Weatherford Geoscience Services Trailer at SMU

A geoscience services oil field trailer will be giving demonstrations at SMU on Thursday of what analyses are performed while a well is being drilled.

Normally, the equipment is next to a well, but from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, it will be next to SMU Fondren Library near University Boulevard. Demonstrations will run about 6 – 10 minutes.

The demonstrations, which are free and open to the public, will provide insights into the processes of drilling for oil and gas.

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Daily Mail: The 17 million-year-old whale that reveals when man first walked on two feet: Mammal’s wrong turn up river sheds light on Africa’s ancient swamplands

Originally Posted: March 17, 2015

London’s Daily Mail covered the research of SMU paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, a professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Jacobs is co-author of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Findings of the research provide the first constraint on the start of uplift of East African terrain from near sea level.
Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly identified.

Jacobs and his colleagues tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world — and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent — to pinpoint for the first time a date when East Africa’s mysterious elevation began.

The 17 million-year-old fossil is from the beaked Ziphiidae whale family. It was discovered 740 kilometers inland at a elevation of 620 meters in modern Kenya’s harsh desert region. READ MORE

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Oldest Whale Fossil Provides Date for East Africa’s Uplift

Laboratory Equipment

Originally Posted: March 17, 2015

Uplift associated with the Great Rift Valley of East Africa and the environmental changes it produced have puzzled scientists for decades because the timing and starting elevation have been poorly constrained.

Now paleontologists have tapped a fossil from the most precisely dated beaked whale in the world – and the only stranded whale ever found so far inland on the African continent – to pinpoint, for the first time, a date when East Africa’s mysterious elevation began. READ MORE

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Ancient whale fossil helps reveal birthplace of humanity

UPI

A fossil lost for nearly 40 years is offering clues as to when and how ancient climate change in Africa spurred human evolution.

By Brooks Hays

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 17 (UPI) — Prehistorians believe the transition from dense, elevated forest to flat, open grasslands in East Africa spurred humans’ ancestors to first abandon all fours and walk upright. But when exactly did this happen? Researchers say a long lost beaked whale fossil may offer clues.Ancient-whale-fossil-helps-reveal-birthplace-of-humanity

Though the beaked whale fossil in question is only just now making headlines, it was first discovered in Kenya in 1964. It was unearthed some 460 miles inland, suggesting the sea mammal had gotten lost and swam up a freshwater river system. But the 17-million-year-old fossil was originally misidentified as a turtle, and little analysis was conducted before it went missing.

It stayed lost in the archives of Harvard University for nearly 40 years, before Louis Jacobs — who knew of its existence but for years failed to locate the fossil — finally found the skull.

While the whale’s journey inland is fascinating in itself, the fossil’s rediscovery has offered much grander scientific revelations. The skull has helped researchers to date the East African plateau’s uplift, and thus allowed scientists to more accurately pinpoint the place and time when human bipedalism first emerged.

“The whale is telling us all kinds of things,” study co-author Louis Jacobs, a paleontologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told the Los Angeles Times. “It tells us the starting point for all that uplift that changed the climate that led to humans. It’s amazing.”

To date and measure the plateau’s uplift, scientists used the original field notes to relocate the site of fossil’s initial discovery. Next researchers looked at evidence of modern whales and dolphins who became lost upriver. Because they knew whales could only travel up a wide, low-gradient river, scientists were able to estimate the nature of the ancient waterway. Their analysis suggested the original site of whale’s death (likely from exhaustion) couldn’t have been more than 372 to 559 miles from the Indian Ocean and nor more than 78 to 121 feet high. READ MORE

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SMU professors aim to prevent sexual assault with bystander program

Dallas Morning News

By MELISSA REPKO

Originally Posted: March 16, 2015

SMUbystander_LEDEA boyfriend and girlfriend fighting at a party. A couple stumbling around in an alcohol-fueled stupor. A teen getting pressured to kiss someone who gave her a ride.

Those scenarios are depicted in two programs developed by Southern Methodist University psychology professors to help young adults prevent sexual assault and sexual harassment.

One program uses video to suggest how college students can intervene to help friends in risky situations. The other program uses virtual reality software so that teens practice being assertive and resisting unwanted advances.

Professors Ernest Jouriles and Renee McDonald, a husband-and-wife research team, have studied violence prevention for most of their careers. They’ve researched marital conflict, spousal abuse and children’s response to family violence.

Jouriles said he got interested in adolescent issues, such as dating violence, when their daughter was young. He wanted to help keep her safe. READ MORE

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Dallas mayor gives $10,000 to new Santos Rodriguez scholarship at SMU

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: March 16, 2015

Mayor Mike Rawlings became the first private donor to the Santos Rodriguez Memorial Scholarship at Southern Methodist University. This weekend, he pledged a personal check of $10,000 for the new SMU endowment fund. Applicants must seek a degree in the university’s human rights program.

“Symbolically, naming it for him was poetic,” Rawlings said in a phone interview.

Santos Rodriguez was 12 when he was pulled from his grandfather’s home on July 24, 1973, by a Dallas police officer and taken for an interrogation inside the police car. At issue: a soda pop machine theft of about $8.

Santos’ life ended when the officer fired a bullet into his left temple in what seemed like a horrific game of Russian roulette.

The Dallas police officer, Darrell Cain, was indicted and sentenced to five years.

According to the trial transcript, Cain admitted he was trying to scare Santos with his gun, saying “Tell the truth.”
Santos replied, “I am telling the truth.” READ MORE

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Deep Vellum Publishing founder gets people to think about literature in a new way

Culture Map

Originally Posted: March 17, 2015

New York may be the center of the publishing universe, but not if Deep Vellum founder Will Evans has anything to do with it. Evans has ambitious plans for our city’s role in the literary landscape, even if he ended up here more or less accidentally.

“To be fair, I didn’t choose Dallas, Dallas chose me,” he explains. “My wife got a job here, so we moved in 2013. I created Deep Vellum around what Dallas has and doesn’t have: There’s a great arts community, and it’s not tapped out.

“The digital revolution has changed how we read and find out about stuff,” Will Evans says. “You can live in a place like Dallas and be part of the conversation.”
“It’s the future of publishing to be in a decentralized place. The digital revolution has changed how we read and find out about stuff. You can live in a place like Dallas and be part of the conversation.”

With a mission of publishing international literature in English translation, Evans was drawn to UTD’s literary translations program, one of the best in the country. SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences dean Thomas DiPiero is also “a big supporter of translations,” according to Evans, assuring there will be plenty of home-grown talent emerging in the next few years to work with Evans’ stable of authors. READ MORE

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Four Sociology majors inducted into Phi Beta Kappa

The Department of Sociology congratulates Marlon Carbajal, Erica Renstrom, Aubrey Richardson, and Kristen Yule for their academic accomplishments over the last four years. All four were inducted into Phi Betta Kappa honor society on March 1, 2015.

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Q&A with author who’ll speak at SMU on Armenian genocide

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: March 13, 2015

When Peter Balakian was a small boy, his grandmother filled him with stories seeped in magical realism, with mysterious yet baffling lines.

“A long time ago there was and there wasn’t,” she’d say.

Perhaps his tender grandmother was just nurturing a fellow poet and soon-to-be historian of one of the great epic traumas opening the 20th century. She was a survivor of the Armenian genocide 100 years ago in April 1915.

Her grandson would eventually become her scribe, portraying her in his award-winning memoir, Black Dog of Fate.

Balakian, now a Colgate University professor, has made the genocide a key part of his life’s work as an award-winning writer, poet and genocide expert. He will talk about his work at Southern Methodist University’s Dallas Hall at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at an event sponsored by St. Sarkis Church of Carrollton and SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program.

He recently discussed his writing and more with The Dallas Morning News. READ MORE

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SMU geothermal scientist Maria Richards to guide global energy organization

DALLAS (SMU) – Maria Richards, SMU Geothermal Laboratory Coordinator in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, has been named president-elect of the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC). She will become the 26th president of the global energy organization beginning in 2017.

maria-richards

Richards has been at the forefront of SMU’s renowned geothermal energy research for more than a decade, and the University’s mapping of North American geothermal resources is considered the baseline for U.S. geothermal energy exploration. SMU’s Conference on Geothermal Energy in Oil and Gas fields, which Richards directs, is pioneering the transition of oil and gas fields to electricity-producing systems by harnessing waste heat and fluids.

“The GRC is a tremendous forum for expanding ideas about geothermal exploration and technology related to this commonly overlooked source of energy provided by the Earth,” Richards said. “It’s a great opportunity for educating people about an energy source that covers the whole gamut – from producing electricity for industries, to reducing our electricity consumption with direct-use applications, to even cooling our homes.”

“This also is a unique occasion for me to encourage and mentor young women to participate in the sciences throughout their careers and get involved in leadership roles,” said Richards, who will be the GRC’s first woman president.

Development of many forms of renewable energy can lose momentum when the price-per-barrel of oil is low, but Richards expects the current low oil prices to drive more interest in geothermal development. Today, sedimentary basins that have been “fracked” for oil and gas production create reservoir pathways that can later be used for heat extraction. Fluids boil after being pushed through the hot reservoir pathways, producing electricity-generating steam. In addition to the geothermal energy, the equipment used in active oil and gas fields generates heat, which also can be tapped to produce electricity. READ MORE

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