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CAS in the Media Arts and Sciences Media Headlines

Six WSU faculty named new members of Washington State Academy of Sciences

Mechthild Tegeder.
Tahira Probst.
Jan Dasgupta.

Three members of CAS faculty are among six WSU professors recently elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences (WSAS): Nairanjana Dasgupta, in mathematics and statistics and data analytics; Tahira Probst in psychology; and Mechthild Tegeder in biological sciences.

They are part of the 29-member class of 2023 inductees who join the nonprofit organization with a mission to bring the best available science to bear on issues within the state of Washington.

“WSAS is proud to elevate these exceptional individuals for the many ways in which they have advanced scientific and engineering excellence,” said John Roll, WSAS president and WSU professor and vice dean of research at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “We look forward to engaging them in addressing complex societal challenges not only for the benefit of the citizens of Washington state but for all citizens of the world.”

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WSU Insider

Gerontechnology research provides undergraduate students opportunities

A multidisciplinary program at Washington State University funded by the National Institute of Aging is engaging undergraduate students in scientific research that may help older adults live independently longer.

The WSU Gerontechnology-Focused Student Undergraduate Research Experience (GSUR) connects students from complementary degree programs such as sociology, nursing, medicine, computer science, electrical engineering, and clinical psychology. It introduces them to faculty mentors and opens doors to a wide range of careers that support the world’s aging population.

Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe.

“The beauty of this opportunity is how it brings together students from varying degree programs and amplifies their future impact,” said Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, co-PI for the multi-year grant and a Regents professor in the Department of Psychology. “For example, when students who have participated in GSUR take on projects in their chosen career field—say perhaps designing a community park—their awareness of what older adults require will likely influence their blueprint.”

Since GSUR’s inception in 2016, WSU has received $2.7 million in grant funding from the NIA to support student research fellowships and training in the growing field of gerontechnology, which blends the study of aging with the use of technology.

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WSU Insider

4 Core Findings About Adolescent Narcissism

Chris Barry.

By Chris Barry, professor of psychology

Most of my research has been in the area of adolescent narcissism, as well as the connection between narcissism and social media activity. The topic of adolescent narcissism drew my interest due to several paradoxes that have been discussed in the past about youth self-perception and self-esteem, as well as the inclusion of narcissism in the psychopathy construct—an area I had previously researched. Additionally, I find the unique aspects of adolescent development intriguing, as they suggest that narcissism may be a normal part of being an adolescent and can even be adaptive in some ways.

After conducting research in this area and reviewing the work of colleagues with similar interests, we have arrived at several core findings:

  • Adolescent narcissism tends to fall along a normal distribution, meaning that most teens do not necessarily exhibit extreme levels of narcissism, and narcissism tends to decline somewhat as we get older.
  • Narcissism during adolescence is linked to aggression, delinquent behavior, and self-reported anxiety and depression, depending on the specific characteristics of narcissism.
  • Adolescents with narcissistic traits may be perceived negatively by their peers as manipulative, difficult to get along with, and likely to engage in future delinquency. However, they may also be viewed as competitive and good leaders.
  • Narcissism is not necessarily linked to the frequency or type of social media posts. However, certain social media posts, such as selfies, may be associated with a perception of narcissism among unfamiliar viewers.

As we continue to conduct research, we expect to gain more clarity and nuance on these issues.

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Psychology Today

Alcohol harm reduction can also reduce other substance use

Quitting alcohol or drugs was not a top priority for people experiencing homelessness in a harm reduction treatment study, yet participants still reduced their use of both.

A different approach than traditional abstinence-based programs, harm reduction treatment for alcohol use disorder, also called HaRT-A, has patients set their own goals. In a study of 308 people experiencing homelessness, the participants receiving harm reduction treatment set goals of meeting basic needs and improving quality of life well above quitting alcohol and other substances.

Yet harm reduction treatment still led to more reduced use compared to a control group who received regular services. The findings are detailed in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

Susan Collins.

“It’s a good reminder that all people have the same basic goals: we all want to be safer, healthier and happier, and when we help people experiencing homelessness achieve those goals, they might end up doing the things that treatment providers want them to do anyway,” said Susan Collins, a Washington State University psychology professor and the study’s senior author. “They might end up cutting down their use; they might end up quitting, but it’s on their own terms and their own timeline, so it’s more sustainable.”

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WSU Insider
Medical Express

Cowlitz Indian Tribe invests in STEM education and research at WSU Vancouver

Washington State University announced a $1 million philanthropic investment by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe to advance life sciences and STEM education at WSU Vancouver, benefitting students, research and outreach in southwest Washington. The commitment made by the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation will be used in the construction of a $5.4 million state-of-the-art greenhouse as part of the campus’ Life Sciences Building project, now under construction.

“The WSU Vancouver community is grateful for the generous investment and partnership from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and looks forward to the completion of our campus’ new Life Sciences Building in 2024,” said Mel Netzhammer, chancellor of WSU Vancouver. “This commitment will open doors for our talented faculty and students to make discoveries and share valuable knowledge of the world around us, thereby improving the quality of life across the region and beyond.”

“The Cowlitz Indian Tribe invests in education because we understand the value that it brings to individuals and the community,” said Timi Marie Russin, Cowlitz Tribal Foundation manager. “We are honored to be a part of the mission and grateful for the partnership with WSU Vancouver.”

The 3,300-square-foot greenhouse will be home for lab-based experiments, lectures, and independent research projects that will benefit biology and environmental science education and research programs at WSU Vancouver. The greenhouse is part of the new and innovative 60,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building, which broke ground in November 2021. Slated to open in 2024, the Life Sciences Building will house laboratory space for programming in biology and chemistry, serving general educational needs for all students and foundational courses for an array of STEM degrees. Largely funded by $52.6 million from the state of Washington’s 2021–23 capital budget, the Life Sciences Building will also house basic, translational, applied, and clinical health programs — including nursing, neuroscience, psychology, molecular biology, and medicine.

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WSU Insider