2024 REU Mentors

Meet the 2024 REU Mentors!

Headshot of Cullum Clark

Cullum Clark

Cullum Clark, Ph.D., is Director of the Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative and Adjunct Economics Professor at SMU. Cullum’s work focuses on creating prosperous, high-opportunity cities as a path to improving economic mobility in America. He co-authored the 2021 book The Texas Triangle: An Emerging Power in the Global Economy. Cullum’s work has appeared in City Journal, Real Clear Policy, and numerous other publications, plus the Freakonomics Radio podcast. Cullum worked in investments for 25 years, founding two firms. He serves as Board Chair of the charter school network Uplift Education and on several foundation and endowment boards. He earned a B.A. in History from Yale, a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Harvard, and a Ph.D. in Economics from SMU.

REU project

The George W. Bush Institute is working on an in-depth report in housing supply and affordability in America, which will include a deep dive into housing challenges facing 25 large, fast-growing metro areas in the Sun Belt and Mountain states. The question is: What are the key economic and social characteristics of the areas within big metro areas where affordable housing exists and is being built? Or put differently, where are we building new affordable housing, and what are the implications of these choices? The Institute has a rich dataset assembled, that includes multifamily housing stock and new development numbers for some 650+ neighborhoods in our 25 target metro areas, including some 125+ in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro. The challenge is to cross-walk these geographies to U.S. Census Tracts & then build up data profiles on at least a considerable number of these neighborhoods. The project will shed light on a very timely, contentious, and significant policy challenge in America's cities. 

Headshot of Anthony Petrosino

Anthony Petrosino

Anthony J. Petrosino, Ph.D., serves as the Associate Dean for Research and Outreach in SMU’s Simmons School and Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning. Dr. Petrosino's research interests include students understanding of experimentation, engineering education and the development of expertise. He is the co-founder of the nationally recognized UTeach Program. Dr. Petrosino taught secondary science for seven years and is a certified K-12 teacher of science. In addition, he was an Assistant Superintendent of Schools for 2 years and was also a secondary school administrator for three years. He received his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University. 

REU project:

In an extension from last years’ project, our initiative is dedicated to leveraging data science to address issues of food justice, focusing on identifying and addressing food deserts in underserved communities. Students involved in the project will begin by creating predictive models using American Community Survey (ACS) data. They'll analyze indicators of low mobility and income levels to pinpoint potential food deserts within these communities. Using ArcGIS, students will then compare their predictive models with real-world data on food deserts, gaining insights into the spatial distribution of food insecurity. Finally, students will utilize webscraping methods to locate and map urban farms. This will help determine if these essential resources are strategically positioned to serve populations in low-income, low-mobility areas.

Headshot of Beth Wheaton Paramo

Elizabeth (Beth) Wheaton-Páramo

Beth Wheaton-Páramo, Ph.D., is a research assistant professor and senior lecturer in economics at SMU. She is a researcher on child labor and the economics of human rights, including capital punishment, violence against women, seeking asylum, terrorism, child abuse, genocide, hate, and human trafficking. She was the principal investigator on a $1.187 million U.S. federal grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ) National Institute of Justice (NIJ), which provided the foundation for building the SMU Human Trafficking Data Warehouse. She is team lead on the SMU Human Trafficking Data Research (HTDR) Project with its goal to Make Human Trafficking Data Work. She published The Economics of Human Rights in 2018, the first textbook on applying economic theory and tools to understanding human rights issues. Beth holds an MA and PhD in economics from Temple University, an MS in international business and trade from Grambling State University, and BBA from Sam Houston State University. 

REU project:

In 2022, Southern Methodist University (SMU) was awarded a $1.187 million federal earmark grant from the Department of Justice. The SMU Human Trafficking Data Research (HTDR) Project was created to work as an independent agency to coordinate expertise from all areas of anti-trafficking to build expert research teams to solve issues related to human trafficking. This Project invests in building expertise to drive effective research, policy making, and practice. SMU provides secure servers to securely house and protect sensitive human trafficking data. Users of the data warehouse will be granted specific security clearances to access data for analysis. This data allows practitioners and policymakers to run statistical reports and trends and to make new connections involved in human trafficking.

Headshot of Mary Spector, faculty member at SMU Dedman School of Law.

Mary Spector

Mary Spector is a Professor of Law and the Associate Dean for Experiential Learning at SMU Dedman School of Law. She oversees all aspects of experiential learning including clinical, externship, legal research, writing and advocacy, trial advocacy, and BOA programs. Additionally, Professor Spector teaches Consumer Law and directs SMU’s Civil/Consumer Clinic where she supervises students representing low-income clients in state and federal courts. Her research interests combine theory and practice to protect the rights of consumers and tenants and to improve access to justice in the civil courts. After receiving her B.A. from Simmons College and her J.D., cum laude, from Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Professor Spector served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Jerry Buchmeyer, United States District Judge for the Northern District of Texas before joining the law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld as an associate.

REU project

This project is a continuation of a collaborative project with the Child Poverty Action Lab to explore the impact that evictions have on tenants and their families. This summer, with assistance from Texas Appleseed, students will be exploring ways to quantify the correlations between evictions, and associated rental debt, and their proximity to payday loan stores in Dallas. A visual correlation exists between them but the goal is to leverage the census, American Community Surveys, eviction data, and licensing data to show that empirically. Some possible lines of inquiry involve building metrics relating the proximity of the lenders and evictions as well as examining the demographics of the people and housing opportunities in the area.

Headshot of Eric Godat

Eric Godat

Eric Godat, P.h.D., is the Director of Research Technology Services in the Office of Information Technology. He and his team support numerous research projects across all campus disciplines by leveraging high-performance computing (HPC), internet of things (IoT), AI/machine learning, and data science. Dr. Godat's passion for research and expertise in data science and HPC were developed during his doctoral work here at SMU in theoretical particle physics where he studied nuclear parton distribution functions. Prior to that he did his bachelor's in physics and mathematics at Southwestern University.

Marc Sager

Marc Sager, M.S., is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Teaching and Learning in Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University. His research focuses on learning in data science education, informal STEM learning, and research-practice partnerships. He has worked on several National Science Foundation funded research projects in many capacities, from data collection and analysis to dissemination. Before pursuing his graduate degree, Marc worked in food production and agricultural sales and taught secondary agricultural sciences in formal and informal contexts. His research continues to span across both in-school and out-of-school learning environments. Marc teaches courses on topics within the learning sciences and is active in the education research community through service on committees.
Headshot of Max Sherard

Max Sherard

Max K. Sherard, P.h.D., is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Teaching and Learning Department in Simmons School of Education & Human Development at Southern Methodist University (SMU). He holds a Ph.D. in STEM Education from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Anthropology from North Carolina State University. Dr. Maximilian Sherard’s research focuses on ideology, spatial reasoning, and learning about complex sociopolitical phenomena. At SMU, Dr. Sherard is working on a variety of projects related to technology-enhanced learning in science and mathematics education with Drs. Candace Walkington, Tony Cuevas, and Anthony Petrosino. For example, the MathFinder project aims to develop and explore the use of a location-based mobile application for engaging middle-grade learners with mathematics in informal settings.

Mateo Langston Smith

Mateo Langston Smith is a mid-level Data Analyst in the Office of Information Technology at SMU. He played the key role of Data and Visualization Analyst for the $1.187 million NIJ Human Trafficking Project grant to build the SMU Human Trafficking Data Warehouse, which is the foundation for the SMU Human Trafficking Data Research (HTDR) Program. His work focuses primarily on structuring, analyzing, and building applications to display data effectively. He has spent the last 5 years building his data science and application development skills through multiple projects across the fields of biology, health sciences, sports, religion, and human trafficking. He has served as a Data Science Consultant for larger projects, including a data processing project with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Mateo received a B.S. in Mathematics and Computer Science from Biola University in 2022.
Headshot of Monnie McGee

Monnie McGee

Dr. Monnie McGee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Statistics and Data Science and Principal Investigator for the Data Science for Social Good REU. She earned a B.A. in Mathematics and English from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Statistics from Rice University. She specializes in sports analytics, particularly analysis of “individual-team” sports like track & field, swimming & diving, and gymnastics. She has also done work on the analysis of high-throughput biological data and the comparison of the performance of generative AI algorithms on statistics exams. For all the applications previously mentioned, she has applied and developed methods for compositional data analysis, particularly those methods using the Nested Dirichlet Distribution and related distributions. Dr. McGee has developed and taught many courses in statistics at the graduate and undergraduate levels at SMU, including several full programs, such as a Master of Science in Data Science (MSDS), and Bachelor of Data Science (BSDS), and Master of Data Science and Applied Statistics (MDSAS).  Her courses and proposals reflect her practice in creating an active learning environment in the classroom, regardless of the course level. Her goal is to help students and the community become citizen statisticians and data scientists through her work in higher education and her contributions to the scientific literature.
Headshot of Lynne Stokes

Lynne Stokes

Dr. Stokes is Professor Emerita in the Department of Statistical Science at SMU, and formerly Chair of that department and Director of the Data Science Institute. Her major areas of research are sampling and measurement and mitigation of nonsampling errors in data collection. Dr. Stokes has served on National Academy of Science Panels considering sampling methods for federal data collection and analysis for the Departments of Education and Agriculture, Federal Airlines Administration, U.S. Census, NIH, and National Marine Fisheries. Dr. Stokes is a Phi Beta Kappan, a Fellow of American Statistical Association (ASA), and a recipient of the Don Owen and Founder’s Awards from the ASA.

Jennifer Ebinger

Dr. Jennifer Ebinger, EdD, is the Senior Director of the Office of Engaged Learning and a Principal Investigator for the Data Science for Social Good Research Experience for Undergraduates. In her role as Senior Director, she leads experiential learning initiatives, fostering out-of-the-classroom experiences in research, entrepreneurship, and high-impact educational practices. With over 25 years of experience in leadership, education, organizational change consulting, and program development, Jennifer has a proven track record of implementing innovative learning solutions that drive organizational success. She holds a Doctorate in Higher Education, a Master’s in Teaching, and boasts extensive consulting and coaching experience. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys exploring creative endeavors, reading, cooking, hiking, and spending quality time with her two wonderful children.