Tulane University’s burgeoning residential village receives major donation

The university’s new residential village currently taking shape along McAlister Way on the Uptown campus received a boost recently from an alumnus whose name is synonymous with Tulane men’s basketball. Real estate magnate Avron B. Fogelman, a 1962 Tulane graduate, and his wife, Wendy Fogelman, a 1963 Newcomb College graduate, are providing the lead gift to build the pre-eminent student hall in the university’s residential project. The gift will propel the construction of Fogelman Hall. The freshman residence will replace Irby Hall, a popular residence hall on the former Bruff Quad next to McAlister Auditorium. Fogelman Hall will be one of five new residential buildings in The Village, the name for Tulane President Michael Fitts’ vision for reimagining the university’s residential spaces.

Tulane University to study water quality in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida

From Tulane University

The National Science Foundation has awarded a Tulane University researcher a RAPID grant to study how pollutants from flooding caused by Hurricane Ida may have affected groundwater and water systems in south Louisiana. Louisiana and other coastal states face hazards like superstorms and hurricanes that can expose groundwater and water systems to chemical or microbial contaminants that may have serious implications for human health. Samendra Sherchan, associate professor of environmental health sciences at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, will lead a team collecting water samples at more than 150 sites in Houma, LaPlace, Slidell and other areas at different time intervals during the next six months to gain a better understanding of the impacts of extreme flooding on water quality and the mobilization of contaminants in coastal groundwater systems. Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm near Port Fourchon on Aug. 29, bringing coastal storm surges, heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding to many rural areas in southern Louisiana. “Such large-scale flooding has the potential to transport chemical agents and microbial pathogens and contaminate groundwater,” Sherchan said.

Tulane researcher suggests marijuana can cause infertility in men

By Lance Sumler, Tulane University

As more states legalize marijuana, a new study by a Tulane University researcher has a warning for would-be dads. Smoking weed regularly may harm a man’s fertility. Researchers from Tulane and the University of Washington found a connection between low semen volume and damaged sperm among men who smoked marijuana. But the side effects weren’t all bad. The study also found that men who smoked marijuana were more likely to have sperm that swam faster.

Tulane tightens its COVID guidelines ahead of the fall term

By Daniel Schwalm and Domonique Tolliver, Uptown Messenger
This fall, Tulane University will require all students to receive the coronavirus vaccine, wear masks while indoors on campus and get tested regularly for COVID-19. Before the Delta variant surge, the university had been planning to relax its COVID guidelines as most of its students, faculty and staff were vaccinated. Vaccinated individuals would have been allowed go unmasked on campus. The school also had been planning to scale down its regular testing regimen, only requiring regular tests for those who were unvaccinated. However, on July 30, the city reinstated the indoor citywide mask mandate, for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people, and colleges in the city are following suit.

Tulane researcher studying hate crimes against Asian Americans

From Tulane University

The COVID-19 pandemic has sparked a dramatic increase in hate crimes and other hateful incidents against Asian Americans, and a Tulane University researcher wants to gain a better understanding of these experiences. Irang Kim, an assistant professor in the Tulane School of Social Work, is teaming up with Xiaochuan Wang, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Central Florida, to gauge the extent of hate and hate crimes targeted at individuals of Asian descent and who self-identify as Asian American. They also want to study how these experiences affected their well-being in terms of resilience and coping strategies. As part of the study, Kim and Wang are conducting the “Asian American COVID-19 Experience Survey,” which is open to Asian Americans and Asian immigrants 18 years of age and older. The survey, available in English, Korean and Chinese Mandarin, takes around 15 minutes to complete and will be open through July 31.

Students revitalize community gardens around Broadmoor

Broadmoor is coming into full bloom this spring as the Broadmoor Improvement Association and Tulane students lead efforts to revitalize three local community gardens. Two of the gardens – the Food Forest on Toledano Street near Dorgenois Street and another produce patch at the Broadmoor Community Church – will produce fresh herbs and vegetables for the Broadmoor Food Pantry. A rain garden at South Miro and Gen. Taylor streets will help mitigate flooding and beautify the area with native plants like cattails, cypress trees and irises. 

The goal of the gardens is simple: “We grow food and we nurture plants to bring people together,” said Dorothy Jelagat Cheruiyot, a professor of ecology and biology at Tulane University. Cheruiyot’s students are working as busily as bees in the Broadmoor gardens each week as part of internships and classes related to urban agroecology, as well as an additional garden at the New Zion Baptist Church in Central City. But the ultimate goal is to recruit neighborhood volunteers so that the lots will truly be sustainable community gardens, with an emphasis on the community.

Tulane study to examine role of racial injustice in design of memorials and monuments

By Barri Bronston, Tulane University

Researchers from the Tulane University School of Architecture and the School of Science and Engineering are embarking on a project that they hope answers questions about racial injustice and its impact on the design of urban spaces, monuments and memorials. The project, “Public Space and Scrutiny: Examining Urban Monuments Through Social Psychology,” won a 2020 SOM Foundation Research Prize, created by the architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill to advance the design profession’s ability to address the world’s most critical issues. “With fewer than one in five new architects identifying as racial or ethnic minorities, our profession has some catching up to do if we intend to reflect the public for whom urban spaces are designed,” said Tiffany Lin, an associate professor of architecture. “This project proposes a study of existing public spaces, monuments, and memorials through the lens of social psychology in order to establish a broader frame of reference for future design.”

Lin will be conducting the study with Emilie Taylor Welty, professor of practice at the School of Architecture, and social psychologist Lisa Molix, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the School of Science and Engineering. The team will use an interdisciplinary approach to study how members of the community react to public spaces and monuments that memorialize contentious historical figures and events.

Tulane researchers develop a rapid COVID-19 saliva test read by a smartphone device

From Tulane University

Researchers from Tulane University have developed a 15-minute COVID-19 test that is read by a smartphone to address the need to expand testing capacity in community-based settings. This test uses the same CRISPR-based approach that the researchers have submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization. Rapid PCR tests typically use nasal swab samples and are performed in laboratory settings by highly trained individuals using sophisticated equipment. The saliva-based COVID-19 test, which doesn’t require lab processing, could rapidly expand testing capacity in outpatient clinics, community testing sites and other locations. The assay developed by researchers at Tulane detects SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA in saliva to diagnose COVID-19 and is more sensitive than PCR-based tests, the current gold standard for COVID-19 diagnosis.

Tulane researchers studying compassion fatigue among COVID-19 workers

 

From Tulane University

Researchers with the Tulane University School of Social Work are conducting a survey to determine the extent of compassion fatigue among of doctors, nurses and other front-line workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey is the work of disaster mental health experts Leia Saltzman, Tonya Hansel and Charles Figley, the latter of whom was among the scholars who coined the term “compassion fatigue.” Figley is also director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute. “Compassion fatigue is related to the concept of burnout,” said Saltzman, an assistant professor. “It is something we see sometimes in caregivers and emergency responders, particularly in disaster scenarios. “Most often compassion fatigue can be thought of as an emotional exhaustion that manifests as the reduced ability of a caregiver or responder to engage in empathy and/or compassion for the survivor they are working with.”

The study seeks input from medical professionals, mental health professionals, such as social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists and other first responders.

Class of 2020 Part 2: Colleges postpone commencement ceremonies and turn to virtual recognition

 

With spring graduation ceremonies canceled or postponed, many class of 2020 graduates are disappointed that their official graduation day won’t be recognized the way they had anticipated. “That walk across a stage was earned through four (in my case, five) years of hard work and panic attacks — just to be taken away within a blink of an eye,”  said Loyola University senior Christian Willbern in an Uptown Messenger column. While few deny the public health necessity of closing colleges, it was heart-rendering for many seniors to be abruptly banished from their campuses in the final months of their final year. Universities are finding ways to commemorate the day, often through virtual ceremonies to be followed by a delayed ceremony. Tulane University’s virtual ceremony marking the conferment of degrees to the class of 2020 will take place May 16.