Pavlakis Contributes Insights on Uprooted Students in Public Radio Documentary

Alexandra Pavlakis, assistant professor in Education Policy and Leadership, researches the effects of homelessness on students, so when APM Reports decided to do a documentary on children who get uprooted from schools repeatedly, Pavlakis was consulted.

Her insights on the increasing population of homeless students are featured in “Students on the Move: Keeping uprooted kids in school.” The documentary was distributed to 300 public radio stations, including KERA 90.1 in North Texas. The station aired the documentary August 18, 2019.

APM Reports provides the audio story and the transcript.

The Atlantic Features Gándara’s Expertise in Article on U of Alaska Cuts

Assistant Professor Denisa Gándara in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership was interviewed by The Atlantic on state funding cuts to the University of Alaska system. Initially, the governor asked the university for $130 million in cuts, then negotiated $70 million over three years.

Gándara points out that both the state and the university have been relying heavily on revenues from the oil market, and not moving away from that dependence. The university should be emphasizing its role in educating students for non-oil dependent jobs, she says. Read more of her observations on the consequences of these cuts.


Walkington Offers Tips on Making Math More Meaningful

Dr. Candace Walkington

Candace Walkington, associate professor in Teaching and Learning, conducts research on how students can learn mathematics when the subject is connected to their interests outside the classroom.

Writing for, Walkington gives examples of how to teach the abstract concepts of math by appealing to students’ career aspirations, physical movements, their surroundings and community, the creation of math problems, and other activities.

Walkington recently received the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the White House. Read more about her work here.


Hernandez Trains Galapagos Principals for Education Initiative

Dr. Frank Hernandez, Annette and Harold Simmons Centennial Chair, worked with principals and assistant principals on leadership development in the Galapagos Islands, June 24-28.

He serves as lead instructor for the educational leadership component that is part of Education for Sustainability in Galapagos Program.

The program, a five-year initiative, is implemented through a partnership between the Galapagos Conservancy (a US non-profit conservation organization authorized to operate in Ecuador), the Fundación Scalesia (an Ecuadorian education NGO based in Galapagos) and Ecuador’s Ministry of Education.

Hernandez was based on the islands of Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, and his focus was to shadow participants throughout the day and provide coaching sessions with them at the end of the day. School leaders are expected to analyze situations for decision-making, communicate effectively with all members of the school community, manage conflict, lead and guide staff, work as part of a team, reflect on their own practice and incorporate feedback from others, and negotiate agreements.

Bing and Cuevas Provide Virtual Reality Classes for Surgeons in Zambia

More women die of cervical cancer in Zambia than from any other disease. Why? Because not enough numbers of trained surgeons are available to help. But two SMU Simmons professors, Dr. Eric Bing and Dr. Tony Cuevas, believe virtual reality can train much needed surgeons.

Dr. Tony Cuevas (at right)

Bing, professor of global health, and Cuevas, clinical professor and director of instructional design, have been piloting surgery techniques with novice surgeons using virtual reality.

The technology they use is for in-home computer gaming and costs less than $1,000 per training station.

They have paired up with two other researchers, Dr. Groesbeck Parham, a professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and head of the CIDRZ Cervical Cancer Prevention Program in Lusaka, Zambia. And Dr. Richard Sullivan, professor and director of the Institute of Cancer Policy and Co-Director of Conflict and Health Research Group at the Kings College in London, England. Read more in D Healthcare.  Also see Dallas Innovates.


Dr. Eric Bing

Presidential Turnovers Don’t Deal with Underlying Issues Says Harris in The Chronicle

In a Chronicle of Higher Education article on the trend of shorter terms for presidents at colleges and universities, Associate Professor Michael Harris reflects on his research looking at college presidents turnover between 1988 and 2016.

He believes there is less reluctance to make quick changes at the top because there is an increase of corporate power brokers on boards, system offices, and in legislatures.  A resulting consequence of short terms is that underlying causes don’t get examined. Read more.

In addition to to serving on the Simmons faculty in higher education, he also directs the Center of Teaching Excellence at SMU.


Inside Higher Ed Features Opinion Piece by Ferguson on Bias Response Teams

Kiersten Ferguson, clinical associate professor in higher education, collaborates with a team of scholars to examine misconceptions of bias response teams at 19 universities around the country. In their opinion piece for Inside Higher Ed, they argue that the truth about these teams is more complex than what headlines claim. See excerpt here.


Washington Post Cites Baker’s Research on African-American Student Loan Debt

In looking at current discussions to relieve African-American student loan debt, The Washington Post reported on debt relief at Morehouse College issued by donor Robert F. Smith.

Dominique Baker, assistant professor of education policy and leadership in Simmons, comments on the need for stronger fixes. She notes problems with the complicated repayment system and labor market discrimination impacting African-Americans. Read more.

Baker’s research focuses on the way that education policy affects the access and success of underrepresented students in higher education. She primarily investigates student financial aid, affirmative action, and policies that influence the ability to create an inclusive and equitable campus climate.

Connecticut Pub Radio Interviews Weyand on High Speed Runners

Peter Weyand, Glenn Simmons Endowed Professor and director of the Locomotor Performance Lab, spoke to Connecticut Public Radio’s Where We Live. Weyand is  one of the foremost investigators of human speed. His interview on the science of running can be found here.

Wired Looks at How Fast Humans Can Run with Weyand’s Expertise

Professor Peter Weyand, director of the Locomotor Performance Laboratory in Simmons, is featured in a Wired video and article, What’s the Fastest 100 Meter Dash a Human Can Run? The premise that reporter Robbie Gonzalez examines is if it is humanly possible to run the 100 meter dash in nine seconds flat. Usain Bolt, the fastest human, runs  the 100 meter dash in 9.58 seconds. A visit with Weyand in the lab determines the answer. Click here for the video and article.