Though recent major flooding has caused damage along the Mississippi River, civil and environmental engineering professor Clinton Willson said the risk of severe flooding from the river in Louisiana is minimal. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website, the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge reached a height of 43.05 feet — more than three feet above the river’s 40-foot major flood stage — as of 9 p.m. Tuesday. Since the start of the semester, the LSU Emergency Operations Center has had a “river watch” post on the LSU homepage to inform students that campus will continue to operate regularly as the group monitors river conditions. “I don’t think there are any indications that we’ll see anything like what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks,” Willson said. “There’s very little risk for communities or any major infrastructure.” According to NOAA, flood damage in the Midwest will likely exceed $1 billion, with thousands of businesses and homes destroyed in the early winter storms. The main concern for Baton Rouge residents is pooling or standing water as a result of high river levels, Willson said. Claudette Reichel, AgCenter extension housing specialist and director of the LaHouse resource center, said students should act quickly if standing water or leakages infiltrate their homes or apartments. “If there’s any leakage, students should immediately report it to their management, preferably in writing, and should not wait for the maintenance crew to come,” Reichel said. “They should do what they can to clean and dry the area to prevent mold.” Students should expedite the drying process by utilizing air conditioning and heating systems or hair dryers or by bringing necessary items outdoors to prevent mold growth, Reichel said. Any items that are wet for more than three days can encourage the growth of mold. “Time is of the essence when it comes to wetness,” Reichel said. “Get it dry and get it dry fast.” Louisiana’s downriver location, mitigation structures and lack of tributaries will help to protect the state from flooding, Willson said. “Rivers tend to dampen and elongate the flood event,” Willson said. “The longer these high flows have to move down a river, the more they’ll spread out and lower.” Louisiana also benefits from a sophisticated mitigation system set in place by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Willson said. “The impact here is a lot less than the impact in the Midwest,” Willson said. “The Army Corps of Engineers and the federal government have set up a series of structures and procedures to mitigate any issues we may have in the lower 300 miles of the Mississippi River.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has strict procedures for considering river height and projected forecasts when determining when water should be diverted to other sources, Willson said. Volume is one of the strict measurements considered when assessing the river’s security. Only 1.25 million cubic feet of water per second can pass through the river at New Orleans. When the river exceeds its suggested volume, water is diverted through the Bonnet Carré Spillway, the Morganza Spillway and the Old River Control Structure, Willson said. A lack of tributaries flowing into the lower Mississippi River also helps to reduce the risk of flooding. No new water enters the Mississippi River through tributaries in the lower 300 or so miles, he said. Recent measurements show river levels in Baton Rouge are within a secure height, Willson said. “The levels will drop gradually over the next couple of weeks,” he said. “Unless there’s additional rainfall or other storm events they’ll drop down to what is typical of the February time frame.
                                                    Katie Gagliano
Katie Gagliano  January 19, 2016
LSU’s transit system has a high-tech new upgrade. William Waters, general manager of First Transit, said the late night transit system is transitioning from a call-in system to an app reservation system. First Transit is utilizing TransLoc routers to provide a ride request feature for the late night transit service, Waters said. Students can access the feature via a rider icon at the bottom of the TransLoc map. Students will select the icon and quickly set up a rider account before requesting a ride. “When they make the reservation, it automatically dispatches the closest driver to them that’s available to pick them up,” Waters said. Mounted dashboard tablets in the transit bus relay the student’s GPS coordinates to the transit driver. The dashboard tablet will also automatically alert drivers to ride requests along their route with similar drop-off locations, he said. The app system should reduce wait times during high call-in periods and make the system more efficient, Waters said. Dispatchers will still be available to assist students who call in, despite the new feature. “If there are people out there that don’t have access to a smartphone or have access to the app, the dispatcher will make that trip for them,” Waters said. Student awareness of the app is growing slowly said. Data from Jan. 18 showed 20 percent of riders requested rides through the app feature. He said First Transit’s goal is to have the majority of students registered through the app system within 30 days. First Transit and LSU are working to inform students of the new feature through several promotional efforts. Transit drivers are distributing fliers to riders, and First Transit is working with TransLoc to develop a press release through the app, Waters said. The app is the only new feature scheduled for the transit system, but the service is always open to suggestions from passengers. Marketing and economics freshman Lauren Accardo said she uses the transit system weekly. Though she has yet to use the app, she said it should improve the service and relieve riders’ frustrations. “One time I was here at the Union for an hour,” Accardo said. “It was pouring down raining and we called transit five times. After an hour my cousin and I just walked back from the Union to Kirby Smith.” Accardo said she plans to switch to the app system. She suggested First Transit and LSU use the email system to raise awareness of the app among underclassmen. “I feel like as long as they express that it’s happening and people know there’s an app for it, it’ll help,” Accardo said. “If there’s more publicity about it that would be beneficial.”
LSU experts warn students Mississippi River level could cause standing water, leakage
First Transit begins using reservation app for late nite rides Katie Gagliano  January 21, 2016 
Ariel Bergeron understands chicks. The poultry science senior has raised approximately 2,700 bobwhite quail over three years of undergraduate research. Existing research on the quail industry is over 40 years old, Bergeron said. Data is no longer viable after five years, and her study is shedding light on quail nutrition, a topic important to the growing quail industry in the United States. Theresia Lavergne, professor and poultry extension specialist, has mentored Bergeron throughout her college career. The two met at Bergeron’s high school 4-H competitions and Lavergne encouraged Bergeron to pursue poultry science at the University. Bergeron’s research has the quality of graduate level work despite her undergraduate status, Lavergne said. “Her research is unique,” Lavergne said. “There’s very limited nutrition-related research on bobwhite quail throughout the country and the world. Genetics change over time and nutrient requirements can change.” The quail industry brings in $5 billion to the U.S. economy and the industry is growing in Louisiana as quail become more popular on hunt and release preserves, Bergeron said. When developing the research topic, Bergeron and Lavergne noticed quail are not as prevalent in their natural habitat and the need to raise quail commercially is growing. “If you’re going to have to start raising them in commercial settings they’re going to have to have a specific nutrient requirement,” Bergeron said. Bergeron’s research trials sought to determine proper care procedures and lysine requirements for quail zero to 28 days old. Lysine is an essential amino acid that helps poultry break down food and develop protein. When lysine levels are deficient quail will not yield as much meat for sale, Bergeron said. She tested the lysine requirements by varying lysine levels in the quail’s corn and soy bean based diet. She then weighed the quail every seven days in small groups to determine if proper weight gain was occurring. At birth, bobwhite quail weigh an average of six grams. By the end of the 28 day trial, most quail weighed an average of 30 grams, Bergeron said. She developed her own method for raising quail over the nine research trials, and he constructed stainless steel brooder rings fitted with wooden planks to keep the birds secure. She also used red lights to ensure the temperature in the brooder rings remained between the 95 to 100 degrees the quail require in early life. Though the study did not determine the efficient lysine level requirements, Bergeron said the results reflect progress in the study of quail. “We found the deficient ratio, which is a step in the right direction,” Bergeron said. She said she would like to see the research picked up by other programs and built upon. Despite not reaching the desired conclusion, Bergeron said the experience built her character as a person and researcher. “I’ve grown to love research because I learned that it’s not all success,” Bergeron said. “You do have trials and tribulations that you have to work through in order to have success in the end.” Bergeron has grown into a capable researcher with an appreciation for knowledge, Lavergne said. “Everything she does she does to the best of her ability,” Lavergne said. “She stands out as one of our star undergraduate students.” Bergeron was recently named a 2016 LSU Discover Scholar and has been awarded two Student Research Certificates of Excellence by the Poultry Science Association for her research. The Certificate of Excellence is the highest honor awarded to undergraduate and graduate students in the field of poultry science.
Sociology professor Lori Martin and School of Education professor Kenneth Fasching-Varner aren’t afraid to court the controversial. In fact, it’s their job. Martin and Varner have assumed the roles of co-editors in chief of Taboo: The Journal of Culture and Education. The online academic journal is published biannually and features five to seven academic articles in addition to an editorial column and book review section. Founding editors Joe Kincheloe and Shirley Steinberg established the journal to spark conversations around socio-cultural topics traditionally overlooked in academics. “They were both post-modern thinkers whose work pushed the envelope and tried to challenge people to think more profoundly about complex issues in a critical way,” Varner said. Martin and Varner said they hope to continue the journal’s boundary pushing tradition while bringing it to broader audiences. An important aspect of working as scholar-activists is bridging the gap between the academic sphere and society at large, Martin said. “We want every reader of the journal, no matter what their academic background is or their particular orientations around scholarship, to read each piece and say that’s interesting,” Varner said. The online-only style allows Taboo to extend beyond the limited academic circles that traditional print journals are often limited to, Martin said. The flexibility of online publishing allows Taboo to experiment with interactive audio and video features to make the journal a living publication, Martin said. It also allows the journal to encourage dialogue across editions. “We don’t want it to just be a set of dictates or mandates or monologues, but we’d like to see it be a discourse and relationship between the readers and authors and editors,” Varner said. Under Martin and Varner, the journal will also extend access to undergraduate and graduate students by providing space for their contributions in each edition. Undergraduate and graduate scholarship is rarely recognized in journals, but inter-generational dialogue adds depth to the subject matter, he said. Incorporating the journal into the University’s student and academic culture is essential to Martin and Varner’s mission. LSU Libraries has already reached out to work as a partner for the journal’s publication and outreach, Varner said. The editors are considering hosting a Taboo sponsored conference on campus or in the surrounding Baton Rouge area to create opportunities for local scholars to share research. Another goal is to incorporate journal articles into critical courses and host teach-ins to analyze the works and promote campus discussion, Martin said. “I think the message ever since I’ve been at LSU is about preparing ethical, prepared, responsible leaders that can tackle the big issues that face this community,” Varner said. “The journal is a natural link to what a flagship institution like LSU is committed to.” Martin and Varner’s transition as co-editors in chief has been smooth thus far. Preparations for their first edition are underway and in April they have been invited to host a meet-the-editors session at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting in Washington D.C. Both Martin and Varner said they look forward to editing the journal and will stay as long as they can produce high quality, relevant work that pushes the boundaries of accepted academic thought. “Our goal is to facilitate the propagation of work that has the potential to bring about meaningful change on a number of levels,” Martin said.
The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is playing games. Today, the computer science department is launching the Code IT Up Challenge, an interactive gaming experience that gives prospective high school students the opportunity to hack their way into a scholarship. Communications manager for the College of Engineering Sydni Dunn said the creative recruitment technique is one of several departmental efforts to cultivate interest in the computer science program. High school students are often overwhelmed by a barrage of college mail, much of which inevitably lands in the trash, Dunn said. The Code IT Up Challenge is a more exciting way to expose students to the quality of LSU’s computer science program. “If we’re not being conscious about how we’re reaching out to students, then we’re not going to get their attention,” Dunn said. “It’s important because we want to recruit the best and the brightest to study computer science at LSU.” In 2013, LSU launched a partnership with IBM and Louisiana Economic Development to develop computer science opportunities in the state. The IBM Services Center in Baton Rouge committed to creating 800 technology jobs in the state, which would attract University graduates. In turn, the University agreed to increase funding for the computer science program while hiring new faculty, expanding course offerings and increasing the number of annual computer science graduates, Dunn said. Attracting successful students is crucial to the success of the partnership. Logan Leger, a 2013 computer engineering alumnus and CEO of NewAperio, worked with Dunn and the computer science department to develop the game. “I was really excited when I heard this idea because I thought it was perfect,” Leger said. “This is the exact type of thing that would have gotten me excited as a prospective student.” Leger and a small team of computer engineers from his web and mobile engineering firm worked with University faculty and students to develop the game during fall 2015. The team drew from personal gaming experience and modeled the game after international capture the flag computing competitions, he said. The game itself will resemble the black screen and green code images most people conjure when thinking of hackers, Leger said. Participants will log in to a server and hack through tasks to retrieve an encrypted flag before gaining access to the next level. As players capture flags, they will be able to share badges to social media and track their progress on a leaderboard. Points are awarded for efficiency, and the top three scoring players will be eligible to receive a one-time scholarship to study computer science at LSU, Leger said. “We wanted it to be very interactive, a lot of fun and we wanted it to be challenging because those are the types of things that will attract the kind of student we’re looking for,” Leger said. “I think we struck a great balance between entertainment and informative.” Public response to the game has been overwhelmingly positive ahead of the launch, Leger said. Regardless of the game’s overall enrollment, Dunn and Leger agreed they would consider the campaign a success. “Even if we have five people playing the game, it’s still reaching out to five more people than we had before,” she said.
On Friday at 3 p.m., approximately 85 gaming enthusiasts gathered at the Digital Media Center for the University’s third annual Global Game Jam. The event, hosted locally by the campus Center for Computation and Technology, is a 48 hour international design extravaganza bringing together programmers, artists, musicians and more to create original video games. Global Game Jam, Inc. estimated the 2016 event included approximately 30,000 participants crafting over 5,000 games based on this year’s secret theme: rituals. A live stream sponsored by the online gaming community Twitch connected gamers in 23 of the 87 participating countries. The variety of expertise levels brought the quality of this year’s game designs to the next level, said campus Global Game Jam organizer Marc Aubanel. Aside from improved quality, this year’s event also featured twice as many attendees, growing from 42 in 2015 to nearly 85. The number of girls in attendance also increased dramatically, Aubanel said. “If this was run 10 years ago I doubt you’d see that many girls making games,” Aubanel said. “That was a really happy surprise.” Bringing people together to foster creation is central to the gaming industry, he said. “It’s a ritual in the games industry,” Aubanel said. “A game isn’t made with one person in a room making some decision about what the game should be. It starts with a team.” This year’s teams represented 17 cities across Louisiana and were composed of high school and college aged participants as well as non-students. Teams collaborated on design concepts at conference tables in the Digital Media Center, surrounded by coffee cups and sleeping bags stacked in corners. Ideas ranged from literal to figurative interpretations of rituals as teams worked frantically to take their concept from idea to realized project. Concept drawings dotted white boards and 3-D crafting took place on design platforms such as Unity and GameMaker. A common theme among the teams was a focus on developing new skills and collaborating to overcome challenges. Though the University jam presents awards for best art, best overall game, best use of theme and best tuning, competition isn’t at the heart of the event, Aubanel said. “It’s nice to see people doing something that they’re not required to do, just for the love of doing it,” Aubanel said. Computer science freshman Sarah Sicard said she attended the game jam to explore opportunities in the computer science field. For her, the draw of computer science and the game jam centered on learning new things. “I really like the problem solving aspect of it — being given a challenge and having to overcome that challenge with unique ideas,” Sicard said. Bryson Toups, a computer science junior and Global Game Jam student volunteer, said the allure of problem solving and learning also drew him to computer science. The game jam is a great outlet for learning to overcome challenges, he said. “A lot of it is teamwork and communication,” Toups said. “Until we can agree on something nothing happens.” Aside from the practical benefits, the jam is fun. “We just like to make video games — it’s really that simple,” Toupss said. “And this gives us an excuse to make them.” Though Toups’ interest in game design is just a passion, for others it’s a dream career path. Baylor Hood, an employee at Electronic Arts Baton Rouge, said game design was the ideal career to combine his love of art and gaming. “I’ve been gaming since I was kid, since my brother gave me the second controller for the [Nintendo Entertainment System],” Hood said. “When I found out you could do that together as a job, it just seemed to click for me.” Hood said he attended the game jam to gain experience in team dynamics and the elements of collaborative game design. Once his contract at EABR ends, he plans to attend DAVE, the Digital Animation and Visual Effects technical school in Orlando
Senior researches quail nutrition Katie Gagliano  January 28, 2016 
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