UL Lafayette Achieves Elite Tier of Carnegie Classification for Research

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is now ranked at the highest level of research institutions in the United States, according to a news release from the university. According to the latest update from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, UL Lafayette achieved Carnegie’s elite R1 designation, placing the school among the highest tier of public and private research institutions, something that only 3% of the United States’s colleges and universities have achieved.

Achieving the status of being a recognized R-1 institution indicates that a higher learning institution has met high standards in research spending, staff levels, and the number of doctorates awarded annually. Being classified as a Research-1 or R-1 institution not only elevated UL Lafayette and its profile, allowing the school to draw more prestigious and learned faculty, but it also is likely to attract more research dollars and private support.

Having an R1 status is synonymous with achieving remarkable levels of academic excellence, substantial research, transformative innovation, and lasting global impact. Other R-1 institutions in the country are Duke, Emory, Carnegie-Mellon, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard, and Rice. In addition to UL Lafayette, Louisiana’s only other R-1 institutions are Louisiana State University and Tulane University.

UL Lafayette President Dr. Joseph Savoie said of the milestone, “the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is excited to have achieved R-1 status and to take our place among the top tier of the nation’s research universities. The designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning is a recognition of the strength of our research program. It is a tribute to the faculty, staff and student researchers whose work has pushed the bounds of scholarship and innovation and drawn significant national and international attention to the University and to the region it is proud to serve.”

Carnegie classifications for Doctoral Universities are given to institutions that award at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees during a year and institutions with fewer than 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees awarded at least 30 professional practice doctoral degrees in at least 2 programs. Both of these categories of institutions must also have had at least $5 million in total research expenditures according to the National Science Foundation Higher Research & Development Survey. The three levels of Carnegie’s designations for such higher learning institutions are:

  • R1: Doctoral Universities- Very high research activity
  • R2: Doctoral Universities- High research activity
  • D/PU: Doctoral/Professional Universities.

At the tail end of 2021, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that UL Lafayette was among nine other universities that were promoted to Carnegie’s highest classification of “Doctoral/Very High Research” institutions.  The other universities elevated were:

University of Louisiana System President and CEO Jim Henderson said, “this tremendous accomplishment is the realization of a purposeful research vision centered on improving life in Louisiana and around the globe. I want to congratulate President Savoie, Vice President (Ramesh) Kolluru, and the faculty of UL Lafayette for achieving this designation, an achievement of nearly unrivaled importance for our state and her people.”

Since 1970, the Carnegie Classification has stood as the leading framework for “describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for the past four and a half decades,” as per the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. For four and a half decades, this classification has served as a benchmark of excellence when it comes to institutions of higher learning, and for UL Lafayette to not only join the R1 Doctoral University ranks of LSU and Tulane but also ivy league schools, it’s a momentous achievement that only makes the post-secondary educational experience in Louisiana that much stronger.

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Tulane Research: Fighting the Epidemic

Researchers stemming from various areas of study at Tulane University have been crucial factors in the effort to combat contagious disease epidemics around the world. In the exhibit OutBreak: Epidemics in a Connected World, the extensive efforts of the researchers are chronicled. The exhibit, which is co-sponsored by The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, is a part of the Smithsonian’s Outbreak project. As the world’s population increases, interactions between humans, animals, and the environment also increases. Hence, this project aims to increase awareness of human, animal, and environmental components that influence contagious disease epidemics. By gathering global partners to work together, the project aspires to stop outbreaks before they even have the chance to occur. The diseases featured in the Outbreak exhibit include cancer, the common cold, Ebola, HIV, leprosy, and Yellow Fever.

In response to the exhibit, vice president of research, Dr. Laura Levy, says, “From its inception, Tulane has been a leader in the fight against infectious diseases. This is an opportunity to share that story with those who may not be familiar with some of the groundbreaking advances that have happened right here in New Orleans at Tulane.”

The exhibit begins with the history of Tulane University, which was founded in 1834 by seven doctors who yearned to fight the spread of Yellow Fever, malaria, and smallpox. From that premise, the university went on to be a center of innovative research for issues of global contagion. Some of the most prevalent breakthroughs affiliated with the university are the discovery of the linkage of cigarette smoking to lung cancer, the development of tests to guarantee the safety of polio and measles vaccines, and the isolation of the common cold virus by Dr. William J. Mogabgab in 1955. The development of the first single-lens binocular microscope is also linked to Tulane. With the development of this microscope came the first documented study of cholera.

Some of the more modern-day research at the university includes the study of gene therapy in primates to assist children with genetic disorders, the development of an improved diagnostic test for Lyme disease, and continued research of diseases such as HIV and Ebola. Consequently, when the Ebola epidemic emerged in Sierra Leone, Tulane researches were of the first to respond.

The exhibit’s research was led primarily by Sally Baker, a MD/PhD graduate student in the School of Medicine. As a young ambassador for the American Society of Microbiology, she collaborated with the Office of Communications and Marketing at Tulane to put the exhibit together. When asked about the basis of the exhibit, Baker said, “Today, we continue to struggle with epidemics, such as the current measles outbreak. I thought it was important to highlight some of the work that Tulane has done in the field of infectious disease, particularly working to develop better vaccines and prevent outbreaks. We wanted to bring that knowledge to the public in an exhibit.”

Tulane University’s Outbreak exhibit is described as a regional version of a larger-scale endeavor. In 2018 – the 100thanniversary of 1918’s Great Influenza pandemic – The Smithsonian unveiled a national Outbreak exhibit in Washington, D.C. This national exhibit spans at 4,250 square feet and will remain open until February of 2021. The exhibit is fueled by the premise of the connectivity of virus and seeks to maintain that in order to suppress outbreaks, people from several different fields must band together to carry out “coordinated detective work.”

Tulane’sOutBreak: Epidemics in a Connected Worldopened on May 1 and will run until July 31, 2019. The exhibit is free-of-charge and is located in the Diboll Gallery of the Tidewater Building, 1440 Canal Street.

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