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SHSU Update For Week Of April 17

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Real Talk To Address New Homeland Security Service

Tyeshia Miller-Williams is called in to assist victims of federal crimes, including human trafficking, child pornography, and cyber crime.

Miller-Williams, a victim assistance coordinator for the Department of Homeland Security in the Gulf Coast region, will discuss her experiences as part of the Real Talk with CJ lecture on Tuesday (April 19).

The event will begin at 2 p.m. in the Criminal Justice Center’s CJava Café.

Miller-Williams’ position, which was created two years ago, is a relatively new service for the national security agency and a growing field in victim services among other federal agencies.

Her job includes aiding victims during the investigative process of federal crimes involving the protection of national security. She also ensures that victims are placed in a safe environment once they are removed from criminal activity by law enforcement and are linked with non-profit services in the community, such as housing, financial assistance, social services or legal aid.

The office also keeps the victims informed throughout the progression of the criminal case.

"I think the importance of my position is that it gives a voice to victims throughout the investigative process," Miller-Williams said. "We ensure that the investigation process always has the victim in mind."

Most of the cases Miller-Williams deals with in the Gulf Coast area involve cases of child pornography or human trafficking. She also helps victims of cybercrime fraud when federal charges are involved.

Many federal agencies have added or are planning to add victim’s service positions, but the opportunities are not widely advertised.

Before joining Homeland Security Victims Assistance last year, Miller-Williams worked for 15 years either in direct service or as executive director at social services agencies in the community.

She also is a veteran of the U.S. Army, where she served for eight years.

For more information, contact Beth Kuhles, College of Criminal Justice public relations officer, at 936.294.4425.


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Biology Lecture To Focus On Crab Impact On Marshes

Steven Pennings, professor of biology and biochemistry at the University of Houston and director of the UH Coastal Center, will discuss his work on "Biotic and Abiotic Drivers of Tidal Creek Growth in Sinking Salt Marshes" on Thursday (April 21).

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

Pennings’ lecture will review evidence from ongoing studies that explore the importance of crabs as “engineers” that mediate the response of coastal marshes to sea level rise.

“As sea level rises, coastal salt marshes must respond to increasing flooding or they will submerge and ‘drown,’ he said. “Much research has focused on how plants and soil respond to sea level rise, but another response is the increase in the drainage network, the creeks, on the marsh to accommodate the greater amount of water moving on and off the marsh with each high tide.

“In southeastern USA marshes, burrowing crabs may play an important engineering role driving the growth of these creeks,” Pennings said.

The 2010 Society of Wetland Scientists Merit Award for outstanding research winner has taught at UH since 2002.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in aquatic biology from Brown University and his doctorate in ecology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The 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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Math Prof To Give Grassroots Lecture

Rebecca Garcia, an associate professor of mathematics at Sam Houston State University, will answer questions about her life and career on Wednesday (April 20) during the Student Advising and Mentoring Center’s Grassroots speaker series presentation.

The discussion will begin at 5 p.m. in College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building Room 140.

Garcia earned her bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University in 1995, her master’s degree from the University of California in 1999, and her doctorate from New Mexico State University in 2004.

Her areas of interest include commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, computational algebra, algebraic combinatorics, combinatorics of partially ordered sets, dimension theory, and the history of mathematics.

A meet-and-greet with refreshments will follow the discussion in the Student Advising and Mentoring Center, located in CHSS Building Suite 170.

“Grassroots: A Series of Conversations on Leadership in a Diverse Community” was created in April 2003 to promote career aspirations and academic achievements of SHSU’s minority students.

The lecture is sponsored by the SAM Center’s academic support programs; the Elliott T. Bowers Honors Program; the International Hispanic Association; Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc.; the NAACP; the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program; Student Success Initiatives Office; and Women United.

For more information, contact Bernice Strauss, SAM Center director of academic support programs, at 936.294.4455 or sam_bss@shsu.edu.


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Annual Ceremony To Honor University Namesake

The Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity will honor Gen. Sam Houston at his final resting place on Thursday (April 11) during their annual Changing of the Flag Ceremony.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Huntsville’s Oakwood cemetery, the ceremony will honor the military hero as the men of Alpha Tau Omega replace the flags above his grave.

This year’s event is especially meaningful because it marks both the 100th anniversary of the Sam Houston Grave Memorial and the 175th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto, according to fraternity president David Kelley.

The ceremony will feature speeches by city councilman Mac Woodward and former county clerk James Patton, as well as James Olson, distinguished professor of history.

The Walker County Daughters of the Republic of Texas and SHSU’s ROTC will also be in attendance as special guests of the ceremony.

According to Kelley, the event is their way of giving back to the city of Huntsville while commemorating one of Texas’ most memorable heroes.

For more information, contact Kelley at 713.591.7239 or dpk002@shsu.edu.


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Graduate Student Recital To ‘Let It Go’

Graduate students from the Sam Houston State dance program will present an “array of original choreography inspired by a vast variety of choreographic and movement styles” during a concert on Wednesday and Thursday (April 20-21).

“Let It Go,” “a concert that celebrates and shows off the hard work of SHSU graduate students,” will begin 8 p.m. each evening in the Performing Arts Center Dance Theater, according to dance graduate student Jamie Zahradnik.

Eight works will be presented during the concert, including “My Sister Thawed My Slow Moving Love Bird’s Underpants” a piece by graduating students Amy Llanes and Zahradnik.

“As its title implies, the piece is a recycling project in which the two artists have joined forces to reuse props, costumes, and choreography from their own past works created during their three years of grad school,” Zahradnik said. “Drenched in themes of friendly competition and sisterly love, this piece is a quirky and entertaining bit that is sure to leave you with at least a smile.”

“I IS WE,” a duet choreographed by Brittany Thetford, “offers a glimpse into the internal everyday happenings that create and dictate a relationship between two people,” Zahradnik said.

“Subtle and quiet, this piece pulls the audience into the world of these two characters; a world of muffled communication and uncertainty,” she said. “In this way, it seems to reveal complications that can arise when one decides to share her life with another.”

“Abraham,” originally inspired by the iconic duet performed in White Christmas and choreographed by Robert Alton, is a tap number performed by Amy Wright and Matty Harr that has been reconstructed to suit their unique style.

David Deveau will present “Fragmented Me,” an “emotional expression of the relationship or lack thereof that a son may have with his father,” according to Zahradnik.

“The piece reveals a mishmash of anger, confusion, and pain that goes along with the struggles of having a father who may be abusive or absent,” she said. “This candid response to life’s struggles is beautifully and genuinely presented in this work.”

Ticket prices are $10 for general admission.

To reserve tickets, contact the SHSU box office at 936.294.2339, and for more information, contact concert director Laura Harrell at 832.878.7794.


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Concerts To Tell ‘Tale,’ Share ‘Exchanged’ Works

The School of Music will feature faculty musicians and student composers during two concerts beginning Monday (April 18).

The Faculty Chamber Recital will share Igor Stravinsky’s “morality tale” about a simple soldier marching home on leave who encounters the devil on that day, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center Recital Hall.

“Soldier’s Tale” will feature Javier Pinell, violin; Deborah Dunham, bass; Patricia Card, clarinet; Scott Phillips, bassoon; Randy Adams, trumpet; Ben Osborne, trombone; and Chris Riggs, percussion. Other participants include faculty members Aric Schneller, as narrator; James Franklin, as the soldier; and David Cole, as the devil.

Matthew McInturf will conduct the program, which will include 16 pieces played in two parts.

On Tuesday (April 19), student composers at SHSU and at Stephen F. Austin State will present their works as part of a “New Music Exchange” concert at 7:30 p.m. in the PAC Recital Hall.

The concert will feature “a good mixture of different ensembles from a jazz-inspired ensemble to solo works to solo voice with electronic tape,” according to music graduate student Evan Jones.

“Usually this kind of concert would just be Sam students, but this is a special exchange concert where we've invited Stephen F. Austin students to feature their works as well,” Jones said. “This is all part of a grass roots effort to promote new compositions and new music cooperation amongst Southeast Texas universities.”

Among the pieces that will be presented are Russell Cannon’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” a work sung to the piano; John Paddie’s “Breaking Randal Soyer,” a marimba work; Kayla Lail’s “Trio,” for violin, cello and clarinet; Jones’ “Prelude in and out of Flats,” a marimba work; Steven Scott’s “Fanfare for Brass Quintet,” for trumpet, horn, trombone and tuba; Meaghan Gasch’s “Smoke, Wine, and Indigo,” performed on the flugelhorn, tenor saxophone, piano, drum set and bass; and Tyler Hughes’ “From 95 Poems,” a sung work.

Students who are part of SHSU's music composition program are also part of the student organization Ars Perpetua, which promotes and supports (non-monetarily) SHSU composition students, according to Jones.

Both concerts are free.

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


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Chinese Police Cadets Sweep Research Awards

CJ research winnersChinese exchange students from the Zhejiang Police College swept the awards at the College of Criminal Justice’s Undergraduate Research Conference on April 6 with research posters and papers studying emerging crime issues in the United States and their native country.

The winning research paper by Tong Ni explored why the floating population in China, defined as those who have not migrated from another country and will not become part of a permanent settled group commit crime. Her faculty adviser was Phillip Lyons.

The winning research poster by Shu Cang and Yingyu Le compared the self-reporting of victimization and reporting crimes to police among school-aged students in China and the United States. The team was advised by Ling Ren.

Other winners included second place research paper: Minming Chen’s “Asian's Attitudes toward the Police and Fear of Crime, and Victimization in Houston: A Comparative Study,” advised by Jihong (Solomon) Zhao; and third place paper: Haibo Zhang, Xue Zhang, and Shuye Xie’s “Exploring Asian Drug Crime in America,” advised by Melissa Tackett-Gibson.

Also, second place research poster: Kexin Lie and Jun Wu’s “The Relationship Between Attitude and Use of Marijuana: A Longitudinal Study of Eighth Grade Students,” advised by Steven Cuvelier; and third place research poster: Zhanhong Guo and Qing Lin’s “Police Practices in China and Texas: A Comparative View,” advised by Mitchel Roth.

“The College of Criminal Justice Undergraduate Research Conference is a wonderful opportunity to show off our best students and for these students to add another impressive experience on their resumes for graduate school or employment,” said Holly Miller, CJ assistant dean of undergraduate programs. “We hope the conference continues to be successful and we can increase the number of students who participate each year.”

The Undergraduate Conference also featured research on such topics as restorative justice, sex assault among college students, spousal violence, child abuse, sexual offenders, blunt force trauma, cyberstalking, and intelligence gathering.

Now in its third year, the Undergraduate Research Conference was created to give criminal justice students an opportunity to show off their research and presentation skills, which are in high demand in the job market.

Twenty-two students presented 10 papers and six posters as part of the competition, which provided scholarships ranging from $200 to $500. The students will be recognized at the CJ Honors Convocation on April 28.


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Research Finds Gangs Don’t Protect Against Crime

While it is commonly believed that gang membership offers protection, a recent study by the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University found that gang members actually were more likely to be victimized.

“Gang members were significantly more likely than non-gang members to be crime victims,” said Kate Fox, assistant professor of criminal justice, who co-authored the study. “Overall, gang members were more than twice as likely to be victimized compared to non-gang members. Gang members were significantly more likely than non-gang members to be attacked without a weapon, attacked with a weapon, and targeted in drive-by shootings.”

In addition, gang members report their neighborhoods are more dangerous, are of lower quality, and have greater problems with drugs compared to non-gang members.

The study was based on interviews with 217 adult inmates at a Texas prison, 84 who said they were gang members and 133 who said they were not gang members. A total of 71.4 percent of gang members said they had been victimized, compared to only 31.6 percent of inmates who were not gang members.

Gang members also were targeted heavily by drive-by shooting, with 52.4 percent reporting being a victim of the crime and only 4.5 percent of non-gang members saying they had been targeted.

Among gang members, 52.4 percent reported being attacked with a weapon, and 31.1 percent said they were a victim of simple assault, compared to non-gang members, where 29.5 percent reported an assault with a weapon, and 12.8 percent said they had suffered a simple assault.

The Crime Victims’ Institute, which was created in created by the Texas Legislature in 1995, studies the impact of crime on victims, their relatives and society as a whole.

The research evaluates the effectiveness of criminal justice and juvenile justice policy, and develops recommendation to prevent future criminal victimization in society. Their findings are presented to news media, victim service providers, legislators, judges and police officers.


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Send Update Items Here

Information for the SHSU Update can be sent to the Office of Communications electronically at Today@Sam.edu or to any of the media contacts listed below.

Please include the date, location and time of the event, as well as a brief description and a contact person.

All information for news stories should be sent to the office at least a week in advance to give the staff ample time to make necessary contacts and write the story.

For electronic access to SHSU news see the Communications Web page Today@Sam.



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SHSU Media Contacts: Julia May, Jennifer Gauntt
April 15, 2011
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to Today@Sam.edu




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