Students honor Dedman College professors’ excellence with 2015 HOPE Awards

SMU’s Department of Residence Life and Student Housing honored 45 exceptional University educators, 26 Dedman College professors, at the 2015 HOPE Awards Banquet.

HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Award recipients are named through student staff member nominations as professors who “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Congratulations to all of the Dedman College 2015 HOPE Award honorees:

Adriana Aceves, Mathematics
Paul Avey, Tower Center for Political Studies
Greg Brownderville, English
David Michael Crow, Psychology
LeeAnn Derdeyn, English/Discernment and Discourse
Melissa Dowling, History/Classical Studies
John Duca, Economics
James K. Hopkins, History
Vanessa Hopper, English
Matthew Keller, Sociology
Michael Lattman, Chemistry
David Lee, Anthropology
Judy Newell, Mathematics
Rachel Ney, World Languages and Literatures/French
Jennifer O’Brien, Chemistry
Wei Qu, World Languages and Literatures/Chinese
Stephen Robertson, Statistical Science
Bivin Sadler, Statistical Science
Martha Satz, English
Sam Ross Sloan, English
Tom Stone, English
Thierry Tirado, World Languages and Literatures/French
Nick Tsarevsky, Chemistry
John Wise, Biological Sciences
Patty Wisian-Neilson, Chemistry
Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry

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Four student projects win recognition (and $5,000) in SMU’s 2015 Big iDeas Business Plan Competition

Congratulations to Hunter Rice, Edward Allegra and Rax Friman on their winning projects. These Dedman College students were part of four student teams that competed in SMU’s Big iDeas Business Plan Competition.

More on the competition and the projects below:

Four student teams combined winning pitches with solid business plans to earn $5,000 startup grants for their projects through SMU’s Big iDeas program on Jan. 30, 2015.

The four winning teams were chosen from a business plan competition featuring the winners of the Big iDeas Pitch Competition, which took place in October.

The projects were judged by a panel of volunteers from Executives in Action, a Dallas-area organization that helps strengthen North Texas nonprofits by matching them with senior-level executives for pro bono consulting services. The winners:

The projects were judged by a panel of volunteers from Executives in Action, a Dallas-area organization that helps strengthen North Texas nonprofits by matching them with senior-level executives for pro bono consulting services. The winners:

Beyond US Clothing (Hunter Rice and J.P. Buxbaum) – a for-profit clothing company that partners with charities to help underprivileged children in the United States by offering unique T-shirt designs for each partnership and donating a portion of the sales to charities with a focus on children and education.

Biolum Sciences (Edward Allegra, Miguel Quimbar and Jack Reynolds) – A smartphone-based imaging system that can detect the presence of asthma and reduce the current 40% misdiagnosis of asthma in the United States.

Helpple (Austin Wells and Irisa Ona) – an app that connects people who need help with people who are offering to help, ranging from tutoring to moving furniture to getting volunteers.

Out & About (Renita Thapa, Sam Hubbard and Raz Friman) – an app that promotes local businesses and organizations by showing its users what is going on in the community for easy planning, exploring and getting to know the area.

“The world needs big thinkers to address global challenges. It needs innovators to create solutions. It needs risk-takers to turn solutions into sustainable businesses. And at SMU, Big iDeas makes this happen,” said Engaged Learning Director Susan Kress, whose office also oversees Big iDeas.

The students will spend the next nine months developing their projects. They will present results in October 2015 at Big iDeas Demo Day for a chance to win another $5,000 to continue their work.

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• Visit SMU’s Big iDeas website at smu.edu/bigideas

Dallas’ Ebola outbreak fed ‘epidemic of misunderstanding,’ SMU panel says

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: Feb. 6, 2015

Dallas’ Ebola outbreak may have ended last fall, but the scientific exploration of what happened here has only begun, especially among medical anthropologists.

In a two-hour discussion Friday at Southern Methodist University, three such experts sorted through how the crisis evolved, how people responded and the language they used to describe what happened.

It was an “an epidemic of misunderstanding,” the three speakers agreed, and the problems started in West Africa, where the Ebola epidemic began in 2013.

Adia Benton, an assistant professor of anthropology at Brown University, cited key words that made the disease more frightening than it should have been. For example, the World Health Organization decided to call it “Ebola hemorrhagic disease,” which focused on its explosive symptoms rather than its cause.

It allowed people to fixate on “projectile vomiting, diarrhea and blood coming out of eyeballs,” she said. “The first time WHO referred to it as ‘Ebola virus disease,’ it affected how we think about it, and it wasn’t as scary.”

Doug Henry, associate professor of anthropology at the University of North Texas, recalled the “emotional epidemic” that struck Dallas when Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in September. Tensions abated only after the national election in November, he said.

“I was troubled by how the media and politicians exploited the situation,” Henry said, describing endless news coverage and constant political pressure to ban flights from West Africa. He also cited attempts to detain health care volunteers as they returned from fighting the disease.

“The forced quarantine of health care workers makes the epidemic worse and more likely to spread to us,” he said.

Carolyn Smith-Morris, associate professor and director of SMU’s health and society program, said she jumped into the fray when Ebola showed up in Dallas. She sent her students door to door to talk to Dallas residents about how they felt as the outbreak unfolded.

“It’s very rare that we get to see what the beginning of an epidemic looks like,” she said. “There were lessons to be learned about stigma, prejudice and fear.”

Dallas’ outbreak never reached epidemic proportions, “although the media coverage tried to convince us it did,” Smith-Morris said. Epidemics require a higher rate of disease followed by a massive effort to stop it, she said.

Although more than 100 people were quarantined in Dallas, only three Ebola cases were diagnosed: in Duncan and two of his hospital caretakers.

Still, the local outbreak remained stuck in a “crisis phase,” Smith-Morris said, because public confusion and anxiety continued for weeks. “There were pieces of information we did not have,” she said of the government’s educational response.

The three experts pondered whether Duncan might have been a victim of racism, considering that his Ebola diagnosis and treatment were delayed for several days.

Benton, who is black, said many things could have influenced Duncan’s treatment, including his immigrant status, lack of health insurance and heavy foreign accent. Doctors also didn’t expect Ebola to show up in their emergency room.

Duncan died, while the two Ebola-infected nurses survived.

Benton said it’s hard for many African-Americans to reconcile how Duncan was treated. “Everyone knows a delayed response is more likely to kill someone,” she said.

Smith-Morris said she couldn’t conclude that prejudice alone was responsible.

“Racism may have a place,” she said, “but I don’t think it explains Duncan’s death.”

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David Meltzer, Anthropology, tracking the first Americans

National Geographic

Originally Posted: January 1, 2015

New finds, theories, and genetic discoveries are revolutionizing our understanding of the first Americans.
By Glenn Hodges

The first face of the first Americans belongs to an unlucky teenage girl who fell to her death in a Yucatán cave some 12,000 to 13,000 years ago. Her bad luck is science’s good fortune. The story of her discovery begins in 2007, when a team of Mexican divers led by Alberto Nava made a startling find: an immense submerged cavern they named Hoyo Negro, the “black hole.” At the bottom of the abyss their lights revealed a bed of prehistoric bones, including at least one nearly complete human skeleton.

Nava reported the discovery to Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, which brought together an international team of archaeologists and other researchers to investigate the cave and its contents. The skeleton—affectionately dubbed Naia, after the water nymphs of Greek mythology—turned out to be one of the oldest ever found in the Americas, and the earliest one intact enough to provide a foundation for a facial reconstruction. Geneticists were even able to extract a sample of DNA. READ MORE

Faith Nibbs, resettlement experiences of Hmong refugees in Texas and Germany

The process of integrating immigrant newcomers, particularly refugees, is complex and involves many possible approaches. Integration, as perceived and driven by national agendas, may not be felt or experienced in the same way by refugees. The concept of belonging offers a way to think about how those who are displaced understand being “in the right place,” “members,” or “fitting in” to new social spaces as well as their interactions with new, diverse groups of people. From this lens we can consider if refugee belonging is more successful in a major city where resettlement agencies and refugees themselves have access to more resources and opportunities or in a village where face-to-face relationships predominate. Is integration more effective in contexts that offer more hands-on assistance or in those that are more laissez faire? A case study of two little-known resettled Hmong populations that originated from the same refugee group 30 years ago offers insight into these questions. The resettled Hmong originally came from the hills of Laos near the Plain of Jars where a clandestine conflict against communist forces took place during the Vietnam War. The Laotian Hmong were shuffled into Thai refugee camps with up to 140,000 other Hmong and Vietnamese and were eventually split and in 1979 resettled to communities with markedly different approaches to welcoming them—Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, in the United States, and Gammertingen, in Germany. This article, drawn from the book Belonging: The Social Dynamics of Fitting In as Experienced by Hmong Refugees in Germany and Texas, explores the integration of these particular Laotian Hmong refugee groups, and what it means to belong in the United States and Germany. READ MORE

Ron Wetherington, Anthropology Professor, challenges Dallas-based institute out to prove biblical version of creation

Dallas Morning News… Dallas researchers out to scientifically prove biblical version of creation

Most scientists believe Darwin got it right: Single-celled creatures evolved into complex ones, a process of natural selection and genetic adaptation that over eons turned a primordial swamp into shape-shifting cells, into ape-like primates, into people.

His theory is taught in virtually every science classroom in the world. It is used to demystify the complexity of life, translate the language of DNA, and make sense of geology, biology and paleontology. READ MORE

Graduate student reception scheduled for September 25

Welcome Back Graduate Student Reception flyer[1]

Border Crisis: Immigrants or refugees? Why it matters featuring Dr. Faith Nibbs, Dedman professor

WFFA: All this week, we’ve been continuing the conversation about the border crisis. We’ve tried to give perspective on all sides of what is happening.

Today’s topic: Are these children immigrants or refugees? And why does it matter?
Dr. Faith Nibbs is an expert in forced migration and a professor at SMU. She joined Shelly Slater on News 8 at 4 with some answers. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

SMU names new dean of Dedman College, its largest school

Thomas-DiPiero-10june2014Dallas Morning News: Thomas DiPiero is Southern Methodist University’s new dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, university officials announced Tuesday. READ MORE HERE