Local elementary and middle school students got a physics lesson in a fun atmosphere at SMU’s Physics Circus, presented by faculty in SMU’s Department of Physics.
Originally Posted: May 24, 2015
Danny Heitman’s “At Random”: Sage advice for 2015 graduates
We’re coming to the end of commencement season, that time of year when sage advice blooms from graduation podiums across America. Nothing I’ve heard this month, though, sounds any wiser than a speech by Willard Spiegelman to students at his home campus, Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Spiegelman has taught English at SMU for many years, and he also edits The Southwest Review — a small journal, published four times a year, that’s full of good ideas. Spiegelman’s teaching and editing seem like enough to fill a life, but he’s also written about art and culture for The Wall Street Journal.
In 2011, the newspaper sent Spiegelman to Louisiana to write about the Audubon collection at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library. I took him to dinner, not quite knowing what to expect. I’d followed Spiegelman’s work in The Journal and liked it a lot, but writers aren’t always as charming in person as they are in print. The French have a warning about this. As their proverb goes, the difference between reading a writer and meeting a writer can be like eating duck pâté, then meeting the duck.
Spiegelman is, luckily, as warm and engaging in person as he is on the page. Which is why, when I recently stumbled on a video of Spiegelman’s 2014 speech at SMU, I knew I had to watch.
“I can’t tell you how to make the world a better place, and I’m not going to give you any inspirational lessons, and I hope you all hug one another,” he tells students, “but I’m here today to speak on behalf of selfishness, and I’ll tell you why.”
Selfishness? That’s an odd virtue to be promoting among young minds freshly trained with a university education — and now ready, presumably, to give back. But Spiegelman is talking about selfishness of a special sort: the capacity to close out the rest of the world, if only briefly, so that you can truly know yourself.
That kind of reflection requires quiet, a commodity in scarce supply these days. “Always carry earplugs,” Spiegelman tells his young audience. “We live in a world which is so inundated with noise. Do we need CNN in airports? Can you find a restaurant without music? Can you find a restaurant without people screaming? Difficult to do. Always, always carry earplugs.”
Spiegelman offers one other rule for living: “Never go anywhere without a book. Not an iPod, not a Kindle — a book. Because if the power fails, or, if you are trapped by the side of the road waiting for Triple A to come get you, you can read a book.”
Why read? For Spiegelman, the answer is simple: “Books can change a life. They will not change the world, but they might change you.”
There you have it. Always carry earplugs in case the world gets too noisy. And try to keep a book handy to continue your education. If there’s better advice for this year’s graduates, I haven’t found it. READ MORE
Danny Heitman is on Twitter, @Danny_Heitman.
June 4, 2015
Dedman Life Sciences Building
Harold Jeskey Lecture Hall, Room 131
Joseph F. Kobylka, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Undergraduate Studies will discuss the impact of the pending case and imminent decision being made by the Supreme Court for same sex couples in Texas and around the nation. Following his presentation, he will take questions from the audience and lead discussion. Professor Kobylka teaches a course on the Supreme Court titled “Law, Politics, and the Supreme Court.” Over spring break earlier this year he took his students to Washington DC to visit the Supreme Court.
PhD graduate student, Tetiana Hutchison, has been selected to receive a 2015 Eugene and Millicent Goldschmidt Graduate Student Award from the Texas Regional Branch of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).
Congratulations to her on winning this highly competitive award!
KTRK News Radio
Originally Posted: May 18, 2015
The Texas Senate faces a Friday deadline much like the House did last week which killed many top-priority bills for both parties, such as raising the criminal age of responsibility, direct sales for Tesla and expanding gay rights.
No measure is completely dead, they can still be tacked onto other legislation. Those that failed include a bill prohibiting same-sex marriage licenses in Texas.
“Its up to the leadership of both the House and Senate to be sure the critical bills, like the budget and like tax cuts or border security, are considered even at the expense of lots of other important legislation,” says SMU political science professor Cal Jillson.
House Republicans were able to push through tighter restrictions for minors seeking an abortion along with other controversial bills.
“Graduating seniors in Texas high schools no longer have to pass 15 exams, no longer have to pass even five,” says Dr. Jillson. “The fracking ban has already been passed, but the bills that have not yet passed but must, the most important is the budget.”
If not in June, lawmakers know they’ll likely be back for special session.
“The Texas Supreme Court will likely order the Texas Legislature to provide more money to public schools, so the legislature will have to come into special session to consider how to comply,” says Jillson.
Originally Posted: May 15, 2015
Southern Methodist University’s renowned Geothermal Laboratory will host its seventh international energy conference and workshop on the SMU campus May 19-20. The conference is designed to promote transition of oil and gas fields to electricity-producing geothermal systems by harnessing waste heat and fluids from both active and abandoned fields.
More than 200 professionals – ranging from members of the oil and gas service industry, reservoir engineers, to geothermal energy entrepreneurs, to lawyers – are expected to attend “Power Plays: Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas Fields” Topics of discussion will include:
- Power generation from flare gas
- Power generation from waste-heat and geothermal fluids
- Research updates on induced seismicity, as well as onshore and offshore thermal maturation
- Play Fairway Analysis – a subsurface mapping technique used to identify prospective geothermal resources
- Technology updates.
Researchers from SMU’s Huffington Department of Earth Sciences will present results from their Fall 2014 Eastern North American Margin Community Seismic Experiment (ENAM CSE) research. In addition, equipment such as one-well systems, desalination and other new technologies will be explored. Registration remains open and walk-up attendees will be accommodated.
SMU has been at the forefront of geothermal energy research for more than 45 years, and the Geothermal Laboratory’s mapping of North American geothermal resources is considered the baseline for U.S. geothermal energy exploration. Geothermal Laboratory Coordinator Maria Richards and Emeritus Professor David Blackwell have seen interest in geothermal energy wax and wane with the price of oil and natural gas.
But Richards believes current low oil prices will drive more interest in geothermal development, encouraging oil and gas producers to use geothermal production from existing oil and gas fields as they try to keep them cost-effective for petroleum production at 2015 prices.
The technology that will be examined at the conference is relatively straight-forward: Sedimentary basins drilled for oil and gas production leave behind reservoir pathways that can later be used for heat extraction. Fluids moving through those hot reservoir pathways capture heat, which at the surface can be turned into electricity, or used downhole to replace pumping needs. In addition, the existing surface equipment used in active oil and gas fields generates heat, which also can be tapped to produce electricity and mitigate the cost of production.
“Oil and gas drilling rig counts are down,” Richards said. “The industry has tightened its work force and honed its expertise. The opportunity to produce a new revenue stream during an economically challenging period, through the addition of relatively simple technology at the wellhead, may be the best chance we’ve had in years to gain operators’ attention.”
Featured speakers include Jim Wicklund, managing director for equity research at Credit Suisse, who will speak on “Volatile Economics in the Oil Field,” and Holly Thomas and Tim Reinhardt from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Office. STW Water Process & Technology, a water reclamation and oilfield services company, will have desalination equipment on-site for attendees to understand size and scaling capacity of water purification for oil field operators.
For SMU graduating senior Ketetha Olengue, wearing a pacemaker isn’t a hindrance. It’s what spurs her desire to help people battling both heart conditions and “the human condition,” she says.
On Saturday, Ketetha will earn two degrees that will send her on her way to becoming a cardiologist: a B.S. in computer science from the Lyle School of Engineering and a B.A. in biology from Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences. After four successful years as a SMU President’s Scholar (a merit-based scholarship paying full-tuition and fees), Ketetha can now celebrate her acceptance into the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, where she’ll receive a full-tuition scholarship.
Ketetha traces her physical and emotional strength to one of her life’s lowest moments, when, at age 9, the first of three pacemaker surgeries left her with a significant scar. Her maternal grandmother, in Burkina Faso, Africa, told her, “Do not cry. It is a souvenir.” From then on Ketetha would see her congenital heart condition “as what makes me different,” she says, “and what will help me make a difference in the lives of others.” READ MORE
Originally Posted: MAy 15, 2015
By Robert W. Jordan
King Salman of Saudi Arabia has declined an invitation to participate in President Barack Obama’s Gulf summit meeting in Camp David this week. Both the United States and Saudi Arabia are working to minimize the fallout from this decision, but from the Saudi standpoint, this summit does not hold much attraction. Only two other heads of the Gulf states are attending. Two are in poor health, but the other non-attendees may be following Riyadh’s lead. Some of this reticence may derive from a festering series of policy disagreements that contribute to seriously frayed relations with the Gulf monarchies.
In their view, Obama was surprisingly willing to promote the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, declaring that it was time for him to go and insisting on being on the “right side of history.” Arab monarchs began to wonder whether, if this could happen to Mubarak, would this administration decide that they, too, were on the wrong side of history? They then witnessed the president’s about-face on Syria, backing away from even minimal military action against Bashar Al Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Most worrisome is the impending agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, which portends a closer American relationship with the perceived archenemy of the Gulf Arabs. Removing sanctions against Iran and freeing up billions in funds raises the threat level perceived by the Saudis and their neighbors, who fear a growing encirclement by Iran and its proxies, to say nothing of the prospect of a nuclear capable Iran that would dramatically change the balance of power in the Middle East. READ MORE
Congratulations to the Dedman College students awarded prestigious national fellowships and awards during the 2014-15 academic year, including Fulbright Grants and a fellowship to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. These students include:
Institute for Responsible Citizenship Scholar:
Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Presidential Fellow:
National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Congratulations to the Dedman College faculty members who are newly tenured as associate professors or have been promoted to full professorships to begin the 2015-16 academic year.
The following individuals received tenure or promotion effective Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015.
Recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:
Angela Ards, English
Greg Brownderville, English
Justin Fisher, Philosophy
Matthew Keller, Sociology
Matthew Lockard, Philosophy
Daniel Moss, English
Nia Parson, Anthropology
Christopher Roos, Anthropology
Stephen Sekula, Physics
Alicia Zuese, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:
Thomas Coan, Physics
Darryl Dickson-Carr, English
Robert Kehoe, Physics
Francisco Morán, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
Tony Ng, Statistical Science
Sherry Wang, Statistical Science