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In Focus: 5/1/2014

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Groundbreaking

image Faculty members in the natural sciences take their turn with the shovels at the April 25 groundbreaking for the new science center. From left to right are Kendall Richards (Math), Steve Alexander and Mark Bottorff (Physics), Maha Zewail Foote (Chemistry), Maria Cuevas (Biology) and Scott McLean (Kinesiology). See more photos from the groundbreaking ceremony here.

Top News

BIOLOGY PROFESSOR RECEIVES TEACHING AWARD FOR THE SECOND TIME IN SEVEN YEARS

Martín Gonzalez is passionate about teaching biology, and it shows.

Students in his classes have successfully nominated Gonzalez for the Southwestern University Teaching Award − twice.

“His excitement for student learning reminded me why I chose to be a biology major at Southwestern,” said Sebastian Villamil, one of three students who presented Gonzalez with the 2014 Teaching Award.

Gonzalez received the 2014 Teaching Award for a tenured faculty member. The 2014 Teaching Award for a non-tenured faculty member went to Erin Crockett, assistant professor of psychology, and the Teaching Award for a visiting or part-time faculty member went to Debika Sihi, visiting assistant professor of business. The awards were presented at the April 24 faculty meeting. 

Read more here.

STUDENT LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO CELEBRATE BEAUTY IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES

Last year, junior computer science major Natalia Rodriguez watched “Killing Us Softly,” a documentary about how women are exploited in the media, and how media depictions of women fuel a culture of self-esteem issues and eating disorders.

The documentary inspired Rodriguez to fight back, so she created “Real People Real Beauty,” a photo campaign that depicts real women and men in the media, and celebrates beauty in all its shapes, sizes, colors and definitions.

Junior Ricky Gonzalez helped Rodriguez photograph her first “Real People Real Beauty” photo shoot, which had 23 attendees. This year, that number nearly tripled. She also brought senior communication studies major Erica Grant on board, and collaborated with the Photography Club and Latinos Unidos to put on the event.

Read more here.

COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR USES TECHNOLOGY FROM THE XBOX TO CREATE A ROBOT

Sophomore Amir Hessabi has always had a passion for technology. As a computer science major, staying up to date on new uses and innovations in technology is crucial to maintaining relevance and developing new ideas.

Since last summer, Hessabi has been trying to build a robot that can imitate the movements of humans. He displayed his first version of the robot, which was programmed using the technology from the Xbox Kinect, at the 2014 King Creativity Symposium.

Microsoft recently selected Hessabi to be one of 500 developers to receive a new Kinect in advance of the official product rollout. He hopes the new Kinect will help him program his robot to move in three dimensions instead of just two.

Read more here.

Events

OUTDOOR ART INSTALLATIONS ON DISPLAY THROUGH MAY 2 

The campus will be overflowing with outdoor art installations from April 28 through May 2 as students in Professor Mary Visser’s Abstract Sculpture class showcase their work around campus. Twelve sculptures in a variety of mediums can be found in areas such as the lawn around the fine arts building, the lawn near the library and the lawn between the chapel and the Olin Building. Read more here.

Media Coverage

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about the solar lounge chair that was designed and built by students.

The Williamson County Sun ran photos of the student art exhibit and the “Art for Animals” drawing session.

Notables

Four students from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry presented their research at the American Chemical Society National Meeting in Dallas March 16-20. Katie Ferrick, a sophomore biochemistry major, presented a poster on her research with Maha Zewail Foote, professor of chemistry, titled “Effects of phenolic acids on hydroxyl radical induced DNA damage.” Alec Bergerson, a senior chemistry and environmental studies major, presented a poster on his work with Brandon Canfield (now at the University of Northern Michigan) titled “Seasonal comparison of organic and conventionally grown basil leaves commercially available in Texas.” Maxime Boneza, a sophomore biochemistry major, presented a poster titled “Variations in phenolic composition and antioxidant properties among lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) cultivars” describing his research with Emily Niemeyer, professor of chemistry. Katie McCance, a junior biochemistry major, presented a poster on her research with Niemeyer titled “Influence of plant maturity on anthocyanin levels, phenolic composition, and antioxidant properties of 3 purple basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) cultivars.”McCance’s poster was selected to represent the Division of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in a special evening session called “Sci-Mix” that highlighted  posters that had been selected as being in the top 10 percent within their respective technical divisions. All four students participated in the HHMI-sponsored SCOPE summer research program last year.

Four anthropology majors presented their capstone research at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Anthropological Association held in Garden Grove, Calif., April 24-26. Susi Contreras presented a paper titled “Coloring the Ivory Tower: A Critical Race Analysis of Latin@ Experiences in Higher Education,” Carly Cooper presented a poster session titled “Mercury: Making People Mad Since 210 BC,” Allie Klein presented a paper titled: “Navigating Cancer, Alleviating Health Disparities: Oral Histories of Breast Cancer Patient Navigators,” and Lauren Saylor presented a paper titled “(Re)Making Self: Gender Identity Formation by Female to Male Transgenderists in Amsterdam.” Klein won first place in the student paper competition and Saylor took second.

Sophomores Elizabeth Bell, Sara Hall, Daniel Ross and Alexandra Wagui have been selected to receive Hatton W. Sumners Scholarships beginning in the fall of 2014. The scholarships are for $5,000 per semester, or $10,000 per year. Read more here.

Spanish and English double major Lauren Fellers presented a paper on her honors thesis at the 26th annual Undergraduate Research Conference at Butler University April 11. The title of her presentation was  “’Una foto de guerra’: La Representación de memoria en la obra de Carlos Ruiz Zafón.”

The Austin Civic Orchestra premiered a new composition by Jason Hoogerhyde, associate professor of music, during an April 26 concert on The University of Texas campus. The piece is titled “A Quiet Constellation.” Lois Ferrari, professor of music, conducted the orchestra and students Mattie Kotzur and Michael Martinez performed with the orchestra on this program.

Senior Sarah Puffer presented a paper titled “A Rosy Thorn: The Import and Export of Meaning in the Ecuadorian Floriculture” at the Latin American Studies Symposium held April 11-13 in Birmingham, Ala.

Junior Joseph Quintero shared Athlete of the Meet honors at the SCAC Track and Field Championships April 26. The men’s team finished second overall and the women’s team finished third overall. Read more here.

Omar Rivera, assistant professor of philosophy and chair of the Race and Ethnicity Studies Minor, presented a paper titled “Cataclysmic Potency in Inka Stonework” as part of the Mike Ryan Lecture Series in Philosophy at Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Ga., April 24.