In Constant Pursuit of Discovery

Six LSU faculty receive the Rainmaker Award for Research and Creative Activity



BATON ROUGE – Six LSU faculty members, who are leaders in their respective fields, have been selected to receive the Rainmaker Award for Research and Creative Activity from the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, or ORED. Rainmakers are faculty members who balance their teaching and research responsibilities while extending the impact of their work to the world beyond academia.

“The definition of a Rainmaker is ‘a person whose influence can initiate progress.’ We recognize these exceptional faculty whose dedication and resilience represent the best of us all,” said LSU Vice President of Research & Economic Development Sam Bentley.

The Rainmakers include faculty who are at the early, middle and senior stages of their careers. They have established track records in securing external research funding and publishing in high-impact journals.

In partnership with Campus Federal Credit Union, ORED awards six Rainmakers each year.

“Campus Federal Credit Union has been a part of the LSU community since 1934.  Started by faculty, we remain committed to excellence in serving our members alongside these exceptional Rainmakers, to make the lives better for everyone in the communities we serve,” said Campus Federal Credit Union President and Chief Executive Officer Jane Verret.

Each of the following award-winning faculty members has met one or more of the criteria for high-quality research or creative activities and scholarship. The criteria include, but are not limited to: publication in a high-impact journal(s); a highly cited work; external awards; invited presentations at national and international meetings; high journal publication productivity; critically acclaimed book publication(s), performance(s), exhibit(s) or theatrical production(s); high grant productivity and for more senior candidates, outstanding citation records and high-impact invited presentations at national and international meetings.


Emerging Scholar
Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Science
Matthew Valasik, Department of Sociology, College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Matthew ValasikAssistant Professor Matthew Valasik joined the LSU Department of Sociology in 2014 after completing his Ph.D. in Criminology, Law & Society from the University of California, Irvine. His interdisciplinary training has informed his interest in applied research at the intersection of geography, place and theory to better understand the community context of crime, focusing particularly on gangs and problem-oriented policing strategies. His research is primarily quantitative in nature routinely using social network analysis and spatial methods to analyze either primary or secondary data.

His research also includes investigating the impact an abatement of a Los Angeles Police Department gang unit has had on an officer’s ability to gather gang intelligence and arrest gang members; exploring if predictive policing tactics lead to racially biased arrests; using risk terrain modeling to forecast gang violence; analyzing the temporal and spatial relationship between gang violence and the structural characteristics of a neighborhood; comparing and contrasting the attributes of deviant groups, such as ISIS, Skinheads, Alt-Right and White Power Groups, to conventional street gangs; assessing the role of intergenerational closure and collective efficacy on juvenile delinquency; and examining the changes in concentrated poverty in rural America.

Emerging Scholar
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Weiwei Xie, Department of Chemistry, College of Science

Weiwei XieAssistant Professor Weiwei Xie researches non-molecular inorganic materials involving nearly the whole periodic table and diverse theories and methods to design, predict and synthesize new materials. She is also an emerging leader in the design and discovery of quantum materials at LSU.

Xie obtained her bachelor’s degree from Nankai University in China and her Ph.D. from Iowa State University. She conducted post-doctoral research at Princeton University. She received the Beckman Young Investigator award in 2018. She is one of 20 inorganic chemistry professors in the U.S. to be selected for the first cohort of Virtual Inorganic Pedagogical Electronic Resource, or VIPEr, Fellows. As a fellow, she will work to improve undergraduate education in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, in the U.S. with support from the National Science Foundation’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program. Recently, she received a five-year Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER, award from the National Science Foundation for her work on new superconductors.



Mid-Career Scholar
Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Science
Raymond Pingree, Manship School of Mass Communication

Raymond PingreeThe Doris Westmoreland Darden Professor and Associate Professor Raymond Pingree is a quantitative communication researcher and a former professional software engineer. He received his Ph.D. in mass communication from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He was an assistant professor at The Ohio State University before joining the LSU faculty in 2013.

His research interests include news media effects, media trust, agenda setting, game framing and fact checking. His research aims to inform journalists as well as their audience about how they could make more of a difference in helping society better prioritize problems, create a shared understanding of important facts across lines of political difference and focus the national debate on substance instead of treating politics as a sport. 





Mid-Career Scholar
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Michal Brylinski, Department of Biological Sciences, College of Science and Center for Computation & Technology

Michal BrylinskiAssociate Professor Michael Brylinski’s research focus is on the design and development of novel tools for the modeling and analysis of biological networks. His field of computational systems biology can be considered a complex platform that integrates many algorithms from different research areas such as structural bioinformatics, functional genomics, cheminformatics and pharmacogenomics. He applies various tools to study the evolution and organization of pathways into biological networks with the primary application in modern drug discovery and design.

He has combined his training as a pharmacist and as a researcher as part of the interdisciplinary LSU team that competed for the IBM Watson AI X Prize to use artificial intelligence, or AI, to advance new drug discovery. Brylinski received his Ph.D. from Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland and conducted post-doctoral research at Georgia Tech before joining the faculty at LSU in 2012.




Senior Scholar
Arts, Humanities, Social & Behavioral Science
Jinx Coleman Broussard, Manship School of Mass Communication

Jinx Coleman BroussardThe Bart R. Swanson Endowed Memorial Professor at LSU Jinx Coleman Broussard teaches public relations, strategic communications, media history and mass media theory. The public relations campaigns her students have produced have won two first place and one second place national awards since 2014. Her research interests include the black press, representations of racial and ethnic minorities, media history, alternative media, crisis communication, public relations strategies and tactics and the civil rights movement. These interests date back to her Ph.D. dissertation, “Lifting the Veil on Obscurity: Four Pioneering Black Women Journalists: 1890-1950” and subsequent book on these women. Broussard is also the author of the national award-winning book titled, “African American Foreign Correspondents: A History.” Her newest book titled “Public Relations and Journalism in Times of Crisis: A symbiotic Partnership” was published last year.

As a public relations professional, she was the director of public information for the city of New Orleans and simultaneously served as press secretary to Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy in New Orleans for nearly eight years.


Senior Scholar
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Samithamby “Jey” Jeyaseelan, Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine

Samithamby "Jey" JeyaseelanSamithamby Jeyaseelan “Jey” is the Dr. William L. Jenkins Endowed Professor in the Department of Pathobiological Sciences. He is the director and principal investigator of the National Institutes of Health-funded Center for Lung Biology and Disease through a $11.6 million grant from the Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence. His research aims to understand the immunological mechanisms responsible for neutrophil recruitment, priming and activation in infected lungs, smoke-exposed lungs and extrapulmonary organs followed by infection. His work is supported primarily by federal funding and has both basic science and translational applications. He has more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and 14 editorials and commentaries on various topics ranging from infectious to cigarette smoke-induced diseases. He received the Pfizer Award for Research Excellence in 2011 and Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award in 2013 from the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine. He is the organizer of the annual Louisiana Lung Conference and was the immediate past president of the Phi Zeta Tau Chapter, the only honor society of veterinary medicine in Louisiana.

He earned his veterinary and master’s degrees from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka in 1992 and 1996, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2001. He was a James Hudson Brown - Alexander Brown Coxe Postdoctoral Fellow in Pulmonary Immunology at Yale University school of Medicine using Legionella pneumophila as a model pathogen to understand innate immune mechanisms. He was then a postdoctoral scholar at National Jewish Health, where his research focused on immune responses in the lungs and extrapulmonary organs to infectious agents. He joined LSU in 2007 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 2013.


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Rainmakers Awards for Research and Creative Activity:

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Contact Alison Satake
LSU Media Relations
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