Dr. Phillip Williams reflects on college memories and Dr. Harold Jeskey

SMU Daily Campus

Originally Posted: September 28, 2015

Walking into McFarlin Auditorium Thursday morning brought back several fond memories for Dr. Phillip Williams, neurosurgeon and member of the SMU Class of 1959. Nearly half a century ago, he walked up those same steps on his graduation day, and now he returned for SMU’s Centennial Commemoration.

“Every aspect of the event was memorable,” said Williams.

Williams was just one of hundreds of alumni who traveled back to SMU this weekend to celebrate SMU’s 100th birthday. For months, the Office of Development and Student Affairs as well as Student Foundation have planned a busy schedule for the weekend. The alumni schedule included events such as tours and reunions, allowing alumni to reconnect with their fellow alumni as well as see how SMU has grown over the years.

Amidst all the years, Williams attested that the expansions on the campus are the biggest change.

“Every time I see Bush library, I feel semi-responsible,” said Williams.

Back when Bush was running for governor, Williams spoke to former chairman of SMU Board of Trustees Ray Hunt about Bush’s potential career.

“I told Ray Hunt that Bush may be elected governor and then be nominated and then become president,” said William. “I told Hunt now wouldn’t that be great for SMU to get his presidential library here.” Nearly a decade after, William’s vision came true.

Not only did visiting campus bring back memories, but the different events that SMU hosted for alumni’s also spoke to William’s SMU experience. William attended the author signing of “The Man in the Red Tie,” a biography of the late SMU professor Dr. Harold Jeskey. Dr. Jeskey taught Williams Organic Chemistry during his time at SMU. The book spawned several memories of his time at SMU.

“Dr. Jeskey was by far the best teacher,” said Williams. “He made the class come alive.” While Williams spoke to the quality of Jeskey’s teaching, he did not doubt the difficulty of the course. “He only wore a red and black tie. The only days he would wear the black tie was to a funeral or to quiz days,” said Williams.

If students survived Dr. Jeskey’s class and continued into medical school, Dr. Jeskey remained a continual support in the students’ lives. When his former students graduated medical school, he would then attend the ceremony and present a red tie as congratulation, according to Williams.

In addition to speaking highly of noteworthy teachers, Williams fondly recalled his involvement on campus. Nominated by his fraternity as their first-year class president, Williams campaigned by selling pig dissection manuals to sorority row, allowing girls to study for the exam without actually performing the dissection. Williams then won the campaign with the slogan “Vote for Phil Williams, the Fetal Pig Salesman.”

While SMU formed several memories for Williams, the school also prepared him for several life experiences after graduation as well. Williams interned at Parkland during the JFK assassination in 1963. While Williams did not actually enter Kennedy’s room, he was present in the trauma unit throughout the night, and he even consoled Jackie Kennedy outside of the emergency room. Williams then tended to Lee Oswald a few days later when he was shot and taken to Parkland.

Despite being a man of many experiences, Williams focused on the Homecoming events for this weekend and reconnecting his alma mater with his wife. READ MORE

Three drug-like compounds may offer better odds of survival to patients with prostate cancer, find SMU researchers

News Medical

Originally Posted: September 9, 2015

Researchers at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, have discovered three new drug-like compounds that could ultimately offer better odds of survival to prostate cancer patients.

The drug-like compounds can be modified and developed into medicines that target a protein in the human body that is responsible for chemotherapy resistance in cancers, said biochemist Pia D. Vogel, lead author on the scientific paper reporting the discovery.

So far there’s no approved drug on the market that reverses cancer chemotherapy resistance caused by P-glycoprotein, or P-gp for short, said Vogel, a biochemistry professor at SMU. One potential drug, Tariquidar, is currently in clinical trials, but in the past, other potential drugs have failed at that stage.

“The problem when a person has cancer is that the treatment itself is composed of cellular toxins — the chemotherapeutics that prevent the cells from dividing. Usually upon the first chemo treatment the cancer responds well, and initially goes away. Ideally it doesn’t come back,” said Vogel, who is director of SMU’s Center for Drug Discovery, Design, and Delivery. READ MORE

Brian Stump, Earth Sciences, key speaker at the 18th Honors Convocation

Outstanding achievement honored at SMU’s 2014-15 Awards Extravaganza, Honors Convocation.

Dedman College faculty, staff and students were recognized with teaching awards, service honors and the University’s highest commendation, the “M” Award, at the 2015 Awards Extravaganza Monday, April 13.

> Read the list of award winners from Honors Convocation 2015

On the same day, the University honored its best students at the 18th Honors Convocation. The address was delivered by Brian Stump, Claude C. Albritton Jr. Chair in Geological Sciences in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences.

An expert in seismic wave propagation and earthquake source theory, Stump has become well known in North Texas for his continuing research on the increasing occurrences of small earthquakes that have shaken the area since 2008. In November 2014, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for distinguished contributions to his field, particularly in the area of seismic monitoring in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. READ MORE

Congratulations to Dedman College faculty, staff and students who were recognized at the 2015 Awards Extravaganza on Monday, April 13.

Receiving the “M” Award, SMU’s most prestigious honor. Recipients include:

• Jill DeTemple, associate professor of religious studies
• Elizabeth Wheaton, senior lecturer in economics

The Willis M. Tate Award honors an outstanding faculty member who has been involved in student life. Recipients include:

• Jodi Cooley, associate professor of physics
• Stephen Sekula, assistant professor of physics
• Willard Spiegelman, Dwaine E. Hughes Jr. Distinguished Chair in English
• Brian Zoltowski, assistant professor of chemistry

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

• Ian Harris, associate professor of statistical science

Read the full list of award winners.

Dedman College students and professors offer tips on how to pursue two degrees at once and still have a life

SMU Meadows School of the Arts

Thinking of Double-Majoring?
How to pursue two degrees at once and still have a life
Originally Published: February 12, 2015

Whether to position themselves better for choice careers or to blend multiple interests, increasing numbers of SMU students are double-majoring. Their combinations of degrees are as varied as the students themselves: dance and economics; film and accounting; journalism and human rights; and more.

Thanks to recent changes to SMU’s University Curriculum (“UC”) – core courses that all SMU undergraduates must complete – certain courses can now count toward more than one degree’s requirements, making the path to double degrees wider.

But though the path is wider, it isn’t necessarily easier. To help students figure out how to double-major and still have a life, ten current double-major students from Meadows School of the Arts give their top five tips on getting ready, keeping it together and managing the delicate balance between studies, sleep and social life. READ MORE

Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry, good and the bad about blue light


The Bright Side And Dark Side Of Blue Light


Light is necessary for life on earth, but scientists believe that too much of a certain wavelength can cause everything from crop diseases to changes in the migratory patterns of animals. SMU professor Brian Zoltowski is working to unravel the mystery of blue light in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. LISTEN HERE

Brian D. Zoltowski, Chemistry, Study funded by NIH is decoding blue light’s mysterious ability to alter body’s natural clock

Blue light from artificial lighting and electronic devices knocks circadian rhythms off-kilter, resulting in health problems, sleep, cancer development, mood disorders, drug addiction, crop disease and even confused migratory animals

Arabidopsis thaliana is a small flowering plant that is widely used as a model organism in plant biology.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health is unraveling the mystery of how blue light from residential and commercial lighting, electronic devices and outdoor lights can throw off-kilter the natural body clock of humans, plants and animals, leading to disease.


Exposure to blue light is on the increase, says chemist Brian D. Zoltowski, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, who leads the study, “Protein : Protein interaction networks in the circadian clock.”

At the right time of day, blue light is a good thing. It talks to our 24-hour circadian clock, telling our bodies, for example, when to wake up, eat and carry out specific metabolic functions.

In plants, blue light signals them to leaf out, grow, blossom and bloom. In animals, it aids migratory patterns, sleep and wake cycles, regulation of metabolism, as well as mood and the immune system.

But too much blue light — especially at the wrong time — throws biological signaling out of whack.

“As a society, we are using more technology, and there’s increasing evidence that artificial light has had a negative consequence on our health,” said Zoltowski, an assistant professor in SMU’s Department of Chemistry. READ MORE

Graduate Student, Shannon Woodruff Selected as Semifinalist in Chemistry Champions Contest

Shannon Woodruff, graduate student at SMU has been named by The American Chemical Society (ACS) as a semifinalists in its Chemistry Champions contest. The contest aims to find and train promising science communicators—perhaps even find the Carl Sagan of chemistry. Undergraduate, graduate, and early career chemists and chemical engineers entered the contest by submitting 2-3 minute videos describing their work and why they wanted to be the Chemistry Champion. The semifinalists were selected by a panel of 11 judges from 27 video applicants. READ MORE HERE


CATCO’s Austin Symposium

Event: 25th Austin Symposium on Molecular Structure and Dynamics at Dallas, March 1-4, 2014

ASMD@D 2014 will begin on Saturday, March 1. There will be more than 100 plenary and invited lectures and two poster sessions in the time from Saturday to Tuesday evening. The Symposium Banquet with lecture and presentation of the ASMD@D prices will take place at SMU.

ASMD@D 2014 will be organized in the spirit of previous symposia and it will be a special celebration of the 25th anniversary:

  • Listen and discuss
  • Meet international experts
  • No parallel sessions
  • A place where important interdisciplinary work can start
  • A place where new positions can be found

Learn more about 2014 featured speakers. Among the speakers is Nobel laureate Sir Harold W. Kroto, who shares the 1996 chemistry prize. Read his bio here


Chemistry Department Announces Spring Seminar Series

earthinflaskFebruary 7 at 3:00 p.m. in FOSC 152: Dr. Bruce Lipshutz

March 21 at 3:00 p.m. in FOSC 152:  Dr. Erik Berda

March 28 at 3:00 p.m. in FOSC 152: Dr. Junmei Wang

April 11 at 3:00 p.m. in FOSC 152: Dr. Jin Wang

April 25 at 3:00 p.m. in FOSC 152: Dr. Roberto Bogomolni

For More Information