Dedman College

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

Research: Gamers join researchers in the fight against cancer

John Wise, Pia Vogel and Corey Clark

SMU researchers (l-r) John Wise, Pia Vogel and Corey Clark are tapping the power of an online gaming community to fight cancer. Photo: Hillsman S. Jackson

The massive computational power of an online gaming community has even more clout than supercomputers in the fight against cancer, according to SMU biochemical researchers and video game developers. The two groups are partnering with the world’s vast network of gamers in hopes of discovering a new cancer-fighting drug.

Biochemistry professors Pia Vogel and John Wise in the Department of Biological Sciences and Corey Clark, deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall, are leading the University’s assault on cancer in partnership with fans of the best-selling video game Minecraft.

With 122 million copies of the game sold worldwide and more than 55 million active players each month as of February 2017, Vogel and Wise expect deep inroads in their quest to narrow the search for chemical compounds that improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.

“Crowdsourcing as well as computational power may help us narrow down our search and give us better chances at selecting a drug that will be successful,” said Vogel. “And gamers can take pride in knowing they’ve helped find answers to an important medical problem.”

Up to now, Wise and Vogel have tapped the high-performance computing power of SMU’s Maneframe, one of the most powerful academic supercomputers in the nation. With ManeFrame, Wise and Vogel have sorted through millions of compounds that have the potential to work. Now, the biochemists say, it’s time to take that research to the next level — crowdsourced computing.

A network of gamers can crunch massive amounts of data during routine gameplay by pairing two powerful weapons: the best of human intuition combined with the massive computing power of networked gaming machine processors.

Taking their research to the gaming community will more than double the amount of machine processing power attacking their research problem.

“With the distributed computing of the actual game clients, we can theoretically have much more computing power than even the supercomputer here at SMU,” said Clark, who is also an adjunct research associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. In March, SMU Guildhall was named No. 1 among the world’s Top 25 Graduate Schools for Video Game Design by The Princeton Review.

“If we take a small percentage of the computing power from 25,000 gamers playing our mod we can match ManeFrame’s 120 teraflops of processing power,” Clark said. “Integrating with the Minecraft community should allow us to double the computing power of that supercomputer.”

Even more importantly, the gaming community adds another important component — human intuition.

Wise believes there’s a lot of brainpower eager to be tapped in the gaming community. And human brains, when tackling a problem or faced with a challenge, can make creative and intuitive leaps that machines can’t.

“What if we learn things that we never would have learned any other way? And even if it doesn’t work it’s still a good idea and the kids will still get their endorphin kicks playing the game,” Wise said. “It also raises awareness of the research. Gamers will be saying ‘Mom, don’t tell me to go to bed, I’m doing scientific research.’”

The Vogel and Wise research labs are part of the Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery (CD4) in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The center’s mission is a novel multi-disciplinary focus for scientific research targeting medically important problems in human health. Their research is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

— Margaret Allen

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog

Four distinguished SMU scholars named 2017 Ford Research Fellows

Four outstanding SMU professors were honored for their scholarship and research with 2017 Ford Research Fellowships. The awards were presented during the Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, May 4.

This year’s recipients are Stephanie Al Otaiba, Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development; Jeffrey Kahn, Dedman School of Law; Zhong Lu, Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; and Bruce Marshall, Perkins School of Theology.

Established in 2002 through a $1 million pledge from trustee Gerald J. Ford, the fellowships help SMU retain and reward outstanding scholars. Each recipient receives a cash prize for research support during the year.

Stephanie Al Otaiba is the Patsy and Ray Caldwell Centennial Chair in Teaching and Learning in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development. Her research interests include school-based literacy interventions, response to intervention, learning disabilities, diverse learners, and teacher training. She has published more than 110 journal articles and book chapters and has also developed reading curricular materials. Her research has been supported by several federally funded grants from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and Office of Special Education Programs, and from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Jeffrey Kahn is a professor in Dedman School of Law whose areas of expertise include U.S. constitutional law, administrative law, Russian law, human rights and counterterrorism. His latest research focuses on the right to travel and national security law; his most recent book, Mrs. Shipley’s Ghost: The Right to Travel and Terrorist Watchlists, critically examines the U.S. government’s no-fly list. Professor Kahn’s work on Russian law has been noted by name by the editors of The New York Times and published in various law reviews, as well as the peer-reviewed journals Post-Soviet Affairs and Review of Central and East European Law. Professor Kahn is a founding member of the Advisory Board of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Education Program and a Fellow of the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

Zhong Lu is the Shuler-Foscue Endowed Chair and director of graduate studies in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. His geophysics research focuses on the use of satellite-borne radar to detect subtle changes in the earth’s surface preceding volcanic eruptions. He also researches volcano deformation, earthquake deformation mapping, fault geometry and modeling, and ground-water basin analysis. His work with InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) includes underground nuclear explosion monitoring, landslide monitoring and water-level changes of wetlands. Professor Lu has been awarded more than $3 million in grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Geological Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Bruce Marshall is the Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine in Perkins School of Theology. He ranks among the top scholars in the world who conduct research and write about the most enduring and debated of Christian beliefs – namely, the doctrine of the Trinity. His research and writing focus on this doctrine, as well as the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. He is also an expert on the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas and has lectured widely throughout the United States and abroad on topics ranging from Trinitarian theology to Christology. Professor Marshall has written two books and more than 90 articles, book chapters, and reviews, and is a frequent speaker in both national and international venues.

Five receive 2017 Faculty Senate Outstanding Staff Awards

The SMU Faculty Senate honored five staff members for outstanding performance with 2017 Faculty Senate Outstanding Staff Awards. The honors were presented during the Senate’s last meeting of the 2016-17 academic year on Wednesday, May 3.

This year’s winners:

  • James Dees, Graduate Student Administration, Lyle School of Engineering
  • Pamela Goolsby, Events and Facilities, Perkins School of Theology
  • Teresa Janicki, World Languages and Literatures, Dedman College
  • Carolyn Jeter, Executive Assistant to the Provost and VP for Academic Affairs, Office of the Provost
  • Sandra Oswalt, Sponsored Projects, Office of Research and Graduate Studies

In addition to the glass trophies presented to each honoree, they received gifts ranging from season tickets to art books to museum memberships, donated by SMU Athletics, the SMU Bookstore, SMU Dining Services, Meadows Museum and the Meadows School of the Arts.

Ernest Jouriles named SMU’s first G. Dale McKissick Endowed Professor of Psychology

Ernest JourilesErnest N. Jouriles, Dedman Family Distinguished Professor in SMU’s Department of Psychology and an internationally recognized expert in the psychology of family and relationship violence, has been named the University’s first G. Dale McKissick Endowed Professor of Psychology. He will begin his new duties on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.

The professorship was made possible in 2014 through the estate of SMU alumnus McKissick, who graduated with a B.B.A. degree in 1950 and M.B.A. degree in 1954.

Jouriles has several programs of research (in collaboration with SMU Professor of Psychology and Dedman College Senior Associate Dean for Research Renee McDonald). One program focuses on violence in adolescent romantic relationships and is dedicated to reaching a better understanding of risk factors for sexual and relationship violence among adolescents, and using this knowledge to develop and evaluate interventions for preventing such violence.

A second program focuses on children’s exposure to interparental conflict and violence. Through this research, Jouriles aims to better understand why children’s exposure to interparental conflict and violence sometimes leads to mental health problems and sometimes does not. He also uses this knowledge to develop and evaluate interventions to assist children in high-conflict and violent families.

Jouriles received his Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology from Stony Brook University in 1987, at which time he began work as an assistant professor at the University of Houston. He joined SMU as chair of the Department of Psychology in 2003 and served in that position for 12 years, until summer 2015. During that time, he established the department’s APA-approved doctoral program in clinical psychology.

He has published more than 100 scientific articles, chapters and books, and his research has appeared in journals including the Clinical Psychology ReviewPsychology of ViolenceJournal of Adolescent HealthJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology and Behavior Therapy, among others. In addition, he has directed or co-directed numerous funded research projects. He also teaches research methods and developmental psychopathology at SMU and assists agencies in the Dallas community in helping them provide empirically supported services to families and children.

> Learn more about Ernest Jouriles’ research at the SMU Research blog

SMU’s Center for Presidential History to host panel on Trump’s first 100 days Thursday, April 27, 2017

White House, line drawingSMU’s Center for Presidential History will look back at the victories, defeats and head-scratchers from President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office during a panel discussion at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 27, 2017 in the Mack Ballroom, Umphrey Lee Center.

The panel will feature perspectives from SMU faculty members specializing in history and communications, as well as from the CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the deputy editorial page editor of The Dallas Morning News.

A light coffee will precede the event at 6:30 p.m. The event is free; RSVPs are required. Free passes will be emailed to registered guests before the event. Seating is limited, and not guaranteed.

> RSVP for “Assessing Trump’s First 100 Days” at Eventbrite

“The first 100 days is crucial for setting the tone of a presidency,” said Center for Presidential History Director Jeffrey Engel. “You shouldn’t look so much to measure accomplishments, but rather style and efficiency, which is all the more intriguing when we have an administration with historically limited levels of experience.”

> See video from the SMU CPH’s March 2017 event, “Hope or Alarm in the Age of Trump”

The panelists include:

 — Kenny Ryan

> Visit SMU’s Center for Presidential History online: smu.edu/cph

Caroline Brettell elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Caroline BrettellNoted SMU anthropologist Caroline Brettell joins actress Carol Burnett, musician John Legend, playwright Lynn Nottage, immunologist James Allison and other renowned leaders in various fields as a newly elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The class of 2017 will be inducted at a ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 7 at the Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Brettell joins 228 new fellows and foreign honorary members — representing the sciences, the humanities and the arts, business, public affairs and the nonprofit sector — as a member of one of the world’s most prestigious honorary societies.

“Caroline Brettell is an internationally recognized leader in the field of migration, and one of Dedman College’s most productive scholars,” said Thomas DiPiero, dean of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “I couldn’t be happier to see her win this well-deserved accolade.”

“I am surprised and deeply honored to receive such a recognition,” said Brettell, Ruth Collins Altshuler Professor in the Department of Anthropology and director of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute. “It is overwhelming to be in the company of Winston Churchill, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jonas Salk and the ‘mother’ of my own discipline, Margaret Mead. And I am thrilled to have my favorite pianist, André Watts, as a member of my class. I am truly grateful to join such a distinguished and remarkable group of members, past and present.”

> See the full list of American Academy of Arts and Sciences members

Brettell’s research centers on ethnicity, migration and the immigrant experience. Much of her work has focused on the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex as a new immigration gateway city, especially on how immigrants practice citizenship and civic engagement as they meld into existing economic, social and political structures. She has special expertise in cross-cultural perspectives on gender, the challenges specific to women immigrants, how the technology boom affects immigration, and how the U.S.-born children of immigrants construct their identities and a sense of belonging. An immigrant herself, Brettell was born in Canada and became a U.S. citizen in 1993.

She is the author or editor of nearly 20 books, most recently Gender and Migration (2016, Polity Press UK) and Identity and the Second Generation: How Children of Immigrants Find Their Space, co-edited with Faith G. Nibbs, Ph.D. ’11 (2016, Vanderbilt University Press). Her research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Wenner Gren Foundation and the Russell Sage Foundation, among many others.

An SMU faculty member since 1988, Brettell has held the Dedman Family Distinguished Professorship and served as chair in the Department of Anthropology and as director of Women’s Studies in Dedman College. She served as president of the Faculty Senate and a member of the University’s Board of Trustees in 2001-02, and was dean ad interim of Dedman College from 2006-08. Brettell is a member of the American Anthropological Association, the American Ethnological Society, the Society for Applied Anthropology, the Society for the Anthropology of Europe, and the Society for Urban, National and Transnational Anthropology, among others.

She joins David Meltzer, Henderson-Morrison Professor of Prehistory in Dedman College (class of 2013), Scurlock University Professor of Human Values Charles Curran (class of 2010), and the late David J. Weber, founding director of the University’s Clements Center for Southwest Studies (class of 2007) as the fourth SMU faculty member to be elected to the Academy.

“It is an honor to welcome this new class of exceptional women and men as part of our distinguished membership,” said Don Randel, chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “Their talents and expertise will enrich the life of the Academy and strengthen our capacity to spread knowledge and understanding in service to the nation.”

“In a tradition reaching back to the earliest days of our nation, the honor of election to the American Academy is also a call to service,” said Academy President Jonathan F. Fanton. “Through our projects, publications, and events, the Academy provides members with opportunities to make common cause and produce the useful knowledge for which the Academy’s 1780 charter calls.”

Since its founding in 1780, the Academy has elected leading “thinkers and doers” from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th. The current membership of about 4,900 fellows and 600 foreign honorary members includes more than 250 Nobel laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners. The Academy’s work is advanced by these elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.

Members of the Academy’s 2017 class include winners of the Pulitzer Prize and the Wolf Prize; MacArthur Fellows; Fields Medalists; Presidential Medal of Freedom and National Medal of Arts recipients; and Academy Award, Grammy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award winners.

> Read the full story, and learn more about selected members of the AAAS class of 2017, at SMU News

Research: SMU study finds helicopter parenting harms boys and girls in different ways

Students Studying in Fondren Library CenterSMU researchers have found surprising gender differences in how college students react to misguided parenting. Their findings on the impact of helicopter parenting and fostering independence have been reported in a new article, “Helicopter Parenting, Autonomy Support, and College Students’ Mental Health and Well-being: The Moderating Role of Sex and Ethnicity,” in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Measuring both helicopter parenting as well as autonomy support — fostering independence — was important for the researchers to study, said family dynamics expert Chrystyna Kouros, SMU assistant professor of psychology and an author on the study.

“Just because mom and dad aren’t helicopter parents doesn’t necessarily mean they are supporting their young adult in making his or her own choices,” Kouros said. “The parent may be uninvolved, so we also wanted to know if parents are actually encouraging their student to be independent and make their own choices.”

The researchers found that young women are negatively affected by helicopter parenting, while young men suffer when parents don’t encourage independence.

“The sex difference was surprising,” said Kouros, an expert in adolescent depression. “In Western culture in particular, boys are socialized more to be independent, assertive and take charge, while girls are more socialized toward relationships, caring for others, and being expressive and compliant. Our findings showed that a lack of autonomy support — failure to encourage independence — was more problematic for males, but didn’t affect the well-being of females. Conversely, helicopter parenting — parents who are overinvolved — proved problematic for girls, but not boys.”

The study is unique in measuring the well-being of college students, said Kouros, director of SMU’s Family Health and Development Lab. The tendency in research on parenting has been to focus on the mental health of younger children.

“When researchers do focus on college students they tend to ask about academic performance, and whether students are engaged in school. But there haven’t been as many studies that look at mental health or well-being in relation to helicopter parenting,” she said.

Unlike children subjected to psychological control, in which parents try to instill guilt in their child, children of helicopter parents report a very close bond with their parents. Helicopter parents “hover” out of concern for their child, not from malicious intent, she said.

What helicopter parents don’t realize is that despite their good intentions to help their child, it actually does harm, said Naomi Ekas, a co-author on the study and assistant professor of psychology at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

“They’re not allowing their child to become independent or learn problem-solving on their own, nor to test out and develop effective coping strategies,” Ekas said.

Young men that reported more autonomy support, measured stronger well-being in the form of less social anxiety and fewer depressive symptoms.

For young women, helicopter parenting predicted lower psychological well-being. They were less optimistic, felt less satisfaction with accomplishments, and were not looking forward to things with enjoyment, nor feeling hopeful. In contrast, lacking autonomy support wasn’t related to negative outcomes in females.

“The take-away is we have to adjust our parenting as our kids get older,” said Kouros. “Being involved with our child is really important. But we have to adapt how we are involved as they are growing up, particularly going off to college.”

Other co-authors on the study are Romilyn Kiriaki and Megan Sunderland, SMU Department of Psychology, and Megan M. Pruitt, Texas Christian University. The study was funded by the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at UT-Austin.

— Margaret Allen

> Read the full story from the SMU Research blog

Three SMU professors receive 2017-18 Colin Powell Fellowships

SMU Colin Powell Fellows 2017-18Three SMU professors have received 2017-18 Colin Powell Global Order and Foreign Policy Fellowships from the University’s John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies.

The award gives SMU faculty members up to $5,000 for research contributing to knowledge of what President George H.W. Bush referred to as the New World Order. The professors will present their findings at a Tower Center seminar in fall 2018.

The three honorees and their projects:

  • Sabri Ates, associate professor of history in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, will use the award to finish writing his latest book, Seyyid Abdulqadir Nehri’s Pursuit of an Independent Kurdistan. Ates explores the historical conditions that account for how the Kurds became the largest ethnic group without its own nation and is writing the work “as part of an ongoing discussion about the Kurds in particular and the greater Middle East in general.”
  • Michael Lusztig, professor of political science in Dedman College, will use the award to finish his new book, The Culturalist Challenge to Liberal Republicanism, which has been accepted for publication by McGill-Queen University Press. Lusztig explores the risks multiculturalism poses to liberal democracy through examination of Mexican immigration to the United States and Islamic immigration to Europe.
  • Hiroki Takeuchi, associate professor of political science in Dedman College, plans to investigate the security implications of global value chains in the Asia Pacific. Takeuchi will explore whether cross-border relationships built off of trade – such as those created by multinational corporations that have different stages of production in different countries – contribute to peace and international cooperation.

> Read the full story from the SMU Tower Center blog

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