Faculty in the News: May 19, 2011

Metin Eren

Faculty in the News: May 19, 2011

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, discussed retired Army General and Iraq commander Ricardo Sanchez’ run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Kay Bailey Hutchison with KERA Public Radio May 11, 2011. He also talked about President Obama’s efforts to resurrect and reframe the discussion on immigration for an article published in Politico May 10, 2011.

Mike Davis, Finance, Cox School of Business, talked about Texas House Bill 3790, which would suspend the back-to-school weekend tax break, with Star Newspapers May 7, 2011.

SMU archaeologist Metin ErenBill Tsutsui, dean of Dedman College and an expert on Japan, discussed that nation’s changing attitude toward nuclear power with ScienceInsider May 11, 2011.

Rick Halperin, director of the Embrey Human Rights Program, discussed the moral and ethical side of U.S. reaction to the death of Osama bin Laden with CNN May 2, 2011.

Dennis Simon, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about former President George W. Bush’s low profile concerning Osama bin Ladin’s death for an Associated Press story that appeared in several publications, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on May 5, 2011.

William Lawrence, Dean, Perkins School of Theology, discussed the various forms of redemption in the context of the Easter holiday with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution April 23, 2011.

Metin Eren (left), Anthropology, Dedman College, discussed his research into ancient tool-making on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio show “Quirks & Quarks with Bob McDonald” April 16, 2011.

May 19, 2011|Faculty in the News|

Faculty in the News: Oct. 12, 2010

Bernard Weinstein, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, wrote about reasons for delaying the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas rules in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram Oct. 6, 2010.

Linda Eads, Dedman School of Law, discussed the State Bar of Texas’ proposed “sex with clients” rule for an article published in The Dallas Morning News Oct. 4, 2010.

Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights Program, Dedman College, wrote a column in opposition to the death penalty that was published in The Dallas Morning News Oct. 6, 2010.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, discussed the race for Texas governor and the controversy over the distribution of money from the Texas Emerging Technology Fund with The Houston Chronicle Oct. 4, 2010.

Metin Eren, a graduate student in archaeology in Dedman College, was featured in a story on how scientists are rethinking theories on the intelligence of Neanderthals that appeared in The Washington Post Oct. 5, 2010.

Mark Chancey on MSNBCMark Chancey (right), Religious Studies, Dedman College, and the Rev. Robert Jeffress of the First Baptist Church of Dallas talked about the debate over how Islam is characterized in Texas textbooks with MSNBC News Sept. 24, 2010. video

David Chard, Dean, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, talked about education schools and the role they play in producing strong teachers with The Dallas Morning News Oct. 3, 2010.

Jeff Bellin, Dedman School of Law, talked with Reuters about a court hearing into the 2004 Texas execution of Cameron Todd Willingham for the arson murders of his three young daughters. The article was released Oct. 2, 2010, and appeared in numerous publications, including The Chicago Tribune.

October 12, 2010|Faculty in the News|

Faculty in the News: Oct. 5, 2010

Metin Eren, a graduate student in archaeology in Dedman College, says trampling by animals may skew the dates on stone artifacts. An article on his research was published in National Geographic Daily News Sept. 29, 2010.

James Guthrie, George W. Bush Institute senior fellow and professor in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, wrote an op-ed on education issues raised by the recent film “Waiting for Superman” that was published in The Christian Science Monitor Sept. 29, 2010. He and David Chard, dean of the Simmons School, provided commentary for an article on a Bush Institute initiative to improve the performance of school principals, in which SMU will participate. The story was published by The Associated Press Sept. 29, 2010.

Tom Mayo, Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility, talked about the practice of parents selecting the gender of their children prior to birth with NBC 5 News Sept. 23, 2010. video

October 5, 2010|Faculty in the News|

Research Spotlight: Site-trampling study gives a new look at old digs

Metin Eren's site-trampling research - water buffalo in Jurreru Valley, IndiaArchaeologists who interpret Stone Age culture from discoveries of ancient tools and artifacts may need to reanalyze some of their conclusions.

That’s the finding suggested by a new study that for the first time looked at the impact of water buffalo and goats trampling artifacts into mud.

In seeking to understand how much artifacts can be disturbed, the new study documented how animal trampling in a water-saturated area can result in an alarming amount of disturbance, says archaeologist Metin Eren, an SMU graduate student and one of eight researchers on the study.

In a startling finding, the animals’ hooves pushed artifacts as much as 21 centimeters into the ground – a variation that could equate to a difference of thousands of years for a scientist interpreting a site, said Eren.

The findings suggest archaeologists should reanalyze some previous discoveries, he said. “Given that during the Lower and most of the Middle Pleistocene, hominids stayed close to water sources, we cannot help but wonder how prevalent saturated substrate trampling might be, and how it has affected the context, and resulting interpretation, of Paleolithic sites throughout the Old World,” conclude the authors in a scientific paper detailing their experiment and its findings.

“Experimental Examination of Animal Trampling Effects on Artifact Movement in Dry and Water Saturated Substrates: A Test Case from South India” has been published online by the Journal of Archaeological Science. For images, additional information and a link to the article, see www.smuresearch.com. The research was recognized as best student poster at the 2010 annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

The idea that animal trampling may reorient artifacts is not new. “Believe it or not, there have been dozens of trampling experiments in archaeology to see how artifacts may be affected by animals walking over them. These have involved human trampling and the trampling of all sorts of animals, including elephants, in dry sediments,” Eren said. “Our trampling experiments in dry sediments, for the most part, mimicked the results of previous experiments.”

But this latest study added a new variable to the mix – the trampling of artifacts embedded in ground saturated with water, Eren said.

Researchers from the United States, Britain, Australia and India were inspired to perform the unique experiment while doing archaeological survey work in the Jurreru River Valley in Southern India.

They noticed that peppering the valley floor were hardened hoof prints left from the previous monsoon season, as well as fresh prints along the stream banks. Seeing that the tracks sunk quite deeply into the ground, the researchers began to suspect that stone artifacts scattered on the edges of water bodies could be displaced significantly from their original location by animal trampling.

“Prehistoric humans often camped near water sources or in areas that receive lots of seasonal rain. When we saw those deep footprints left over from the previous monsoon season, it occurred to us that animal trampling in muddy, saturated sediments might distort artifacts in a different way than dry sediments,” Eren said. “Given the importance of artifact context in the interpretation of archaeological sites and age, it seems like an obvious thing to test for, but to our surprise it never had been.”

Eren and seven other researchers tested their theory by scattering replicated stone tools over both dry and saturated areas of the valley. They then had water buffalo and goats trample the “sites.” Once sufficient trampling occurred, the archaeologists proceeded to excavate the tools, taking careful measurements of where the tools were located and their inclination in the ground.

The researchers found that tools salted on ground saturated with water and trampled by buffalo moved up to 21 centimeters vertically, or a little more than 8 inches. Tools trampled by goats moved up to 16 centimeters vertically, or just over 6 inches.

“A vertical displacement of 21 centimeters in some cases might equal thousands of years when we try to figure out the age of an artifact,” Eren said. “This amount of disturbance is more than any previously documented experiment – and certainly more than we anticipated.”

Given that artifacts embedded in the ground at vertical angles appear to be a diagnostic marker of trampling disturbance, the researchers concluded that sites with water-saturated sediments should be identified and reanalyzed.

Written by Margaret Allen

(Above, water buffalo do their part in a site-trampling research project in India’s Jurreru River Valley. SMU graduate student Metin Eren was one of 8 researchers on the study.)

> Read more from the SMU Research blog

September 29, 2010|Research|

For the Record: Sept. 5, 2008

Museum depiction of NeanderthalMetin Eren, a graduate student in experimental archaeology, has done a study slated for publication in The Journal of Human Evolution that uses data on how early humans made tools to determine that Neanderthals were smarter than previously believed. Garth Sampson, Anthropology (Emeritus), is Eren’s co-author (along with Aaron Greenspan of Think Computer Corporation) on the paper, titled “Are Upper Paleolithic blade cores more productive than Middle Paleolithic discoidal cores? A replication experiment” (PDF). Read more and find more media coverage at SMU News.

Anthony Cortese, Sociology, presented a paper, “Racial Profiling and Ethnic Stereotyping: Muslim Terrorists and Illegal Aliens,” at a Racial Profiling on Borders conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Three SMU graduate students in Economics make up one of three finalist teams in the 2008 Data Mining Shootout sponsored by the SAS Institute, Dow Chemical Company and the Central Michigan University Research Corporation. Ph.D. candidates Stefan Avdjiev, Jayjit Roy and Manan Roy made the top three based on their program logic and software solutions to a complex scheduling problem involving a hypothetical airline company operating at three airports and anticipating weather delays and cancellations.

The team will travel to the 11th Annual SAS Data Mining Conference in Las Vegas Oct. 27-28 for the announcement of the final finish order. Tom Fomby is their faculty sponsor and adviser.

September 5, 2008|For the Record|
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