Six Dedman College faculty members recommended for tenure and promotion

Congratulations to the faculty members who are newly tenured or have been promoted to full professorships to begin the 2016-17 academic year.

Recommended for tenure and promotion to Full Professor:

Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:

For the full SMU faculty list READ MORE

What Conventions Tell Us About Trump, Clinton and the Parties

The Arizona Republic

Originally Posted: July 31, 2016

The following is from the July 31, 2016,edition of The Arizona Republic. Jeffrey Engel, director of SMU’s Center for Presidential History, provided expertise for this story.

PHILADELPHIA — It was hard to miss the dramatic contrasts between the Democrats’ and Republican’s national conventions.

The four-day spectacles, which offer an opportunity for the presidential nominees and their parties to present their best face as the general-election battle begins, seemed to be held in different Americas.

One, a foreboding place besieged by terrorism and violence. The other, a nation with struggles but where people of different backgrounds can overcome problems by working together.

Either group, it seemed, might not recognize the picture of the United States that the other portrayed.

The candidates’ nomination speeches distilled these contrasts. Hillary Clinton, the first woman ever nominated by a major U.S. party, spoke of unity and reached out to all Americans, even those who won’t vote for her, with a positive tone. Donald Trump at times painted a grim portrait of the United States as a nation facing immediate threats from illegal immigration, terrorism and attacks on law enforcement.

These differences — and the internal tensions that erupted at times into booing and chants throughout both conventions — provide insight into the state of the presidential race, as well as the future of the two parties. READ MORE

Anthropology professor David J. Meltzer profiled in the latest issue of Mammoth Trumpet

Mammoth Trumpet

Originally Posted: August 2016

SMU anthropology professor David J. Meltzer has been profiled in the latest issue of Mammoth Trumpet published by the center for the Study of First Americans at Texas A & M. Congratulations!




Clinton promises steady hand in dangerous world

Fox 4

Originally Posted: July 29, 2016

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Promising Americans a steady hand, Hillary Clinton cast herself Thursday night as a unifier for divided times, an experienced leader steeled for a volatile world. She aggressively challenged Republican Donald Trump’s ability to do the same.

“Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis,” Clinton said as she accepted the Democratic nomination for president. “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.” READ MORE


The Democrats have Meryl Streep, Alicia Keys; GOP has Scott Baio. Does it matter?

Dallas News

Originally Posted: July 28, 2016

If celebrity endorsements determined the next president of the United States, The Donald wouldn’t stand a chance against the Democratic juggernaut.

The Democrats filled their primetime schedule this week  with A-list celebrities who the stage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The Republicans, on the other hand, struggled to lure stars not named Trump last week in Cleveland. Scott Baio, of Happy DaysCharles in Charge and more recently Arrested Development, Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty and two daytime soap-opera actors were the biggest- named celebs aboard the Trump Train.

Trump, no stranger to to TV stardom, had promised serious star power for the  convention. Tim Tebow, Mike Tyson, Tom Brady and Serena Williams were all rumored to appear, but none did.

“For people in these high-profile entertainment fields, association with Donald Trump could be toxic for their careers,” said Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University.

“There is a real concern that being associated with the Trump campaign could get you black-listed or boycotted.”

The Republicans have not always had this amount of trouble landing A-listers. In 2012, Clint Eastwood made headlines in which he had a conversation with an imaginary President Barack Obama during a GOP convention address. READ MORE

Will Hillary Clinton be overshadowed by guests at her own party?

Washington Examiner

Originally Posted: July 27, 2016

The final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia is supposed to be all about presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, but she is in danger of being overshadowed by guests at her own party.

By scheduling former President Bill Clinton to speak on Tuesday and President Obama to address the convention on the eve of her acceptance speech, Clinton and her running mate, former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, must now compete with two of their party’s most celebrated public speakers.

“Hillary Clinton is not a good speaker,” political commentator Jon Ralston told the Washington Examiner’s media desk. “She has to worry about being overshadowed by two of the best speakers her party has ever seen.”

“She is just not a dynamic speaker,” he added. “I’ve seen her when she gives pretty good speeches. But generally she … is just not nearly as dynamic as either Obama or Clinton.”

J. Matthew Wilson, a professor of political science at the Southern Methodist University, agreed, and told the Examiner separately that the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential ticket stands a good chance of being outdone by guests at the convention in Philadelphia.

“Neither Hillary Clinton nor Tim Kaine is renowned as a particularly powerful orator,” he said, adding, “There is definitely a danger that Obama and Clinton overshadow Clinton and Kaine, particularly given that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are both regarded as good speakers.”

“Hillary Clinton does not have the rhetorical gifts of either the two former presidents. And that’s a comparison some people will draw,” Wilson said.

Bill Clinton spoke Tuesday evening at the Democratic convention, and delivered a lengthy address in which he praised the former secretary of state as a progressive trailblazer.

Though his prepared remarks drew some mild media criticism, they provoked deafening cheers and applause from the audience inside the Wells Fargo Convention Center. READ MORE

Dedman College faculty expert recap of day 1 and 2 of the Democratic National Convention


SMU Associate Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson analyzes the Democratic Convention on FOX4 Tuesday – Friday of this week at 7:20am. More detailed comments from SMU experts can be found here.

Here are the Fox4 highlights from Day 1 and Day 2.

YouTube Preview Image YouTube Preview Image


Laser Beats Rock: Armored Dinosaur May Have Relied Most on Sense of Smell

Laser Beats Rock

Originally Posted: July 25, 2016

Independent science journalist Sarah Puschmann covered the research of SMU Earth Sciences Professor Louis L. Jacobs in a post on her blog “Armored Dinosaur May Have Relied Most on Sense of Smell.”

A professor in Dedman College‘s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Jacobs is co-author of a new analysis of the Cretaceous Period dinosaur Pawpawsaurus based on the first CT scans ever taken of the dinosaur’s skull.

A Texas native from what is now Tarrant County, Pawpawsaurus lived 100 million years ago, making its home along the shores of an inland sea that split North America from Texas northward to the Arctic Sea.



By Sarah Puschmann
Laser Beats Rock

In 1819, the German naturalist Lorenz Oken found something astonishing inside a pterodactyl’s broken skull: petrified mud in the form of the long deceased dinosaur’s brain, so well molded into the crevices as to reveal the brain’s two distinct halves.

This so-called “fossil brain” is one of the first known instances of a cranial endocast, an internal cast of the skull that makes the impressions of the decayed soft tissue visible. For paleoneurologists not lucky enough to uncover a natural endocast, some have opted to slice open skulls and made molds using liquid latex rubber or plaster of Paris.

But cutting open a skull for study isn’t always an option, particularly if it is a holotype, the singular specimen used to define a species for the first time. This is the case for the 100 million year old skull from a dinosaur called Pawpawsaurus campbelli studied by Ariana Paulina-Carabajal of the National Research Council of Argentina (CONICET) and the Institute of Investigations in Biodiversity and the Environment (INIBIOMA) and her team, led by Louis Jacobs.

By CT scanning the skull, it was possible to make important insights about the dinosaur’s olfaction and hearing while leaving the precious holotype intact. Their analysis led the researchers to conclude that smell was the sense Pawpawsaurus most likely relied on most, as reported in the journal PLOS ONE.

This is valuable information, especially because so little is known about this dinosaur. What is known is that the four-legged herbivore most likely had long spines on its shoulders and neck, as was the case for other members of the same family of nodosaurids. It also probable that Pawpawsaurus wasn’t endowed with the knob of bone in its tail characteristic of ankylosaurids, a related dinosaur family, nor did it experience the satisfaction of slamming a club tail against, well, anything. (Was there such a thing as tail envy?)

State officials work to shut down casino-style gaming in East Texas

Star Telegram

Originally Posted: July 26, 2016

For the Alabama-Coushatta tribe, this could become a case of deja vu.

In 2002, a casino the Indian tribe operated in East Texas was closed by state officials who successfully argued that state law trumps national Indian law — and casino gambling isn’t allowed in Texas.

The tribe reopened a casino-like facility two months ago, after national Indian and federal officials ruled that the tribe can oversee gaming at its 10,000-acre reservation south of Livingston, about 240 miles southeast of Fort Worth.

Now, court documents filed in Lufkin’s federal court show state officials have made the first move to again shut the gaming down.

“This certainly was expected,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The Indian tribal leadership has attempted to fine tune, or tweak, the types of games they offer in order to satisfy the political officials in the state of Texas this time.

“I don’t think they’ll be successful,” he said. “State officials have always been reluctant to allow gaming in the state because they are so deeply concerned about our morals.” READ MORE