November 18, 1999
"We're celebrating a decade of science for the environment," says John McLachlan, director of the Tulane/Xavier Center for Bioenvironmental Research (CBR), which observes its 10th anniversary this year. The yearlong anniversary celebration kicks off this month with an Earth Day open house at the environmentally friendly Alcee Fortier Building on the uptown campus on April 22 and a Mayor Marc Morial's Earth Day event at the Crescent City Farmers Market on April 24.
Founded in 1989 with a $33-million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, the CBR brings Tulane and Xavier faculty, staff and students together for interdisciplinary collaboration on research, education and outreach activities.
During the past decade, researchers from disciplines as disparate as history and molecular biology have studied environmental issues under the CBR umbrella. Funding for the center, which is headquartered in the J. Bennett Johnston Health and Environmental Research Building on the medical centers campus, currently comes from the participating universities, federal and private grants, and industry.
McLachlan says the relationship between the two universities makes the center unique. "The partnership with Xavier has been one of the most important aspects of the center over the past 10 years," McLachlan says. "We're unique in this regard. I don't know of any other partnership like this. And it's only grown richer over these 10 years."
McLachlan, who became director of the CBR in January 1995, counts various research and educational endeavors as the center's major achievements. On the research side, he cites the center's studies on the Mississippi River and its astrobiology program as highlights. Accomplishments on the education and outreach fronts include the Pipeline Program, which brings minority students into doctoral programs; the Environmental Concepts Made Easy educational Web site; and the growth of Tulane's undergraduate environmental studies program from a few students a decade ago to 60 students today.
"Future plans include developing educational programs, exploring the interface between art and science and creating an interactive museum about the Mississippi River," McLachlan says. This month's anniversary events focus on education. Over the past few weeks, Tulane and Xavier students have visited local elementary schools to talk about the meaning of Earth Day.
Using information gained in those lessons, the children have drawn pictures onto paper grocery bags depicting what Earth Day means to them. The CBR will recognize students with the best drawings at the mayors Earth Day celebration. The following week, local Winn Dixie stores and the Whole Foods Market will use the bags.
"This is our third year organizing the grocery bag art contest and it is one of the most fun things that we do here," McLachlan says. "The students really think about how to put environmental stewardship into a picture." The anniversary activities continue in October with an international scientific symposium on hormones in the environment.
The date marks the 20th anniversary of the first meeting on the topic, which McLachlan organized while at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. A gala party celebrating the Tulane and Xavier partnership will take place in November. (Inside Tulane, 4/15/99)
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