our university. We use out of the box critical thinking skills for the solutions instead of the traditional policing,” Chief Jaccuzzo said. “We are regularly recognized as a university with a low crime rate. It is because of the hard work from the men and women of UPD and because our administration, faculty and students will not stand for certain behaviors on campus.”

An online safety advocate, promotes information to build safer environments and provides local security through ADT all across the country.


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Concert Choir to Reflect on Home, Belonging in May Performance

Nicholls Concert Choir performs at the grand opening of the Mary and Al Danos Theater in 2016. (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Nicholls Concert Choir invites you to explore the longing, warmth, joy and serenity that the word “home” often evokes as they perform at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday,  May 7.

The performance, “The Road Home,” is free to the public and will be at at the Mary and Al Danos Theater.

Nicholls Director of Choral Activities Dr. John St. Marie began planning this concert before he returned to the Bayou Region from his previous post in California during 2018.

The audience will be able to appreciate diverse music, which ranges from folksong to opera chorus as the Concert Choir and Chamber Choir sing pieces including “The Road Home,” “Shenandoah” and “Sweet Home.”

“As I began to reflect on that journey, so many beautiful songs came to mind that captured the feelings and longing one might feel for their home or family after a long absence,” Dr. St. Marie said. “The program is centered on the journey and how the path unfolds for each of us. It encourages us to reflect upon the tapestry of our lives and to show gratitude for all that has shaped us into who we are and who we choose to become.

“For some of my singers, it isn’t where they grew up or a particular experience, but how they choose to surround themselves with people and experiences that create that feeling of belonging.”

The Nicholls Concert Choir performs a variety of choral literature from all historical style periods each semester and performs at least one major work each year. The choir has performed with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra, New Orleans Opera, Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Acadiana Symphony and Jefferson Performing Arts Society.  


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Eat Crawfish and Support PETSM Students at End of the Year Boil

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Department of Petroleum Engineering Technology and Safety Management invites you to celebrate the end of the semester in style with an all-you-can-eat crawfish boil.

The American Society of Safety Professionals Bayou Chapter and the PETSM department will host their annual fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 at the Colonel Soccer Complex.

Each year, the groups boil more than 900 pounds of crawfish, potatoes, corn and sausage. Proceeds from the event go to the Nicholls ASSP Student Section to help pay for students to attend the premier ASSP Safety Technical Conference June 10-13 in New Orleans. Last year, ASSP funded students to travel to the conference in San Antonio.

Wren Lemmon, PETSM adjunct instructor and ASSP Bayou chapter president, says he expects students, local safety professionals and regional oil and gas alumni to attend the event.

“Our annual fundraiser contributes to the ability to engage our PETSM students by means of networking opportunities, education and advocacy for the safety profession,” Lemmon says. “The best part of this event is watching our students have great discussions with seasoned professionals, potential employers and other students around all things safety.”

The ASSP is the world’s oldest professional safety society. ASSP promotes the expertise, leadership and commitment of its members while providing them with professional development, advocacy and standards development.

Tickets are $20. For more information or to purchase tickets,


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or

Nicholls Wind Ensemble Concert to Feature American Band Classics

THIBODAUX, La. — The Nicholls Wind Ensemble is set to perform its final concert of the 2018-19 season next week.

Free and open to the public, the “American Band Classics” is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, May 6 in the Mary and Al Danos Theater. The ensemble is made up of students from various majors throughout the university and is directed by music instructor Dr. Jason Ladd.

The program will feature American classics including “Rocky Point Holiday” by Brown University professor Ron Nelson, who wrote the song about his vacations at Rocky Point in Rhode Island; “Magneticfireflies” by Augusta Read Thomas, whose music has been premiered by the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic; “Sanctuary” by University of Southern California professor Frank Ticheli, who is one of the most performed composers by college bands; and William Schuman’s “Chester,” a song based on a Revolutionary War tune by William Billings.

Senior music major Kelsie Felarise, from Lockport, will also conduct Aaron Copland’s “Down a Country Lane” and John Sousa’s “Glory of the Yankee Navy.”


CONTACT: Jacob Batte, Media Relations and Publications Coordinator, 985.448.4141 or