SMU students in Paris report they are safe; SMU monitoring situation

SMU News

Originally Posted: November 14, 2015

SMU has heard from all 11 of its students studying in Paris that they are safe. The SMU Travel Oversight Committee is closely monitoring the situation and is receiving updates from the U.S. State Department and International SOS.

SMU community members abroad are asked to be aware that France has declared a national state of emergency and has tightened its borders. On Saturday, November 14, the U.S. Embassy in France issued a security message regarding the terrorist attacks: “Further incidents are possible. We strongly urge U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security, including limiting their movements to essential activity. U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.” While airports and train stations remain open, travelers may expect delays due to heightened security measures.
All SMU Abroad students are covered by emergency travel assistance through I-SOS and may use the services of I-SOS worldwide during their term of study abroad. During SMU Abroad orientation, students received laminated cards with emergency phone numbers for I-SOS. I-SOS contact information also is available online at In addition, every SMU-approved study abroad program has its own emergency preparedness plan and protocols.

Students with concerns or questions are asked to contact the SMU Abroad Director, Dr. Cathy Winnie, at (214-768-4904) or SMU Assistant Chief of Police Jim Walters at (214-768-1586). Student safety is the highest priority of SMU and our partner study abroad programs. READ MORE

Meet Dedman College Faculty during Family Weekend

2:00PM 3:00PM

Dedman College, the heart of SMU houses the vital disciplines the underlie great accomplishment. Denman College offers 85 exciting majors and minors in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Their award winning faculty will be available to discuss their teaching and research interests. READ MORE

Event: Scientific Research and Public Responses: A Faculty Panel Discussion

Date: November 5th

Time: 5:00 p.m. Reception, 5:30 p.m. Panel

Location: McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall

science 3Why have we moved from, “I don’t fully understand the science, but I trust the scientists.” to, “I don’t fully understand the science and I don’t trust the scientists to be honest about it.”? Join us for a panel discussion with Louis Jacobs, David Meltzer, Randall Scalise, and John Wise, moderated by Lee Cullum of KERA News. Contact for more information

Heather DeShon, Earth Sciences, new earthquake map shows quakes continue along fault line found in February

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: October 20, 2015

On Friday — or, as I like to say, two small earthquakes ago — our local earthquake task force (consisting of U.S. Geological Survey and SMU seismologists and Dallas and Irving city hall-passers) met to get a better look at that two-mile-long Irving-to-Northwest Dallas fault line uncovered in February. And what they saw was the new map posted above, which pinpoints quakes and smaller “events” detected by seismographs between January 1 and October 16. MORE

Listen: Thousands Of Vertebrate Paleontologists Descend On Dallas


Originally Posted: October 15, 2015

LISTEN : Everything I knew about paleontology conferences, I learned from TV and “Friends.” There was that time Ross and his girlfriend were prepping for a conference in Barbados.

“By using CT scans and computer imaging, we can in a very real way bring the Mesozoic era into the 21st century,” Ross says.

In the real world, at the conference put on by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the lingo isn’t so simple. Here are some of the session titles:

“A new large non-pterodactyloid pterosaur from a late-Jurassic interdunal desert environment with a neo-eolian nugget sandstone of Northeastern Utah.” READ MORE

Watch: Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, Unalaska’s oddball desmostylian

New fossils from the Aleutian Islands intensify the mystery surrounding a toothy, hippopotamus-sized mammal unique to the North Pacific. An oddball creature, it suction-fed shoreline vegetation, say paleontologists from Southern Methodist University and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas. YouTube Preview Image

Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences and paleontologist Anthony Fiorillo announced the discovery of a new species of ancient mammal.

Huffington Post

Originally Posted: October 8, 2015

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown creature — and it ate in a unique way that hasn’t been seen before.

The extinct species, which belonged to a group of aquatic mammals called Desmostylia that lived across the North Pacific some 23 million years ago, hoovered up vegetation like some sort of beastly vacuum cleaner, according to a study published last week in the journal Historical Biology.

“The new animal — when compared to one of a different species from Japan — made us realize that desmos do not chew like any other animal,” Dr. Louis Jacobs, professor of paleontology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a co-author of the study, said in a written statement. “They clench their teeth, root up plants and suck them in.”

The researchers concluded that the species, which was dubbed Ounalashkastylus tomidai, might have braced its lower jaw and teeth against the upper jaw and used its powerful muscles to suck up vegetation. READ MORE

Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, New fossils intensify mystery of short-lived, toothy mammal found in ancient North Pacific

Originally Posted: October 6, 2015

The identification of a new species belonging to the marine mammal group Desmostylia has intensified the rare animal’s brief mysterious journey through prehistoric time, finds a new study.

A big, hippo-sized animal with a long snout and tusks — the new species, 23 million years old, has a unique tooth and jaw structure that indicates it was not only a vegetarian, but literally sucked vegetation from shorelines like a vacuum cleaner, said vertebrate paleontologist and study co-author Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. 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

“SMU’s seismology team stands by its research and does not comment on public policy.”

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 10, 2015

Five months ago geologists from Southern Methodist University identified two wells used to store wastewater from natural gas drilling as the likely cause of a series of earthquakes around the North Texas town of Azle in late 2013.

Now the Texas Railroad Commission is questioning whether they had enough evidence.

In preliminary findings released Thursday, examiners with the commission said there was not sufficient proof the injection well operated by EnerVest, a Houston-based oil and gas company, caused the seismic activity. They recommended the well be allowed to continue operating.

That followed on from a finding last month that another injection well operated by XTO Energy, a subsidiary of oil giant Exxon Mobil, was also not to blame for the earthquakes.

“SMU’s seismology team stands by its research and does not comment on public policy,” a spokeswoman for the university said in a statement. READ MORE