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In Focus: 3/11/2011

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Top News

SOCCER PLAYERS TO SPEND SPRING BREAK ON ‘SPORT DIPLOMACY’ TRIP TO EL SALVADOR

This spring break, 18 Southwestern University soccer players will be spending their time off traveling to El Salvador, playing soccer and working on service projects needed in the area. The idea was put forth at the alumni soccer game last March and has now come to fruition as a one-week trip to El Salvador where students will spend half the week playing soccer and three days doing community outreach work.

“I think this trip will allow me to see soccer in a different way, not just as a game, but in many ways, as a form of living for the people of El Salvador,” said Lyndsey Resnik, sophomore women’s soccer player.

Planning for the trip has been facilitated through Together in Hope, a faith-based, non-profit organization committed to building relationships with members of underserved communities and collaborating with them to promote their material and spiritual well-being. Together in Hope was founded by Diane McGehee, mother of senior soccer player Ben Feiler, and Harold Recinos, professor of church and society at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

Read more here.

MIDDLE EAST POLITICS CLASS PROVIDES EDUCATION IN REAL TIME 

Political Science Professor Bob Snyder says he’s hardly had time to cover any of the material he usually covers in his Middle East Politics class this semester.

That’s because he has found himself devoting almost all of the class to discussing current events in the area.

“I usually spend the whole semester exploring the theme of why there are so many authoritarian governments in the Middle East,” Snyder says. “Now it is all falling apart.”

As a recent class started, Snyder and his students discussed current unrest in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Snyder then launched into an hour-long lecture explaining the political, social and economic causes for the overthrow of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Read more here.

PROFESSOR HELPS STUDENT FIND ART IN BIOLOGY

As an aspiring biology professor, sophomore Allyson Plantz brings a lot of enthusiasm to her biology lab work. But she also brings something else – a talent for art.

Whether it be drawing sketches of her ideas for research projects or sculpting objects that can be used in experiments, Plantz is using artwork to help with her biology studies.

“Designing experiments is very artistic,” she says. “It involves a lot of creative thinking that people do not realize. You have to think about things like color, size and shape. I approach science with a creative mind.”

Plantz has been working in the lab of Biology Professor Romi Burks since her first year at Southwestern. Her research focuses on predation of apple snail (Pomacea insularum) eggs by turtles known as red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans).

“Southwestern is good at making connections between different areas, and Dr. Burks has really taken me under her wing. She has helped me find art in biology,” Plantz says.

Read more here.

Events

OPERA THEATRE TO PERFORM MARCH 26-27

The SU Opera Theatre will perform in the Alma Thomas Theatre on Saturday, March 26, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 27, at 3 p.m. Two one-act operas will be performed: “The Old Maid and the Thief” by Menotti and “Trouble in Tahiti.”

The performances are free and open to the public. For more information, call 512-863-1379.

Media Coverage

The Williamson County Sun ran a story on the new Texas Slavery class being taught by English Professors Carina Evans and Elizabeth Stockton.

Focus on Georgetown magazine did a feature story on the recipient of Southwestern’s 2011 College Town Award, Esther Weir.

The Hispanic newspaper Al Dia ran a story about the soccer team’s upcoming spring break trip to El Salvador. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about sophomore Allyson Plantz’s research on apple snails the recent $1,500 award she won from the Texas Academy of Science.

Notables

Ann Alston, a senior majoring in economics and minoring in music, published an article titled “Beating the Low Brass Stereotype” in the Spring 2011 International Tuba and Euphonium Association Journal. Alston worked with Eileen Meyer Russell, associate professor of music, to research recruiting and retaining low brass players in junior high and high school music programs. As part of their research, Alston and Russell surveyed college students who play low brass instruments. Alston’s article presents the data related to student views of music instrument stereotypes.

Kimele Carter, assistant director for academic and access resources, has been selected to receive the 2010 Outstanding Recent Graduate Award from the University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Social Work. The award honors a UMSSW graduate who has demonstrated unusual accomplishments in her/his first five years of post-MSW practice. She will receive the award March 11 in Baltimore.

First-year student Kristina Chaka has earned the Gold Award, the highest level of recognition in the Girl Scouts. Chaka received the award for her project “Hands Across the Gulf,” in which 300 pounds of school supplies and 50 encouraging letters were collected for children in an orphanage in El Progreso, Honduras. Inspired by a missionary group at her church, she wants to use education to break the cycle of poverty and help the children of El Progreso.

Alisa Gaunder, associate professor of political science, recently had an edited volume titled The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics published. In addition to editing the volume, she contributed the introductory chapter titled “The institutional landscape of Japanese politics.”  The edited volume offers an overview of the full spectrum of Japanese politics with 32 chapters in the areas of domestic politics, civil society, social policy, political economy and international relations. 

Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion, gave a lecture at Middlebury College March 3 titled “Who Do We Think We Are: Animals and Christianity.”

Abbie Ornelas received an honorable mention award for the poster she presented at the Texas Academy of Science meeting last week. The poster was titled “Peroxisome-defective mutants in Arabidopsis thaliana” and featured research she did under the direction of Andrew Woodward, visiting professor of biology.