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SHSU Update For Week Of Nov. 27

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Ninety-First Tree Ceremony To Light Up Plaza

Sam Houston State University will celebrate the spirit of the holiday season during the 91st Annual Tree of Light Ceremony on Wednesday (Nov. 30).

University President Dana Gibson will speak at the ceremony before lighting the official SHSU tree at 6 p.m. in Bearkat Plaza.

The event will include performances by the Orange Pride Dance Team and University Choir, as well as hot chocolate, hot wassail, gingerbread and cookies for attendees.

“The Tree of Light Ceremony is really a program at the ‘heart’ of what Sam Houston State University is all about, bringing Bearkats together,” said Brandon Cooper, associate director for Student Activities. “It’s a program that the university has hosted for over three quarters of SHSU’s existence in an effort to bring students, faculty and staff and alumni together.”

In addition, the Department of Student Activities will collect canned goods at the event for a food drive to benefit the Good Shepherd Mission.

Students can receive a free T-shirt, while supplies last, with the donation of one canned good item.

The Bearkat community is also encouraged to bring an ornament to decorate the tree before or during the ceremony. All SHSU students, organizations, faculty and staff are invited to participate.

During the week leading up to and of the ceremony, the Student Activities department will highlight the history and tradition of the Tree of Light with a photography exhibit in the Lowman Student Center Art Gallery.

The gallery will be open for viewing Monday (Nov. 28) through Friday (Dec 2).

For more information on the ceremony or exhibit, contact Student Activities at 936.294.3861 or studentactivities@shsu.edu.


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Seminar To Examine Research On Body ‘Colonizers’

Joseph Petrosino, director of Baylor College of Medicine’s Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research, will discuss his research in those areas on Thursday (Dec. 1).

The Biological Sciences Department Seminar Series presentation will begin at 4 p.m. in Lee Drain Building Room 214.

Microbial cells are found within the human body and are estimated to outnumber human cells by 10 to 1 in a healthy adult, according to Petrosino.

“The total number of genes in the human microbiome may exceed the total number of human genes by a factor of 100 to 1,” he said. “These communities are largely unstudied, leaving unknown their influence upon human health.”

The term “metagenomics” refers to the use of advanced DNA sequencing technologies to examine microbial communities (or 'microbiomes') in various environmental and mammalian niches, including the human body, Petrosino continued.

“We are using metagenomics to learn how the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that normally colonize the human body impact and/or respond to disease,” he said. “How the communities of microbes that colonize us fluctuate naturally and in response to changes in health may be the key for developing treatments and diagnostics for many diseases, including those impacting the eye (such as dry eye), the gastrointestinal tract (such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Crohn's Disease), or various sites on/in the human body (such as cancer).”

Petrosino, who also serves as an assistant professor in Baylor College of Medicine’s department of molecular virology and microbiology, is an alumnus of the university, having earned his doctorate and completed postdoctoral research there.

The Alkek Center for Metagenomics and Microbiome Research was established in January 2011 to strategically target this area of research and to expand deeper into just how and why the “Human Microbiome” impacts human health and disease.

It is our hope that novel discoveries from microbiome studies in humans and animal models will result in new, effective clinical therapeutics and diagnostics,” Petrosino said.

His lecture is open to the public.

For more information, contact Madhu Choudhary, assistant professor of biological sciences, at 936.294.4850.


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Museum To Celebrate Holidays With Movie, Demonstrations

Polar Express posterThe Sam Houston Memorial Museum will provide two opportunities to experience “Huntsville for the Holidays” with a movie showing and Houston Family Christmas this week.

The free movie night presentation of Polar Express will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday (Dec. 2), in the Katy and E. Don Walker, Sr., Education Center.

Families are encouraged to wear their favorite pjs for the “Pajama Party” event, and hot cocoa and cookies will be served.

The 2004 animated film stars Tom Hanks as the voice of the doubting boy who climbs aboard a magical train that’s headed to the North Pole and Santa Claus’s home.

“Our turnout last year was good (for the first movie night showing). It surprised us how many did come out,” said museum marketing coordinator Megan Buro. “I think it’s a great opportunity, especially in this day and age, for families to be able to spend some time together and not feel like they are spending all this money for tickets, drinks and snacks.”

On Saturday (Dec. 3), the museum will celebrate the holidays the way the Houston family did in the 19th century from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the museum grounds.

The event will include historical demonstrations on spinning and weaving, kick wheel pottery, woodworking, and blacksmithing, and the Texas Gulf Coast Cherokee Association will teach about the Cherokee culture.

“We do have leading up to December a demonstrator on the ground each Saturday, but with December being a busy month, we bring them all together at Houston Family Christmas,” Buro said. “The demonstrators will be scattered around our grounds, giving visitors a chance to explore our grounds.

“The historical demonstrations give people a chance to learn from the artisans about a craft from the past,” she said. “We have the houses decorated with greenery to show how the Houston’s would have decorated for the holiday. It’s a unique experience for kids of today because of all the technology we have and seeing someone blowing glass or spinning and weaving isn’t something they see a lot.”

Santa Claus also will be visiting Eliza’s kitchen, where families can get homemade gingerbread and wassail.

“Santa wanted to be where the goodies were,” Buro said.

Also on Dec. 3, the “oldest and finest holiday market for handcrafted creations and gifts in Huntsville” will be set up in the Walker Education Center from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to Dee Everett, event marketing coordinator.

The Angel Show features only handmade creations and gifts from dozens of artists and crafters throughout the area, Everett said.

“The one-day event is free to the public and features items ranging from original framed artwork, cards, fiber art, apparel, jewelry, woodwork, ornaments, sculpting and glasswork,” she said.

All three events are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Buro at 936.294.3839 or mlb044@shsu.edu, and for more information on the Angel Show, contact Everett at 936.577.1364 or dam1022@hotmail.com.


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Spectrum To Feature New, Old Dances

Andy Noble’s “Lorelei’s whisper,” which explores the pairing of projection design with fog, will be one of the many faculty dances performed as part of the "Precipice" Dance Spectrum. —Photo by Lynn Lane; Lighting design by David Deveau and Andy Noble

SHSU dance faculty members and two guest artists will present an evening of new works and returning favorites for “Precipice,” the Dance Spectrum Concert, Wednesday (Nov. 30) through Saturday (Dec. 3) in the Performing Arts Center Dance Theater.

Curtain time will be at 8 p.m. each evening, with a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee.

The evening will feature guest artists Jane Weiner, of Hopestone Dance in Houston, presenting “the wonderfully quirky, light-hearted work ‘Level 1,’” and Gina Bolles Sorensen, of somebodies dance theatre in San Diego, Calif., presenting “a subtle exploration of communication and expression in ‘Nethertongue,’” according to dance lecturer Dionne Noble.

SHSU faculty members Dana Nicolay and Jonathan Charles will share favorite works from the past, with “Chaordinum” and “Valses Po’eticos.”

Originally set in 2005, Nicolay’s “Chaordinum” “explores the fine line between order and chaos” through a whirlwind of movement and a stage full of 16 moving bodies.

Reset from the spring with a few casting changes, Charles’s “Valses Po’eticos” features five male dancers dancing around a piano performing a series of complicated steps, jumps and leaps.

The work, dedicated to Grettle Payne, whom he said inspired him to create the work for the gifted young male dancers, “Valses Po’eticos” is set to waltzes by Enrique Granados and played live by student pianist Kara Reed.

Employing the use of props, choreographer Erin Reck literally tethers the dancers to the stage by attaching 15-feet cords between the dancers and top of the performance space.

“The dancers crisscross, untwist and pull forward to accentuate their inability to escape what seems like an endless loop of time passing,” Noble said.

In Noble’s work “Up on the Moon,” traditional fluorescent lighting instruments most commonly seen in an office space are brought to floor level to illuminate an intimate duet set to music by Michael Wall.

“The installation designed by David Deveau creates an otherworldly sense of existence for the dancers who seem to be alone in the universe,” she said.

Also collaborating with Deveau as a light designer and artistic adviser, Andy Noble’s “Lorelei’s whisper” explores the pairing of projection design with fog resulting in a complete alteration of how the human form can be viewed.

“This stunning and tantalizing work catapults the viewer into another place and time that can usually only be experienced through the imagination,” Dionne Noble said.

The evening will also include a ballet pointe piece titled “Allure” by graduate student Beverly Williams.

The opportunity to present the guest artists’ work for this concert stemmed from a new initiative of The Dance Gallery Festival hosted by the SHSU dance program in October.

“The festival brings numerous dance companies to SHSU for three intensive days of master classes and performances,” Noble said. “This year the dance program was able to offer two of the guest artists the opportunity to extend their stay and set a work on students.”

Tickets are $14 for students/seniors and $17 for general admission and can be obtained at the PAC Dance Theatre Box Office. Reservations are recommended can be made by calling 936.294.2339.

For more information, call the dance program at 936.294.1875.


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Music Performances To Feature Student Brass, Cellists

The SHSU School of Music will return from Thanksgiving with two student-led concerts beginning on Tuesday (Nov. 29).

The SHSU Brass Quintet, headed by trumpet graduate student Jonathon Gregory, will perform a suite from Leonard Bernstein's “West Side Story” on that day, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

On Sunday (Dec. 4), the Cello Studio Recital will showcase undergraduate cellists performing music by Vivaldi, Bach, Brahms, Prokofiev and Apocolytica, beginning at 4 p.m. in the PAC Recital Hall.

Both concerts are free and open to the public.

For more information, call the School of Music at 936.294.1360.


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Group To Kick Off 'Relay' Season

Though the next SHSU-sponsored Relay for Life event is almost six months away, Colleges Against Cancer will begin showing the Bearkat community how they can join in the fight against cancer on Tuesday (Nov. 29).

The Relay for Life kickoff celebration will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom.

The “Hope Rocks” event will include decorations and music centered on rock music, as well as food and giveaways, and a tribute to Huntsville-area cancer survivors. Interested parties also can sign up teams or individually for next May’s event.

“The purpose of the celebration is just that—to celebrate,” said Kessler McLaughlin, Relay for Life event chair and cancer survivor. “We actually have a three-part message that we promote at Relay For Life: celebrate, remember, fight back.

“We celebrate the lives of the survivors and the advances that medicine is making at such a rapid pace with the help of the American Cancer Society. We remember the lives of those that we have lost to this horrible disease. And we fight back by raising as much money as possible to fund life-saving research,” he said.

This year’s fundraising goal is $45,000, $5,000 more than the 2011 goal, McLaughlin said.

As a CML leukemia survivor, McLaughlin said the event is not only personally aware of the issues associated with cancer but also the importance of organizations such as the American Cancer Society.

“My life was saved by my sister, who was my donor for my stem cell transplant five years ago,” he said. “One of the drugs that made the transplant possible was Gleevec. This drug helped my body get ready for my transplant. The development of Gleevec was funded by the American Cancer Society using funds raised through Relay For Life.

“I will officially be pronounced cancer-free in a few months,” he said. “I wouldn't be here celebrating today if it wasn't for the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life. Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society have taught me that a cancer diagnosis isn't the end of your life. It's a new beginning.”

The 2012 Relay for Life will be held on May 4, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Bowers Stadium.

Donations can be made and teams can also sign up online at www.relayforlife.org/samhoustontx.

For more information, contact McLaughlin at kessler@shsu.edu.


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‘Cowboy Astronomer’ To Make Final Planetarium Visits

The SHSU physics department will introduce participants of its planetarium series program to “The Cowboy Astronomer” with a semester of showings beginning Friday (Dec. 2).

The showing will be presented at 7 p.m. in Farrington Building Room 102.

Narrated by cowboy humorist Baxter Black, "The Cowboy Astronomer" provides an explanation of the night sky from the perspective of a cowboy sitting around a campfire.

“Our cowboy astronomer gives us his perspective of the night sky and the things he’s found out over a lifetime of stargazing,” said Michael Prokosch, physics department staff laboratory assistant. “He talks about star colors and temperatures, and we see how blue stars are hotter than red stars by the chili pepper ratings beneath them.”

The program will also highlight constellations that can be currently seen in the night sky, including Pegasus; Andromeda, “home of the Andromeda Galaxy, the most distant object you can see with the naked eye;” Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cygnus, to name a few, Prokosch said.

“Jupiter dominates the sky this fall and is up all night,” he said.

The planetarium seats up to 29 visitors and includes a dome that is approximately 18 feet in diameter and more than 20 feet high in the center.

Admission is free.

The final showing of “The Cowboy Astronomer” will be on Dec. 9, also at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact Prokosch at 936.294.3664 or visit either the Planetarium WikiPage or the Planetarium Facebook page.


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Staff Council Spotlights Chuck Collins

Chuck CollinsStudent Activities assistant director Chuck Collins was recognized by the SHSU Staff Council as the spotlight selection for November.

Chuck not only works for the university, but also has a plethora of hobbies and interests such as his own photography business as well as being an active musician.

Celebrating his four-year anniversary at SHSU this month, Collins began in the Department of Student Activities as the first coordinator directly overseeing Program Council and he founded the Haven program on campus, which serves as a lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/intersexed/questioning advocacy network.

He is also a member of “Class 30” for the Huntsville Leadership Institute and a volunteer HIV testing drive coordinator that works in Huntsville, Houston, and the Bryan/College Station area.

Collins is very dedicated to student involvement, desiring to see students that develop into agents of their own learning and develop a strong connection to university life, he said.

He is an advocate of the idea of creating a UAE, an unconditionally accepting environment, saying he feels that the opportunity for an individual to express their ideas openly is an important aspect of true motivation especially when coupled with a common goal.


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Submit Update Items Here

In order to assist members of the Sam Houston State University community in publicizing events, the SHSU Communications Office (Today@Sam) is now requesting that students, faculty and staff submit information about events, accomplishments or ideas for feature stories online.

Submission criteria and guidelines, including deadlines, have now been placed online, at http://www.shsu.edu/~pin_www/guidelines.html. This information is also accessible through the “Submissions” link in the right-hand navigation on Today@Sam.

From there, those submitting ideas can access forms that will allow them to provide detailed information about their idea, as well as attach event calendars, vitas/resumes or photos, depending on the type of submission.

Ideas submitted to the SHSU Communications Office are directly utilized in several ways: as news stories, “slider” or SHSU home page stories, hometown releases, and on the Today@Sam calendar.

If your submission qualifies for distribution, we will either contact you for more detailed information, or we will edit the information using SHSU/journalistic style and forward the final release to the appropriate media.

All information is verified before release, so please provide complete, accurate and timely information. Please type all responses in appropriate upper and lower cases.

For more information, contact the Communications Office at 936.294.1836 or today@sam.edu.



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SHSU Media Contacts: Julia May, Jennifer Gauntt
Nov. 23, 2011
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to Today@Sam.edu




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Please send comments, corrections, news tips to Today@Sam.edu.

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