Congratulations to the Dedman College Research Day Winners

SMU graduate and undergraduate students presented results of ongoing and completed SMU-based research on February 10. Dedman College students received an impressive 20 awards.

Research Day aims 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.

CLICK HERE for a full list of Research Day winners

 

SMU Adventures: Political Science student travel to New Hampshire to visit presidential campaign headquarters

SMU students traveled to New Hampshire to visit presidential campaign headquarters and organize focus groups for CNN during the Iowa caucus. They were accompanied by Rita Kirk, SMU communications professor and director of the Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility. READ MORE

Student achievement in the spotlight during SMU Engaged Learning Week, Feb. 8-12, 2016

SMU’s Engaged Learning Week expands its schedule for 2016 and features a growing undergraduate presence at the University’s annual Research Day as well as presentations from McNair Scholars and Summer Research Fellows.

This year’s event takes place Feb. 8-12 and will help students learn more about expanding their education outside the classroom, from undergraduate research and community service to professional internships and creative projects.

The week begins Monday, Feb. 8 with presentations by graduating Engaged Learning Fellows in Community Service and Internships at 12:30 p.m., followed by a Creative Projects panel at 3 p.m., both in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Forum. READ MORE

Tower Center selects nine SMU scholars to join global policymaking immersion program

SMU News

Originally Posted: January 26, 2016

DALLAS (SMU) – Nine SMU sophomores pursuing minors in public policy and international affairs have been selected as 2016 Highland Capital Management (HCM) Tower Scholars for the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies.

After a competitive process, Tower Scholars are chosen for their knowledge of domestic and foreign affairs, national security and defense and international political economy. They will develop mentor relationships with public policy practitioners, work with clients on actual cases and have access to global and national leaders, local business leaders and Tower Center board members. Senior-year directed-research projects along with Dallas-based placements provide real-world policy experience, and opportunities for relevant study-abroad options exist. READ MORE

Doctors told Debbie Dupree that her son would be dead by the time he was 19. They were wrong. Ben is now 23 and a Dedman College alumnus.

KERA

Originally Posted: January 20, 2016

When most little boys were running up and down stairs, Ben Dupree was using his arms to pull himself up the wood banister in his home in University Park. His mom, Debbie, knew something was wrong.

“I can remember any step he would take, being worried that he was going to fall,” she said.

Ben was 9 when he was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Like an estimated one in 3,500 boys, his muscles were beginning to weaken, starting with the hips and thighs.
For a while, Ben continued to walk. But when he was 15, he slipped — and he decided it was time for a wheelchair.

“I kind of was almost in denial,” Ben said. “Ignoring it, pushing it off for awhile.”

Doctors told Debbie Dupree that Ben would be dead by the time he was 19. For many boys with Duchenne, that’s the reality.
But today, Ben is 23 years old. He’s a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University. Ben’s success in slowing down the disease is partly thanks to genetic luck, and support from people like his mom.
“We have spent a lot of time, and a lot of expense, going to additional therapies to keep him in the shape that he’s in,” she said. She helps her son with everything from stretching and managing medication to doctors’ appointments. She also works with the nonprofit Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.

“The emotional impact of this on him and our family and other families with muscular dystrophy is huge,” Dupree said.
Over the years, there have been many attempts to find cures for the fatal disease, but so far, Dr. Eric Olson says nothing has worked.

“While some of the approaches that have been taken provided some short term benefit for these boys, ultimately, they inevitably succumb to the disease if they have a mutation in the dystrophin gene,” Olson says.

Olson is chairman of molecular biology at UT Southwestern and co-director of the school’s new Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center. His latest research is shaking up the Duchenne muscular dystrophy community. Why? Well, he’s figured out how to use a new gene editing tool to correct the mutation that causes the disease in mice.

“It’s really amazing,” Olson said. “Because what it allows you to go into the DNA sequence of the body and with absolute precision to change even a single letter in the DNA code that may have a mutation and eliminate that mutation permanently.”
The gene editing tool is called CRISPR/Cas9.

To understand how it works, imagine a big banner in the sky; it’s supposed to say, “Congratulations” but instead reads

“Congratulations.” You have to figure out a way to reach the banner, then cut out that extra letter “L.”
That’s essentially what this high-tech pair of gene editing scissors makes possible.

Granted, instead of editing a banner, we’re talking about editing a gene about the size of a mustard seed. And instead of doing it in humans, Olson’s team did it in mice. Still, researchers say it is an impressive advance.

Gang Bao, a bioengineering professor at Rice University, says the possibility of using gene editing to treat diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy or Huntington’s is exciting. Imagine a single injection correcting muscles in the body, including the heart. A major challenge, Bao says, is keeping the Nano scissors from cutting what they’re not supposed to cut.

“They may cut at the location you want them to cut, but they may also cut at other locations. Those could cause a disease, so the potential is there,” Bao said.

As researchers work to refine the technique, and prepare for human trials, young men like Ben Dupree are cheering from the sidelines.

“I would like to see a stop in my decline,” Ben said. “Which I think is probable with [gene editing], but it may not be in the near future.”
Ben’s near future is promising. He’s just applied for a master’s degree and wants to be a genetic counselor.

“My original excitement about genetics was all due to wanting to understand my condition,” he said. “I found that I really enjoyed more of the human element, talking with people, explaining what muscular dystrophy is, how the genetics is involved and wanting to be in a position where I can help other people with Duchenne manage and understand the condition.” READ MORE

Health & Society student wins UT Southwestern research competition

Originally Posted: January 25, 2016

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Congratulations to Katie Logsdon

 

Health & Society Major, Winner of the 5th Annual UT Southwestern Office of Global Health Conference Student Research Competition

The conference and competition was held January 22-23 at UTSW, T. Boone Pickens Biomedical Building Auditorium in Dallas, Texas. Students from North Texas presented research in global health to a globally oriented audience and panel of global health experts. Presentations were judged by a panel including UTSW faculty members and featured speakers. Competing against 1st through 4th year medical students, Katie’s presentation on “Perception of Pain in Childbirth Pain in Dutch Women” shared data from her Richter-Funded pilot study in The Netherlands. She returns to The Netherlands Summer 2016 to complete her Distinction research project.

More information on Health and Society.

‘The Golf Scientist’

Associated Press

Originally Posted: January 21, 2016

‘The Golf Scientist’ Tames Abu Dhabi Field With Unique Style

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Bryson DeChambeau was still in high school when he told his father: “I think I can change the game of golf.”

On Thursday, he was comparing his trailblazing qualities to those of Albert Einstein and George Washington, and calling himself “The Golf Scientist.”

One thing’s for sure about the 22-year-old DeChambeau, he isn’t lacking in confidence.

And he’s got the game to back it up.

DeChambeau shot an 8-under 64 at the Abu Dhabi Championship to take a one-stroke lead in the first round in what might be the strongest field in a European Tour event this year. Not bad for an amateur making only his seventh start in a professional tournament, and his first on the regular European Tour — through a sponsor’s invitation.

Any nerves? Don’t be silly.

“Why be nervous?” said DeChambeau, whose deep tan is explained by his California roots. “There’s no expectations. I’m not worried about anything. If I hit a bad shot I’ve got an opportunity to show my grace and my character. In that situation, there’s no downside to it.”

DeChambeau may just be the most unique, colorful golfer around.

He’s a physics student at Southern Methodist University who has devised his own way of playing golf. It includes modifying all of his irons so they are the same length, lie angle and bounce — the only difference between them is the loft — and means he can keep the same posture and set-up; hitting two different drives that he has named The Fairway Finder and the Crank Ball; using water and Epsom salts to establish which of his golf balls are slightly flawed so they can be discarded; and adopting a putting routine in which he crouches and extends his putter as if fly-fishing. READ MORE

How Can My Student Kick-Start the New Term?

Originally Posted: January 11, 2016

There is no better time than the start of a new year and new term for your student to fully and honestly assess how the first semester went.

Were they satisfied or disappointed with their grades from the first semester? Are they willing to take responsibility for their successes and their failures? In case of a less than satisfactory GPA, is everything someone else’s fault or do they hold themselves accountable?

The Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC) offers one-on-one counseling, one time or on a regular basis, for students looking to focus – or in some cases refocus – their efforts. First-semester “disasters” do not have to mean a disastrous college career. Call 214-768-3648 for an appointment.

Read tips for the new term from SMU’s learning and library experts at the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center and Central University Libraries.

Regardless of students’ GPA, most everything said in August still applies:

1. Go to class;
2. Get to know the professors for each class; and
3. Take advantage of the resources on campus (hint: the A-LEC has free tutoring, academic counseling and a writing lab).

READ MORE