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College of the Coast and Environment

Fall 2015 Commencement

December 18, 2015

LSU College of the Coast & Environment Graduates First Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Students

Program was established in 2012 – 13 in response to state’s environmental needs

LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander today presented doctoral hoods to the School of the Coast & Environment’s very first two Environmental Sciences Ph.D. students, Kenan Li and Gregory Olson. Their major professors, respectively, are Nina Lam and Ralph Portier, two of the original architects of the curriculum and advocates for the program.

The School established a Ph.D. within the Department of Environmental Sciences in the 2012 – 13 academic year. It’s since grown from eight students to 28, a 250 percent increase in just three years. The School has long offered a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences and created the Ph.D. after several years of planning, in response to demand from both students and state-specific environmental factors.

“The School of the Coast & Environment (SC&E) created an Environmental Sciences Ph.D. to fill an urgent need within the state of Louisiana,” explained Christopher F. D’Eila, professor and dean of SC&E. “Located near the mouth of the Mississippi River and along a mixed use corridor that contains industrial activities, we truly have a natural laboratory in our own backyard, complete with a host of environmental issues that need to be addressed. We’re proud that these two students, and all those that come after them, will contribute to solving those problems.”

Li plans to continue his career in academia as a postdoctoral researcher. While at Coast & Environment, he studied system modeling, spatial analysis and geographical information systems. He previously received a master’s degree from the School in 2011.

Olson’s research used the Gulf menhaden, a small marine filter feeding fish, to assess the impact of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on the northern Gulf of Mexico. He also studied crude oil analysis and fingerprinting. He also plans to continue his career in academia and previously received a master’s degree from the School in 2012.

Fall 2015 graduates include:

Bachelor of Science in Coastal Environmental Science

Brandeus Julian Davis

Ahsennur  Soysal

Ben Christian Wilson

Master of Science in Environmental Sciences

Sumaiya Afzal
Major Professor: Dr. Ralph Portier
Professional Option

Paul Ramnauth Algu
Major Professor: Dr. Margaret Reams
Thesis title: “A Study of Recovery in Orleans Parish Neighborhoods Ten Years after Hurricane Katrina”

Megan Hoag Fairley
Major Professor: Dr. David Dismukes
Professional Option

Tiffany Chantelle Johnson
Major Professor: Dr. Edward Laws
Thesis title: “The Effects of Tropical Storms and Hurricanes on Wetland Communities along the Gulf Coast”

Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences

Gregory Michael Olson
Major Professor: Dr. Ralph Portier
Dissertation title:  “Three Year Assessment of Nearshore Crude Oil Contamination in the Gulf of Mexico Using Gulf Menhaden (Brevortia patronus) as an Indicator Species: Menhaden Watch”    

Kenan Li
Major Professor: Dr. Nina Lam
Dissertation title:  “An Agent Based Model of Population Changes in a Vulnerable Coastal Environment”