SMU students earn fellowships to conduct research during summer of 2016

SMU NEWS

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

Anthropology professor David J. Meltzer profiled in the latest issue of Mammoth Trumpet

Mammoth Trumpet

Originally Posted: August 2016

SMU anthropology professor David J. Meltzer has been profiled in the latest issue of Mammoth Trumpet published by the center for the Study of First Americans at Texas A & M. Congratulations!

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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 atredlandspanhellenic.org. READ MORE

Dr. Susan Harper, Feminist Witch, Invokes Goddesses to Show Women the Power in Themselves

Dallas Observer

Originally Posted: June 28, 2016

Dr. Susan Harper isn’t the first woman to be called a “feminist witch.” She’s just one of the few who don’t mind. Why should she? She has traveled far, spiritually and geographically, to earn the title.

 Professionally, Harper is the graduate reader at Texas Woman’s University, editing and offering guidance to graduate students completing dissertations. Her own, which earned her a doctorate in anthropology from SMU, was about paganism in Texas. READ MORE

Caroline Brettell discusses the history of anthropology’s connections to other disciplines

Items

Originally Posted: June 7, 2016

A Reflection on Anthropology and Inter/Cross/Multidisciplinarity

Drawing on her recent book Anthropological Conversations, Caroline Brettell discusses the history of anthropology’s connections to other disciplines. Through examples of they how anthropologists have collaborated with, influenced and been influenced by historians, geographers and psychologists, she traces intellectual exchanges that have been productive in understanding culture and difference.

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Christopher Roos, Anthropology, Wildfire on warming planet requires adaptive capacity

Heritage Daily

Originally Posted: June 3, 2016

INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS THAT VIEW WILDFIRE AS THE ENEMY HAVE MUCH TO LEARN FROM PEOPLE IN SOME PARTS OF THE WORLD WHO HAVE LEARNED TO LIVE COMPATIBLY WITH WILDFIRE, SAYS A TEAM OF FIRE RESEARCH SCIENTISTS.

The interdisciplinary team say there is much to be learned from these “fire-adaptive communities” and they are calling on policy makers to tap that knowledge, particularly in the wake of global warming.

Such a move is critical as climate change makes some landscapes where fire isn’t the norm even more prone to fire, say the scientists in a new report published in a special issue of thePhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

“We tend to treat modern fire problems as unique, and new to our planet,” said fire anthropologist Christopher Roos, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, lead author of the report. “As a result, we have missed the opportunity to recognize the successful properties of communities that have a high capacity to adapt to living in flammable landscapes — in some cases for centuries or millennia.” READ MORE

Wildfire on warming planet requires adaptive capacity at local, national, int’l scales

SMU RESEARCH

Originally Posted: June 1, 2016

Industrialized nations that view wildfire as the enemy have much to learn from people in some parts of the world who have learned to live compatibly with wildfire, says a team of fire research scientists.

The interdisciplinary team say there is much to be learned from these “fire-adaptive communities” and they are calling on policy makers to tap that knowledge, particularly in the wake of global warming.

Such a move is critical as climate change makes some landscapes where fire isn’t the norm even more prone to fire, say the scientists in a new report published in a special issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

“We tend to treat modern fire problems as unique, and new to our planet,” said fire anthropologist Christopher Roos, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, lead author of the report. “As a result, we have missed the opportunity to recognize the successful properties of communities that have a high capacity to adapt to living in flammable landscapes — in some cases for centuries or millennia.“ READ MORE

Eric G. Bing, Professor of Global Health, Smart Phones Tested For Cancer Screening In Zambia

SMU Magazine

Originally Posted: Spring/Summer 2016

Nicholas Saulnier ’15, ’16, a master’s degree student and graduate research assistant in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering, always hoped he’d be able to solve problems and help people over the course of his career as an electrical engineer. To his surprise, that time came sooner than he expected.

An interdisciplinary research team – (from left) Eric G. Bing, Nicholas Saulnier, Dinesh Rajan and Prasanna Rangarajan – has developed a smart-phone based screening system for early cervical cancer detection that is being test in Zambia.

An interdisciplinary research team – (from left) Eric G. Bing, Nicholas Saulnier, Dinesh Rajan and Prasanna Rangarajan – has developed a smart phone-based screening system for early cervical cancer detection being tested in Zambia.

“I never thought I’d be able to make a difference while I was still a student,” says Saulnier, one of several SMU engineering students to help develop hardware and software to screen for cervical cancer with a smart phone. The technology, for use in remote regions of the globe where physicians are in short supply, is being tested in Zambia.

Department of Electrical Engineering Chair Dinesh Rajan, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Engineering, conceived of the research project in 2014 with Eric G. Bing, professor of global health in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences and the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, during a research meeting of the SMU Center for Global Health Impact, which Bing directs. Other project members include Prasanna Rangarajan, research assistant professor, and master’s student Soham Soneji. READ MORE

SMU recognizes outstanding achievement at 2015-16 Hilltop Excellence Awards, Honors Convocation

Congratulations to the Dedman College faculty and students who were recognized at the 2016 Awards Extravaganza on Monday, April 18.

Recipients of the Outstanding Professor Awards presented by the Rotunda yearbook include:

B. Sunday Eiselt, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies, Department of Anthropology
Laurence Winnie, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies, William P. Clements Department of History

Receiving the Extra Mile Awards, presented by Students for New Learning for graciousness and sensitivity to students with learning differences:

Sheri Kunovich, associate professor, Department of Sociology
• Laurie Nuchereno, adjunct lecturer, Department of Economics

For the full list of faculty, staff and student award recipients click here.