Dillard Women’s 4×4 relay team finishes 2nd in nation; DU ends season ranked #20 in NAIA & produce 6 All-Americans

Women’s Track & Field – Sun, May. 29, 2016 at 3:50 PM

(Gulf Shores, Ala.) Dillard University’s 4×400 meter relay team finished second in the nation at Saturday’s NAIA final at Mickey Miller Blackwell Stadium, posting a time of 3:42.35. The team is comprised ofKaitlyn Fortuna (JR/New Orleans, La.), Sasha Newman (SO/Antioch, Calif.), Megan Reed (SO/Thibodaux, La.) and India Ware (JR/Missouri City, Texas). Furthermore, Newman and Fortuna both were named All-American in individual events; Newman finished fourth in the nation in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 14.17 while Fortuna placed seventh in the nation in the women’s 200m dash, posting a time of 24.79. On Friday, freshman Quamel Sessoms earned NAIA All-American honors with a seventh place finish in the men’s long jump, leaping a distance of 7.27 meters.

“It was a great weekend and an even greater ending to a very special season,” said head coach Bobby Williams, who is currently 2016 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year. “We had high hopes coming into the season with our returning runners and a few top recruits. Starting with the men, Quamel Sessoms, a lone freshman, came in and took care of business in his long jump. I’m extremely proud of him being self-focused to be the only one representing the team.”

The Lady Bleu Devils 4×1 meter relay team also earned All-American honors with an eighth place finish in the NAIA, posting a time of 47.43. Team members are Reed, Ware, freshman Tajdreana Hurst (FR/Katy, Texas) and Fortuna. Overall, Dillard brought home a total of six NAIA All-Americans.

“The ladies were phenomenal across the board,” said Coach Williams. “It was a magical season winning conference and then going to nationals and finishing 20th overall out of 63 teams in the nation. It feels good to know we are the 20th ranked team in the NAIA. Kaitlyn did a great job finished as an All-American in three events and Sasha did outstanding in her hurdles. The 4×4 was just magical! We had to crush the school record, and to almost finish 1st was amazing.”


Dillard Signs Five-Year Agreement with U.S. Army Research Laboratory


May 31, 2016

NEW ORLEANS – Over the last fifteen years the Dillard University physics program has gained a national standing in graduating African American physicists who have earned advanced degrees.  Dillard’s program is among the Top 15 in the nation, and ranks as the second highest producer of African Americans who then earn PhDs in physics, according to the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Physical Society (APS).  During that time the University has also established a strong working relationship with the United States Department of Defense to perform research.

As an extension of its current grants funding in physics, Dillard University has signed a five-year, multi-task Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL).

Dr. Abdalla Darwish, Dillard’s first Presidential Professor, has long-standing relationships with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), Army Research office (ARO) and the Army Research lab (ARL). He said, “The funding that we have secured will go to support student research during summer for 10 weeks for hands-on training and continued work throughout the upcoming academic year.”

To date, more than 15 peer reviewed research papers and five patents are pending,  as a result from the current research.  “One of the most exciting projects developed is a double and triple Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) and Matrix assisted PLD,” Darwish continued, “which has changed the way Pulsed Laser Depositions are done around the world and advanced the technology to another dimension.”

The agreement is based on the discovery of a Novel Adaptable and Sensory Materials System.  The new materials system will be the  building blocks in the development of unique capabilities in intelligent multifunctional materials capable of detecting, analyzing, and reacting to environmental changes of the interests.  The ARL also sought out Dillard for its work on the cutting edge of the area of the fabrication of the thin film for optical, chemical and biosensors, and other nanotechnology sciences.

“A CRADA is typically reached with R1 institutions, and Dillard University with our cutting edge technology is on the way to reaching that level,” Professor Darwish said.  “This will open the doors to greater opportunities for more training for our physics and pre-engineering students and provide them with the skills they need for graduate school and beyond.”

Through the agreement, the ARL will provide core competencies in cryogenic nanostructuring process and smart materials process sciences while Dillard will provide core expertise in related analytical materials sciences and in a physics multi beam pulsed laser deposition process, recently invented by Professor Darwish himself.

Dr. Yolanda Page, Vice President for Academic Affairs, anticipates that the CRADA will strengthen the university’s ongoing projects with both the Army and Air Force. “Physics is one of Dillard’s signature programs and our goal is to be a primary destination for students who are interested in this particular discipline,” she said. “What makes this doubly exciting are the opportunities that will be afforded to our students to be involved in research and the opportunity for faculty exchange, bringing new minds to our campus and to continue to elevate our program.”

For More Information, Contact:

David M. Grubb

504.816.4024 office

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