Professor participates in landmark research; study published in New England Journal

Ronda L. Akins, assistant professor of infectious diseases at ULM, recently contributed to a study that resulted in a new antibiotic approved by the FDA for Staphylococcus aureus infections. In the study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers determined that a new drug, daptomycin, is another viable treatment option for Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that can cause infection of the heart and blood. The drug was found to be as beneficial as standard therapies.

Akins, a site principal investigator, contributed to the study by enrolling and evaluating patients over a 28 to 42-day span. The international study was conducted in over 300 test sites throughout the U.S. and Europe. Akins' site was based out of Amarillo, Texas. "From the results of the study the FDA approved the new antibiotic (daptomycin) for use in those infections, which proves to be beneficial to patients by providing more treatment options," Akins said. Akins' recent research opportunity was an important one, she said. "I was very fortunate to be a part of this landmark study. This was the first study of its design to fully compare a new drug to standard treatment in Endocarditis (a heart infection that primarily affects the heart valves)."

The study, “Daptomycin Versus Standard Therapy for Bacteremia and Endocarditis Caused by Staphylococcus aureus,” is published in the Aug. 17, 2006 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

For online viewing, visit http://content.nejm.org/ Her current research projects are at the pre-clinical stage (basic laboratory research). They consist of evaluating various antibiotic regimens against bacteria that demonstrate resistance to multiple antibiotics.

ULM professor visits Morocco to study Arabic language

Jim McKeithen, a University of Louisiana at Monroe assistant professor in the foreign languages department, spent one month in Morocco this summer at the American Language Institute in Fez. Known locally as "Alif" (which is also the first letter of the Arabic alphabet), the institute offers all levels of instruction. Courses are arranged to accommodate college students as well business people, diplomats and scholars who wish to brush up on their Arabic. The majority of the students are there as part of special agreements with colleges and universities in the U.S. and Britain.

”My trip to Morocco this summer was for the purpose of renewing my contact with spoken everyday Arabic and studying Modern Standard (Classical) Arabic in a traditionally Arabic environment with competent Arabic speaking professors,” McKeithen said. “This trip was motivated by the offering this fall of a compressed video course originating here and conducted simultaneously on the Grambling campus.”

An attractive feature of the institute is that it allows advanced students to customize instruction to their own needs. For this purpose, the institute employs professors from Qayrawan University in the city of Fez. Qayrawan is the oldest university in the Arabic speaking world and was founded in the 10th century.

ULM painting professor exhibits at Dunbar Art Gallery

The Dunbar Art Gallery at Grambling State University is currently showing a one-person Exhibition of Landscape Paintings by Robert G. Ward. The artist is a professor of painting in the division of art at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

Ward began his current landscape series in the early 1990s. The collection of 21 acrylic on canvas paintings on display at GSU is approximately half of the body of work produced in this series. With each painting Ward has endeavored to seek a new solution in the maturation of a given work. In his opinion, the same solution achieved in a series shows a lack of creativity; conversely, an employment of the theme and variation concept is a more satisfying device in the completion of an artistic composition.

Considered to be a colorist by his contemporaries, Ward will manipulate a seemingly completed work for a lengthy period of time in order to instigate unusual and unique manipulations of color within the landscape genre explored in this series. With the artist, color is paramount within his aesthetic, and the landscape image is merely a vehicle to this end.

This exhibition will be on view through Oct. 26. Dunbar Art Gallery is open from 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. Ward presented a gallery talk to GSU students and other guests on Thursday, Oct. 5.

ULM faculty participate in art exhibition

The Division of Art faculty at the University of Louisiana at Monroe has installed a small Faculty Exhibition in the lobby of Biedenharn Recital Hall.

Included in this display are ceramics by Gary Ratcliff and Wayne Horton, paintings by Joni Noble and Robert Ward, photographs by Richard Hayes and Camille Jungman, graphic design by Brian Fassett, sculpture by Cliff Tresner, and original prints by Jason Clark.

The exhibition will remain on view throughout the academic year.

Pix of Sara AlenInstructor to conduct training for local speech-language pathologists

Sarah Allen, instructor in the department of communicative disorders, will conduct in-service training to speech-language pathologists in Monroe schools Friday, Oct. 20. The two hour long presentation is titled, “Fluency Update 2006” and will include PowerPoint, DVD, lecture, and handouts.

History professor tells a forgotten story

About 15,000 young men underwent pre-flight and advanced bomber navigator training at Selman Field in Monroe, the only all-inclusive navigator training facility during WWII. ULM history professor Richard B. Chardkoff is telling their story in a new manuscript “The Navigators.”

“It’s a story of one of the forgotten airfields of World War II,” he said. “They were just 18-year-old kids who won every imaginable award, including the Congressional Medal of Honor.”

Telling important stories is not new to Chardkoff, who wrote “Sol's Story: A Triumph of the Human Spirit.” In his book, Chardkoff tells the story of Monroe businessman Sol Rosenberg and his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. Chardkoff, director of the general studies program, completed his undergraduate work at Vanderbilt University and received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Florida State University.

He is the author of numerous articles, which have appeared in historical publications, presented papers at professional conferences, and is the recipient of several research grants including a Fulbright Fellowship to Argentina and a ULM research grant to Poland.

ULM debate coach discusses issues with U.S. Senate & business leaders

Bob Alexander, coach of ULM’s award-winning debate team, attended the Senate Leadership Summit for Young Professionals in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 19 and 20. Alexander was nominated by U.S. Representative Bobby Jindal to attend the event.

The two-day conference provided a forum for more than 300 young professionals from across the nation to discuss a range of legislative issues with senior members of the U.S. Congress and nationally recognized policy experts.

Of the conference, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), chair of the summit, said, “Bringing together young leaders and our federal officials for an open discussion and exchange of ideas is vital to our nation’s continuing efforts to address issues affecting our families, communities, and nation.”

Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D. (Tenn.) welcomed the delegates. Senator Hutchison updated participants on Congress’ accomplishments this session and briefed them on the legislative agenda. Senator Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) spoke on protecting America’s competitive edge, Senator John Sununu (N.H.) outlined options for financial security, Senator John Thune (S.D.) shared ideas on increasing small business growth, and Senator Lisa Murkowski (Ark.) discussed access to affordable, innovative health care.

Participants engaged in informative Q&A sessions following each panel. High-level speakers included U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, who gave the afternoon keynote address; Dr. Mark McClellan, Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and Carly Fiorina, former chairman and CEO of the Hewlett-Packard Company.

“These sessions allowed us to have a meaningful dialogue about keeping America competitive, creating more jobs, building financial security, and making health care accessible and affordable to everyone,” said Sen. Hutchison.

English professor joins scholars in Turkey

Helen Lock, an English professor at ULM, will join scholars from the U.S., Europe and Asia at the first international conference of the U.S. National Association of Ethnic Studies. The conference, which is hosted by Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, is Nov. 15-17.

Lock will present a paper on Mark Twain's perspectives on international relations. Her trip is funded by the McKneeley Professorship, of which Lock is the current holder. “The conference should provide invaluable perspective for my sophomore world literature and upper-level multicultural literature classes, and for my teaching generally, as the conference theme is ‘America Abroad,’ and the papers will focus on how we see the rest of the world and how it sees us,” Lock said. The McKneeley professorship will also enable Lock to attend the South Central Modern Language Association conference in Dallas in October.

Art professor participates in digital exhibition

Robert G. Ward, professor of painting at ULM, has been invited to participate in a digital exhibition of alumni art at the School of Art and Art History at The University of Iowa in Iowa City. Ward received a master's degree in painting from Iowa. Ward’s exhibition, which is on display now, shows three recent acrylic on canvas landscape Images.

The Alumni Centennial Exhibition coincides with the opening of a new main building in the art complex as well as the anniversary of 100 years of art instruction at the university.

Stories courtesy of ULM's Office of University Relations.

Photo by Richard Lupo, University Photo Services.

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