Big Ideas TXST goes inside the fascinating minds forging innovation, research and creativity at Texas State University and beyond. Hosted by Daniel Seed, episodes showcase the thought leaders, breakthroughs and creative expression making the world a better place, one BIG idea at a time. Produced by the Division of University Marketing and Communications at Texas State.
Episode 46: Secret lives of fireflies with Ben Pfeiffer
Texas State University alumnus Ben Pfeiffer, founder of Firefly Conservation & Research, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss the fascinating insects known as fireflies and the threats and pressures that threaten their existence.
A recognized firefly researcher and Texas-certified master naturalist, Pfeiffer founded the nonprofit Firefly Conservation & Research in 2009.
“It was maybe 2008 when I noticed the fireflies in South Texas were disappearing,” Pfeiffer said. “There weren’t as many as I remembered when I was a kid. And then I heard a report on firefly decline on NPR Radio that confirmed it.”
Pfeiffer was uniquely suited to tackle this problem. He is a 6th generation Texan who grew up exploring the hills of the Texas Hill Country and brush country of South Texas where he developed a deep understanding of the state’s unique ecology. Pfeiffer is also a beekeeper and certified-naturalist with Texas Parks & Wildlife. He attended Texas State University in San Marcos where he earned a bachelor of science degree in biology. He combined that with a background in marketing, web development and SEO to build a website and foundation that would help him and others take action.
Shedding Light on Fireflies
Night Sky Tourist
The Flight of the Texas Fireflies
Episode 45: Edward Curtis’ “The North American Indian” with David Coleman
Texas State University’s David Coleman, director of The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss the legacy of Edward Curtis and his photography collection, “The North American Indian.”
In 1906 Curtis received a grant from financier J.P. Morgan to record, through photography and the written word, all Native American tribes who retained some degree of their “primitive” lifestyle. Native Americans were almost wholly confined to reservations by this time, and they were subjected to federal programs that forced their assimilation to Western ways. Curtis felt passionately that their cultures should be chronicled before they disappeared altogether.
The North American Indian is one of the most ambitious photographic projects ever undertaken. Published from 1907 to 1930, it documents more than 100 peoples’ languages, stories and songs, along with extensive illustration by Curtis’ photography. Yet his work has also come under scrutiny, revealing that in some cases he used the same clothing or accessories for multiple tribes and he retouched many of his negatives to remove Western items like suspenders, parasols and more. Curtis is regarded by some as a notorious “faker,” and he is criticized for romanticizing Native Americans at a time when their forced assimilation into Western culture denied their rights and dignity.
Coleman came to Texas State in 2011 from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where he served as the chief curator for photography. He earned his doctorate in art history from the University of Texas in 2005 and has worked at the Ransom Center since 1996.
FURTHER READING:Edward Curtis: Treasures of The North American Indian
Episode 44: Challenges to entrepreneurs reentering the workforce with Jake Waddingham
Texas State University’s Jake Waddingham, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the McCoy College of Business at Texas State University, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss the difficulties faced by entrepreneurs trying to reenter the traditional workforce.
Americans launched new entrepreneurial ventures during the COVID pandemic at accelerated rates and those trends have continued through 2023. If any of these entrepreneurs decide to reenter the traditional workforce in the future, however, they may be in for an unwelcome surprise: a study coauthored by Waddingham showed that former business owners were less likely to get interviews compared with applicants with only traditional experience. This was true regardless of whether they had sold or closed their businesses. And the longer they were out of the traditional workforce, the worse their chances of success were. The surprising results were revealed in a survey of more than 700 hiring professionals as well as seven former entrepreneurs who successfully made the transition back into the workforce.
Waddingham received his MBA from Iowa State University and his Ph.D. in management from Auburn University. He has published in top management journals including the Journal of Management, Journal of International Business Studies, Journal of Small Business Management, and Business Horizons. Prior to joining academia, Waddingham worked as an associate editor of a daily newspaper in Creston, Iowa. He primarily covered breaking news, local politics, agriculture and sports.
FURTHER READING:Entrepreneurs, beware: Owning your own business can make it harder to get hired later
Episode 43: A return to Bobcat football with David Bailiff
Texas State University’s David Bailiff, special assistant to new head coach G.J. Kinne, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss his return to San Marcos and Bobcat football.
Bailiff returned to Texas State earlier this year after 18 years as a head coach in college football and nearly 40 years in coaching overall. He has won two conference championships as a Bobcat–one as a player in 1980 and another as a head coach in 2005–and was twice named conference coach of the year during his time as the head coach at Rice University in 2008 and 2013.
Bailiff led the Bobcat football team as head coach 2004-2006, guiding the team to a Southland Conference co-championship and appearance in the Division I-AA semifinals in 2005. He was named the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region 5 Coach of the Year that season and finished third in voting for the Eddie Robinson Award, which is presented annually to the top coach in Division I-AA/FCS. Bailiff is a former student-athlete at Texas State (then-Southwest Texas State), lettering for the Bobcats from 1977 to 1980. He helped the Bobcats have winning records in all four seasons, culminating with the Lone Star Conference championship in his senior season and helping set up the program to win back-to-back Division II national championships in 1981 and 1982 under the late Jim Wacker.
Big Ideas TXST is part of the TXST Podcast Network.
Episode 42: TXST film program with Elizabeth Buckley
Texas State University’s Elizabeth Buckley, a lecturer in the Department of Theatre and Dance, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss the Texas State film program.
The Department of Theatre and Dance has long maintained an unofficial film program, with technical courses teaching knowledge and skills applicable to film and television production. That track of study has been elevated following the opening of Live Oak Hall in 2022—which boasts a working sound stage and other state-of-the-art capabilities—and the addition of a BFA Major in Theatre with a Film Production Concentration. The $200 million Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program passed by the Texas Legislature earlier in 2023 is expected to further increase the demand for Texas State program graduates.
A native Texan, Buckley is an Emmy, Peabody and Gracie award-winning producer and writer with more than 25 years of experience in film, television, new media and animation. Her work in scripted broadcast television work has been seen in 32 countries. In 2019, she produced the HBO’s Comedy Special Entre Nos, employing nine paid Texas State film student interns. Independent features include the Netflix feature film, Hoovey, and the indie film Edge of the World as well as the Showtime broadcast Dog Days of the West, a feature film extension of the award-winning series Wishbone Buckley produced for PBS.
Buckley has BFA in broadcast-film arts from Southern Methodist University and studied in the dramatic writing graduate program at Texas State. She teaches film producing as well as the business of film, a legacy course created by Tom Copeland, who founded the film concentration program at Texas State. Further reading:
Live Oak Hall groundbreaking ushers in new film sound stage, TV studioBachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, Film Production
Episode 41: Fermenting change through craft breweries with Colleen Myles
Texas State University’s Colleen Myles, an associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, joins the Big Ideas TXST podcast to discuss her research into the social interplay between craft breweries and the communities they reside in.
The contemporary craft brewery boom is having a broader impact on U.S. culture than simply providing an array of beverages to consume. Those small, independent craft breweries are increasingly active participants in their communities’ environmental and social sphere. These breweries often take up and champion local causes, becoming powerful agents of advocacy for sustainability initiatives, wildlife conservation, public spaces, defending the rights of marginalized populations, fighting hunger, homelessness and a host of other causes. Almost half of craft breweries engage in some form of social advocacy, bringing to bear on local issues the innovation and independence for which these businesses are known.
Myles is a rural geographer and political ecologist with specialties in land and environmental management; (ex)urbanization; (rural) sustainability and tourism; wine, beer and cider geographies (aka fermented landscapes); and agriculture, inclusive of urban, peri-urban and “local.” She holds a level 1 certificate in wine from the Wine Spirit Education Trust, a specialist of Texas wines certification from the Texas Wine School and is a certified specialist of wine by the Society for Wine Educators. She completed her Ph.D. in geography and her master’s in community development both at the University of California-Davis. She earned her bachelor’s with a double major of liberal studies and political science at Sonoma State University.
Craft breweries are fermenting change, addressing local ills while serving local ales
This show features an diverse and interesting mix of interviews and topics. It's pretty eclectic and never dull. Recommended.