Nicholls Offers Scholarship for Veterans

There were around 20.4 million U.S. veterans in 2016, according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, representing less than 10% of the total U.S. adult population.  Hundreds of thousands of veterans are battling post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Suicide in the veteran community remains at an epidemic level, 20 per day. Many spouses feel helpless and aren’t sure how to support their loved one. And children are growing up wondering why their mother or father has changed.  Trauma-focused psychotherapies and psychotropic medications may offer symptom relief, but do they address the core issues of disconnection, societal withdrawal, and living without a sense of mission and purpose?

The Nicholls State University Office of Veteran Services and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association are committed to helping combat vets find a new purpose by aiding them in more education and a healthy return to civilian life.  Nicholls recently announced a new scholarship specifically for combat vets.

The January 2017 edition of JAMA Psychiatry stated that “… we have probably come about as far as we can with current dominant clinical approaches. Other strategies are urgently needed to effectively address remaining research and clinical gaps concerning the health care needs of combat veterans”.  Traditional mental health programs focus primarily on symptom reduction and a lot of times miss the opportunity to identify and facilitate personal growth as a result of veterans’ struggles. A new, research-based approach to trauma that has been studied by psychologists for the past three decades called Posttraumatic Growth, or PTG for short, explores how people who endure psychological struggle following adversity can often achieve positive growth afterwards.

This growth can occur in one or more domains: a greater appreciation of life, increased personal strength, openness to new possibilities, improved relationships, and enhanced spiritual or existential awareness. At the core of PTG is restoring a purposeful and meaningful life, learning to respond rather than react, and the construction of new beliefs about the world, one’s self, and the future.  The CVMA, comprised of motorcycle-riding veterans from all branches of the United States Armed Forces, feels it their duty to extend PTG to their fellow vet brothers and sisters, and decided that aiding education would do the trick. With members from all 50 states, their mission is to support and defend veterans who served their country and fought for our freedoms.

The CVMA 6-4 Veteran Scholarship will award $500 to a student once per semester to recipients who were an honorably discharged combat veteran and who is at least a sophomore full-time student with a minimum 2.5 GPA. The scholarship is named for the CVMA South Louisiana Chapter.

“We just want to be able to give back to our veteran community and make sure the guys returning home from combat theater who are trying to make something of themselves are afforded every opportunity possible,” CMVA member and Navy veteran John Bruner said. “Coming back to school can be a make or break opportunity. A lot of guys coming back home have seen things and may have some issues that if compounded by financial burden can lead them down a darker path. We want to do anything we can to divert that in a positive direction.”

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Nicholls Partners with Rouses For Community Cooking Courses

Nicholls recently announced that it would be partnering with Rouse’s Supermarkets to offer a series of cooking classes to the local community called Cooking With the Colonels.  Each class will be Saturdays throughout the year from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and include an orientation, cooking lessons, a family meal, and a tour of the Lanny D. Ledet Culinary Arts Building which is the facility that houses the Nicholl’s State on-campus Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.  

The Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is named after famous Louisiana chef John Folse.  Chef John Folse, born in St. James Parish in 1946, learned early that the secrets of Cajun cooking lay in the unique ingredients of Louisiana’s swamp floor pantry. Folse seasoned these raw ingredients with his passion for Louisiana culture and cuisine, and from his cast iron pots emerged Chef John Folse & Company.

When Folse opened Lafitte’s Landing Restaurant in 1978 in Donaldsonville, he set out to market his restaurant by taking “a taste of Louisiana” worldwide. He introduced Louisiana’s indigenous cuisine to Japan, Beijing, Hong Kong and Paris. In 1988, Folse made international headlines with the opening of “Lafitte’s Landing East” in Moscow and again when Folse became the first non-Italian chef to create the Vatican State Dinner in Rome. Later, the Louisiana Legislature gave him the title of “Louisiana’s Culinary Ambassador to the World.”

Folse’s Culinary Institute invites aspiring chefs with an adventurous palate and an insatiable desire to work in the food and service industries to pursue a Bachelor of Science or Associate of Science degree in culinary arts at Nicholls, currently the only post-secondary institution in Louisiana offering a four-year culinary degree.  They pride themselves on teaching their students about cuisine from around the world. However, their students are a step above others because of their knowledge of cajun and creole cuisine.

Each class will be taught by award winning chefs and teachers from the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and will concentrate on complex Louisiana fare.  Currently, only the first three classes have been scheduled, the first for Saturday, Jan. 26. That class’s theme will be Louisiana’s natural resources and rich history.  Students will learn prepare dishes incorporating rabbit, oyster, and andouille gumbo; duck and pistachio terrine; wild boar osso bucco with polenta and glazed root vegetables; and riz au lait.  The next class, titled New Orleans Creole Table, will be held on  Saturday, Feb. 23 and participants will cook T’Frere’s turtle soup; oysters Marie Laveau; spit roasted creole leg of lamb; and strawberry creole cream cheese ice cream over pecan pound cake.  The third class is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, and students will veer towards Italian cuisine as they experiment with recipes from Tuscany and Florence like ribollita soup; bruschetta; pollo alla cacciatore; bistecca alla fiorentina; and biscotti.

Class size is limited to 16 students and you must be at least 16 years old to register. Requirements are long-sleeve shirts, long pants, and flat, non-slip, closed-toe shoes. Long hair should be pulled back and students should be prepared for a 2-3 hours of physical activity. Students will work on the recipes in groups of two to three.  Tools will be provided but students are encouraged to bring their own.

Registration for one costs $125, for a couple $200, and for a Rouses’ employee $100. Payment is due two weeks before the class. For more information or to register, visit or call the Office of Continuing Education at 448-4444.

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TedX Comes to LSU

LSU recently announced the lineup for the 7th annual TedX event being held March 23, 2019 at the LSU Union theater.  Never heard of TedX? A TEDx event is a local gathering where live TED-like talks and videos previously recorded at TED conferences are shared with a community. TEDx events are fully planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis.  Launched in 2013, TEDxLSU is an intellectual and creative experience that brings local, regional, and statewide communities together in a way that enables them to imagine the possibilities, spur discussion and dialogue, and generate big ideas that will move the state of Louisiana forward. TEDxLSU participants, speakers, volunteers, and organizers come from all walks of life–business, non-profits, art, education, technology, and more.  TEDxLSU—like all TEDx events—is not organized for political reasons, monetary reward, or personal gain. Everyone associated with TEDxLSU does so because they believe in the power of ideas to ignite progress. TEDxLSU is financially supported by ticket sales and in-kind community partnerships. All funds generated through TEDxLSU go directly into sustaining the program. Check out Ted for more info and interesting talks on any and everything from politics to religion to self help and inspirational stories.  Ted materials are frequently used in educational settings such as K-12 and graduate level schools all over the world. Check out the TED free app on your phone or tablet!

Shortly after TEDxLSU 2018, the organizers gathered to start the process of planning for the 2019 event. They spent months reflecting on every detail of the 2018 event and planning for the 2019 event. During the collaborative planning process, the organizers all agreed on just one thing:  the ideas featured on the TEDxLSU stage and experiences the attendees shared needed to shed light on topics that would spur conversation and action in our community. That led to the 2019 theme: ILLUMINATE.

Illumination is a reciprocal process; what to you is fully illuminated can be only a spark of an idea to another person. To spread that idea, we take care to illuminate our own knowledge for others, and to receive and spread the spark of knowledge that those around us offer.

But it’s bigger than that- the organizers attempt to take stock of where we are as a growing community and as local members of a global experience and we try to find a singular element that anchors us.  From there we begin to discuss all the different ways this word manifests, and it becomes bigger than its definition. The theme becomes a lens through which we can challenge ourselves to make life better.

The speakers and performers for the 2019 TEDxLSU event are:

Brandon Ballengée
Andrea Eastin
Reagan Errera
Hayley Johnson & Sarah Simms
Lori Latrice Martin
Juan Martinez
Sara Reardon
Emma Schachner
Clay Tucker
Rolanda Wilkerson
Nalo Zidan

These people are clothing designers, ecologists, educators, paleontologists, fire-breathers, and everything in between.  Reserve your seat in order to expand your horizons, open your mind to another bubble of life, to be… ILLUMINATED.

Tickets range in price from $25.00-$65.00.  There are discounts available for students, educators and early birds.  

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Tulane University Alumni Send Their Research to Space

Tulane University PR department recently released exciting news. Elaine Horn-Ranney and Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, former Tulane biomedical engineering graduate students, came up with a great idea while working in a Tulane University lab several years ago, and as they say, if you are a Tulane student and have a great idea, there is no telling how far you can take it.  Their idea was for a gel-based patch to help repair damaged eardrums without surgery. Horn-Ranney and Khoshakhlagh were determined to take their idea as far as they could go but they never expected their idea to go as far as 240 miles above Earth to the International Space Station. It’s called Tympanogen, and Horn-Ranney, her husband Dr. Jesse Ranney, and Khoshakhlagh launched it in 2014. Initially, the gel patch was designed to repair chronic perforations in the tympanic membrane of the ear for which the only treatment currently for tears in the tympanic membrane is surgery, which is costly. Tympanogen, Inc. develops innovative ear, nose, and throat devices based on proprietary gel technology. The first product, Perf-Fix™, will transform traditional tympanoplasty procedures into a quick office visit.  Perf-Fix can be applied in an office setting within 10 minutes, without general anesthesia or margin freshening. This gel patch encourages regeneration of the full tympanic membrane structure at the same high success rates of traditional tympanoplasty. Tympanogen’s Perf-Fix gel delivers drugs to the wound site and forms a barrier that lets the body to heal around it.  “The ultimate goal is to develop a space-filling wound dressing that can deliver drugs directly to the wound site as opposed to a patient getting a lot of systemic antibiotics,” says Horn-Ranney. “Basically, all of the resources we needed on campus were available to us,” Horn-Ranney says. The company is still developing its original product for eardrum repair and hopes to test it in clinical trials within the next two years.

They never expected what happened next.  Horn-Ranney explains what happened after securing some funding for their research.

“So just having that little bit of money to do that initial study within the environment that we needed was everything. The company wouldn’t have happened without it.”Tympanogen worked with mentors at the A.B. Freeman School of Business and the New Orleans Bioinnovation Center to hit the nation’s business plan competition circuit. They won $84,000. They took top prize in the 2014 Tulane Business Model Competition, placed second at the International Business Model Competition and fifth in the Rice Business Plan Competition, scoring the NASA Earth/Space Human Health & Performance Innovation Cash Prize.  As winners of the NASA award, they were invited to one of the agency’s symposiums. “It was a very small gathering of scientists and astronauts. We were the only team who had won (NASA’s) award at Rice to ever attend this symposium,” Horn-Ranney says. “They were very appreciative, and they introduced us to the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages projects aboard the International Space Station.”Tympanogen applied for a CASIS grant to develop Perf-Fix for wound care and won a $210,000 award for the space station project. “That’s how we ended up designing this material to not just explore the basic science aspects of what happens in microgravity, but also to take the data that we collect and start making something that’s useful for people on earth as well.”

Fellow NASA scientists and researchers, who are always looking for ways to improve space technology, saw Tympanogen and lights began to go off.  They decided to test the gel technology in microgravity to see if it had potential to be useful in space expeditions. “Since no one else has ever looked at this sort of phenomenon in microgravity conditions, we are starting at the very beginning,” Horn-Ranney says. Tympanogen’s leap into space began with a small step into Tulane’s Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development seven years ago. The office gave them a $20,000 pilot grant to conduct animal studies that showed the gel could work as designed. They used the data to launch their company. The office helped them apply for a patent and introduced them to resources throughout Tulane to help them develop their innovation into a biotech venture.

On Dec. 5, NASA launched into space on the SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship to run experiments to see how the gel used in their patch works in microgravity with hopes that, if all goes well, the technology could be expanded to one day help astronauts on expeditions as well as soldiers in combat.  On the space station, astronauts release the gel into other liquids to see how it reacts in microgravity and how well the drugs within the gel flow into other types of liquid. They will run concurrent experiments on earth to compare how the materials react differently in space.

John Christie, executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development, says he couldn’t be prouder of the company’s success.  Horn-Ranney and Khoshakhlagh watched the SpaceX launch in person at the Kennedy Space Center. The two friends and business partners embraced as the rocket soared beyond view, leaving behind a billowing trail of smoke high above the clouds.

“We were just standing there watching it, and I couldn’t believe that we had actually done it. We sent something into space!” she says. “It was emotional for us not just for what we had accomplished, but what we had accomplished together.”

Tympanogen founders are giddy with excitement to go over the results of the space expedition and are excited to see where that data will lead them.  

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Tulane Mental Health Experts Help Puerto-Rican Hurricane Victims

Tulane recently revealed that professor’s were traveling to Puerto Rico in order to obtain vital information related to disaster recovery as it relates to Hurricane Victims from Hurricane Maria.  Hurricane Maria is regarded as the worst natural disaster on record to affect Puerto Rico, and is also the deadliest Atlantic hurricane since Jeanne in 2004.  As of 28 August 2018, 3,057 people were estimated to have been killed by the hurricane: an estimated 2,975 in Puerto Rico. Hurricane Maria battered the island with tornado-­force winds. Massive rains brought catastrophic flooding, washing out bridges and inundating entire neighborhoods. The island’s infrastructure, already shaky, was devastated.  Power and running water were cut off for most of the population. Toilets couldn’t flush; there was no water for showers, baths, or washing clothes. People had to rely on bottled water, but supplies were limited. Phone lines and internet were obsolete. Recovery efforts were delayed because airports were shut down. Useless electric stoves had to be replaced with propane ones. Without refrigeration, food rotted and vital medicines spoiled. Most can only imagine what this sort of devastation does to a human’s mental state.  It was collective trauma for an entire population and the consequences of such trauma can linger for decades, following generations even when the memory of the actual hurricane has faded.

New Orleans is no stranger to the aftermath of Hurricane devastation.  Maybe that is why Tulane developed their Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) which equips students with an interdisciplinary view of the challenges and best practice approaches to leadership in the disaster resilience and humanitarian aid fields to prepare them for careers in areas such as nonprofit leadership, disaster risk and recovery, grass-root development, and more.  DRLA Director Reggie Ferreira and Charles Figley, director of the Tulane Trauma Institute, traveled to Puerto Rico at the invitation of the Foundation for Puerto Rico, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic and social development. Together, Figley and Ferreira are working with the foundation to assess Puerto Rico’s need for disaster mental health research and services, and to train NGO leaders in disaster resilience leadership, share lessons learned from Katrina and other major disasters, and help local universities develop disaster resilience and trauma courses and programs.  One of the main goals of the visit is to develop a comprehensive and collaborative resilience consortium in partnership with the Foundation for Puerto Rico. “Resilience is the ability to grow and withstand the most severe of circumstances,” Ferreira said. “The aim of the consortium will be to share resources and provide a path forward for mental health in Puerto Rico post-Maria.” On their agenda while in Puerto Rico is to also attend a memorial service for disaster victims. “The response to our visit has been amazing,” said Ferreira, who has been visiting Puerto Rico regularly since April. “The folks here have been very open and appreciative of our assistance. They are especially interested to learn more about New Orleans and disaster recovery as it relates to Hurricane Katrina.”

Hopefully, this visit helps leaders in disaster recovery transmit vital information to students, institutions, and volunteers that will help make future assistance not only more valuable but more time sensitive.  These efforts could potentially save thousands of lives impacted by natural disasters in the US and beyond.

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One Book One City Embraces Two Tulane Professors’ Works

The One Book movement is a community reading program that began in 1998 and invites everyone in a city to read and discuss the same book.  Discussions usually take place in small groups and sometimes authors participate. Its mission is to promote literacy and community, providing literacy resources to adults and emphasizing the importance of dialogue between diverse groups of people.  Tulane University has recently announced that a pair of English professors have earned the distinct honor of having their books named as the official reading selections for two American cities in 2019 participating in the One Book Movement.

One is acclaimed writer and novelist Zachary Lazar whose latest book, “Vengeance,” was selected by One Book One New Orleans.  Published in 2018, “Vengeance” was inspired by passion play “The Life of Jesus Christ” which Lazar witnessed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, La. In the book, the narrator tries to unravel the truth behind the supposed crime of Kendrick King, an inmate he meets and befriends, who is serving a life sentence at Angola for murder.  “My book deals with some painful subjects, but it’s also about loving New Orleans, not just falling in love with it, which are two different things,” Lazar said. “I am very honored to be embraced by this city in this way.”

The other professor chosen for this honor is two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward’s novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” was chosen for One Book, One Philadelphia.  One Book, One Philadelphia is a signature event of the Free Library of Philadelphia that promotes literacy, library usage, and citywide conversation by encouraging the entire greater Philadelphia area to come together through reading and discussing a single book.  Ward’s third novel, “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” is often compared to works by William Faulkner and Toni Morrison and won the National Book Award for fiction.  It was also selected as the Time Magazine Best Novel of the Year that same year.  Ward became the first African-American author and the first woman to receive two National Book Awards. She previously won the award with her 2011 novel, “Salvage the Bones.” Ward’s memoir, “Men We Reaped,” is also the One Book, One Philadelphia adult companion selection for 2019.  “I’m honored my book was chosen to be a One Book, One Philadelphia selection,” Ward said. “I’m grateful that my characters will live and breathe for the people of Philadelphia, and I hope they find something of themselves in my work.” “Sing, Unburied, Sing” chronicles a black family on an odyssey of sorts in rural Mississippi. The story features a 13-year-old boy named Jojo, whose drug-addicted mother takes him and his toddler sister on a road trip to pick up their white father when he is released from prison.

“One Book” projects are listed on the Center for the Book’s Website both by state/city and author/book title. The number of projects has grown rapidly, from 63 in 30 states in June 2002 to more than 350 in all 50 states in December 2005.   In recent years, the “One Book” concept has been supported by a number of organizations such as the American Library Association (ALA) which provides librarians, library administrators and library partner organizations with guidance and information for the successful execution of “One Book” initiatives.

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