Louisiana Board of Regents awards Southeastern nine grants totalling nearly $600,000
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND -- Southeastern Louisiana University faculty members have been awarded nine grants totaling nearly $600,000 by the Louisiana Board of Regents to conduct various research projects or to enhance technology in teaching.
The $592,616 in grant funding will cover creative projects, basic scientific research and new equipment purchases.
Patrick McDowell, assistant professor of computer science who specializes in robotics, was awarded a $101,172 grant to develop a robot control system that can detect and adapt to changing conditions without human intervention.
“Robots rely on various sensors to obtain information about their environments, so they are susceptible to changes and fluctuations in the quality of information received due to mechanical and electronic variations in their sensors,” McDowell said. “Changes in the environment can also require the development of new robotic behaviors in order to achieve a specific goal. Development of this kind of system would benefit many classes of robots because it would provide methods of automatically compensating for these variations.”
For the third consecutive year, a Southeastern faculty member has received an ATLAS (Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars) grant. Andrew Traver, associate professor of history and political science, has a $46,500 grant to study the institutional and intellectual rivalries between secular and religious theologians that permeated the University of Paris in the late 13th century. Scholars associated with religious orders, particularly the Dominicans and Franciscans, had strong support from their respective orders as well as the papacy, he explained.
“With financial support covering copying costs, these theologians gained the 13th century equivalent of ‘star power’ and were transformed into European celebrities,” Traver said. “The secular masters had no such institutional support, and consequently many of their works were never printed and require considerable manuscript research.”
Traver claims this scholarly neglect of the secular masters has resulted in a one-sided view of the intellectual activity of the period. “The influence of these secular theologians is incalculable, as they helped to create literary and theological themes that today are considered as ‘antifraternal.’”
The images of friars as portly, lazy, self-indulgent individuals popularized in the writings of Chaucer and others stem directly from the works of these secular theologians, he said. His research will attempt to reintegrate these neglected historians into the history of the period.
The other research grant awarded to Southeastern was in the amount of $59,892 to Kent Neuerburg, associate professor of mathematics, and co-investigator Zachariah C. Teitler, assistant professor. The grant funds research in an area of modern mathematics known as algebraic geometry. Neuerburg explained that, despite considerable abstraction and technically sophisticated tools, modern algebraic geometry still contains a vast array of problems to be solved. Their research – while currently purely theoretical – may yield generalizations that can be applied to other mathematic models and areas.
Southeastern faculty members were also awarded six enhancement grants totaling more than $385,000 to assist instruction through improved technology and other resources.
A $105,605 grant was awarded to assistant professor Jennifer Jeansonne and instructor Karen Lew in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies to add equipment designed to assist students' understanding and measurement of human movement, and for the prevention and rehabilitation of athletic injuries.
The additions include training equipment designed to treat sports injuries, machines to test strength and rehab following injury, and electromyography systems for teaching and research.
"It's important that the student learning process include hands-on experiences that apply and enhance course concepts," Jeansonne said. "State-of-the-art equipment that helps to study and analyze human movement gives students the knowledge and skills they need for a variety of jobs and professions in the health and movement science fields, including hospital and university gait clinics, physical and occupational therapy clinics, athletic training, personal training and injury rehabilitation."
A $73,094 grant was awarded to the Department of Visual Arts to support a program designed to integrate digital arts with traditional sculpture by incorporating modern in-house prototyping technologies and 3D modeling increasingly used in business and industry.
“The new equipment will expand technological opportunities for students and faculty in both sculpture and digital art and provide a bridge between these two areas,” said John Valentino, who is working with Southeastern faculty artists Dale Newkirk and Jeff Mickey on the project. “This equipment allows students to develop small-scale, three-dimensional models of sculptures out of plastic materials.”
“While prototyping machinery is typical in industry, this is relatively new technology as it applies to art,” added Newkirk, who said Southeastern is among only a handful of institutions using it in art classes. “It is a valuable addition to our department’s overall infrastructure and allows us to create items that simply cannot be developed by hand. It should help our growing student population gain the skills and experiences in 3D modeling that are important for the future economic development of our region.”
Through a $70,000 award, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders will replace much of the clinical training equipment used by undergraduate and graduate students in the speech-language pathology program.
Department Head Paula S. Currie said new equipment, which includes modern computer-based monitoring and recording systems in the department’s Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic, is essential to provide students with training using the most up-to-date technology available and will enhance the graduate program’s national reaccreditation application.
Other enhancement grants include:
▪ A $50,112 award to the Department of Music and Dramatic Arts to improve its electronic piano lab by purchasing a new 16-station lab and integrating it with existing instruments into a new configuration. Department Head David Evenson said that in addition to teaching of undergraduate music majors, the lab will support the department’s growing Community Music School, which offers lessons to area school children and adults.
▪ A $49,241 grant will help develop an on-line orientation, mentoring and on-going support system for new and part-time clinical faculty in the School of Nursing, said Barbara Moffett, head of the program. “Our clinical faculty members are assigned to health care facilities away from the campus and sometimes in remote sites,” Moffett explained. “This project will enable us to develop modules that can be accessed electronically, resulting in a smoother transition for new and part-time clinical faculty who may have little direct contact with other faculty. This will give us greater consistency in learning experiences for students across our various clinical sites.”
▪ A $37,000 award will go to the Department of Visual Arts to purchase new image presentation equipment and to digitally convert and save the nearly 65,000 slides in its collection as well as expand the image collection used by faculty in art history and other courses. “Slides and film will be obsolescent within only a few years, and this requires the immediate digitization of our slide collection,” said Visual Resources Coordinator Lynda Katz, who is working with faculty member Irene Nero on the project.