News and Events

Women’s rugby is Brown’s 38th varsity sport

Welcome women’s rugby, Brown’s 38th varsity team - The Brown Women’s Rugby Football Club rises to full intercollegiate varsity status for the 2014-15 academic year. Brown and Harvard, each with 21 teams for women, lead the NCAA in opportunities for female athletes.
Brown University announced today that it will elevate women’s rugby from the club level to full intercollegiate varsity status for the 2014-15 academic year. Women’s rugby will become Brown’s 38th varsity team and the 21st varsity team for female athletes. (Distributed April 14, 2014)   Read the story

Brown to launch new environmental institute

Institute for the Study of Environment and Society (ISES):  ISES director Amanda Lynch, left, and colleagues Kim Boekelheide, Jack Mustard, and Leah Van Wey. The broadly interdisciplinary institute will address environmental questions spanning scales from the molecular to the global.
The Board of Fellows has approved creation of an Institute for the Study of Environment and Society (ISES) in the coming academic year. Environmental questions range in scale from molecular to planetary and demand research collaboration from many disciplines. The new center will draw on Brown’s strengths in environmental teaching and research to address those questions in a holistic way. (Distributed April 14, 2014)

Early neural wiring for smell persists

A window of plasticity:  Native neurons (green) that express the odorant receptor MOR28 attach to known glomeruli (above). Neurons expressing engineered MOR28 (red) may attach to other glomeruli. Growing side-by-side, the red neurons could redirect some of the green, but only in the perinatal period. Neuron wiring established early remained stable in adults.
A new study in Science reveals that the fundamental wiring of the olfactory system in mice sets up shortly after birth and then remains stable but adaptable. The research highlights how important early development can be throughout life and provides insights that may be important in devising regenerative medical therapies in the nervous system. (Distributed April 10, 2014)

Nuala Pell: Distinctive grace, dignity, and humor

Nuala Pell, widow of Sen. Claiborne Pell, died this morning at age 89. President Christina Paxson issued the following statement on behalf of the Brown University community. (Distributed April 13, 2014)
Media Advisory

Brown to host climate change conference

Experts on climate change policy and practice will come together for a conference on “Governing Climate Change: New Ideas and Latin American Leadership as Peru Prepares to Host the 2014 U.N. Climate Negotiations,” on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Watson Institute for International Studies, Joukowsky Forum. The event is free and open to the public. (Distributed April 11, 2014)

HIV battle must focus on hard-hit streets

“Do One Thing” – get tested:  Knowing one’s HIV and hepatitis C status is a significant step toward treatment and controlling the spread of disease. Door-to-door efforts like Philadelphia’s “Do One Thing” help, but more resources for testing and treatment need to target communities that need them most.
When it comes to HIV, geography can be destiny, argue authors of a new article in the American Journal of Public Health. The epidemic has become heavily concentrated in poor urban neighborhoods where people are less likely to be tested and treated, creating more risk that the virus will spread. New prevention efforts should focus on neighborhoods. (Distributed April 10, 2014)
Taubman Center for Public Policy

Poll: Taveras and Raimondo in statistical tie

A new statewide public opinion survey conducted by the Taubman Center for Public Policy at Brown University finds that State Treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras are currently in a statistical tie for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. However, one-third of likely Democratic voters are undecided five months before the Democratic primary. The survey shows that Taveras has a lead among voters with union membership but finds no significant preference among women voters between the two top Democratic candidates. (Distributed April 10, 2014)

A new twist for better steel

Greater strength without loss of ductility:  A steel cylinder that has been deformed by twisting preserves ductility at the core (a). Parallel lines indicate more “deformation twins" closer to the surface (b, then c), a measure of greater strength.
In steel making, two desirable qualities — strength and ductility — tend to be at odds: Stronger steel is less ductile, and more ductile steel is not as strong. Engineers at Brown University, three Chinese universities, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have shown that when cylinders of steel are twisted, their strength is improved without sacrificing ductility. (Distributed April 8, 2014)

New model combines multiple genomic data

Data about DNA differences, gene expression, or methylation can each tell epidemiologists something about the link between genomics and disease. A new statistical model that can integrate all those sources provides a markedly improved analysis, according to two new papers. (Distributed April 8, 2014)

Bell Gallery:
250th Alumni Exhibition Part 2

Sarah Morris, Eletrobras [Rio]  (2013):  Household gloss paint on canvas
Courtesy the artist and Petzel Gallery, NY
In celebration of Brown University's 250th anniversary, the David Winton Bell Gallery presents the second in a two-part exhibition of alumni artists from Saturday, April 12, through Sunday, May 25, 2014. The exhibition features work from Sarah Morris, Rob Reynolds and Taryn Simon. More 250th anniversary information is available at (Distributed March 24, 2014)
Robot block party

Robots meet next-generation roboticists

Good morning and welcome to the future:  President Christina Paxson, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse meet PR2, a hugging, high-fiving member of Chad Jenkins’ robotics lab at Brown.
Students from elementary grades through high school — and their parents, the public, and elected officials — met working robots and roboticists on the basketball floor at Brown University on Saturday, April 5. They high-fived PR2, checked out Baxter, looked over robotic kayaks, and considered robotics as both a career and an eventual source of help for a variety of tasks. (Distributed April 7, 2014)

Brown launches Brazil Initiative

Brown’s “Opening Archives Project”:  Armed forces occupied the governor’s palace in Rio de Janeiro, April 1, 1964. Documents about the U.S. response and foreign policy development are now online and accessible.
Brown University’s “Opening the Archives Project” has made available to the public more than 10,000 declassified U.S. State Department documents on Brazil created between 1963 and 1973 during the country’s military dictatorship. The project is part of Brown’s newly launched Brazil Initiative, which aims to make Brown a leading center for the study of Brazil in the United States through research collaborations and events. On April 10-12, 2014, Brown will host a conference titled "Brazil: From Dictatorship to Democracy." (Distributed April 7, 2014)

Doctor’s specialty predicts feeding tube use

Feeding tube: Who makes the decision?:  Many physicians and organizations that provide palliative care advise feeding frail, terminal patients by hand. The chances of a such a patient receiving a feeding tube increase when decisions are made by medical subspecialists.
Subspecialists are much more likely than hospitalists or generalists to insert a feeding tube in hospitalized elderly patients with advanced dementia, according to a new study in Health Affairs. The study helps to explain why the practice persists, in such frail, terminal patients. (Distributed April 7, 2014)

Heat of mantle sets height of mid-ocean ridges

Temperature, not chemistry:  What appears on the surface correlates with temperature deep in the Earth. Higher ridge elevation indicates a hotter mantle — as in Iceland, above, which also appears to sit atop a mantle plume, a vertical jet of hot rock originating from deep in the Earth.
By  analyzing the speed of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, scientists have shown that temperature differences deep within Earth’s mantle control the elevation and volcanic activity along mid-ocean ridges, the colossal mountain ranges that line the ocean floor. Recent research sheds new light on how temperature in the depths of the mantle influences the contours of the Earth’s crust. (Distributed April 3, 2014)
Media Advisory

Barnes Lecture: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

On Public Health Research Day at Brown University, April 14, 2014, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse will deliver the Barnes Lecture on connections between the environment and human health. His talk will follow a reception and display of research posters from the School of Public Health. (Distributed April 7, 2014)
250th Anniversary

The Brown Reader comes to campus

In celebration of Brown’s 250th anniversary, The Brown Reader is a collection of essays, comics, and poems by 50 alumni writers, poets, and artists reflecting on their time on College Hill. The book is now available in the Brown Bookstore and online and will be on bookstore shelves nationwide May 20.  (Distributed April 3, 2014)

Ancient volcanic explosions shed light on Mercury’s origins

Measuring geological time:  Two pyroclastic vents on the floor of Mercury’s Kipling crater, top, would likely not have survived the impact; they are more recent. The false color image of the same spot, bottom, marks pyroclastic material as brownish red.
Mercury was long thought to be lacking volatile compounds that cause explosive volcanism. That view started to change when the MESSENGER spacecraft returned pictures of pyroclastic deposits — the telltale signature of volcanic explosions. Now more detailed data from MESSENGER shows that volcanoes exploded on Mercury for a substantial portion of the planet’s history. The findings suggest Mercury not only had volatiles but held on to them for longer than scientists had expected. (Distributed April 2, 2014)

Meditation as object of medical research

Mindfulness studies:  Careful meditative focus on a seemingly small element — breathing, say — may produce significantly different mental states in meditators, differences that can now be more easily and exactly quantified.
Mindfulness meditation produces personal experiences that are not readily interpretable by scientists who want to study its psychiatric benefits in the brain. At a conference near Boston April 5, 2014, Brown University researchers will describe how they’ve been able to integrate mindfulness experience with hard neuroscience data to advance more rigorous study. (Distributed April 2, 2014)