2009 Archives

Winners announced in this year's SMU Big iDeas program

March 13, 2009

Ten student teams have been awarded grants through SMU's Big iDeas program to research big challenges facing the Dallas area, ranging from energy and the environment to education and health care.

Big iDeas class on nutrition
As part of the 2008 Big iDeas research project Health ’n’ Motion, student researchers talked to families about nutrition and fitness. See Part 1 video icon and Part 2 video icon of the 2008 Big iDeas seminar.

The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, which launched Big iDeas in 2008, announced the interdisciplinary teams based on the recommendations of a review panel. The panel included SMU faculty, students and staff, along with a representative from the Dallas City Manager's Office and the Communities Foundation of Texas.

"This year's proposals once again reveal the talent, insight and ambition of SMU's undergraduates," Provost Paul Ludden says. "Big iDeas allows these students to develop their interests and career paths, while also building bridges between SMU and the Dallas community."

The students will present their projects to the SMU community in April at the Big iDeas Symposium and will report on their progress in the fall.

This year's winners include:

  • "Kids ArT Risk," which proposes a therapeutic arts and science after-school program for at-risk Dallas students, in partnership with SMU's ACE House.
    – Proposed by Melanie Vettimattam (junior; finance and biology major), Astrud Villareal (junior; biology) and Yasmeen Hanif (junior; biochemistry)
  • "Omega Delta Phi Young Knights Program," which plans to pair area high school students with SMU mentors who will focus on future achievement, such as college.
    Proposed by Pablo De Santiago (junior; management science), John Trujillo (sophomore; mechanical engineering), Vernon Washington (senior; accounting), Kee Lee (senior; accounting), Winfred Ko (junior; accounting and economics), Cleve Moten (junior; economics and psychology), Danny Fernandez (senior; accounting), Jake Fields (sophomore; psychology), Ricardo Tovar (sophomore; chemistry and math), Ben Perez (junior; business), Julio Lopez (senior; economics and international studies) and Daniel Briones (senior; economics with financial applications)
  • "Profiting from Nonprofits," which seeks to support Dallas' nonprofit sector with research, training and connections with campus.
    – Proposed by Amy Koshy (junior; biology), Kristen Arndt (junior; biology) and Jamie Cohen (junior; advertising)
  • "Real Fuel on Campus," which proposes a campus processor to convert the vegetable oil used by SMU dining services to biodiesel.
    Proposed by Benjamin Alingh (senior; mechanical engineering), Charles Marshall, Jr., (senior; Spanish and German) and William Daugherty, Jr. (senior; finance)
  • "SMU Geothermal Project," which will analyze geothermal resources under the campus and the feasibility of establishing a geothermal power plant on campus.
    – Proposed by Andrés Ruzo (senior; geology and finance) and Elizabeth Corey (sophomore; environmental engineering)
    Big iDeas class on nutrition
  • "Speak Out Dallas," which aims to boost Dallas students' communication skills with a new speech and debate curriculum and teacher training.
    – Proposed by Nicholas Elledge (sophomore; political science, economics, public policy and Spanish) and Elizabeth Tsai (sophomore; business)
  • "Young Dreamer Enterprises," which promotes art and entrepreneurship to Dallas students, with a proposed art and writing contest and lessons in selling creative products.
    – Proposed by Julene Fleurmond (senior; journalism and pre-medicine) and Christy Vutam (senior; journalism)

Three student teams received planning grants for further development of their projects. They include proposals to examine disparities in health literacy, the needs of orphaned children in Dallas and SMU's smoking policy.

Several of this year's winners are continuing work begun with 2008 Big iDeas grants, including "Speak Out Dallas," "Profiting from Nonprofits" and "Young Dreamer Enterprises." Other projects launched in 2008 include a study of public transportation and business commuters; a micro-loan program for residents of a low-income Dallas neighborhood; and a fitness and nutrition program for low-income families.

Learn more about Big iDeas at SMU at smu.edu/bigideas.

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