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This item originally appeared in the November 11, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.

BY RINDY METCALF

News Editor

Gov. Kathleen Blanco received a crash course in bionanotechnology when she visited Tech's Institute for Micromanufacturing on Friday.

Faculty members and students introduced Blanco to research projects they said could make a large impact on Louisiana's economy.

Dr. Les Guice, vice-president for research and development, said, "It's wonderful to see somebody who is critical to the future of our state coming by to see labs that are making technology that affects our state."

Tech President Dr. Dan Reneau said he had a good feeling about Blanco's visit to the IfM, and he considered her visit a compliment.

"She took time to listen to the students and learn about their experiments," Reneau said.

Blanco handled objects such as micro reactors and large area circuit patterns before being whisked through labs while faculty members and students displayed their works and explained their uses.

Nanotechnological applications for the pulp and paper industry and devices that could advance Louisiana in the way of agriculture and medicine were explored.

One application particularly important to Louisiana that was discussed is the sustained drug release provided by nano-encapsulated drugs, called "smart tattoos," that could impede calcium depletion in cows.

Blanco said she was impressed to see Tech carving a niche in applications of science to be used for the greater good of humanity.

Blanco said, "I like the idea of Louisiana being a player in some of the most sophisticated new concepts that are out there."

Blanco said she heard about collaborations among universities and felt it would "bring our entire talent base working in a certain kind of harmony, and it certainly will behoove all of our universities to develop collaborations so we can move this state forward."

Kalyani Peri, a graduate student of biomedical engineering, was working on dusty plasma as an optical source when Blanco visited.

Peri said with the plasma source, the particles can eventually be used as "on-chip tunable optical sources" for many biomedical and biological applications. Peri said Blanco's visit left an affect on the students at the IfM.

"It was a nice feeling that our work in the [IfM] is being identified at the state level, and a visit from officials like the governor of Louisiana is very encouraging," Peri said. "It will surely help in attracting more funded projects apart from good recognition for the institute."

Rajneek Khillan, a graduate student of engineering, said he was encouraged by Blanco's visit to the IfM.

"[The] governor's visit to IfM will project the capabilities of IfM to the concerned high- level authorities," Khillan said. "Moreover, the quality work being done in the lab and the quality time being spent by the faculty, students and staff was appreciated by [the] governor's visit."

Khillan said Blanco's visit may be the gateway to more financial support.

"Her visit can open the possibilities of government funding to various ongoing projects at IfM," Khillan said. "On the other hand, her visit will surely boost the morale of IfM students."

News editors Jordan Marshall and Sharon Moore contributed to this story.


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