Mon 7 Mar | Reuters

Time short to protect Africa's food supply from climate change

A study co-authored by Brown University researchers is cited in an article about how climate change will affect crop yields in parts of Africa in the next century. Research in the separate study suggests that scientists have overlooked two important human responses to climate that will impact food production in the future. "If you look at yields alone, you're not looking at all of the information because there are economic and social changes going on as well," said Leah VanWey, professor of sociology and one of the study's senior authors. "You're not taking into account farmers' reactions to climate shocks."
Mon 7 Mar | Science

Reversing the legacy of junk science in the courtroom

After a committee announced in 2009 that some pattern evidence used in courtrooms are ill-founded, it sent shockwaves through the legal system because the findings implied that judges have sometimes sent people to jail based on bogus science. Now, a series of working expert groups have begun to gather and endorse standards for collecting different kinds of evidence. Constantine Gatsonis, a statistician at Brown and chair of the committee, said what is needed is statistical rigor. “When somebody tells you, ‘I think this is a match or not a match,’ they ought to tell you an estimate of the statistical uncertainty about it,” he says.
Mon 7 Mar | Tech Insider

Google is trying to make artificial intelligence history

Michael L. Littman, professor of computer science, comments on article about the AlphaGo program, designed by Google's DeepMind artificial intelligence team, playing against Lee Sodol, one of the world's best Go players. "If the program wins, it's definitely an important milestone," Littman told Tech Insider. He says it's inevitable that Go will beat people, but that the program could have a lot of practical purposes in the future.
Sun 6 Mar | New York Post

What parents can learn from Elton John

Richard Rende, associate professor of psychiatry, comments on an article about the developmental benefits parents can give their children from chores. "Chores have a lot of short-term and long-term developmental benefits in terms of academic and social success,” Rende told the Chicago Tribune.
Sat 5 Mar | The Boston Globe

The inestimable importance of strategic depth

Stephen Kinzer, senior fellow at the Watson Institute, writes an op-ed about the reasons countries desire to acquire strategic depth and how it sometimes sets off a spiral of escalating tensions. "Secure in our own neighborhood, with nothing on our borders but Mexico, Canada, and declining fish stocks, we do not always recognize other countries' drive for strategic depth," Kinzer wrote.
Fri 4 Mar | The New York Times

Movers Who Help Their Customers Stay at Home

Kali Thomas, an assistant professor at the School of Public Health, comments on an article about movers helping seniors "age in place," a phrase used to describe retired adults that continue to live in their homes. "Independence has become the gold standard for successful aging,” said Thomas. “It’s a worthy goal to choose.”
Fri 4 Mar | The Providence Journal

Brandon Marshall: To combat overdoses, legalize pot

Brandon Marshall, a Brown University epidemiologist, writes an op-ed about legalizing marijuana. "Regulating marijuana for adult use and taxing the sales can kill two birds with one stone: end a destructive policy, and provide desperately needed public health resources to stem the tide of opioid addiction and overdose in our state," Marshall wrote.
Fri 4 Mar | Mary Christie Foundation

Race Issues on Campus Rooted in Opportunity Gaps Early On

Annenberg Institute's Warren Simmons and Rosann Tung write an op-ed about the merits of weaving discussions of diversity into the fabric of American elementary and secondary schools. Their discussion points stem from a two-part Boston study that examined minority access to rigorous coursework.
Wed 2 Mar | The Providence Journal

Can Trump defy political 'gravity' even in R.I.?

James A. Morone, director of the Taubman Center, comments on the likelihood of Donald Trump winning the Republican presidential nomination. “He is the likely Republican nominee,” said Morone. He explained that Trump has defied all odds by tapping into the anger felt by “the large number of people left behind in the global economy.”
Wed 2 Mar | Science of Us

Are You Better Off Not Knowing Your Medical Future?

An feature about Huntington’s disease cites a study led by Emily Oster, which sheds light on the reasons why most people don't get a genetic test to find out if they have the neurodegenerative disease. In essence, people who don't take the test live their lives to the fullest. “People who are uncertain about their status behave exactly like people who do not have it,” said Oster, professor of economics.
Wed 2 Mar | Christian Science Monitor

Can mummies talk? Scientists find out

Philip Lieberman, professor of cognitive and linguistic science, comments on new research aiming to recreate the voice of 5,000 year-old mummy. The human vocal tract as we understand it today has been in development since 100,000 years ago, Lieberman explained.
Tue 1 Mar | Inside Higher Ed

Executive functions

David Badre, associate professor of psychological sciences, discusses his research on brain tasks and ordering in Inside Higher Ed's Academic Minute.
Mon 29 Feb | Reuters

Benzodiazepine prescriptions, overdose deaths on the rise in US

Tae Woo Park, assistant professor of medicine, comments on a study that found a link between the increase of benzodiazepines prescriptions and overdose deaths. "Typically, overdose deaths occur when the benzodiazepine is combined with another sedating medication, such as an opioid or alcohol," said Park, adding that deaths by benzodiazepines alone are actually rare.
Mon 29 Feb | The Providence Journal

Brown University rapper's path to Abbey Road

For two days in September, the Beatles recording studio was the musical home of Brown University senior Dolapo Akinkugbe. He was among 84 musicians selected from 9,000 applicants to record for free at one of 12 famous recording studios around the world.
Mon 29 Feb | The New York Times

Invasive Species Aren’t Always Unwanted

Dox Sax, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, comments on an article about native and invasive species as governments work to address biological invaders. “I think the dominant paradigm in the field is still a ‘when in doubt, kill them’ sort of attitude,” said Sax.
Mon 29 Feb | Yahoo News

Apple v. the FBI: Examining the slippery slope argument

Anna Lysyanskaya, professor of computer science, offers a new perspective on the legal battle between Apple and the FBI to create a 'backdoor.' She argues that the company’s existing ability to bypass passcodes to install updates means that the damage Apple has warned about is theoretically already done. ". . .Apple already has a backdoor. Apple has the sign-in key that allows it to boot a malicious operating system on an Apple phone if they chose to do that,” Lysyanskaya told Yahoo News.
Sun 28 Feb | Tech Times

Dating sites may help spread HIV: Study

Amy Nunn, associate professor of public health, comments on a study that found a link between the increase of HIV infections in Rhode Island and online hookup sites. “This is a statewide study that included nearly all individuals newly diagnosed with HIV across an entire state. This is one of the first studies to document how common Internet site use is among people newly diagnosed with HIV and highlights important opportunities to partner with hookup sites to advance public health,” study co-author Nunn said in a news release.
Thu 25 Feb | The Scientist

Cautious Optimism About ZMapp Trial

Adam Levin, assistant professor of emergency medicine, commented on the findings of an antibody drug used in a small clinical trial meant to treat Ebola. Although the findings were not statistically significant, he says "It is the strongest sign yet that we may have a drug that can reduce mortality and save lives for patients infected with the Ebola virus."
Thu 25 Feb | RI NPR

Clinton, Trump Top Brown Presidential Poll

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are the preferred presidential candidates of likely Rhode Island voters, according to a newly released poll by Brown University's Taubman Center For American Politics and Policy.
Thu 25 Feb | Newsweek

Where's Ken? The abandonment of men in body positivity

Alison Field, chair of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, comments on how unrealistic physiques of action figures is having a negative impact on boys' self image. "Males are trying to become larger and more muscular, and just like girls—and some males—who might resort to making themselves throw up or use laxatives to get thinner, there are males who are willing to use steroids or growth hormones or other potentially unhealthy products to get bigger,” says Field.