‘Workers’ or slaves? Textbook maker backtracks after SMU alumna’s online complaint

Washington Post

Originally Posted: October 5, 2015

Mothers of teenagers are used to getting frustrating text messages, but the one that Roni Dean-Burren received from her 15-year-old son last week wasn’t about alcohol, dating or money for the movies.

It was about history.

Her son, Coby, had sent her a photo of a colorful page in his ninth-grade McGraw-Hill World Geography textbook. In a section titled “Patterns of Immigration,” a speech bubble pointing to a U.S. map read: “The Atlantic Slave Trade between the 1500s and 1800s brought millions of workers from Africa to the southern United States to work on agricultural plantations.”

“We was real hard workers wasn’t we,” Coby retorted in a subsequent text.

The image alarmed Dean-Burren, who was an English teacher for 11 years at the Pearland, Tex., public high school that her son attends. Now a doctoral candidate in the University of Houston’s Language Arts program, she has spent much of her life thinking about the power and dangers of nuanced language. The motive behind the textbook’s choice of words seemed clear.

“This is erasure,” Dean-Burren said in an interview with The Washington Post. “This is revisionist history — retelling the story however the winners would like it told.” READ MORE

Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, New fossils intensify mystery of short-lived, toothy mammal found in ancient North Pacific


Originally Posted: October 6, 2015

The identification of a new species belonging to the marine mammal group Desmostylia has intensified the rare animal’s brief mysterious journey through prehistoric time, finds a new study.

A big, hippo-sized animal with a long snout and tusks — the new species, 23 million years old, has a unique tooth and jaw structure that indicates it was not only a vegetarian, but literally sucked vegetation from shorelines like a vacuum cleaner, said vertebrate paleontologist and study co-author Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. READ MORE

Robert Kehoe, Physics, New precise particle measurement improves subatomic tool for probing mysteries of universe


Originally Posted: September 29, 2015

Physicists at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, have achieved a new precise measurement of a key subatomic particle, opening the door to better understanding some of the deepest mysteries of our universe.

The researchers calculated the new measurement for a critical characteristic—mass—of the top quark.
Quarks make up the protons and neutrons that comprise almost all visible matter. Physicists have known the top quark’s mass was large, but encountered great difficulty trying to clearly determine it.
The newly calculated measurement of the top quark will help guide physicists in formulating new theories, said Robert Kehoe, a professor in SMU’s Department of Physics. Kehoe leads the SMU group that performed the measurement.
Top quark’s mass matters ultimately because the particle is a highly sensitive probe and key tool to evaluate competing theories about the nature of matter and the fate of the universe. READ MORE
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-09-precise-particle-subatomic-tool-probing.html#jCp

Professor David Rosenfield, Psychology, Climbs Tenure Ladder Twice in 3 Decades

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Originally Posted: September 28, 2015


The first time David Rosenfield went up for tenure, in the late 1970s, an academic career lay before him. The second time, 30 years later, he was trying to reclaim it.

Mr. Rosenfield’s first bid succeeded. In 1980 he became an associate professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University. But when a leave of absence grew unexpectedly longer, he had to resign his position. In 2008 he put himself in the tenure process again.

In between, Mr. Rosenfield stepped in to run the family business, in steel distribution, and little by little became an entrepreneur, drifting away from the academic life he knew.

When academics switch jobs, they usually move from one college to another, seeking a more desirable locale, a more esteemed reputation, or a bigger paycheck. Given the grueling process of earning tenure, most professors who’ve got it negotiate a way to keep it, and others at least get credit for having started on that track. READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Eyes glued to Susan Hawk in planned return to Dallas County DA’s office

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 24, 2015

It began as a courthouse whisper, morphed into happy hour gossip and now has bubbled up to the highest levels of Texas’ political circles.

The question on everyone’s mind: Can Susan Hawk survive her first term as Dallas County’s district attorney?

“Everybody’s talking: What’s the over-under on when she leaves office?” said defense attorney Al Gilbertson. “It’s not even a negative on Susan Hawk as much as an assessment of how bad this situation has become, with apparently no end in sight.” READ MORE

LISTEN: SMU religion experts Matthew Wilson and Charles Curran on KERA


Originally Posted: September 21, 2015

Pope Francis Comes To America

This week, Pope Francis visits the U.S. for the first time, making stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. This hour, we’ll talk about what his visit means for American Catholics – and about how their beliefs align with church teachings, with SMU religion experts Matthew Wilson and Charles Curran. LISTEN

Biologists develop a computer model of key protein that helps predict how cancer drugs will work

SMU News

Drugs important in the battle against cancer behaved according to predictions when tested in a computer-generated model of P-glycoprotein, one of the cell’s key molecular pumps.

The new model allows researchers to dock nearly any drug in the P-gp protein and see how it will actually behave in P-gp’s pump, said Associate Professor John G. Wise, lead author on the journal article announcing the advancement and a faculty member in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

SMU biologists developed the computer generated model to overcome the problem of relying on only static images for the structure of P-gp. The protein is the cellular pump that protects cells by pumping out toxins.

But that’s a problem when P-gp targets chemotherapy drugs as toxic, preventing chemo from killing cancer cells. Scientists are searching for ways to inhibit P-gp’s pumping action. READ MORE

Professor Harold Jeskey honored as one of the giants in SMU history

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 19, 2015

Found objects engage the art world — and SMU history

Found objects play an increasingly important role in the world of art. As the definition of sculpture has broadened, so too has the cool factor of found objects. They’re even making a difference in the 100th anniversary of Southern Methodist University.

Dallas multimedia artist Gretchen Goetz is creating 10 giant puppets that will make their presence felt at various events honoring the giants of SMU history. When it comes to found objects, Goetz has taken a Cake Pops container and used it to symbolize the base of the Oscar won by SMU alumna Kathy Bates. She used plastic tablecloths to represent the pom-poms of cheerleading pioneer and SMU grad Lawrence Herkimer.

The puppets will make special appearances during SMU’s homecoming festivities beginning Wednesday. The puppets will walk, wave and in one case perform a well-known “cheerleader leap.”

The 10 are: Bates, who won an Oscar and Golden Globe as best actress for Misery in 1990; civil rights activist Adelfa Callejo, the first Hispanic woman to graduate from the Dedman School of Law; Herkimer, who created the National Cheerleaders Association; the Rev. Zan Holmes Jr., a recognized civil rights leader; Lamar Hunt, the founder of the American Football League; Robert S. Hyer, the first president of SMU; professor Harold Jeskey, who taught organic chemistry at SMU from 1945 to 1979; Ruth Morgan, who served from 1986 to 1993 as SMU’s first female provost and who was a two-time winner of SMU’s outstanding professor award; golfer Payne Stewart, who earned 11 PGA tour victories, including three majors, before his death at 42; and, of course, football legend Doak Walker, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1948.

For more information, visit smu.edu/giants, which will go live this weekend. READ MORE

‘Southwest Review’ literary journal is turning 100


Originally Posted: September 17, 2015

Dallas (SMU) – When the week of Sept. 25 rolls around, SMU won’t be the only Hilltop institution celebrating its centennial.

The Southwest Review, SMU’s nationally renowned literary journal, is turning 100, too, and launching a fundraiser to support its future.

“One-hundred years, for any magazine, is remarkable,” says Willard Spiegelman, editor-in-chief of the Southwest Review and SMU Hughes professor of English. “Over the years, there have been international authors, including some Nobel Prize winners. Larry McMurtry, before he became famous for Lonesome Dove, published his first work in SWR when he was just out of college. Lady Bird Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover have appeared in its pages.

“It would be sad, I think, if we didn’t have room for old-fashioned print culture in the 21st century,” says Spiegelman, who passionately rejects human expression as driven by 140-character messages and emoticons. READ MORE