Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Excellence in Mentoring Awards

At the Undergraduate Research Lunch on Thursday, April 18, the Office of Engaged Learning announced the 2024 Excellence in Mentoring Awards.

2024 Recipients:

Dr. Mark Allen
Senior Lecturer, Temerlin Advertising Institute (Meadows)
Mentees: Tyler Chapman ’25, Morgan Martinez ’24, Ross Yenerich ’25

Dr. Jessie Zarazaga
Clinical Associate Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering (Lyle)
Mentees: Kristen Edwards ’24, Arlo Kadane ’24

Each year, The Office of Engaged Learning honors faculty members who have provided our Engaged Learning Fellows exceptional mentoring. The criteria for selection considers the quality of the student’s nomination, the student’s accomplishments, and the faculty member’s history of successfully mentoring students in the program. The awards come with a small honorarium.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Seeking Clinton Global Initiative “Commitment-Makers”!

The Office of Engaged Learning coordinates the Clinton Global Initiative University program at SMU. Undergraduate and graduate students can apply to join a growing global community of over 12,500 social entrepreneurs working to solve our world’s most pressing issues.
SMU’s CGIU “Commitment Makers” receive
  • Up to $1500 to fund their Commitment to Action Project
  • Funding to attend the CGIU annual meeting
Application Process
The deadline for CGIU 2024 is March 15, 2024. Contact our office at for help with your application.
Information sessions/workshops with former winners, on Zoom:
More details: SMU.EDU/CGIU
Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Applications for SRI due Friday Feb 9!

SMU Faculty: applications for the Summer Research Intensive are due Friday, February 9th.

Faculty members may apply for match funding to support up to 2 undergraduate research assistants for the summer. The students may work up to 30 hours per week and attend weekly symposia and professional development workshops.

Further information is available on our site,

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Introducing Big iDeas Marketplace!

The Office of Engaged Learning invites all SMU-affiliated entrepreneurs to sell their products, demo their apps, share brochures, etc. at the Big iDeas Marketplace on February 9, 2024 from 11am to 1pm.

Big iDeas has held a demo fair featuring past winners each spring. Now we are opening up the fair to the community. If you have a business, no matter the size, and want to participate, please sign up for a table at the Big iDeas Marketplace.

Big iDeas business plan competition February 9 2024. Apply at


Winners of the Big iDeas Business Plan Competition will also be announced at the Marketplace. The Competition is open to all SMU undergrads. Apply here.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research Student Academic Engagement & Success

Research & Innovation Week April 1-5

  • The undergraduate poster session will be held on Tuesday, April 2, from 2-5pm
  • Two graduate poster sessions will be held on Wednesday, April 3:
    • 9am-12pm for students in Dedman College graduate programs and
    • 2-5pm for graduate students in all other graduate programs and postdoctoral scholars.
  • Keynote talk: Thursday, April 4, at 5pm
    • Keivan Stassun, Director of the Frist Center for Autism & Innovation and Stevenson Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Vanderbilt University

Please encourage your students to participate in the poster sessions! This is a great opportunity for students and postdocs to share their research with the SMU community, and to compete for cash prizes.  They can find more information, as well as the link to register for the poster sessions on the Research and Innovation Week website.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

Big iDeas E-Launch propels latest generation of entrepreneurs

SMU’s Big iDeas program in the Office of Engaged Learning offers funding, training and mentoring to undergraduate entrepreneurs in any major. The E-Launch workshop series guides entrepreneurs in the creation of their businesses. E-Launch met each Monday evening this semester and was led by Entrepreneurship Fellow Michael Kelly (Founder, Resolute Future), with sessions taught by Seth Orsborn (Director, Deason Innovation Gym), John Rougeux (Partner, Category Thinkers) and Ellen Smoak (Founder & CEO, The Society of Women Entrepreneurs).

Each student entrepreneur has made considerable strides in crafting their businesses through sessions covering market research, prototyping, business planning, and storytelling. We asked our entrepreneurs about what they’ve learned throughout the sessions.

“E-Launch has helped me ground my business idea and determine which elements to focus on and which are most important,” said senior Ryder McNeal, founder of PREVO Streaming. PREVO is a streaming platform dedicated to showing a curated catalogue of independent or student-made films from across the country. Ryder, who is majoring in Marketing and Film, looks forward to his next steps. “I am extremely excited to launch my business in the coming months and work to refine my pitch deck.”

Ryder McNeal Prevo Streaming with big check from Big iDeas

Throughout the process, the entrepreneurs completed assignments, such as a Lean Canvas, that are designed to help them develop a business plan and seek more funding in the future. “I’ve learned a lot,” said first-year Yaw Boateng, “such as the entire concept of category design, what an MVP is (minimum viable product), the different stages of prototypes, and how to conduct market research.”

Yaw Boateng, Peruna Bot with big check from Big IDeas

Yaw is majoring in Data Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is developing PerunaBot, an AI chatbot, to help SMU students navigate all the resources on campus. Yaw enjoyed learning broader entrepreneurship lessons like “alignment is purpose.” He explained, “from this framework, you’re reducing all friction from achieving your goals and creating a natural tailwind to push you forward. Also, understanding nuance for decision-making that can be applied to all areas of life.”

The next step for many of these entrepreneurs will be the Big iDeas Business Plan Competitionon February 9, 2024. All SMU undergrads are eligible to apply. Details on the application, business plan, and future E-Launch sessions are on the Big iDeas website,

These interviews were conducted by Leon Jackson, interim Project Coordinator for Big iDeas.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Recap: Data Science for Social Good

This summer, the Office of Engaged Learning and Data Science Institute welcomed 12 students from across the country to participate in the second year of the “Data Science for Social Good” program. The program was funded by a National Science Foundation “Research Experiences for Undergraduates” site grant written by Lynne Stokes (Professor Emerita of Statistical Science) and Jennifer Ebinger (Director, Office of Engaged Learning).

Students in this program developed their skills with Python, AI, and data visualization in a 2-week data science bootcamp taught by Eric Godat (Team Lead, Data Science and Research Services, OIT). Then they formed teams to tackle research projects mentored by Cullum Clark (Director, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative), Anthony Petrosino (Professor, Teaching and Learning) and Mary Spector (Professor, Dedman Law). The program culminated in a Three Minute “Thesis” competition with the OEL’s Summer Research Intensive.

Special thanks and commendation is due to Lauren Gilmore, Senior Program Specialist of the DSI, for her amazing logistical and program support! Thanks also to the wonderful TAs for their contributions: Abdullah Saifee, Cindy Hua, Duwani Katamullage, Marc Sager, Max Sherard.

The students were invited to present their work on the Southern Demographic Association annual meeting in San Antonio, October 18-20.

Hear what the REU participants have to say in this video:

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship Office of Engaged Learning – Research

The Office of Engaged Learning welcomes Kelly Chandrapal as new Program Coordinator

The Office of Engaged Learning welcomes Kelly Chandrapal as the new Program Coordinator. Kelly comes to SMU most recently from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s art museum where she worked closely with undergraduate and graduate students in her position as the Learning Resources Coordinator. Prior to working at UNC, she implemented educational programs in museums and taught elementary and high school art in Texas public schools. Kelly earned a BFA in Visual Art Studies from The University of Texas at Austin and MA in Museum Science from Texas Tech University. She is a Texas native but new to Dallas and is looking forward to becoming a part of the SMU community!

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship

The Office of Engaged Learning welcomes Michael Kelly as Entrepreneurship Fellow

Michael Kelly is joining the Office of Engaged Learning team this semester as the first Entrepreneurship Fellow. In this role, Michael will host the E-Launch workshop series and coach winners of the Big iDeas Pitch Contest.

Michael is the Co-Founder of Resolute Future, a software company dedicated to empower the next generation of innovators, and a former VP of investments at JPMorgan Chase where he spent 12 years with a variety of responsibilities including sales, financial planning, management, & training. He held his series 7, series 66, and insurance federal and state licenses in over 20 states during his tenure there. Michael built a $120 million business before leaving to start Resolute Future. While at JPMorgan, he was recognized multiple times for his sales accolades, served on the Diversity Board, and helped increase the book of business 60x under his leadership. Michael is also a serial Entrepreneur dating back to his first venture in 2005/06 while still in high school. He currently sits on the Venture Board for the Dallas Entrepreneur Center focused on increasing venture activity in the DFW area. He donates his time to the DEC, the Capital One accelerator program, Mass Challenge’s accelerator program, and giving speeches at Universities. He was voted by his peers North Texas’ Startup Evangelist of the year for 2023. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with his business administration and management degree from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Office of Engaged Learning Office of Engaged Learning - Entrepreneurship Office of Engaged Learning – Research

Engaged Learning Fellowship and Big iDeas

The Office of Engaged Learning invites students to apply to their premier funding opportunities: the Engaged Learning Fellowship and the Big iDeas Pitch Contest!

The Engaged Learning Fellowship (ELF) provides up to $2500 of funding for students pursuing a capstone project in research, service, or creative inquiry. The deadline for the current cycle is September 15. Applicants submit a project proposal along with a letter of recommendation from their faculty mentor. Proposals are reviewed by a faculty panel.

The Big iDeas Pitch Contest awards up to $1000 of funding for student entrepreneurs. A brief application is due by September 27, and participants will deliver a live 90-second pitch to a panel of judges on Friday, September 29 from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.