April 2020 News

Making the most of staying indoors to buy time for others

For many SMU students, like Marie Joung ’20, a senior pre-med biology major and human rights fellow, and her husband, Benjy, sheltering at home during spring break was the right thing to do. Dallas Morning News columnist Sharon Grigsby wrote about the couple’s decision to self-quarantine as the nation’s beaches were packed with revelers. “But here in North Texas, I found plenty of smart young people who are taking the pandemic seriously. They aren’t freaking out over COVID-19, but neither do these unselfish 20-somethings want to contribute to people losing their lives or further destabilize a country they hope to continue living in.”
The following excerpt was published by The Dallas Morning News on March 18, 2020:

By Sharon Grigsby
The Dallas Morning News

We’ve hardly had time to come to terms with the new normal imposed by the coronavirus, but it shouldn’t look like a day at the beach.

Videos of revelers crowded together on the sand and in oceanfront bars — just daring the pandemic to cancel spring break — have flooded social media this week. The raucous invincibility drowned out the pleadings of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to stop this foolish behavior in order to protect themselves and others. …

That’s why Marie and Benjy Joung, sturdy Midwest millennials who have lived in Dallas since 2018, are self-quarantining in their 600-square-foot downtown apartment with their three pet rats, Leonard, Vern, and Nebuchadnezzar. They know the walls of their studio space are likely to close in on them more with each passing week, but they are determined to take deep breaths and stay put to buy time for other Americans.

Marie and Benjy are in great health, but they began socially distancing even before the first cases of coronavirus were reported in North Texas. Since Saturday, except for a few brief, cautious walks, they haven’t left the apartment that’s serving as their 24-7 work, study and living space.

The Joungs don’t want to catch a virus that doctors still know so little about, but their top reason for hunkering down is to protect others. “Neither of us wants to feel like somebody caught the virus because of our irresponsibility,” Benjy told me by phone after his remote workday ended Tuesday night.

Read more.

2017 Alumni December 2017

SMU alumnus’ research key to a Nobel for circadian rhythm discoveries

As a young researcher, Paul E. Hardin ’82 clocked innumerable hours in a pitch-dark lab to shed light on one of the keys to good health. Hardin was the first author on one of the fundamental papers from a body of circadian rhythm research to win the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
The Nobel Prize went to Hardin’s former colleagues Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall of Brandeis as well as Michael Young of Rockefeller University “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.”
“It’s a really beautiful example of basic research that has led to incredible discoveries,” Hardin commented in Quanta Magazine. “Almost every aspect of physiology and metabolism will be controlled by the circadian clock.”
Hardin earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from SMU in 1982 and a doctorate in genetics from Indiana University in 1987.
As a postdoctoral researcher in Rosbash’s lab from 1987 to 1991, Hardin demonstrated that the protein encoded by the gene that controls circadian rhythm in the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) fluctuates over a 24-hour period, rising at night and falling during the day. His research over the past two decades has helped establish the fruit fly as a model organism for studying the circadian clock in humans and allowed scientists to unravel myriad ways in which that natural timekeeper affects our health. These discoveries may lead to new treatments for a wide range of afflictions – from jet lag and sleep disorders to obesity and heart disease.
Hardin, Distinguished Professor and John W. Lyons Jr. ’59 Endowed Chair in Biology at Texas A&M University, told Texas A&M Today: “A Nobel prize for ciradian clocks is great for the field. It is, indeed, exciting to have worked with two of the three winners and to see them and my field honored with such a momentous award. It is a proud moment for circadian clocks.”
His research has earned international recognition, including the 2003 Aschoff-Honma Prize from the Honma Life Science Foundation in Japan. He has served as president of the Society for Research on Biological Rhythms and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Genetics Society of America and the Society of Neuroscience. He is the author of more than 100 publications.
A previous version of this story erroneously stated that Dr. Hardin was the son of SMU President Paul Hardin III, and we apologize for the error.
Read more: