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Tables of Content


Tables of Content

Table Hosts

We are in process of updating this page. A complete list of hosts and topics will be available closer to the event.

David Blewett

David Blewett, Author

Topic: The Pony Trap: Escaping the 1987 SMU Football Death Penalty

David Blewett chose to attend SMU on a football scholarship in 1984 at the height of SMU's Pony Express era. After three tumultuous seasons, the football program was shut down for repeated violations of NCAA policy. Most players left SMU, but David chose to stay and graduated in 1989 double majoring in Business and Philosophy.

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Krys Boyd

Krys Boyd, Host and Managing Editor, Think (KERA-FM)

Topic: Reading - Fast and Slow: How to Get the Most from Non-Fiction

Krys Boyd has been host and managing editor of KERA-FM's flagship midday talk show Think since 2006. Krys began her career along the U.S.-Mexico border, working simultaneously at radio and television stations as a reporter, anchor and news director. A graduate of TCU, Krys returned to North Texas in 1999 to serve as News Director for, and later Senior Producer of Broadcast News at Yahoo.

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Dr. Frederick Chang

Dr. Frederick Chang, Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security, SMU

Topic: Are you safe in cyberspace?

Frederick R. Chang is the Bobby B. Lyle Endowed Centennial Distinguished Chair in Cyber Security and Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in SMU's Lyle School of Engineering. He also is a senior fellow in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies in SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences as well as the director for the Darwin Deason Institute for Cyber Security.

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Marc P. Christensen

Dr. Marc P. Christensen, Dean and Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Innovation, SMU

Topic: Fostering Innovation

Marc P. Christensen is one of the nation's key leaders in mapping photonic technology onto applications. In 2007, DARPA identified him as a "rising star in microsystems research" for his development of an adaptive multi-resolution imaging architecture, and selected him to be one of the first of the 24 DARPA Young Faculty Award recipients.

From 1991-1998 he was a staff member and technical leader in BDM's Sensors and Photonics group (now part of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems). His work ranged from developing optical signal processing and VCSEL-based optical interconnection architectures, to infrared sensor modeling, simulation, and analysis. In 1997, he co-founded Applied Photonics: a free-space optical interconnection module company. His responsibilities included hardware demonstration for the DARPA MTO FAST-Net, VIVACE, and ACTIVE-EYES programs, each of which incorporated precision optics, micro-optoelectronic arrays, and micro-mechanical arrays into large system level demonstrations.

In 2002 he joined Southern Methodist University. In 2010, he was selected as the inaugural Bobby B. Lyle Professor of Engineering Innovation and is currently serving as Dean of the Lyle School of Engineering. Dr. Christensen brought together a team of researchers from five institutions to develop an optical interface to the nervous system. The interface would enable amputees to control a robotic limb with thought and directly experience sensations such as the warmth of a loved one's hand.

In 2008, Dr. Christensen was recognized for outstanding research with the Gerald J. Ford Research Fellowship. In 2011, he was recognized for outstanding and innovative teaching as a recipient of the Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Award.

Dr. Christensen has co-authored over 100 journal and conference papers. He has two patents in the field of free space optical interconnections, one pending in the field of integrated photonics, and four pending in the field of computational imaging.

Dr. Christensen received a B.S. in Engineering Physics from Cornell University in 1993, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from George Mason University in 1998, and a Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from George Mason University in 2001.

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Joe Coomer, Author

Joe Coomer, Author

Topic: Something Old, Something New: Found Objects to Fiction

Winters, I live in Springtown, Texas, on my father's farm. It's about 45 minutes out into the oaks from Fort Worth. There, I run my business, a pair of large antique malls. About 200 mom and pop antique businesses lease space in our buildings. We sell their antiques for them and send them a check every two weeks. I live in a fairly new Victorian that I spent a year and a half building in the late eighties. I wrote about this project in DreamHouse. My wife, Isabelle Tokumaru, runs her paintings conservation practice in the third story, while I write novels in the kitchen, where the food is close.

Summers, we live in Stonington, Maine, an active fishing village on the coast. Here we're restoring a true Victorian, built in 1885 by the owner of the granite quarries on the offshore islands. The house is built on a hill in town, where John Goss could watch his stone workers being ferried out to his islands. It will take us five or six years to finish this project. When the weather's nice, we take our old motorsailer, Yonder, on daysails and cruises downeast. She was built in 1934 and is prettier than most actresses. I chronicled her purchase, restoration and my stupidities at sea in Sailing in a Spoonful of Water. For fun we go to antique auctions here in Maine and read the old books and restore the old paintings we buy at them.

My life is all split. I live in the desert and by the sea. I like old things but live now. I'm scared of the ocean and of writing, but you can't keep me out of them. I don't care what you think, but I also hope you like me. And although I'm a dog lover, I will reach down and pet a cat when he rubs against my leg. I hope this is personal enough. My wife says to leave it at this.

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Linda Eads

Linda S. Eads, Associate Provost, SMU

Topic: How Free Is Speech in the Western World?

Professor Eads was named Associate Provost at Southern Methodist University on May 16, 2011. In this position she oversees academic affairs in the Provost Office and also serves as the Director of the Hunt Scholars Program.

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Dr. Kate Carte Engel

Dr. Kate Carté Engel, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, SMU

Topic: Searching for "true religion" in the American Revolution

Dr. Kate Carté Engel (Ph.D., history, University of Wisconsin; B.A., Haverford College) is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies specializing in early American and Atlantic religion. Prior to coming to SMU in 2012, she was associate professor of history and Rothrock Fellow at Texas A&M University.

She is the author of Religion and Profit: Moravians in Early America (2009, paper 2011), which was awarded the 2010 Dale W. Brown Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. She has published many articles, including in Church History and Early American Studies. She has been a Charles A. Ryskamp Fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies, an affiliate fellow of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, a Franklin Fellow of the American Philosophical Society, and a Barra Postdoctoral Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. Her research and teaching interests center on the role of religion in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world, especially as it intersects with political and economic developments. Her current project, The Cause of True Religion, investigates the consequences of the American Revolution for transatlantic Protestant networks in North America, Britain, and Europe.

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Margaret McCombs

Harry Farthing, Author and Experienced Mountaineer

Topic: The Application of Personal Experience in the Creation of Exciting and Entertaining Fiction

Harry Farthing has had a lifelong interest in exploration, archaeology and world history, both published and alternate. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and has travelled widely to extreme environments such as the Sahara Desert, the Himalaya, the Amazon and the Arctic North.

Harry Farthing is an Englishman born in Lynton, North Devon, and raised in the West Country.

He was educated at St. Michael's Preparatory School, near Barnstaple, Allhallows Public School, near Lyme Regis, and at the University of the West of England in Bristol.

From 1987 he enjoyed a successful career with one of the world's largest commercial real estate consultancies. During this period, he lived and worked in the City of London, Lisbon, Portugal and Milan, Italy becoming Managing Director of the company's Italian operations and European Board Director with responsibility for activities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Qatar.

In 2010 he moved with his American wife to Charleston, South Carolina, to raise their two daughters and pursue a career in writing.

Harry Farthing has had a lifelong interest in exploration, archaeology and world history, both published and alternate. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and has travelled widely to extreme environments such as the Sahara Desert, the Himalaya, the Amazon and the Arctic North.

An experienced mountaineer, he has climbed extensively including Mt Blanc and the Matterhorn in the Alps, Mt McKinley in Alaska, Shishapangma, the highest mountain in Tibet, and Mount Everest itself. In 2010 he successfully led all thirteen members of a charity climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro in Africa.

In 2011 he made a solo 7500 mile journey across North America by BMW Motorcycle that linked the Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific Oceans and travelled 2000 miles of unpaved roads above the 60th Parallel. That trip was the latest in a series of extreme motorcycle journeys that started with a ride from the UK to the Moroccan Sahara when he was just nineteen.

He is an accomplished public speaker and has raised substantial funds for charity through his climbing.

His debut novel Summit marries his knowledge of world travel, adventure sports, mountaineering and modern history to create an exciting action story that is both compelling and thought provoking.

Sequels, Kili, about Africa and the continent's highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, and Denali, about Mt McKinley and the Arctic North of America, are already in the pipeline.

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Susan Herndon, Singer/Songwriter

Susan Herndon, Singer/Songwriter

Topic: Music: The Language of the Soul and The Art of Songwriting

Susan Herndon is an Oklahoma girl and a woman of the world.

While the patina of Sooner state red dirt is apparent in everything she sings in her dulcet and soothingly accented alto, Herndon's music is much more about where she's been and what she's experienced, than about where she hails.

Born in St Louis, raised in Tulsa and bred in Oklahoma, she earned several degrees including one in French. Herndon's youthful wanderlust took her to the south of France for many years, and while in that Gallic state of mind, she began her musical odyssey in the most humble – and purest – of ways: busking for francs on the busy streets of Pau deep within the Pyrenees.

It was there and on other thoroughfares throughout Europe that Herndon honed the skills and presence needed of a dedicated working musician and an immediately engaging entertainer. "Music really is our universal language," says Herndon today. "And I do believe that good songs – in any language – can truly touch souls. I know they have saved my life on numerous occasions."

Playing around 200 gigs a year for more than a decade, Herndon has retained that true troubadour's ethos, sharing her passion for song and stirring thousands of kindred spirits throughout Oklahoma, Texas and the American heartland.

With an engaging smile and graceful charm, she touches upon themes both universal and deeply personal, from longing and loneliness, to home, family, faded memories and hopeful dreams. And she connects with her listeners in a voice that conveys equal parts savory innocence and knowing savoir-faire.

Herndon draws from a reservoir of original material spanning five albums that have long found her sliding with ease from genre to genre. iTunes may soon run out of apt descriptors for Herndon's music; her releases have been termed ‘blues,' ‘country,' ‘indie rock,' ‘jazz' and ‘pop.' One moment she's covering a Dylan classic in French with delicate fingerpicking on her guitar and the next may find her sitting at a keyboard paying homage to any number of fellow Oklahoma songsmiths, such as Woody Guthrie, Jimmy Webb, Leon Russell or J.J. Cale. All in an inspired style uniquely Herndonesque.

Her latest album, All Fall Down, finds Herndon working with Texas musical legend Lloyd Maines and the perpetually lost gonzo Bob Livingston as co-producers. "I thought it was time I hired somebody who knew what they were doing," Herndon jokes, a self-deprecatory reference to the fact that she was at the helm for her previous four releases.

All Fall Down opens with Herndon ­– the Oklahoma girl and woman of the world – posing the musical question "Who knows all the ways of the world, and who can know all the ways of a girl?" Lone Star Music Magazine in its glowing review noted the "vaguely European je ne sais quoi that flickers throughout" while observing that "her beloved state of Oklahoma … figures prominently," particularly in the reflective closing track, "The Bad Roads of Oklahoma," which has deemed one of the 10 Best Route 66 Road Songs.

As Herndon looks down the road to new musical horizons, she hopes to continue to collaborate with writers whose work she admires, as she did on All Fall Down with the elegant "Everything to Me," a co-write with John Hadley. And to have her own songs covered by fellow artists. But no matter where her journey takes her, it's a safe bet that Susan Herndon will be forever singing that universal language of a good song that speaks truth with every note and every word.

Build your house on song
it carries you along
foundation sound
walls made of rock
You sing by the blue fireside of the hearth
And roll on...

"Build Your House," Susan Herndon @ Okie Turtle Music 2010

# # #
--by D.C. Bloom

Visit Herndon on the web:

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Skip Hollandsworth

Skip Hollandsworth, Journalist

Topic: The Real Story of Bernie

In 1997, Texas Monthly writer Skip Hollandsworth came across a story in the tiny East Texas town of Carthage that seemed so unbelievable it felt like fiction: a young assistant funeral home director named Bernie Tiede had murdered the town's grande dame, shooting her in the back and burying her in her deep freeze, where she remained for 9 months before anyone started looking for her.

And Bernie was arrested, the townspeople supported him, begging the District Attorney to let him go free. Hollandsworth will not only tell the story about Bernie, he will also talk about how his Texas Monthly article was, sometimes hilariously, turned into the 2010 movie "Bernie," starring Jack Black, Shirley MacClaine and Mathew McConaughey.

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Valerie Jarvie, Freelance Writer

Valerie Jarvie, Food and Travel Writer

Topic: Where to Eat Out in DFW: The Local Restaurant Scene, from Dives to Fine Dining

Valerie Jarvie is a Dallas-based writer specializing in food, lifestyle and travel. She is the DFW Editor for the Zagat Restaurant Survey, contributing to their print publications and the website. Her work has appeared locally in the Dallas Morning News, Modern Luxury Dallas Magazine and Edible DFW Magazine. She'll lead a discussion about the top area eateries in various cuisines and price points, plus the buzz on the most exciting new spots in town.

Dr. Njoki McElroy

Dr. Njoki McElroy, Renowned scholar, writer, performer, teacher and master storyteller

Topic: Personal Stories of the Great Migration

Playwright, storyteller, performer, Njoki McElroy taught Performance Studies of Black Literature for thirty-five years at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She is currently an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. A number of her short stories have been published in anthologies and her plays have been produced on college campuses and on the professional stage.

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Regina Nipert

Regina Nippert, Executive Director of the Center on Communities and Education, SMU

Topic: Success for All Children

Mrs. Nippert is the Executive Director of the Center on Communities and Education at SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development where she directs and coordinates the West Dallas Community Collaborative and its keystone project, The School Zone.

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Diana Pollak, Executive Director, Creative Arts Center of Dallas

Diana Pollak, Executive Director, Creative Arts Center of Dallas

Topic: Rebuilding Creative Confidence at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas

Ms. Pollak has spent the last seven years at the Creative Arts Center of Dallas (CAC). A graduate of the Business Council for the Arts' Leadership Arts class, she has been responsible for leading major facility renovations, increased membership and class revenues as well as hiring new sought-after instructors.

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Melissa Prycer

Melissa Prycer, President and Executive Director at Dallas Heritage Village

Topic: Dallas Heritage Village and the Cedars Neighborhood

Melissa Prycer is the Interim Executive Director at Dallas Heritage Village. She received a bachelor's degree in history from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and a master's degree in public history from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. Prior to joining Dallas Heritage Village in 2004 as the educator, Melissa worked as an intern at several museums in Dallas.

Active professionally, she has served in a variety of leadership roles for the Texas Association of Museums and is active in national museum associations. As a historian, she has published book reviews and articles, primarily on women's history or children's literature.

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Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings

Mike Rawlings, Dallas Mayor

Topic: The Future of Public Education

Elected Mayor in June 2011, Mayor Mike Rawlings is working to improve the quality of life in Dallas. In his short time in office, Mayor Rawlings has introduced a development plan for southern Dallas, taken a hands-on approach to improving education and created new strategies for growing the arts. He has put Dallas in the spotlight nationally and internationally by taking a leading role with the United States Conference of Mayors.

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Rory Siefer, Founder, Epic Bound Books

Rory Siefer, Founder, Epic Bound Books

Topic: Tell Me Your Secret: Learning to Capture Your Family History

There are some secrets worth telling. Former RAF fighter pilot, Lee Malins, finally told his secrets... the story of his life, fighting in World War II and his illustrious military career. These are stories he never felt comfortable telling his two grown sons and many grandchildren because he didn't know where to start and thought they wouldn't be interested. How wrong he was! Come learn Lee's story and what got this button-up Brit to finally open up.

What would you give to have a book written by your parent, grandparents or even great-grandparents... in their own voice, with their thoughts and feelings about life and hopes for the future generations? Come learn from the expert who has traveled the world helping families capture their legacies in a way the next generation is sure to read.

Rory Siefer is the founder of Epic Bound, one of the premiere private book publishers in the country, specializing in Personal Biographies and Corporate Histories. She recognized the need for families and businesses to capture their priceless stories in a format that can be passed on from one generation to the next and then set out to do it in a way never seen before.

She employs savvy interviewers, writers, editors, art directors, and designers—every professional needed to craft a customized history book. Her clients simply sit back and reminisce, and then her expert team handles all of the remaining details. What began as a young woman with a passion for capturing priceless stories has transformed into a company that makes a major difference one book at a time!

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Christine Warren

Christine Warren, Author

Topic: Honky Tonk Debutante

Christine Warren grew up in Texas and Tennessee before attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied Creative Writing and graduated with a degree in English. The richly layered cultures of the South and Southwest, both of which she loves and knows intimately, have profoundly shaped her as a storyteller.

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Bernard Weinstein

Bernard Weinstein, Associate Director, Maguire Energy Institute, SMU

Topic: The Economic and Political Implications of America's Energy Revolution

Bernard L. Weinstein is Associate Director of the Maguire Energy Institute and an Adjunct Professor of Business Economics in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. From 1989 to 2009 he was Director of the Center for Economic Development and Research at the University of North Texas, where he is now an Emeritus Professor of Applied Economics.

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Dr. Eric White

Dr. Eric White, Curator of Special Collections at Bridwell Library, SMU

Topic: Why Should We Care about the Gutenberg Bible?

Eric Marshall White, PhD, has been Curator of Special Collections at Bridwell Library since 1997. He was an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, earned his doctorate in Art History from Boston University in 1995, and received his Master of Library Science degree from the University of North Texas, Denton. Since coming to SMU his research has focused mainly on Bridwell Library's rare books and manuscripts, with emphasis on Gutenberg and the spread of early printing.

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