For the Record

Research: SMU scientists help solve the mystery of climate and leaf size

Conifer needlesWhy is a banana leaf a million times bigger than a common heather leaf? Why are leaves generally much larger in tropical jungles than in temperate forests and deserts? The textbooks say it’s a balance between water availability and overheating – but researchers have found that it’s not that simple.

SMU paleobotanist Bonnie F. Jacobs has contributed work to a major new study that provides scientists with a new tool for understanding both ancient and future climate by looking at the size of plant leaves.

The study, published in the Sept. 1, 2017 issue of Science, was led by Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, Australia. The study’s findings reveal that in much of the world the key factor limiting the size of a plant’s leaves is the temperature at night and the risk of frost damage to leaves.

Jacobs said the implications of the study are significant for enabling scientists to either predict modern leaf size in the distant future, or to understand the climate for a locality as it may have been in the past.

“This research provides scientists with another tool for predicting future changes in vegetation, given climate change, and for describing ancient climate given fossil leaves,” said Jacobs, a professor in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

“Now we can reliably use this as another way to look at future climate models for a specific location and predict the size of plant leaves,” she said. “Or, if we’re trying to understand what the climate was for a prehistoric site tens of millions of years ago, we can look at the plant fossils discovered in that location and describe what the climate most likely was at that time.”

Wright, Jacobs and 15 colleagues from Australia, the U.K., Canada, Argentina, the United States, Estonia, Spain and China analyzed leaves from more than 7,600 species, then pooled and analyzed the data with new theory to create a series of equations that can predict the maximum viable leaf size anywhere in the world based on the risk of daytime overheating and night-time freezing.

The researchers will use these findings to create more accurate vegetation models. This will be used by governments to predict how vegetation will change locally and globally under climate change, and to plan for adaptation.

“The conventional explanation was that water availability and overheating were the two major limits to leaf size. But the data didn’t fit,” says Wright. “For example the tropics are both wet and hot, and leaves in cooler parts of the world are unlikely to overheat.”

“Our team worked both ends of the problem – observation and theory,” he says. “We used big data – measurements made on tens of thousands of leaves. By sampling across all continents, climate zones and plant types we were able to show that simple ‘rules’ seemingly operate across the world’s plant species, rules that were not apparent from previous, more limited analyses.”

Jacobs contributed an extensive leaf database she compiled about 20 years ago, funded by a National Science Foundation grant. She analyzed the leaf characteristics of 880 species of modern tropical African plants, which occurred in various combinations among 30 plant communities. Jacobs measured leaves of the plant specimens at the Missouri Botanical Garden Herbarium, one of the largest archives of pressed dried plant specimens from around the world.

She looked at all aspects of leaf shape and climate, ranging from seasonal and annual rainfall and temperature for each locale, as well as leaf shape, size, tip, base, among others. Using statistical analyses to plot the variables, she found the most prominent relationship between leaf shape and climate was that size increases with rainfall amount. Wet sites had species with larger leaves than dry sites.

Her Africa database was added to those of many other scientists who have compiled similar data for other localities around the world.

— Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

First Impressions, lasting impact: Literary partnership completes an unfinished journey

David J. Weber

David J. Weber

When SMU historian David J. Weber died in 2010, he left behind an unfinished manuscript that would have represented a creative departure from his many academic works. One of the most distinguished and productive scholars of the American Southwest, Weber envisioned his next book, First Impressions: A Reader’s Journey to Iconic Places of the Southwest, as a new perspective on some of the Southwest’s most distinctive sites.

More than a typical travelogue, the book would bring the reader into the minds of explorers, missionaries, and travelers as they encountered and then wrote about memorable places both manmade and naturally formed, becoming the first non-natives to do so. From impressions of 15 sites in Arizona, New Mexico, southern Utah and southern Colorado, readers would gain present-day as well as historical perspectives.  The destinations would range from the gracefully sculpted rock formations of Canyon de Chelly, to the mesa fortress of Acoma Pueblo, to the conflict-ridden village of Santa Fe, described by an 18th century Franciscan as, “A rough stone set in fine metal,” referring to, “The very beautiful plain on which it sits.”

But first the journey of the unfinished manuscript would have to continue. David’s widow, Carol Weber, who had served consistently as the final reviewer of all of David’s manuscripts, knew that this project deserved a place in her husband’s legacy of eloquent and inspired scholarship. As she considered who might complete the manuscript, Carol turned to their friend, author William deBuys. Like David, Bill had received a shower of honors for his creative and scholarly works. In addition, Bill had earned the distinction of being a fellow of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies, founded in 1996 by David at SMU, where he taught for 34 years.

William deBuys

William deBuys

Over a number of these years, David and Bill grew in admiration of each other’s work. David had revolutionized contemporary understanding of borderlands history. Bill had earned a national reputation for his analyses of environmental issues threatening the Southwest. They also grew as friends sharing a deep affection for the region, its people and places. “For both of us, the Southwest has been a source of lifelong fascination, and through the vehicle of this book we hope to share it,” Bill writes in the preface of First Impressions, published by Yale University Press in August.

The production of First Impressions required some highly focused sleuthing and sifting through a bounty of materials in the three offices of David Weber – in SMU’s History Department and at the family’s homes in Dallas and in New Mexico’s Zuni Mountains, near the monumental El Morro, or Inscription Rock, so called because it bears the signatures of early explorers etched into its sandstone façade. Each of David’s offices was filled to capacity with books, research notes, correspondence, manuscripts, drafts, and computers holding the contents of David’s prolific research and writing. Carol found a hard copy of David’s table of contents and a number of chapters in different states of completion. She and Bill worked with Center for Southwest Studies staff, especially Ruth Ann Elmore, to download and decipher David’s computer files.

The Center had awarded Bill a second fellowship to work on the project.

“I chose Bill because I knew he was a sensitive and wonderful writer, and David felt the same way about him,” Carol said. “I couldn’t imagine any other historian finishing David’s work in a way that would have pleased David because it would be so beautifully written.”

'First Impressions' book coverIn the preface to First Impressions, Bill recalls cherished conversations with David about “the general business of making good sentences, paragraphs, and pages. David was a naturally gifted writer.”

Aside from representing his admiration for David, Bill said he took on the project because he “thought the concept of the book was brilliant and offered a truly exciting and informative way to explore the great places of the region. David, ever the professor, had a wonderful pedagogical purpose: He wanted to present primary sources — original historical documents and images — to people who otherwise might be unlikely to encounter them. In this I completely concurred. It is a form of stealth teaching — and wonderful fun at the same time.”

The result of their literary partnership is a book that seamlessly combines the poetry and precision of both writers. Bill’s numerous books include River of Traps: A New Mexico Mountain Life, a finalist for the nonfiction Pulitzer Prize in 1991; Enchantment and Exploitation: The Life and Hard Times of a New Mexico Mountain Range; A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest; and The Last Unicorn: A Search for One of the Earth’s Rarest Creatures. In September 2017 he is receiving the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, for outstanding writing and literature.

David’s works include 27 books, many of them recognized as path-breaking in the field by such organizations as the American Historical Association. The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846: The American Southwest Under Mexico itself won six awards. Two governments gave David the highest honor they can bestow on foreigners. King Juan Carlos of Spain named him to the Real Orden de Isabel la Católica, the Spanish equivalent of a knighthood. Mexico named him to the Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca (the Order of the Aztec Eagle). He was one of a few U.S. historians elected to the Mexican Academy of History. Closer to home, in 2007 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Upon release of First Impressions, Carol told Bill: “It was my love for David that prompted me to ask you if you would finish the book, and it was such an act of love for David, I think, that you willingly took so much time out of your life to finish it for David and our family.  Somehow David’s life now seems complete.”

Complete – but not finished. Now, First Impressions, with William deBuys, adds to the lasting legacy of David J. Weber and the rich literary resources of their beloved Southwest.

— Written by Patricia LaSalle-Hopkins

Student career-management leader Crystal Clayton named executive director of SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center

Crystal ClaytonCrystal Clayton, a career-management professional with more than 20 years of experience working with graduate and undergraduate students, has been named executive director of SMU’s Hegi Family Career Development Center. She will begin her new duties on Aug. 28, 2017.

Clayton was selected after a competitive national search coordinated by a campus committee chaired by Stephen Rankin, associate dean of students and chaplain.

“Crystal has built a stellar reputation as a student mentor and a leader in professional development,” said K.C. Mmeje, SMU vice president for student affairs. “In addition, her deep connections in the Texas and Oklahoma business communities are a built-in regional advantage for current and future SMU students, especially as they plan internships and post-college careers. We welcome her to the Hilltop and look forward to sharing her expertise with both undergraduate and graduate students at SMU.”

SMU trustee Fred Hegi ’66, who in 2001 joined with his wife, Jan ’66, along with their family in providing the lead gift for a $3 million endowment and expansion of SMU’s career center, said Clayton is well prepared to help students. “She is the person we were looking for,” he said. “Her experience, combined with her passion for helping students and graduates find their career paths, make her a tremendous asset for SMU. With her leadership, we will continue our path to be one of the nation’s top five career centers.”

As director of the JCPenney Leadership Center and an adjunct management instructor in the University of Oklahoma’s Price College of Business, Clayton works with students, staff and faculty to create and implement several successful career and professional development initiatives and events. She leads the Center’s work in alumni and corporate relations, recruitment and admissions, career counseling, professional development programs, program assessment, and partnership development, among many other areas.

In addition, Clayton leads the Center’s Alumni and Student Advisory Boards and Faculty Committee and serves on the OU Writing Center Advisory Board. She created, developed, and launched a Board Fellows Program for leadership associates, which allows students to serve as nonprofit board members. She founded, organized, and led the Center’s Peer Training Team, initiated an alumni career conference in Price College of Business, and helped reboot OU’s Women in Business Leadership Conference. She also designed and taught leadership courses and programs for Price College, including a minor in leadership.

Previously, Clayton served as director of student services and associate director for career management with the Full-Time MBA Program in Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. In progressively more responsible roles, she counseled students on networking, résumé and cover-letter writing, successful interviewing, career selection, and job-search strategies, among other career-related topics. She advised student leadership for more than 30 Jones School organizations, as well as initiated and developed an MBA team mentoring program. In addition, she was sponsor of the Rice Chapter of the National Association of Women MBAs, served on the Jones School Corporate Advisory Board, and participated on the Jones School E-Learning Committee.

Clayton’s professional recognitions include a 2015 Students’ Choice Staff Appreciation Award and a 2013-14 Dean’s Excellence Award for Professional Staff from OU. Currently, she serves on the executive committee of the University of Missouri-Columbia’s Griffiths Leadership Society for Women. From 2009 to 2012, she served as a board member of the American College Personnel Association’s Commission for Career Development.

A native of St. Louis, Clayton received her B.A. degree in English from Truman State University. She earned an M.A. in educational leadership and policy analysis from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and an Ed.D. degree in educational leadership and higher education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

> Visit the Hegi Family Career Development Center online: smu.edu/career

SMU, LIFT team in semifinals for $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE

 

An SMU and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) team has been named one of eight semifinalists advancing in the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The XPRIZE is a global competition that challenges teams to develop mobile applications designed to increase literacy skills in adult learners.

> Learn more about the semifinalists at the Adult Literacy XPRIZE website

SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and Guildhall graduate video game development program are working with LIFT to design an engaging, puzzle-solving smartphone game app to help adults develop literacy skills. The SMU and LIFT team, People ForWords, is one of 109 teams who entered the competition in 2016.

Drawing upon the education experts at SMU’s Simmons School, game developers at Guildhall and adult literacy experts at LIFT, the team developed Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis. In the game, players become archaeologists hunting for relics from the imagined once-great civilization of Atlantis. By deciphering the forgotten language of Atlantis, players develop and strengthen their own reading skills. The game targets English- and Spanish-speaking adults.

> Learn more about the Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis team at PeopleForWords.org

Students at LIFT, a North Texas nonprofit adult literacy provider, have tested and provided key insights for the game during its development. According to LIFT, one in five adults in North Texas cannot read, a key factor in poverty. Dallas has the fourth highest concentration of poverty in the nation, with a 41 percent increase from 2000 to 2014.

Testing of the eight semifinalists’ literacy software begins in mid-July with 12,000 adults who read English at a third grade level or lower. Selection of up to five finalists will depend on results of post-game testing to evaluate literacy gains among test subjects. Finalists will be named in May 2018, and the winner will be named in 2019.

> See the full story at SMU News

> Download the Codex: The Lost Words Of Atlantis app for Android at Google Play

Check out the Codex gameplay with this gallery of screen captures:

Eighteen SMU professors receive tenure, promotion for 2017-18

Eighteen outstanding SMU faculty members will begin the 2017-18 academic year with new tenure as associate professors or promotion to full professorships.

The following individuals have received tenure or promotion effective Friday, Sept. 1, 2017:

Cox School of Business

Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:

  • Stanimir Markov, Accounting

Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

Recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:

  • Karisa Cloward, Political Science
  • Erin Hochman, History
  • Chrystyna Kouros, Psychology
  • Benno Rumpf, Mathematics
  • Jayson Sae-Saue, English
  • Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry

Recommended for tenure (associate professorship previously awarded):

  • Barry Lee, Mathematics

Dedman School of Law

Recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:

  • Chris Jenks, Law (autonomous weapons, military law, national security law, evidence, criminal law, international law, human rights)

Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:

  • Thomas Wm. Mayo, Law (bioethics, election law, health law, nonprofit/tax-exempt organizations)
  • Meghan J. Ryan, Law (law and science, torts, criminal law, criminal procedure, death penalty, actual innocence)
  • Joshua C. Tate, Law (legal history, trusts and estates, property)

Meadows School of the Arts

Recommended for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor:

  • Archie Cummings, Theatre
  • Amy Freund, Art History
  • Jon Hackler, Theatre
  • Peter Kupfer, Music (Musicology)
  • Brian Molanphy, Art

Recommended for promotion to Full Professor:

  • Carol Leone, Music (Piano)

Larenda Mielke named SMU Associate Provost for Continuing Education

Larenda Mielke, an international leader in professional, online, and executive education, has been named SMU’s first associate provost for continuing education. She will begin her new duties Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.

University President R. Gerald Turner and Provost Steven C. Currall created the position to support one of the major objectives in SMU’s strategic plan, to engage the community for lifelong learning through professional training and continuing education, and in response to a report provided by the Task Force on Continuing Education.

SMU has offered continuing education to the community in different ways since the early 1920s. Currently, SMU’s Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) and Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS) programs report directly to the Provost’s Office. CAPE includes noncredit courses, and SMU’s seven academic schools offer for-credit and degree programs as well. Existing continuing education programs in SMU’s academic units report through their respective dean to the provost.

SMU Forum: Provost appoints search committee for Associate Provost for Continuing Education

“The vision for SMU’s continuing education is to further strengthen our commitment to academic excellence by broadening accessibility to the outstanding instruction offered by SMU’s faculty members,” said Steven C. Currall, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Ms. Mielke’s background in domestic and international programs, as well as her breadth of experience in intercultural communication, research writing, English language programs in a medical school, and leadership, equips her to succeed in expanding SMU’s continuing education efforts. We expect that continuing education will generate financial surplus that will be reinvested in the University’s academic mission. Larenda is the ideal leader to propel the growth of SMU’s continuing education.”

Mielke stated, “It is with great excitement that I prepare to join SMU’s continuing and professional education team. Together we will build upon the ongoing vision of student-centered, external-facing educational offerings to enrich lives, foster innovation, and enhance productivity. Using the latest technological advances in teaching and learning, and harnessing the synergies of a University-wide effort, together we will join with the other exemplary initiatives of SMU to provide an unbridled residential student experience to include those attending SMU online and at a distance, doing our part to galvanize the University upward and outward while contributing to cutting-edge excellence and leadership among our peers.”

As senior director of Executive Education at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Mielke is a member of the leadership team of an internationally recognized program ranked No. 2 in the United States by the Financial Times. She has developed and led continuing education programs in top academic, corporate, government, and medical organizations and has experience in expanding initiatives, course offerings and revenues.

From 2004-14, Mielke held steadily advancing roles at Washington University in St. Louis, serving ultimately as associate dean and managing director of an Executive M.B.A. program run jointly by the Olin Business School and Fudan University’s School of Management in Shanghai, China. In that role, she managed a multimillion-dollar international program and brought Olin’s Executive M.B.A. program ranking to No. 5 in the world, as assessed by the Financial Times.

Mielke received a Bachelor of Science degree cum laude in biology from Indiana State University. She holds an M.A. degree magna cum laude in cross-cultural education from Wheaton College Graduate School and an Executive M.B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School.

Reporting to the SMU provost, Mielke will provide University-wide leadership to prioritize, coordinate, support and grow continuing education. She will oversee CAPE and the MSDS programs, as well as help create an institution-wide strategy to build on notable efforts that some of SMU’s academic units have already developed in continuing education.

In addition, Mielke will work with the new Continuing Education Program Council (CEPC), comprised of the deans of academic units and chaired by the provost. CEPC will provide guidance to the associate provost regarding the overall strategy for SMU’s continuing education and coordinate new proposals as well as revisions to existing programs.

Associate Provost for Student Academic Services Julie P. Forrester chaired the search committee. “We considered a number of outstanding candidates. Larenda, with her combination of experience and enthusiasm for our goals, was clearly the most impressive,” Forrester said. “We’re looking forward to working with her.”

The higher education search firm of Greenwood/Asher & Associates, Inc. assisted the University in the national search.

SMU chemist Alex Lippert receives 2017 NSF CAREER Award

Alex LippertSMU chemist Alex Lippert has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, expected to total $611,000 over five years, to fund his research into alternative internal imaging techniques.

NSF CAREER Awards are given to tenure-track faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research in American colleges and universities.

Lippert, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Science, is an organic chemist and adviser to four doctoral students and five undergraduates who assist in his research. Lippert’s team develops synthetic organic compounds that glow in reaction to certain conditions. For example, when injected into a mouse’s tumor, the compounds luminesce in response to the cancer’s pH and oxygen levels. Place that mouse in a sealed dark box with a sensitive CCD camera that can detect low levels of light, and images can be captured of the light emanating from the mouse’s tumor.

“We are developing chemiluminescent imaging agents, which basically amounts to a specialized type of glow-stick chemistry,” Lippert says. “We can use this method to image the insides of animals, kind of like an MRI, but much cheaper and easier to do.”

Lippert says the nearest-term application of the technique might be in high-volume pre-clinical animal imaging, but eventually the technique could be applied to provide low-cost internal imaging in the developing world, or less costly imaging in the developed world.

But first, there are still a few ways the technique can be improved, and that’s where Lippert says the grant will come in handy.

“In preliminary studies, we needed to directly inject the compound into the tumor to see the chemistry in the tumor,” Lippert says. “One thing that’s funded by this grant is intravenous injection capability, where you inject a test subject and let the agent distribute through the body, then activate it in the tumor to see it light up.”

Another challenge the team will use the grant to explore is making a compound that varies by color instead of glow intensity when reacting to cancer cells. This will make it easier to read images, which can sometimes be buried under several layers of tissue, making the intensity of the glow difficult to interpret.

“We’re applying the method to tumors now, but you could use similar designs for other types of tissues,” Lippert says. “The current compound reacts to oxygen levels and pH, which are important in cancer biology, but also present in other types of biology, so it can be more wide-ranging than just looking at cancer.”

“This grant is really critical to our ability to continue the research going forward,” Lippert adds. “This will support the reagents and supplies, student stipends, and strengthen our collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center. Having that funding secure for five years is really nice because we can now focus our attention on the actual science instead of writing grants. It’s a huge step forward in our research progress.”

Lippert joined SMU in 2012. He was a postdoctoral researcher at University of California, Berkeley, from 2009-12, earned his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania in 2008 and earned a bachelor’s in science at the California Institute of Technology in 2003.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” NSF is the funding source for approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.

— Kenny Ryan

Eighteen SMU faculty members retire with emeritus status in 2016-17

Eighteen distinguished faculty members with a combined total of nearly 585 years of SMU service retired with emeritus status in the 2016-17 academic year.

The professors, and their dates of service:

• Thomas E. Barry, Professor Emeritus of Marketing, Cox School of Business, 1970-2017

• Janis Bergman-Carton, Professor Emerita of Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, 1991-2017

Edward Biehl, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1962-2017

Gordon Birrell, Professor Emeritus of World Languages and Literatures, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1974-2017

Dolores M. Etter, Professor Emerita of Electrical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, 2008-2016

 Richard F. Gunst, Professor Emeritus of Statistical Science, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1971-2017

 C. Michael Hawn, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1992-2017

• Debora Hunter, Professor Emerita of Art, Meadows School of the Arts, 1976-2017

Alireza Khotanzad, Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering, 1984-2017

 Ndiva Kofele-Kale, Professor Emeritus of Law, Dedman School of Law, 1989-2017

• Robert Krout, Professor Emeritus of Music, Meadows School of the Arts, 2004-2017

• Patricia Mathes, Texas Instruments Chair of Reading and Professor Emerita of Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, 2003-2017

 Sherry L. Smith, University Distinguished Professor Emerita of History, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1999-2017

 Willard Spiegelman, Hughes Professor Emeritus of English, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1971-2017

 Steve Sverdlik, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1982-2017

• Martin Sweidel, Professor Emeritus of Music, Meadows School of the Arts, 1986-2016

 John Walther, Professor Emeritus of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1994-2017

 Ronald Wetherington, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, 1964-2017

Three professors honored with 2017 Tunks Distinguished University Citizen Awards

Three faculty members were honored with SMU’s 2017 Thomas W. Tunks Distinguished University Citizen Award at the Faculty Breakfast held Saturday, May 20 before Commencement. This year’s recipients are:

The award, given by the Office of the Provost, honors three faculty members each year for service and activities that benefit students and the University’s academic mission and “who have demonstrated outstanding citizenship through dedicated service to the University and its governance.”

Formerly the Distinguished University Citizen Award, the honor was renamed in 2014 for Tunks, a professor of music education, former associate provost and founding Faculty-in-Residence in the University’s Residential Commons.

Three SMU graduates receive 2017 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Awards

Three recent SMU graduates have received 2017 Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Awards (ETA). The program place Fulbright recipients in classrooms abroad to provide assistance to local English teachers. The ETA’s help teach the English language while serving as cultural ambassadors for the United States.

Adam GarnickAdam Garnick, a graduate of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, has received an ETA to teach next year in Budapest, Hungary.

Garnick earned a Master of Education degree in May. A native of Philadelphia, Garnick is an eighth-grade history teacher at Dallas’ E.H. Cary Middle School and a member of the Teach for America program. In Hungary, he will be teaching English with a focus on academic writing at Budapest Metropolitan University.

“My teaching along with my courses at SMU have provided a great foundation for what’s next,” Garnick said. “I feel prepared to teach at a university. I’m going to take the strategies I’ve learned in teaching English language learners to Budapest.”

At Simmons, Garnick conducted research on the “flipped classroom” as part of a technology and discourse course taught by Dara Rossi, clinical associate professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. In a flipped classroom, students use classroom time for exploratory and collaborative work, and watch video lectures at home to prepare. “It’s a strategy I’ve been able to use in my classroom,” Garnick says. “I’m convinced it’s the future of education.”

Kristen BiedermannMaster of Education graduate Kristen Biedermann has accepted an ETA to spend 10 months teaching English at the University of Cauca in Popayan, Colombia, starting at the end of summer 2017.

“I had an opportunity to travel to Guatemala to help one of my professors with research and professional development for Guatemalan teachers on behalf of SMU,” Biedermann says. “I learned that when people acquire more than one language, it gives them an ability to connect across cultures, which is important to me, so I’ve become passionate about helping people cross barriers through learning a second language.”

That international classroom experience – and the time she spent teaching in bilingual Dallas-area classrooms before earning her Master’s in 2016 at SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development – sparked Biedermann’s interest in pursuing her studies further.

“When I come back from Colombia, I would love to go into the Ph.D. program, become a professor and do research on retention and promotion of language-minority students at the university level,” Biedermann says. “I hope to be able to work on a campus and help adult English-language-learner students succeed in higher education and conduct research that eliminates the inequities that exist at that level.”

Jennie LeeBachelor of Music and world languages graduate Jennie Lee has accepted an ETA to spend 10 months teaching English in Germany.

Building on the interests and activities she discovered at SMU before graduating in 2016, she’ll teach English through extra-curricular activities like after-school yoga classes and singing lessons.

“I studied opera in college and got a degree in vocal performance and world languages,” says Lee, who came to the University from a traditional conservatory prep school background and earned a place in the musical honor society Pi Kappa Lambda.

“The thing that drew me to SMU is the ability to get conservatory-style training – a super-intense program where I would study arts and music – but also have the opportunity to double major, because I wanted to do that too and a lot of schools don’t offer that,” Lee adds. “That was a huge pull for me.”

> Read more of their stories from SMU News

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