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Brain drain is inspiration for mini-symposium today

August 1, 2008

A six-week program focusing on alleviating Hurricane Katrina’s “brain drain” in Louisiana concluded today with a mini-symposium featuring high school and undergraduate students describing the results of their collaborative research efforts with teachers.

The first annual Summer Collaborative Outreach and Research Experience (SCORE) was part of an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to strengthen recruitment, retention and training in biological and materials sciences in post-Katrina New Orleans. The brain drain, or the migration of qualified academic and technical professionals from the area since Katrina, was the original justification of this project.

The cornerstone of the summer program was the formation of research teams consisting of Loyola faculty members and undergraduates as well as high school teachers and students. These collaborative teams are similar to research groups found at larger research universities, and like those, the expectation was that a diverse range of perspectives, ideas and experiences would enhance the discovery process. It was also an opportunity for teachers to obtain new skills and experiences that they can use to enhance and enliven their own classrooms and laboratories.

SCORE project director and associate professor of biological sciences Frank Jordan says, “It has been very rewarding to combine my interests in research, undergraduate education and community outreach into a single program here at Loyola. I've been very impressed with the way participants in the program have worked together to solve challenging scientific problems.”

During the summer program, high school students attended classes and special seminars, participated in tutoring sessions, collaborated in all facets of research and took field trips. Some of the excursions included a canoe trip on Black Creek in Mississippi to learn about stream ecosystems and studying fish in the Gulf of Mexico aboard a ship provided by the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

Local scientists and physicians made research presentations throughout the summer, including Loyola biology associate professor Patricia Dorn, who spoke about her research on Chagas disease, and Dr. Joseph Uddo (BS ‘77) of East Jefferson General Hospital, who lectured on his role in developing new laparoscopic surgical procedures.

Another goal of the program was for students to obtain new mathematical and analytical skills that will enhance their chances for success in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The mini-symposium was a “capstone experience” that provided a great opportunity for high school students and undergraduates to work on their oral communication skills.

This program was made possible by support from the Louisiana Board of Regents Post-Katrina Support Fund Initiative and Loyola University New Orleans.

For more information, contact Frank Jordan at jordan@loyno.edu or 865-3829.

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