Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Fall 2022 CNS Honors Seminars

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

Mapping the Human Cortex

Emerging Treatments for Cancer and Emerging Infectious Diseases 

Wellness 101: The Honors Student Edition  

Environmental Justice

World Upside Down: The 20's are the New 60's

Communication Strategies for the Pre-Health Professional: Difficult Discussions

Health Communication

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

The Literature of Science 

Science of Monsters 

Living in Rural America 

Belonging as a Force for Social Justice 

Navigating DEI: Systems, Impacts, and Where We Go From Here

Student Voices/Voces de los Estudiantes 

Whole Person Health: Integrative & Complementary Medicine in the 21st Century

Alex Huth 
Unique: 47530
Thursday, 4-5 pm
PAI 5.42, in-person 
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 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. 
Emerging Treatments for Cancer and Emerging Infectious Diseases 
Pratibha Saxena 
Unique: 47575 
Wednesday, 2-3 pm 
WCH 1.110, in-person  
We will discuss key popular and scientific articles, case studies that enhance our understanding of the molecular basis, genetics and impact of emerging treatments on society. 
Our focus will be on new emerging treatments for Cancers and emerging Infectious Diseases. Among emerging infectious diseases, our focus will be on SARS-CoV-2. Emerging treatments and vaccine development for SARS-CoV-2 (and other Infectious diseases). 
 Among the cancer treatments, we will consider both the conventional treatments as well as the upcoming ones. Included in the emerging treatments will be the role of Monoclonal antibodies; Check-point inhibitors; CAR-T cell therapy; and PARP inhibitors.   
Both conventional and emerging treatments are associated with significant side effects and high cost. We will address both of these issues.  
Wellness 101: The Honors Student Edition 
Brittany O’Malley 
Unique: 47555 
Wednesday, 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. 
Environmental Justice 
Donnie Sackey 
Unique: 47585 
Tuesdays, 5-6 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. 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. 
World Upside Down:  The 20s Are the New 60s 
David Laude 
Unique: 47570 
Wednesdays, 2-3 pm 
WCH 1.108, in-person 
I was raised during the 60s and got to live through one of the most volatile decades in US history—assassinations, civil rights, unpopular wars, environmental disasters, and a generation of youth that wanted to break everything down and start over.  The decades that followed in the US had their moments, but were, for the most part, periods of stability and growth.   
Now, half a century later, I am living in a decade that feels every bit as volatile as the 60s.  In the 20s we have already experienced a pandemic, civil rights issues, environmental challenges, social upheaval, a possible world war in the offing, and likely, a generation of youth that wants to break everything down and start over. 
This seminar will address topical issues arising in the news in the fall semester.  If I had to predict what would be talked about, I only know for sure that there is a mid-year election that will significantly impact the trajectory our government will follow with respect to the volatile issues already mentioned.  Other than that, whether we are talking pandemic, or war, climate change, or social issues, it is going to be a wild ride.   
Seminar content and format:   Topics being generated a week in advance based on what is happening in the world as pairs of honors students present and lead civilized discussions about topics that will very much define the world you all will inherit. 
Communication Strategies for the Pre-Health Professional: Difficult Discussions 
David Ring 
Unique: 47630 
Monday, 3-6 pm 
Online  
Note that this is a 3-hour, graded class and is listed as NSC 323 in the course schedule. 
Training for healthcare professionals has long emphasized technical knowledge and assumed that communicating expertise would come naturally. It is increasingly clear that nontechnical skills (e.g. effective communication strategies, emotional intelligence, cultural humility, etc.) are also important to help people get and stay healthy. In this seminar, students interested in the health professions can begin to learn and practice helpful communication strategies. Guest speakers from various clinical and professional backgrounds will help introduce pre-health professionals to aspects of effective communication using group dialogues and practical exercises. 
Health Communication 
Mike Mackert 
Unique: 47540 
Thursday, 12:30-1:30 pm 
PAI 5.42, in-person  
Health communication is the science and art of using communication to advance the health and well-being of people and populations. In this seminar we will explore health communication ranging from the interpersonal level (provider-patient) to mass communication (national ad campaigns) across a range of health issues and populations. We will also discuss how health pervades popular media and new frontiers in health communication resulting from advances in science and medicine. 
A Meeting of Art and Science – Viewing Scientific Achievements from the Perspective of the Arts 
Inder Saxena 
Unique: 47535 
Monday, 11 am – 12 pm 
PAI 5.42, in-person  
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 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 seminar will look at some of these essays to learn as to how work by artists can be linked to scientific breakthroughs in areas ranging from unfolded protein response to DNA damage response to the development of drugs for treatment of cancer. 
The Literature of Science 
Josh Roebke 
Unique: 47545 
Wednesday, 1-2 pm 
PAI 5.42, in-person 
"Who writes about science and what are they trying to tell us? Poets, scientists, journalists, novelists, publicists, historians, and philosophers all write about science, but how do they communicate differently? Are they even describing the same branches of knowledge? We will read a variety of texts—from tweets to memoirs, essays to poems, and popular articles to humorous sketches—to discuss the many ways that writers communicate science and the ways they depict real and imagined scientists. Each week, we will read an article, essay, or short book excerpt to debate the merits of different writing styles by either scientists or non-scientists. Basically, we will discuss good writing about science and talk about why it is good. Students will have the chance to lead a discussion about the writing genre that they prefer or the area of science that they like best."  
Science of Monsters 
David Taylor 
Unique: 47560 
Monday, 2-3 pm 
PAI 5.42, in-person 
This is an honors-level seminar designed to introduce you to the biology, fiction, and ethics of monsters. What is a monster? Is it the terrifying thing lurking in your closet or under your bed? The word originated to describe something that is malformed or different than ourselves. In this seminar, we will talk about mutants: their genetic basis, their phenotypes, their transformation into literary symbols. There will be a combination of readings from scientific journal articles and gothic literature. Is Dracula an evil blood-sucking vampire or does he just have a slight sensitivity to light? You will learn to read, interpret, and discuss primary scientific literature articles, non-fiction science articles, and gothic fiction chapters in depth. By the end of this seminar, you should be able to judge for yourself if Dracula is a monster or just misunderstood. 
Living in Rural America 
Jane Champion 
Unique: 47580 
Tuesday, 11 am – 12 pm 
PAI 5.42, in-person 
What is rural? What is it like to live in rural America? Am I rural?  
The term "rural" means different things to different people. It may evoke images of farmland and pastoral countryside. What does it mean to you? How can we preserve the attributes of a rural environment? Rural residents face disparities. Many circumstances influence health within rural communities, including individual health behaviors, community characteristics, environmental factors, healthcare access, and governmental agencies or private and not-for-profit organization services. The issues faced by rural communities differ from those in urban areas. This seminar will address these cultural or social differences, stigma, and norms. 
Belonging as a Force for Social Justice 
Diane Rhodes 
Unique: 47595 
Tuesday, 2-3 pm 
Online, remote 
The most radical definition of belonging is when no person is left out of society’s circle of concern. This seminar will explore the concept of belonging as a force for social justice and action and as an inspiration for service and positive social change. 
Increase your knowledge and critical thinking skills related to inequity and marginalization in discussions about othering experienced in everyday life such as: racialization, ethnic origin, class, gender, gender identity and expression, culture, sexual orientation, religion, age, physical and mental abilities, caste, immigration status, refugee status, national origin of communities and tribal sovereign status.   
Through weekly reading or watching, and discussion you will gain awareness of the sources of power, how to mobilize power towards positive change, and ways to engage oppressive assumptions, biases, and prejudices with the intent to spark positive change. 
Navigating DEI: Systems, Impacts, and Where We Go From Here 
Becky Kester 
Unique: 47565 
Tuesday, 2-3 pm 
PAI 5.42, in-person 
Diversity, equity, and inclusion have become buzz words: universities and businesses are creating leadership positions focused on it; shelves and shelves of books exist on the topics; and graduate and medical schools want to know what their applicants have done in support of them. But to what end? Has anything really changed? Will it ever? 
This seminar will focus on root causes of inequity, the current landscape in the US, and ask what’s next (hint: we have to know where we want to go before we can begin to map out the route). 
Student Voices/Voces de los Estudiantes 
Shelly Rodriguez 
Unique: 47550 
Wednesday, 11-12 
PAI 4.08, in-person 
The College of Natural Sciences is one of the largest colleges of science in the United States, with a community of more than 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 700 tenure and non-tenure track faculty members, and 1,200 staff. The college is also a major source of future scientists, doctors, mathematicians, technologists, STEM educators, and entrepreneurs. 
As part of CNS and UT Austin, your voice matters. Students in this discussion section will serve as a sounding board and focus group for a variety of college and university initiatives. In this seminar CNS Honors students will have the opportunity to learn about and give input on issues such as: diversity initiatives, college infrastructure, hybrid learning, outreach, and more. This seminar will feature an array of guest speakers selected from college and university leaders looking for student input. This seminar will also be accompanied by optional volunteer activities that engage CNS Honors students with projects and events here at UT and in the community. Sign up and let your voice be heard. 
Whole Person Health: Integrative & Complementary Medicine in the 21st Century
Rosa Schnyer
Unique: 47590
Tuesday, 2 -3
WCH 1.108, in-person
Complementary and Alternative Medicine-- therapies, practices, and systems that may have originated outside of conventional medicine, have gained great popularity in the past two decades. Complementary health approaches impact multiple systems of the body simultaneously, and emphasize health promotion and restoration, resilience, disease prevention, and symptom management. Research advances into the mechanisms and clinical efficacy of many of these interventions and the growing evidence base, have facilitated the integration of conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. Consequently, the use of integrative approaches to health and wellness has grown within care settings across the United States and across the world.
In this seminar, we will explore the integration of complementary and conventional care and evidence informed integrative approaches to physiology, pathophysiology, and treatment. By addressing the multiple factors that promote either health or disease and scientifically consider the whole person as a complex system--in which health and disease are part of a bidirectional continuum, the Complementary and Integrative Health model, presents a unique opportunity to address the rise in “non-communicable epidemics”  such as chronic pain, substance misuse, metabolic syndrome, mental health, etc. and can help us better define and map a path to whole person health.