SMU students dominate anthropology contest

Twelve SMU undergraduate students dominated the pool of winners in a writing competition sponsored by the Center for a Public Anthropology.

Nearly one-third of the winners from the approximately 2,175 entrants were SMU students, all enrolled in professor Carolyn Smith-Morris “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” class.

Smith-Morris credits the winning students with initiative and leadership in tackling the assigned topic: the request by the Yanomami, a forest-dwelling tribe in the Amazon rainforest, for the repatriation of relatives’ blood stored in research laboratories of prestigious institutions. Yanomami beliefs hold that deceased relatives can only die in peace when all their bodily parts, including blood, are ritually destroyed.

“The Center invites students to prepare short written arguments on a topic, the background reading for which is shared through the website,” Smith-Morris said. “Students are graded by anonymous peers through the website, and themselves evaluate the written pieces of three other students.”

The winning SMU students are Kathe Lee, Hillary Talbot, Kendall Moore, Emily Ciuba, Rebekah Boyer, Natalie Chao, Michael Canaris, Grace Ann Whiteside, Bethany Suba, Den Cralle, Hartley Mellick, and Charlene Dondlinger.

The winners for the fall semester were selected by peers in the center’s Community Action online community, which includes students from 28 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada.

Read the students’ winning entries

Iraqi women meet with former President and Mrs. Bush at SMU

Former President and Mrs. Bush with Iraqi women at SMUFormer President George W. Bush and Laura Bush met with eight Iraqi women at SMU on May 14 as part of the delegation’s visit to the United States under the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program.

The exchange, which included several U.S. cities, was coordinated by World Learning Visitor Exchange Program in cooperation with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth. The women are officials in Iraq representing professions ranging from public works administration to nursing education.

Several SMU faculty members attended the event – Crista DeLuzio of the Clements Department of History and Carolyn Smith-Morris of the Department of Anthropology, both in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences; Maria Minniti, Cox School of Business; Jenia Turner, Dedman School of Law; and Susanne Scholz, Perkins School of Theology. SMU student Natalie Kashefi also attended. Gail Turner, wife of SMU President R. Gerald Turner, hosted a reception for the group; and Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for development and external affairs, was among those welcoming the delegation to campus.

The World Affairs Council was represented by its president, Jim Falk, and executive vice president Beth Huddleston, who also serves as a member of the board of the National Council for International Visitors. The Council serves as the Department of State’s coordinator of the International Visitor Leadership Program in Dallas and Fort Worth.

“Both President and Mrs. Bush spoke about the vital role women play in building and maintaining civil society and about how essential the guarantee of women’s rights is to a healthy democracy,” said DeLuzio. “The Iraqi women spoke eloquently about their courageous attempts to empower women and to further women’s rights in their country.

“I teach about the long and ongoing struggle for gender equality in the United States. This exchange inspired me to try to do more to educate my students about women’s movements around the world and to encourage them to think comparatively about women’s work on behalf of social justice and gender equality across time and place.”

Read more and see additional photos from SMU News

Four professors named Ford Research Fellows for 2009

SMU's 2009 Ford Research FellowsFour exemplary SMU researchers have received the University’s 2009 Ford Research Fellowships. This year’s recipients are Ben Johnson, History; Fred Olness, Physics; Larry Ruben, Biological Sciences; and Carolyn Smith-Morris, Anthropology. All of the new Ford Research Fellows teach in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

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

Read more about this year’s recipients under the link. Right, the new Ford Fellows were honored by the SMU Board of Trustees during its May meeting (left to right): Gerald J. Ford, Ben Johnson, Carolyn Smith-Morris, Fred Olness, Larry Ruben, and SMU President R. Gerald Turner.

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Brian Stump receives teaching award at General Faculty Meeting

Brian Stump, Albritton Professor in the Huffington Department of Earth Sciences in Dedman College, was honored as the 2007-08 United Methodist Church University Scholar/Teacher of the Year at SMU’s Fall General Faculty Meeting Aug. 28.

President R. Gerald Turner updated the faculty on the upcoming Second Century Campaign and other issues surrounding campus life.

>> Newly tenured faculty and more under the link

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Research Spotlight: When it comes to health care, culture matters

diabetes-among-the-pima-100.jpgThe Pima Indians on the Gila River Reservation have the highest recorded rate of diabetes of any population in the world – but before World War II, diabetes was rarely seen among the 12,000 Indians who live there. The decline of farming set the stage for the crisis, says Carolyn Smith-Morris, assistant professor of anthropology and author of Diabetes Among the Pima (University of Arizona Press, 2006). The dramatic change of diet and activity levels as well as a genetic predisposition to the disease led to the epidemic, which affects 50 percent of the adults on the reservation. “This epidemic is about a culture defining its path in an industrial world,” says Smith-Morris, a medical anthropologist who has spent the past 10 years studying the causes and conditions of the health crisis and developing appropriate preventive strategies. She sees positive signs of change as tribal officials take more control of their health care system and health education. Learn more at her faculty Web site.