For the Record

Composer, SMU graduate student Olga Amelkina-Vera named 2016-17 student composer-in-residence with Irving Symphony

Olga Amelkina-VeraOlga Amelkina-Vera, a master’s student in music composition in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, has been named the 2016-17 Student Composer-in-Residence with the Irving Symphony Orchestra (ISO).

Launched in 2011, the student composer-in-residence program is a unique partnership between SMU Meadows and the ISO. Each year, an undergraduate or graduate Meadows music composition student is selected to serve as a composer-in-residence with the orchestra and to create a commissioned work to be premiered by the ISO. It is the only known program of its kind between a professional orchestra and a university music department.

An annual competition to select the winner is held by a committee composed of two members of the SMU composition faculty and ISO Music Director Hector Guzman ’83, who earned his Master of Music in instrumental conducting at SMU.

Amelkina-Vera won the honor with her piece Cattywampus Rompus (Texas Tarantella), a five-minute composition give the ancient musical “tarantella” form a modern, Texas twist. The piece began as an award-winning work for guitar quartet, but for this commission it has been expanded into a full work for orchestra. It will be premiered by the ISO during its regular season concert on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

“I feel fortunate and grateful to SMU composition faculty members and Maestro Guzman for selecting me for this honor,” she said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about writing for orchestra in a ‘hands-on’ way. I am also enjoying having an inside look at the behind-the-scenes work of rehearsals and outreach with the ISO. Having my work premiered by them will be an invaluable experience!”

“For many professional composers, an orchestral residency is the ‘golden ring’ they aspire to, with only a few getting the opportunity even once,” said Robert Frank, associate professor of composition. “For our students to gain this professional experience and to have a work performed in a concert season by a wonderful orchestra is beyond anything I am aware of at any other university. Olga came to us already holding her D.M.A. in guitar performance, so she has already established a professional performing career as a soloist. This residency gives her the chance to break across disciplines into the composer side of her career, which we have enjoyed helping her develop during her studies in Meadows.”

Amelkina-Vera is the fifth SMU student selected for the ISO Student Composer-in-Residence program. The first was Vince Gover, whose “Let Us Begin Anew…” (a quote from John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech) premiered in November 2011 at an ISO concert honoring the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s inauguration. The second winner, Alvin Trotman, premiered Jubilee in November 2012, followed by Jesus Martinez’s Harmonic Tremor in February 2014. Last year’s winner, Michael van der Sloot, premiered a piece titled Cascade in March 2016.

> Read the full story from SMU News

March 10, 2017|For the Record, News|

SMU Meadows students are big winners at the 2017 AAF Dallas ADDY Awards

SMU ADDY Award winners 2017

SMU’s 2017 student ADDY Award winners, pictured left to right: Jackson Foley, Tiffany Giraudon, Helen Rieger, Liz Martinelli, Samantha Butz and Morgan Hoff.

Students of the Temerlin Advertising Institute (TAI) in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts won multiple honors in the Student category of the 55th annual American Advertising Federation (AAF) American Advertising Awards local competition.

The awards were presented at a ceremony hosted by AAF Dallas on Thursday, Feb. 23 at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum. The trophies are known as the ADDYs.

SMU students won four awards in four categories, including two of the four gold awards presented to student entries, as well as two silver awards. All silver- and gold-winning submissions are eligible to advance to the district-level competition in Fort Worth, April 6-8.

The winning entries, and their creators:

Gold Awards:

  • CLIENT: Hypnotic Donuts
  • CATEGORY: Illustration
  • CREDITS: Tiffany Giraudon and Helen Rieger
  • CLIENT: Charity Navigator
  • CATEGORY: Integrated Campaigns
  • CREDITS: Helen Rieger and Jackson Foley

Silver Awards:

  • CLIENT: Zero Gravity
  • CATEGORY: Logo Design
  • CREDITS: Samantha Butz
  • CLIENT: Bands in Town
  • CATEGORY: Magazine Advertising
  • CREDITS: Morgan Hoff and Liz Martinelli

“I am thrilled with the culture of creativity that has formed in Temerlin Advertising Institute,” said Steve Edwards, TAI director. “With the addition of Mark Allen to the faculty, along with Willie Baronet and Cheryl Mendenhall, we have a team of experts who push students to push themselves creatively. The results are students winning a greater number of awards, and more prestigious awards, each year. We are especially proud that these students are competing successfully for professional opportunities at the hottest advertising agencies in the country.

“We also applaud the efforts of AAF Dallas to identify, recognize and promote our young talent,” said Edwards. “Without their support and the hours put in by volunteer judges, none of this would have been possible. We look forward to seeing Sam, Morgan, Liz, Jackson, Helen and Tiffany bring home awards from the regional and national competitions.”

> Read the full story – and see the ADDY-winning campaigns – at SMU News

March 3, 2017|For the Record, News|

Research: Hunting down cancer-causing viruses that hide from the immune system

Robert L. Harrod, Biology Lab ResearchSMU virologist and cancer researcher Robert L. Harrod has been awarded a $436,500 grant from the National Cancer Institute to further his lab’s research into how certain viruses cause cancers in humans.

Under two previous NCI grants, Harrod’s lab discovered that the human T-cell leukemia virus type-1, HTLV-1, and high-risk subtype human papillomaviruses, HPVs, share a common mechanism that plays a key role in allowing cancers to develop. Now the lab will search for the biological mechanism — a molecular target — to intervene to block establishment and progression of virus-induced cancers. The hope is to ultimately develop a chemotherapy drug to block the growth of those tumor cells in patients.

“The general theme of our lab is understanding the key molecular events involved in how the viruses allow cancer to develop,” said Harrod, an associate professor in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences whose research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of viral initiation of cancer formation.

While HTLV-1 and HPV are unrelated transforming viruses and lead to very different types of cancers, they’ve evolved a similar mechanism to cooperate with genes that cause cancer in different cell types. The lab discovered that the two viruses tap a common protein that cooperates with cellular genes to help the viruses hide from the immune system.

That common protein, the p30 protein of HTLV-1, binds to a different protein in the cell, p53, which normally has the job of suppressing cancerous growth or tumor development. Instead, however, p30 manages to subvert p53’s tumor suppressor functions, which in turn activates pro-survival pathways for the virus.

From there, the virus can hide inside the infected cell for two to three decades while evading host immune-surveillance pathways. As the cell divides, the virus divides and replicates. Then ultimately the deregulation of gene expression by viral encoded products causes cancer to develop.

“They are essentially using a similar mechanism, p30, to deregulate those pathways from their normal tumor-suppressing function,” Harrod said.

— Margaret Allen

> Read more about Rob Harrod’s research at SMUResearch.com

February 17, 2017|For the Record, Research|

SMU mourns the death of Prof. Dennis Simon, founding member of the Tower Center for Political Studies and leader of SMU’s Civil Rights Pilgrimage

Dennis SimonSMU Associate Professor of Political Science Dennis Simon died Sunday, Feb. 12, 2017 in Dallas after a long illness. An SMU faculty member since 1986, he was a recognized expert on the American presidency, national elections, women and the political glass ceiling, and the politics of change in the United States.

Passionate about his students and his work, he continued to teach and present lectures on the presidential elections to the SMU community through fall of 2016.

“Dennis Simon’s legacy at SMU will not be forgotten,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “He was both a brilliant scholar and devoted teacher, talents he bridged with a sense of humor that never wavered. Dr. Simon invested his time, commitment and his passion for political science with his students, fellow scholars and the community. His influence will live on in the many lives he touched.”

The Texas House of Representatives “gaveled out” its regular session Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Simon’s memory on a motion by State Rep. Morgan Meyer. Services for Simon are pending.

Simon was quick to say that his proudest and most impactful work came in guiding since 2008 both undergraduate and graduate students on SMU’s annual Civil Rights Pilgrimage to historical sites across the south.  The 7-8 day bus trip occurs during Spring Break every year, creating an immersive learning experience that “pilgrims” describe as life changing.

During Simon’s 31 years as an SMU faculty member, he received nearly every teaching award offered by the University, including the “M” Award, the Willis Tate Award and President’s Associate Award. In 2005 he received the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award, given to just four professors each year for their commitment to student learning. Known for his mentorship and dedication to teaching, he used U.S. elections as a living laboratory, teaching his popular course, “Presidential Elections,” every four years.

Simon’s other teaching and research interests included presidential-congressional relations, public opinion, electoral behavior and research methodology.  His research appeared in leading journals such as the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics.  He was the recipient of the Pi Sigma Alpha award given by the Southern Political Science Association for his study of national forces in state legislative elections, and twice the Miriam Irish award given by the Southern Political Science Association for his study (with Assoc. Prof. Barbara Palmer) of the emergence of women in U.S. electoral politics.  His most recent book, with co-author Palmer, Women and Congressional Elections: A Century of Change (Lynne Reinner Publishers) was published in May of 2012. The book’s first edition was published in 2006.

Simon’s recent research projects included “The Perilous Experiment,” a historical and quantitative study tracing the evolution of popular and legislative leadership in the American presidency and “Southerners in the United States House of Representatives,” a history of electoral and ideological change in the South since 1930, supported by a grant awarded by the Dirksen Congressional Center. He earned his B.A. from Wittenberry University in Springfield, Ohio, and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the department of political science at Michigan State University. Before joining SMU, Simon was an assistant professor of political science at the University of Minnesota.

Simon was a founding member of SMU’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, where he served as a member of the Tower Center Faculty Advisory Board and as a senior fellow. The Tower Center was created in 1992 to promote the study of politics and international affairs and stimulate an interest in ethical public service.

“He was a dedicated supporter of our center, serving us in a variety of ways,” said the Hon. Dan Branch, chair of the Tower Center Board of Directors and former member of the Texas House of Representatives. “Most of all, he was a devoted mentor to our students.”

Simon also joined the faculty of SMU’s Master of Liberal Studies (MLS) program when he arrived in in 1986, teaching courses such as “Politics and Film,” and “The American Presidency” to hundreds of graduate students in the predominantly evening program. He began teaching “The Politics and Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement,” to both MLS students and undergraduates in 2008, combining it with an existing trip organized through the SMU Chaplain’s Office to historic sites in civil rights history. Simon never tired of sharing with an audience the “power of place” he said came with combining a semester-long course with personal experiences shared at the sites of civil rights violence and struggle.

> Watch Dennis Simon’s 2012 Maguire Public Scholar lecture at YouTube video

Dennis Simon, Civil Rights PilgrimageWith his Chaplain’s Office partner, Ray Jordan, and student leaders chosen each year, the trip featured stops at sites Simon described as “ground-zero,” in the civil rights movement, such as Little Rock High School, the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home in Montgomery. History came alive at each spot, thanks to Simon’s friendships with original participants he called “foot soldiers” in the civil rights movement, who shared their recollections with students, sometimes hopping aboard the bus to lead tours.

The class and trip, sponsored by the Embrey Human Rights Program and SMU’s Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life, are now a core requirement of SMU’s human rights undergraduate major and the human rights emphasis in SMU’s Master of Liberal Studies program. Each year students share their thoughts and memories of the trip on an online blog.

> Read blog postings from the 2015 Civil Rights Pilgrimage on the 50th anniversary of the 1965 voting rights march

“I will always be thankful to Dr. Simon for showing us all what it looks like to not only celebrate the light, but to be the light in situations where it seems like the darkness might swallow us up,” said Michelle Anderson ’15, who served as student leader of the pilgrimage in 2015. “I’m missing our fearless leader already. Keep marching, pilgrims.” Anderson is pursuing a Ph.D. in media studies with a focus in transitional justice at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Simon also generously shared his expertise with the news media, serving as an expert on the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, Alabama, the impact of the John F. Kennedy assassination, the changing role of women in politics, and trends in presidential and mid-term elections. He regularly presented lectures to the community and served as a panel member at lecture series throughout the Dallas area.

See Dennis Simon’s last lecture, shared with the community Nov. 12 as a wrap-up of the 2016 presidential election

“The qualities that made Dennis a fine person – intelligence, enthusiasm, and honesty – made him an extraordinary teacher and mentor to his students,” said Joe Kobylka, SMU associate professor of political science and Simon’s longtime friend. “His passion for studying American politics and change electrified his lectures and infused his students with his enthusiasm. When that happens, education ensues, and Dennis was a master educator. I learned from him, as a student and then a colleague. I will draw on those lessons daily.”

> Find more of Dennis Simon’s work at SMU News

February 16, 2017|For the Record, News|

23 outstanding SMU professors honored at 2017 HOPE Awards banquet

 

SMU’s Department of Residence Life and Student Housing honored 23 outstanding professors at the 2017 HOPE Awards Banquet Tuesday, Feb. 7.

Mark Chancey, professor of religious studies Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was honored as 2017 Professor of the Year.

HOPE (Honoring Our Professors’ Excellence) Award recipients are named through student staff member nominations as professors who “have made a significant impact to our academic education both inside and outside of the classroom.”

The complete list of 2017 HOPE Award honorees:

Cox School of Business

  • Jay Carson, Management and Organizations
  • Liliana Hickman-Riggs, Accounting
  • Sal Mistry, Management and Organizations
  • Mukunthan Santhanakrishnan, Finance
  • Greg Sommers, Accounting
  • Tilan Tang, Finance

Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

  • Stephanie Amsel, English
  • Mark Chancey, Religious Studies (HOPE Professor of the Year)
  • Rita Economos, Earth Sciences
  • Liljana Elverskog, World Languages and Literatures (Arabic)
  • Serge Frolov, Religious Studies
  • Luigi Manzetti, Political Science
  • Alberto Pastor, World Languages and Literatures (Spanish)
  • Elizabeth Wheaton, Economics
  • Brian Zoltowski, Chemistry

Lyle School of Engineering

  • Elena Borzova, Mechanical Engineering,
  • Joseph Camp, Electrical Engineering
  • Rachel Goodman, Engineering Management, Information and Systems

Meadows School of the Arts

  • Brandi Coleman, Dance
  • Lee Gleiser, Meadows Marketing and Communications
  • Will Power, Theatre
  • Jared Schroeder, Journalism

Dedman School of Law

  • Martin Camp, Graduate and International Programs

> Read more from The Daily Campus

February 14, 2017|For the Record, News|
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