Dedman College Research Roundup

Dedman College2.RB.rgb

Dedman College scientists continue to receive global recognition for their research. Check out some of the latest research articles from Dedman College faculty.

  • Long-term daily contact with Spanish missions triggered collapse of Native American populations in New Mexico. 

SWJM_oldboundary_8x11portrait-232x300“Scholars increasingly recognize the magnitude of human impacts on planet Earth, some are even ready to define a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene,” said anthropologist and fire expert Christopher I. Roos, an associate professor, Department of Anthropology, and a co-author on the research. READ MORE

  • The Moon used to spin on a different axis.

810

“As the axis moved, so did the face of the Man in the Moon. He sort of turned his nose up at the Earth. These findings may open the door to further discoveries on the interior evolution of the Moon, as well as the origin of water on the Moon and early Earth,” said Matthew Siegler, adjunct faculty in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, and lead author of the study. READ MORE

  • SMU seismology team response to March 28, 2016 U.S. Geological Survey hazard forecasts. READ MORE
  • Nearby massive star explosion 30 million years ago equaled brightness of 100 million suns. 

Deep blue space background filled with nebulae and shining stars

  • The massive explosion was one of the closest to Earth in recent years, visible as a point of light in the night sky starting July 24, 2013, said Robert Kehoe, SMU physics professor, who leads SMU’s astrophysics team. READ MORE
  • Could Texas’ dirty coal power plants be replaced by geothermal systems?

geothermal-map“We all care about the earth,” said Maria Richards, SMU geothermal lab coordinator, in welcoming the attendees. “We are applying knowledge that is applying hope.”                         READ MORE

  • SMU physicists: CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is once again smashing protons, taking data. READ MORE
  • Study: Humans have been causing earthquakes in Texas since the 1920s. READ MORE

800-300x180

Scientists from SMU’s Department of Physics are among the several thousand physicists worldwide who contribute on the LHC research.

 

  • Early armored dino from Texas lacked cousin’s club-tail weapon, but had a nose for danger.

Karen_Carr_Pawpawsaurus_campbelli--300x197Pawpawsaurus was an earlier version of armored dinosaurs but not as well equipped to fight off meat-eaters, according to a new study, said vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs. READ MORE

 

  • Wildfire on warming planet requires adaptive capacity at local, national, int’l scales.

house-1024x768“We tend to treat modern fire problems as unique, and new to our planet,” said fire anthropologist Christopher Roos, lead author of the report. “As a result, we have missed the opportunity to recognize the successful properties of communities that have a high capacity to adapt to living in flammable landscapes — in some cases for centuries or millennia.“ READ MORE

  • Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk.

plot_figure1_smu-910x1024

The two sinkholes — about a mile apart — appear to be expanding. Additionally, areas around the existing sinkholes are unstable, with large areas of subsidence detected via satellite radar remote sensing. READ MORE

Two giant sinkholes in West Texas expanding, researchers say

Star Telegram

Originally Posted: June 17, 2016

A couple of giant sinkholes in the West Texas oil patch are apparently expanding, and might eventually converge into one gigantic hole.

The sinkholes are about a mile apart and sit between Wink and Kermit off I-20 west of Midland-Odessa. They were caused by lots of oil and gas extraction, which peaked from the mid-1920s to the mid-1960s, according to researchers at Southern Methodist University.

Satellite radar images indicate that the giant sinkholes are expanding and that new ones are forming “at an alarming rate” as nearby subsidence occurs, they report in the scientific journal Remote Sensing. One is 361 feet across, about the size of a football field; the other is larger, 670 to 900 feet across.

“A collapse could be catastrophic,” said geophysicist Jin-Woo Kim, who leads the SMU geophysical team reporting the findings.

In addition to Wink and Kermit (combined pop. about 7,000), there’s lots of oil and gas production equipment and installations and hazardous liquid pipelines in the area, Kim said in the report. The fresh water injected underground in the extraction process “can dissolve the interbedded salt layers and accelerate the sinkhole collapse.”

There’s something not too dissimilar happening in Daisetta, east of Houston.

Officials have fenced off the area around the sinkholes between Wink and Kermit and they’ll be monitored, but residents don’t appear to be worried about them.

“They’re a ways off from the highway; if nobody mentions it, then nobody is interested in it,” Kermit City Manager Gloria Saenz told the New York Daily News.

A preacher of the Apocalypse from Indiana had a decidedly different take, exclaiming on YouTube: “Here’s my concern. It’s like hell is being enlarged, and that without measure.”

Well, maybe not quite. READ MORE

New study by geophysicists Zhong Lu, professor, Shuler-Foscue Chair, and Jin-Woo Kim research scientist, Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, finds massive sinkholes are unstable

Science Daily

Originally Posted: June 14, 2016

Geohazard: Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk

Satellite radar images reveal ground movement of infamous sinkholes near Wink, Texas; suggest 2 existing holes are expanding, and new ones are forming as nearby subsidence occurs at an alarming rate

Two giant sinkholes that sit between two West Texas oil patch towns are growing — and two new ones appear to be lurking, say geophysicists. Satellite radar images reveal substantial ground movement in and around the infamous sinkholes near Wink, Texas — suggesting expansion of the two existing holes, with subsidence in two other nearby areas suggesting new ones may surface. READ MORE

 

Geohazard: Giant sinkholes near West Texas oil patch towns are growing — as new ones lurk

SMU Research

Originally Posted: June 13, 2016

Residents of Wink and neighboring Kermit have grown accustomed to the two giant sinkholes that sit between their small West Texas towns.

But now radar images taken of the sinkholes by an orbiting space satellite reveal big changes may be on the horizon.

A new study by geophysicists at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, finds the massive sinkholes are unstable, with the ground around them subsiding, suggesting the holes could pose a bigger hazard sometime in the future.

The two sinkholes — about a mile apart — appear to be expanding. Additionally, areas around the existing sinkholes are unstable, with large areas of subsidence detected via satellite radar remote sensing.

That leaves the possibility that new sinkholes, or one giant sinkhole, may form, said geophysicists and study co-authors Zhong Lu, professor, Shuler-Foscue Chair, and Jin-Woo Kim research scientist, in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences at SMU. READ MORE

New research on Alamosaurus

Journal of Systematic Palaeontology

Originally Posted: June 6, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 10.50.04 AM

Ronald S. Tykoski and Anthony R. Fiorillo recently published new research titled, An articulated cervical series of Alamosaurus sanjuanensis Gilmore, 1922 (Dinosauria, Sauropoda) from Texas: new perspective on the relationships of North America’s last giant sauropod.

READ MORE

 

Brian Stump, Earth sciences, speaks at first TEDxGreenhillSchool

Preston Hollow People

Originally Posted: June 3, 2016

After a year of planning and preparation, a group of students hosted the first TEDxGreenhillSchool on April 2.

The idea stemmed from a weekly tradition started by Greenhill upper school science teacher Chris Bigenho, who started emailing various TED Talks each Tuesday. These quickly became known as TEDTuesdays.

Last fall, senior Kevin Wei approached Bigenho with the idea of starting a TED club. When asked what that would entail, Wei proposed the group meet and watch their favorite talks … and host their own TEDx.

“At Greenhill we have a culture that’s very focused on learning and curiosity,” executive director Wei said. “A lot of students are familiar with TED and what they do and are curious about knowledge.”

It wasn’t long before the gears started to turn, and what was once an inkling became a full-steam-ahead machine. Students researched various speakers they were interested in featuring and ensured they were adhering to the TEDx regulations.

“What’s wonderful is the whole thing was student driven,” said Head of Upper School Laura Ross. “All [the administration] really did was secure the venue. [Wei] really helped us because TEDx has strict procedures.”

The event’s theme, New Horizons, reflected new takes on old ideas, said junior Cole Forson, who will take over as executive director for next year’s TEDx event.

Four speakers were featured, sharing their expertise on topics such as fracking, water on Mars, race and history. Speakers included Brian Stump, professor of earth sciences at SMU; Byron Sanders, vice president at U.S. Trust; and John Hoffman, physics department head and associate dean for undergraduate students for the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Texas at Dallas. READ MORE

Matthew Siegler, Earth Sciences, What If The Moon Were Bigger?

GeorgiaWorld

Originally Posted: May 25, 2016

The questions kids ask about science aren’t always easy to answer. Sometimes, their little brains can lead to big places adults forget to explore. With that in mind, we’ve started a new series called Science Question From a Toddler, which will use kids’ curiosity as a jumping-off point to investigate the scientific wonders that adults don’t even think to ask about. I want the toddlers in your life to be a part of it! Send me their science questions and they may serve as the inspiration for a column. And now, our toddler …


Q: How big is the moon? What if it were bigger? — Hagen G., age 5

The first part of your question is easy-peasy. The moon has a circumference of 6,783.5 miles, about 27 percent that of Earth. Imagine setting out from Boston and walking to Peshawar, Pakistan. (Don’t do this. Among other hazards, there is an ocean in the way.) That same walk would take you all the way around the moon at its equator. Here’s another way to think of it: If Earth is a softball, then the moon is a shooter marble. (The circumference of the sun, in this analogy, is represented by the General Sherman sequoia, one of the largest trees in the world.)

But what about a bigger moon? This part of your question took me from a simple Google search to sitting on the telephone with a planetary scientist while we both made thinking sounds and waved our hands around in an attempt to gesture our way through logical speculation about gravitational physics. So, thanks for that, Hagen.

The scientist, Matthew Siegler, is a research assistant professor at Southern Methodist University and an associate research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute.1 He told me that the question of what would happen if the moon were bigger matters because the moon and Earth are a system. Our gravitational pull affects the moon. The moon’s gravitational pull affects us. We’re linked to each other by the push and pull of invisible hands. And that has some big impacts on our planet. READ MORE

Dino Senses: Ankylosaurus Cousin Had a Super Sniffer

Live Science

Originally Posted: May 26, 2016

The armored cousin of the Ankylosaurus dinoPawpawsaurus_campbellisaur didn’t have a football-size club on its tail, but it did have a super sense of smell, said scientists who examined its skull.

The Cretaceous-age Pawpawsaurus campbelli walked on all fours and lived in ancient Texas about 100 million years ago, the researchers said. It was an earlier version, so to speak, of the heavily armored Ankylosaurus, which lived about 35 million years later, they said. READ MORE

 

College grads, take heart: You’re entering best job market in years

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: May 24, 2016

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, the denizens of Southern Methodist University’s campus seemed to move at a leisurely pace.

A few cyclists clicked along the pathways and the stately brick buildings, with their bright white colonnades, were quiet. Commencement had taken place a few days earlier.

But for Regina James, the busy season was getting into full swing.

“There are still students who are in transition. They’re either waiting to hear back about offers — there’s a little anxiousness there — or they’re students that maybe just didn’t get around to the search, so they’re starting to reach out and say, ‘I don’t have anything yet,’” she said. “Those students, we’ll be helping throughout the summer.”

James is the associate director for employer relations at SMU’s Hegi career center.

Experts say newly-minted college graduates in the Dallas area are entering one of the best job markets they’ve seen. But James said that’s no excuse to slack off in the hunt.

“We encourage students to have multiple internships for a number of reasons,” she said. “You’ve got to think about it as, not only are you competing against your peers here, you’re competing against peers from other institutions in the area, you’re competing against institutions nationally [whose students] may desire to live in the Dallas area.”

According to a report by the firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, 1.8 million Americans with four-year degrees are expected to enter the workforce this year, where they’ll be greeted by the best job market for college graduates in several years.

The report cites the fact that the nation has seen almost 70 months of job gains, meaning that 14 million workers have been added to payrolls across the country. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are retiring.

A National Association of Colleges and Employers survey found that companies are slated to hire 5.2 percent more new graduates than a year ago.

And, the report says, 59 metro areas have unemployment rates below 4.0 percent.

All of those factors add up to a demand for workers who are ready to start their careers.

In Dallas-Fort Worth — one of those metro areas with a low unemployment rate — there’s extra momentum, said Bud Weinstein, an economist and associate director of the Maguire Energy Institute at SMU’s Cox School of Business.

The region’s economy is more diverse than it’s ever been. And more companies are relocating or expanding in North Texas — in part because they’re attracted by the area’s talent pool.

“Dallas-Fort Worth probably has the strongest job market in the nation among large metropolitan areas — maybe not in absolute numbers, but certainly in percentage terms,” Weinstein said. “I think the job market has never looked better, particularly for college graduates.”

Michael Carroll, director of UNT’s Economics Research Group, added that although energy and manufacturing jobs across the state are hurting, “we’re fairly insulated from that” in North Texas.

A flood of migration into the state, Carroll said, has also helped keep wages at a manageable level and competition for workers from scaring off new jobs.

“I think it’s a real positive with all the companies moving in,” he said.

Higher education institutions around the region say they’re bullish on the possibilities for their graduates — whether they’re armed with a bachelor’s degree or trade certification.

“I cannot even tell you — we’re tripping over jobs,” said Dawn Gomez, career services coordinator at the Dallas County Community College District’s Northlake College in Irving.

The hard part, she said, is connecting students with the right employer in an age when job hunters have countless online resources.

“Soft skills, communication, critical thinking, teamwork — employers want those that can pull it all together in a composed, succinct package,” Gomez said.

For Morgan Slottje, who graduated from SMU in December, settling on a career path wasn’t easy.

As an undergraduate, she said with a chuckle, she changed majors “at least 10 times.”

Throughout college, she also test drove various jobs through internships: She worked on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, she worked in marketing.

When the time came to focus on the job search, Slottje, 23, applied to “hundreds” of jobs she said sounded interesting, from advertising to financial analysis. She considered getting a master’s degree in statistics.

In the end, Slottje said she went to a Deloitte presentation and felt a strong sense that its values aligned with hers: An emphasis on continuing to learn and grow.

“I picked a company where their values really align with mine,” she said. “That’s important with the job search — I want a career. I want to love what I’m doing.”

And although Slottje said she was open to moving to another city, she preferred to stay in Dallas, close to her parents and where living costs are more manageable than in New York, where she went to school for 2 and a half years before switching to SMU.

“I’d rather be in a city like Dallas when I’m starting a career,” she said. “I’m versed in tech, but when I was interviewing [with a company in the] Bay Area, I was thinking, ‘No matter what I’m getting paid, I’m going to be so poor.’”

She’ll be starting a job here, in business technology consulting at Deloitte in July.

Reggie Davis, a 21-year-old University of North Texas logistics student, won’t graduate until next year.

He said he’s optimistic about his job prospects, particularly in logistics. In D-FW, information technology and other “knowledge” jobs that require college degrees are in high demand, particularly given the breadth of the region’s transportation industry.

His father, too, works in logistics, meaning he’s had exposure to the jobs for years.

Nevertheless, Davis said he’s not cruising to graduation day.

For one thing, UNT’s logistics program requires that students intern before they graduate, so he’ll be working at Schneider Logistics this summer.

Davis is also participating in the school’s professional leadership program, which aims to prep students for business leadership with access to mentors and professional development opportunities.

He said that although he’s been around supply chain and logistics work — it’s what his dad does, too — he sees the internship as both a way to get an edge and to test out which specific type of job he might like best.

“If I end up doing well in the internship and enjoying it, I would be glad to consider a full-time position or transition to being a full-time employee,” he said. “But I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.” READ MORE