Tables of Content

Tables of Content events

Tables of Content

Table Hosts

Twenty table hosts will lead discussions on a variety of topics during the Tables of Content dinner. Table host information is still being updated so please check the website often for new hosts and topics.

Jodi Cooley, Associate Professor of Physics and Ford Research Fellow, SMU

Topic: Fantastical Dark Matter and How We Find It


Jodi Cooley is an Associate Professor of Physics at SMU and an SMU Ford Research Fellow.  She has won numerous awards for her teaching and research.  Her most recent accomplishments include election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2018 and becoming the 2019 recipient of the American Association of Physics Teachers Klopsteg Memorial Lecture Award.  Dr. Cooley’s research takes her to into deep underground mines in order to improve our understanding of the universe by deciphering the nature of dark matter.  The existence of this elusive matter was first postulated almost 90 years ago.   However, our only understanding of it comes from observing its gravitational interactions using telescopes.  Dr. Cooley and her colleagues operate sophisticated cryogenic detectors with the hope to be the first people to ever detect dark matter in a terrestrial detector and study its properties.

Fantastical Dark Matter and How We Find It

Looking up in the sky at night, have you ever wondered if there was anything between the stars you see?  Only a small fraction of the universe is made from ordinary, visible matter.   A much larger portion remains dark, its existence known to us only by its interactions through gravity.  The first evidence of this dark matter originates from studies of celestial bodies in the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Since that time, astrophysicists and astronomers have determined that it constitutes the bulk of matter in our universe.  Despite this fact, the composition still remains unknown.  Over the course of the night our table conversations will revolve around this fantastical matter and the novel experiments that scientists like Dr. Cooley and her colleagues conduct to try to find these elusive particles.

Norm Hitzges, Author and Sports Talk Radio Host

Topic: Sports and Travel


Norm Hitzges hosted the first full-time sports talk-show in morning drive time in the country right here in Dallas Ft Worth over 30 years ago. He has been on-air continuously for all those years in the DFW Market. Hitzges is known for his enthusiasm and knowledge of sports trivia and his penchant and success for handicapping all sports. But especially for his first love outside of broadcasting: horse racing. Hitzges has been honored by the Texas Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Dallas All of Sports Association and the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. Norm also hosts the “Norm-A-Thon”, a yearly 18 hour marathon broadcast to raise money for the area’s homeless.

Stephen Sekula, Associate Professor of Physics and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor, SMU

Topic: Tiny Universes, Big Science


Stephen Sekula is an Associate Professor of Physics at SMU and an SMU Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor. He conducts research at the forefront of the field using a one-of-a-kind machine: the Large Hadron Collider located at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Using this facility he and his colleagues are studying the recently discovered Higgs particle, the primogenitor of fundamental mass in the universe. He is also the co-author of a book for a general audience, "Reality in the Shadows (or) What the Heck's the Higgs?" Together with co-authors S. James Gates Jr. (theoretical physicist) and Frank Blitzer (aerospace engineer), they explore the history of science and physics and take the reader on a journey into what is known, what we wish were known, and how to bridge between the two. His research has been continuously supported by the U.S. Department of Energy since 2012 and he has earned numerous awards and recognition for his teaching and mentoring at SMU, including the HOPE Professor of the Year Award (2016),  Rotunda Outstanding Professor Award (2015), and the SMU Golden Mustang Award (2012).

The table topic will be centered on several key ideas about large-scale modern science including how you conceive of and then sustain large international projects like the Large Hadron Collider and how machines like this can recreate the universe in miniature, capturing a moment just after the universe came into existence, so that one can discern the laws of nature then and now to better understand the history of the whole universe.