LISTEN: SMU religion experts Matthew Wilson and Charles Curran on KERA


Originally Posted: September 21, 2015

Pope Francis Comes To America

This week, Pope Francis visits the U.S. for the first time, making stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. This hour, we’ll talk about what his visit means for American Catholics – and about how their beliefs align with church teachings, with SMU religion experts Matthew Wilson and Charles Curran. LISTEN

EVENT: Should We Trust Science? Perspectives from the History and Philosophy of Science

Event date: October 29, 2015
Event time: 5:30 p.m. reception, 6:00 p.m. lecture

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Many people are confused about the safety of vaccines, the reality of climate change, and other matters. Doctors tell us that vaccines are safe, and climate change is real, but how do they know that? And how are we to make sense of competing claims? In a recent Presidential Debate, Donald Trump rejected the position of Ben Carson, a doctor, and insisted that vaccines should be more widely spaced. Professor Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University argues that we should trust science, and explains why.

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Biologists develop a computer model of key protein that helps predict how cancer drugs will work

SMU News

Drugs important in the battle against cancer behaved according to predictions when tested in a computer-generated model of P-glycoprotein, one of the cell’s key molecular pumps.

The new model allows researchers to dock nearly any drug in the P-gp protein and see how it will actually behave in P-gp’s pump, said Associate Professor John G. Wise, lead author on the journal article announcing the advancement and a faculty member in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

SMU biologists developed the computer generated model to overcome the problem of relying on only static images for the structure of P-gp. The protein is the cellular pump that protects cells by pumping out toxins.

But that’s a problem when P-gp targets chemotherapy drugs as toxic, preventing chemo from killing cancer cells. Scientists are searching for ways to inhibit P-gp’s pumping action. 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, which will go live this weekend. READ MORE

‘Southwest Review’ literary journal is turning 100


Originally Posted: September 17, 2015

Dallas (SMU) – When the week of Sept. 25 rolls around, SMU won’t be the only Hilltop institution celebrating its centennial.

The Southwest Review, SMU’s nationally renowned literary journal, is turning 100, too, and launching a fundraiser to support its future.

“One-hundred years, for any magazine, is remarkable,” says Willard Spiegelman, editor-in-chief of the Southwest Review and SMU Hughes professor of English. “Over the years, there have been international authors, including some Nobel Prize winners. Larry McMurtry, before he became famous for Lonesome Dove, published his first work in SWR when he was just out of college. Lady Bird Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover have appeared in its pages.

“It would be sad, I think, if we didn’t have room for old-fashioned print culture in the 21st century,” says Spiegelman, who passionately rejects human expression as driven by 140-character messages and emoticons. READ MORE

SMU faculty to assist area history teachers in tackling immigration

DALLAS (SMU) — Immigration has rarely been so controversial or prominent a topic as it is today, which makes it all the more challenging to teach it to middle-and high-school students. SMU and the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture are partnering with Humanities Texas and the Texas Historical Commission to present a conference at the museum on the history of U.S. immigration from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, to help area teachers tackle this hot-button topic in the classroom. READ MORE

Palaeobotanist Bonnie Jacobs spent 15 years studying ancient plants to help predict future climate change


Originally Posted: September 16, 2015

Professor recounts adventure and discovery in Ethiopia

DALLAS (SMU) – In the movies, the adventure begins when the sinister industrialist abducts Harrison Ford to plan a hunt for lost treasure.


For Bonnie Jacobs, it started with a phone ring.

In the late summer of 2000, the SMU palaeobotanist was working in her office on the third floor of the University’s Heroy Science Hall when an old colleague called with exciting news about Ethiopia. He’d just returned from a dig site where he’d expected to find fossils from eight million years ago. Instead, he’d found fossils from 27 million years ago – mostly plants. He thought it was a job for Jacobs, one of the premier palaeobotanists of African flora.

Although Jacobs had just recently returned from field research in Tanzania, “There is something about Africa that keeps people coming back again and again,” she says. “Much of tropical Africa’s ancient plant history was a mystery, so that’s what attracted me. Not just the romance of exploration, but also because so little was known.”

Africa called, Jacobs answered, and a 15-year adventure in Ethiopia was born. READ MORE

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, Six things to look for in tonight’s GOP debate

Originally Posted: September 16, 2015

The second Republican presidential debate, airing on CNN Wednesday night, promises to bring more drama and conflict to an already-unpredictable race. Here are six key things to watch out for (and one not to) as the candidates crowd the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

The Fiorina Factor

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina was already one of the most buzzed-about participants in Wednesday’s debate even before front-runner Donald Trump appeared to insult her looks in a Rolling Stone article. After Trump’s comments, and Fiorina’s super PAC response, the prospect of the two candidates facing off on stage has become highly anticipated.

“I’m hoping to see if Carly can tame Trump,” Dr. Allan Louden, professor and chair of the communications department at Wake Forest University, said. “Because I think that Trump gets away with being Trump because it’s kind of entertaining.”

The other candidates may approach Fiorina cautiously to avoid appearing anti-female, but Trump has shown little interest in holding back and she likely will not either.

“It’s a big deal for Trump because of the way he’s perceived to have treated women in general, and the thing he said recently about Fiorina, for him it makes a big difference for her to be on the stage,” explained Dr. Matthew Wilson, an associate professor of political science at Southern Methodist University.

“I’d expect she’s pretty willing to throw a punch,” Alan Schroeder, a journalism professor at Northeastern University, said. READ MORE

Watch: WFAA, Tower Center forms strategic academic partnership with Latino Center for Leadership Development


Originally Posted: September 16, 2015

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SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies has formed a strategic academic partnership with the Latino Center for Leadership Development (Latino CLD). The new Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Institute will identify and implement policy-focused solutions to the Latino community’s most pressing concerns, from educational and economic opportunities, to voting rights and immigration reform, to the under-representation of Latinos in elected and appointed roles at the federal, state and local levels, as well as corporate boards.

Businessman’s donation to launch Latino think tank at SMU

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 15, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK — Dallas businessman Jorge Baldor said he wants to create a “why not me” effect among a new generation of Hispanics who will take public office and reshape public policy.

Toward that mission, the 59-year-old Cuban-born son of a carpenter and teacher is giving $900,000 over five years to Southern Methodist University for a Latino-focused think tank. The venture will be an academic partnership with SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies and the Latino Center for Leadership Development, a group Baldor created and funded about a year ago.

“America is in the midst of a fundamental, Latino-driven demographic shift,” Baldor said Tuesday in making the announcement at SMU. Already, four out of 10 Texans are Hispanic. Latinos will represent about 30 percent of the nation by 2050, said Baldor, citing the Pew Research Center. READ MORE