Faculty and Academic Excellence

Faculty and Academic Excellence

A great university is shaped by scholars who create and share knowledge. Top educational institutions also require buildings with up-to-date classrooms, laboratories and technology that make it possible for faculty members to conduct research and teach and enable students to learn. In 2011-12 SMU continued to take significant steps to increase faculty and academic quality. These included the addition or enhancement of academic programs, the addition of both new faculty members and endowments for new faculty positions and the construction or renovation of facilities that support academic achievement.

Physics professor recognized for research on dark matter

Jodi Cooley

Jodi Cooley, assistant professor of physics in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, was recognized in March by the National Science Foundation with a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award. Cooley was awarded a five-year grant of $1 million toward her work with an international team of physicists searching for dark matter, the elusive substance that makes up 85 percent of the matter in the universe.

SMU team contributes to identifying Higgs boson

Higgs Boson team

A team of SMU researchers, led by Ryszard Stroynowski, professor of physics, contributed throughout 2011-12 to work using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory in Switzerland leading to apparent confirmation of the existence of the elusive Higgs boson. The observation is regarded as the most significant advancement in physics in the last 50 years. SMU faculty and students participated in the design and construction of the LHC’s ATLAS particle detector. Aided by the SMU High Performance Computing system, SMU physicists also played a major role – with only six other U.S. institutions – in analyzing ATLAS data that led to identifying the Higgs.

SMU launches human rights major

Building on the successful five-year history of the Embrey Human Rights Program, Dedman College launched a new academic major in human rights in spring 2012, making SMU only the fifth university in the nation to offer human rights as an undergraduate major. The program offers two interdisciplinary tracks: one on gender and human rights, the other on public policy and human rights. Since the Embrey Human Rights Program’s inception, 80 SMU students have graduated with human rights minors.

Fondren Library Center renovation unveiled

Fondren Library renovation

As part of SMU’s plans for future growth, in April SMU unveiled a major initiative to modernize Fondren Library Center, updating the facility as a center of interactive technology and a vital campus gathering place for University and community programs. Highlights include: restoration of reading rooms; new areas for preservation and expansion of archival collections; attractive public spaces for programs and exhibits; enhanced study areas; and a café and browsing area. The project has received early support from Ann Warmack Brookshire ’77 and Bradley W. Brookshire ’76, Tavenner C. Lupton, III ’79 and Jo Ann Geurin Thetford ’69, ’70. (Right) An architect’s rendering of a restored Grand Reading Room.

Creative computing program combines creativity and technology

Creative Computing, a new interdisciplinary program launched in 2011-12, teaches students to integrate creative practice with computer science and engineering. The field of study, in which students pursue core coursework in both Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and Meadows School of the Arts, combines theory and methodology from computer science and engineering with aesthetic principles and creative practice from the arts. The program, which draws upon SMU’s High Performance Computing facilities, was developed in response to technological innovation and contemporary arts practices. Creative Computing may be taken as either a major or a minor.

Faculty members earn recognition and awards

Faculty awards

Joseph D. Camp, the J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Professor of Electrical Engineering in the Lyle School, was recognized in February by the National Science Foundation with a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award. Camp was awarded a five-year, $450,000 grant for developing a more affordable wireless network design and protocols to help provide Internet access to low-income neighborhoods.

David J. Chard, Leon Simmons Endowed Dean of SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in April after being nominated by President Barack Obama to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the National Board for Education Sciences. The board oversees the Institute of Education Sciences, which analyzes education research data and funds research to improve learning outcomes for all students, particularly those at risk.

William Lawrence, dean of Perkins School of Theology, was elected president of the 2012-16 Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church at the Church’s General Conference in May. Sometimes referred to as the denomination’s “Supreme Court,” the Council is the highest judicial body within The United Methodist Church.

Alicia E. Meuret, associate professor of psychology in Dedman College, reported groundbreaking research on panic attacks showing that such attacks do not happen without warning but are preceded by a pattern of subtle instabilities. Meuret, along with Dedman College Psychology Department colleagues David Rosenfield, associate professor, and Thomas Ritz, professor, published the findings in the prestigious journal Biological Psychiatry. The findings suggest potential new treatments for panic and other maladies such as seizures and strokes.

Roberto Tejada, Endowed Distinguished Research Chair in Art History at Meadows School of the Arts, was named in April as the 2012-13 Fulbright-FAAP Distinguished Chair in the Visual Arts. Tejada is an internationally known specialist in modern and contemporary Latin American and Latino/U.S. visual culture. The award from the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program enables him to engage in scholarship with faculty and students at the Armando Alvares Penteado Foundation (FAAP) in São Paulo, Brazil.

John Wise, a research associate professor in biological sciences in Dedman College, reported the development of a digital 3D model of the human P-glycoprotein, a protein that is thought to contribute to failure of chemotherapy in many recurring cancers. Wise described the creation of the model in the May issue of Biochemistry. He and Pia Vogel, associate professor of biological sciences, have used the model to virtually screen more than 8 million potential drug compounds in search of one to help stop chemotherapy failure.