News

Tune In: Happy holidays from SMU

SMU wishes you the happiest of holidays with scenes from a season of joy. Gary Shultz of SMU News has created a page full of images and video from the 2017 Celebration of Lights, December Commencement Convocation, and SMU Football’s trip to the DXL Frisco Bowl.

Here’s a sample: Student musicians perform songs of the season and President R. Gerald Turner reads the Christmas story from the New Testament during Celebration of Lights. Tap the YouTube screen to watch, or click here to open SMU’s 2017 Celebration of Lights video in a new windowvideo

Books for giving (and keeping), created by the SMU community

2017 SMU books

Looking for last-minute gifts? Cherri Gann of SMU News compiles an annual list featuring books published in 2017 by the SMU community – including faculty, staff, alumni, libraries and museum.

This collection always has something for everyone, whether their reading preferences are light or serious, ranging from nonfiction to novels and from scholarly to children’s titles. Some selections are available at the SMU Bookstore, and most are available via online booksellers.

Find the full list under the cut.

> See all the books and their covers at SMU News

(more…)

SMU Guildhall, Biological Sciences faculty to help launch disease-fighting game technology in online event on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017

HEWMEN alpha launch graphic

What would be the impact if humans could harness the resources of massive online communities to fight disease? SMU faculty members have developed a technology that gives video gamers the power to fight disease through data – and the entire University community is invited to participate in its online launch.

On Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 from 6-8 p.m. CST, BALANCED Media Technology – cofounded by SMU Guildhall faculty members Corey Clark and Rob Atkins – will host an online Alpha Launch of its proprietary HEWMEN™ platform. The event will be streamed live on Mixer.com and hosted on the SMU Guildhall Facebook page.

> Learn more about HEWMEN™ and download the game client: hewmen.io/alpha

> Visit Facebook.com/SMUGuildhall to RSVP for the online launch

John Wise and Pia Vogel, faculty members in the Department of Biological Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, will also be on hand for the launch. Their research on cancer-fighting drugs provided the impetus for the specially designed Minecraft mod, and their amassed data helps to power the HEWMEN™ integration.

Wise and Vogel have tapped the high-performance computing power of SMU’s Maneframe II, one of the most powerful academic supercomputers in the nation. Yet a network of gamers can crunch massive amounts of data during routine gameplay by pairing two powerful weapons: human intuition, and the massive computing power of networked gaming machine processors. Taking this research to the gaming community will more than double the amount of machine processing power attacking the problem.

> SMU Research: SMU Guildhall and cancer researchers level up in quest to beat cancer

Viewers can watch popular Minecraft streamers GhostfromTexas, Direwolf20, TangoTek and impulseSV demonstrate the high technology and the serious fun of games that help researchers fight disease. In addition, casual and committed gamers can join in through a modified version of the popular Minecraft “Bed Wars” designed to find new cancer therapies – all during regular gameplay.

> Learn more and find more useful links at the SMU Guildhall’s launch page

Bush Center president, CEO Kenneth A. Hersh to speak at SMU’s 2017 December Commencement Convocation

Kenneth A. HershKenneth A. Hersh, president and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, will be the featured speaker during SMU’s December Commencement Convocation at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, in Moody Coliseum.

> Watch the SMU December Commencement Convocation live via Facebook Live

As chief executive of the Bush Center, Hersh leads the institution that oversees the George W. Bush Institute and houses the George W. Bush Library and Museum. In addition to his work at the Bush Center, Hersh is the co-founder and advisory partner of NGP Energy Capital Management, a deputy chief investment officer for The Carlyle Group’s natural resources division, and sits on the board of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club.

Hersh also serves on the Board of Overseers of the Hoover Institution and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Council of the American Enterprise Institute, the Dallas Citizens Council, and the World Economic Forum. He also sits on the Dean’s Council of the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2014, he was recognized as Master Entrepreneur of the Year for the Southwest Region by Ernst & Young during its Entrepreneur of the Year program, and in 2017 received the Oil & Gas Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

> More ceremony information in SMU Forum

Hersh is active in non-profit causes through The Hersh Foundation. He serves on the boards of the Communities Foundation of Texas, Baylor Health Care System Foundation, and the National Association for Urban Debate Leagues.

Hersh was born and raised in Dallas. After graduating from St. Mark’s, he attended Princeton University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1985 with a degree in politics. In 1989, Mr. Hersh earned his MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, where he graduated as an Arjay Miller Scholar.

SMU expects to award more than 700 degrees at its University-wide Commencement ceremony.

> Visit the SMU Registrar’s December Commencement Convocation homepage

STEM designation granted for SMU Cox M.S. in Finance degree

Fincher Building, Cox School of Business, SMUBeginning in Fall 2018, the Master of Science in Finance degree (MSF) offered by SMU’s Cox School of Business will be STEM-designated. The University’s Board of Trustees approved changes to the program curriculum and the request to change the classification of instructional programs (CIP) code at its December 2017 meeting.

Based on these changes, the program now falls under fields of study considered to be science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The U.S. government considers expertise in these fields an important driver of innovation and job creation.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the country is currently facing a shortage of qualified candidates for STEM jobs. As a result, international students completing STEM-designated programs in the United States are encouraged to stay after graduation and contribute their knowledge and skill while gaining work experience related to their field of study.

“The new STEM designation is a strong signal to potential employers of the strong quantitative content of the Cox MSF program,” said program director Mukunthan Santhanakrishnan. “Furthermore, this makes it easier for international students on student visas to get additional years of work experience in the U.S., making them more valuable when they return to their home countries. The net result is that our program will be attractive to prospective students (both domestic and international).”

In order to qualify for the STEM designation, Santhanakrishnan and Cox Finance Department faculty members worked to bring the MSF curriculum more in line with STEM requirements. The MSF curriculum, which has been taught since 2012, included elements of financial mathematics, but STEM content has now been strengthened with additional math-focused classes and statistics content to better prepare students for careers in finance profession. The University’s Educational Programs Committee and the University Provost approved the STEM designation under the financial mathematics category, and the Board of Trustees made it official.

“The STEM designation helps signal the quantitative rigor of the program to the market,” said SMU Cox Distinguished Chair in Finance James Linck. “It will help us recruit more high-quality students from diverse backgrounds, and will be attractive to potential employers, improving our student’s placement prospects.”

International student Jason Panxing Qiao, who plans a career in the financial services industry, completed his BBA with a finance major and a math minor from St. Louis University in May 2017. He will begin pursuing his MSF degree at SMU Cox in Dallas in Fall 2018. The timing of the new STEM designation is ideal for soon-to-be students like him.

“When I heard the news, it confirmed my feeling that I was making the right business school choice for my graduate work in finance. I’m pleased to have been accepted into the SMU Cox MSF program and I look forward to starting classes in fall 2018.”

Students who will begin the SMU Cox MSF program or continue it in August 2018 will be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) Extension through the Department of Homeland Security. This extension allows them to work in the United States for an additional 24 months. The standard OPT period is 12 months, which means the STEM extension brings the total length of OPT time such students may be granted to 36 months.

> Learn more about SMU Cox Master of Science programs at smu.edu/cox/msdegrees

25 SMU professors receive 2018-19 Sam Taylor Fellowships

Twenty-five SMU faculty members have received 2018-19 Sam Taylor Fellowships from the Sam Taylor Fellowship Fund of the Division of Higher Education, United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

The Fellowships, funded by income from a portion of Taylor’s estate, award up to $2,000 for full-time faculty members at United Methodist-related colleges and universities in Texas. Any full-time faculty member is eligible to apply for the Fellowships, which support research, “advancing the intellectual, social or religious life of Texas and the nation.”

Applications are evaluated on the significance of the project, clarity of the proposal, professional development of the applicant, value of the project to the community or nation and the project’s sensitivity to value questions confronting higher education and society.

The winning professors for this academic year, by college or school:

Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

  • Jing Cao, Statistical Science

  • Simon Dalley, Physics

  • Alan Elliott, Statistical Science

  • Jo Guldi, History

  • Chrystyna Kouros, Psychology

  • Priscilla Lui, Psychology

  • Karen Lupo, Anthropology

  • Alicia Meuret, Psychology

  • Thomas Ritz, Psychology

  • Peng Tao, Chemistry

  • Hervé Tchumkam, World Languages and Literatures

  • Jingbo Ye, Physics

Meadows School of the Arts

  • Amber Bemak, Film and Media Studies

  • LaShonda Eaddy, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs

  • Amy Freund, Art History

  • Yan Huang, Advertising

  • Anna Kim, Advertising

  • Zachary Wallmark, Music

  • Hye Jin Yoon, Advertising

Lyle School of Engineering

  • Ali Heydari, Mechanical Engineering

  • MinJun Kim, Mechanical Engineering

  • Jaewook Myung, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Perkins School of Theology

  • Jack Levison, Old Testament Interpretation

  • Natalia Marandiuc, Christian Theology

  • Priscilla Pope-Levison, Ministerial Studies

Memorial service for Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48 held Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017

Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler '48 at a ceremony where she received SMU's 2011 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics AwardThe SMU community celebrated the life of civic and philanthropic leader Ruth Collins Sharp Altshuler ’48, former chair of the SMU Board of Trustees, on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017. Altshuler died Dec. 8.

As a leader, Altshuler was known for her intelligence, decisiveness, legendary fundraising skills and sense of humor. As a result, she became the first woman to lead numerous Dallas boards and organizations, including the Board of Trustees of her alma mater, SMU. Education, health and services for some of the most downtrodden members of society were areas that attracted her support, but her generosity touched nearly every Dallas civic organization. Her influence, however, went far beyond Dallas. Altshuler was recognized nationally and internationally as a dedicated civic leader and philanthropist.

“The loss of Ruth leaves a major hole in the hearts of us all,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Ruth was my dear friend as well as a tireless fighter for SMU and all causes she believed in. She didn’t do anything halfway. Her work on behalf of Dallas and SMU was legendary years ago, and yet she continued to lead and inspire us year after year. Her impact on her city and her University will live on forever.”

“Ruth was a wonderful member of the SMU Board of Trustees. She was high energy and full of enthusiasm in everything she did to help make SMU a leading global university,” said Michael M. Boone ’63, ’67, SMU Board of Trustees chair. “As a civic leader, Ruth fell into that special category known as the best of the best. The SMU community will miss her dearly.”

A Dallas native and 1948 SMU graduate, Altshuler served on the SMU Board of Trustees for 50 years. She brought knowledge and understanding of every aspect of University life to her position, along with a great love of SMU.

Altshuler has served on nearly every board or council at SMU, including individual schools, libraries, lecture series and search committees. She served on the executive boards of six out of SMU’s seven schools, as well as the executive boards of SMU’s libraries, Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series and the Maguire Ethics Center. In Altshuler’s 50 years of leadership, she worked with six SMU presidents, and helped select two of them as a member of the presidential search committees which appointed Dr. R. Gerald Turner and Dr. James H. Zumberge.

“I talked to Ruth almost every day,” said Brad Cheves, vice president for development and external affairs at SMU. “She was fully committed to this University — offering advice and counsel on all manner of topics. But ultimately what she was most committed to was helping get things done. It was never about Ruth; it was always about others and how she could help them accomplish more than they may have thought they could.”

Her understanding of SMU’s strengths and challenges led to intentional and thoughtful leadership and giving, benefitting student achievement and faculty teaching and research. The projects she supported were varied, but all struck a personal chord. They ranged from endowing business professorships in honor of brothers James M. Collins and Carr P. Collins, to providing research funds for history professors in honor of her son, history buff Charles Stanton Sharp, Jr. She and her husband, Dr. Kenneth Z. Altshuler, endowed the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center because of their interest in supporting the achievements of young people. In addition, she supported the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professors Award, which annually honors four professors for their notable commitment to fostering student learning, as well as endowing lecture series, scholarships and facilities for areas ranging from athletics to arts to academics.

Altshuler received nearly every award SMU offers, including the 2011 J. Erik Jonsson Ethics award, presented by SMU’s Cary Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility to individuals who exemplify the spirit of moral leadership and public virtue, and the 1966 Distinguished Alumni Award. With her husband, Kenneth, the Altshulers were presented the 1998 Mustang Award for extraordinary philanthropy to the University.

The family asks that instead of flowers, donations be made in her honor to the Salvation Army.

> Read the full story from SMU News

Texas native, former Cal and Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes named SMU head football coach Dec. 11, 2017

Sonny Dykes, center, with SMU President R. Gerald Turner and Athletic Director Rick Hart

Sonny Dykes (center) was named SMU’s head football coach Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, at a press conference with President R. Gerald Turner (left) and Athletic Director Rick Hart.

Sonny Dykes has been named SMU’s head football coach, as Director of Athletics Rick Hart announced on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. Dykes arrives on the Hilltop after head coaching stints at Cal and Louisiana Tech. He will coach the Mustangs in the DXL Frisco Bowl on Wednesday, Dec. 20.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be introduced as the Head Coach at SMU. This is home and this is a program I grew up watching. I watched Mustang legends compete and I could always see myself putting on that iconic pony. Today, I’m proud to do just that,” Dykes said. “Coach Morris did great things here and I am fortunate that I have been selected to take the foundation Chad and his staff put in place and take it to a new level. And, make no mistake, that is what we plan to do.

“This is a proud football program with a rich tradition,” he added. “It is also a proud academic institution. I place great emphasis on both. We will set lofty goals for our program, but will keep our primary focus on improving every day in all phases on and off the field to ensure we build a total program and shape champions.”

“It is my pleasure to introduce Sonny Dykes as the Head Football Coach at SMU,” said Hart. “Coach Dykes is enthusiastic about joining the Mustang family. He has a plan to assemble a talented staff, dedicated to shaping champions and pursuing championships with integrity. Coach Dykes shares our commitment to establishing SMU as the best overall program in the American Athletic Conference.”

Dykes, the son of former longtime Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, spent four seasons at Cal (2013-16) and three seasons at Louisiana Tech (2010-12). He served as an offensive analyst at TCU in 2017.

At Cal, Dykes returned the school’s football program to national prominence and a post-season bowl game. Inheriting a team that went 3-9 in the season before his arrival, Dykes had the Bears at 8-5 just three seasons later, capping the 2015 season with a win over Air Force at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl.

Dykes came to Cal after spending three seasons at Louisiana Tech where he directed an offense that led the nation in both scoring offense (51.50 ppg) and total offense (577.92 ypg) during his final campaign at the helm in 2012. He spent three seasons as head coach for the Bulldogs, compiling a 22-15 overall record and winning 16 of 17 regular-season games during one stretch over the 2011 and 2012 schedules.

As offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Arizona for three seasons from 2007-09, Dykes helped the Wildcats to the 2008 Las Vegas Bowl and 2009 Holiday Bowl after Arizona had not reached the postseason for 10 years. Arizona posted marks of 8-5 both seasons and tied for second in what was then the Pac-10 in 2009 with a 6-3 league mark.

Prior to his tenure at Arizona, Dykes spent seven seasons at his alma mater Texas Tech, serving as receivers coach from 2000-04 and adding the title of co-offensive coordinator from 2005-06. The Red Raiders made seven straight postseason appearances and won 56 games during the span, including four postseason victories over his last five seasons in the Tangerine, Houston, Holiday and Insight bowls. In 2006, Dykes received the Mike Campbell Top Assistant Coach Award from the American Football Coaches Association, the same year he was recognized as one of the top 25 recruiters in the country by Rivals.

Dykes began his collegiate coaching career with a two-year stint (1995-96) at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. He also was a baseball assistant at Monahans High School in Texas in 1994 and a football assistant at Richardson’s J.J. Pearce High School in 1995.

Born in Big Springs, Texas, Dykes received his bachelor’s degree in history from Texas Tech in 1993 and was a member of the Red Raider baseball team for two seasons. He is married to the former Kate Golding and they have two daughters, Alta (Ally) and Charlotte (Charlie), and a son, Daniel.

> Read the full story from SMU Athletics

By | 2017-12-14T14:38:08+00:00 December 12, 2017|Categories: News, Sports|Tags: , , , , , , |

SMU celebrates its 2017 December Commencement Convocation Saturday, Dec. 16

December Commencement 2013, blue mortarboards

The SMU community will celebrate 2017 December Commencement Convocation on Saturday, Dec. 16. Kenneth A. Hersh, president and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, will give the address.

The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in Moody Coliseum with a student, faculty and platform party procession. Guests can enter Moody Coliseum starting at 8:30 a.m. Student line-up begins at 8:30 a.m. in Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports. Processional groups begin forming at 9:15 a.m.; doors close at 9:40 a.m. In order to attend the ceremony, faculty must RSVP (online form here). The faculty should assemble in academic dress no later than 9:40 a.m. in the Champions Club.

On Friday, Dec. 15, undergraduate candidates will participate in Rotunda Recessional. Candidates should wear SMU regalia and begin lining up at 5:15 p.m. at the flagpole on the Main Quad. Hot cider will be served.

> Watch the December Commencement Convocation livestream at smu.edu/live

The December Commencement Convocation is a formal ceremony open to degree candidates from all of SMU’s schools and professional programs. All participants must wear academic regalia; students without regalia will be directed to the SMU Bookstore to rent a cap and gown. No honor ribbons or other decorations or adornments may be worn to this ceremony, including messages or images on mortarboards.

Find complete rules for regalia at the University Registrar’s homepage

The ceremony lasts about two hours. No guest tickets are required, and free parking will be available throughout the campus. Limited concession service will be available in Moody Coliseum beginning at 8:30 a.m. No outside food or drink is allowed in Moody.

Commencement participants and guests should not bring the following prohibited items to the Coliseum, including but not limited to animals (except licensed service animals), backpacks, banners, binocular cases, briefcases, camera bags, cans, cinch bags, computer bags, coolers, diaper bags, fanny packs, firearms, flags, glass items, guns, inflated balloons, knives of any size and type, laser pointers, luggage, noisemakers, purses larger than a small clutch, radios, seat cushions with zippers, pockets or compartments, selfie sticks, signs, stun guns, throwing objects, umbrellas (unless threat of rain or raining), and weapons.

All bags must be clear plastic, vinyl or PVC and may not exceed 12 x 6 x 12 inches. Bags may be one-gallon clear plastic resealable storage bags. Small clutch purses with or without straps, no larger than 8.5 x 5.5 inches, are permitted. The clutch does not have to be clear and may be carried separately or within an approved plastic bag. Items that are medically necessary are evaluated individually.

> More information for students and guests at SMU’s December Commencement homepage

Research: SMU-led fossil study finds carbon dioxide link to global warming 22 million years ago

Fossil leaves from Ethiopia

Variations in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide affect carbon fixation during photosynthesis and can be measured on a preserved fossil leaf like this one from Ethiopia.

Fossil leaves from Africa have resolved a prehistoric climate puzzle — and also confirm the link between carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and global warming.

Research until now has produced a variety of results and conflicting data that have cast doubt on the link between high carbon dioxide levels and climate change for a time interval about 22 million years ago.

But a new study has found the link does indeed exist for that prehistoric time period, say SMU researchers. The finding will help scientists understand how recent and future increases in the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide may impact the future of our planet, they add.

The discovery comes from new biochemical analyses of fossil leaves from plants that grew on Earth 27 million years ago and 22 million years ago, said geologist Tekie Tesfamichael, an SMU postdoctoral fellow in Earth Sciences and a lead scientist on the research.

The new analyses confirm research about modern climate — that global temperatures rise and fall with increases and decreases in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere — but in this case even in prehistoric times, according to the SMU-led international research team.

Carbon dioxide is a gas that is normally present in the Earth’s atmosphere, even millions of years ago. It’s dubbed a greenhouse gas because greater concentrations cause the overall temperature of Earth’s atmosphere to rise, as happens in a greenhouse with lots of sunlight.

Recently greenhouse gas increases have caused global warming, which is melting glaciers, sparking extreme weather variability and causing sea levels to rise.

The new SMU discovery that carbon dioxide behaved in the same manner millions of years ago that it does today has significant implications for the future. The finding suggests the pairing of carbon dioxide and global warming that is seen today also holds true for the future if carbon dioxide levels continue to rise as they have been, said Tesfamichael.

“The more we understand about the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and global temperature in the past, the more we can plan for changes ahead,” said Tesfamichael.

“Previous work reported a variety of results and conflicting data about carbon dioxide concentrations at the two intervals of time that we studied,” he said. “But tighter control on the age of our fossils helped us to address whether or not atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration corresponded to warming — which itself is independently well-documented in geochemical studies of marine fossils in ocean sediments.”

The researchers reported their findings in Geology, the scientific journal of the Geological Society of America. The article is “Settling the issue of ‘decoupling’ between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature: [CO2]atm reconstructions across the warming Paleogene-Neogene divide.”

Co-authors from the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College are professors Bonnie Jacobs, an expert in paleobotany and paleoclimate, and Neil J. Tabor, an expert in sedimentology and sedimentary geochemistry. Other co-authors are Lauren Michel, Tennessee Technological University; Ellen Currano, University of Wyoming; Mulugeta Feseha, Addis Ababa University; Richard Barclay, Smithsonian Institution; John Kappelman, University of Texas; and Mark Schmitz, Boise State University.

— Written by Margaret Allen

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog: smuresearch.com

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