Books and controversy

Faculty publishing plays an important role in academic life and interests the broader community as well. The SMU Bookstore, located at 3060 Mockingbird Lane, features a special section of faculty books and offers a holiday discount for faculty and staff.

Each year, News and Communications in the Office of Public Affairs, celebrate faculty books with a holiday gift list of recent works. ( To submit books published in 2014, please check here

SMU faculty members also have weighed in on controversial textbook issues, providing expert testimony to the State Board of Education in Austin on the quality and accuracy of proposed textbooks.

In September 2014, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences faculty members Ron Wetherington, Kathleen Wellman, David Brockman and Edward Countryman spoke out about what they see as “flawed” and “distorted” textbooks being considered for Texas classrooms.

Another Dedman College faculty member, Mark Chancey, Department of Religious Studies, is a nationally recognized religious studies expert on political and academic issues raised by public school Bible courses. He published the 2013 study “Reading, Writing & Religion II,” which found that most of Texas’ 60 public school districts offering Bible study courses are not meeting a 2007 state law mandating the courses be fair as well as academically and legally sound.



Analyzing international economic strategy

Economics Professor Santanu Roy’s research focuses on markets with information problems, changes in industry structure over time, economic growth under uncertainty, international trade and the economics of natural resources. He has received a number of research awards, including the Ford Research Fellowship at SMU.


Analyzing circadian rhythms

Business Insider Science Editor Jennifer Walsh tapped the sleep expertise of SMU Assistant Professor of Chemistry Brian D. Zoltowski to explain how artificial light from our smartphones and other digital devices causes sleep deprivation. Her article, “Your Smartphone Is Destroying Your Sleep,” published May 19.

Zoltowski’s lab at SMU studies one of the many proteins involved in an organism’s circadian clocks. Called a photoreceptor, the protein responds to light to predict time of day and season by measuring day length.

The circadian clock is an internal biological mechanism that responds to light, darkness and temperature in a natural 24-hour biological cycle. The clock synchronizes body systems with the environment to regulate everything from sleep patterns and hunger in humans to growth patterns and flowering in plants.

“Our research focuses on understanding the chemical basis for how organisms perceive their surroundings and use light as an environmental cue to regulate growth and development,” Zoltowski says.

Zoltowski and the American Chemical Society created a video explaining the light-sleep deprivation relationship.


Business Insider

Lab website

Decoding contemporary politics

Cal Jillson, professor of political science at Southern Methodist University, is frequently called upon by reporters for his astute observations of state and national politics. Reporters love him for the time he takes with them, the ideas he offers — which often lead to more stories — and the way he takes complex issues and puts them into easy-to-understand historical frameworks, expressed by a seasoned writer and speaker. Both The Dallas Morning News and the San Antonio Express-News have profiled him as one of Texas’ top political experts.

As a scholar of American politics, Cal shares his knowledge of how government and politics work, in particular the development of American institutions and ideas and how they continue to shape national debates. He earned a doctorate in government and politics in 1979 from the University of Maryland and has been teaching about American politics since 1976. Since moving to Texas in the mid-1990s, he has charted the Republican and assessed the prospects of a return to competitiveness of the Democratic Party. He has written extensively on U.S. and Texas. On the international side, Cal is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. From 1996 to 2001, he was chair of the SMU Political Science Department and directed the Tower Center for Political Studies, which examines domestic politics and national security issues.

In addition to his classic book, Pursuing the American Dream: Opportunity and Exclusion Over Four Centuries, Jillson is the author of two popular government texts. American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change (Routledge, 2015) is now in its eighth edition, and Texas Politics: Governing the Lone Star State (Routledge, 2015) is currently in its fifth edition. His other books include Congressional Dynamics (Stanford University Press, 1994), New Perspectives on American Politics (Congressional Quarterly Press, 1994) and The Dynamics of American Politics (Westview Press, 1994). All deal with the origins of American legislatures and with the health and performance of contemporary American political institutions.

His most recent book, Lone Star Tarnished, on the shortcomings of Texas public policy, has just appeared in a new edition.


Christian Science Monitor

Cal Jillson, Dedman, what if Republicans take over the Senate?

International Business Times

Cal Jillson, Dedman, what does Rick Perry indictment mean?

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cal Jillson, Dedman, in the Governor’s race, Davis still running but won’t beat Abbott

Shining a light on dark matter

Experimental Particles Physicist Jodi Cooley researches what once was sounded like science fiction; the search for dark matter.

Scientists have begun research and design and are building prototypes for the next-generation SuperCDMS, known by its full name as the Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search. It will be located at SNOLAB, an existing underground science laboratory in Ontario, Canada, according to Cooley, a SuperCDMS scientist.
Cooley heads the dark matter project team at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and is the lead scientist on the SuperCDMS experiments. She has won numerous awards for her research including an Early Career Award from the National Science Foundation and the Ralph E. Powe Jr. Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities.


Jodi Cooley Research

Second Generation Dark Matter Experiment Coming Snolab

NSF Career Award

Light on dark matter

SMU CDMS home page

About Jodi Cooley (bio)

About the SMU Department of Physics

Honored as medieval master and mentor

Television producers and academicians have one person in common when they need an expert on medieval romance (especially Arthurian) and Chaucer.

They turn to Dr. Bonnie Wheeler in SMU’s English Department. And many a student, trying to fill a requirement, has found himself or herself enthralled by Wheeler’s dynamic teaching style.

In addition to Arthurian romance and Chaucer, Dr. Wheeler’s major interests include gender studies and pedagogy. A frequent historical and literary consultant for A&E, the History Channel and the BBC, she was also selected as a “Great Teacher” for the distinguished Teaching Company.

Dr. Wheeler is highly esteemed for her academic expertise. But she has gained some of her greatest admirers in her role as teacher and role model – especially among the students and colleagues she has mentored and supported. An international committee of professional colleagues and friends founded the Bonnie Wheeler Fund (, which serves to support women faculty, in her honor in 2010. A festschrift in her honor – Magistra Doctissima: Essays in Honor of Bonnie Wheeler – was published in 2013.

Dr. Wheeler has received SMU’s Outstanding Teacher Award six times, and she is a recipient of the Phi Beta Kappa Perrine Prize for excellence in scholarship and teaching. She was appointed by the Medieval Academy of America to found TEAMS (Committee on Teaching Medieval Studies) and has been elected to many professional leadership positions throughout her academic career.


SMU Forum article on the festschrift (March 3, 2014)
‘Magistra doctissima’ Bonnie Wheeler honored with festschrift of essays in medieval studies

Faculty examine complex border issues

Media outlets including Bloomberg, FOX News Latino, The Christian Science Monitor, The Hill, ABC DFW and the Star-Telegram have turned to the Hilltop to better understand the history, causes and political ramifications.


Links to media

Cal Jillson, Dedman, Perry’s guard surge follows buildup along border

Faith Nibbs, Dedman, immigrant children a border or refugee crisis?

Rick Halperin, Embrey Human Rights, border crisis raises questions of morality

A memory submitted by Joy Berry, Class of 1995

From Day 1, literally, at SMU, my favorite professor was Dr. John McCarthy. That very first biology class proved to me that I was in the right place, surrounded by the best professors! He was so much more than a teacher to me — an advisor and an encourager for sure! And although he knew class lectures and labs and studying were worthy preparations for life after SMU, he also reminded me that life’s experiences and passions also determined- – probably more so — success and fulfillment throughout one’s lifetime. I truly have valued my friendship with him — I can’t wait for the Christmas cards each December!

Examining the political glass ceiling

Dr. Dennis Simon

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Founding member, The John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies
Dedman College of Humanities and Science
SMU’s Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor of Political Science 2013 Distinguished University Citizen Award

Dr. Dennis Simon is an expert on the American presidency, presidential-congressional relations, public opinion, electoral behavior and research methodology. With more than 20 years of combined research experience, Professor Simon and co-author Barbara Palmer explored the reasons behind the continuing underrepresentation of women in Congress in their book, Women & Congressional Elections: A Century of Change.

He is also a faculty leader for the SMU Civil Rights Pilgrimage, which marked its 10th anniversary in 2014. The eight-day bus journey takes students, faculty and staff to visit the American South’s civil rights landmarks and leaders in the movement. The group’s stops include Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas; the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama; Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King served as pastor; the campus of Ole Miss in Oxford; and the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. King was assassinated.


Featured panelist on KERA:

Video: Civil Rights Lecture:

Tower Center bio:

Seeking insights into climate change

Bonnie Jacobs
Professor of Paleobotany in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences

Bonnie Jacobs, a noted expert in paleobotany, connects prehistoric climate and paleoecology to today’s changing climate conditions. Her research centers on the study of fossil plants, ranging in size from microscopic cells to macroscopic leaves, fruits, seeds and wood. Within paleobotany, she is researching past climate and paleoecology. Her projects have included fieldwork in Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and in the U. S., Texas, and New Mexico.

Professor Jacobs is currently working with SMU students to study the early history of the Great Trinity Forest in Dallas.

Read more:

The Dallas Observer on Professor Jacobs’ work with SMU students studying the Great Trinity Forest:

Professor Jacobs shares what inspired her to pursue the study of prehistoric plants for the Perot Museum of Nature & Science’s Career Inspiration Stories:

Professor Jacobs blogs for the “Scientists at Work, Notes From the Field” series in The New York Times:

Professor Jacobs profiled as one of Dallas’ Big Thinkers by D Magazine:

Bonnie Jacobs’ bio:

A writer who teaches writing

In his new book, A Star in the Face of the Sky, SMU Creative Writing Director and Associate English Professor David Haynes goes “beyond the margins” to show how four lives cope with the violence that has shaped their intersecting worlds.

The novel, Haynes’ seventh, depicts the close friendship of two strong women — one African American, the other Jewish — and a complex relationship that develops between their grandsons. The thoroughly modern tale, published by New Rivers Press, “explores the legacy of history, evils of spite, power of secretive romance and ultimately, the triumph of love,” Haynes says.

“This constellation, four people leaning on each other, toward each other is necessary because they are all survivors of monstrous family history,” says novelist Debra Monroe, author of The Source of Trouble and On the Outskirts of Normal). Its touching conclusion will “keep book clubs talking for a long time,” notes St. Paul Pioneer Press reviewer Mary Ann Grossman.

That’s by design, Haynes says. “I wanted this book to generate long, passionate conversations among people who enjoy a good story.”

Haynes’ teaching interests, including gender, class, race and generational differences, are all themes addressed in A Star in the Face of the Sky. For example, the book takes a more modern approach to the boys’ homosexuality, “which for a change isn’t presented as a problem,” Haynes says. “The normalcy and acceptance of their sexuality, and unconditional love, is actually the story’s real appeal.”

Before joining SMU in 1998, Haynes worked for 15 years as a teacher in urban schools, most of those years in middle school in St. Paul, Minn. He served as a teacher in residence at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He also served on the leadership team at the experimental Saturn School of Tomorrow.

Haynes is the author of six other critically acclaimed novels: The Full Matilda, Right by My Side, Somebody Else’s Mama, Heathens, Live at Five and All American Dream Dolls. He also has written books for children, including Retold African American Folktales as well as The West 7th Wildcats series, including Business as Usual, Gumma Wars, Who’s Responsible? and The Kevin Show — two of which have been National Public Radio “Selected Shorts.”

The St. Louis native teaches regularly for the low-residency Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and also taught in the MFA programs at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Hamline University, the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Md., and at the Writers’ Garret in Dallas.

For more details about A Star in the Face of the Sky, as well as Haynes’ other writings, visit