Dedman College

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

SMU Chemistry now accepting applications for new Ph.D. degree in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry

ManeFrame supercomputer at SMUSMU’s Department of Chemistry seeks to meet a high demand for well-trained computational and theoretical chemistry professionals with a new doctoral program. The department is now accepting applications for its Ph.D. program in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry.

The four-year, 66-unit degree offers “an intensive and success-oriented education in computational and theoretical chemistry, with the goal to prepare students for a future career in academia or private industry,” according to the department. Mandatory courses include advanced computational chemistry, computer-assisted drug design, Hartree-Fock Density Functional Theory and electron correlations methods; and models and concepts in chemistry, symmetry and group theory.

A minimum of five publications is expected for the thesis defense. The degree program also features extensive training in how to write a paper and prepare for presentations, interviews and a future career path.

The American Chemical Society’s ChemCensus 2010 reports that the number of computational chemists with a Ph.D. degree working in industry nearly doubled over 20 years, from 55,200 in 1990 to 109,500 in 2010. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a further annual increase of at least 15 percent until 2022, making this the fastest-growing sector among all chemistry-related jobs.

For more information, contact Dr. Dieter Cremer or Dr. Elfi Kraka.

> Learn more about SMU’s Ph.D. in Theoretical and Computational Chemistry online

Sylvia Barack Fishman to deliver Nate and Ann Levine Lecture during One Day Jewish University at SMU

One Day Jewish University banner, Dedman College

SMU faculty members will present mini-courses on topics ranging from “Israel: Startup Nation” to “Rhythm and Jews: Jewish Self-Expression and the Rise of the American Recording Industry” during One Day Jewish University, offered by the SMU Jewish Studies Program in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

The event takes places 12:30-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26 in Dallas Hall. Registration is free; donations to SMU’s Jewish Studies Program are welcomed. Suggested donation levels are $15 for students, $25 for seniors and $50 for adults.

Participating SMU faculty members include Mark Chancey, Religious Studies; Jeffrey Engel, History; Serge Frolov, Religious Studies; Danielle Joyner, Art History; Shira Lander, Religious Studies; Bruce Levy, English; Simon Mak, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Business Economics; Justin Rudelson, Master of Liberal Studies Program; and Martha Satz, English.

The day culminates with the Nate and Ann Levine Lecture in Jewish Studies by sociologist Sylvia Barack Fishman, co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and Joseph and Esther Foster Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life at Brandeis University. She will speak on “Diverse Jewish Families in 21st-Century America.”

Sylvia Barack Fishman, Brandeis UniversityProf. Fishman is the author of eight books, including Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution (2015), which explores the full range of contemporary Jewish personal choices and what they mean for the American and Israeli Jewish communities today. Her recent book, The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness, explores diverse understandings of Jewish identity, religion and culture across the centuries, from ancient to contemporary times. She has published numerous articles on the interplay of American and Jewish values, transformations in the American Jewish family, the impact of Jewish education, and American Jewish literature and film. Among other honors, Prof. Fishman received the 2014 Marshall Sklare Award from the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry.

> Find a complete schedule and registration information from the Dedman College Jewish Studies Program

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

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

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