Prize-winning Idea

Kelsey Abel, Nathan Balke and Chandler Johnson explain their dome project to Joey King and Paul Gaffney at the 2013 King Creativity Symposium. The three were awarded the $2,500 Walt Potter Prize for the most innovative project done with funds from the King Creativity Fund in 2012-2013. (Photo by Lucas Adams)

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A design to build a low-cost dome structure has earned three Southwestern students a $2,500 prize.

Kelsey Abel, Nathan Balke and Chandler Johnson were awarded the Walt Potter Prize for the project they did with the support of the King Creativity Fund in 2012-2013. The prize is awarded to the best King Creativity Fund student or project in a given year.

Balke, a sophomore who is majoring in physics and German, said he came up with the idea for the project after talking to physics professor Steve Alexander last summer.

“I wanted to do something to broaden my experience outside the classroom,” he said. “Professor Alexander mentioned a dome project and it seemed like a good fit.”

While people have been building dome structures for many years, Alexander said he presented Balke with the challenge of making something that would be more efficient and less expensive than what is currently on the market.

Read more here.



The student organization SU Native is hosting its 9th annual Native Traditions Powwow on Saturday, April 13,from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Robertson Center. The schedule for the day is as follows:

11 a.m. - Gourd Dancing

1 p.m. - Grand Entry

5 p.m. - Dinner Break

6 p.m. - Gourd Dancing

7 p.m. - Grand Entry

The event is free and open to members of the Southwestern, Georgetown and surrounding communities. For more information write


Southwestern will host a screening of the documentary “Switch: Discover the Future of Energy” on Tuesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in Olin 105 

In the film, UT geology professor Scott Tinker travels the world, exploring leading energy sites from coal to solar, oil to biofuels, most of them highly restricted and never before seen on film. He seeks the truth from the international leaders of government, industry and academia. In the end, he cuts through the confusion to discover a practical path to our energy future. Tinker is also the State Geologist of Texas.

“Switch” is screening at 250 universities across the country this year as part of a multi-faceted effort to build a global understanding of energy. For more information on the program, visit

Following the screening, a panel of Southwestern students and faculty will discuss the film and facilitate a group Q&A session.


The Fountainwood Observatory will host a public viewing night on Friday, April 19, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

Viewing nights are free, but donations are encouraged to help maintain the observatory. The observatory is located on the northeast side of campus adjacent to the Rockwell Baseball Field (see #6 on the campus map at Faculty members from the Physics Department at Southwestern as well as observers from the Williamson County Astronomy Club will be on hand to guide viewing.

For weather-related updates about viewing nights, call the Fountainwood Observatory hotline at 512-863-1242.


The Southwestern University Chorale and Orchestra will give performances on Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m., and Sunday, April 21, at 3 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. Saturday’s performance will include Beethoven’s Mass in C, as well as works by Camille Saint-Saëns and Dmitri Borisovich Kabalevsky. Sunday’s performance will be Beethoven’s Mass in C. The Chorale will be under the direction of Kenny Sheppard and the Orchestra will be conducted by Lois Ferrari.

The concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, call The Sarofim School of Fine Arts at 512-863-1504.


The Central Texas Civic Trombone Choir will give a guest recital at Southwestern on Monday, April 22, at 7 p.m. in the Alma Thomas Theater. The performance will include works by Wilhelm Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Camille Saint Saëns, Leon Bismark “Bix” Beiderbecke, Irving Berlin and Manny Albam.

Andrew Russell and Eileen Meyer Russell formed the Central Texas Civic Trombone Choir in 2010. The group is directed by Andrew Russell.

The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call The Sarofim School of Fine Arts at 512-863-1504.


Writer David Liss will give a talk titled “From Historical Fiction to Comic Books” on Wednesday, April 24, at 4 p.m. in Mood-Bridwell Atrium.

Liss is the author of seven novels, including A Conspiracy of Paper, The Coffee Trader, A Spectacle of Corruption, The Ethical Assassination, The Whiskey Rebels, The Devil’s Company and The Twelfth Enchantment. He also has written numerous comic books.

The lecture is sponsored by the English Department and the Writer-in-Residence Fund.


The Theatre Department is presenting four performances of George Bernard Shaw’s play “Heartbreak House” April 25-28 in the Jones Theater. Performances will be given at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.

“Heartbreak House” was written between 1916 and 1917 as war raged across Europe. During a weekend party at the eccentric Captain Shotover’s estate, Ellie causes a commotion with her decision to marry for money rather than love. With its combination of high farce and bitter tragedy, Shaw’s play remains an uncannily prophetic depiction of a society on the threshold of an abrupt awakening.

The play is directed by Ev Lunning. Tickets are $12-18 and may be purchased online at or by calling the Box Office at 512-863-1378.


The Annual Student Exhibition will be on display in the Fine Arts Gallery from April 25 - May 3. Gallery hours are 1-5 p.m. daily.

The exhibition will feature the work of more than 30 students in fine arts and architecture.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Thursday, April 25, from 4-6 p.m. 

Media Coverage

Roger Young, director of career services, was interviewed for a special section on job searching published in the April 2013 issue of Regale magazine. Read the story here.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about the announcement of Southwestern’s 2013 football season.

The Williamson County Sun ran a story about the 2013 Shilling Lecture featuring Jane Goodall.

The Williamson County Sun covered the community event that was held April 4 to honor Jake and Jane Schrum.

Community Impact newspaper ran an interview with head football coach Joe Austin. Read the interview here.


Faculty and students in the Psychology and Animal Behavior programs made numerous presentations at the Southwestern Psychological Association (SWPA) conference held April 5-7 in Fort Worth. Junior Samantha Sada and senior Sarah Dorer presented a paper titled “Examining the Effects of Gender and Sexual Orientation on Perceptions of Gynecologists” along with Traci Giuliano, professor of psychology. The presentation was recognized with a Student Research Award from Psi Chi, the national psychology honor society. Seniors Kalyn Chacon and Nicole Wendell presented a paper titled “Spatial learning in Xenopus laevis tadpoles” that was done with 2012 graduate Alisha Gapinski, 2011 graduate Kelly Finn and Jesse Purdy, professor of psychology. Senior Sara Goodman and Erin Crockett, assistant professor of psychology, presented a paper titled “Perceptions of Dating In Adolescence and Self-Esteem in Emerging Adulthood.” Seniors Erika Sells and Kara Shapiro presented a paper titled “Gays of Our Lives: Attitudes Toward Gay Instructors in Gender Stereotypical Activities.” Junior Kasey Polk, senior Stephanie Valle and Giuliano presented  a paper titled “The Effect of Target Religion and Action Taken on Perceived Morality.” Senior Quinlyn Morrow and Crockett presented a paper titled “Interdependence Mediates the Association Between Gender and Gender Composition of Social Networks.” Purdy chaired several events for the meeting of the Southwestern Comparative Psychological Association (SCPA), which was held in conjunction with the conference, and participated in a question and answer session devoted to how to get into and stay in graduate school that was sponsored by Psi Chi.

Suzanne Buchele, Alison Marr and Therese Shelton have been awarded a $4,000 Blended Learning Grant from the Associated Colleges of the South (ACS) for their proposal titled “Improved Calculus Preparation Through Assessment and Customized Blended Learning.” All three are associate professors in the Mathematics and Computer Science Department.

Yvette Niyomugaba,Van Pham and David Scott Ryan are presenting papers this week at the annual meeting of the Texas Section of the Mathematical Association of America. The meeting is being held April 11-13 at Texas Tech University.

Math professors Rick Denman, Fumiko Futamura and Kendall Richards published a paper titled “On sharp frame diagonalization” in the March issue of the journal Linear Algebra and its Applications.

2002 graduate Jenny Carlson has been awarded one of the 20 national Mellon-CES Dissertation Completion Fellowships in European Studies for 2013-2014. Carlson is working on her Ph.D. in anthropology at UT Austin.

Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of Religion and Environmental Studies, is giving an invited lecture at Sewanee (the University of the South) April 11 titled “Journey to the Afterlife: Humans and Dogs Into Eternity?”

Thomas Howe, professor of art and art history, will present a new interpretation of the site of the ancient Roman villas he has been studying in Stabiae, Italy, at an international conference titled “Public and Private in the Roman House” that is being held in Helsinki, Finland, April 18-20. Read more here.

An exhibit featuring the work of 2010 graduate Paloma Mayorga will be on display at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center in Austin April 13-29. An opening for the exhibit, which is titled “Organic Tendencies,” will be held April 13 from 7-9 p.m. Mayorga also is participating in an April 13 panel discussion at the cultural center that focuses on the work of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz.

Sandi Nenga, associate professor of sociology, and Jessica Taft (Davidson College), just published a co-edited volume titled Youth Engagement: The Civic-Political Lives of Children and Youth. The volume brings together studies of children and youth’s activism and volunteer work. It is volume 16 in the series Sociological Studies of Children and Youth (Bingley, UK:  Emerald). 



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