The LSUS Chancellor has approved a proposal from the College of Arts and Sciences to invest $425,000 to build a Science Research Annex at LSU Shreveport.

Envisaged as a multi-purpose space, the 1600 square-foot Annex will be designed to transform according to research needs as they evolve. It will have the capacity to house a variety of projects that cannot be accommodated in existing campus laboratory space.

The need to invest in the Sciences has become increasingly obvious over the past years. A proposal for a new Medical Sciences Master’s in Science Program at the LSU Health Sciences Center drew attention to the situation in northwest Louisiana that showed “an acute need for more physicians and allied health professionals.” That need was coupled with “undergraduate training deficiencies resulting in poor grades and low test scores” and the observation that “most [graduate] programs are not specifically designed to prepare students for medical school.”[1]

One key goal of the Science Research Annex is to redress this situation, ensuring that LSUS undergraduate and graduate students have access to training that thoroughly prepares them for their future careers. Current faculty research interests in cancer, nerve system development, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease provide potential opportunities for talented students, particularly those with an interest in enhancing the health and well-being of humans and animals. However, these opportunities have been restricted by a lack of adequate facilities. Students who sought hands-on laboratory experience in the biomedical field could not be fully supported at LSUS, while faculty had to rely on the goodwill of partner institutions to provide the environment necessary for their research.

The Science Research Annex will house a number of ongoing research programs and give LSUS students hands-on research experience that will help them obtain admission to medical and graduate schools. Policy Statement 2.37.00 (available on the LSUS website) has been in place since September 2021 as a preliminary step to ensure ethical practices in the housing, care, and use of any research subjects.

The Annex comes at a critical time for the Sciences. As high-school graduation rates decline, institutions of higher education must become more intentional and focused in recruitment policies. Under the leadership of new Chair, Dr. Santosh D’Mello, the Biology department is doing just that, developing new courses and concentrations in biomedicine that will attract the best and brightest in northwest Louisiana.

The Annex will ensure that LSUS remains competitive in biological and biomedical research, able to attract high caliber students and to prepare them effectively for careers in all areas of the health sciences. It will allow the university to join the ranks of premiere Louisiana institutions of higher education that are already equipped with such facilities – Louisiana Tech, LSU Baton Rouge, Tulane, Xavier, the University of New Orleans – and will provide the hands-on education LSUS students need to succeed in their chosen fields.

LSU Shreveport was founded in 1967 and offers a wide array of nationally accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs, including a doctoral degree. The university’s mission is to educate a diverse population of graduate and undergraduate students; engage in regional and global thought leadership through community collaboration and service; and innovate to enhance the application of knowledge and intellectual discovery through faculty and student research and creative endeavors.

[1] LSUHSC School of Graduate Studies, “Louisiana Board of Regents AA2.05: Request for Authority to Offer a New Degree Program CIP 51.1401 Masters of Science in Medical Sciences,” Jan. 2021, pp. 1, 4.

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash.