Fall Convocation scheduled August 12
Southeastern will launch the 2016-2017 academic year with its annual fall convocation
for faculty and staff on Friday, Aug. 12, beginning at 11 a.m. in the Student Union
The convocation will include the traditional presentation of the President’s
Awards for Excellence, the university’s highest faculty and staff honors, as well
as presentation of service awards to faculty and staff who have been with the university
from 25 to 50 years. Also to be recognized are new faculty and staff, faculty tenure
and promotions, and donors who have established newly endowed professorships.
The annual Alumni Association-sponsored picnic will immediately follow the morning’s
ceremonies and will also take place in the Student Union Ballroom.
Mythbusters consultant makes physics understandable
Southeastern Physics Professor Rhett Allain is a strong advocate of sharing scientific
views with the general public. He likes to break science down to a more easily understandable
So the Discovery Channel’s show Mythbusters, which ended its run on TV this year, was a natural draw for him.
In 2011, the hosts of Mythbusters – special effects specialists Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman – tried to include a
scientific explanation on auto collisions for one of their episodes. Some errors in
that episode caught Allain’s attention.
Allain criticized the segment in a blog post; the producers and hosts read the
blog, then got in touch with him about serving as a physics adviser.
“They have had science advisers in the past, but not one specifically focused
on physics,” explained Allain, who worked on approximately 20 episodes. “My job was
to take something complicated and make it short and easy to understand. They generally
accepted my explanations, and I also helped select some of the myths to be featured.”
Allain generally worked with the producers, but has met the hosts via Skype. Among
his favorite episodes are the floating lead balloon, the train tanker collapse, and
the analysis of the classic question “will a bullet fired from a gun hit the ground
at the same time as one that is dropped?”
“Neither host is a scientist; they both come from a movie special effects background,”
he said. “That’s what makes the show appealing. These are just normal guys, not scientists,
who are willing to tackle various questions. Basically they do science fair projects,
but on a much larger scale. There’s value there because it does get people excited
Allain takes his excitement about science into his classrooms and labs. Christina
Klein, a junior from Ponchatoula, La., said his approach to teaching physics made
the class fun and interesting.
“It was a class period that ran longer than most, but he made it so enjoyable
that the time really flew by,” she said. “As a childhood education major, I learned
how to teach some complex material in a way that’s understandable. It was something
that I was able to experience first-hand that I can definitely use when I have my
own classroom one day.”
Allain makes his own efforts to get others thinking about science. In addition
to his blog, he writes a regular column for Wired Magazine and for their online website. He is also the author of several books, including Just Enough Physics, which goes over the basic science in a first semester college or high school physics
course; Geek Physics – Surprising Answers to the Planet’s Most Interesting Questions, which draws questions from movies, TV shows and viral videos; and the National Geographic
book Angry Birds Furious Forces: The Physics at Play in the World’s Most Popular Game.
For Superbowl 50 earlier this year, he was asked to pen an article for Sports Illustrated that examined the physics behind the building of a “better” football. While the game
itself has undergone changes over the years, he said, the football itself has changed
In his article, Allain explained the physics involved in changing the shape of
the football: could it be thrown further or with greater velocity and what impact
would it have on the game?
The online piece was turned into a video by Sports Illustrated for use on its website. Filming was conducted at Southeastern using several SLU players,
including one of Allain’s own students. The article and accompanying video can be
found at wired.com/2015/10/how-to-use-physics-to-build-a-better-football/.
Is Allain concerned he will ever run out of questions?
“My ideas just come from being alive. I see stuff all the time that can relate
to physics in some way,” he said. “Sometimes this will come from a movie I’ve seen
or a cool YouTube video. Other times, I find stuff just in everyday life, like looking
at the differing prices of LEGO pieces or wondering why different batteries cost different
amounts. I take lots of pictures of stuff – you never know when you’re going to need
them; and I keep a list of blog ideas which come faster than I can write about them.
So I have a huge list of ideas that I can always do.”
Allain didn’t always want to be a teacher. “I wanted to be a super-cool physicist.
But once I ended up teaching labs in graduate school, I was hooked. Teaching and learning
physics attracted me in a way that made it more interesting than playing video games.”
APPLYING PHYSICS TO FOOTBALL –Southeastern Associate Professor of Physics Rhett Allain observes as a Sports Illustrated cameraman films Lion running back Rasheed Harrell for a video that ran on the magazine’s
website. In the video, Allain reviewed the impact that changing the shape of the football
could have on the game.
SBDC asked to present at conference for millennial workers
The Louisiana Small Business Development Center and the American Small Business Development
Center hosted a new conference aimed at offering professional development training
and retaining millennial employees.
The first Maximizing Millennial Minds Conference took place June 8 - 9 at the
DoubleTree by Hilton in New Orleans. Millennials, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, are now the U.S. workforce’s largest generation.
Southeastern’s SBDC was asked to participate and share their best practices with
regard to consulting and training and the center’s culture.
The session was designed to help attendees better understand how to deal with
millennial clients, and offer innovative tools and resources to make the counseling
process easier and more efficient. The session was presented to other SBDCs from around
SBDC PRESENTS AT CONFERENCE - Members of the Louisiana Small Business Development Center at Southeastern who
recently presented at the Maximizing Millennial Minds Conference are, from left, Senior
Business Consultant Wayne Ricks, Assistant Director Sandy Summers, Director William
Joubert, and Business Consultant Brandy Boudreaux.
Yuan receives donation to attend conference
Lu Yuan, right, interim head of the Department of Computer Science and Industrial
Technology, accepts a $1,000 donation from Connie Fabre, executive director of the
Greater Baton Rouge Industry Alliance (GBRIA), to enable him to attend the American
Society of Safety Engineers’ professional development conference in Atlanta in June.
Yuan will organize the ASSE’s Academic Forum. The donation will also be used
toward the OSH&E Spring 2016 graduation ceremony, where the graduating seniors received
the GSP (Graduate Safety Practitioner) designations from BCSP (Board of Certified
“This is the fifth year in a row that GBRIA has provided the financial support
to the OSH&E program. GBRIA has been continually offering advice, help and support
to the OSH&E program since the program started,” Yuan said. “Attending the conference
will provide a great opportunity to publicize our program and promote professional
development of the program faculty. The OSH&E graduation ceremony provides a great
opportunity to celebrate the OSH&E students’ maturation from student to professional.
As always, we appreciate GBRIA’s generosity very much.”
Changes in the Division of Academic Affairs
Please make note of some recent changes in the Division of Academic Affairs.
Dr. Lucia Harrison is the new director for International Initiatives. She is
currently a professor and head of the Department of Languages and Communication. Dr.
Harrison is an international educator who has been actively involved in study-abroad
programs and other international initiatives. Dr. Harrison may be contacted at 549-2135.
Dr. Claire Procopio is the new director of the Honors Program. She is currently
the undergraduate coordinator for the Department of Languages and Communication and
the Elizabeth Weeks Jones Endowed Professor for the Humanities. Dr. Procopio has experience
in honors from both the faculty and student side. Dr. Procopio may be contacted at
Dr. Nena Tucker is the interim director of the Center for Faculty Excellence.
Dr. Tucker is an assistant professor of nursing and has previous experience in both
faculty development and distance education. Dr. Tucker may be contacted at 549-5791.
Southeastern student awarded scholarship to attend journalism convention
Danita Winfrey, a Southeastern communication major from Baton Rouge, has received
a scholarship from the Baton Rouge Area Association of Black Journalists (BRAABJ).
The organization recently awarded four scholarships to area college students,
including Winfrey, to attend the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ)
Convention and Career Fair in Washington, D.C., in August.
The scholarships will cover the convention registration, airfare and hotel, for
a total of more than $5,000.
“We are so excited to once again give aspiring student journalists an opportunity
to attend the NABJ convention and meet journalists from across the country who can
help guide them in their careers,” said BRAABJ Founder and President Michelle McCalope.
“The experience is life changing.”
As part of the convention, students will have an opportunity to meet professional
journalists and potential employers from across the country and attend numerous professional
workshops. NABJ will host the convention, along with the National Association of Hispanic
Journalists. It will be held from Aug. 3 to Aug. 7.
“It is truly a blessing to receive this scholarship,” Winfrey said. “It feels
great that the work I’m putting in is starting to pay off. I’m excited to see what
the convention has in store for me.”
The scholarships are funded by money raised at the BRAABJ Fourth Annual Scholarship
Luncheon, which was held in April. BRAABJ has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships
and sent seven students and two media professionals to the NABJ convention in 2014
BRAABJ was founded in 2012. Its mission is to promote and support journalists
of color and mentor and provide scholarships to aspiring student journalists.