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45 undergraduates named top researchers in SURCA competition

SURCA 2014 Applied Sciences Winners
SURCA 2014 Applied Sciences Winners

Thirty-nine awards were presented recently to 45 WSU students—many in the College of Arts and Sciences—at the third annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities (SURCA) 2014.

The work of 192 students University-wide was detailed in 11 oral and 145 poster presentations open to faculty, staff, students, and guests. More than 100 judges evaluated the presentations. The judges included WSU emeriti faculty and retirees, faculty, staff, and post-doctoral students as well as experts from companies outside of WSU.

While many students from urban campuses traveled to participate, SURCA was made available to two place-bound students thanks to web conferencing provided by the Global Campus. A Pullman student studying abroad in Mexico and a WSU Vancouver student who was unable to attend SURCA in person talked “live” to their judges who were in the senior ballroom of the Compton Union Building.

More about the competition and list of winners

The Confidence Gap

Joyce Ehrlinger
Joyce Ehrlinger

For years, women have kept their heads down and played by the rules, certain that, with enough hard work, their natural talents would be recognized and rewarded. Meanwhile, the men around them have continued to be promoted faster and paid more.

Evidence shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that success depends as much on confidence as on competence. WSU assistant professor of psychology Joyce Ehrlinger’s research is helping to explain why and what women can do about it.

Ehrlinger has studied the impact of women’s preconceived notions about their own ability on their confidence. She found that women’s comparatively lower confidence “led them not to want to pursue future opportunities.”

Find out more about The Confidence Gap in The Atlantic.

Will legalization spark marijuana research?

Scientists say pot holds broad medical potential, but strict rules hinder its study

In a secluded lab at WSU Pullman, furry vermin are providing startling revelations about marijuana and its effects on the sexes.

Rebecca Craft, professor and chair of psychology, has been studying male and female rats to see if they react differently to the drug. And it looks like she’s on to something, especially when it comes to THC, the chemical in marijuana that creates a sense of euphoria for recreational users.

There are many other things Craft also wants to investigate about the plant, especially about how women react to it differently than men. “It’s something we need to be talking about, and not in a knee-jerk way,” Craft said. “It does have some reasonable uses.”

Learn more about potential marijuana research

Researcher: Pot’s effects differ in sexes; studies historically focus on males

Spite Is Good. Spite Works.

David Marcus
David Marcus

Research recently published by David K. Marcus, WSU professor of psychology, was featured in a New York Times article about the role of spite in social order.

Reporting in February in the journal Psychological Assessment, Dr. Marcus and his colleagues presented the preliminary results from their new “spitefulness scale,” a 17-item survey they created to assess individual differences in spitefulness, just as existing personality tests measure traits like agreeableness and extroversion.

While psychologists are exploring spitefulness in its customary role as a negative trait—a lapse that should be embarrassing but is often sublimated as righteousness (as when you take your own sour time pulling out of a parking space because you notice another car is waiting for it and you’ll show that vulture who’s boss here, even though you’re wasting your own time, too)—evolutionary theorists, by contrast, are studying what might be viewed as the brighter side of spite and the role it may have played in the origin of admirable traits like a cooperative spirit and a sense of fair play.

The new research on spite transcends older notions that we are savage, selfish brutes at heart, as well as more recent suggestions that humans are inherently affiliative creatures yearning to love and connect. Instead, it concludes that vice and virtue, like the two sides of a V, may be inextricably linked.

Read more about spite studies in the New York Times (subscription required)

Psychology faculty member earns state honor for community engagement

Paul Strand
Paul Strand

Paul Strand, associate professor of psychology at WSU Tri-Cities, won a statewide award for exemplary civic engagement by university faculty.

The Timm Ormsby Award for Faculty Citizenship is presented annually by Washington’s Council of Faculty Representatives. Nick Lovrich, WSU Regents professor in political science, won the honor last year.

Strand, who has been with WSU Tri-Cities for 17 years, studies the development of social skills and academic readiness in children, particularly those who are raised in culturally and linguistically diverse homes. He has testified before the state Senate Human Relations and Corrections committees on the evidence in support of his ideas.

He has focused on children from Spanish-speaking homes who struggle with shyness and anxiety in school; how these feelings contribute to both academic difficulties and teacher perceptions that a child has intellectual deficiencies; and how to help children, families and teachers overcome these barriers.

More about Strand’s outstanding work