Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Many of the roughly 10,000 inmates who exit U.S. prisons each week following incarceration face an immediate critical question: Where will I live? While precise numbers are hard to come by, research suggests that, on average, about 10 percent of parolees are homeless immediately following their release. In large urban areas, and among those addicted to drugs, the number is even higher—exceeding 30 percent.
“Without a safe and stable place to live where they can focus on improving themselves and securing their future, all of their energy is focused on the immediate need to survive the streets,” says Faith Lutze, criminal justice professor at WSU. “Being homeless makes it hard to move forward or to find the social support from others necessary to be successful.”
Learn more about Lutze’s research into inmate recidivism
Monday, July 28, 2014
WSU biologist Michael Skinner and his research team found that if a rat fetus is exposed to a specific pesticide during the first trimester of pregnancy, the likelihood of kidney disease, ovary disease and obesity in their decendents was elevated for three generations. Multiple diseases were even more prevalent in the third generation than in the second. The widely used chemical, Methoxychlor, once considered a safer alternative to DDT, was banned in the U.S. in 2003 for a host of human health reasons. The research points to a negative effect decades after exposure. In other words, the great-great-grandchildren of a woman exposed to Methoxychlor may still suffer the consequences.
Read more about the epigenetic connection in
Research results published in PLOSone
Additional information about Skinner’s research is in the
August 2014 issue of Scientific American
Friday, July 18, 2014
Self-published books are on the rise, to the dismay of onlookers who wonder what to expect from a sector where E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey—originally published as online fan fiction by a tiny Australian e-book company—appears to be the best of the lot. More than 391,000 self-published titles appeared in 2012, according to Bowker, the official ISBN-issuing agency for the United States.
Academics, meanwhile, inhabit a parallel publishing ecosystem: a constellation of university presses and journals that publish slowly, offer few economic returns, and subject all work to painstaking peer review. Scholars and publishing experts in the United States and Britain say self-publishing by academics remains a rarity.
Roger Whitson, an assistant professor of English at WSU, said he thought self-publishing books was an undertaking only tenured professors could afford. “Part of the reason why academics publish pre-tenure is that they want to receive credit for becoming a specialist in the field, and one of the main ways they see that happening is through peer review,” Whitson said. “For pre-tenure people who haven’t established a name in the field, academic publishing is really important.”
After receiving tenure, more academics are in a position “to experiment and demand more from different publishing models,” he said.
Whitson has self-published a book of his own: a collection of writing from his postdoctoral program at Georgia Tech. “I would never consider it a major publication of mine,” he said. “It was just something that was fun.” Whitson does not list the book on his CV.
Read more about self-publishing in Inside Higher Ed
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The fact that women are vastly under-represented in high-level leadership positions is well known, but the exact reason for it is still the subject of much debate.
Research has long shown that men are more self-assured in general, and often overestimate their abilities and potential, while women are far more prone to underestimate and second-guess themselves.
Research by WSU psychologist Joyce Ehrlinger and Cornell psychologist David Dunning also shows that women tend to rate themselves more negatively.
In the study, male and female college students were given a quiz on scientific reasoning, after which they were asked to assess how many questions they thought they had gotten right. On average, the male students thought they had gotten 7.1 answers right, while the female students thought they had answered only 5.8 correctly.
In reality, though, the average for male and female students was almost exactly the same – 7.5 correct answers for the female students and 7.9 for the male students.
This negative self-perception can prevent women from taking on new challenges or opportunities.
Find out more about the gender gap in leadership assessment
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
A nearly 3,000-word article posted recently on the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) says the Book of Abraham is inspired scripture and probably not a literal translation from ancient Egyptian scrolls by Mormon founder Joseph Smith.
The essay marks a departure from past explanations by LDS officials and embraces the widely-held view from religious scholars and historians that Smith’s work isn’t a direct translation, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at WSU.
“It is an official recognition — even a concession — that Joseph Smith could not, and did not, ‘translate’ any scriptures in the literal, scholarly sense that is usually implied by the term ‘translate,’” Mauss said.
The article recognizes that it’s impossible to know how exactly Smith used the papyri to write the Book of Abraham. There were no eyewitnesses to the translation process, and only fragments of the scrolls exist today, the article says. It notes that Smith never claimed to know the language it was in.
Read more about the church’s essay