Dr. Phillip Williams reflects on college memories and Dr. Harold Jeskey

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: September 28, 2015

Walking into McFarlin Auditorium Thursday morning brought back several fond memories for Dr. Phillip Williams, neurosurgeon and member of the SMU Class of 1959. Nearly half a century ago, he walked up those same steps on his graduation day, and now he returned for SMU’s Centennial Commemoration.

“Every aspect of the event was memorable,” said Williams.

Williams was just one of hundreds of alumni who traveled back to SMU this weekend to celebrate SMU’s 100th birthday. For months, the Office of Development and Student Affairs as well as Student Foundation have planned a busy schedule for the weekend. The alumni schedule included events such as tours and reunions, allowing alumni to reconnect with their fellow alumni as well as see how SMU has grown over the years.

Amidst all the years, Williams attested that the expansions on the campus are the biggest change.

“Every time I see Bush library, I feel semi-responsible,” said Williams.

Back when Bush was running for governor, Williams spoke to former chairman of SMU Board of Trustees Ray Hunt about Bush’s potential career.

“I told Ray Hunt that Bush may be elected governor and then be nominated and then become president,” said William. “I told Hunt now wouldn’t that be great for SMU to get his presidential library here.” Nearly a decade after, William’s vision came true.

Not only did visiting campus bring back memories, but the different events that SMU hosted for alumni’s also spoke to William’s SMU experience. William attended the author signing of “The Man in the Red Tie,” a biography of the late SMU professor Dr. Harold Jeskey. Dr. Jeskey taught Williams Organic Chemistry during his time at SMU. The book spawned several memories of his time at SMU.

“Dr. Jeskey was by far the best teacher,” said Williams. “He made the class come alive.” While Williams spoke to the quality of Jeskey’s teaching, he did not doubt the difficulty of the course. “He only wore a red and black tie. The only days he would wear the black tie was to a funeral or to quiz days,” said Williams.

If students survived Dr. Jeskey’s class and continued into medical school, Dr. Jeskey remained a continual support in the students’ lives. When his former students graduated medical school, he would then attend the ceremony and present a red tie as congratulation, according to Williams.

In addition to speaking highly of noteworthy teachers, Williams fondly recalled his involvement on campus. Nominated by his fraternity as their first-year class president, Williams campaigned by selling pig dissection manuals to sorority row, allowing girls to study for the exam without actually performing the dissection. Williams then won the campaign with the slogan “Vote for Phil Williams, the Fetal Pig Salesman.”

While SMU formed several memories for Williams, the school also prepared him for several life experiences after graduation as well. Williams interned at Parkland during the JFK assassination in 1963. While Williams did not actually enter Kennedy’s room, he was present in the trauma unit throughout the night, and he even consoled Jackie Kennedy outside of the emergency room. Williams then tended to Lee Oswald a few days later when he was shot and taken to Parkland.

Despite being a man of many experiences, Williams focused on the Homecoming events for this weekend and reconnecting his alma mater with his wife. READ MORE

Professor Harold Jeskey honored as one of the giants in SMU history

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 19, 2015

Found objects engage the art world — and SMU history

Found objects play an increasingly important role in the world of art. As the definition of sculpture has broadened, so too has the cool factor of found objects. They’re even making a difference in the 100th anniversary of Southern Methodist University.

Dallas multimedia artist Gretchen Goetz is creating 10 giant puppets that will make their presence felt at various events honoring the giants of SMU history. When it comes to found objects, Goetz has taken a Cake Pops container and used it to symbolize the base of the Oscar won by SMU alumna Kathy Bates. She used plastic tablecloths to represent the pom-poms of cheerleading pioneer and SMU grad Lawrence Herkimer.

The puppets will make special appearances during SMU’s homecoming festivities beginning Wednesday. The puppets will walk, wave and in one case perform a well-known “cheerleader leap.”

The 10 are: Bates, who won an Oscar and Golden Globe as best actress for Misery in 1990; civil rights activist Adelfa Callejo, the first Hispanic woman to graduate from the Dedman School of Law; Herkimer, who created the National Cheerleaders Association; the Rev. Zan Holmes Jr., a recognized civil rights leader; Lamar Hunt, the founder of the American Football League; Robert S. Hyer, the first president of SMU; professor Harold Jeskey, who taught organic chemistry at SMU from 1945 to 1979; Ruth Morgan, who served from 1986 to 1993 as SMU’s first female provost and who was a two-time winner of SMU’s outstanding professor award; golfer Payne Stewart, who earned 11 PGA tour victories, including three majors, before his death at 42; and, of course, football legend Doak Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1948.

For more information, visit smu.edu/giants, which will go live this weekend. READ MORE

Three drug-like compounds may offer better odds of survival to patients with prostate cancer, find SMU researchers

News Medical

Originally Posted: September 9, 2015

Researchers at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, have discovered three new drug-like compounds that could ultimately offer better odds of survival to prostate cancer patients.

The drug-like compounds can be modified and developed into medicines that target a protein in the human body that is responsible for chemotherapy resistance in cancers, said biochemist Pia D. Vogel, lead author on the scientific paper reporting the discovery.

So far there’s no approved drug on the market that reverses cancer chemotherapy resistance caused by P-glycoprotein, or P-gp for short, said Vogel, a biochemistry professor at SMU. One potential drug, Tariquidar, is currently in clinical trials, but in the past, other potential drugs have failed at that stage.

“The problem when a person has cancer is that the treatment itself is composed of cellular toxins — the chemotherapeutics that prevent the cells from dividing. Usually upon the first chemo treatment the cancer responds well, and initially goes away. Ideally it doesn’t come back,” said Vogel, who is director of SMU’s Center for Drug Discovery, Design, and Delivery. READ MORE

Brian Stump, Earth Sciences, key speaker at the 18th Honors Convocation

Outstanding achievement honored at SMU’s 2014-15 Awards Extravaganza, Honors Convocation.

Dedman College faculty, staff and students were recognized with teaching awards, service honors and the University’s highest commendation, the “M” Award, at the 2015 Awards Extravaganza Monday, April 13.

> Read the list of award winners from Honors Convocation 2015

On the same day, the University honored its best students at the 18th Honors Convocation. The address was delivered by Brian Stump, Claude C. Albritton Jr. Chair in Geological Sciences in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.

An expert in seismic wave propagation and earthquake source theory, Stump has become well known in North Texas for his continuing research on the increasing occurrences of small earthquakes that have shaken the area since 2008. In November 2014, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. READ MORE

Congratulations to Dedman College faculty, staff and students who were recognized at the 2015 Awards Extravaganza on Monday, April 13.

Receiving the “M” Award, SMU’s most prestigious honor. Recipients include:

• Jill DeTemple, associate professor of religious studies
• Elizabeth Wheaton, senior lecturer in economics

The Willis M. Tate Award honors an outstanding faculty member who has been involved in student life. Recipients include:

• Jodi Cooley, associate professor of physics
• Stephen Sekula, assistant professor of physics
• Willard Spiegelman, Dwaine E. Hughes Jr. Distinguished Chair in English
• Brian Zoltowski, assistant professor of chemistry

Receiving the Extra Mile Awards, presented by Students for New Learning for graciousness and sensitivity to students with learning differences:

• Ian Harris, associate professor of statistical science

Read the full list of award winners.

Congratulations to the 2015 Research Day Award Winners

Congratulations to all the Dedman College students who received 2015 Research Day awards.

The goal of Research Day  is to foster communication between students in different disciplines, give students the opportunity to present their work in a professional setting, and share the outstanding research being conducted at SMU with their peers and industry professionals from the greater Dallas community.

See the full list of Research Day Winners, 2015

YouTube Preview Image


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


Dedman College students and professors offer tips on how to pursue two degrees at once and still have a life

SMU Meadows School of the Arts

Thinking of Double-Majoring?
How to pursue two degrees at once and still have a life
Originally Published: February 12, 2015

Whether to position themselves better for choice careers or to blend multiple interests, increasing numbers of SMU students are double-majoring. Their combinations of degrees are as varied as the students themselves: dance and economics; film and accounting; journalism and human rights; and more.

Thanks to recent changes to SMU’s University Curriculum (“UC”) – core courses that all SMU undergraduates must complete – certain courses can now count toward more than one degree’s requirements, making the path to double degrees wider.

But though the path is wider, it isn’t necessarily easier. To help students figure out how to double-major and still have a life, ten current double-major students from Meadows School of the Arts give their top five tips on getting ready, keeping it together and managing the delicate balance between studies, sleep and social life. READ MORE

Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry, good and the bad about blue light


The Bright Side And Dark Side Of Blue Light


Light is necessary for life on earth, but scientists believe that too much of a certain wavelength can cause everything from crop diseases to changes in the migratory patterns of animals. SMU professor Brian Zoltowski is working to unravel the mystery of blue light in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. LISTEN HERE

Brian D. Zoltowski, Chemistry, Study funded by NIH is decoding blue light’s mysterious ability to alter body’s natural clock

Blue light from artificial lighting and electronic devices knocks circadian rhythms off-kilter, resulting in health problems, sleep, cancer development, mood disorders, drug addiction, crop disease and even confused migratory animals

Arabidopsis thaliana is a small flowering plant that is widely used as a model organism in plant biology.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health is unraveling the mystery of how blue light from residential and commercial lighting, electronic devices and outdoor lights can throw off-kilter the natural body clock of humans, plants and animals, leading to disease.


Exposure to blue light is on the increase, says chemist Brian D. Zoltowski, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, who leads the study, “Protein : Protein interaction networks in the circadian clock.”

At the right time of day, blue light is a good thing. It talks to our 24-hour circadian clock, telling our bodies, for example, when to wake up, eat and carry out specific metabolic functions.

In plants, blue light signals them to leaf out, grow, blossom and bloom. In animals, it aids migratory patterns, sleep and wake cycles, regulation of metabolism, as well as mood and the immune system.

But too much blue light — especially at the wrong time — throws biological signaling out of whack.

“As a society, we are using more technology, and there’s increasing evidence that artificial light has had a negative consequence on our health,” said Zoltowski, an assistant professor in SMU’s Department of Chemistry. READ MORE