Dr. Ramu Ramachandran, associate dean for research at Louisiana Tech and one of the
leaders of LA-SiGMA added, "The goal is to make this excitement contagious, and encourage
at least a few students to choose a science or engineering major in college."
Area teachers are working with faculty members, graduate students, and undergraduate
students on challenging computational problems dealing with materials at the nanometer
"One of the great challenges is to understand how properties like superconductivity
emerge from collections of individual atoms and molecules," Ramachandran said. "Novel
computer architectures based on new types of processors, which will have the computing
power to address such questions, are becoming available. One of the main tasks of
LA-SiGMA is to develop the tools for materials simulations that take full advantage
of these emerging paradigms in computing."
LA-SiGMA is made up of Louisiana Tech, LSU, Tulane University, University of New
Orleans, Southern University, Xavier University, and Grambling State University.
Louisiana Tech University, LA-SiGMA help teachers transform materials science
Public release date: 13-Jun-2011 Contact: Dave Guerinat firstname.lastname@example.org; Louisiana
RUSTON, La. – Teachers from school districts in north Louisiana are helping to advance
the frontiers of science by conducting research with faculty from Louisiana Tech
University's College of Engineering and Science and using supercomputers made available
through the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI).
Through a Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) summer program, these junior high
and high school teachers are engaging in research projects in the branch of science
known as "materials science." This area is concerned with the development of novel
materials by exploiting the properties of atoms and molecules. Past advances in materials
science has given us faster computers, stain-resistant fabrics, and improved solar
These activities are being funded by a $20 million grant from the National Science
Foundation to the Louisiana Board of Regents' EPSCoR program, which helped to create
the Louisiana Alliance for Simulation-Guided Materials Applications (LA-SiGMA).
"The LA-SiGMA RET program allows classroom teachers to gain a fresh, new perspective
into the process of the exciting, cutting-edge research happening right here in our
own part of the state" said Jim Kircus, a mathematics teacher at West Ouachita High
The main goal of the LA-SiGMA summer RET program is to help teachers refresh their
science foundations and to expose them to research projects that involve computational
modeling. The teachers will also be able to take back to the classrooms molecule
building kits and other kits that will demonstrate the real-life uses of materials
science. "This interaction with LA-SiGMA researchers will help the teachers convey
the possibilities and excitement of scientific research to their students," said
Dr. Melanie Watson, external engagement and assessment coordinator for LA-SiGMA at