Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Spring 2023 CNS Honors Seminars

The NSC 110H seminars below are restricted to Dean's Scholars, Health Science Scholars, and Polymathic Scholars.

 

The Master and Margarita

Big Questions In Science

Thesis Seminar - Physical Sciences

Thesis Seminar - Life Sciences 

Telling Your Story

Synthetic Media and the End of Reality As We Know It

Money, Politics, and Science

Good Germs, Bad Germs in Daily Life

Ecologies of Environmental Justice

Wellness 101: The Honors Student Edition

Making: An Intersection Between STEM, Design, and the Arts

Humans as Ecosystems Engineers

The Analyzed World

Mathematics for Human Flourishing

American Healthcare System: A Transplant Perspective

 

The Master and Margarita 

Thomas Garza

Unique: 47510

Tuesday, 11 am

PAI 4.28, in-person

REQUIRED: Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita. Diana Burgin and Katherine O’Connor, trans. ISBN-10: 0679760806

Stalin's Moscow, 1936. The Devil and his gang have come to the mortal world to determine how Mankind is faring in the mid- 20th century. He encounters a motley crew of Soviet bureaucrats, writers, politicians and artists who offer little hope for the future. Enter the "Master," an unknown writer struggling to finish a novel about the life of Christ told from the perspective of Pontius Pilate. Can this one writer and his work be reason enough to prevent the apocalypse? Enter Margarita, the Master's selfless companion and heroine of Mikhail Bulgakov's Soviet-era masterpiece, The Master and Margarita. Regarded by many readers and critics as one of the greatest novels of our time, The Master and Margarita is a fixed part of Russian culture. This seminar will explore not only the intricacies of the novel itself, but also its place among Bulgakov’s other literary works, and its varied sources from world literature, music and the visual arts.

 

Big Questions in Science

William Press

Unique: 47495

Monday 4 - 5 pm

PAI 4.28 

Recently, Quanta Magazine has featured a series of podcasts (audio with also written transcriptions) by interdisciplinary scientist Steven Strogatz, raising “big questions” in science and interviewing researchers who are investigating them. Examples include: How and why do we dream? Will the James Webb Telescope discover another Earth? How could life evolve from cyanide? What is quantum field theory and how is it failing? Why is inflammation a dangerous necessity? For this course, students absolutely must listen to (or read) one assigned podcast each week before the class hour. Then, in class, we will continue that topic’s discussion, especially exploring what are the commonalities and differences in the scientific methods of different fields and speculating on what further advances may occur. Every student will be expected to contribute orally in every class, and all perspectives will be welcome. Come prepared to learn, talk, and contribute.

Thesis Seminar – Physical Sciences

Joshua Roebke

Unique: 47480

Monday 2-3 pm

PAI 5.42 (in-person)

This course is designed for Dean’s Scholars and Option 1 Health Science Scholars currently writing their theses. In this course, you will be writing your Honors thesis in one of the physical sciences. You will turn in different sections of your thesis throughout the semester to receive comments and edits from me and your peers. Basically, you are in this class to hone your thesis and I am here to help you.

Thesis Seminar – Life Sciences

Joshua Roebke

Unique: 47470

Monday 3-4 pm

PAI 5.42 (in-person)

This course is designed for Dean’s Scholars and Option 1 Health Science Scholars currently writing their theses. In this course, you will be writing your Honors thesis in one of the life sciences. You will turn in different sections of your thesis throughout the semester to receive comments and edits from me and your peers. Basically, you are in this class to hone your thesis and I am here to help you.

Telling Your Story

Sara Corson

Unique: 47450

Wednesday 9-10 am

PAI 5.42 (in-person) 

“Tell me about yourself.” A simultaneously terrifying and invigorating prompt in both written and verbal formats. As you move through the world, you’ll be asked to highlight your accomplishments. Honors students are highly accomplished but often lack the confidence to articulate their success. This seminar will touch on imposter syndrome, emotional intelligence, career and professional development, and more. Together, we will discover how to Tell Your Story. This course is designed primarily for juniors and seniors.

Synthetic Media and the End of Reality as We Know It

David Laude

Unique: 47475

Wednesday 2-3 pm

PAI 4.28 (in-person)

In this seminar Dr. Laude will once again take a look at how technology is evolving the way we live our lives. As we become more invested in what we see on our screens, the question of what is real, or even what reality is, will become an important question we must answer.  We will begin with a look at the historical development, current status and future synthetic media.  We will then look at its current impact across an array of applications to politics, pornography, entertainment and talk about what’s next.  We will also discuss the philosophical issues about creating a world that is increasingly uniquely our own, with the experiences realized through our screens that justify our behaviors and values.

Money, Politics, and Science

Brian Roberts

Unique: 47505

Wednesday 4-5 pm

PAI 5.42 (in-person)

Most Americans believe that money distorts election outcomes and the decisions of elected officials.  To the extent this happens, money in politics has the potential to affect science policy dramatically.  In this course we learn the basics of campaign finance – the art and practice of money in politics – and how to navigate and use related data.  Students will apply these skills and knowledge in small team projects to gain insight to the intersection of money, politics, and science.

Good Germs, Bad Germs in Daily Life

Pratibha Saxena

Unique: 47465

Monday 2-3 pm

GEA 100 (in-person)

We will discuss both popular and scientific articles, case studies that enhance our understanding of the molecular basis, genetics and impact of good germs and bad germs on daily life.Our focus will be on germs that make a healthy living feasible; those that help produce different types of our foods, and beverages; that help fix atmospheric nitrogen; as well as those that are associated with diseases, including those that are emerging microbes, re-emerging microbes and those that have been with us from beginning of life.

Ecologies of Environmental Justice

Donnie Sackey

Unique: 47490

Tuesdays 12-1 pm 

PAI 5.42 (in-person)

Environmental justice is a framework for analyzing and addressing the inequalities in environmental conditions (benefits and burdens) among communities of varying race/ethnicity and economic class. At the same time, environmental justice presents a deep challenge to mainstream environmental and sustainability frameworks. This challenge forces us as community advocates and activist researchers to examine the social relations of production and power that contribute to negative environmental and human health outcomes and develop meaningful solutions. In this seminar, we will explore the relationship between environmental risk and social justice through two studies based in Canada and the United States. 

The River Is in Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community by Elizabeth Hoover ISBN 1517903033 
Pollution is Colonialism by Max Liboiron ISBN 9781478014133

Both books are available for free in digital form from the university library.

Wellness 101: The Honors Student Edition

Brittany O’Malley

Unique: 47460

Wednesdays 2-3:30 pm

PAI 5.42 (in-person)

The current generation experiences higher levels of stress, depression, and anxiety than any prior generation. These issues are further exacerbated by the pressures of college-life and/or expectations of being high-achieving students. In this seminar, students will learn to practice strategies for cultivating and maintaining positive mental health and well-being in college and beyond, as well as ways to approach and help peers and colleagues struggling with related issues. Several guest speakers from various professional backgrounds—including staff from the Counseling and Mental Health Center and Longhorn Wellness Center—will help introduce students to wellness-related strategies and topics that can be carried and expanded upon through their education and career. 

Making: An Intersection between STEM, Design, and The Arts

Shelly Rodriguez

Unique: 47455

Wednesday 11 am -12 noon

PAI 4.08 (in-person) 

In today’s world many areas of knowledge with contrasting toolsets must converge to create new products and solve complex societal problems. STEM, design, and the arts offer complementary but unique toolboxes to observe, explain, and engage with the world. However, none of these areas alone will be able to solve the problems of the future. Enter making.

Humans as Ecosystems Engineers

Laura Gonzalez

Unique: 47500

Wednesday 12 noon- 1 pm

PAI 5.42 (in-person)

An ecosystem engineer is a species that is able to create, modify or maintain habitat. There are many such examples in nature: ants building mounds where certain insects can live, beavers changing water flow in streams providing new opportunities for other species, or trees changing the temperature of the soil below them. Millions of years ago, early cyanobacteria changed the planet atmosphere allowing for early diversification of eukaryotes. Currently, humans are the dominant species of ecosystem engineers. Are we capable of doing what cyanobacteria did in the past? In this seminar, we will explore varied human engineered impacts to ecosystems. Some may create opportunities for certain species in urban environments while others facilitate the emergence of novel diseases and change our planet atmosphere.

The Analyzed World

Mike Mauk

Unique: 47490

Thursday 4 – 5 pm

PAI 5.42 (in-person) 
Our world is increasingly influenced by scientific analyses.  From the algorithms that determine content on social media, to the way politicians target voters, to sabermetric equations that determine whether a base runner should try to steal second base, deep statistical analyses are changing the way we do things.  And not always for the better. This class will discuss these phenomena in terms of 1) what the analyses entail, 2) the breadth of what they are affecting, and 3) how we should react: do we enhance or temper this trend?.  As part of the course, students will research and give an in-class presentation of an example that they find interesting.

Mathematics for Human Flourishing

Jennifer Austin

Unique: 47514

Wednesday 2-3 pm

GEA 100

What is mathematics? What value does it add to our lives? Who is a mathematician? Is there beauty, power, freedom, play, exploration in mathematics? How does mathematics directly affect our daily lives, our personal growth, and our humanity? Students need no particular math background to enter into our discussions. Indeed, sharing your varied experiences will be enhance our learning community. In this seminar we will delve into Francis Su’s book “Mathematics for Human Flourishing” which is his insightful offering of “an inclusive vision of mathematics is, who it’s for, and why anyone should learn it.”

American Healthcare System: A Transplant Perspective

Joel Adler

Unique: 47485

Monday 4-5 pm

PAI 5.42

The United States spends more than comparable countries, and yet has worse health outcomes. To make matters worse, there are pervasive disparities that impact patients along the entire continuum of disease, undermining equity and access to care. This seminar will give a general perspective on US healthcare from practitioners, researchers, and policy makers, using solid organ transplantation as a model.