Volume 41 No. 1
January 2010

Worming Their Way
into the Classroom
When Dr. Peter Barrett first introduced C. elegans (worms) to the campus back in 2006, he brought with them the promise of practical, hands-on experience for those students lucky enough to be involved in the Biology’s professor’s primary ... [ more ]
Roland Martin Keynote
Speaker at MLK Celebration

Author and syndicated columnist Roland Martin will be the keynote speaker for the 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Week for Peace, Jan. 18-22, 2010 ... [ more ]

Alum Devotes Career to
Protecting Women's Health
Some 40 years ago, Dr. Roland A. Pattillo ’55, helped create a vaccine that protects women from cervical cancer. Since that time he has been a tireless advocate of improved health care for women ... [ more ]

A Sign of the Times

1834 Basketball Update

MEN: The Gold Rush take a 9-3 record into their Jan. 7 conference opener at LSU-Shreveport. In their last outing the men lost 79-61 to host St. Thomas in the Miami Gardens Classic in Florida.

Junior guards Devin Andrew of Harvey LA (Vandebilt Catholic) and Michael Harvey of Amite LA (Amite High) currently lead the Rush in scoring and rebounding with 13.5 and 11.2 averages, respectively.

WOMEN: The Nuggets take a 7-5 record into their Jan. 7 conference opener at LSU-Shreveport. In their last outing the women lost to nationally-ranked Campbellsville 71-70.

Brittany Powell, a senior forward from Milwuakee WI (Divine Savior) currently leads the team in scoring with an 11.3 average.

For basketball schedules and updates on all XU sports, visit HERE.  

1834 Card Reader System to Track Attendance

Have you seen the "We I.D." fliers posted around the campus?

Beginning in January, all students will be required to swipe their Xavier I.D. card in a card scanner at the beginning of each class. Students must arrive on time and swipe the card within first ten minutes of class in order to be counted as present.

The readers are part of the University’s efforts to more accurately and efficiently track student class attendance and continue institutional eligibility for federal financial aid. 

See the flyer HERE.

1834 What's All the
Buzz About QEP?

The Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is the campus-wide plan to enhance the quality of the University.

The "Read Today, Lead Tomorrow" initiative will encourage all members of the Xavier community, not only students, to become more active and engaged readers. 

For more info on the QEP project visit HERE or contact Student Services by e-mail or call (504) 520-7357.

1834 More Students Among
Who's Who Nominees

Twelve political science majors were inadvertently omitted from the list of students nominated by the University for inclusion in the 2010 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, an annual chronicle of the nation’s outstanding campus leaders.

We recognize them now: Monika Arceneaux, John Dixon, Chelsea Hall, Edward Jenkins, Colleen McArthur, Daniel McGee, Akia Nevills, Shantel Ragland, Danielle Rugel, KaLynde Smith, Nicole Simmons and Natarche Walker.

The students – chosen by XU department chairs and faculty – were selected based on their academic achievement, service to the community, leadership in extracurricular activities and potential for continued success.

1834 New XU Research Journal Issue Online

The newest edition of XULAneXUS, the University’s online undergraduate research journal, is now available for viewing online HERE.

The journal publishes the outstanding scholarship of Xavier students from every academic discipline in two annual issues. The journal is published through Xavier's Center for Undergraduate Research. All submissions are reviewed by student and faculty editors.

Volume 7.1 features four student authors: Domonique Lewis, Psychology:  "Personality, Self-Esteem, Interpersonal Relationships and Friendships" (research manuscript); Cassandra Shepard, History: "Gendered Etiquette" (creative scholarship); Courtney Thomas, Psychology: "Increasing Access to Prenatal Care: The Impact of Access Barriers and Proposed Strategies to Overcome Them" (scholarly note); and Valerie Davis, Speech Pathology: "A Toddler's Development: Analyzing 'One Who Walks Unsteadily'” (scholarly note).

Submissions for Volume 7, Issue 2 are now being accepted through February 5, 2010. Visit the journal website for more details.

1834 UNCF's An Evening of Stars Airs Jan. 23-24

The United Negro College Fund’s (UNCF) annual An Evening of Stars (AEOS) spectacular will air in the Greater New Orleans Area Jan. 23 at 10:30 p.m. on WWL-TV.

AEOS is the largest and most viewed event in support of UNCF member institutions. The highlight of this year's program is a tribute to UNCF alum Lionel Richie.

For more details or to view broadcast times outside the local area, visit HERE. The program will have an encore airing Jan. 24 on BET.




Kimberly Green, a senior science education major from Milwaukee WI (Washington High) and Andrew Minias, a junior biology/pre-med major from Marrero LA (Shaw High), take advantage of the new stereomicroscopes (generously provided by the Sherman-Fairchild Foundation) in Dr. Peter Barrett's class, which also signaled the return of whole, living organisms – in this case, C. elegans worms – to the University’s Genetics Laboratory classes. [click here for more photos]     

photo by Irving Johnson III


When Dr. Peter Barrett first introduced C. elegans (worms) to the campus back in 2006, he brought with them the promise of practical, hands-on experience for those students lucky enough to be involved in the Biology’s professor’s primary research activities. 

Now, however, the little creepy crawlers are playing a much bigger role in the education of Xavier students than their diminutive size would indicate. This past fall, Dr. Barrett introduced the worms into the Biology Department's Genetics Laboratory course.

Years ago, Drosophila (fruit flies) were commonplace in Xavier laboratories. Science students were easily identified as they traveled across campus with their collection of flies in tow. But as Xavier’s enrollment grew three-fold in the 90s, the cost and storage of the critters belied their benefit. That’s when the Department made the decision to switch over to having students do "virtual" crosses on computers.  Now, students are doing the crosses with the actual live worms, signaling a return to using whole, living organisms for this purpose.

“The problem there is that doing something on a computer is not really the same as working with a living organism, where because it's biological, there's always the possibility of getting something unexpected,” said Barrett, who holds a Ph.D. in Genetics and a Masters in Medical Science, both from Harvard.

What makes C. elegans more practical than fruit flies is that they reproduce like rabbits (with or without mate), are easy to maintain, and have an average life span of a mere two weeks. And the worms reside comfortably in the stockpiles of bacteria-laden petri dishes that dominate Barrett’s research laboratory.

Barely visible to the naked eye even when fully grown, the worms can only be seen through high-powered microscopes. To the rescue came the Sherman-Fairchild Foundation, which paid for 14 new stereomicroscopes, without which the lab exercises would have been impossible. 

In the wild, these small, simple organisms would ordinarily be found in the soil around rotting vegetation, where they survive by feeding on microbes such as bacteria. Totally harmless, of no real economic or environmental importance, and too small to stick on a fishing hook – they are largely ignored outside of the scientific community. To the latter, however, they are nearly indispensable.

“They are about as primitive an organism that exists, and yet they nevertheless share many of the essential characteristics that are central to problems of human biology,” says Barrett, an Assistant Professor of Biology in his fourth year at Xavier. 

“The species C. elegans does the same general things humans do – feed, poop, reproduce, and react to their environment, thus they represent a fantastic model for a whole range of different biological phenomena in fields such as neurobiology, development, and genetics.”

The worms begin life as a single cell, undergoing a complex process of development (including four larval stages) on their way to adulthood. Blessed with a nervous system and a rudimentary “brain”, C. elegans exhibit behavior and are even capable of simple learning. They have no eyes, but possess acute senses that respond to taste, smell, temperature and touch. They produce sperm and eggs, mate, and reproduce.

What makes extremely valuable to researchers is that it was the first major research organism whose entire DNA structure has been determined (back in 1998), and all 959 somatic cells of its transparent body are visible with a microscope.  That makes studying genes a much easier process. 

In fact, they are among the best-studied and highly-published worms in the world; so much so, that there is a central repository at the University of Minnesota from which hundreds of scientists obtain strains of the worm for their specific needs. Work with the worm has resulted in two Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine, one in 2002 and again in 2006. 

Despite that worldwide interest, however, Barrett can lay claim to being the first C. elegans researcher in New Orleans. 

“I have a particular interest in the biological (genetic) and social (environmental) determinants of behavior,” said Barrett. “These little worms can be used to simulate responses in more complex organisms, so they are ideal for my research purposes.”

And now, they are giving up their secrets to the general student population studying Genetics.

“Lab work is an essential part of the learning experience,” said Barrett. “And there really is no substitute for working with living organisms.” 


Author and syndicated columnist Roland Martin will be the keynote speaker for the 24th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Week for Peace, Jan. 18-22, 2010.

The Martin Luther King Week for Peace is presented by Xavier, Tulane, Loyola and Dillard Universities. This year’s theme is “Change: from Rhetoric to Action.”

Highlighting the week is Wednesday’s (Jan. 20) annual convocation during which Lifetime Achievement and Student Community Service awards will be presented. This year’s Lifetime award winner is civic leader and businessman Dr. Charles Teamer, co-founder and chairman of the Dryades Saving Bank and chair of the board of director for the New Orleans’ Chamber of Commerce. Students from all four universities will also be honored.

In addition to the convocation, other MLK week activities include a community day of service and the Expressions of Unity celebration. All events are free.

Martin, a nationally syndicated columnist and sought-after political analyst, hosts his own one-hour Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin," and serves as a commentator for the TV One Cable Network and an analyst for CNN, appearing on a variety of shows. He has authored two books, Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith and Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America.

He was named one of the 150 Most Influential African Americans by Ebony Magazine in both 2008 and 2009.

A graduate of Texas A&M and Louisiana Baptist University, Martin got his start in print journalism, serving as executive editor/general manager of the Chicago Defender, the nation's most historic Black newspaper, and as owner/publisher of Dallas-Fort Worth Heritage, a Christian monthly newspaper. He has won more than 30 professional awards for journalistic excellence, including a regional Edward R. Murrow Award.

The complete calendar of MLK events follows: 

Monday, Jan. 18
- Community Service Day, 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
     Staging at University Center, Xavier

Wednesday, Jan. 20
- MLK Convocation: Reception 5:30 to 6:15 p.m.; Convocation 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
    Presentation of Awards, Keynote Speaker Roland Martin
    McAlister Auditorium, Tulane

Friday, Jan. 22
- Expressions of Unity, 7:00 p.m.
    Cook Auditorium, Dillard

For more information call 520-5420 or 865-5181.



Ebony Harding, a P3 pharmacy student from Baton Rouge LA (Baton Rouge Magnet) was named to the All-Louisiana collegiate women's cross country team for the fourth consecutive year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). She is the first Xavier athlete to be All-Louisiana four times. 

Ray Walston, a sophomore business major from Atlanta GA (Benjamin Mays High) and Mark Dotson, a freshman psychology major from Alexandria LA (Holy Savior High) were named to the All-Louisiana collegiate men’s cross country team and freshman of the year, respectively, by the LSWA.


Demetria George Caston ’98, has been named director of development at Hill College in Hillsboro TX.

Chiron Graves ’77, has been appointed an assistant professor of biology at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti. He previously taught at the high school level.

Rhaoul A. Guillaume, Sr. ‘71, president of the Baton Rouge LA consulting engineering firm GOTECH, served as the inaugural returning alumnus speaker at Marquette University. In addition to his keynote address to 200 fellow engineers and interested public, he also visited with more than 100 current students in their classes.

Dr. Sharhonda Washington Scott  '93, has founded Washington Mobile Dentistry, is a new approach to dentistry that performs preventive, comprehensive and cosmetic oral health services using a mobile unit brought to Texas schools, businesses and communities.


Dr. Thomas Bonner, Jr. (Emeritus) has an essay "My Life with Kate Chopin" in Awakenings: the Story of the Kate Chopin Revival (LSU Press). He has several book reviews of Southern and African American literary studies in Choice and served as a consultant to the Mississippi Quarterly.

Robert "Bo" Browder (athletics) recorded his 250 win as Gold Nugget coach when the women defeated Metro State 61-50 at the Surf City Classic in California. The winningest coach in XU history, he has fashioned a 250-92 record in 11 seasons.

Dr. Katheryn Krotzer Laborde (English) judged the Creative Nonfiction division of the annual Soul-Making literary competition, an extended community arts outreach program of the National League of American Pen Women, Nob Hill, San Francisco Bay Area Branch. In addition, she presented a chapter from her soon-to-be-published book at the SCMLA meeting in Baton Rouge LA. 


Msgr. Paul Lenz, a member of the XU Board of Trustees and former National Director of the Catholic Church’s Black and Indian Mission Office, has been awarded the Patronal Medal by Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. He is the 25th recipient of the medal, joining previous awardees Bishop Fulton Sheen, Mother Teresa and four cardinals.

Where Are They Now?


Some 40 years ago, Dr. Roland A. Pattillo ’55, helped create a vaccine that protects women from cervical cancer. Since that time he has been a tireless advocate of improved health care for women.

Now you might say he is finally getting his due.

Pattillo, now the director of gynecologic oncology at Morehouse School of Medicine, was recently recognized by his medical alma mater, St. Louis University, which bestowed upon him its highest honor, the Alumni Merit Award.

Later this spring, he’ll be in line for some additional national recognition when a new book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, is published amongst much ballyhoo, including a spread in Oprah magazine.

The book will tell the story of Henrietta Lacks, a 33-year-old black mother of five children whose death in 1951 provided scientists with one of the most important tools in medicine – the first “immortal” human cells grown in culture.

An important piece of that tale of scientific discover will be a recounting of Pattillo’s own association with Dr. George Gey, the physician who successfully grew human cells outside the human body after cultivating the cancerous cells from Lack's cervix.

Dr. Roland Pattillo

photo courtesy
Morehouse School of Medicine

Then at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the two doctors were researching regenerative medicine, e.g. the potential for the human body to repair its own damaged organs and parts to pre-damaged or diseased condition.

“Being able to reproduce human cells outside of the body and the diseases that affect them was (and is) critical to developing cures for those diseases,” said Pattillo. “Up to that point, nearly all advances in medicine were made by testing on laboratory mice and other animals, but the fact was that response in humans wasn’t always the same.”

During that research, Pattillo established a cervical cell line that was used by other researchers to create a vaccine for the human papilloma virus, which causes cervical, vulvar and vaginal cancers in women. It is still used today.

Lack’s original cells were also shared with researchers worldwide, who have used them to search for a leukemia cure and the cause of cancer, to study viral growth, protein synthesis, genetic control mechanisms, and the unknown effects of drugs and radiation. Now universally known as the HeLa cells, they have also been directly responsible for the development of cures for polio and numerous other diseases.

For their part, neither Pattillo nor Gey sought a patent for their groundbreaking work, since it was their common belief that the cells should be made available to scientists everywhere so vaccines could be studied. The significance of Lacks' contribution to science – which is just now receiving public attention some sixty years later – has not been lost on Pattillo, who has hosted a women's health conference in her memory annually at Morehouse.

Pattillo, a native of DeQuincy LA, was the fifth of six children. From an early age, he wanted to be a doctor. In fact, one of his fondest childhood memories is when his parents presented him with a doctor's kit.

Only the third African-American student accepted to Saint Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin and fellowships at Johns Hopkins and Harvard universities.

Pattillo, who was one of the first physicians to publish an article on stem cells, is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed journal publications, one book and many book chapters. He was named Atlanta’s Top Doctor in 2002 by Atlanta Magazine and was recognized as a Health Care Hero in 2005 by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He has also received a medallion for his work by the Trophoblast Society.

1834 Tennis Standouts Earn Preseason Ratings

All-America standouts Angelina Callis and Anastesia Opata earned a No. 14 in the 2009-10 preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) NAIA women's doubles rankings. It's the first time a Xavier doubles team of either gender has earned an ITA preseason ranking.

Opata, a senior mass communications major from Lawrenceville GA (Central Gwinnett High School), and Callis, a senior English major from Los Angeles CA (Dorchester MA High School), were 20-2 in doubles last season and finished No. 8 in the final ITA rankings. 

Opata is also tied for 18th in the preseason singles rankings. She was an ITA and NAIA tournament committee All-American in singles this past year, posting a 20-5 record.

The defending Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champion, will play their first dual match this season in late January.
For Pattillo, however, medicine was never about getting awards or recognition.

“Being a physician has been the most gracious blessing of my life,” said Pattillo. “And Xavier gave me that chance.”



Construction progresses at a steady pace on the College of Pharmacy’s 55,000 sq. ft. Qatar Pavilion as workers complete the roof and start framing up exterior walls. The expected completion date remains late Spring 2010.

Photo by Irving Johnson III

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