More Students Are Choosing Southeastern

More students are choosing Southeastern Louisiana University. The Fall 2019 freshman class grew over 2.2% over the previous year’s freshman class, for a total of 2,733 students, and the university welcomed a better-prepared new student as the overall ACT scores increased.

Greater numbers of highly qualified students are choosing Southeastern, proven with over a 7.4% increase in the number of students with an ACT of 24 or higher, totaling nearly 800 new students.

“We are very pleased with our 2019 freshman class. Our recruitment efforts emphasize the quality and value of a Southeastern degree and the incredible caring environment we provide. As a result, we are garnering more and more interest from new students,” said President John L. Crain.

Southeastern also saw record attendance at each of its on-campus recruitment events this past year, including a 55% increase in Lion Pride Preview events over the previous year.

“All indicators were that this would be a stronger and better-prepared freshman class, and the numbers show exactly what we expected,” explained Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Kay Maurin.

“Enhancements in our admission applications, improved communications to our new students, and stronger relationships with our high school partners generated positive results,” said Maurin. “Despite the shrinking high school population around the state, we are excited about our positive growth and highly qualified students choosing Southeastern.”

As the third-largest university in Louisiana, Southeastern continues to focus on the personal connections with core values of caring and excellence. Currently offering over 150 programs of study, including many that are regionally and nationally ranked, Southeastern continues to be a leader in higher education around the region.

Athletics Sets New Academic Records

The 2018 / 2019 academic year saw Southeastern Athletics place in the top five Southland universities for the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll for both the fall and spring semesters. Southeastern placed 117 students in the spring, representing the highest single-semester total in school history.


Fall 2018
Southeastern placed 81 student-athletes on the Fall 2018 Honor Roll.

Just under 1,000 student-athletes from the league’s 13 institutions landed a spot on the Fall Honor Roll overall. To be included, student-athletes from the sports of football, soccer, cross country, and volleyball had to post a grade point average of 3.00 or above for the semester. Southeastern’s contingent was the fifth largest among the league’s schools. For the semester, 198 Lions and Lady Lions had a 3.0 GPA or higher in the fall semester, as SLU Athletics posted a combined 3.13 department-wide GPA for the semester—the highest in school history.

The Southeastern football team led the way with 34 student-athletes, while 22 Lady Lion soccer players were among those honored. Southeastern was fourth among cross country programs with 15 members on the honor roll, while the SLU volleyball program featured 10 representatives.


Spring 2019
Building on the success of the fall semester, Southeastern placed 117 student-athletes on the Spring 2019 Honor Roll. The 117 honor roll selections represented the highest single-semester total in school history. Southeastern has placed 100 or more student-athletes on the spring honor roll for each of the last four years.

030118_293.jpgEvery Southeastern spring sports’ honor roll total was in the top half for their respective sport when compared to the other institutions’ programs. Leading the way was the Southeastern baseball team, which had 25 representatives on the honor roll— the most among the 13 Southland baseball programs. Coach Matt Riser’s squad’s contingent was highlighted by Academic All-American and Southland Student-Athlete of the Year Corey Gaconi. The league’s Pitcher of the Year was joined by fellow Southland All-Academic selections Jared Biddy, Mason Knopp, Kyle Schimpf, and Bryce Tassin. Gaconi and Schimpf were among five Lions who posted a 4.0 GPA this spring.

The women’s track and field program tied for department-high honors with 25 selections. Sixth among Southland women’s track programs, SLU was led by Southland All-Academic performers Ashley Davis and Grace Walford. Walford was one of four Lady Lions with a 4.0 spring semester GPA.

Walford and company’s male counterparts added 20 representatives to the honor roll, good for fifth among Southland men’s track and field programs. Southland All-Academic selection Gerald Coleman is among the Lions’ contingent, which also includes six 4.0 students this spring.

Southland All-Academic members Rebecca Skains and Madisen Blackford highlighted a 15-member contingent from the SLU softball program. Tanner Wright carried a 4.0 semester GPA for the Lady Lions, who had the fifth-highest honor roll tally among league softball programs.


The women’s basketball team was also fifth among league women’s basketball programs with nine honorees. Ashailee Brailey represented her team with a 4.0 GPA, while AllSouthland and All-Louisiana performer Celica Sterling was also among the Lady Lion representatives.

The men’s golf and women’s tennis programs each had eight honorees, ranking second and third, respectively, in the Southland among their respective sports. Head coach Jake Narro’s golf team had 100 percent representation on the honor roll, as all eight Lion golfers posted a 3.0 GPA or higher this semester, led by Southland All-Academic performer Joris Etlin.

The SLU tennis team maintained its top team GPA in Southeastern Athletics. Of its honor roll contingent, five had a 4.0 GPA this spring, including Southland All-Academic honoree Katya Cornejo.

Among Southland men’s basketball programs, SLU was fifth with seven honorees. Key contributors Kajon Brown and Pape Diop were among the Lion contingent.

“We want a culture of victory and success—victory in competition and success in the classroom. These record numbers demonstrate that we continue to ensure that wherever our athletes go in life, they will be well prepared for their future,” said Athletics Director Jay Artigues.


By Kemmler Chapple

Department of Biological Sciences Faculty Member and Alumnus Discover New Species of Crocodile

Above Image: From left with the new species at St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park are Jen Brueggen, park social media manager; Caleb McMahan; Christopher Murray; and John Brueggen, park director.

It has been a while since anyone has found a new crocodile. Thanks to the research of Southeastern Assistant Professor of Biology Christopher Murray and his colleague and former Southeastern classmate Caleb McMahan, that is no longer the case.

Biological Sciences Department Head Christopher Beachy said that in an average year, worldwide there are many species of reptile described; however, most of these are snakes or lizards.

“Discovery of new species is not often a case of being in nature, seeing something remarkable and exclaiming ‘Wow! This is an entirely new species.’” said Beachy. “New species are described mostly when experts, like Dr. Murray, are involved. We’re especially excited that this work began when Dr. Murray was studying to complete his master’s degree at Southeastern. That this has come to completion now that he is a tenure-track faculty member speaks to the quality of the training our graduate students receive. It also speaks to the international reputation that many of our faculty have. We’re very proud of that.”

Murray said the discovery is important because there are only about two dozen described species of extant crocodilian.

“Adding to the diversity of a group that small, being such large charismatic organisms with undiscovered species hiding right under our noses, is pretty rare,” he said. “This also sheds light on biogeographic patterns of other organisms in the area.”

As a student working on his master’s degree in biology at Southeastern, Murray was reading several papers by the late Philip Hall, a crocodilian biologist who worked in the U.S. on alligators and in Papua New Guinea on a species of crocodile called the New Guinea Crocodile (Crocodylus navaeguineae).

“My thesis was on alligators in the U.S., but I recalled Philip Hall providing ecological and morphological evidence that the New Guinea crocs on the north side of the Central Highlands – a mountain range that runs east-west on the island of New Guinea – were different than the ones on the south side of the mountain range,” Murray explained. “For instance, they nested at different times of the year and had different osteoderm – the little bones on their backs – patterns.”

At the time, Murray’s roommate and friend McMahan, now working for The Field Museum in Chicago, was getting his master’s degree in evolutionary biology on fishes. Murray shared the details of his thesis with McMahan, and over the next several years they compiled data from New Guinea crocodile skulls from natural history museums, including The Field Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, American Museum of Natural History, Queensland Museum, Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, and Florida Museum of Natural History.

“We took photos of the skulls and used a technique called geometric morphometrics to analyze skull morphology,” Murray said. “These results when paired with published genetic data and the ecological data originally provided, diagnosed the northern and southern populations as being on independent evolutionary trajectories and warranted the description of a new species.”

From there, Murray and McMahan took their findings to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in Florida to put their results to the test on live animals and on the ethno-artifacts on display.

“We were pleasantly surprised that we could easily identify the two lineages even when moving or artistically altered,” Murray said. “So Caleb and I decided to name the species after Philip Hall, whose initial interests and observations spurred the description itself.”

Named “Crocodylus halli,” the new species is a freshwater crocodile inhabiting rivers and lagoons on the island of New Guinea, but Murray said more work is needed assessing its ecology and conservation status.

“Now that we know the evolutionary history of these species, we need to re-inform the conservation status of them given that the distribution has changed and conservation threats are different in different areas,” he said. “Caleb and I would take on aspects of that work, funding permitting.”

High School STEM Outreach Expanded Through LA GEAR UP Program

The College of Science and Technology is expanding high school STEM student development and outreach efforts through the LOFSA LA GEAR UP program.

Dr. Mohammad Saadeh, department head of Industrial Engineering and Technology and Dr. Wendy Conarro, assistant director of Math Science Upward Bound, submitted and were awarded a four-year grant in partnership with LA GEAR UP to increase underrepresented students’ success in STEM.

A federally funded national initiative, LA GEAR UP (Louisiana Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is supported by the U.S. Department of Education, which gives grants to states or institutions of higher learning to create partnerships with high-poverty middle or high schools.

This is the third GEAR UP grant awarded to the State of Louisiana. Louisiana was awarded a seven-year grant for $24.5 million in 2016.

In partnership with 16 school districts, LA GEAR UP aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education.


The Southeastern Science & Technology Interactive Learning Experience (STILE) program will connect 2019-2020 9th- and 10th-grade high school students with faculty and undergraduates through hands-on labs, in-school STEM days, summer camps, and other events. Each student will be provided with a pathway and mentoring to a STEM career that fits their STEM interests to fill the many high-paying, high-demand jobs that are currently going unfilled in Louisiana. Advanced students will be connected with internship opportunities and early college credits. The cohort model will support students with opportunities to grow and develop a post-secondary plan of action. Those students matriculating into Southeastern will be connected to and provided with support for retention in their chosen STEM degree programs.

This past summer, 47 rising 9th and 10th graders attended 1-2 weeks of the Southeastern STILE Summer Camp. Students developed friendships with each other, undergraduate students, and faculty as they progressed through eight experiential learning modules based on the Industrial and Engineering Technology degree programs. They toured the campus, had opportunities to explore campus in small groups, and recreated in the gym and pool.

Appendix B.4 STILE 2019 Slideshow-5

This school year, LGU students will participate in Science Fair labs and a Science Olympiad Team to learn Next Generation Science Standards STEM practices and content to increase their awareness and preparation for post-secondary programs. In-school STEM Days will connect faculty and undergraduate students to high school teachers and students to increase STEM learning and career interest and to build STEM teacher capacity. In-school workshops will delve into life after college so students will see what their lives will be like as a STEM professional. Schools will also attend the Fall Science & Technology Open House for tours, demonstrations, financial aid, and admissions information.

Funding is for 2019-2020 and anticipated to be renewed annually until 2022-2023. The funding includes creating a new position for a director of the program.

Appendix B.4 STILE 2019 Slideshow-14

Department of Chemistry and Physics Receives NIH Research Grant

Department of Chemistry and Physics Assistant Professor Fereshteh Emami has earned a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Professor Emami’s grant, in the amount of $346,576 for a period of three years, is entitled

Dr. Fereshteh Emami

“Mathematical Modeling of a Self-Assembled Probe for Non Intercalator Type Real-Time Monitoring of PCR.”  A significant portion of the grant funding will provide financial support for undergraduate and graduate students to perform research in Professor Emami’s laboratory.

Increased use of PCR technology for clinical and diagnostic research has focused attention on the need for real-time monitoring of a target DNA sequence amplification, thereby avoiding time-consuming post-PCR analysis. On the other hand, the critical barriers of the presence intercalator, electrochemical real-time detection methods, and nanopore-based technology are (1) the inhibition of PCR, (2) preferential binding to GC-rich sequences, (3) effects on melting curve analysis, (4) signal disturbance by other salts in the PCR buffer, (5) low signal resolution, (6) insufficient detection limit, (7) instability of the lipid bilayer, (8) tedious fabrication procedure of a thin ~nm pore in a solid-state substrate, and (9) utilizing expensive and bulky amplifiers.

To overcome these limitations, the proposed project by Professor Emami will use mathematical modeling of a self-assembly sensor to ascertain a highly sensitive detection scheme, which indirectly probes DNA polymerization in homogeneous solution and is interference-free. The application will also provide a useful model for identification of unknown influences on ribonucleotides detection processes, advanced understanding of self-assembled supramolecular host-guest thermodynamics, and testable hypotheses to developing novel biosensing strategies.

The broad-reaching impacts of this proposed project will affect students in chemistry, computer science, and biology departments interested in monitoring analytes of medical importance.

The work proposed here has been designed and structured in collaboration with Profs. Weiss and Alexandrova at UCLA to provide research opportunities to several students over the three-year life of the grant. The results from this study will be presented at conferences and authored for publication. Collaboration and training are key aspects of this project and are particularly important at a PUI institution like Southeastern. This study will train a new generation of scientists in a variety of scientific disciplines including biomaterials, and cell biology.

This award not only will provide research-enriched learning opportunities to graduate and undergraduate students at Southeastern but will likely have a major impact on the students’ career aspirations and goals.

Biology’s April Wright Teaches Workshop at GSA Conference

Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences April Wright taught a one-day workshop for researchers at the annual Geological Society of America meetings in Phoenix, Arizona, this past September.

The workshop, entitled “Quantitative Methods in Phylogenetic Paleobiology,” is one of many that Wright has taught over the years to other notable experts.

While there, she additionally presented a talk on “Co-estimation of Phylogeny, Divergence Time, and Macroevolutionary Parameters in Formicidae.” A symposium volume with a contributed paper on the topic is forthcoming.

GSA is a global professional society with a membership of more than 20,000 individuals in more than 100 countries, with a mission of advancing geoscience research and discovery, service to society, stewardship of Earth, and the geosciences profession.

Technology Leaders Speak at Cloud-Computing Symposium

On Tuesday, September 17, Southeastern hosted global and national leaders from DXC Technology and Amazon Web Services for a cloud-computing symposium.

The symposium, which was free and open to the public, was sponsored by Southeastern’s College of Science and Technology and Workforce Talent Initiative, as well as the Louisiana Department of Economic Development FastStart Program.

Guest speakers included Vice President and Global Sales Leader for AWS Integration Practice at DXC Technology Todd Carey; Director and General Manager for the New Orleans Digital Transformation Center Terrell Boynton; and Director of AWS Certification and Education Programs Kevin E. Kelly representing Amazon Web Services.

“This panel of experts discussed the explosive growth of cloud computing, the impact on businesses and everyone’s daily lives, and the next generation of skill sets that faculty, students, technology professionals and everyday end-users will need,” said WTI Program Coordinator Paul Forbes. “This was a tremendous opportunity for the general public and for all Southeastern students from every academic discipline to gain insights into future technologies.”

A networking reception immediately followed the symposium.


Dr. Patsy Causey Receives Loyal Lion Award

At the Alumni Awards Evening on Friday, October 11, friend of the College of Education Dr. Patsy Causey was honored for her continued support of Southeastern with the Loyal Lion Award.

Causey established the Dr. Patsy M. Causey Alternate Certification Scholarship, the first of its kind in the College of Education. The scholarship provides financial assistance to a Southeastern student who holds a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution and is seeking to qualify for state teacher certification.

Causey also served Southeastern as an employee for approximately three decades, holding the positions of director of women’s housing, dean of women, dean of student life, dean of the College of Basic Studies, and vice president for student affairs.

Exhibiting exemplary dedication to Southeastern over the years, Causey has additionally been recognized for her work with the Golden Lions, retirees who remain active with the university; as a founding member of PRIDE (Positive Role-models Involved in the Development of Excellence), a mentoring organization for the Lady Lions basketball team; with the Director’s Diamond Award in 2011, which is presented to an individual who has been of great assistance to the Alumni Association; with the 2018 Lion for Life for Women’s Basketball award; and for many more contributions to both Southeastern and the community.



Celebrating the Grand Reopening of the Teacher Development Center

On Tuesday, October 1, the College of Education held a grand reopening of the Teacher Development Center (TDC).
The space was updated to better meet the needs of all teacher education students. Students are now able to access supplies, materials, and Praxis study aids across all content and grade level areas of focus.
Left to Right: Lisa Kea, administrative assistant in the Department of Teaching & Learning; Paula Summers Calderon; dean of the College of Education; Jordan Ahrend, director of Clinical Practice & Professional Development; and Colleen Klein-Ezell, department head of the Department of Teaching & Learning


Students Start One of the Only Two Educators Rising Collegiate Chapters in Louisiana

Southeastern College of Education students have started one of only two chapters of Educators Rising Collegiate in Louisiana.

Ed Rising at Southeastern
 Left to Right: Mignonne Leachman, Braxton Michel, Dr. Paula Summers Calderon, and Macie Husband

The three students who embarked on starting the chapter are Mignonne Leachman, Braxton Michel, and Macie Husband. All freshmen, they represent different majors and departments within the college.

Both undergraduate and graduate students majoring in education or desiring to be an advocate for children, teachers, and schools are welcome to join the organization, which is already gaining interest and increasing in membership.

The new chapter has been accepted by the national organization (Phi Delta Kappa International), and is currently in the process of becoming recognized as a student organization on campus. Dean Paula Summers Calderon will serve as the group’s faculty/staff advisor.

According to Educators Rising Collegiate, “Throughout the year students will participate in a variety of activities designed to engage them in deeper discussions around hot-button topics in education, spur them to think about actions they can take at the local level, and prepare them for a classroom of their own.”