Department of Earth Sciences alumni display SMU pride at Hokkaido University Museum


On the right is Dr. Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, a professor at Hokkaido University, Soporo, Japan.  He received a master’s and Ph.D. In Earth Sciences from SMU.  On the left is Yosuke Nishida, now an editor for Springer based in Tokyo, who received his MS in Earth Sciences from SMU.  The photos were taken in the Hokkaido University Museum.

SMU alumna uses intern experience and leads field trip to historical mark on Dallas landscape

Waxahachie Daily Light

Originally Posted: October 17, 2016

WAXAHACHIE — A field trip to Dallas for Lisa Minton’s WNGA World Geography class coincidentally turned into a journey back in time for WISD’s Secondary Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Andrea Kline. Minton’s A and B day classes visited the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas and participated in a historical scavenger hunt Tuesday, Oct. 11 and Wednesday, Oct. 12.

“Our first stop was to the Human Rights Initiative and they learned about refugees and asylees. The second part of the trip, the scavenger hunt, I created for them in downtown Dallas at Dealey and Founders Plaza,” Minton said. “In those areas I had them take a “selfie” with what they were looking for and apply the information geographically. They might’ve been looking for sequent occupancy or some aspect of a cultural trait or landscape.”

It just so happened that Kline was making a stop by WNGA where she spoke with Minton.

“I was visiting with Mrs. Minton, and she mentioned the field trip to the Human Rights Initiative and it peaked my interest. I was curious to hear her stories about the trip especially with the political climate we are in,” Kline explained.

After she “invited herself,” Kline met Minton and her B day classes in Dallas to tag along.

“I drove up to Dallas and tagged along with the group. At the end of the day I found out we were doing the scavenger hunt and that’s when I realized they were using historical markers,” Kline said.

As a senior at Southern Methodist University, Kline held an intern position in which she would research, coordinate, write and produce a historical marker for a location in the City of Dallas.

“I asked Mrs. Minton if she knew if the marker I made was there. She then asked me what I meant by my historical marker. I explained that when I was in college, I did all of the research and worked with SMU and the Texas Historical Commission to put one up. That’s how we figured out that my historical marker was one of the answers for the scavenger hunt, so I had the chance to tell the students about it,” Kline said.

Research for the marker began her last semester before student teaching in the fall semester of 2007.

“It was for an internship that the History Department at SMU. I needed some hours for my last semester, and I was able to do the internship for those hours. I had a college advisor that I worked with and I checked in with her frequently,” Kline said.

The marker is for the first women to serve on a jury in Dallas County, Adelyne Dransfield, in November of 1954.

“It was an in-depth process of research and in the process, I learned a lot about how state laws are written. Women received the right to vote in 1920, but it wasn’t the end-all, be-all. They actually handed off a lot of rules and regulations to the states which filtered down to county laws. The right to serve on a jury was handed down to the counties and in 1954 a state law was passed and the counties followed,” Kline said.

She explained how she didn’t know “what she was getting herself into” when she accepted the historian internship but is very grateful that she did.

“The professor who explained the project to me was incredibly passionate about women’s rights and it got me thinking about my role as a woman and the role we played in the past. I thought it would be neat to look into and the more and more I researched it, the respect I have for the woman multiplied,” Kline stated.

Before 1954, it was illegal for a female to serve on a jury.

“Names were placed in a hopper, they would turn it and then pull your name. If a woman’s name sounded or even half-way sounded masculine they were required to show up to serve jury duty,” Kline explained. “Women, knowing that it was illegal, showed up anyways. Now I hear people complain about jury duty, but there were people who were willing to do it.” READ MORE

Touring the Perot’s Giant Gems of the Smithsonian with a Local Gem and Mineral Hunter

Dallas Observer

Originally Posted: October 11, 2016

It all started with a load of gravel hauled in from around the Trinity River.

When Bill Candler, former president of the Oak Cliff Gem and Mineral Society, was 5 years old he found a few fossils out in the driveway and displayed them in his bedroom. He was incensed when he later discovered them in the driveway once again after his mother had thrown them out. He was a rock hound.

This weekend, Candler toured the Perot Museum of Science and Nature’s Giant Gems of the Smithsonian collection, which has never been seen together anywhere. Resting among the colored brilliance, sits a golden topaz weighing more than 10 pounds.

“We find topaz here in Texas,” Candler said. “The rare ones have a little blue tint.”

Blue topaz, the state gemstone of Texas, can be found in the central part of the state around Llano, Candler said. The mineral comes in many colors, and the clear ones can be irradiated, which turns it a blue color and makes the gem more likely to be hoarded by a collector.

“While most of the world’s blue topaz has been enhanced by irradiation, Texas’ is naturally occurring and is sometimes faceted or cut to show a star in the middle of the stone,” he said.

While the terrain in North Texas holds fossilized treasures, because limestone is the predominant rock, collectors can’t expect to find many coveted specimens lying around locally, Candler said. They may have to wander over to East Texas where petrified wood can be found, or to the Big Bend area which has some of the finest agates in the world.

Gem and mineral enthusiasts also score finds during field trips conducted on private ranches. Different parts of the country produce different types of specimens, Candler said, pointing to a display of tree-like, dendritic gold in one of the museum’s regular exhibits and noting that many examples come out of California. He also said some of the finest specimens were hauled out of mines inside a miner’s lunchbox.

Candler said while rock picks are essential, a rock hunter’s most important tool is a dollar squirt bottle with water in it to help get the dirt off so a person can tell whether or not they want to carry a rock back to their car. All rock hounds collect “leaverite,” Candler said, which he described as “a rock you want to leave right there.”

“You don’t want to carry 500 pounds of rocks back to your car,” he said.

A green beryl, or emerald, necklace.

A green beryl, or emerald, necklace.
courtesy Perot Museum

Minerals form inside a hollow spot of a molten rock, Candler explained, and when fluid cools off fast crystals grow. But the slower it cools, the bigger the crystals. Slow cooling air pockets within the earth give minerals a chance to find each other, he said, so you might have a pocket of fluorite, quartz, aquamarine and topaz all together.

“Usually you’ve got a bunch of elements combined to make one mineral,” said Candler, who studied geology prior to business and real estate at SMU. READ MORE


Alumnus Matt Alexander, among this pub’s Top Texans Under 30

Dallas Culture Map

Originally Posted: September 30, 2016

Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Matt Alexander.

Fascinated by design, technology, and the written word, Matt Alexander, 28, is the current darling of the Dallas startup scene. He was born and raised outside of London but came here in 2006 to attend SMU. He had intended to return to the UK after graduation, but Dallas had other plans for him.

While working for Southwest Airlines in 2010, Alexander started his blog OneThirtySeven, which provided an outlet for his passions. In just a few months, the blog’s popularity provided the impetus to segue out of the corporate world and enter the startup realm.

Alexander’s entrepreneurial attitude led to Edition Collective, founded in 2013, a company dedicated to unique and sustainable e-commerce concepts. Edition Collective’s portfolio includes Imprint, a men’s lifestyle publication, and Foremost, a small-batch American-made clothing brand for men and women.

The innovator — and a finalist in our 2014 Stylemaker Awards — recently gave us a glimpse into his world.

CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?

Matt Alexander: Honestly, I think I’m most driven by the knowledge that I wouldn’t be particularly useful doing anything else. I enjoy building things and exploring creative solutions to a lot of different problems. If I was in a corporate job, I doubt I’d be able to properly express that side of my personality.

In terms of actual inspiration, rather than what essentially amounts to a survival technique, I’m inspired by people who are able to — out of nowhere — contribute to conversations much larger than themselves. Technology has democratized access to a tremendous amount of information to help you build something great. And just knowing that anyone — from all manner of circumstances — can have an idea, and through sheer force of will, turn it into something, is amazing.

CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?

MA: Texas is one of the best places in the country — if not the world — to start a company. There are great investors, entrepreneurs, and communities of like-minded people here.

So, if you’re in Texas, and you’re looking to build something, I’d encourage you just to meet people. Try not to have lunch by yourself. Punch above your weight and get meetings with people who inspire you. More succinctly, tap into the community around you. There’s a lot you’ll find.

CM: Sum up Texas in three words.

MA: Not like England.

CM: What’s one thing people may not know about you?

MA: When I was 9 or 10, I had a small part in an independently produced skate movie, Wheels: An Inline Story, in the mid- to late ’90s. It was the first skate movie, apparently, to have a narrative plot. And, most importantly, its soundtrack was made exclusively by Hanson.

It’s worth noting that the existence of this film became public knowledge a while back, and I tried to buy up as many copies as possible. From a quick glance at Amazon, it appears I’ve been unsuccessful.

CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”

MA: It’s a good day when I forget to look at my email inbox. READ MORE


Dedman College alumnus and Jaguars Tackle, Kelvin Beachum is featured in a new NFL video airing for Hispanic Heritage Month


Originally Posted: September 16, 2016

Dedman College alumnus and Jaguars Tackle, Kelvin Beachum is featured in a new NFL video airing for Hispanic Heritage Month. Kelvin is doing some excellent work on and off the field. WATCH

SMU-trained physicist who bolstered Big Bang theory dies at 84

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: August 31, 2016

James Cronin, a Southern Methodist University graduate who shared a Nobel Prize for explaining why the universe survived the Big Bang, died last Thursday in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84.

His death was confirmed by the University of Chicago, where he was a professor emeritus. No cause was given.

In 1964, Cronin and Val Fitch of Princeton University were conducting experiments at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island involving matter and antimatter: particles that have the same mass but hold opposite (though equal) charges, either positive or negative, compelling them to destroy each other on contact.

The researchers found that for all their similarities, the particles obeyed slightly different laws of physics: that there was, as Cronin put it, “a fundamental asymmetry between matter and antimatter.”

This contradicted a bedrock scientific principle known as charge-parity invariance, which had assumed that the same laws of physics would apply if the charges of particles were reversed from positive to negative or vice versa.

The finding, known as the Fitch-Cronin effect, bolstered the Big Bang theory, mainly by explaining why the matter and antimatter produced by the explosion did not annihilate each other, leaving nothing but light instead of a residue that evolved into stars, planets and people.

“We now believe this tiny difference led to us,” Michael S. Turner, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago, said last year after Fitch died at 91.

James Watson Cronin was born in Chicago on Sept. 29, 1931. His father, also named James, met Cronin’s mother, the former Dorothy Watson, in a Greek class at Northwestern University. The elder James Cronin became a professor of Latin and Greek at SMU.

Cronin’s infatuation with physics began in high school. He graduated in 1951 from SMU, where he majored in physics and mathematics. He received a doctoral degree from the University of Chicago, where he studied under Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller and Murray Gell-Mann. His thesis was on experimental nuclear physics.

Cronin’s first wife, the former Annette Martin, died in 2005. He is survived by their children, Emily Grothe and Daniel Cronin; his second wife, the former Carol Champlin McDonald; and six grandchildren.

After collaborating with Cronin at Brookhaven, Fitch, the son of a Nebraska rancher, recruited him to Princeton. Cronin was lured back to the University of Chicago in 1971, attracted in part by one of the world’s most powerful particle accelerators, which was being built at what is now known as the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, operated by the university in partnership with a consortium of other educational institutions. He was offered a post teaching physics, astronomy and astrophysics.

Cronin and Fitch were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1980. But Cronin acknowledged that they had not completely solved a riddle of the universe.

“We know that improvements in detector technology and quality of accelerators will permit even more sensitive experiments in the coming decades,” he said at the time. “We are hopeful, then, that at some epoch, perhaps distant, this cryptic message from nature will be deciphered.”

Working with Fitch and using instruments they had devised, Cronin conducted his groundbreaking experiments when he was in his early 30s, less than a decade after he had received his doctorate. Why did it take the Nobel Committee 16 years to recognize their achievement?

“I don’t think that people recognized that this had something to do with one of the most fundamental aspects of nature, with the origin of the universe,” Cronin said in the 2006 book Candid Science VI: More Conversations With Famous Scientists, by Istvan Hargittai and Magdolna Hargittai. “I think that it took a while to realize this.”

He added: “For me, this was actually a good thing. I was much too young at that time to deal with such a thing as the Nobel Prize.” READ MORE

SMU alumnus Tim Seibles named Virginia’s poet laureate

Journal of Blacks in Higher Education

Originally Posted: August 23, 2016

Tim Seibles, professor of English at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, was named poet laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Professor Seibles teaches in the master of fine arts in creative writing program at Old Dominion.

Professor Seibles joined the faculty at Old Dominion University in 1995. He was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2012 for his collection Fast Animal (Etruscan Press, 2012).

Professor Seibles is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He taught for 10 years in the Dallas public school system before earning a master of fine arts degree in creative writing at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier. READ MORE

James Cronin, Nobel laureate who overturned long-accepted beliefs about the fundamental symmetry of laws of physics , dies at 84

Washington Post

Originally Posted: August 28, 2016

James W. Cronin, who shared the Nobel Prize in physics for discovering a startling breakdown in what was assumed to be the immutable symmetry of physical law, thereby helping to explain the behavior and evolution of the universe as a whole, died Aug. 25 in St. Paul, Minn. He was 84.

Dr. Cronin’s death was announced by the University of Chicago, where he was a professor emeritus of physics as well as of astronomy and astrophysics. No cause was reported.

Through the study of the decay of a single subatomic particle, Dr. Cronin and a colleague, Val Logsdon Fitch of Princeton University, made it possible for inferences to be drawn about the laws of nature on a scale as vast as the entire universe, in all its unfathomable immensity and multibillion-year duration. The two shared the 1980 Nobel Prize.

Scientists had assumed a symmetry between the particles making up matter and what theory described as their oppositely charged counterparts. These counterparts formed what is known as antimatter.

In addition, it had been assumed that the laws of nature were, in the terms of science, “invariant under time reversal.” This meant essentially that physics would be the same whether time flowed forward or backward, a concept as intriguing as it is foreign to experience. READ MORE

Nobel laureate and SMU alumnus James Cronin dies

Physics World

Originally Posted: August 27, 2016

American nuclear-physicist James Cronin, who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize for Physics with Val Fitch, died on 25 August, at the age of 84.

James CroninCronin and Fitch – who died in February last year – were awarded the prize for their 1964 discovery that decaying subatomic particles called K mesons violate a fundamental principle in physics known as “CP symmetry.” The research pointed towards a clear distinction between matter and antimatter, helping to explain the dominance of the former over the latter in our universe today.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, on 29 September 1931, Cronin completed his BS in 1951 at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where his father taught Latin and Greek. Cronin moved to the University of Chicago, where he graduated with a PhD in physics in 1955. While there, Cronin benefited from being taught by stalwarts of the field, including Enrico Fermi, Maria Mayer and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

After his doctorate, Cronin worked as an assistant physicist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) until 1958, when he joined the faculty at Princeton University, where he remained until 1971. He then returned to the University of Chicago to become professor of physics. Cronin met Fitch during his time at BNL and it was Fitch who brought him to Princeton. While there, the duo aimed to verify CP symmetry using BNL’s Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS) by showing that two different particles did not decay into the same products. READ MORE

Dedman College alumnus and photographer Stuart Palley shares his tips on how to create beautiful images once darkness falls.


Originally Posted: August 10, 2016

SMU alumnus and photographer Stuart Palley shares his tips on how to create beautiful images once darkness falls. Palley graduated in 2011 with a double major in History and Finance and minors in Human Rights and Photography. Read more

~In our latest How to Photograph series, TIME asked award-winning photographer Stuart Palley to share his tips and tricks to create beautiful night-time imagery.

Palley has mastered the art and technical skills of photographing at night and is known for his compelling and breathtaking photos of wildfires and his magical images of the the night sky. “Ninety percent of it is preparation and 10% of it is the actual execution,” he says.

Watch this TIME video to see which apps Palley uses to plan his shoots, tips on how to work in darkness, what equipment to invest in and how you can play with different light sources to achieve the best results. READ MORE