Research Clusters

  • The Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute sponsors research clusters convened by various faculty across campus.
  • These clusters are open to participants from any and all disciplines and departments.
  • Those interested in participating should contact a convener of the cluster.
  • Clusters will meet a few times each semester to discuss common interests and collaborate in shared activities.



  • Research Clusters for AY 2022-23

    Description

    This research cluster will promote an interdisciplinary examination of academic support programs and their relationship to college student retention. Our aim is to explore first and second-year academic initiatives and their retention-related outcomes on underrepresented student populations, with an emphasis on Black and Latinx students, Pell-eligible students, and first-generation college students. Goals of the cluster include four group meetings, a symposium, and the development of research to be used for publication or conference presentations. This research cluster welcomes faculty, staff, and graduate students interested in college student retention across all disciplines.

    Conveners

    Description

    This research cluster proposes to bring together faculty, staff, and graduate students with interests in Asian and Asian American studies. We intend to focus on two major and overlapping areas of scholarship and teaching:

    1. The intersection of Asian studies and Asian American studies
    2. The experiences and needs of Asian American and Pacific
      Islander community members at SMU and the broader higher-education sector.

    Our goals are to explore new research space and opportunities for collaboration, to advance creative teaching in Asian Studies, and to foster a campus environment inclusive of diverse perspectives.

    Conveners

     

    Description

    While the traditional biomedical model has led to advances in the treatment of chronic somatic and psychiatric illness, its limitations by ignoring the context of illness have become apparent in past decades. Complementary efforts have been increasingly guided by a biopsychosocial model, which incorporates in its ideal conceptualization processes on multiple levels, including biochemical and cellular processes, physiological function, psychological levels of behavior and experience of the individual, family and peer-group processes, as well as levels of the society, community and the physical environment. This cluster brings together faculty and students from biology, chemistry, psychology, and other departments for collaborative research and training under this perspective.

    Conveners

    Description

    This cluster will promote and facilitate interdisciplinary exploration of the Christian tradition as inspiration and paradigm for research and teaching. It will bring together scholars from a variety of fields to examine the role and value of Christian epistemology in a largely secular academy.

    Conveners

    Description

    To foster a more integrated and interactive research environment and culture amongst specialists in cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience at SMU and in the metroplex through the organization of public talks and research workshops, which will also help enrich and develop the new SMU minors in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience.

    Conveners

     

     

    Description

    The Culture, Mind, and Brain Research Cluster started as a seminar during the 2021-2022 academic year. The seminar was co-sponsored by the Department of Anthropology at Southern Methodist University and the Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The goal of the seminar was to foster collaborations between students and colleagues around shared interests related to the study of the mind and brain from western and nonwestern perspectives.

    This coming year, the Culture, Mind, and Brain Research Cluster aim to expand on the success of the seminar to incorporate the interests of likeminded faculty at SMU and strengthen the bridge between SMU and UTSW in this research area.

    Conveners

    Description

    The Data Science for Social Good Research Cluster arises out of SMU’s Summer REU, entitled “Data Science for Social Good.” Under the direction of Dr. Lynne Stokes, 11 undergraduate students from Texas and across the country came to the SMU campus for training in data science and to work with SMU faculty.  Faculty who served as mentors supervised students’ work with data in four areas: economic development, voting fairness, the Dallas County Inland Port’s effect on the community’s access to transportation services, and  the fairness of Dallas County eviction and their effect on families. This Research Cluster brings faculty together with others from across the campus and enable them to collaborate outside of the REU as they continue work on their individual projects. 

    Conveners

    Description

    The Diversity, Writing, and Reasoning Pedagogy Research Cluster will gather faculty from across the campus who are interested in reading, discussing, and promoting diverse texts involving the study of writing composition and critical reasoning. Our cluster is designed to be in line with SMU’s initiative, as put forth by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, to “implement the principles of cultural intelligence in our daily lives.” This research cluster will also support our pedagogy planning and interactions with students.

    Conveners

    Description

    Two critical and interconnected issues facing the United States and Texas today are Earth Hazards and National Security. With existing and emerging challenges associated with climate change and an increasingly multipolar world, addressing these challenges requires research on natural and human systems, technical innovation and advanced monitoring and data analyses approaches. The research cluster brings together researchers (faculty, staff, students) to review significant research ongoing or planned at SMU that addresses hazard and/or national security challenges with the goal of developing new and innovative avenues of research.

    Conveners

    Description

    This cluster seeks to discuss, cultivate, and promote a culture of vigorously free and respectfully civil speech at SMU by way of discussion, intracampus partnerships and activities, and public events.

    Conveners

    Description

    The research cluster brings together faculty, graduate students and staff (IT & Library) who are interested in GIS (Geographic Information Systems, for mapping and spatial analysis). In the last two years the interdisciplinary group GIS@SMU has made great strides in:

    1. Connecting SMU faculty, graduate and undergraduate students who may be working independently in the area of spatial analysis
    2. Setting up a GIS lab in the Fondren library
    3. Bringing in leading experts on GIS from top-universities such as Stanford to run workshops
    4. Organizing activities such as a Mapathon to promote the use of GIS to undergraduates and the broader community at SMU.

    GIS@SMU is a true interdisciplinary group, bringing together faculty and students from across campus.

    Conveners

    Description

    This research cluster unites faculty from a range of academic and professional disciplines to discuss and define a set of shared goals and best practices to provide students with real-world, global perspectives and transferable skills aligned with skills employers seek in the contemporary workplace. Topics of discussion include curricular innovation, academic and corporate partnerships for internships and field work abroad and at home, and the assessment of and integration with SMU’s Common Curriculum requirements with a focus on the integration of world languages and cultures for professional purposes across the curriculum.

    Conveners

    Description

    The rise of populist nationalist totalitarianism threatens democratic stability at home and globally. The Hannah Arendt Reading Group cluster will examine and learn from
    selected works by one of the most important political thinkers of the twentieth century —one whose work illuminates the threats of our time.

    Conveners

    Description

    In a pluralistic democracy, healthcare institutions are the places where our society conducts some of its most profound moral deliberations. When we make treatment decisions for those at the edges of human existence—when humans are coming into and passing out of existence—we are forced to reckon with very basic questions about the good. What is a human? How does our account of human dignity fit into our overall understanding of the universe (is it a dignity that stands out in relief against the canvas of an infinite and meaningless universe; is it a dignity that is perfectly integrated into a meaningful universe that is created and loved by God?). It is in these institutions that we are required to be honest about the beliefs we hold most deeply even when—or especially because—we are committed to cordoning off some of these beliefs in our official political life, in order to build and maintain the conditions for a reasonable and just pluralistic constitutional democracy.  

    We propose to convene a cluster that focuses on this intersection of bioethics, moral reasoning, and political philosophy. The immediate work of the cluster will be to convene a reading group around a recent and influential book for the fall 2022 semester, culminating in a workshop/public lecture with the author in spring 2023 semester.

    Conveners

    Conveners: 
    Leticia T. McDoniel , World Languages mcdoniel@mail.smu.edu
    Jessica Martinez, Cox School of Business jnmartinez@mail.smu.edu

    The purpose of this cluster is to bring together faculty, staff, graduate students and the Dallas business community who are interested in different topics relating to Hispanic leadership, business, language and culture within the workplace. It will examine the complex and innovative ways in which American Corporate Culture is transforming as it integrates Hispanic language, culture and business practices. Moreover, it seeks to make points of contact, stimulate intellectual exchanges and research about the material culture of these two praxes and how they intersect and make a unique workforce.

    Description

    The Human Rights Research Cluster examines the history of Dallas County since 1850 through the lens of human rights. The cluster's goal is to conduct research that will mark the sites with human rights significance on a digital map; this includes sites associated with upholding human rights as well as those where human rights were violated.

    Conveners

    Description

    The “Medieval Matters” Research Cluster plans a year-long initiative to reinvigorate the strong, diverse, and engaged community of medievalists among the faculty and students at SMU and in the metroplex area. As a working group, we will examine fresh methodological approaches to the study of the Middle Ages with the goal of generating opportunities for new collaborative teaching and research across disciplinary boundaries. Among other possibilities, we envision a fully vetted book and digital project (with national and international contributors) that advances current understandings of the uses and limits of transdisciplinary teaching/research in the Middle Ages.

    Conveners

     

    Description

    This research cluster brings together faculty, staff, and graduate students with interests in indigenous studies. The focus will be on traditional and contemporary indigenous forms of culture, language, art, knowledge, economy, ecology, politics, and identity, as well as contemporary issues surrounding sovereignty, tradition, human rights, intellectual property rights, heritage, health, environmental justice, and development. Our year-long goals involve:

    1. Creating and fostering a viable campus community at SMU
    2. Identifying areas for collaborative research
    3. Identifying existing and future teaching needs. 

    Conveners

    Description

    Feminism has once again become a culturally approved term, but the connection between feminist scholarship and social change has thinned in the past decade. A group of eighteen SMU faculty and graduate students came together on May 5 with philanthropist/feminist scholar Helen LaKelly Hunt and long-time activist Vivian Castleberry to talk about Hunt’s new book on the religious roots of American feminism in the abolitionist movement. During that conversation, we realized that SMU’s feminist community could itself benefit from revitalization. As scholars and teachers, we use the tools of feminist analysis but we remain uncertain about “correct” relations between our scholarly and reformist agendas.

    We’d like to think through this question, among others, in a cluster next year that would have six notable speakers and several small discussion sections. We would also engage the Women and Gender Studies Program in this project. Our goal is to produce an edited set of essays that poses questions about the place of feminist visibility in the academy. We want to develop the field of feminist thought further as we engage in both an embodiment of and conscious reflection upon feminist discourse. Can we see feminist theory in the service of social change?

    Conveners

    Description

    This cluster intends to develop a proof-of-concept pressure sensing floor that can accurately be registered to existing motion capture technology in order to obtain recordings of subject bodies in space. Concurrent with the development of the pressure sensing floor, will be the development of software that can extrapolate muscular sequencing via the examination of the recorded kinetic chain of subject movements. Knowledge of muscular sequencing and visualization of the muscular activities will lead to the correction of negative/inefficient habituations in alignment and muscular engagement with myriad goals which include proper spinal alignment, efficient muscular engagement, effective and empowered muscular sequencing, etc. The construction of this proof-of-concept model of the PDCL is intended to provide the cluster with a factually workable tool that, when demonstrated, will assist in attracting the necessary external funding to construct a full-scale version of the PDCL.

    Conveners

    Description

    In recent years, the study of political decision‐making has received increasing attention from mathematicians. This interest is driven by several factors, including the availability of computational resources that have enabled new algorithms for sampling high‐dimensional probability spaces, as well as a broadly felt urgency to contribute to civic life among members of a discipline that has historically viewed itself as apolitical. These factors align with SMU’s strategic interests in high‐performance computing and interdisciplinary research. We propose to organize a research cluster in Political Decision‐Making with three focus areas: the mathematics of redistricting, social choice theory, and mathematical modeling of polarization.

    Visit their project website here.

    Conveners

    Description

    The Proposals for an Expanding Earth research cluster adopts the premise of a conceptually and physically expanded Earth, evidenced by advancements in space colonization and humans as a global geologic force. These rapid developments in human reach and impact have prompted shifts in research across disciplines, raising the question: What is the artist’s, geologist’s, etc. role in prefiguring new ways of being in this expanding world? Cluster leaders will integrate their diverse interests in seismology, sonics, and the ethics of space exploration. The cluster’s activities will include faculty panels, guest lectures, creative publication, and course development; identifying future exhibition, publication, and/or granting opportunities.

    Conveners

     

    Description

    The Future of Narrative: Virtual Reality and What it Means to be Human will bring together SMU faculty, staff and students, the public and industry professionals, as well as other area students and educators to examine how the emergent storytelling medium of virtual reality can help us learn more about what it means to be human. In a series of short public lectures, academics and industry professionals will discuss existing and potential virtual reality experiences that shed new light on old questions about human experience and identity. What is the difference between human consciousness and other animal minds? What was it like to be a human being in the distant past? What will our collective human future be like? Virtual reality provides us with new ways to answer these questions and offers us new ways to study ourselves, our past and our future. This conference will further develop SMU as a leader in the bourgeoning field of digital humanities and its interdisciplinary nature will advance the cause of the DCII.

    Conveners

     

    Description

    This research cluster will create a university-wide community of faculty, graduate students, and research scholars who research or teach in subsurface resource related fields, such as groundwater, geothermal energy, oil & gas, mining, waste heat, carbon capture sequestration, and geologic & paleontologic resources. This community will build relationships and networks to encourage interdisciplinary relationships, with the goal of fostering an integrated and vibrant environment for pursuit of grants; multi-author publishing; and cross-pollination of pedagogy.

    Conveners

    Description

    Recent calls for racial justice and equity have renewed interest in understanding the systemic and structural processes that create injustice and inequity in cities. The Urban Research Cluster(URC) provides a space for SMU graduate students, faculty, and staff and the broader community engaging in research on or interested in the historic and contemporary issues shaping urban localities in North Texas. The focus is on applied, interdisciplinary research and catalyzing that research in advocacy for local, grassroots movements toward more just and equitable cities. Topics will range from urban planning, sustainability, and environmental justice to historic preservation and collective memory. 

    Conveners