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Wander around the hilltop on any given day, and you’re bound to run into lively classroom activities, intriguing research projects or a few timely changes underway. Here’s a quick look at some highlights that caught our attention.

Students Monitor Austin’s Wildlife

It’s a jungle out there — an urban jungle. And the proof is in the pictures, thanks to the university’s Wild Basin Creative Research Center.

The center is leading Austin Wildlife Watch, the city’s biodiversity monitoring initiative, by installing 40 motion-sensitive cameras in green spaces across the city. Students in the Environmental Science and Policy major and the Professional Science Master’s in Environmental Management and Sustainability put the cameras in place each season and have helped identify the species photographed in more than 10,000 images — foxes, coyotes, deer, bobcats, armadillos and even a ringtail cat.

Data gathered from the project, which is being conducted in seven U.S. cities, will go into a national wildlife database. “The ultimate goal is to use our discoveries to inform local planning and land management efforts about how to make cities more wildlife friendly,” says Barbara Dugelby, director of Wild Basin.

A Deeper Dive into History

St. Edward’s is making history this fall — literally — with the debut of a revamped History major. The overhauled curriculum gives students a more in-depth look at specific periods with new classes like Civil Rights and Social Wrongs, and China and Globalization.

The focus on depth over breadth represents a national shift in higher-education history programs. It also emphasizes research, writing and critical thinking — skills that prepare students for careers beyond the field of history. “The opportunity for such a deep exploration of the human condition,” says Associate Professor Christie Sample Wilson, who directs the major, “has really resonated with students and faculty alike.”

What Your Name Says About You

What's in a name? A lot, it turns out.

Your first name influences how others perceive your personality and appearance, even before they’ve met you, according to research presented at the Southwest Psychological Association annual conference in April by Assistant Professor of Biology Raelynn Deaton Haynes, Meggan Archey ’16, Nicole Kunkel ’17, Assistant Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience Katy Goldey, and colleague Jennifer Penner from Hendrix College.

The team interviewed 104 undergraduates and found that “common” and “biblical” names rated higher for appeal and attractiveness, while names associated with “strippers” and “villains” rated lower. In addition, “durative names” — traditional names that have been used for a long time but never become overly common — rated higher than unique or trendy names.

Future Teachers Learn by Doing

If you catch Associate Professor of Education David Hollier wheeling a cart around Fleck Hall, you’ll probably want to stop and see what he’s got — bottles of bubbles, a bag of crinkly leaves, a slew of recorders.

His “basket of goodies,” as he calls it, includes materials for his classes in math methodology and elementary arts. His learning-by-doing philosophy helps future teachers realize that each student will have “real needs, with real excitements, and real approaches that work best. First, we teach the child,” he says. “Then, we teach the subject.”

One-on-One Speed Mentoring

Forget speed dating. The Bill Munday School of Business is turning that concept on its head this fall with a speed-mentoring event. The school is connecting students with local alumni, who offer career insights in 5- to 10-minute one-on-one sessions. Résumé, set, go!

The Arts Have It

The School of Humanities officially became the School of Arts and Humanities in May. The name change helps prospective students better understand which majors and minors the school offers, particularly in the performing and visual arts. These programs have long played a prominent role at St. Edward’s, says Dean Sharon Nell, and “the more inclusive title best reflects who we are and how we want to be perceived.”

 

By Stacia Hernstrom MLA ’05
Photography by Whitney Devin ’10