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WSU’s Aurora Clark honored as fellow of American Physical Society

Aurora Clark.

Aurora E. Clark, a Washington State University professor and expert in physical chemistry, has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society, the nation’s leading association for physicists.

The prestigious award recognizes Clark’s work in developing innovative methods to advance the study of complex chemical solutions and their interfaces using molecular simulation and integrating methods from graph theory, topology (shape) and geometry.

“This knowledge underpins the basic science needed to solve a variety of important industrial problems that impact human health, environmental management and technological innovation,” Clark said.

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WSU Insider

What does equity mean to you?

On Wednesday, October 6, the Lynnwood Times facilitated an interview forum with several candidates running for Mayoral, City Council, and School District positions in Lynnwood and Mukilteo. It was an insightful experience listening to each candidates’ response and perspective. There was one question in particular, though, that has left staff both puzzled and concerned: What does equity mean to you?

Anna Zamora-Kapoor.

To understand what equity means, the Lynnwood Times spoke with Assistant Professor of Sociology and Medical Education and Clinical Sciences from Washington State University, Dr. Anna Zamora-Kapoor. While some believe that equity implies equal outcomes, Dr. Kapoor explains how equity focuses on achieving equal opportunity.

“The concept of equity is close to fairness and equal opportunity, and usually contrasted to equality,” she says. “Equality provides everyone with the same resources while equity recognizes that some groups need additional resources to have an equal opportunity to thrive.”

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Lynnwood Times

Poor parents receiving universal payments increase spending on kids

When given cash with no strings attached, low- and middle-income parents increased their spending on their children, according to Washington State University research. The study, published in the journal Social Forces, also found that the additional funding had little impact on child-related expenditures of high-income parents.

Mariana Amorim.

For the study, WSU sociologist Mariana Amorim analyzed spending by recipients of the Alaska Permanent Fund payments. Funded by state oil revenues, the fund is the closest program in the United States to a universal basic income. Every resident in Alaska receives a payment called a dividend; the total amount varies each year, but during the time span of this study, 1996-2015, payments averaged around $1,812 a person, or $7,248 for a four-person family, when adjusted for inflation to 2014 dollars.

“The data suggests that lower-income parents are responsible using cash payments, so we don’t need to be so afraid to give poor people money that can help their families,” Amorim said. “Low-income parents do need to spend a greater part of the money they received on basic necessities—for instance to catch up on bills or to fix a broken car—but they still managed with the leftover amount to invest in their children.”

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Expanded aquatic biology technology will enhance health-related research

Washington State University scientists from a range of fields expect that recently completed $1 million upgrades in aquatic biology equipment and facilities on the Pullman campus will help them make significant advances in health-related research.

Erica Crespi.

“The new APS technology will enable rigorous tests of physiological, ecological and evolutionary hypotheses with greatly enhanced realism and replication,” said Erica Crespi, associate professor of biology and principal investigator for the Murdock grant. “It will contribute to innovative studies for understanding human health, the health of wildlife and the generation of biodiversity in the natural world.”

Aquatic and semi-terrestrial organisms have long been biomedical models of human health and disease. Studies of zebrafish and xenopus frogs, for example, provide insights about embryonic and early developmental processes. How the two animals are able to regenerate appendages is, as yet, only minimally understood.

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WSU Insider

Study shows sleep loss does not interfere with ability to evaluate emotional situations

It’s no secret that going without sleep can affect people’s mood, but a new study shows it does not interfere with their ability to evaluate emotional situations.

Anthony Stenson.

“People do become less happy through sleep deprivation, but it’s not affecting how they are processing emotional stimuli in their environment,” said Anthony Stenson, a WSU psychology doctoral student and lead author of the study in Plos One.

Paul Whitney.

“I don’t think we want our first responders being numb to the emotional nature of the situations they encounter, and it looks like they are not. On the other hand, reacting normally to emotional situations, but not being able to control your own emotions, could be one reason sleep loss sometimes produces catastrophic errors in stressful situations.” Paul Whitney, WSU Professor of Psychology.

The current study shows that top-down regulation is a problem as well with “hot” or emotional cognitive processes. Future research is needed to understand whether the effects of sleep loss on the two top-down processes are linked.

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