TechCrunch: Physics grad Liang Lu ’05 developed a competitor for Craigslist called 5miles, which has over 5 million downloads and sold $1 billion worth of goods in 2015


Originally Posted: January 26, 2016

Can a mobile classified app topple the behemoth that is Craigslist? We’ve asked the question before (more than once, in fact), and it looks like it may be in order again: 5miles, an app developed in China but being rolled out in the U.S. first as a quick way for people to list and buy items locally, has raised $30 million in funding to beat the classifieds leader at its own game. It has a couple of ace cards in its hand to help: 5miles was created to be mobile-first; it comes with some AI-based vetting features; and it costs absolutely nothing to use.

This latest round, a Series B, brings the total raised by the company to over $50 million. With this latest funding, 5miles’ valuation is over $300 million, TechCrunch understands.

5miles first launched in the U.S. in January 2015 after being founded by Lucas Lu, a physics PhD who had also worked at Alibaba and was a CTO at Chinese marketplace app Light in the Box. Although the app was built in China, Lu had done graduate work at Southern Methodist University, so when it came to launching the app he went back to Dallas as a starting point. READ MORE

Abbott’s play for national audience draws questions about higher-office plans

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: February 2, 2016

AUSTIN — On the first anniversary of his residence in the Texas Governor’s Mansion, Gov. Greg Abbott was in Israel, more than 7,000 miles from his home state. He was meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and once again railing against President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

The trip, Abbott’s third international voyage in recent months, followed quickly on the heels of his headline-making plan to amend the U.S. Constitution and take back states’ rights, which he revealed earlier this month.

As many Texas governors before him have done, Abbott is placing himself squarely in the middle of national and international politics. The high-profile moves have many in the political sector wondering whether the newly minted governor is angling — as his recent predecessors have — for a run at the White House or another prominent national position.

Washington D.C. news outlet The Hill fueled those gossip flames on Tuesday, when it endorsed the idea of Abbott as GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s vice presidential choice.

“Trump – Abbott, that’s a ticket to make America great again and put the fear of God in America’s enemies, foreign and domestic!” writer Paul Nagy said in the blog post.

Abbott says he’s happy leading the “greatest state in the United States,” and experts say it’s too early to tell whether the governor may be aiming for national office. But Abbott’s moves do burnish his conservative bona fides during a presidential primary where his endorsement could make a difference.

“I think we shouldn’t be surprised that the governor of one of the largest, most populous states is inserting himself in the national conversation,” said Jim Henson, a University of Texas at Austin political scientist.

Even as attorney general, Abbott had a penchant for making a national scene with lawsuits challenging federal regulations that he said went too far and hurt the Texas economy. He sued the Obama administration over issues ranging from the Affordable Care Act to clean air regulations.

“I go into the office, I sue the federal government and I go home,” Abbott famously said as attorney general.

Abbott’s distrust and disdain for the federal government continued during his first year as governor. He made national headlines last spring for ordering Texas National Guard troops to keep an eye on Jade Helm 15, a U.S. military training operation. READ MORE

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, What are the Chances it Won’t Be Hillary?


Originally Posted: February 2, 2016

IOWA (WBAP/KLIF NEWS) – Voters are making their voices heard in the Democratic Presidential Primary.

SMU Political Science Professor, Matthew Wilson, says the race isn’t looking very good for Hillary Clinton, after the Iowa caucuses.

“The fact that she was neck and neck here is a bit of a blow to her campaign. She’s still highly likely to be the Democratic nominee, but I think the Sanders people feel kind of excited about where they finished.”

He adds on the GOP side, it’s no longer just a two-man race between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, but a three-man race with Marco Rubio finishing so strong in Iowa. READ MORE

Iowa caucuses will determine long or short primary season

SMU News

Originally Posted: February 1, 2016

The following is an excerpt from an SMU news release:

DALLAS (SMU) – Not unlike expectations that a groundhog seeing its shadow can predict a long winter or early spring, the results of the Iowa caucuses can determine whether Americans are in for a long or short primary season. SMU experts are ready to discuss who has the most at stake, what factors could determine who wins Iowa, and what impact the results will have on the Republican and Democrat presidential races at large.

For Sanders, Iowa a Must-Win; For Republicans, A Chance to Coalesce

Matthew Wilson

There’s no doubting stakes are high for candidates in both parties in the Iowa caucus, but as Wilson sees it, they’re highest for Bernie Sanders supporters and anyone-but-Trump Republicans.

“If Sanders is able to win Iowa, then he could become a bigger movement, but if he does not win Iowa, then the expected New Hampshire win starts to look like more of a home-field anomaly and the air starts to come out of his balloon,” Wilson said. “If he wants to be more than a novelty, Iowa is a big night for him.”

The Republican race took an unexpected turn when Donald Trump’s biggest challenger turned out to be Ted Cruz, a politician Wilson says is reviled by many of his Republican colleagues. Rivals attacked Cruz persistently at Thursday’s debate, potentially turning Monday’s question from “who wins Iowa” to “who finishes second?”

“If Marco Rubio moves past Cruz to second place, that becomes a big story,” Wilson says. “That would show some coalescing of the conventional republican establishment behind one candidate.”

If the unexpected happens and Trump loses Iowa, Wilson says it could deal a tremendous blow to the real estate mogul, whose campaign has been all about, “An aura of momentum, confidence and impending victory.”

Wilson is an SMU associate professor of Political Science.


Spanish missions triggered Native American population collapse, indirect impact on climate


Originally Posted: January 26, 2016

New interdisciplinary research in the Southwest United States has resolved long-standing debates on the timing and magnitude of American Indian population collapse in the region.

The severe and rapid collapse of Native American populations in what is now the modern state of New Mexico didn’t happen upon first contact with Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s, as some scholars thought. Nor was it as gradual as others had contended.

Rather than being triggered by first contact in the 1500s, rapid population loss likely began after Catholic Franciscan missions were built in the midst of native pueblos, resulting in sustained daily interaction with Europeans.

The indirect effects of this demographic impact rippled through the surrounding forests and, perhaps, into our atmosphere.

Those are the conclusions of a new study by a team of scientists looking for the first time at high resolution reconstructions of human population size, tree growth and fire history from the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.

“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 Roos, an associate professor at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and a co-author on the research.

“But it is an open question as to when that epoch began,” said Roos. “One argument suggests that indigenous population collapse in the Americas resulted in a reduction of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because of forest regrowth in the early colonial period. Until now the evidence has been fairly ambiguous. Our results indicate that high-resolution chronologies of human populations, forests and fires are needed to evaluate these claims.”

A contentious issue in American Indian history, scientists and historians for decades have debated how many Native Americans died and when it occurred. With awareness of global warming and interdisciplinary interest in the possible antiquity of the Anthropocene, resolution of that debate may now be relevant for contemporary human-caused environmental problems, Roos said. READ MORE

Brita Andercheck’s teaching assignment top 10 resource among Sociologists

Originally Posted: February 1, 2016

Sociology visiting professor Brita Andercheck‘s teaching resource, Education and Conflict Perspective: A College Admissions Committee Activity is among the top 10 most downloaded teaching resources of 2015.

The resource can be found in the TRAILS database on the American Sociological Association (ASA) website.

Angela Ards, English, releases new book, Words of Witness: Black Women’s Autobiography in the Post-Brown

Originally Posted: February 1, 2016


WORDS OF WITNESS by Angela Ards, an Associate Professor of English at SMU, explores how black women writers craft life stories to engage and shape our politics. In it, she argues that these autobiographers offer counter-memories to official, and often nostalgic, understandings of the civil rights and Black Power movements; in pushing against past visions of black struggle, they reveal the needs and concerns of the present. Written to show the role of culture in movement-building, WORDS OF WITNESS charts new political ethics to guide our organizing now that it is movement time once more. READ MORE

Greg Brownderville, English, The People Making Us a Well-Read City

Dallas Innovates

Originally Posted: January 29, 2016

The Dallas literary renaissance is upon us—and it has arrived quickly.

“There was a huge gap here even just two and a half years ago,” says Will Evans, founder of Deep Vellum Publishing. “It’s happened really fast that Dallas has started to feel like a literary city.”

Evans attributes the growing literary scene to the independent book stores that have sprouted up around the Dallas area. The Wild Detectives, which opened in early 2014 and is run by Javier Garcia del Moral and Paco Vique, is a coffee-booze-book stop in Bishop Arts. Evans’s Deep Vellum, a publishing house known for its international translations, is gearing up to open its own store, Deep Vellum Books. There’s also Serj Books, which vends coffee, local food, and a small but lovely selection of handpicked books.

“Where do you go to see people who are into the same stuff as you, if you’re into writing—which is a solitary activity—or reading—which is also a solitary activity? Now you have book stores, and suddenly Dallas feels more literary,” Evans says. “When the Wild Detectives opened, Dallas went from nothing on the literary map to being a place—it gave us a sense of place, purpose, and community.”

Evans stresses that the stock of these small book shops—indie books, translated titles, works written by local authors or printed by local publishers—is different from that of a place like Half Price Books, known for its massive flagship store and rows upon rows of marked-down bestsellers.

“I really appreciate, as an author, that Wild Detectives goes out of its way to feature local authors,” says Greg Brownderville, SMU associate professor, poet, and published author of two books, Gust and Deep Down in the Delta. “When I walk into Wild Detectives, often they’ll have one of my books prominently displayed. Local authors really appreciate that.”READ MORE

NYU Press Announces Dr. Anne Lincoln’s new book


Originally Posted: January 28, 2016

Failing Families, Failing Science
Work-Family Conflict in Academic Science

Work life in academia might sound like a dream: summers off, year-long sabbaticals, the opportunity to switch between classroom teaching and research. Yet, when it comes to the sciences, life at the top U.S. research universities is hardly idyllic. Based on surveys of over 2,000 junior and senior scientists, both male and female, as well as in-depth interviews, Failing Families, Failing Science examines how the rigors of a career in academic science makes it especially difficult to balance family and work.

Ecklund and Lincoln paint a nuanced picture that illuminates how gender, individual choices, and university and science infrastructures all play a role in shaping science careers, and how science careers, in turn, shape family life. They argue that both men and women face difficulties, though differently, in managing career and family. While women are hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science, the institution of science—and academic science, in particular—is not accommodating, possibly not even compatible, for either women or men who want to raise families. Perhaps most importantly, their research reveals that early career academic scientists struggle considerably with balancing their work and family lives. This struggle may prevent these young scientists from pursuing positions at top research universities—or further pursuing academic science at all— a circumstance that comes at great cost to our national science infrastructure. In an era when advanced scientific research and education is more important than ever, Failing Families, Failing Science presents a compelling inside look at the world of the university scientists who make it possible—and what universities and national science bodies can do to make a difference in their lives. READ MORE