SMU students earn fellowships to conduct research during summer of 2016


Originally Posted: August 10, 2016

For five SMU students, the summer of 2016 wasn’t a walk on the beach. It was an international research adventure instead.

Benjamin Chi, Abigail Hawthorne, Sara Jendrusch, Katherine Logsdon and Yasaman Sahba traveled far and wide this summer conducting research on topics ranging from diabetes in China to performance anxiety among musicians thanks to prestigious Richter Research Fellowships earned through SMU’s University Honors Program. In conducting their research, they joined fellow students Preksha Chowdhary and Anthony Jeffries, who embarked on their projects earlier this year as SMU’s 2016 Richter Research Fellows.

SMU is one of only 12 universities that offer the competitive fellowships, which are supported by the Paul K. and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Funds. To qualify for a Richter grant, a student needs to be an honors student in good standing.

“My research this summer has been a life-changing experience for me,” says Richter fellow Hawthorne.   “Mental health – and opinions of self-worth often so closely connected to professional artists’ careers – is rarely discussed, and I am hoping my research will help to change some of the negative stigmas associated with experiences of anxiety.”

Details about each student’s project can be viewed below:

Benjamin Chi in Harbin, China

“Diabetes among Rural Immigrants moving to Chinese Cities”

During the summer of 2016 Chi traveled to Harbin, China, to conduct original research on diabetes in China, where it is reaching epidemic proportions. The problem appears especially acute among the migrant populations who have moved in great numbers from the country’s rural villages to its largest cities, such as Harbin. Mentored by a medical professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chi observed patients at a medical clinic and conducted interviews and surveys in a search for causes of the spread of diabetes. With this original research Chi had the chance to contribute significantly to the study of diabetes and its potential causes.

Abigail Hawthorne in Durango, Colorado

“Performance Anxiety among Classical Music Players”

Abigail traveled to a summer music festival to interview classical music performers and gauge their level of performance anxiety. Combining her double majors of music and psychology, this project allowed her to investigate an issue that she herself has often struggled with. In addition to the qualitative interviews, Abigail also distributed a set of written questions so she could develop preliminary quantitative data as well. With the mentoring of her professor in the Psychology Department, Abigail intends to seek publication for the final results of this study.

Sara Jendrusch in London,

Prostitution in the United Kingdom & the United States: A Comparative Study”

Sara traveled to London to further her research into prostitution in modern society. Having pursued the American half of her comparative study here in Dallas, Sara volunteered in a handful of British shelters that assist women and men seeking to leave prostitution. She also conducted informal interviews with current prostitutes as well. Her research project asked the question: What is the life of a prostitute like today in these two countries? Are conditions better or worse than in past historical periods? And how has an increase in human trafficking world-wide impacted prostitution?

Katherine Logsdon in Amsterdam, Netherlands

“Pain in Childbirth: Exploring Pain Management Techniques and Perceptions of Childbirth Pains in Dutch Women”

Katherine traveled to Amsterdam this summer for her second trip studying the Dutch society where almost 50 percent of children are still born at home using traditional childbirth techniques. Despite its status as a highly industrialized and western society, the Netherlands has chosen not to turn to the modern methods used in the United States and other industrialized societies, where the vast majority of births are performed in hospitals. Katherine’s work contrasts the pain management techniques used in more traditional midwife practices with those employed in American hospitals. Her field work included shadowing four Dutch midwives as well as conducting numerous interviews with their patients. Katherine has now been at work on this project for three years and the final product will serve as her Honors or Distinction thesis in her health and society major. Katherine also is working with her faculty mentor, Professor Carolyn Smith-Morris, to submit an article for publication in a scholarly journal.

Yasaman Sahba in Llojlla Grande, Bolivia

“Rural Electrification in Bolivia”

Yasaman traveled to the small village of Llojlla Grande in Bolivia, where the country’s government and international NGOs are involved in a project to establish dependable and affordable electrical service. Bolivia is a rich area for this work, as it is currently sponsoring a number of such efforts throughout the country, mostly in rural areas. Yasaman will not only work as a volunteer on this project, but will observe and record her own notes on the relative success of the project – or lack thereof – for the local population.   

Anthony Jeffries in Washington, D.C.

“A Tragedy of Timing: An Examination of the Chief Justiceship of Roger Brooke Taney”

Pursuing an Honors or Distinction thesis in History, Anthony used his Richter Fellowship funding to travel to the Library of Congress, and the National Archives to research the decisions of Chief Justice Roger Taney – author of the now-infamous Dred Scott Decision of 1854 – that helped push the United States toward the Civil War six years later. Preliminary work and secondary source readings have led Anthony to the conclusion that Taney is not simply the notorious figure we remember him as today, but was rather a victim of his time. Anthony concluded few justices could have weathered the difficulties Taney faced.

Preksha Chowdhary in Rajasthan, India

“Information and Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence”

Preksha worked with Rick Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, to put together generic care packets for abused women in an Indian city. Then, working within two local shelters for victims of domestic violence, Preksha interviewed a series of women who found themselves forced to leave their families to seek safety from abuse. The primary focus of the research is to determine how and when a woman decides that violence can no longer be endured. With an eye toward possible preventative strategies in the future, Preksha gathered as much pertinent information on these vulnerable women as possible. READ MORE

SMU Adventures: Working with the FARDC

SMU Adventures

Originally Posted: July 26, 2016

Lindsay G. is a rising senior majoring in international studies and human rights. This summer she traveled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Army ROTC for closer study of the country’s culture and language.

Lindsay1-e1469546975476-600x392This week began with quarantine in our hotel due to political unrest throughout the country. This was extremely fitting since this next week we were going to be working with the FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Day 1 we went to the military school for English language, which aimed to help soldiers in the FARDC learn basic English. At the language school we got the opportunity to meet officers in the FARDC who had been given the opportunity to come to San Antonio to learn English at the Defense Language Institute. These gentlemen (no women were given the opportunity to go) spoke perfect English, and prided themselves on knowing various aspects of American culture that only a native would know. During our time at the English Institute we gave classes in basic Army doctrine in hopes of helping to improve the basic functions of the Congolese military. All of the soldiers of the FARDC were eager to learn about the functions of the U.S. Army, and took great pride in their country when we attempted to teach the class in French, their national language.

The next day we headed to the Logistics School of the FARDC, where soldiers learn basic skills including mechanics, field first aid and cooking. The U.S. Army heads this school, and we were able to meet two U.S. soldiers who had been deployed to the Congo for over a year in the hopes of ensuring this school functions properly. They gave us a tour of the grounds and introduced us to the staff and students of the school. The Congolese general in charge of this school proved to be a complete juxtaposition for how the rest of the country worked. While most of the log school was without power and had little airflow, the Generals quarters had air conditioning, a TV and cold drinks for his guests. This experience was the most eye-opening moment of the whole trip because the power structure of the country was highlighted and made very apparent.


Psychology professor, former student reunite at Mount Everest base camp

SMU News

Originally Posted: July 13, 2016

Psychology Professor Susan Hornstein has taught more than 7,000 students over the course of her 14 years at SMU, so she’s used to running into former pupils around town.

What she isn’t used to is running into them at base camp on Mount Everest, but that’s exactly what happened May 21 when Hornstein was spotted by former student Aliza Greenberg during a Himalayan trek with two friends

“It was cold. I had my hat and my glasses on – I don’t know how she recognized me,” Hornstein says. “My two friends were talking with her father and when I walked up, Aliza turned to me and said ‘Hornstein?’ I was so amazed she recognized me.”

Standing in the middle of a small village of colored tents in the shadow of the world’s most famous mountain, the student and her former professor caught up.

“I asked how she was doing, what she’d done since graduation – she’d just earned a masters in holocaust studies and she said she was going to the Northeast for her Ph.D.,” Hornstein says. “I met her father, who she was traveling with, and then we took a picture together.”

It was the first time they’d crossed paths since Greenberg took Hornstein’s Introduction to Psychology class in 2011. Hornstein has developed a bit of a reputation for the class, as she frequently uses pictures from her travels to drive home particular points about each week’s lecture.

“Oh, this picture will absolutely make the presentation this fall,” Hornstein says. “It was a surreal experience and it goes to show how small the world really is.” READ MORE

SMU Adventures in Dallas

SMU Adventures

Originally Posted: July 12, 2016

Parker M. is a senior majoring in biochemistry and philosophy. He was awarded a Maguire and Irby Family Foundation Public Service Fellowship for summer 2016 from the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility at SMU. He is spending the summer volunteering at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital and the Texas Instituted for Surgery, both in Dallas. READ MORE


Dedman College Undergraduate and Health and Society Major, Lauren Zabaleta, Receives Panahellenic Scholarship

Redlands Daily Facts

Originally Posted: July 4, 2016

Lauren Zabaleta, a graduate of Redlands High School, is a senior at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. She is a member of the inaugural class of the health and society major at SMU, an interdisciplinary program that combines biology, chemistry, psychology and anthropology. Her minor is business administration.

She is vice president of member education for her Kappa Alpha Theta chapter. Zabaleta works in the SMU Office of Undergraduate Admissions as a student ambassador and tour guide.

Her experiences as a volunteer and intern for Prevent Blindness Texas have inspired her to become an optometrist.

She was a member of SMU NCAA Division I cross country and track team and club soccer team manager and has received All-American Athletic Conference academic honors.

Redlands Area Panhellenic Association was founded in 1949.

Since 1982, it has awarded 83 Panhellenic scholarships to young women who are initiated members of National Panhellenic Council sororities and who are from the greater Redlands area.

Next year’s scholarship applications, requirements and information are available READ MORE

Thinking of Double Majoring?

SMU Meadows School of the Arts

Originally Posted: June 1, 2016

Below is an excerpt from an SMU Meadows School of the Arts news article that highlights six student experts that have majors in Meadows, Dedman College and Cox. READ MORE

5 Tips on How to Double Major
Double majoring is on the rise. Is it right for you?

Students thinking about double majoring want to know: How do students study for two degrees and still have a life? How do they handle it all? At SMU Meadows School of the Arts, over 35 percent of the students double major in combinations such as dance and economics, film and finance, public relations and marketing and more.

Below, six Meadows double majors give straight-up advice on how to succeed at pursuing two degrees at once.

#1: Black Belt Time Management

When you’re in college, there are always more things you want to do than you have time for. To help tame an overloaded schedule or keep procrastination at bay, our double majors’ secret weapon is the planner.

“I keep a physical planner that I am constantly updating and taking notes in,” says Elainy Lopez (B.F.A. Art, B.A. Anthropology ’16). “When the day or week appears to be a full one I make a list and work my way down it as best I can.” For those times when she can’t quite get through the list, Elainy reminds herself to not stress out and instead re-orders her list based on priorities. “When things start to get unbalanced it is usually due to procrastination or poor planning,” she says. “I just get back on track by focusing and starting the work, which is usually the hardest step.”

Even with a champion planner, procrastination can be a siren call. As a performing arts student who is also deep into coding and computer science, Zach Biehl (B.F.A. Dance, B.A. Creative Computing ’17) knows firsthand how the combo of rehearsals, coursework, parties, movie nights and exams can tempt him to put things off. “I’m my own worst enemy in terms of procrastinating because I work well and thrive under pressure, but I would say, yes, buy a planner,” he says. “The semesters I haven’t had a planner have felt much more panicked than those when I’ve had one. With the planner, everything feels much more logical.”

Many double majors also use the “Semester-at-a-Glance” calendar available free of charge from A-LEC, the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center located in the Ford Stadium building on the northeast corner of campus. With the calendar, they can see their entire semester on one page. READ MORE

Anonymous donor establishes Brad E. Cheves Endowed Tower Center Scholars Program fund

SMU News

Originally Posted: June 8, 2016

SMU Vice President Brad Cheves honored with scholars’ fund

DALLAS (SMU) – An anonymous donor has established The Brad E. Cheves Endowed Tower Center Scholars Program fund in honor of the University’s vice president for Development and External Affairs. SMU President R. Gerald Turner surprised Cheves with the announcement at the April 27 meeting of the Tower Center Executive Board of Directors.

The fund will support the Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars – a select group of students who are chosen every year to combine academic studies with experience in the real world of public policy and international affairs. Tower Scholars are enrolled in an exclusive minor in Public Policy and International Affairs, which pairs policy practitioners with SMU faculty to combine critical thinking and analytical skills within a rigorous academic framework.

The application-only minor is open to all majors across the schools, with admission based on a competitive application process. The first cohort of scholars will graduate in 2017. READ MORE

Ryan Cross recently named Presidential Fellow by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress

Wilton Bulletin

Originally Posted: May 31, 2016

Congratulations to Ryan Cross, a Political Science and International Studies double major who was recently named Presidential Fellow by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. READ MORE

Incoming SMU students examine tough questions in their first college reading assignment — Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy

Each year the Common Reading book is selected by the Common Reading Selection Committee. Chaired by David Doyle, Director of SMU’s University Honors Program. READ MORE

SMU News
Originally Posted: May 31, 2016


Incoming SMU students will examine tough questions about justice, equality and poverty in their first college reading assignment — attorney Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy (Random House, 2014).

Students will read the book as part of the University’s Common Reading Program, an academic initiative that includes small-group discussions about the book before and after classes begin. Community members, alumni, book lovers and book clubs are invited to join SMUReads to take part in other events surrounding the book.

Author Stevenson’s free campus lecture is open to the public at 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 13, at McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane. Preregistration is requested at READ MORE

“This is a book not as much about apocalypse as it is about our human society, particularly the objects and technology we live with but take for granted on an every-day basis.  Also, the book enables readers to consider how art can create meaning and value in the most constrained of human circumstances.”
-Dr. Harold Stanley, Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost ad interim