2022 June 2022 News

Academic leader Robin Poston to join SMU as dean of the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Robin Poston has been tapped as the new dean of SMU's Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies

Robin Suzanne Poston, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Memphis, has been named dean of SMU’s Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies and associate provost for graduate education. She will assume her position at SMU August 15.
Poston has since 2018 led strategic initiatives at the University of Memphis to modernize academic, scholarly and international approaches that support enrollment growth, student success and timely graduation in its Graduate School. These initiatives serve Ph.D., professional and graduate certificate students across 161 graduate programs in 12 colleges and schools.
Poston also has served since 2015 as director of the Systems Testing Excellence Program (STEP) at the University of Memphis’ FedEx Institute of Technology. In that capacity she has supported interdisciplinary teams of faculty and students on government and industry-sponsored projects to build up research and curricular competencies, helping to promote STEP as an internationally recognized group of thought leaders in the science of systems testing. STEP researchers are currently working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Air Force Institute of Technology and in the past have performed projects for the Defense Information Systems Agency of the Department of Defense, FedEx Corporation and others.
“The Moody School for Graduate and Advanced Studies is focused on improving the quality and success of SMU’s graduate programs in concert with strategic investments in the research enterprise,” says Elizabeth G. Loboa, SMU provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “Graduate education is an essential component of a university’s research ecosystem, and doctoral students, in particular, constitute important metrics in the Carnegie Classification, which is used to distinguish universities in terms of their research productivity.
“Dr. Poston is a proven leader with deep experience at the intersection of research and graduate education,” Loboa adds. “She was the chief architect in the rise of University of Memphis from R2 to R1 in the Carnegie rankings, and we are excited that she is joining SMU’s leadership team at this time in our quest for even greater academic quality.”
Read more.

2020 January 2020 News

Engineer, inventor, researcher and leader

Elizabeth Loboa will join SMU as provost and vice president for academic affairs on July 6. As chief academic officer for the University, Loboa will be responsible for the overall quality of teaching, scholarship and research and all aspects of academic life, ranging from admissions and faculty development to supervision of SMU’s eight schools, library system and international programs.
Loboa, a biomedical engineer, is currently vice chancellor for strategic partnerships and dean and Ketchum Professor of the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri. She brings to SMU a distinguished academic record and broad university leadership experience.
“Dr. Loboa is joining SMU at an exciting time, as we launch a new graduate school and strengthen our commitment to both world-changing research and teaching,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Her proven track record in building and supporting partnerships both inside and outside the academy is exactly what we are looking for as SMU reaches out for collaborations that serve both Dallas and our global community.”
Read more at SMU News.

January 2020 News

Plant-based drug could stem the spread of HTLV-1 virus

A new study by SMU researchers shows that the drug oleandrin, which is derived from the Nerium oleander plant, could stem the spread of HTLV-1 virus. A cousin of HIV, the virus infects 10-15 million people worldwide. It causes cells to divide uncontrollably and can lead to leukemia, neurological disease and even death. There is currently no treatment or cure for the virus.
“Our research findings suggest that oleandrin could possibly limit the transmission and spread of HTLV-1 by targeting a unique stage in the retroviral life cycle,” said Robert Harrod, associate professor and director of graduate studies in SMU’s Department of Biological Sciences in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. Harrod is a co-author of the study, published in the Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals.
Read more at SMU Research.

2019 February 2019 News

Teasing out history’s big picture with digital tools

SMU history professor Jo Guldi’s book, The History Manifesto (Cambridge University Press, 2014), recently was named one of the most influential books of the past 20 years by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Writing with Harvard’s David Armitage, she argues that historians need to shed their enthusiasm for micro-history and return to examining history’s big picture to better influence the future.Guldi and Armitage propose that historians embrace new technology as the key to analyzing the grand scope of history in ways that were not possible before. Supercomputing capable of sorting daunting amounts of data encourages scholars to synthesize information in new ways, seeing things that do not emerge in the close examination of single decades.
“Applying computer technology to research empowers historians to step back, analyze longer periods of time and search for trends and patterns that might otherwise remain hidden,” Guldi says. “It revolutionizes how we work.”
Algorithms, big data and data text mining are key to the historian’s new digital toolbox, she says Using these tools, and at SMU, the University’s supercomputer, ManeFrame,  researchers can now interpret long-term historical trends and giant topics like inequality, capitalism and climate change in ways that were impossible before the emergence of search technology.
Read more at SMU News.

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.
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2017 News October 2017

Big data solves leaf-size conundrum

SMU paleobotanist Bonnie F. Jacobs has contributed research to a major new study by a team of global researchers that provides scientists with a new tool for understanding both ancient and future climate by looking at the size of plant leaves. The research was published September 1, 2017 as a cover story in Science.
Why is a banana leaf a million times bigger than a common heather leaf? Why are leaves generally much larger in tropical jungles than in temperate forests and deserts? The textbooks say it’s a balance between water availability and overheating.
But it’s not that simple, the researchers found.
The study was led by Associate Professor Ian Wright from Macquarie University, Australia. The study reveals that in much of the world the key factor limiting the size of a plant’s leaves is the temperature at night and the risk of frost damage to leaves.
Jacobs said the implications of the study are significant for enabling scientists to either predict modern leaf size in the distant future, or to understand the climate for a locality as it may have been in the past.
Read more at SMU Research.