Baylor Recognized with ICPC Service Award

Baylor University was recently granted the 2017 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Outstanding International Service Award for academic and institutional support for hosting ICPC Headquarters since 1989. In addition, the award is for encouraging the next generation to develop and apply their problem-solving talents to the challenges that face the world today and the world to come. The ICPC Outstanding International Service Award is presented annually to an individual, group, or institution who has played an instrumental role in advancing international educational programs that open doors of opportunity for future opportunity creators and problem solvers.

ACM-ICPC is the premier global programming competition conducted by and for the world’s universities. The competition operates under the auspices of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and is sponsored by IBM. The contest involves a global network of universities hosting regional competitions that advance teams to the ACM-ICPC World Finals. For nearly four decades, ACM-ICPC has grown to be a game-changing global competitive educational program that has raised aspirations and performance of generations of the world’s problem solvers in the computing sciences and engineering. In 2016, ACM-ICPC participation included 46,381 of the finest students and faculty in computing disciplines from 2,948 universities in 103 countries on six continents. The contest fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and it enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure. ACM-ICPC is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world.

Baylor will be presented with the ICPC Outstanding International Service Award during the 2017 ACM-ICPC World Finals Opening Ceremony on May 22 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Health Innovation through Creative Collaboration

One of the partners in India: Dr. Carolin George of Bangalore Baptist Hospital working in an urban slum in Bengaluru

A richly diverse group of Baylor researchers has teamed up through the Baylor Social Innovation Collaborative (BAY-SIC) and made substantial progress on efforts to tackle various “wicked problems” in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), India. Building on the Louise Herrington School of Nursing’s ongoing partnership with Bangalore Baptist Hospital, a healthcare facility that works in over 1700 rural villages and 12 urban slums, Shelby Garner (Nursing), Hope Koch (Management Information Systems), Julia Hitchcock (Art), and Phil Young (Management Information Systems/Statistics) have designed platforms to provide patient health education and improve health outcomes through the combination of mobile health (mHealth) technologies and virtual reality simulation for predominantly illiterate and

impoverished populations. Alongside Bangalore Baptist Hospital, the Baylor team seeks to reduce rates of hypertension and diabetes, two increasingly prevalent non-communicable diseases in India. In addition, the team is hopeful that its experimentation could lead to the creation of new models of mHealth technology that could be translated to populations outside of India and apply to a variety of healthcare needs.

Three of the partners at Baylor: Hope Koch, Phil Young, and Shelby Garner

Thanks in part to BAY-SIC funding, this newly formed partnership among Baylor researchers has quickly led to recognition: the team’s mHealth India Proposal has advanced to the second round of competition for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Grant on Improving Urban Health in Asia, which will take place in Bangkok, Thailand in May.

A Love Letter from Coho Menk’s Family

A Love Letter from Coho Menk’s Family

Dear Baylor Family and Waco Community,

In August 2012, Coho Menk stepped into the unknown – the State of Texas, the town of Waco, and the adventures waiting at Baylor University. It was a memorable first day at Baylor with the anticipation of starting college, the move to Penland Hall, the raging heat of the day, and greeting new friends. Everything about this new experience was going to be quite a change for this Minnesota ice and snow lover.

Coho thrived at Baylor, spiritually and socially. He excelled as a student and was a loving brother of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a member of the Baylor Men’s Soccer Club. He became a youth minister at a local church, participated in Sing, and experienced the study abroad program with Baylor Business in Europe. Coho spent holidays with friends in and around Texas, all of whom welcomed him. 

Coho graduated with a degree in neuroscience on May 13, 2016, a most joyful day. Graduation weekend was filled with the chaos of moving out of his house, graduation parties, and final visits to local hot spots including Shorty’s, George’s, the Hilton, and Torchy’s. During the move, Coho gave away many of his possessions and said his goodbyes to all in his Baylor Family.

Coho returned to Minnesota on May 16, 2016. He had been awarded a scholarship to study abroad by the State Department and planned on possibly pursuing an internship in Central America, then returning to Dallas to live and work. Coho was relieved to have graduated and was ready to welcome the future. Coho polished up his résumé and reconnected with his wide reaching network of friends in the Twin Cities over his first few days at home.

On May 19, 2016, Coho died as a result of complications related to an epileptic seizure. Coho was home in Minnesota, happy, full of anticipation, and overflowing with faith. He had said his goodbyes to staff and friends and to his beloved Baylor and Waco. A chapter was finished; the best ending had arrived. By his side was C.S. Lewis’ Book, Mere Christianity.

Through our despair, we are able to find joy and peace in the loss of Coho who lives on with us and in Heaven. Coho was a Child of God who had an infectious smile and laugh and who cared passionately for others. Coho’s final act of giving on earth was his gift as a donor, helping 60 families. Coho lives.  

We are profoundly grateful for everything the Baylor staff, administration, students, and alumni have done for our family. Thank you for the lovely memorial service on campus and for the honor of placing Coho’s name on the memorial fountain. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and especially for the impact so many of you made on Coho’s life. We also graciously thank the Baylor Family for the continued support, kindness, and empathy extended to Coho’s sister, Britta, a Baylor junior majoring in communications.

Finally, we deeply appreciate Coho’s brothers at the ATO fraternity who recently honored Coho. The proceeds from the ATO annual Bed Races Fundraiser benefit CoHOPE, the nonprofit started in memory of Coho, spreading Coho’s spirit and legacy of hope, joy, faith, giving, and service.

To all who knew Coho, to all who supported, sponsored, and participated in the ATO Bed Races, and to our beloved Baylor Family, we extend our deepest, heartfelt gratitude. Baylor is our home and will forever live in our hearts. 

The Family of Colton Hovey (Coho) Menk:

Beth, Roger, Spencer, Britta

Coho Menk (Baylor ’16)

The Power of the Empty Tomb

Dear Baylor Community,

            We will experience the most profound source of “hope abounding” over the next few days. In the midst of betrayal, brokenness, and other patterns of sin evident in Maundy Thursday, Jesus Christ bears our sin and the wounds of the world on the cross on Good Friday. On Holy Saturday, we watch and wait. And then on Easter we discover that God answers our, and the world’s, No with a decisive Yes by raising Jesus from the dead (2 Cor. 1:19-20).

            As a result, every day is now Easter. It is a sign of the hope we have, not because of who we are but because of who God is. The past is redeemed, and we are called to live into the future in confidence and trust in God…and especially in hope.

            I pray that we all will journey with Christ through Gethsemane and Golgotha to discover, on Easter morning, the power of the empty tomb. May these days be ones of healing, and of hope abounding, for you, your family, for all of us, for the world, and for Baylor.



Supporting People Who Stutter Through Research and Fellowship

Dr. Paul Blanchet, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, is currently examining listeners’ perceptions of people with communication disorders, particularly stuttering and/or cluttering. As a person who stutters (PWS), Dr. Blanchet decided to initiate this line of research in 2005. It has grown into a multi-study, transdisciplinary endeavor encompassing students, alumni, and faculty from various fields (e.g., psychology, sociology).

Dr. Paul Blanchet with his research team

Findings of this study will add further support for clinical use of self-disclosure, which is also referred to as “acknowledgment” or “advertising” in some stuttering treatment programs. Although this strategy has been utilized to great effect by many PWS for decades, there is a need for further empirical research demonstrating the benefits of disclosure. Clinically, self-disclosure is a simple yet extraordinarily powerful strategy that encourages openness and honesty, and facilitates positive communicative interactions among PWS and their listeners. Some clients view it as giving them permission to stutter, and it is often useful when working on becoming desensitized to stuttering. It is one of many such coping strategies discussed in the Baylor University Speech-Language Clinic Stuttering Support Group, which Dr. Blanchet co-founded in 2015 with Baylor’s CSD Clinic Coordinator, Mrs. Deborah Rainer.

At the 2014 Oxford Dysfluency Conference, many professionals were encouraging of Dr. Blanchet’s research, including staff from the prestigious Michael Palin Center in London, UK. Dr. Blanchet has since conducted several follow-up studies including one that examines the effects of self-disclosure (or acknowledgment) of stuttering on university students’ perceptions of a person who stutters. A URC grant enabled him to hire six undergraduate research assistants to assist with data collection and data entry. More information about Dr. Blanchet’s research is available in the RCHHS Newsletter.

Baylor Faculty and Students Grapple with Global Environment and Health Challenges

More people now live in cities than ever before, and projections indicate that by 2050, 70% of human populations will reside in urban areas. High population density results in concentration of food, energy, water, and other resource consumption. Health implications of global megatrends, including the food–energy–water nexus, present palpable challenges. For example, 80% of the global sewage production is not treated; instead it is returned to the environment and thus reused for various purposes, including agriculture. Implications for water security, food safety, and international trade are not routinely examined. Such considerations are critical because when water security is compromised, antimicrobial resistance (a leading global health threat) can increase significantly and threaten food safety.

Due to the growing importance of these issues, Dr. Bryan W. Brooks, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Biomedical Studies and Director of Environmental Health Science at Baylor, and his students are actively engaging integrated environment and health research on six continents. Dr. Brooks and the students he mentors have been “flinging their green and gold afar” through international opportunities. For example, Dr. Brooks recently gave a plenary lecture on harmful algal blooms and participated in a panel discussion on antimicrobial resistance and mapping the antibiotics life cycle at the 3rd International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration, and Management in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. During this meeting, Dr. Brooks had the unique opportunity to meet with the Minister of the Vietnam Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and his senior staff, as well as faculty and administrators from several universities in Vietnam regarding future collaborations. Dr. Brooks also gave a lecture and visited colleagues at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, and engaged additional collaborators at Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Bryan Brooks and colleagues at the International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration, and Management in Vietnam

Dr. Brooks is also spearheading the Global Horizon Scanning Project, which has identified dozens of timely interdisciplinary research needs related to environmental quality from around the globe using a “big questions” approach. Input solicited from thousands of scientists and engineers has been transparent, bottom-up, multidisciplinary, and multi-sector. Synthesis workshops, following big question solicitation from the scientific community, were held in Spain (for Europe), South Africa (for Africa), Argentina (for Latin America), New Zealand (for Oceania), Salt Lake City (for North America) and Singapore (for Asia). Each workshop was tri-chaired by experts from academia, government, and business. Key questions from these global workshops provide core materials for synthesis manuscripts, which are in various stages of peer-review or development. This project provides a first-of-its-kind global research agenda.

Through transdisciplinary engagement, both within Baylor as well as beyond – locally, nationally, and globally – Dr. Brooks and his colleagues seek to identify and address complex environment and health challenges that urgently require our attention.

A Love of Science Rooted in a Love of God

During the 2016 National Hispanic Education Summit hosted by Baylor University, Baylor’s Dr. Daniel Romo, the Schotts Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences, sat down with an interviewer from Christianity Today to discuss how his love of science is rooted in his love of God. “We have a way, as scientists, to explore the world and try to understand what God created,” Romo said. “He gave us a playground, if you will, to actually go and explore the world.”

Dr. Daniel Romo

As a Professor of Chemistry and Co-Director of the Baylor CPRIT Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Laboratory, much of Dr. Romo’s work centers on “natural products,” the definition of which he explains through both God and science: “[Natural products] are compounds isolated from natural sources. For example, God has created bacteria and plants with an incredible capacity to make small molecules, which scientists can use to understand more about the cell. We study how cells function, both normal cells and cancer cells. We harvest the information that God indirectly gave us through these small molecules. Due to our study and the work of others, these compounds are often being used now to treat cancer.”

Dr. Romo’s and his colleagues’ research on cancer prevention and treatment improves people’s lives and provides testimony to God’s creation. In addition, Dr. Romo aims to impact lives through articulating his vision for the intersection of science and Christian faith: “I see being excited about science as a way to be excited about God. I try to convey this to my own children as well as my students.”

Ladies and Legos Encourages Women in STEM Fields

The “Ladies and Legos” program is a fun and casual way to bring together women at different stages of their academic and professional careers to talk about their experiences in the classroom and workplace. Many women in STEM fields do not have an arena to discuss the unique challenges women face in male-dominated industries. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Halliburton Foundation, Ladies and Legos offers opportunities to create dialogue, encourage gender diversity in the workforce, and empower women to succeed.

Ladies and Legos events typically involve small-group settings in which students create with Legos, an engineering-related toy primarily marketed toward males, while female leaders in STEM occupations lead discussions about their experiences in the workforce. On March 22, the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) partnered with Maker’s Edge in Waco to create a new Ladies and Legos event centered around building community and connections through hands-on “making” experiences including screen printing, soldering, vinyl cutting, and laser etching.

Women comprise about 23 percent of the nearly 1,200 undergraduates in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The hope is that programs like “Ladies and Legos” will stimulate community among ECS students, faculty, and women already in the STEM fields and attract more prospective students, ultimately increasing the number of women in technological industries. The final Ladies and Legos event this school year will be April 18th, featuring Dr. Michelle Hebl, our Cherry Award recipient and Professor of Psychology from Rice University. Contact Emily Sandvall, Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in ECS, for more information.

School of Education Launches Embedded Global Classroom

Janette Carpenter to establish the Carpenter Embedded Global Classroom, Baylor University’s first fully funded study-abroad embedded classroom. Through the Carpenter Embedded Global Classroom, School of Education students will participate firsthand in comparative education experiences in locations around the globe at no additional charge to the student. As school districts throughout Texas and the United States increasingly seek teachers with a broad cultural competency, the Carpenter Embedded Classroom will empower students to meet those needs.

Baylor School of Education Dean Michael McLendon (left) with Janette and Don Carpenter

“The School of Education is grateful for this generous and insightful investment in the lives of Baylor students by the Carpenter family,” said Michael K. McLendon, dean of the School of Education. “Their decision to support this expansion of social, economic, and policy perspectives for Baylor students through cross-cultural learning serves to highlight the value of this family as a true partner of Baylor University in pursuing its mission of educating men and women for worldwide service.” Carpenter Global Classroom experiences will be designed and selected with a goal of empowering students with both an enhanced understanding of education in other countries and a broader perspective of the uniqueness of the American educational system.

This spring, the inaugural Carpenter Embedded Classroom experience took place March 4-12, 2017, in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of the School of Education’s semester-long “Social Issues in Education” class, taught by School of Education professor Dr. Tony Talbert. Baylor’s partner in Queretaro is Monterrey Tec University, one of the most prestigious universities in Latin America. The March trip represents the first of many such partnerships that will open other opportunities to Baylor students throughout the Americas and around the globe. “As a teacher, you are often put into environments where you are serving students from different cultural backgrounds, or who are impoverished and disadvantaged for reasons not of their own making,” Don Carpenter said. “We wanted to extend these opportunities to Baylor students, because in so doing, you build empathy. As an educator, you give students the tools they need to learn and develop to their full potential. Through experiences in global classrooms, Baylor students can develop understanding and empathy to help them as they teach and influence students of their own throughout their careers.”

Baylor Law School Recognized for Strong Professional Development

The innovative Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program at Baylor University School of Law follows a nationwide trend of law schools focusing on developing students’ professional identities as lawyers. Baylor Law’s program has surpassed those at other Texas law schools and drawn national accolades. It broke new ground by offering students frequent professional development seminars—which closely resemble continuing legal education—presented by practicing lawyers on a wide variety of topics. Although students can pick and choose seminars to attend, it’s a mandatory requirement for graduation to log 18 hours spread out among the three years of law school.

Professional development seminars cover topics like law office management and organization; job searching and networking; the values of a lawyer and leadership; the ethical considerations of lawyering; and wellness, including the mental and physical health hazards of the profession. Administrators aim to offer 10 to 12 seminars each quarter, which breaks down to about one per week. After a seminar, students complete a feedback card and the school uses the data to plan future seminars. Jim Wren, a Baylor Law professor and chairman of its professional development committee, reported: “Depending on the program, we get all the way from rave reviews back to lukewarm or sometimes a critical review of a program. We listen to those and take them to heart. The more practical the program, usually the higher the rating for it.”

Baylor Law is not the only Texas law school interested in developing students professionally. But its program is unique because of its CLE-style model, its mandatory nature, and the fact that it spans all three years of law school. Baylor Law aims to produce professionals who are truly “practice ready” and prepared to succeed, and this program substantially furthers that goal.