Academic Advisor Spotlight: Sydney Higar

August 10, 2021

Sydney Higar

Sydney Higar is an academic advisor for the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at UT Dallas. We asked her a few questions about her career at UTD and to share a fun fact. Here is what she said:

What is your favorite part about your job?

"I love talking to students and learning what makes them excited about their majors!! Hearing a student tell me what they're learning - even if it's a topic I've never studied myself - and knowing that it's something they love is so much fun!"

What is your favorite thing about UTD?

"I love how diverse the students are. Having so many different backgrounds, countries of origin, interests, and experiences around us all the time gives us such a great opportunity to learn from each other and grow into more empathetic, knowledgeable people!"

What is the best advice you can give to our IS students?

"The same advice my college band director gave me the first week of freshman year: There's more to college than just classes, so make sure you give yourself time to make friends, join clubs, sleep occasionally, and eat something green that isn't a Skittle. Make good grades, and make good memories!"

What is a fun fact about you?

"I was briefly the lead singer for a rock band that technically toured internationally, since we played a gig in Mexico. We did covers of classic rock and Mexican rock songs! I also have three cats named Berlioz, Poe, and Adler, and they're all goblins and I love them."

Sydney primarily advises Healthcare Students who are pursuing a degree in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. For more advising information click here.

Intership Spotlight: Monica Dechow

August 2, 2021

Monica Dechow

This Summer semester we are spotlighting Monica Dechow, who is currently working towards a BA in IS and is an internship student. Here is what she shared with us about her experience as an internship student:

“I would highly encourage students to participate in either doing a independent study or internship. This experience allowed for me to grow and dig deeper in my field of study related to Gender Studies and Psychology. I was able to find a topic that I was curious about and unique and research on gender specific care related to substance use disorder. I feel like this experience has helped me grow in my understanding not only personally but professionally. I had the opportunity to share my work as a Peer Recovery Support Specialist and dive deeper into the topic of substance use disorder. The bonus was that I earned credit but beyond that I gained insight and further knowledge”

To learn more about our Interdisciplinary Studies internships, click here.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Alexey Root

June 28, 2021

Alexey Root
photo credit:

Dr. Alexey Root is a Lecturer and Advisor for the Chess online courses, ED 4358 and ED 4359, at the school of Interdisciplinary Studies at UTD, which are offered every semester. This Spring, she was awarded a $1,000 Eade Foundation’s 2021 Arthur Award for Chess Excellence. She appeared as a special guest on "The Chess Files: The Answers are Out There" on Eade Foundation’s YouTube channel. Dr. Root has also been awarded a $300 2021 Undergraduate Research Scholar Award to supervise student award winner Emil Stefanov.

Her upcoming book, United States Women’s Chess Champions, has been accepted for publication by McFarland and should be published approximately in August 2022. This will be her eight book.

To see her recent publications, click here.

To read more about her Chess online courses, click here..

Longtime TDC Faculty Member Dr. Angela McNulty Passes Away Unexpectedly

June 16, 2021

Angela McNulty

Dr. Angela McNulty, associate professor of instruction in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies Teacher Development Center, died on May 9.

McNulty served as an instructor for 20 years and supervised student teachers in area school districts. She joined the University in 2001 after teaching at Texas A&M University-Commerce in Commerce, Texas, where she received her EdD.

The veteran teacher became a college instructor after serving as a classroom teacher in school districts in Mesquite, Dallas and Monroe, Louisiana. In 2001, she joined the Teacher Development Center, where she taught classes and supervised student teachers in Richardson, Plano, Garland, Mesquite and Carrollton-Farmers Branch.

At UT Dallas, McNulty taught educational psychology, reading, art, music, and physical development and served on the Discipline Committee, Committee on Effective Teaching, Academic Council, Academic Senate, and the IS Teaching Award Committee. Additionally, she was a long-time member of Delta Sigma Theta.

“I’m going to miss her always sunny attitude and persona,” said Dr. Barbara A. Ashmore, assistant director of the Teacher Development Center. “Angela’s dedication to her profession, teaching, as well as caring about her students sets a high bar for all of us. She was a special person who shared her wisdom generously with us all. ”

McNulty is survived by her husband, two children, and her parents to whom she was a caregiver.

TDC Assistant Director and Recruiter Retires After 11 Years at UT Dallas

June 10, 2021

Congratulations to Laurie Pollock who is retiring after 11 years at UT Dallas and 26 years in the field of education. Prior to UT Dallas, Laurie taught in Frisco Independent School District. At UTD, she worked as the assistant director and recruiter at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies Teacher Development Center. “I will greatly miss my officemates, colleagues and our fantastic students,” she said, “being in the classroom and with students is what brings me the most joy.”

Kelly Kaar, who is an administrative assistant at the School of Management, worked previously with Laurie at the Teacher Development Center. “I used to go to the community colleges doing recruitments. Laurie was ever the teacher when chatting with potential students. I learned just as much as the students did while we engaged in conversations about becoming a teacher through the Teacher Development program at UTD.” Kelly shared.

“I wish my very long-time colleague and partner-in-”mischief” nothing but the very best as she a Clark embark on their retirement adventure. I miss you already. Travel safe. Stay healthy and keep in touch. Love and hugs.” said Dr. Barbara Ashmore, coordinator for student teaching.

Ginger DeWeese, administrative assistant at the Teacher Development Center, shared her experience on working with Laurie. “She’s made work so much fun! She’s positive and upbeat and fun to be around. Everyone in this office works well together. We laugh, joke, tease etc. We talk to each other about our families at home, get advice/recommendations and genuinely enjoy being together. This office is a family, and it feels like our sister is leaving. I’m going to miss seeing her walk in with a smile on her face and a cheerful ‘good morning’. Our students love her. She’s caring and compassionate while also having high expectations and holding them accountable.”

Ginger shared that Professor Scott Cotton stopped by their office to say goodbye and said that Laurie made meetings relevant and enjoyable.

We want to thank Laurie for her impact and contribution to UT Dallas and wish her well on her next adventure.

Feminine Noir?: Rereading American Women’s Crime Fiction of the Cold War

June 3, 2021

Dr. Erin Smith, professor of American Studies at the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, received an $8,000 HEArts seed grant from the Office of Sponsored Projects at UT Dallas. She was also awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both of these grants will help fund her book project on American women’s Cold-War crime fiction. A summary of the project can be found here.

This spring she had an article published in Clues: A Journal of Detection, that compares a Cold-War crime novel to contemporary domestic noir. The article, Dangerously Good Women: The Female Criminal in Bunny Lake Is Missing (1957) and Contemporary Domestic Noir, can be read in Clues 39.1 (2021).

To read more about Dr. Smith and her publications, visit her homepage.

The American Studies Collaborative Solitude Project, in collaboration with iWeek

Join the Department of American Studies session to learn how COVID-19 has impacted the UTD international student community. The historic significance of the COVID-19 pandemic has rendered many of us hesitant to share the stories of our own experiences. Amidst hardship and tragedy on a global scale, we worry that our narratives are trivial, insignificant, or frivolous.

Please share your experiences by uploading a video, piece of writing or voice recording here. We look forward to sharing these works with the wider UTD international student community on April 6th, 2021 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm via TEAMS as part of the i-Week celebration.

Submission deadline is Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 11:59PM.

See examples of submissions we are looking for here.

For any questions or comments, please contact Dr. Larissa Werhnyak, Program Head for American Studies, by emailing her assistant, Aurora Becerra at [email protected]

Virtual Tour of Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow


Part One

Date: Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

Time: 5:30PM - 6:30PM CST

School of IS Game Night

IS game night flyer

Join the the School of Interdisciplinary Studies for a fun-filled night of Jackbox Trivia Murder Party on Microsoft Teams! Meet other students while learning random trivia on October 29th, at 5:00 PM!

American Studies Presents: Virtual Fall Film Festival

ams film festival promo

Join the American Studies (AMS) Program and the School of Interdisciplinary Studies for our first Virtual Fall Film Festival!

Thursday, November 12th, 2020 at 2:00 PM

Featuring: A Comparison between Miracle(2004) and Red Army (2014)

The film Miracle illustrates how American film portrays the role of sport in international conflict (specifically Cold War geopolitics). The film Red Army illustrates the pivotal 1980 Winter Olympics from the Russian perspective. It's highly informative and entertaining.

Discussion and Q&A after the film with our AMS Professors.

Date: Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Time: 2:00PM - 7:00PM

Please register using your UTD email.

Please note a change in the viewing procedures for our final films. See below.

  • We will screen the film Miracle via a Netflix Watch Party at 2:00 PM; the link to join will be emailed 15 minutes prior to the showing.
  • Please note: an active Netflix account is required to participate. (Miracle is also available through Amazon Prime.)
  • What is a Netflix Watch Party? Read about it here:
  • At approximately 4:15 PM, we will begin the screening of Red Army, with the discussion to follow. Access will be via the Teams link provided below.

We appreciate your flexibility as we navigate these challenges. If you are unable to participate in the entire event due to schedule conflicts or technological impediments, you are welcome join as you are able!

Where Are They Now? The McDermott Scholars Class of 2001

August 14, 2020

Many members of the first class of McDermott Scholars have gone on to earn the highest degrees in their fields and have taken their place as leaders in health care, law, government, science, the arts and academia. They include attorneys, academic researchers, scientists, a pastor and two professors at UT Dallas. Here's what they are doing now.

the first class of mcdermott scholars

Kiss and Make Up, or Not? Researchers Analyze Post-Conflict Behaviors

May 21, 2020

A team led by Dr. Karen Prager, professor of interdisciplinary studies and psychology, identified four broad categories of post-conflict behavior and found that actively repairing the relationship was most effective, while avoidance was most detrimental. Read more about this trio of studies here.

photo of professor Karen Prager

Myths and Unknowns About Chess and the Contenders for the World Chess Championship

November 9, 2018

Alexey W. Root, Interdisciplinary Studies Lecturer, discusses the myths and unknowns about the world chess championship contenders and the game of chess. Read more about chess and its myths here.

photo of professor Alexy Root

Veterans Day: Jennifer Hudson Reflects on the First WWII POW to Return to Dallas

November 12, 2018

Jennifer Hudson, Interdisciplinary Studies Lecturer, states in an article written for the Dallas Morning news that “remembering someone is what keeps them alive.”  Hudson’s article discusses her  grandfather’s experiences while being a prisoner of war and the first of which to return to Dallas alive.  Read more about Hudon’s grandfather and his experiences here.

Jennifer Hudson, Lecturer

Academic Bridge Program Puts Students on Path to Success at UT Dallas

Aug. 9, 2018

Academic Bridge provides services including tutoring, mentoring, housing and financial assistance to students from underrepresented communities.  Students start courses in the summer as part of the program, which is supported by funds from the Texas Legislature, the University and private donations. After a month in the program, several of the 30 freshman in this year’s group said they learned new time-management skills and study habits that helped them with the faster pace of college courses. Read more about the Academic Bridge Program.

Algebra Tutoring Adds to the Fun for Campers at Kids’ University

July 9, 2018

At Kids’ University, students take time out from robotics, science and arts activities to work with tutors on a subject you don’t see on the schedule at many summer camps: algebra. Algebra tutoring is a critical part of the equation at the camp, which serves children ages 4 to 14 living in area homeless shelters and is hosted by UT Dallas and the Dallas nonprofit Rainbow Days. Homeless children often fall at least one grade level behind due to frequent moves and school transfers, Dr. George Fair, vice president for diversity and community engagement and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. Read more about Kids’ University and algebra.

Graduate Puts Growing Interest in Sustainability to Work at Dallas Zoo

June 21, 2018

Aasya Peera BA’18 in Interdisciplinary Studies, put her passion for sustainability to work this spring, serving as an environmental services intern with the Dallas Zoo. Peera helped the zoo’s six divisions select and implement sustainability projects such as reducing energy consumption, minimizing chemical use and increasing educational awareness. Read more about Aasya Peera.

Kids University

There are over 1,000 children in the Dallas area that are currently in homeless situations.  At UT-Dallas, the School of Interdisciplinary  Studies in partnership with Rainbow Days, a Dallas non-profit, have come together to teach them to dream big and help show them their potential.

Interdisciplinary Studies Outstanding Teaching Award 2017-2018

The School of Interdisciplinary Studies recognized Dr. Kathleen Byrnes for her outstanding teaching and mentoring of students during the 2017-2018 year. Dr. Byrnes is not only an instructor for the rapidly growing Healthcare Studies major, but she is also the Program Head. Dr. Jillian Duquaine-Watson and Dr. E. Lynn Winstead were the runner ups for earning the Interdisciplinary Studies Outstanding Teaching Award 2017-2018.