Summer in Review: New Leadership, Student Honors Take Spotlight


A team of UT Dallas faculty, students and alumni, including, clockwise from top left, Dr. Ron Smaldone, Dr. Christina Thompson, Dr. Walter Voit and James McAndrew created one of the most comprehensive modifications to the video game “Minecraft.” In June, the first 10,000 users had free access to the servers hosting the beta version of the mod.

A change in University leadership and research that went to new lengths helped shape the news at UT Dallas over the summer. So as the fall semester starts, here are some of the stories you may have missed since spring graduation:

June 5: A team of faculty, students and alumni who developed “Polycraft World” opened access to servers hosting the beta version of the “Minecraft” modification for free for the first 10,000 users. The team infused scenes of the University and engaging science lessons into the game.

June 10: Dr. Marion Underwood was appointed dean of Graduate Studies and associate provost, succeeding Dr. Austin Cunningham, who is retiring Sept. 1 but remains on the faculty as a professor of physics.

June 24: For the spring 2015 semester, 1,028 undergraduate students made the dean’s list. To earn the honor, students must complete at least 12 credit hours during the semester with a grade-point average among the top 10 percent of all students within their respective schools.

July 6: In a study of former NFL players, neurologists and neuropsychologists at the Center for BrainHealth found cognitive and structural brain changes in athletes with a history of concussions who experienced loss of consciousness. Scientists said they identified for the first time a correlation between concussion severity, hippocampal volume and memory performance.

July 13: Women’s volleyball coach Marci Sanders served on the staff of the U.S. national team, which won gold at the Pan American Cup.

July 20: Dr. Hobson Wildenthal, executive vice president and provost, assumed the responsibilities of president ad interim of the University, succeeding Dr. David E. Daniel. 

July 23: Nanotechnology researchers created novel elastic fibers that go to new lengths with their electrical properties. The invention may lead to artificial muscles, super-elastic circuits, morphing aircraft, failure-free pacemaker leads and giant-range strain sensors.


The UT Dallas battlebot team won its first national title since 2011 and finished third internationally at the 2015 Robogames.

July 27: The University’s battlebot team crushed the competition at the 2015 Robogames to claim its first national title in four years, thanks to a little help from some alumni.

July 30: Entrepreneurial alumni who received grants from the Naveen Jindal School of Management presented their new companies to Texas Instruments executives. Matt Hinson MBA’13 MS’15 and Alejandro Jacobo MS’13 MBA’15 introduced Rollout, a comprehensive, portable product for accessing blueprints, and Nicole Mossman MS’15 presented EverThread, a custom-fabric design company.

Aug. 13: The Plano Independent School District named alumna Lilli Wisler BA’07 its Elementary Teacher of the Year. Wisler, who teaches fifth grade at Barron Elementary School, has taught in Plano schools since she graduated from the University cum laude with a degree in interdisciplinary studies from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and earned her teaching certification through the Teacher Development Center.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].