Originally Posted: January 11, 2016
Catching Up With Kelvin Beachum: One of the NFL’s Good Guys
We recently sat down and had a conversation with Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum to discuss everything from his rehab, to his personal life, to his football career, to his philanthropic work off the field.
BY JIMMIE KAYLOR
Anytime the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field, it’s safe to assume that most of the 7,000 residents of the tiny rural town of Mexia, Texas are tuned in to watch their hometown hero, Kelvin Beachum, protect the blind side of future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. After defying the odds throughout his high school and college careers, Beachum had seemingly solidified the left tackle position for the Steelers ever since a rash of injuries forced him into the Pittsburgh starting lineup as a rookie back in 2012.
Coming into the 2015 season, Beachum, who was a 7th round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was set to play out the final year of his rookie contract with hopes of signing a life-changing contract extension during the 2016 offseason. And through the first five and a half games of the season, he was well on his way to landing the new deal he had rightfully earned over the last three seasons. Unfortunately, Beachum suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during the Steelers’ Week 6 win over the Arizona Cardinals, which effectively ended his 2015 season. READ MORE
Originally Posted: January 8, 2016
It was a good year for faculty and student research efforts. Here is a small sampling of public and published acknowledgements during 2015:
Research makes the cover of Biochemistry
Drugs important in the battle against cancer were tested in a virtual lab by SMU biology professors to see how they would behave in the human cell.
A computer-generated composite image of the simulation made the Dec. 15 cover of the journal Biochemistry.
Scientific articles about discoveries from the simulation were also published in the peer review journals Biochemistry and in Pharmacology Research & Perspectives.
The researchers tested the drugs by simulating their interaction in a computer-generated model of one of the cell’s key molecular pumps — the protein P-glycoprotein, or P-gp. Outcomes of interest were then tested in the Wise-Vogel wet lab.
The ongoing research is the work of biochemists John Wise, associate professor, and Pia Vogel, professor and director of the SMU Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery in Dedman College. Assisting them were a team of SMU graduate and undergraduate students.
The researchers developed the model to overcome the problem of relying on traditional static images for the structure of P-gp. The simulation makes it possible for researchers to dock nearly any drug in the protein and see how it behaves, then test those of interest in an actual lab.
To date, the researchers have run millions of compounds through the pump and have discovered some that are promising for development into pharmaceutical drugs to battle cancer.
Strong interest in research on sexual victimization
Teen girls were less likely to report being sexually victimized after learning to assertively resist unwanted sexual overtures and after practicing resistance in a realistic virtual environment, according to three professors from the SMU Department of Psychology.
The finding was reported in Behavior Therapy. The article was one of the psychology journal’s most heavily shared and mentioned articles across social media, blogs and news outlets during 2015, the publisher announced.
The study was the work of Dedman College faculty Lorelei Simpson Rowe, associate professor and Psychology Department graduate program co-director; Ernest Jouriles, professor; and Renee McDonald, SMU associate dean for research and academic affairs.
The journal’s publisher, Elsevier, temporarily has lifted its subscription requirement on the article, “Reducing Sexual Victimization Among Adolescent Girls: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial of My Voice, My Choice,” and has opened it to free access for three months.
Consumers assume bigger price equals better quality
Firms signal quality through the prices they charge, typically working on the assumption that shoppers think a high price indicates high quality.
That was a finding of the research of Dedman College’s Santanu Roy, professor, Department of Economics. Roy’s article about the research was published in February in one of the blue-ribbon journals, and the oldest, in the field, The Economic Journal.
Published by the U.K.’s Royal Economic Society, The Economic Journal is one of the founding journals of modern economics. The journal issued a media briefing about the paper, “Competition, Disclosure and Signaling,” typically reserved for academic papers of broad public interest.
Chemistry research group edits special issue
Chemistry professors Dieter Cremer and Elfi Kraka, who lead SMU’s Computational and Theoretical Chemistry Group, were guest editors of a special issue of the prestigious Journal of Physical Chemistry. The issue published in March.
The Computational and Theoretical research group, called CATCO for short, is a union of computational and theoretical chemistry scientists at SMU. Their focus is research in computational chemistry, educating and training graduate and undergraduate students, disseminating and explaining results of their research to the broader public, and programming computers for the calculation of molecules and molecular aggregates.
The special issue of Physical Chemistry included 40 contributions from participants of a four-day conference in Dallas in March 2014 that was hosted by CATCO. The 25th Austin Symposium drew 108 participants from 22 different countries who, combined, presented eight plenary talks, 60 lectures and about 40 posters.
CATCO presented its research with contributions from Cremer and Kraka, as well as Marek Freindorf, research assistant professor; Wenli Zou, visiting professor; Robert Kalescky, post-doctoral fellow; and graduate students Alan Humason, Thomas Sexton, Dani Setlawan and Vytor Oliveira.
There have been more than 75 graduate students and research associates working in the CATCO group, which originally was formed at the University of Cologne, Germany, before moving to SMU in 2009.
Vertebrate paleontology recognized with proclamation
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings proclaimed Oct. 11-17, 2015 Vertebrate Paleontology week in Dallas on behalf of the Dallas City Council.
The proclamation honored the 75th Annual Meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, which was jointly hosted by SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College and the Perot Museum of Science and Nature. The conference drew to Dallas some 1,200 scientists from around the world.
Making research presentations or presenting research posters were: faculty members Bonnie Jacobs, Louis Jacobs, Michael Polcyn, Neil Tabor and Dale Winkler; adjunct research assistant professor Alisa Winkler; research staff member Kurt Ferguson; post-doctoral researchers T. Scott Myers and Lauren Michael; and graduate students Matthew Clemens, John Graf, Gary Johnson and Kate Andrzejewski.
The host committee co-chairs were Anthony Fiorillo, adjunct research professor; and Louis Jacobs, professor. Committee members included Polcyn; Christopher Strganac, graduate student; Diana Vineyard, research associate; and research professor Dale Winkler.
KERA radio reporter Kat Chow filed a report from the conference, explaining to listeners the science of vertebrate paleontology, which exposes the past, present and future of life on earth by studying fossils of animals that had backbones.
SMU earthquake scientists rock scientific journal
Modelled pressure changes caused by injection and production. (Nature Communications/SMU)
Findings by the SMU earthquake team reverberated across the nation with publication of their scientific article in the prestigious British interdisciplinary journal Nature, ranked as one of the world’s most cited scientific journals.
The article reported that the SMU-led seismology team found that high volumes of wastewater injection combined with saltwater extraction from natural gas wells is the most likely cause of unusually frequent earthquakes occurring in the Dallas-Fort Worth area near the small community of Azle.
The research was the work of Dedman College faculty Matthew Hornbach, associate professor of geophysics; Heather DeShon, associate professor of geophysics; Brian Stump, SMU Albritton Chair in Earth Sciences; Chris Hayward, research staff and director geophysics research program; and Beatrice Magnani, associate professor of geophysics.
The article, “Causal factors for seismicity near Azle, Texas,” published online in late April. Already the article has been downloaded nearly 6,000 times, and heavily shared on both social and conventional media. The article has achieved a ranking of 270, which puts it in the 99th percentile of 144,972 tracked articles of a similar age in all journals, and 98th percentile of 626 tracked articles of a similar age in Nature.
“It has a very high impact factor for an article of its age,” said Robert Gregory, professor and chair, SMU Earth Sciences Department.
The scientific article also was entered into the record for public hearings both at the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity.
Researchers settle long-debated heritage question of “The Ancient One”
The skull of Kennewick Man and a sculpted bust by StudioEIS based on forensic facial reconstruction by sculptor Amanda Danning. (Credit: Brittany Tatchell)
The research of Dedman College anthropologist and Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory David Meltzer played a role in settling the long-debated and highly controversial heritage of “Kennewick Man.”
Also known as “The Ancient One,” the 8,400-year-old male skeleton discovered in Washington state has been the subject of debate for nearly two decades. Argument over his ancestry has gained him notoriety in high-profile newspaper and magazine articles, as well as making him the subject of intense scholarly study.
Officially the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kennewick Man was discovered in 1996 and radiocarbon dated to 8500 years ago.
Because of his cranial shape and size he was declared not Native American but instead ‘Caucasoid,’ implying a very different population had once been in the Americas, one that was unrelated to contemporary Native Americans.
But Native Americans long have claimed Kennewick Man as theirs and had asked for repatriation of his remains for burial according to their customs.
Meltzer, collaborating with his geneticist colleague Eske Willerslev and his team at the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen, in June reported the results of their analysis of the DNA of Kennewick in the prestigious British journal Nature in the scientific paper “The ancestry and affiliations of Kennewick Man.”
The results were announced at a news conference, settling the question based on first-ever DNA evidence: Kennewick Man is Native American.
The announcement garnered national and international media attention, and propelled a new push to return the skeleton to a coalition of Columbia Basin tribes. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Bring the Ancient One Home Act of 2015 and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has offered state assistance for returning the remains to Native Tribes.
Science named the Kennewick work one of its nine runners-up in the highly esteemed magazine’s annual “Breakthrough of the Year” competition.
The research article has been viewed more than 60,000 times. It has achieved a ranking of 665, which puts it in the 99th percentile of 169,466 tracked articles of a similar age in all journals, and in the 94th percentile of 958 tracked articles of a similar age in Nature.
In “Kennewick Man: coming to closure,” an article in the December issue of Antiquity, a journal of Cambridge University Press, Meltzer noted that the DNA merely confirmed what the tribes had known all along: “We are him, he is us,” said one tribal spokesman. Meltzer concludes: “We presented the DNA evidence. The tribal members gave it meaning.”
Prehistoric vacuum cleaner captures singular award
Paleontologists Louis L. Jacobs, SMU, and Anthony Fiorillo, Perot Museum, have identified a new species of marine mammal from bones recovered from Unalaska, an Aleutian island in the North Pacific. (Hillsman Jackson, SMU)
Science writer Laura Geggel with Live Science named a new species of extinct marine mammal identified by two SMU paleontologists among “The 10 Strangest Animal Discoveries of 2015.”
The new species, dubbed a prehistoric hoover by London’s Daily Mail online news site, was identified by SMU paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, a professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and paleontologist and SMU adjunct research professor Anthony Fiorillo, vice president of research and collections and chief curator at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Jacobs and Fiorillo co-authored a study about the identification of new fossils from the oddball creature Desmostylia, discovered in the same waters where the popular “Deadliest Catch” TV show is filmed. The hippo-like creature ate like a vacuum cleaner and is a new genus and species of the only order of marine mammals ever to go extinct — surviving a mere 23 million years.
Desmostylians, every single species combined, lived in an interval between 33 million and 10 million years ago. Their strange columnar teeth and odd style of eating don’t occur in any other animal, Jacobs said.
SMU campus hosted the world’s premier physicists
The SMU Department of Physics hosted the “23rd International Workshop on Deep Inelastic Scattering and Related Subjects” from April 27-May 1, 2015. Deep Inelastic Scattering is the process of probing the quantum particles that make up our universe.
As noted by the CERN Courier — the news magazine of the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, which hosts the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest science experiment — more than 250 scientists from 30 countries presented more than 200 talks on a multitude of subjects relevant to experimental and theoretical research. SMU physicists presented at the conference.
The SMU organizing committee was led by Fred Olness, professor and chair of the SMU Department of Physics in Dedman College, who also gave opening and closing remarks at the conference. The committee consisted of other SMU faculty, including Jodi Cooley, associate professor; Simon Dalley, senior lecturer; Robert Kehoe, professor; Pavel Nadolsky, associate professor, who also presented progress on experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider; Randy Scalise, senior lecturer; and Stephen Sekula, associate professor.
Sekula also organized a series of short talks for the public about physics and the big questions that face us as we try to understand our universe.
Originally Posted: January 6, 2016
DALLAS, TX–(Marketwired – Jan 6, 2016) – Ravi Batra, author of End Unemployment Now: How to Eliminate Joblessness, Debt and Poverty Despite Congress, has made a career out of making accurate forecasts. He claims an over 90 percent success rate in his predictions that seem to be borne out by what he has written in the past. For instance, in two books penned in 1978 and 1980, he foresaw the fall of Soviet communism before the end of the century, a forecast that earned him the medal of the Italian Senate in 1990.
In another book published in 2006 and noted for its predictive accuracy, The New Golden Age: The Coming Revolution against Political Corruption and Economic Chaos, he made forecasts for the next 10 years. He prophesied a very deep recession starting in 2007, along with a lingering malaise and stagnation at least till 2016. The title of this book says it all. He also foresaw the Bush and Obama bailouts along with a giant increase in federal debt. Regarding oil, he predicted a continuing bubble that would crash after 2012. It seems everything he said or wrote in 2006 has come true.
What is in store for us in 2016? That is where his new book, End Unemployment Now, comes in. “2016 is going to be a year of the climax,” says Batra, an economics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “It will be a year in which a revolution begins against the rule of money, leading to economic reforms by 2018. After that a golden age starts and is in place around the end the decade.”
End Unemployment Now (www.ravibatra.com) explains the reason behind what is now known as The Great Recession and offers a variety of reforms. “The main cause of our troubles is monopoly capitalism, which is a system dominated by giant companies that charge high prices, pay low wages and extract huge productivity from employees,” says Batra. “As a result, supply rises faster than demand and generates layoffs. So the solution lies in breaking up the behemoths and returning to free markets, where small firms engage in price and quality competition.”
However, politicians are beholden to wealthy corporations and will not permit such reforms, at least until the revolution. Batra says there are existing laws that any U.S. president can use to quickly eradicate poverty and joblessness, making Congress irrelevant to the restoration of prosperity. For instance, the president can ask the FDIC to create what is known as a “bridge bank” that would compete with large banks. This step could trim interest rates on credit cards by as much as 66 percent, he says. “Using The FDIC alone can cut poverty in half in just a week,” an outlandish claim that, according to Batra, “depends on the president acting courageously like the FDR and not worry about the political fallout.”
If recent financial turmoil is any indication, we may do well to pay heed to Batra’s words. READ MORE
About Ravi Batra
Dr. Ravi Batra, a professor of economics at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, is the author of five international bestsellers. His latest book is “End Unemployment Now: How to Eliminate Joblessness, Debt and Poverty Despite Congress” (www.ravibatra.com). Batra received the Pratima and Navin Doshi Award for his contributions to economic analysis. In 1990, the Italian prime minister awarded him a Medal of the Italian Senate for writing a book that correctly predicted the downfall of Soviet communism, 15 years before it happened.
Books published in 2015 by the SMU community, including faculty, staff, alumni, libraries and museum, can complete your holiday gift list.
Need to satisfy a history buff? This list has it covered in genres from art to film to science to the Southwest. Find selections for readers of poetry, as well as personal, political and travel memoir. There’s a cookbook for foodies. A photography collection showcases the American West. Arty crime capers are filled with mystery and intrigue to the end. There’s even a literary riff in the form of a card game based on a classic novel.
This collection has something for all reading preferences, from light to serious. Some selections are available at the SMU bookstore, but all are available via online booksellers unless otherwise noted. Authors are listed alphabetically. READ MORE
Originally Posted: December 4, 2015
National data mining competition features analytical and problem-solving skills
A team of eight SMU students has been awarded second place and another team of five students received honorable mention in the annual SAS Analytics Shootout competition. The data mining competition winners were announced at the annual SAS Analytics Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For the ninth straight year, SAS and the Institute for Health and Business Insight partnered to provide student and faculty teams with an opportunity to apply analytical skills and solve a real-world problem during the Analytics Shootout. This year’s problem dealt with predicting both electrical energy production from renewable sources and energy consumption of buildings in a city.
The problem statement for the 2015 SAS Data Mining competition was posted online for all competing teams in January and solutions were due by June 3, 2015.
“This is a brutal competition. For SMU to have two teams that finished this high is a very noteworthy accomplishment,” said Thomas Fomby, economics professor and faculty sponsor to one of the competing SMU teams.
The second place SMU team consisted of eight PhD and Master’s level students from the Department of Statistical Science in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, including Dateng Li, Ryan McShane, Andrew Mitzel, Qian Wang, Lu Wang, team captain Li Xue (Lily), Rui Yang, and Zhengyang Zhou. Faculty members Tony Ng, Alan Elliott, and Jim Hess coached the team.
The honorable mention team consisted of five students, including Igor Zhadan, Hao Li, Kuangli Xie, Taghreed Alghamdi, and Ali Almadan. Economics professor Thomas Fomby coached the team. READ MORE