Academics in Focus

Highlighting student, faculty and staff honors


Ben Pierce, professor of biology and holder of the Lillian Nelson Pratt Chair, had a paper published in the spring 2008 issue of Council on Undergraduate Research Quarterly titled “Developing a Sustainable Research Program for Tenure.” The paper was part of a series on professional strategies for junior faculty members.

Maria Cuevas, assistant professor of biology, has had an article accepted for publication by Oncology Reports. The research for the paper, titled “In vitro: cytoxic activity of anthrapyrazole analogues in human prostate DU-145 and testicular NETRA-2 carcinoma cells,” was conducted with alumnus Kurt Seilheimer ’07 during the Biology Summer Research Program in 2006 and the 2006–07 academic year. It was partially funded by the Fleming Fund awarded to the Biology Department.


Gulnar Rawji, associate professor of chemistry, had a paper titled “The Importance of Pt(II) Catalyzed Pt(IV) Substitution for the Oxidation of Guanosine Derivatives by Pt(IV) Complexes,” published in Inorganic Chemistry.

Three students in the chemistry and biochemistry department presented their research at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans. Radhika Kainthla, senior biochemistry major, presented “Photoexcitation of daunomycin leads to oxidative DNA damage that is dependent on molecular oxygen” in collaboration with Maha Zewail Foote, assistant professor of chemistry. Carissa Fritz, sophomore chemistry major, presented “DNA binding and cleaving properties of intercalating copper(II) complexes” based on her work with Foote and Gulnar Rawji. Megan Mullins, senior political science major, presented “Kirkwood-Buff derived force fields for mixtures of thiols in water” in collaboration with Nikolaos Bentenitis, assistant professor of chemistry.

Maha Zewail Foote has had a paper titled “Oxidative DNA damage following photoexcitation of daunomycin: Direct role of oxygen” accepted for publication in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry. The paper was a collaboration with co-author Radhika Kainthla .


Eileen Cleere, associate professor of English, was invited by the Women’s Studies Program at Texas A&M University to present material from her book-in-progress, “The Sanitary Arts: Aesthetic Philosophy and the Victorian Cleanliness Campaigns.” On March 28, she delivered a lecture titled “Intensive Culture: Aesthetics and Purity in the Eugenic Novels of Sarah Grand.”


Aaron Prevots, assistant professor of French, gave an invited presentation on “French through Songs” at Huston-Tillotson University in Austin. Prevots’ preface, “Teaching French through Music,” was published in the fourth edition of Horizons, the first-year French textbook currently in use at Southwestern.

Seniors Lindsey Albracht and Rory Aguirre have been accepted into the French Teaching Assistantship program sponsored by the French Ministry of Education. Albracht will spend seven months teaching in the Toulouse region and Aguirre will teach in Nancy/Metz.


Shana Bernstein, assistant professor of history, presented a paper titled “Rethinking the History of U.S. Civil Rights Struggles during the Cold War through a Multiracial, Los Angeles, Lens” at the annual Organization of American Historians conference in New York City on March 28.


Kinesiology students Lauren Arrowood, Ben Hoffman and Eric Sterner won top honors for undergraduate research at the 29th annual meeting of the Texas Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine held in Odessa in February for their paper analyzing the effects of treadmill use in space.

Latin American Studies

Student Rachael Die presented “A Vicious Cycle? The Use of Violence in the Mapuche Land Reclamation Movement” at the 16th Annual Latin American Studies Symposium at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Ala., March 14–15.

Mathematics/Computer Science

Richard Denman, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, and student programming contest teams “su-root” and “su-piratainformatico” competed in the CCSC Mid-South conference at Arkansas Technological University April 4. “su-root,” comprised of students Stephen Foster, Bobby Poter and Tommy Rogers, placed second while “su-piratainformatico,” comprised of Sarah Doty, Lane Hill and Carl West, placed eighth. In all, over 20 teams from four states competed.


First-year students Sarah Holifield, Mauricio Lafuente and Francisca Lopez were selected by Houston’s NPR affiliate, KUHF, to have their “This I Believe” essays aired. The essays were written and submitted as an assignment for a college writing class taught by Michael Wolfe, assistant professor of music.


Phil Hopkins, associate professor of philosophy, presented a workshop April 11 at the Northeast Conference on Media Literacy titled “Mass Moralizing: Building and Selling Moral Identities.” Hopkins will present a paper titled “Weaving the Fish Basket: Heraclitus and the Meta-philosophy of Opposition,” in plenary session at the Society for Ancient Philosophy annual meeting at the New School for Social Research in New York April 12.


Steven Alexander, associate professor of physics and holder of the Robert Sherman Lazenby Chair in Physics, had a paper published in the journal Engineering in the Life Sciences. The paper, titled “The Light Quanta Modulated Physiological Response of Brassica Juncea Seedlings Subjects to Ni(II) Stress,” was a collaboration between Southwestern University, the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolas de Hidalgo and the University of Texas Pan American and was co-authored by alumnus Landon Summer ’07.

Sophomore physics major Pelham Keahey was selected to participate in the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships program (SULI) sponsored by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC). He will spend eight weeks this summer working with researchers at the center, which is operated by Stanford for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sophomore physics major Sean Smith has been selected to participate in the Research Internships in Science and Engineering program (RISE) sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service. The program gives students in biology, chemistry, earth sciences, engineering and physics the chance to spend a summer working with German doctoral students on their research projects. Smith will spend the summer conducting theoretical physics research with a doctoral student at the University of Geissen.

Political Science

At the 2008 meeting of the International Studies Association, Eric Selbin, professor of political science and University Scholar, presented a paper titled “Resistance, Rebellion, and Revolution: The Persistence, Power, and Prevalence of Story,” which outlines his forthcoming book “Revolution, Rebellion, Resistance: The Power of Story.” He also chaired the annual meeting of the New Millennium Books in International Studies series he co-edits for Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Eric Selb in and Meghana Nayak ’97, assistant professor of political science at Pace University, have signed a contract with Zed Books for a co-authored book titled Doing International Relations from the Margins. The book contends that the political concepts/issues discussed in international relations are Western liberal bourgeois constructions wherein even alternative, critical discussions are “trapped” by the discursive stranglehold of these concepts and their genealogies.

Alisa Gaunder, assistant professor of political science, participated on a panel titled “Bringing Scholarship to the Classroom: Japan Studies” at the ASIA Network conference in San Antonio on March 15. She gave a talk titled “Getting Students to Explore Political Leadership From Several Different Angles: The Role of Prime Ministers, Parliamentarians, and Women in Japan.” She was also invited to give a talk titled “Women Running for National Office in Japan: Are Koizumi’s Female “Children” a Short-term Anomaly or a Lasting Phenomenon?” at the Center for East Asian Studies at The University of Texas in Austin.

Senior Mary Kierst presented her paper, “A Study of Congressional Decision Making: The 2001 USA PATRIOT ACT and the 2006 Renewal,” at a poster session of the 2008 Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago, Ill., on April 5. Her paper is the result of a Mundy project with Tim O’Neill, professor of political science.

Bob Snyder, professor of political science, received a $25,000 grant from the Earhart Foundation to write a book tentatively titled The Road to 9/11: The US’ Struggles with Revolutionary Movements in the Third World.


Edward L. Kain, professor of sociology and University Scholar presented a paper titled “If You Build It, They Will Learn: Using National Standards to Create a Challenging, yet Flexible, Sociology Curriculum” at the annual meetings of the Pacific Sociological Association, being held April 10–13 in Portland, Ore. The paper was in a session titled “Creating a Standardized, Rigorous Undergraduate Sociology Curriculum.” Kain is also co-leading a workshop titled “Information Literacy: The Partnership of Sociology Faculty and Social Science Librarians.”

Eight sociology majors presented their research at the 2008 annual meetings of the Southern Sociological Society in Richmond Va., April 10–12. They were: Tristine Baccam, “Rebuilding the House that Jack Built: Comparative Analysis of Immigration and Residential Crowding in the US”; Megan Collins, “Bureaucratic Traditions, Consensus and the Role of the Media in the American Civil Liberties Union Central Texas Chapter”; Lauren Cox, “Trabajadores Unan!: Leaders, Collective Identity, and Conflict Resolution among Latino Immigrant Workers”; Rachael Die, “Communities of Color Fighting Toxic Contamination: A Case Study of Grassroots Environmental Justice and Community Advocacy”; Sarah Fankha user, “Guardian Angels at the Grassroots: A Study of the Factors that Shape Individuals Into Activists”; Cody Faulk, “Fighting the Religious Right in Texas: How Political Activist Organizations Recruit and Maintain Members in the Fight for a Division Between Church and State”; Anne Olson, “Which Side Are You On? An Examination of the Recruitment Tactics of a Local Education Union”; and Nicole Powell , “Examining Social Class: Comparisons Between Attitudes and Composition of a College Campus and the United States.” The papers resulted from individual research projects in the sociology capstone seminar under the direction of Maria Lowe, associate professor of sociology and the Research Methods course taught by Edward L. Kain.

Four Anthropology students presented papers at the Southwestern Anthropological Association’s Annual Meeting in Fullerton, Calif., April 10–12. Shauna Davidson presented “Orphan Care in Senegal,” Tricia Dickson presented “Little Emperors Wear Prada: The One Child Policy and Globalization in Shanghai,” Lauren Griebel presented “The Other Side of the Islands: HIV/AIDS in Fiji,” and Casey McAuliff e presented “Young Mothers and a Young Anthropology Student.”

Other Student, Faculty & Staff Honors

Sophomore Rob Atkinson participated in a debate held at Southern Methodist University April 25 on whether the United States should have a Department of Peace. Atkinson, who is national communications coordinator for the Student Peace Alliance, argued in favor of the proposal.

Ellen Davis, director of communications, received a gold award in the category of General News Writing from District IV of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). The award was presented at the district conference in Little Rock, Ark., April 7. Davis also had an article published in the May issue of Public Relations Tactics.

Sophomore Charles Prince presented his paper titled “Crafting Educational Policies in Zimbabwe: Moving Beyond Modern Colonialism” at the Tenth Annual Africana Studies Research Colloquium held at Bowling Green State University.

Southwestern Men’s Basketball Head Coach Bill Raleigh and the Southwestern basketball players were honored as the Southwestern University Partner of the Year at the Georgetown Partners in Education (PIE) Night at Dell Diamond Saturday, April 12. The recognition is a result of the basketball team’s weekly mentoring at Annie Purl Elementary School in Georgetown this year.

Todd Watson, associate director of systems and networking in Information Technology Services, recently spent eight nights collecting data with the 2.1 meter diameter telescope at McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, Texas, as part of an international collaboration of astronomers called the “Whole Earth Telescope.” Watson was one of 57 astronomers using 28 telescopes at different observatories around the globe to continuously monitor three pulsating white dwarf stars.

Juniors Hannah Adkison and Charles Prince, and LaToya Alexander and Jeremy Battle attended the Engaged Diversity Student Leadership Workshop held at Dillard University in New Orleans April 4–6. Also attending the workshop were Sue Mennicke, director of intercultural learning, and Ron Swain, senior advisor to the president. The program was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Twenty-three students from Southwestern have been named to the 2008 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. The students were selected for the publication based on academic achievement, service to the community, leadership in extracurricular activities and potential for continued success. The students selected from Southwestern were LaToya Alexander, Rob Atkinson, Tristine Baccam, Peter Borhauer, Caitlin Buck, Rachel Die, Delilah Dominguez, Ricardo Levario, Robert Lockwood, Chelsea Marshall, Amanda Mohammed, Stacy Neumann, Kevin O’Neil, Nicole Powell, Charlie Rivas, Delia Shelton, Grace Stafford, Coralie Taylor, Darlene Thompson, Kalie Trueper, Denielle Waite, Doak Worley and Krist in Yeung.