Page 1

the Mercury

The Student Newspaper of UTD

Vol. XXXI, No. 7

Star pitcher powers through historic season Page 10

Comet mascot celebrates 13th

April 18, 2011

Two UTD bands share music and faith Page 8

Student survey reveals favorite classes Page 5


Story by Anwesha Bhattacharjee Photo by Akshay Harshe

Campus life at UTD is changing as the international student body grows each year. The university currently has international students from 102 countries across the world, according to a report released by the International Student Services Organization, or ISSO. UTD is the 45th largest internationally populated institution of higher education in the U.S., with a total international student population of 2,749 students. Just two years ago, the annual increase in the international population was 2 or 3 percent, said Lisabeth Lassiter, assistant director of International Services. “But last year the international student population went up by 54 percent for new students and overall by 17 percent,” Lassiter said.

photo by Akshay Harshe

Temoc celebrates his 13th birthday in the Comet Cafe. Hundreds of students dropped by between classes to eat a slice of the Temoc cake.

Temoc try-outs conclude, UTD flame is passed to new student Sheila Dang


His flaming orange hair, blue skin and wide grin can be seen throughout the year at basketball and volleyball games and even chess tournaments. They’re the telltale signs of the unique and eccentric

character known as UTD’s mascot “Temoc,” who was created by UTD alumnus Aaron Aryanpur in 1998. On April 14, Temoc celebrated his 13th birthday in the Comet Café complete with cake and hundreds of students who stopped by to

see TEMOC page 4

Student jumps straight to Ph.D.

photo by Navneet Kumar

see DIVERSITY page 6

Usher receives full ride to Johns Hopkins biostats grad program Nada Alasmi

Staff Writer

When Therri Usher applied to Johns Hopkins University to receive a master’s degree, her application was so outstanding that she was asked to consider a Ph.D. instead.

Usher, a statistics senior, will be attending Johns Hopkins on a full-ride scholarship in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. in biostatistics. Usher said while she isn’t afraid to jump straight into a Ph.D., she is nervous to

photo by Akshay Harshe

see BIOSTATS page 4

photo by Blaire Collum

Students take part in a five-day-long celebration of different nations. International Week took place April 4-8 and included a talent show (top), Henna art (left) and Passport to the World (right).

UTD alumnus runs for city council Former SG senator graduates to Plano politics Paul Dang


photo by Christopher Wang

Matt Lagos, former Student Government senator and UTD alumnus, is running for Plano City Council.

Matt Lagos graduated from UTD last semester, but unlike many of his peers who are scrambling to land their first post-college jobs, Lagos decided to run for a seat on the Plano City Council. While he was double majoring in accounting and finance, Lagos wanted to represent his fellow business students at UTD. He served on the student senate as the School of Management senior in January of 2010. “I basically saw Student Government as a place where I could give back and help serve (students),” Lagos said. SG president Grace Bielawski said she was impressed with

Lagos’ involvement as a senator. “When we were both running for election in spring 2010, he was one of the only senators running by himself,” Bielawski said. “He seemed to really understand his role as an elected representative by bringing awareness to candidacy and also what SG was. From what I’ve seen of his city council campaign, it seems to be the same thing.“ At UTD, Lagos oversaw the Govern the Vote initiative, which registered almost 500 students to vote. He also helped start the first annual I Heart UT Dallas drive, which raised about $2,000 for people affected by the tsunami in Haiti. Unbeknownst to Lagos at the time, his experience with

SG would transfer over into politics. Since spring 2011, he has campaigned for Seat 5 on the Plano City Council. As a council member, Lagos would be responsible for approving the city’s budget, ordinances and appointment of positions for boards and committees. Most importantly, he said, would be his job as an advocate and representative of the people. “What makes a good politician is someone who listens to the people — someone who is always seeking input from the people they’re elected to represent,” Lagos said. “The minute you start ignoring what people think, you get yourself in trouble.” Going door-to-door, Lagos introduces himself and his campaign to the residents

of Plano, and gets to know potential voters. He also talks to a younger demographic of voters at Collin County Community College. At age 32, some might consider Lagos young for political office, especially after he just graduated from college; but, Lagos does not see it as a disadvantage. “Most people, when I go to the door, they’ll bring up my age or my lack of experience,” he said. “But when I tell them that I want to balance the budget without raising taxes and promote redevelopment and neighborhood support, that’s what they care about. Yes, your experience does matter; your background does matter but they’re mainly concerned with how you’re going to help (their) lives.”



April 18, 2011

the Mercury

UTD Police scanner The following is a breakdown of key topics raised at the April 5 Student Government, or SG, meeting. Full minutes of meetings can be found at www. • Carrie Chutes, manager of Auxiliary Services, visited senate and introduced Bob Agee as the new director of Dining Services. • Samuel Scott, Treasurer and accounting and information management sophomore, presented a budget report. Of the $31,016 project budget, $25,584 has been spent and $5,431 remains. • Lewis Chang, Academic Affairs Committee chair and neuroscience senior, announced that the Environmental Studies minor and Healthcare Management minor have been approved and will be available this fall. • Vishal Channe, Graduate & International Affairs Committee

chair and graduate student, announced that UTD Bus no. 3 will now take students to and from Walmart all day, every Friday. • Zayd Mabruk, Legislative Affairs Committee chair and business administration junior, announced letters to legislators were being drafted to advocate for student majority opinion on whether or not concealed handguns should be allowed on college campuses in Texas and to continue funding a program that matches monetary grant donations for research. • Dypti Lulla, Residential Student Affairs Committee chair and graduate student, announced that Waterview is now offering students a split lease option on apartments. • $425 was allocated to provide refreshments and $150 was allocated for a masseuse at the I Heart UT Dallas event.

Election results President Brittany Sharkey Vice President Cody Willming Natural Sciences and Mathematics Junior Sachin Shah Senior Saskia Versteeg Arts & Humanities Senior Jessica Rodriguez

Engineer & Computer Science Junior Nick Rotundo Senior Brandon Miller

School of Management Junior Monisha Lulla Senior Kia Wright

Behavioral and Brain Sciences Junior Elizabeth Hanacik Senior Christina May

Economic, Political and Policy Sciences Junior Braeden Mayer Senior Aisha Noor For a complete listing visit:

March 26 • A UTD student was detained for an investigation of Evading Arrest or Detention following a traffic stop. March 27 • A non-affiliated person was arrested for outstanding warrants. March 30 • A non-affiliated person was arrested for Possession of Marijuana Under 2 oz. March 31 • Graffitti was reported in

a restroom in the Student Union. April 2 • An unknown person removed the battery from the victim’s Segway. April 3 • A non-affiliated person was arrested for driving without a driver’s license and outstanding warrants. April 5 • A non-affiliated individual was arrested for outstanding warrants and a DUI-Minor on a traffic

stop. • A non-affiliated individual was arrested for Driving While License Invalid and an outstanding warrant after a traffic stop. April 6 • A UTD student reported the theft of a cellular phone. • Officers responded to the Engineering and Computer Science building in response to an altercation involving

Chartwell’s employees. April 8 • A UTD student was found deceased in the bed of her University Village apartment. • A UTD student was reported missing on April 8. The individual had not been seen since April 1. • A non-affiliated individual was arrested for outstanding warrants. • A non-affiliated person was arrested for Driving While Intoxicated after a traffic stop.

News briefs Chess Team Takes Second in Final Four The UTD Chess Team took second place in the Final Four Tournament in Herndon, Va., April 2-3. Along with UTD, the tournament featured three top teams from December’s Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship, including the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, University of Texas at Brownsville and eventual champion Texas Tech. Despite placing second in the tournament, UTD players and their coach wrapped up a successful season, which consisted of placing first in every tournament excluding the Final Four. “UTD had the best year out of any team in the country, and we are very optimistic about the future,”

said Rade Milovanovic, UTD Chess Team coach. UTD’s three grandmasters — Alejandro Ramirez, Cristian Ioan Chirila, Julio Sadorra — and three international masters — Salvijus Bercys, Puchen Wang and Marko Zivannic — all competed in the Final Four. UTD won its first match of the tournament against the defending champions University of MarylandBaltimore County. Then in the second match, UTD came to a draw with Texas Tech, and fell in the third match to the University of Texas at Brownsville. With multiple promising recruits set to join the team next season, UTD chess players and coaches said they hope to continue to retain the university’s position as a chess powerhouse. ­— Prisha Gaddam

Tum Tum Pa Percussion Competition Anyone who has ever passed time during class tapping out a rhythm with their pencil could immediately connect with the musical performances during Monday April 11th’s Red Bull Tum Tum Pa at UTD. The competition, held at The Pub in the Student Union, challenged students to create musical arrangements with supplies only typically found at a classroom desk. Pens, pencils, staplers and rubber bands were employed by the five competing teams to create percussive masterpieces. Each team was given two performance opportunities: a thirty second

cover song and a oneminute original composition. Cover selections ranged from the Beastie Boys to Rebecca Black and each team came up with creative ways to reproduce their track. The original composition ended up as the proving grounds for the teams though, as winning team Comet Vomit took advantage of unusual instrumentation, such as waving lamented papers and a stack of textbooks to put together a completely unique performance. The winning team received V.I.P. tickets to the Red Bull Thre3Style Finals held in Dallas and the chance to advance to the Red Bull Tum Tum Pa Finals in Brazil. — Alex Welcing


the Mercury

This is not a sad story One conversation with a melanoma patient changes contributor’s look on what’s important Paul Dang


So my birthday is Sept. 3. If the doctors are right, Shannon Bright might very well have passed away from Stage 4 melanoma cancer before I turn 22. For someone with less than six months left to live, Shannon wasn’t too upset. In fact, I’d have to say that Shannon was probably the happiest person I had ever talked to. “This is going to sound crazy, but it’s the best thing that’s happened in my life,” he said in regard to his illness. Shannon said he Paul refused to refer to his condition as an illness, but rather an “imbalance” in his body that has helped him realize what the important things are in life. He refuses to take any pain-relieving and antidepression pills doctors give him, saying that a little pain is good because it reminds him that he is still alive. It wasn’t long into our talk that I realized I was talking to someone special, and this was a once-in-a-lifetime conversation I was having — literally. Think about that scenario for a second: Being given a deadline on your life, and knowing with certainty that today could very well be your last day. How would you feel? What would you do? What would matter? It’s like that hypothetical question you nonchalantly ask your friends at the dinner table. “What you would do if you only had one day left to live?” For Shannon Bright, that question has become a reality he has no choice but to accept. What makes this man amazing was how well he played the hand he was dealt.

Shannon, who has played rock’n’roll his entire life, opened as the first set in the Rock the Campus concert on April 16, an event founded to help fund the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and to raise awareness. He said his main priority in life right now is giving back and helping others because people have been so supportive and loving of him throughout his life. “That’s all that a person can really hope to do, is inspire one other person,” he said. Listening to this guy was like listening to Jesus — if Jesus spoke with a southern Dang twang. There was a certain tone to his voice that was nothing less than saintly. His stories made me feel extremely hopeful in my capacity for becoming a better human being but at the same time I felt equally shameful about how I’ve taken things in my life for granted so far. It was one of those moments, where I knew in the very moment it was hap-

year-old, when he saw a car pulled over to the side of the road with a flat tire. Shannon pulled over to help this guy change his tire, and during the whole process the guy was cursing about being late to work and paying taxes. Shannon and I both laughed at how some of the things that we as a society have made so important, aren’t really important at all. Things are put in perspective when your mortality is looming right above you. “I know for a fact now that everything happens for a reason and if I do in fact have only a limited time, that’s OK, I’ll take one for the team so the people around me can go through the experiences that they need to go through,” he said. Shannon had just started writing a book to leave behind the wisdom he’s gained over the span of his lifetime. He hopes that his words might inspire others. What was originally meant to be a brief interview with a band member about Rock the Campus for the Cure turned into a half-hour lesson about life. With all that I was getting

For someone with less than six months to live, Shannon wasn’t too upset. — Paul Dang pening, my life would be forever altered. Halfway through our phone call, I was tearing up — not the kind of tears you quickly wipe away in sad embarrassment, but the kind that come with a smile and the knowing that as long as there are guys like Shannon Bright out there, the human race still stands a chance. He told me a story about how not long ago he was driving with his two kids, a fifteen-year-old and a ten-

April 18, 2011


Letter to the editor: Professor’s reaction to schedule changes Re: “New schedule inconvenience to some, vital to everyone,” published April 4. As a new (as of January, 2011) full-time member of the UTD faculty, Geosciences, with 31.5 years of teaching and research experience in higher education at other institutions, and six years before as a graduate teaching assistant, I applaud the overall position carefully expressed by the Editorial Board of The Mercury in the April 4, 2011 Opinion, “New schedule inconvenience for some, vital to everyone.” Increasing the number of 50 minute MWF, 1000 and 2000 level classes

“early” in the morning: 8, 9, 10 or 11 a.m., is an excellent concept — what a great way to start the day! Although this is not an attack on 75 minute long classes, consider differences between 50 and 75 minute lectures, from both your perspective and that of the instructor’s. No matter how you count them, the number two, as in encounters with a professor/ instructor in a lecture, is always less than three (as in encounters with a professor/instructor in a lecture)! An exhaustive literature exists on the optimum time duration over which information transfer and student attention in a typical lecture format

classroom, in particular in lower division classes in higher education. Guess what? That optimum time interval is much less than 75 minutes. Enjoy MWF classes at the 1000 and 2000 level “early” in the morning! Show up! Bring questions! I look forward to teaching mine, GEOS1303, next fall. I do recognize one potential problem with MWF 50 minute classes, and that is, at least for many of you, another day of classes adds yet another day to the struggle of finding good, and I mean good, coffee on the UTD campus! —John Geissman Professor

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Seriously, search Evan Emory? by Laura-Jane Cunningham

from just hearing him speak, I almost felt bad to ask him for a favor — but I had to. “I’ve taken up way too much of your time already, Shannon, and this might seem out of hand, but could I ask a favor of you?” “Sure man.” “It’s a pretty big favor…” “Anything you want man, I’ll do my best.” “Could you finish that book for me?” “Oh absolutely, that’s in the cards, brother.”




hat do you think about parking on campus?

“In between classes you wanna move your spot, but then you don’t because you’ll lose it.”

“If you have a permit, you shouldn’t have to have a sticker. They should just check the plate number.”

“I’ve heard horror stories (about) getting here 30 minutes early and not getting a spot.”

Josh Mondora Biology senior

Lucero Rodriguez Biology freshman

Meg Simons Criminology freshman

“I think they need a lot more parking spaces. If you come here after (10 a.m.), all the parking spots are filled.”

“Why cant they zone it differently, or just look at the way it’s being used? It’s backwards.”

“I think tiered parking is useless, only good for screwing the students over.”

Joshwin Paulson Biology freshman

Matt Prince ATEC sophomore

Madeleine Morris Arts & Performance freshman

the Mercury Editor-in-Chief Jessica Melton

Photo Editor Albert Ramirez

Media Adviser Chad Thomas

Managing Editor Shane Damico

Sports Editor Bobby Karalla

Graphics Editor Laura-Jane Cunningham

Web Editor Dhamodaran Subramanian

Staff Writers Nada Alasmi Anwesha Bhattacharjee John D. McCrary

Photographers Ben Hawkins Brandon Higgins Contributors Paul Dang Sheila Dang Rebecca DeButts Duc Cao Akshay Harshe Navneet Kumar Michelle Nguyen Christopher Wang Alex Welcing

The Mercury is published on Mondays, at twoweek intervals during the long term of The University of Texas at Dallas, except holidays and exam periods, and once every three weeks during the summer term. Advertising is accepted by The Mercury on the basis that there is no discrimination by the advertiser in the offering of goods or services to any person, on any basis prohibited by applicable

law. Evidence of discrimination will be the basis of denial of advertising space. The publication of advertising in The Mercury does not constitute an endorsement of products or services by the newspaper, or The University of Texas at Dallas, or the governing board of the institution. Copyright © 2010 UT Dallas


MAIL: 800 W. Campbell Road, SU 24, Richardson, TX 75080-0688



April 18, 2011


continued from page 1 leave Texas. “I am nervous about being so far from home,” she said about moving to Baltimore. “It’s so far away and . . . so different from Texas, but I think I will be able to adjust.” Associate professor Warren Goux, an academic adviser for chemistry graduate students, said if a qualified student applies for a master’s degree, it’s possible for the university to recommend they pursue a Ph.D. instead. The reason, Goux said, is that while some Ph.D. programs may offer scholarships and even pay their students, master’s programs do not. Johns Hopkins’ biostatistics program is ranked fifth best in the nation, according to the U.S. News & World Report website. Each year the program chooses to fully fund the Ph.D.’s of 4-6 students, according to university’s


continued from page 1 join the celebration. While he goes by Temoc today, the mascot’s original name was “Blaze” and was the winning entry in a campus-wide contest to decide UTD’s representative figure. The name “Blaze” was met with copyright issues, and Student Government settled on the name “Temoc,” which is “Comet” spelled backwards. Communications and Events manager Howard Medlock

website. Usher said she feels it was her honesty in the interview as well as her strong academic work that helped her get in to the university. “The department is very impressed with my course work,” she said. “(Although) UTD may not be very known, it really prepares you.” While Usher’s favorite subject has always been math, she started at UTD as a biology pre-med student. “I thought I could become a doctor, that is something I could do,” she said. “It never dawned on me that I could major in math.” But about three weeks into a chemistry class, she asked herself what she was doing as a biology major. “It’s not that I don’t like biology, its just that something was missing,” she said. “It was not as fun as math.” During her time at UTD,

Usher was an undergraduate teaching assistant for the mathematics department, worked for a nonprofit organization called Psy Tech Discovery and performed biostatisticsrelated research on campus. She was also president of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and member of the National Society of Black Engineers. “I don’t have a lot of free time,” she said. “I just manage my time very well, try to get things done when I can (and I don’t) procrastinate too much.” But Usher jokes she was not always so wise. “I got a little excited (my freshman year). I saw all these organizations and really wanted to be a part of them and just jumped in head first,” she said. “I wish I had . . . taken the time to explore different organizations and pick the ones I really liked instead of trying to be a part of eight or 10 at once.” Usher said her scholar-

ship covers five years of study and living expenses. In exchange, she has to devote about 20 hours per week in research and become a teaching assistant at the university. Only the first year and

was the first to embody the new mascot. “It was one of the best experiences of my life. I got to be creative… it introduced me to so many different things and people and it got me out of my shell,” Medlock said. Like many other school mascots, the students playing the characters often keep their identities a secret. “It is really hard (to keep it a secret),” the current Temoc said. “But when I’m in there, it’s like a stress reliever; I can go crazy and just play with the crowd.” Tryouts to play Temoc were

on April 16 and were open to anyone interested in spreading school spirit. For the audition process, students needed to prepare a two minute skit in the costume, perform an improv section to show they can convey emotions in the suit and do an interview out of costume with a panel of judges. “(The ideal mascot is) someone who can think out of the box and connect with every student on campus whether they’re an Electrical Engineering or ATEC major or in Student Government… and get them interested in what’s

going on around campus,” Medlock said. Embodying Temoc can be a very rewarding experience for the students who play him. “The most fun part is going to cheer camp and competing against the other mascots, and just having everyone want to take a picture with you,” the current Temoc said, with Medlock adding, “It allows you to step outside of yourself and be this crazy, zany character that you normally wouldn’t be. If you have that inkling in the back of your head (that you would like to play Temoc), then I say go for it.”

the Mercury

photo by Christopher Wang

Therri Usher received a full scholarship to the Johns Hopkins University biostatistics Ph.D. program. She skipped over her master’s in the process. a half of Usher’s Ph.D. involves studying and exams. Afterwards, she will focus on conducting research. Usher is from Corpus Christi and said she was one of the first people in

her family to get a college degree. “I am proud beyond words,” said Rosie Porter, Usher’s mother. “She was tired and had so much to do, but she never wavered and she worked hard.”

the Mercury


April 18, 2011

information provided by Nada Alasmi

illustration by Michelle Nguyen



April 18, 2011

International Week breakdown April 4-8 Monday


the Mercury

the Mercury

April 18, 2011


ONE OF A KIND Jara shares his experiences away from his homeland

Passport to the World More than 800 students were in attendance for this event ,which took place in the Galaxy Rooms, celebrating cultural diversity. Participants sampled food, music and activities from all around the world.

photo by Albert Ramirez

Baba Kuwasi leads students Rigoberto Hernandez, Narcely Ruiz, and Mariela Padron through an African dance routine during Passport to the World on March 4. Passport to the World kicked off International week, which showcased the cultural diversity at UTD. photo by Ben Hawkins


Story by Anwesha Bhattacharjee

Table Tennis and Badminton Tournament

The airplane view of a white Ohio landscape on Jan. 2, 2006, served as chilling evidence he was worlds away from the sprawling beaches of his native tropics. As a Fulbright scholar from Nicaragua, Fernando

Comets competed and tested their hand-eye coordination skills on the court, at the Activity Center. Contestants played until only one team reigned supreme.

Mendoza Jara had to complete an eight-month English language course at Ohio State University, before he could join UTD as a graduate student in the Geospatial Information Science program in fall 2006.

Now, a PhD student and Fulbright scholar in GIS since fall 2010, Jara has done it all — graduated, worked in Nicaragua and come back for another degree.

see ONE page 9


photo by Blaire Collum


Smita Patil, information and technology management student, illustrates on the hand of Saphora Khalidi, psychology sophomore, using Henna.

Artists created unique designs on students’ skin, at the Women’s Center, with the ancient Indian art of Henna.

International Affair

Thursday International Dinner


Students shared and enjoyed worldly cuisine at a dinner hosted in the Student Services Building.

Friday International Show


Students took stage and showcased their talent while dressed in their native attire.

World Party



The week ended with an evening filled with music ranging in international scope.

photos by Akshay Harsche photos by Blaire Collum

Displaying modern and traditional dance styles, an array of colorful dresses, suits and accessories, students from multiple countries performed at the International Week Talent Show on Friday, April 8 in the Conference Center.

Dozens of countries’ dishes and culinary delights — sweet and savory alike — were served up in the Student Services Building during the International Week Potluck event on Thursday, April 7. Chinese and Russian cuisines, shown right and above, offered some a taste of home.


continued from page 1 This growth is due to the location of the university and the improvement in the ratings of the School of Management and the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, which attract the majority of the international population, Lassiter said. Although the last five years have seen an increase in the Indian student population by 81 percent, Chinese students are currently the fastest growing international group at UTD, she said. Many of the Chinese students come to UTD because the school offers good scholarships and students have to pay in-state tuition, said Jingyun Li, graduate student in the School of Management. “There are good jobs in Texas, and the Operations Management PhD program is great here, which is why I came,” Li said. Another reason students

photos by Akshay Harshe

Students show off their international flair by donning their respective countries’ traditional garb during the International Week fashion show on Friday, April 8 in the Conference Center.

illustration by Laura-Jane Cunningham

prefer coming to UTD is because rent and food are cheap in Texas and the academic programs are wellranked, said Quxian Zhang, graduate student in the School of Management. The ISSO has been expand-

ing its operations and programs to adapt to the growing international student body. In fall 2010 there were 959 new international students and the ISSO had to schedule a sixth orientation session in addition to the five already

planned, to accommodate the numbers, Lassiter said. The participation in ISSO events has also grown, she said. This year, International Week’s ‘Passport to the World’ event, where countries showcase their culture and

cuisine, saw a footfall of over 800 students. Many of the participants were American students, Lassiter said. “The campus community is seeing that International Week is an all-campus event and not an event just for

international students,” she said. From the number of I-20 forms that have been issued, the ISSO is expecting almost 900 new students in fall 2011, and they are prepared for it, Lassiter said.

photo by Navneet Kumar

photo by Akshay Harshe

More than 100 students moved to different countries’ beats during the World Beat Dance Party that capped off UTD’s International Week on Friday, April 8 in the Galaxy Rooms.


Life &Arts

April 18, 2011

Bots claim nationals

the Mercury

Fueled by faith photo by Brandon Higgins

courtesy of Stuart Yun

BattleBot team members stand with their prizewinning bot, Blender, after winning nationals.

Blender thwarts onslaught from 120-pound competition Alex Welcing

in which teams pit remote controlled robots, armed with a variety of destructive weapons, against each Whether or not you other in a combat arena. remember watching the The winner is determined television show “BattleBots” based on the amount of while growing up, it certain- damage inflicted upon the ly captured the attention of other robot. four UTD engineering juniors The UTD team and its who took their unique pas- bot, Blender, originated sion a step further and from nearby Richardson competed in High School, a renowned w h e r e robotics fightKollaja first Check out roboting arena. b e c a m e battiling video at: Electric involved with engineering BattleBots. majors Nikkan In accorYa d e g a r y dance with and Zack Heins worked BattleBots rules, the with mechanical engineer- Richardson High School ing majors Alex Kollaja and team was forced to retire Stuart Yun to compete in Blender from high school the 2011 BattleBots National competition after winning Championship this February two national titles in the in Miama and took home high school division. the first place victory in the After graduation, Kollaja 120-pound college division. BattleBots is a competition see ROBOTS page 9 Contributor news@utdmercury.vom

photo by Christopher Wang

UTD bands Don’t Wake Aislin and The Family Business use religion for musical inspiration Paul Dang


When Brandon Brown of the Christian band, Don’t Wake Aislin, walks on stage at church shows or youth group events, he’s not playing typical worship songs. Instead of the hand-swaying typical of Sunday morning, there’s head-banging to the heavy alternative-rock riffs

of “Clear Skies Are Hard to Find.” “Sometimes youth group shows are the craziest,” he said. Brown graduated from UTD in 2007 and plays bass guitar in the five-piece band. It can be compared to Paramore, with Deena Jakoub as the female lead singer. Don’t Wake Aislin has won numerous Battle of the Bands competitions and played many

Zombies walk for brains

Staff Writer

Students dressed like zombies moaned and groaned around campus during “Brains 4 the Cure,” on April 12 to raise money for a children’s medical center. The charity walk was sponsored by Onomatopoeia, UTD’s improvisation club and the Student Union and Activities Advisory Board. The event raised about $700 to donate to the Children’s Medical Center Neurology Department

through donations, a $5 registration fee, an optional $5 makeup fee and $10 T-shirt fee. The walk began at the Spirit Rocks where students painted their faces and splattered fake blood on their ripped clothing. The zombies then walked around campus near the Visual Arts Building, SLC, Founders and the Student Union. “Brains 4 the Cure” is in its second year and was created by previous Onomatopoeia president, Stebin George, who decided make the club’s existing “Zombie Day” a charity

see BANDS page 9

“Rio” fails to take off

courtesy of

“Brains 4 the Cure” raises $700 for children’s center Nada Alasmi

shows at UTD and around the area. Meanwhile, Garrett Linscombe, Andrew Pham and Kevin Tydlacka, seniors at UTD, create the catchy poppunk melodies of The Family Business. When Linscombe and his band are not playing together at venues, they each play worship music at their respective

“Rio” tells the story of a domesticated bird who is the last of his kind embarking on a journey to a new country.

Film resembles a carnival float: big, loud, colorful and hollow John D. McCrary

Staff Writer

photos by Albert Ramirez

Onomatopoeia and SUAAB sponsored a mock on-campus zombie takeover April 12 in the SU mall. event. “We wanted to fund the neurology department, as it’s ironic; it’s like zombies funding brains,” said Caroline Lee, current

Onomatopoeia president. Abraham Montoya, one of the 33 students who registered for the event,

see ZOMBIES page 9

In Twentieth Century Fox Animation’s newest film “Rio,” from the minds behind “Ice Age,” a rare domesticated macaw gets lost in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro during the world-famous Carnival of Brazil. The story follows the adventures of Blu, an endangered, you guessed it, blue macaw voiced by Jesse Eisenburg (The Social

Network, Zombieland). Snatched up by poachers as a baby bird, Blu is whisked off to Minnesota where he is taken in by Linda, a friendly reclusive bookworm, voiced by Leslie Mann (“Knocked Up,” “Funny People”). Although grown, Blu has never learned to fly. Instead, he gets around his owner’s small town bookstore on foot with dazzling skill. Their idyllic little life is interrupted by a handsome

see RIO page 9

Life &Arts

the Mercury


Aislin is a Christian band, Brown said the group is just as likely play in a bar as it is a church. Their music is meant to welcome crowds, — Christian or not — and in doing so, they hope to spread their music to as many people as possible. As graduation nears, the members of The Family Business aren’t too concerned with where their band is headed. “We’re just trying to have fun with it,” Linscombe said. “We just love playing music and I think we just want to continue to play whatever opportunities come up and if the opportunity presents itself, we might not be opposed to doing more than that, but, we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get there.” Brown and his bandmates have had more experience and time spent touring and have a different outlook on

their band’s future. “We’re about to release a new CD in June,” Brown said. “Once that CD comes out, we just plan on being on the road indefinitely. That’s just where our hearts are at, being on the road and bringing our music to as many people as possible.” The Family Business and Don’t Wake Aislin teamed up with other bands to play for a noble cause at Rock the Campus on April 16. Rock the Campus For the Cure is an annual event hosted by the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, or SAE, to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society in memory of Brad Monks, an SAE brother at UTD who passed away from lymphoma in May 2005. The Monks family suffered another loss in October 2010 when Chase Monks, Brad’s brother, was hit and



said he attended “Brains 4 the Cure” because he has a fascination with zombies. Another, Alyssa Paine, attended to support its cause. “My little sister has epilepsy,” she said. “I hope this event puts us one step closer (to fighting neurological disorders).” Lee said Onomatopoeia hosts improvisation game nights every Thursday at 8 p.m. and activities such as staged protests, flash mobs and pillow fights about twice a month. “Apathy is a really big problem at UTD,” Lee said. “I hope ‘Brains 4 the Cure’ and all our events fight apathy. I really believe in it.”

took the bot with him to UTD and, with the help of new teammates Heins, Yadegary and Yun, Blender was born again. To prepare the robot for the event, team members spent time every day performing modifications in between classes and picking up parts to perfect each detail. “It wasn’t just the deadline for the competition we had to meet. We had to work with budget submissions, requesting support from our sponsor Technicolor and having everything prepared before shipping deadlines,” Yun said. After claiming victory in the college division over 14 other schools,

the team took their bot to the next level and went bolt-to-bolt with one of the pro teams that was there. The fight was so intense that at one point combat had to be stopped because the robots had damaged the supports of the arena, the team said. “With the amount of damage we sustained at this competition, we are going to need to completely redesign the entire system from top to bottom,” Yun said. “Other than the concept, everything else will be thrown away.” The BattleBots competition isn’t the only project these four students are working on. Inspired by the value the team’s multidisciplinary composition provided to

continued from page 8 churches. “All of us in the band are Christian,” Linscombe said. “We try to draw from our faith and things that go on in our life. I don’t know if we would necessarily classify ourselves as a Christian band, but we’re all Christian, so we want to play that out through our music.” Both bands share Christian faith, but their lyrics might require a little reading into for it to become apparent. “It’s what defines our music,” Brown said in regards to his faith. “We’re not a worship band where you may find lyrics that specifically say ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ in every song, but (our faith) is the whole reason why we do it.“ Even though Don’t Wake

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Kevin Tydlacka sings as a member of The Family Business, a faith-based band built with UTD students who hope their music relates to all cowds. killed by a drunk driver. Elliot Ziebe, social science sophomore and brother in the fraternity, was in charge of organizing the concert this year.

its robot’s development, the team decided to help other students share a similar experience. “Next year we are also planning to create an organization called the Association for Collaborative Engineering which will allow us to support collaborative work,” Yun said. “If students want to work on projects, it will be a way to help bring people together to fulfill those projects.” Kollaja explained the team’s intent to host a BattleBots competition here at UTD. “We won’t have the 120-pound class quite yet because we don’t have the facilities or the money, but we will have a 15-pound competition sometime in the near future.”

photo by Akshay Harshe

Students line up for “I Heart UT Dallas,” on April 9. The event included “Dash for Diabetes,” a 5k sponsored by Delta Epsilon Psi and a health fair sponsored by Student Government. All proceeds from the event went toward the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

continued from page 8 — yet dorky — ornithologist from Brazil who explains that Blu is the last of his kind and needs to mate with the last female back in Rio de Janeiro. After their arrival, Blu is unable to woo the free spirited Jewel, voiced by Anne Hathaway, (“Love and Other Drugs,”) before he is kidnapped yet again by rare bird thieves with the help of their fiendish ugly Cockatoo, voiced by disappointingly unfunny Jermaine Clement, “Flight of the Concords.”

From here the film is essentially a lengthy chase through Rio as the two birds, now chained together, try to free themselves and return back to their normal lives. The overall result of the movie is perfectly exemplified by the opening sequence. After a panoramic shot of cartoon Rio, we move into the jungle where throngs of colorful birds begin singing and dancing. The highly stylized number has lyrics; they’re incoherent under the banging drums and constantly moving birds.

The sensory overload starts early and masks the complete lack of substance, but the sugar rush only lasts for so long and by the time it’s all over, the movie is very headache inducing. This film is highly formulaic and brings little creativity or charm to the table. It’s merely bright lights and music for an hour and a half, barely any better than a high-end screen-saver. While the movie is almost a solely visual experience, the 3-D added little to the overall effect. You’re much better off seeing it in regular 2-D because the difference is essentially in


photo by Brandon Higgins

Move toward better health


April 18, 2011

name only. The litany of famous voices add little talent to a script that is neither funny nor exciting. Ultimately, “Rio” is kids fare through and through, from the mediocre production to the viewing that kids will most likely love, and you will most likely skip over adding to their Christmas list. At the end of the day, “Rio” could very well provide a nice bombardment to your senses, but with ticket prices where they are, you’re probably better off just watching “Toy Story 3” again on Netflix.

“The family has definitely been hit by several tradgedies so we’re just trying to help them out with this concert,” Ziebe said. “Last year we were going to have

it in the fall, but it got rained out so we rescheduled it to the spring, but it also got rained out, so we’ve been hit with an unfortunate string of luck.”


nizing regional socials to encourage more interaction between students within a region, rather than a country. But not all international students are as isolated as Jara and for them, UTD has become a second home. Because there is already a large population of Indians at UTD, the new Indian students get help with airport pickup and accommodation after they land in Dallas, said Amit

continued from page 6 fall in Ohio. And five years later, one thing hasn’t changed — Jara is the only student from Nicaragua to study at UTD. “Each semester I ask at the Office of Latin American Studies if there’s any student from Nicaragua,” Jara said. “Each semester, their answer is ‘no.’” Jara is one of the 34 students studying at UTD who single-handedly represent their country. Among these are students from countries like Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Suriname and the United Arab Emirates, to name a few. The transition from their native country to North Texas isn’t always easy for international students, but the process can be especially hard for these students who do it alone. Jara remembers how hard it was hard to leave behind his mother and two sisters. However, coming to the U.S. as a prestigious Fulbright scholar was a privilege that he could not turn down. One of the first problems he faced as an international student was the language barrier. “When I first came, I mostly spoke Spanish, which is my native language” he said. “At that time my English was not good.” Although Texas has a large Hispanic population, not many people on campus speak Spanish, Jara said. It is only when he is at some off-campus Latin stores that he speaks Spanish. “I was very, very excited when I came,” Jara said. “Then, after a month, maybe, I started missing home, my friends. In my country, we spend a lot of time with friends and family, go out camping or to the beach, but here I do not share a lot of time with friends.” It is that interaction with his countrymen that he misses most. And unfortunately for Jara, many students in Nicaragua are unable to afford education in the U.S. without a scholarship, which is why not many make it here, he explained. Recognizing the social struggles students like Jara must face, the International Student Services Organization, or ISSO, has started orga-

Each semester I ask ... if there’s any student from Nicaragua. Each semester, their answer is ‘no.’ — Fernando Jara Maheska, graduate student and president of the Indian Student Association at UTD. “We celebrate all our festivals on campus,” Maheska said. “Eventually, it feels like at home, since we’re so many people enjoying together.” While some Indian students don’t go home for almost two years at a time, Jara visits Nicaragua each summer and Christmas. Aside from those times, it is impossible to share festivals with friends or events with family, which is the bad side of being the only representative from his country, Jara said. Around Easter, he misses home even more. In Nicaragua, the entire week is a holiday and there are processions in the older parts of town, which don’t happen here, he said. Jara comes from a small town in the Masaya Department of Nicaragua, called Niquinohomo, which in the native language Nahuatl means “A volley of warriors”. He left behind his wife, and his sisters and their children; his mother passed away two years ago. Despite this, he believes he is one of the few privileged enough to have the opportunity to study. “It is a great honor to be here in this university to represent my country studying in a PhD program,” Jara said. “I can tell you in my country, there are no more than 120 doctorates in total, and I will be one of them soon.”


April 18, 2011


the Mercury

Ace on brink of blowing by records Dallas continues to quietly dominate ASC, quickly closes in on several school records Bobby Karalla

Sports Editor

photo by Ben Hawkins

Derek Dallas has put together one of the best statistical pitching seasons in UTD history. His 2011 stat line features the lowest walks per nine innings in the nation among pitchers who have pitched as many innings (71) as Dallas. Pitching Arsenal • Fastball (mid-80s) • Changeup (mid-70s) Looks just like a fastball until it loses velocity at the last second. By then, the batter has already started a desperate swing, ending in either a strikeout or a lazy hit.

• Curveball (mid-70s)

Derek Dallas is two wins away from tying the school’s single-season record for victories, a mark currently shared between Kevin McKnight and Mark Cox (both pitchers went 9-2). Dallas’ ERA of 1.27 is also more than half a run better than any pitcher’s ERA in the history of the program. The next close is Troy Kiesling’s

A UTD pitcher is on the verge of having the best statistical pitching season the school has ever seen, yet remains humble even after his swift emergence. Since his arrival at UTD, Derek Dallas has not stopped baffling batters. Although his numbers are solid, he has remained modest and focused. He follows his dad’s advice when he pitches: Be yourself and do what you need to do. And that is exactly what the statistical wonder Dallas did against UT Tyler on March 25. UT Tyler was 22-0 and coming off a 27-2 victory over Jarvis Christian University. Dallas was up to the challenge of stopping the nation’s then-No. 3 team. He pitched a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits and fanning six on the way to dominating the statistically best offense in the ASC. “The hype of that game was big,” Dallas said. “Pitching like I did and the defense playing so well, it was intense.” The outing may be Dallas’ most notable performance of his career at UTD, but he has not disappointed in any start yet. He is 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA. Through nine appearances, he has pitched 71

NUMBER CRUNCHING 1.87 ERA, a record that has stood since 2005. His ERA is 24th in the country, but only one pitcher ahead of him on the list has thrown more than 53 innings. The next best ERA of any pitcher that has thrown at least 71 innings (Dallas’ total) is Tre’ Britt of Methodist University, who is

138th in the country with a 2.35 ERA. At his current pace, Dallas is also set to breeze by any Comet pitcher’s batting average against (BAA) that has pitched anywhere near the amount of innings he has. His BAA of .226 is the sixth best at UTD, but no pitcher ahead

innings — most in the ASC — and struck out 57 batters, third most in the conference and tied for 15th in all of Division III. Dallas started playing baseball in Seattle, Wash. He moved to Texas before his seventh birthday and grew up in Ballinger, a town near San Angelo. He went to Ballinger High School, where he pitched and played first base. Angelo State noticed Dallas’ talent after he received AllState honors his senior year and offered him a scholarship. He would strictly play as a pitcher. He received a scare, though, in his first bullpen session at the school. During his first practice, Dallas felt a pop in his elbow. Scar tissue had developed in his elbow while he was still in high school, as conditioning and weights were not as high on the training regiment in Ballinger. The coaches only told Dallas to pitch, and he listened. However, as seen on all levels of collegiate and professional baseball, overworking a young arm can potentially destroy a pitcher’s career. “They thought I was going to have to have Tommy John (surgery) but luckily I didn’t have to have that.” Tommy John surgery is designed to treat ligament

of him pitched more than 54 innings. His walks allowed per nine innings (.76) is not only .81 better than any pitcher in UTD history, but it is also the ninthlowest total in the nation. For perspective, no other pitcher with at least 71 innings pitched is in the top 150 in the nation, demonstrating his astonishing command on the hill.

damage in the elbow, often stemming from too much stress on that area of the arm. To repair the damage, a surgeon replaces the patient’s tendon with a tendon from another part of the body, such as the hamstring or forearm. Fortunately, the scar tissue would heal with time and proper conditioning. No surgery was required and his pitching career was safe. Dallas redshirted his freshman year, and then transferred to Cisco College, a junior college in Abilene. “I was looking for a place to play for a semester until I could find something more permanent,” Dallas said. Dallas found a home at UTD and took the school by storm with his dazzling stat lines and workhorse value on the mound. His first season as a Comet was spectacular enough before the UT Tyler game, but Dallas saved perhaps his finest masterpiece for the biggest stage: a showdown against an undefeated national powerhouse. Dallas was named ASC Pitcher of the Week on March 28 following the shutout. The honor did not affect his humility. “I don’t really pay atten tion too much to the hype, because it can get to your

see DALLAS page 11 Season Highlights - Shut out then-No. 3 UT Tyler on March 25 - Struck out season-high 10 against Univ. of the Ozarks - Has not allowed more than 2 earned runs in any start - Comets are 8-1 in games Dallas starts

Baseball division race heats up, softball fades As season winds down, Comets catch fire Bobby Karalla

Sports Editor

The UTD baseball team has won nine of its last 12 games on the way to a quick recovery from its sluggish start to conference play. The Comets (22-12, 8-4) lost three of four ASC games at the start of March. But since losing to University of the Ozarks on March 11, UTD

is 13-4 overall. Behind the phenomenal pitching of Derek Dallas and Marvin Prestridge — both have been named ASC Pitcher of the Week since March 28 — the Comets have separated themselves from noncontenders in the ASC East, joining the elite teams at the top of the division, including national power UT Tyler. Following a weekend threegame series against East Texas

Baptist University, UTD has three games left on its regular season slate: a three-game series against division foe Louisiana College. UTD and Louisiana are jockeying for position in the ASC East (see standings on right). UTD’s pitching has carried the team this season. As of April 14, the Comets rank third in the ASC in ERA. In

Sports Editor

On St. Patrick’s Day, the Lady Comets softball team was in great shape. A month later, the opposite could not be more true. As of April 14, the Lady Comets (14-16, 3-11) have slipped down the ASC East standings to sixth place after a 2-10 slump against nationally-ranked conference opponents. Six of those 10 losses came in consecutive double-header series against three of the nation’s top six

teams. The Lady Comets faced UT Tyler (No. 5), Louisiana College (No. 3) and ASC East-leading East Texas Baptist University (No. 6) in back-to-back-toback series. Mississippi College (No. 22) and UTD just completed a four-game weekend series played April 15 and 16, and the Lady Comets will face East Texas Baptist again on April 18. This year’s ASC East has become a murderer’s row of sorts for the Lady Comets who, during the transition between former coach Kim Sotomayor

ASC Rec.

Overall Rec.

UT Tyler



Louisiana College






Mississippi College



The top four teams in the East and West Divisions advance to the ASC see BASEBALL page 11 Championship Tournament, which takes place April 29-30. UTD ends its regular season with a three-game series against Louisiana College, which could determine whether UTD hosts any tournament games.

Lady Comets drop 10 of 12 in tough stretch Bobby Karalla

ASC East Baseball Race

and current coach Cassie Crabtree, have struggled to keep pace with the powerhouses sitting atop the division. Although as a team UTD ranks in the middle of the pack in most statistics, first baseman Caysie Norum has continued her outstanding individual season. Norum is second in the ASC in batting average (.500) and slugging (.868), and leads in on base percentage (.655) and walks (34).


ASC East Softball Race

ASC Rec.

Overall Rec.

East Texas Baptist Univ.



Louisiana College



Mississippi College



UT Tyler









Univ. of the Ozarks



Note: Standings reflect all teams’ records as of April 14

the Mercury


as it may appear. Dallas said he doesn’t try to trick batters, though. He throws the changeup to force pop-ups or lazy groundballs, not to make hitters swing out of their cleats. An NCAA rule change proved to be advantageous to Dallas’ style, as the new bat regulations decrease power. “With the new bats, they’re not going to hit balls like they did last year. You can challenge guys more,” Dallas said. Instead of pitching around batters or attempting to make them chase pitches out of the strike zone, Dallas goes right after

continued from page 10 head, and I try to stay away from that,” Dallas said. “(But) I know my parents were excited.” Dallas’ straightforward, down-to-earth mentality shows on the mound as well. He throws only a fastball, curveball and — his favorite — changeup. He pounds the strike zone and trusts the defense to make plays off his pitch-to-contact style. That is not always necessary when opposing hitters whiff on his changeup, a pitch significantly slower than his fastball, as similar


hitters by throwing within the zone. With less bat power, a pitch-to-contact strategy is much less risky than it could have been in years past, which makes Dallas that much more dangerous. Should Dallas continue his stellar season, he will have put together the best season in UTD history. Not only will he be recognized at the school, though. With his numbers, Dallas could contend for ASC Pitcher of the Year and even be considered for All-America honors. Until then, he will be himself and to what he needs to do.

April 18, 2011


Golf has eye on ASC Championship


continued from page 10 (34). The two-time All-ASC East Second Teamer is well on her way to shattering her own school records for each category and, by hitting three more home runs, can break the record for most home runs in a season. Though Norum’s numbers are solid, her consistent performance has been one of the lone bright spots for a UTD team that has not managed to keep up with the national powerhouses in its division. With such a short time left in the 2011 season, the Lady Comets will have to win nearly every game to advance to the ASC Tournament for the first time since 2005. Note: As of April 14, the Lady Comets are seven games behind fourth-place UT Tyler with 10 games to play. The top four teams advance to the ASC Tournament.

photo by Ben Hawkins

The UTD golf team will head to Ram Rock Golf Course in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, April 18-19 for the ASC Championship Tournament. The men are fresh off a third place finish at the UTD Spring Classic on March 28-29. Brent Marshall finished the Classic in fourth place. The women finished seventh at the Bluebonnet Classic on March 28-29.


continued from page 10 2010, it was UTD’s offense that carried the team. That does not mean the offense has

photo by Ben Hawkins

A Lady Comets catcher drops a foul ball. UTD (1416, 3-11) is in sixth place in the ASC East.

dropped in production. Only three of the 15 ASC teams have struck out less than the Comets, and UTD ranks fourth overall in hits. Note: As of April 14,

UTD has a four-game lead over fifth-place LeTourneau University. The Comets are tied with Mississippi College for the last two spots in the ASC Tournament.



April 18, 2011

the Mercury

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April 18, 2011


by Hung-Shiu Kwee


April 18, 2011


the Mercury

The UTD Mercury April 18th Edition  
The UTD Mercury April 18th Edition  

The UTD Mercury April 18th Edition