Research findings will be presented at the second annual Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center Symposium to be held in Mexico City April 6, 2018.
The Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at SMU has awarded grants to four scholars from both sides of the border who aim to support the Center’s goal of providing policy-relevant, action-oriented research on the dynamic relationship between Texas and Mexico.
Findings from each of the four projects, selected by the Texas-Mexico Center’s Faculty Advisory Board, will be shared this spring, says Luisa del Rosal, executive director of the Center.
“This is a tremendous benefit to Dedman College, where so many faculty members research and teach about Texas and Mexico,” says SMU Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences Dean Thomas DiPiero. “This will help strengthen the social, economic and cultural ties between the two regions.”
The four projects are:
“Migration, Inequality & Public Policies in Mexico and the United States”
Lead researcher: Colegio de Mexico President Silvia Giorguli, Mexico City
“Are Mexican and U.S. Workers Complements or Substitutes?”
Lead researcher: Raymond Robertson, Helen and Roy Ryu Chair in Economics
& Government, Texas A&M Bush School of Government & Public Service, College Station
“Institutions, Trade and Economic Prosperity: An Examination of the U.S. and Mexican States”
Lead researcher: Dean Stansel, associate professor, O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom, SMU Cox School of Business
“Slowdown in Mexico-U.S. Migration: Why is Texas Different?”
Lead researcher: Colegio Tlaxcala President Alfredo Cuecuecha, Tlaxcala, Mexico
Grant recipient Stansel said his team will focus on the potential economic damage from a possible new regime of trade restrictions in the U.S.
“By examining the interconnected relationships between trade policy, trade volume and economic prosperity in the U.S. and Mexico,” he said, “we hope to provide insights into the importance of maintaining a system of relatively free trade.”
Research findings will be presented at the second annual Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center Symposium to be held in Mexico City April 6, 2018.
Three dozen applicants applied for the grants, which was “more than we expected for the first year,” says Javier Velez, vice-chair of the Texas-Mexico Center Executive Advisory Board and CEO of Mission Foods’ U.S. headquarters in Dallas.
“It was pleasing for us how much interest there is in effectively promoting and facilitating a better understanding of the relation between Texas and Mexico,” Velez said.
The Mission Foods Texas-Mexico Center at SMU is dedicated to improving relations between Texas and Mexico through dialogue and research. It works to encourage greater cross-border integration and cross-sector collaboration in academia, government, non-governmental organizations and business. The Center strives to enhance a political dialogue to reshape the policies that govern the relationship between Texas and Mexico, focusing on five areas: trade and investment, energy, human capital and education, border issues and migration. — Denise Gee, SMU
The festive event coincided with the kick-off of SMU’s Fall Semester and included Solar Eclipse Cookies served while viewing the rare astronomical phenomenon.
The eclipse reached its peak at 1:09 p.m. in Dallas at more than 75% of totality.
“What a great first day of the semester and terrific event to bring everyone together with the help of Dedman College scientists,” said Dedman Dean Thomas DiPiero. “And the eclipse cookies weren’t bad, either.”
Physics faculty provided indirect methods for observing the eclipse, including a telescope with a viewing cone on the steps of historic Dallas Hall, a projection of the eclipse onto a screen into Dallas Hall, and a variety of homemade hand-held devices.
Outside on the steps of Dallas Hall, Associate Professor Stephen Sekula manned his home-built viewing tunnel attached to a telescope for people to indirectly view the eclipse.
“I was overwhelmed by the incredible response of the students, faculty and community,” Sekula said. “The people who flocked to Dallas Hall were energized and engaged. It moved me that they were so interested in — and, in some cases, had their perspective on the universe altered by — a partial eclipse of the sun by the moon.”
A team of Physics Department faculty assembled components to use a mirror to project the eclipse from a telescope on the steps of Dallas Hall into the rotunda onto a screen hanging from the second-floor balcony.
Adjunct Professor John Cotton built the mount for the mirror — with a spare, just in case — and Professor and Department Chairman Ryszard Stroynowski and Sekula arranged the tripod setup and tested the equipment.
Stroynowski also projected an illustration of the Earth, the moon and the sun onto the wall of the rotunda to help people visualize movement and location of those cosmic bodies during the solar eclipse.
Professor Fred Olness handed out cardboard projectors and showed people how to use them to indirectly view the eclipse.
“The turn-out was fantastic,” Olness said. “Many families with children participated, and we distributed cardboard with pinholes so they could project the eclipse onto the sidewalk. It was rewarding that they were enthused by the science.”
Stroynowski, Sekula and others at the viewing event were interviewed by CBS 11 TV journalist Robert Flagg.
Physics Professor Thomas Coan and Guillermo Vasquez, SMU Linux and research computing support specialist, put together a sequence of photos they took during the day from Fondren Science Building.
“The experience of bringing faculty, students and even some out-of-campus community members together by sharing goggles, cameras, and now pictures of one of the great natural events, was extremely gratifying,” Vasquez said.
Sekula said the enthusiastic response from the public is driving plans to prepare for the next event of this kind.
“I’m really excited to share with SMU and Dallas in a total eclipse of the sun on April 8, 2024,” he said.
Wallmark, assistant professor and chair of music history at SMU Meadows School of the Arts, is using music studies, cognitive sciences and original brain imaging experiments to research the nature of our emotional response to music.
“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition,” Wallmark said. “With the support of the NEH, I hope in my work to help people better understand music’s grip on human emotion and imagination.”
Ates, associate professor in the Clements Department of History, is drawing on a variety of archival sources from different languages to write Sheikh Abdulqadir Nehri (d. 1925) and the Pursuit of an Independent Kurdistan. In the book, Ates will explore the quest for a Kurdish state between 1880-1925, when the creation of such a state emerged as a distinct possibility and then quickly unraveled.
“What this grant tells us is that our work has national relevance,” Ates said. “Recognition of SMU’s faculty work by a prestigious institution like NEH further cements SMU’s standing as a research university. With the support of NEH, I hope to answer one of the enduring questions of the contemporary Middle East: The Kurdish statelessness.”
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at www.neh.gov.
This is the first time since 2010 that two awards were granted to SMU faculty members within the same funding cycle. More recently, history professor Alexis McCrossen received the fellowship in 2015 and assistant professor of English Timothy Cassedy earned it in 2014.
“NEH fellowships are among the most competitive humanities research opportunities in the nation, with a funding rate of approximately seven percent,” said Meadows Dean Sam Holland. “We are delighted that Zach has won this recognition, which is significant for the Meadows Music Division and reflects the growing visibility and stature of SMU on the national research stage.”
“Recognition from the NEH reinforces that our faculty garner national and international recognition for their research,” said Dedman Dean Thomas DiPiero. “Professor Ates’ work is very timely as the world struggles to determine how best to address our needs for greater intercultural understanding.”
Wallmark teaches courses in American popular music, including opera history and the psychology of music, and serves as director of Meadows’ new MuSci Lab, an interdisciplinary research group and lab facility dedicated to the scientific study of music. His first book, Timbre and Musical Meaning, is under contract with Oxford University Press. He will be combining his NEH support with a sabbatical from Meadows for a full year of dedicated research and writing time.
Ates’ research focuses on Ottoman-Iranian relations, Kurdish history, borderlands and the borderland peoples, and the history of sectarianism in the Middle East. His first book Tunalı Hilmi Bey: Osmanlıdan Cumhuriyet’e Bir Aydın, (Istanbul: Iletişim Yayınları, 2009), examines competing projects of Ottoman intellectuals to keep the disparate parts of the Empire together, as well as their responses to the age of nationalism and the birth of the Turkish Republic. Partially based on his award-winning dissertation, his second book, Ottoman-Iranian Borderlands: Making a Boundary (Cambridge University Press, 2013) discusses the making of the boundaries that modern states of Iraq, Turkey and Iran share.
The new Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Program will identify and implement policy-focused solutions to the Latino community’s most pressing concerns, from educational and economic opportunities, to voting rights and immigration reform, to the under-representation of Latinos in elected and appointed roles at the federal, state and local levels, as well as corporate boards.
As part of the unique partnership, the Latino CLD will provide SMU’s Tower Center with $900,000 over five years. The funding will allow the new policy program to attract and engage scholars and thought leaders in an interdisciplinary think-tank, creating a framework to analyze and develop policy priorities, provide public forums and outreach, and support greater understanding and influence for the Latino community.
“America is in the midst of a fundamental, Latino-driven demographic shift,” said Latino CLD founder and SMU alumnus Jorge Baldor, citing Pew Research Center reports that Latinos will represent about 30 percent of the U.S. population by 2060.
“With the growing number of Latinos comes a reciprocal responsibility to lead,” Baldor said. “Latino CLD is focused on developing the next generation of those leaders.”
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said research from the institute will inform policymaking locally and nationwide.
“I’m pleased the Latino Center for Leadership Development and SMU are joining forces for a premier Latino policy program,” Rawlings said. “The research it produces will be an asset for policy makers, allowing for in-depth analysis and creation of policies that will improve the lives of people across Texas and throughout the nation.”
SMU is becoming a major presence in Latino-focused research and education, said Thomas DiPiero, dean of Dedman College.
“It’s also a propitious moment to bring new expertise and scholarship to bear both nationally and locally,” DiPiero said, noting the Dallas-Fort Worth region, with 7 million people, is the nation’s fourth-largest population center, and growing rapidly.
“Looking ahead, the success of this program will allow SMU and the Latino CLD to contribute vital public policy research while based in DFW — a U.S. political and economic center of gravity with strong global connections,” DiPiero said.
The Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Program will work in three major areas:
Provide influential voices and data to support research on policy issues
Offer two-year appointments for postdoctoral scholars who will research and publish their findings on public policy issues
Provide research grants and public seminars to promote stronger community understanding and dialogue about key societal issues
The relationship between the new SMU policy program and Latino CLD also will allow promising leaders, such as those within the Latino CLD’s new Leadership Academy, “to develop as individuals and hone network skills necessary to assume positions of influence” while focused on policy and politics to help people from all spectrums of society, Baldor said.
“The Latino CLD-SMU Tower Center Policy Program will provide an excellent opportunity to combine our expertise to focus on contemporary policy matters of major interest to this country’s diverse, growing Latino community,” said Joshua Rovner, director of studies at the Tower Center in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
“As a hub for social-scientific issues, we will play a major role in cutting through the cacophony of numbers related to the Latino community, letting us take big issues and quickly drill down to ideas for thoughtful solutions and policy implementation,” Rovner said.
The announcement of the new policy program came on the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month and follows on the heels of the Tower Center’s Sept. 8 launch of its new Texas-Mexico Program during Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s historic visit to Mexico. — Denise Gee
SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see www.smu.edu.
In the spirit of John Tower’s commitment to educate and inspire a new generation of thoughtful leaders, the Tower Center seeks to bridge the gap between the world of ideas, scholarship and teaching, as well as the practice of politics. The primary mission of the Tower Center is to promote the study of politics and international affairs and to stimulate an interest in ethical public service among undergraduates. The Tower Center is an academic center where all parties and views are heard in a marketplace of ideas, and the Center pursues its mission in a non-partisan manner.
Latino CLD is a privately funded foundation with a vision of developing future leaders with an understanding of Latino-focused policies and actionable items for solutions resulting from such partnerships as the Latino CLD–SMU Tower Center Policy Institute.
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