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Baton Rouge, LA, United States

This essay argues for a renewed commitment to impartiality and neutrality in scholarly research. These values are understood as the accomplishment of nonalignment in the interest of understanding the social world. This ethnographic study of the role of engineering in Hurricane Katrina provides an overview of two pivotal events in the public analysis of the disaster: the sheet pile pull at the 17th Street Canal and litigation in federal district court over environmental damage caused by the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. After Hurricane Katrina, three teams of engineers and scientists were formed to investigate the flooding of New Orleans. The author's inclusion in engineering events after the storm was facilitated through membership in a team, but continued access required his resignation. This form of non-alignment became a struggle during the ensuing years, in which litigation drove forensic engineering, and the achievement of impartiality, in the wider sense, required re-alignment during the course of the trial. My argument is that these negotiations over neutrality are necessary for an understanding of engineering in the field and courtroom. Both engineers and attorneys succeeded far better than science and technology studies in contributing their collective efforts to understanding the disaster. © 2010 Taylor & Francis.


Lax R.F.,LSU
Finite Fields and their Applications | Year: 2012

We extend results of K. Lee and M.E. O'Sullivan by showing how to use Gröbner bases to find the interpolation polynomial for list decoding a one-point AG code C= CL(rP,D) on any curve X, where P is an F q-rational point on X and D= P1+ P2+⋯ + Pn is the sum of other F q-rational points on X. We then define the generic interpolation polynomial for list decoding such a code. The generic interpolation polynomial should specialize to the interpolation polynomial for most received strings. We give an example of a family of Reed-Solomon 1-error correcting codes for which a single error can be decoded by a very simple process involving substituting into the generic interpolation polynomial. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The scientists studied the natural chemical process that occurs when urea, a molecule found in urine, is broken down by the enzyme urease, which produces ammonia and carbon dioxide. Based on previous studies, scientists know how long it takes urease to break down urea, which can be used to create a chemical process called a "pH clock reaction." They chose urea and urease because it is one of the few nontoxic and natural clock reactions. By adding water and two chemicals—a sulfur-based thiol and a synthetic acrylate—during the urea-urease clock reaction, the researchers were able to create a thin, water-soluble adhesive gel. LSU doctoral candidate Elizabeth Jee led the study. Jee tested more than 20 different combinations of chemicals in this experiment before achieving the intended reaction. "I was so excited. I jumped up and down and ran into the office to tell my lab mates that my experiment worked," said Jee, who will receive her doctorate in August from the LSU Department of Chemistry. As the urease breaks down the urea and ammonia is produced, the watery solution changes from acidic to basic. The molecules then begin to build a framework of polymers that entraps water, and the solution solidifies into a gel that resembles Jell-O. In the study, Jee identified how long it takes urease to break down urea, how long it takes the gel to form, at which time the gel will break down in a basic solution and how the solution reacts in different sized containers. "By tuning the properties of this system, we can adjust the rate of degradation, which might be desirable in a biomedical adhesive or drug carrier in your body," Jee said. Her Ph.D. advisor, Professor John Pojman, has developed a variety of polymer adhesives and clays that can be manipulated through chemical processes such as applying heat. This latest research is based on previous urea-urease pH clock reaction research he conducted with a collaborator in England. Explore further: Closing in on an ulcer- and cancer-causing bacterium More information: Elizabeth Jee et al. Temporal Control of Gelation and Polymerization Fronts Driven by an Autocatalytic Enzyme Reaction, Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2016). DOI: 10.1002/anie.201510604


“Why do you need money from me when you have every great investor on earth?” That’s the question that caused Backplane to buckle under the weight of its own early buzz. Lady Gaga’s social network builder startup has run out of money, gone out of business and sold its assets to a group of previous and new investors who will try to restart it. That’s according to multiple sources, the legal firms that handled the sale and its former CEO. Backplane’s legacy will serve as a warning of the dangers of fundraising at too high of valuations with exploitative terms in party rounds where no investor takes responsibility. The company is also emblematic of the trouble caused when lavish lifestyles drive up burn rates and bleed companies dry. Five years and $18.9 million later, the two issues combined to destroy the startup. Founded in 2011, Backplane raised a Series A of $12.1 million in 2012 from the top venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. Sequoia, Google Ventures, Founders Fund, SV Angel, Greylock, Menlo Ventures, Formation 8 and Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures all poured money in at around a $40 million valuation. That was despite basically just being a fan site for Lady Gaga with hopes of launching social networks for brands. It eventually raised $5 million more. But after three years of jet-set founders running two fancy offices, the company had failed to make progress on product and I reported multiple sources saying the startup was crashing. Backplane tried to pivot into Place.xyz, cutting its burn rate $160,000 per month, bringing on new CEO Scott Harrison and restructuring as a self-serve social network maker mobile app. It grew to 15,000 communities and planned to build apps for Burning Man and LSU. The problem was that Harrison says the big-name VC money came with tough liquidation preferences that would give those investors returns first if Backplane had a successful exit. When the cash recently ran out, the firms wouldn’t put more in, and their reluctance and the bad deal terms scared away new investors. Harrison tells me my article on the company’s previous stumbles also hurt its fundraising abilities. A Chinese backer was supposed to spearhead a $2.5 million round to keep the startup alive, but they dropped out last-minute. A source says Backplane defaulted on loan obligations to lenders, and Sherwood Partners confirms it worked with the company to sell its assets through Dorsey & Whitney LLP. The law firm confirms to me that the business shut down and all the assets were recently sold to investors with plans for “restarting the concept” of Backplane. A source provided this notice of the sale of all of Backplane’s assets, including patents, software, code, office equipment, trademarks, URLs and other intellectual property. Harrison explains, “Essentially, a number of the Series A investors have started a [new company] to continue the business. They are investing to get the business started and a couple of new investors have come on board to provide additional seed funding. The goal is to restart with a clean cap structure, great product, strong partnerships, great team and lean business.” This restructuring could let the VCs save face, and potentially get a second shot at earning off the money they already sank. But now, without the baggage of the original funding structure, Backplane/Place is more attractive to investors. Harrison notes, “The system continues to operate and efforts are under way to continue business operation and release a number of new apps. Partners like Gaga and others will become paying clients and not simply strategic partnerships.” Place is still in the app stores and some of the communities are quite active, yet it’s unclear who will run the company. The Backplane tale shows how much can change in startup land in just four years. During Backplane’s heyday, VCs were willing to throw big sums and valuations at unproven companies. Few winced as lean teams ballooned in plush offices, and founders flew to conferences and events instead of building products. If the implosions of Backplane, Clinkle and Famous are the brutal hangover from those frothy times, hopefully they’ll teach the industry to sober up. But as with every drunk, “Never again” often quickly turns to “Another round!”


News Article
Site: www.rdmag.com

BATON ROUGE – Chemists created a nonpermanent adhesive from a natural chemical reaction that can be used in the biomedical field. This discovery may benefit tissue repair or drug delivery. The scientific journal Angewandte Chemie recently published this collaborative work between LSU and University of Sheffield researchers. The scientists studied the natural chemical process that occurs when urea, a molecule found in urine, is broken down by the enzyme urease, which produces ammonia and carbon dioxide. Based on previous studies, scientists know how long it takes urease to break down urea, which can be used to create a chemical process called a “pH clock reaction.” They chose urea and urease because it is one of the few nontoxic and natural clock reactions. By adding water and two chemicals — a sulfur-based thiol and a synthetic acrylate—during the urea-urease clock reaction, the researchers were able to create a thin, water-soluble adhesive gel. LSU doctoral candidate Elizabeth Jee led the study. Jee tested more than 20 different combinations of chemicals in this experiment before achieving the intended reaction. “I was so excited. I jumped up and down and ran into the office to tell my lab mates that my experiment worked,” said Jee, who will receive her doctorate in August from the LSU Department of Chemistry. As the urease breaks down, the urea and ammonia is produced, the watery solution changes from acidic to basic. The molecules then begin to build a framework of polymers that entraps water, and the solution solidifies into a gel that resembles Jell-O. In the study, Jee identified how long it takes urease to break down urea, how long it takes the gel to form, at which time the gel will break down in a basic solution and how the solution reacts in different sized containers. “By tuning the properties of this system, we can adjust the rate of degradation, which might be desirable in a biomedical adhesive or drug carrier in your body,” Jee said. This research is supported by the National Science Foundation. Jee's Ph.D. advisor, Professor John Pojman, has developed a variety of polymer adhesives and clays that can be manipulated through chemical processes such as applying heat. This latest research is based on previous urea-urease pH clock reaction research he conducted with a collaborator in England.

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