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Spring 2021 CNS Honors Seminars

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

Using Computer Simulations to Understand the World
The Eyes of Texas
A Meeting of Art and Science – Viewing Scientific Achievements from the Perspective of the Arts
Telling Your Story
Environmental Justice
Music Across the Life Span
Mapping the Human Cortex
Wellness 101: The Honors Edition
Domestication of Animals: Genetics, Evolution, Behavior, and Ethics
Deep Fakes and the End of Reality as We Know It
Emerging Treatments for Cancers and Infectious Diseases 
Underappreciated Science
Thesis Seminar – Physical Sciences
Thesis Seminar – Life Sciences

Using Computer Simulations to Understand the World
Mike Mauk
Unique: 47665
Thursday 4-5pm
remote
From baseball to neuroscience to the stock market and beyond computer simulations are increasingly used to understand the world. In this course we will discuss what computer simulations are, what they mean and wonder about what they can, and cannot accomplish. I will present demonstrations of simple simulations as topics for discussion. Working as a class or in groups we will create simulations to discover something about topics of our choice.


The Eyes of Texas
Sonia Seeman and Charles Carson
Unique: 47729
Time: Wednesday 2-3pm
remote
We will start with "The Eyes of Texas" and the immediate history and traditions that inform this song, then look at issues of musical nationalism and how these concepts are adopted into school spirit songs, with a unit on marching bands and the legacy of Ottoman military ensembles. We will provide case studies and an assortment of topics, and turn students loose on their ethical and political implications, including, of course, of "The Eyes of Texas" itself.


A Meeting of Art and Science – Viewing Scientific Achievements from the Perspective of the Arts

Inder Saxena
Unique: 47670

Wednesday 9-10am
remote
Scientists and artists pursue activities that are driven by a number of human qualities, including creativity. Scientists spend much of their time asking questions and finding creative solutions, that in many cases increase our understanding of the world and improve living conditions. Artists express themselves through literature, painting, sculpture, and other creative forms that enhance human experiences. Where do these two human endeavors meet? One place where they come together are in essays written for the last 20 years by Joseph Goldstein to highlight scientific achievements in basic and clinical medical research through the lens of artists like Raphael, Matisse, Picasso, Mark Twain, Balzac, Rodin and many others. This course will look at some of these essays to learn how work by many of these artists can be used to understand scientific breakthroughs in areas ranging from unfolded protein response to DNA damage response to the development of drugs for treatment of cancer.

Telling Your Story
Sara Corson
Unique: 47675

Tuesday 12-1pm
remote
“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.

Environmental Justice
Donnie Sackey
Unique: 47680
Friday 10-11am
remote
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. In this seminar, we will discuss and develop theoretical frameworks for understanding how environmental injustice is produced locally, regionally, and globally and develop communicative strategies necessary for addressing environmental justice from the community, government, science, and legal perspectives. 

Music Across the Life Span
Amy Simmons
Unique: 47685
Thursday 2-3pm
remote
We will investigate the interdisciplinary study of music and consider its role in the human experience across the life span. Readings and discussions will enrich your understanding of music, going beyond the basic enjoyment associated with listening and performance to include topics related to human perception, physiological response, neuroscience, social cohesion, complex skill development, therapy and rehabilitation, and the measurement of musical behavior.

Mapping the Human Cortex
Alexander Huth
Unique: 47690
Wednesday 2-3pm
remote
The human brain is a biological and computational marvel. It can learn, talk, see, touch, smell, taste, think, feel, and listen, while using less energy than a modern laptop. Our brains accomplish these feats through specialization, where each part of the brain focuses only on one or a few tasks. In this course we will take a tour through the human brain in an effort to learn at least a little bit about every single area in the cortex. Because the human cortex is involved in nearly every aspect of human life, we will touch on a broad set of topics, including vision, language, audition, touch, decision making, and social cognition. We will also discuss methods for mapping the brain and organizing principles that may be at play.


Wellness 101: The Honors Edition
Kelsey Lammy
Unique: 47695
T 2-3:30pm
remote

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. Stress is the number one reported impediment to academic performance (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30285563).

Mental health in healthcare has also become a topic of attention in recent years. There is still stigma surrounding mental health issues that creates serious barriers to help-seeking, access, and quality of care. The implications of such stigma have led to poorer patient outcomes, as well as inadequate mental health care and education, extending to even healthcare providers themselves. In this seminar, students begin to learn and practice strategies for cultivating and maintaining positive mental health in college and onwards, 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 mental health and wellness-related strategies and topics that can be carried and expanded upon through their education and career.

Domestication of Animals: Genetics, Evolution, Behavior, and Ethics
Blinda McClelland
Unique: 47700
Wednesday 10-11am
remote
Humans have had a long mutually beneficial relationship with domestic animals.  We will be reading an article from the popular press or academic journal each week and discuss questions such as: How do animals become domesticated? Why can some animal species become domesticated and others not? What is the evidence for domestication in the fossil record? How do domesticated animals differ genetically and behaviorally from wild ancestors? Is it ethical to raise domestic animals for human consumption? The discussions will be thought-provoking, entertaining, and enlightening.

Deep Fakes and the End of Reality as We Know It
David Laude
Unique: 47705
Wednesday 2-3pm
remote
In this seminar Dr. Laude once again takes a look at how technology is evolving the way we live our lives. This semester the topic will be of synthetic media with an emphasis on deep fakes. 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.

Emerging Treatments for Cancers and Infectious Diseases 
P
ratibha Saxena

Unique: 47710
Wednesday 2-3pm
remote
Infectious diseases affect each and every one of us. Even today a large number of people succumb to infectious agents even after we understand a lot more about infectious agents and how to control them. Infectious agents include viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoans. Antibiotics helped control microbes in mid 1900s but now we are faced with multi drug resistance organisms that are proving difficult to control. While a large number of infectious diseases of the early 1900s are under control, there are many more emerging and reemerging diseases that we all are confronted with on a regular basis.

Some of the infectious diseases we will discuss are Influenza, HIV-AIDS, Zika, Dengue fever, Tuberculosis, Pneumonia (especially caused by multidrug resistant Klebsiella pneumonia), Healthcare associated (HCA) diseases and Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). This seminar course will discuss basic concepts of these diseases, their clinical presentation and diagnosis, and both current and potential treatments.

Underappreciated Science
William Press
Unique: 47715
Monday 4-5pm
remote
Recently, publisher John Brockman asked two-hundred famous scientists, “What scientific concept ought to be more widely known?” Their wide-ranging and sometimes unexpected answers are the basis for this discussion seminar. Each week, we’ll pick three or four of these scientific concepts, ranging across all fields. Subgroups (via Zoom breakout rooms) will, in real-time, devise quick oral presentations (“elevator speeches”), each group summarizing one concept. These will be delivered to the full class, where group discussion will ensue. Instant web research during the discussion, and sharing of findings, will be encouraged. Every student will be expected to contribute orally in every class. All opinions and perspectives will be welcome. Come prepared to learn, talk, and contribute.

Thesis Seminar – Physical Sciences
Josh Roebke
Unique: 47720
Monday 4-5pm
remote
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
Shelley Payne
Unique: 47725
Monday 4-5pm
remote
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. The purpose is to help you present your research in a clear, lively, and accurate report that leaves no doubt of its importance.