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Professional Activities Report

Ray P. Authement College of Sciences

January 1, 2013 - December 31, 2018

Azmy S. Ackleh, Dean

Unit Reports

Executive Summary

General

Established in 1974, the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences is dedicated to the advancement of scientific knowledge through research and to the extension of the scientific heritage through teaching. In the 2017-18 academic year, the College offered 8 B.S. degrees (Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geology, Informatics, Mathematics, and Physics), 7 M.S. degrees (Biology, Computer Science, Environmental Resource Science, Geology, Informatics, Mathematics, and Physics), and 3 Ph.D. degrees (Biology, Computer Science, and Mathematics) and a fourth Ph.D. degree (in Earth and Energy Sciences) scheduled to begin in 2019. Additionally, the College houses pre-professional programs in medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, and pharmacy and oversees the program in Military Science. The academic structure of the College is shown in Figure 1.

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Activities: 2013 - 2018

The Ray P. Authement College of Sciences is a top-notch research college that compares favorably with the best Colleges of Sciences among universities located throughout the Gulf States region as evidenced by the quality and number of peer-reviewed publications, externally-funded grants, and graduate placements. The three doctoral departments in the College of Sciences are nationally ranked by the National Science Foundation (Higher Education Research and Development Data Report, 2017) as 28th Computer Science, 91st Mathematics, and 121st Biology. What makes the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences so strong? We believe that the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences is outstanding primarily because it brings together world-class research and teaching faculty, dedicated staff and highly-motivated students all of whom possess a passion to understand the workings of the world and the universe.

The structure and the many achievements of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences during the past five years are highlighted in this report and are summarized in the following.

Faculty: The College has been very successful in hiring outstanding new faculty with steadily increasing numbers from a low in the year 2014 to a total number of 137 in 2018. In consequence, the number of assistant professors has increased relative to the number of full professors, while the number of associate professors has remained relatively constant.

Students: Undergraduate enrollment has consistently increased to now over 2000 students, while the number of graduate students has remained relatively constant at around 300. In contrast to the overall declining university enrollment trend, the total enrollment in the College of Sciences has seen an all-time high of 2336 students in 2018. Parallel to the increasing enrollment, graduation numbers have seen a steady increase to 279 undergraduates and 89 graduate degrees awarded in the past year. The College of Sciences is a major contributor to the university’s graduate education with an average of 71 M.S. and 19 Ph.D. degrees awarded each year.

Research: The College continued on its path with strong research and scholarly activities. With an average of 192 peer-reviewed articles per year, a record number of 250 publications published or accepted in 2018, and generating an average external funding of over $10 million per year, the College is one of the most important contributors to the reputation and national and international recognition of the University.

Faculty

As shown in the bar chart and pie chart in Figure 2, the total number of faculty members in the College in the Fall 2018 semester stood at 137, indicating that the College has, in the last year, exceeded its pre-2010 size by five faculty members. This encouraging trend will enhance the ability of our College to continue to make significant contributions to the University’s mission of research, teaching, mentoring of students, and public outreach.

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The stacked bar chart in Figure 3 (top) shows the number of Ray P. Authement College of Sciences faculty, relative to the number of UL Lafayette faculty outside the College. It is worth noting that, despite the fact that the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences faculty comprise only 21% of the total UL Lafayette Faculty (5-year average), the research publications, grant awards, and graduate student graduation are substantial.

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Our remarkable faculty advance along two career tracks: the Instructor track which emphasizes classroom, laboratory and field instruction, and mentoring of students; and the Professorial track, which emphasizes teaching, research, publishing, and mentoring of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Those faculty members who excel in the Instructor track progress from Instructors to become Senior Instructors and eventually may become Master Instructors. Those faculty members who excel in the Professorial track progress from Assistant Professors to become Associate Professors and eventually may become Full Professors. The lower bar chart in Figure 3 shows that faculty members of the College are well represented at each rank.

Student Enrollments

The chart in Figure 4 shows the total number of students taught in lecture, laboratory, and field classes in the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences for the Academic Years 2013-2014 through 2017-2018. Currently, our faculty are teaching classrooms and laboratories, and field courses containing more than 39,000 students each year, approximately one-fourth of the total number of students taught across the University. The observed trend of decreasing student enrollment in classes since the 2015-2016 academic year taught by the College of Sciences is parallel to the overall trend of decreasing student numbers at the entire University.

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The two charts in Figure 5 illustrate enrollment of undergraduate majors and total enrollments (i.e., of undergraduate majors and graduate students), respectively, for fall semesters during the period January 1, 2013 through December 31, 2018. Current trends suggest a continued increase in undergraduate students majoring in science. The data suggest, that a faster growth rate occurred since 2014. Over this period, 1907 undergraduate and 309 graduate students, on average, were enrolled in the programs within the College of Sciences. Because we have and will be launching new graduate programs, we anticipate considerable growth in graduate enrollment once all of the new degree programs are implemented.

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Degrees Awarded

The line chart in Figure 6 shows the number of undergraduate degrees awarded for the academic years 2013 through 2018, inclusive. During this period, we awarded an average of 230 Bachelor of Science diplomas each year.

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In terms of total degrees awarded (i.e., B.S. and graduate), we awarded an average of 318 diplomas each year (Figure 7).

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The Ray P. Authement College of Sciences expects to grow further in the next few years. Undergraduate enrollment is steadily increasing. Graduate enrollment will increase as we add new graduate degree programs and add new faculty. In the workforce, demand for STEM graduates is expected to increase. This expectation is supported in part by a recent article in Science, entitled “What’s your science degree worth,” by Jim Austin, June 2014 (see https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2014/06/whats-your-science-degree-worth). Specifically, the article cites a study by Temple University, indicating college makes economic sense and that the benefits are larger in some areas than others. STEM majors did especially well, and the worst STEM majors earn more than the best high-school graduates. Employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5 percent, or 817,260 jobs, between May 2009 and May 2015, compared with 5.2 percent net growth in non-STEM occupations, and strong growth and demand is expected to continue in the near future (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/spotlight/2017/science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-stem-occupations-past-present-and-future/

Research

Faculty members of the College of Sciences engage in significant research among other scholarly activities. The charts in Figure 8 illustrate that our faculty publish on a consistent basis in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, with an average of 192 articles and 42 proceedings per year.

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Funded Grants and Contracts

The bar chart in Figure 9 illustrates the level of success of our faculty to obtain externally funded grants and contracts. During the period spanning the fiscal years 2013-14 through 2018-19, faculty of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences were engaged in externally funding research as Principal Investigators or as Co-Investigators totaling $65,235,862 (averaging over $10.8 million per Fiscal Year).

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College Contributions to Graduate Student Production

As illustrated in Figure 10, contributions by the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences to graduate student production are indicative of the commitment of the faculty to mentoring students. In the previous five academic years, an average of 71 Master’s students in the College of Sciences earned their degrees each year, representing approximately 16% of the total number of students receiving Master’s degrees in the University. Thus, the College of Sciences produces a significant proportion of the Master’s degrees conferred by the University as a whole. In the previous five academic years, an average of 19 doctoral students advised or co-advised by faculty of College of Science earned their doctorate degree, representing approximately 32% of the doctorate degrees conferred by the University. Clearly, the College of Sciences is a major contributor of the University to graduate education.

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Significant Awards

Faculty and students of the Ray P. Authement College of Sciences are a distinguished group of scholars, both within the United States and around the world, as highlighted by the following selected significant awards:

  • Azmy S. Ackleh, Ross Chiquet and Amy Veprauskas were awarded the Rollie Lamberson Research Award Medal by the Research Modeling Association in 2019.
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Distinguished Professor: James Albert (2018)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Excellence in Teaching: Nona Istre (2018)
  • UL Lafayette Eminent Scholars: Feebe Louka, James Albert (2018)
  • Beth Stauffer (biology) has been awarded a 2018 Early-Career Research Fellowship from the Gulf Research program of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • UL Lafayette Eminent Scholars Teaching: Michael Totaro (2017)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Distinguished Professors: Jenneke Visser, Ping Ng (2017)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Excellence in Teaching: Gabriela Petculescu (2017)
  • NSF CAREER Award: Sheng Chen (2017)
  • UL Lafayette Eminent Scholars Teaching: Patricia Mire (2016)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Distinguished Professors: Marke Hester, Nabendu Pal (2016)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Excellence in Teaching: Febee Louka, Patricia Mire (2016)
  • East Tennessee State University Basler Chair of Excellence 2016, Karl Hasenstein
  • LA DIA Fellow, 2016-2017, Beth Stauffer
  • Post Secondary Educator of the Year, 2016, Louisiana Association of Computer Using Educators, Christoph Borst
  • UL Lafayette Eminent Scholar Research: Paul Klerks (2015)
  • UL Lafayette Eminent Scholars Teaching: Pegge Alciatore, Ross Chiquet (2015)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Distinguished Professors: Carl Richter, Kalimuthu Krishnamoorthy (2015)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Excellence in Teaching: Mary Lou Jumonville, Pegge Alciatore (2015)
  • KITP Scholar (Kavli Institute of Theoretical Physics) at the University of California at Santa Barbara: James Dent (2015)
  • C.G. Khatri Memorial Lecturer, 2015 Rao Prize Conference, Penn State University: Vijay Raghavan (2015).
  • Professeur Invite' at University of Paris-Orsay: Magdy Bayoumi (2015)
  • UL Lafayette Eminent Scholar Research: Aghalaya Vatsala (2014)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Distinguished Professors: Paul Klerks, Aghalaya Vatsala (2014)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Excellence in Teaching: Ross Chiquet (2014)
  • Fulbright-Brazil Scientific Mobility Program Distinguished Chair Award: Ray Bauer, (2014)
  • Winners of International Imperial Barrel Award competition of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists: Geosciences Graduate Students: (2012) and (2014)
  • Office of Naval Research (ONR) Summer Research Fellow: Gabriela Petculescu (2013)
  • UL Lafayette Eminent Scholar Research: Keng Deng (2013)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Distinguished Professors: Scott France, Radhey Srivatava (2013)
  • Ray P. Authement College of Sciences Excellence in Teaching: Andrea Leonard (2013)
  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Distinguished Service Award: Brian Lock (2013)
  • Best University Research Award, Department of Energy, Basic Energy Sciences: Brian Schubert (2013)
  • Fellow of Acoustical Society of America: Natalia Sidorovskaia (2013)