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Louisiana Tech team selects teachers for LA-SiGMA/Shell summer research program

The Louisiana Alliance for Simulation-Guided Materials Applications (LA-SiGMA)/Shell Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) team at Louisiana Tech University has selected six educators from north Louisiana to participate in its summer 2013 program.

Mark Magauay (Fair Park High School), Theresa McBride (Holly Ridge Elementary School), Aleta Overby (Simsboro High School), Holly Payton (I.A. Lewis), Dan Rogers (Delta Junior High School), and Dr. Leif Sherry (Bossier Parish Community College) will take part in the program sponsored by LA-SiGMA and the Shell-supported Northern Louisiana Regional Collaborative for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.

LA-SiGMA-Shell RET teachers with their research mentors in Louisiana Tech’s Biomedical Engineering Building.

“These teachers have shown excellent initiative in engaging their students with hands-on science activities and design projects throughout the school year,” said Alicia Boudreaux, North Louisiana Outreach Coordinator for LA-SiGMA.  “This summer, they will have the opportunity to work on their own science research on Louisiana Tech’s campus.”

The LA-SiGMA Alliance includes Louisiana Tech, Louisiana State University, Tulane University, University of New Orleans, Southern University, Xavier University and Grambling State University, and is funded by a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The Northern Louisiana Collaborative is an extension of the Texas Regional Collaborative, and has as its objective to provide professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers of science and mathematics.

“I chose the RET program to improve my knowledge for the classroom,” said Payton, a physical science teacher at I.A. Lewis.  “I am really looking forward to getting started.”

Dr. Pedro Derosa, Larson Professor of Physics and joint faculty member between Louisiana Tech and Grambling State, is the project director of the Northern Louisiana Regional Collaborative and the campus lead for Grambling State.  “This is an opportunity for us to give back what we received from our teachers, but it is also a contribution to help in the education of K-12 students,” said Derosa.  “Here, at Louisiana Tech, we receive the products of K-12 education and it is in our best interest to help in the training of those students by providing opportunities to their teachers.”

“This RET program is designed to advance discovery and fundamental understanding while promoting teaching, training, and professional development of school teachers; ultimately reaching underrepresented, disadvantaged K-12 and prospective students from small rural and city schools around Louisiana Tech’s region,” said Dr. Daniela Mainardi, Thomas C. & Nelda M. Jeffery Associate Professor and chair of chemical engineering at Louisiana Tech.  Mainardi also serves as Louisiana Tech’s campus lead for the Northern Louisiana Regional Collaborative.

LA-SiGMA pushes the scientific frontiers in computational materials science, and prepares Louisiana researchers to use the next generation of heterogeneous, multicore and hyper-parallel cyberinfrastructure effectively.  LA-SiGMA builds statewide interdisciplinary research collaborations involving computational scientists, computer scientists and engineers, applied mathematicians, theorists and experimentalists.

Most significantly, LA-SiGMA builds materials science graduate curricula that are unique in its statewide reach and impact, and will be a model for virtual organizations for advanced education and training of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.