BATON ROUGE – As a top-tier research institution, LSU research faculty are proven leaders in their fields. The LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, with the support of Campus Federal Credit Union, takes the opportunity each year to acknowledge a few of the outstanding faculty with the Rainmaker Awards for Research and Creative Activity. The Rainmakers reception will be held on Tuesday, March 10, at 7 p.m. at The Club at Union Square.
“Recognizing and celebrating our community’s outstanding faculty is important to Campus Federal, which is why we continue to invest in the future of the university through the LSU Rainmakers,” said Ron Moreau, Chief Development Officer at Campus Federal Credit Union.
Faculty members chosen as Rainmakers are those who balance their responsibilities – which extend far beyond the classroom – with external expectations such as securing funding for their research and establishing the impact of their findings to the scholarly community and society as a whole. They garner both national and international recognition for their innovative research and creative scholarship while also competing for external funding at the highest levels and attracting and mentoring exceptional graduate students.
“The LSU Rainmakers are exceptional leaders in their fields who bring national and international prominence to LSU. It is our pleasure to highlight these scholars with the support of Campus Federal Credit Union each year,” said Kalliat T. Valsaraj, Vice President of Research and Economic Development at LSU.
The 2014 Rainmakers are as follows:
• Megan Papesh: Department of Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Emerging Scholar
• Francisco Hung: Cain Department of Chemical Engineering and Center for Computation and Technology; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Emerging Scholar
• James Matthew Fannin: Department of Agricultural Economics, LSU AgCenter; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Mid-Career Scholar
• Parampreet Singh: Department of Physics and Astronomy, College of Science; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Mid-Career Scholar
• Ed Shihadeh: Department of Sociology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences; Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Senior Scholar
• James Moroney: Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Senior Scholar
Papesh, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology is the head of the Papesh Eye Movements, Memory and Attention Laboratory, which conducts research on core cognitive processes related to human perception of memory. Her focus is on the role of memory within core human cognitive processes.
Hung, a Paul M. Horton associate professor in the Cain Department of Chemical Engineering, earned the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation and the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. His research is focused on investigating different interfacial systems using computer simulations at the atomic and molecular level of detail.
Fannin, an associate professor of Rural and Community Development in the Department of Agricultural Economics, researches financial resiliency of rural county and parish governments to tropical natural disasters amidst changing federal policies. He works closely with local governments to help them prepare financially for future disasters, and his work has earned about $4 million in grants and contracts.
Singh, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, investigates the origins of the universe and the way properties of space and time emerged during its birth, ideas based in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. His work has been featured in a BBC documentary on the Big Bang. He is also the recipient of the Vainu Bappu Gold Medal by the Astronomical Society of India and the S. Chandrasekhar Award from the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation.
Shihadeh, a professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, focuses on Latinos and crime, and how the conceptual framework that Latino communities in the U.S. are split into two separate social worlds – older immigrants living in organized communities with low crime rates, and new immigrants living in disorganized neighborhoods with high crime rates and social problems. Understanding this duality in the Latino experience helps resolve the so-called “Latino paradox,” the apparent conundrum that Latino crime rates are far lower than expected given their high rates of poverty. Shihadeh’s research has been extensively reported in the media. His work as an advisor to the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office for the crime reduction effort, known as BRAVE, has helped to reduce violence in Baton Rouge by 35 percent over the past year.
Moroney, the Streva Alumni professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, works in fields ranging from biochemistry and molecular biology to cellular, developmental and integrative biology focusing mainly on the molecular biology of plants and photosynthesis. Working with both plants and algae, he and his research group noticed that most algae are more efficient than terrestrial plants at acquiring CO2 from the environment. Now, he is involved in an international collaboration to introduce algal CO2 concentrating mechanisms into crop plants, with the aim of improving photosynthesis. His research is funded by both the National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.