Academic Minute

Dr. Matt Lapierre, UNC Wilmington - Marketing to Kids

Jun 12, 2014

There's a wide array of kid's products and videos claiming to be educational.

Matt Lapierre, assistant professor of communications at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, examines the effectiveness of marketing in spite of the lack of observable results.

Alternative tobacco products are on the rise.

Keith Humphreys, professor of psychiatry at Stanford University,  discusses a form of smokeless tobacco that is catching on overseas.

The Bering Strait is usually thought of as the migratory path whereby many of our ancestors found their way to America.

Dennis O'Rourke, professor of anthropology at the University of Utah, is hunting for clues that might indicate a people indigenous to this area.

Dr. Luis Zayas, UT Austin - Latina Suicide Rates

Jun 9, 2014

One segment of the population commits suicide more than any other: Hispanics teens.

Dr. Luis Zayas, Dean of the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, shares some numbers and dissects the factors contributing to this troubling trend.

Does being happy make you healthier? Is, perhaps, the inverse also true?

Dr. Julia Boehm, assistant professor in psychology at Chapman University, is studying the correlation between mind and body.

Have the natural laws that govern the cosmos ever changed?

Dr. Jeremy Mould, professor of astrophysics and supercomputers at the Swinburne University of Technology, observes that gravity has remained unchanged for billions of years.

It's no secret that some of the greatest writers the world has known have also been some of the biggest drinkers. But is there a connection between the remarkable creativity of an Earnest Hemingway or John Cheever and the contents of their favorite bottle?

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we'll from author Olivia Laing who tackles that question in her latest book.

We'll also spend an academic minute trying to find out why some things just make you laugh.

Facial recognition technology is still in its infancy.

Dr. Megan Papesh, assistant professor of psychology at Louisiana State University, is demonstrating weakness in a system many people may assume is completely secure. 

Exposure to trauma doesn't necessarily dictate PTSD for the victim.

Dr. Norah Feeny, professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University, is studying post-traumatic stress disorder to expand on our understanding of the affliction and potentially debunk some related myths.

Can we accurate codify why things make us laugh?

Dr. Peter McGraw of the University of Colorado Boulder draws on his work with Caleb Warren and The Humor Research Lab (HuRL) to answer the question, “What makes things humorous?”

Can leading a sedentary lifestyle contribute to depression?

Dr. Nancy Low, assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at McGill University, is studying the correlation between these two afflictions.

Nancy Low is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University, Clinician-Researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), and Staff Physician in the Mood Disorders Program of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

In the world of science fiction, humans and robots converse freely.

Robin Read, research fellow at Plymouth University in the UK, is studying the nature by which robots communicate.

Salmonella outbreaks can be devastating.

To reduce this danger, Arun Bhunia, professor of food microbiology at Purdue University, is working on new techniques and technology that will more quickly identify the infectious strain.

Dr. Arun Bhunia is a professor of food microbiology at Purdue University. His research focuses on pathogen detection and mechanism of pathogenesis. He earned a Ph.D. in food microbiology from University of Wyoming in 1989

Apparently, you can sterilize flies too well.

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Hahn, assistant professor in the University of Florida’s department of entomology and nematology, discusses a new and improved fly sterilization methodology.

Dr. Dan Peppe, Baylor University - Proconsul Fossils

May 23, 2014

Of all fossils, the Proconsul is amongst the earliest ever discovered.

Dan Peppe, assistant professor of geology at Baylor University, is studying these fossils to help understand the evolution of all primates.

Many factors influence how a child understands and interprets the human body and its related physical behaviors.

Georgia Panagiotaki, lecturer in psychology at the University of East Anglia, studied a diverse pool of children to make conclusions about their bodily comprehension.

Species interaction dictates a great deal of a location's biodiversity.

Susan Kalisz, professor of biology at the University of Pittsburgh, is linking the diet of deer to the success of the animals' surrounding flora.

Any real estate agent will tell you, when you look for a place to's location, location, location. We all like to make a home in a nice, livable neighborhood. But what makes a neighborhood livable? Some extremely small organisms can live in some extremely nasty places.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology series continues with a look at the extreme environments some microbial life calls home.

We'll also spend an academic minute with science fiction that's not quite fiction any more.

Direct trauma clearly has negative effects on the brain.

Dr. Raj Morey, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University, discusses the potential harm that may arise even from indrect exposure to explosions.

As hip hop culture expands, schools are expanding with it.

Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, assistant professor of educational administration at Michigan State University, is studying this trend.

In a recent commentary, I raised the question of whether the United States is losing its global competitiveness in the area of scientific research. And yet, despite the fact that major reductions have been made in our research infrastructure and productivity due to cuts arising from sequestration and over a decade of federal research budgets which have not exceeded inflation, I was startled to learn that “only 38% of Americans feel science [research] is getting too little funding” (reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education article, “Strapped,” February 28, 2014). Why isn’t the message getting out? Why do so few Americans see the risk in falling behind in areas of research critical to understanding disease processes, to addressing environmental issues, to developing alternative energy, and on and on?

Can math be used to better understand history?

Peter Turchin, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, is doing just that through complex mathematical algorithms.

Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, Virginia Tech - Fainting Goats

May 14, 2014

The Latin name myotonia congenita might not mean much to you, but you've likely seen them in action.

Dr. Phillip Sponenberg, professor of pathology and genetics at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, fills us in on one of the internet's favorite animal oddities: the fainting goat.

We’ve heard many times that the key to getting out of poverty is education.

But schools cost money…something that is in short supply in the most impoverished areas of the world.  That’s a problem that Jim Ziolkowski has spent the last 20 years trying to solve. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the beginnings of the non-profit called buildOn that is helping the poorest around the world find education…including here in the US.

We’ll also spend an academic minute trying to find out what a livable wage looks like.

RNA seems like the unsung little brother of DNA and protein.

But Yehuda Ben-Shahar, assistant professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, is learning a great deal about their very important molecular responsibilities.

Dr. Yehuda Ben-Shahar is an assistant professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis. His research focuses on the roles of genes, genetics, and evolution in shaping and driving specific animal behaviors. He earned a PhD from the University of Illinois in 2002.

Economic inequality and minimum wage are becoming increasingly discussed topics during these turbulent economic times.

Chris Fee, professor of English at Gettysburg College, asks what constitutes a living wage?

Dr. Christopher Fee is a professor and chair of the Department of English at Gettysburg College. Fee has published numerous articles and has given conference presentations on many interdisciplinary topics. He earned his PhD in English at the University of Glasgow.

During the 1800s, segregation was even visible in the medical arena.

King Davis, professor and director of the Institute for Urban Policy Research & Analysis at the University of Texas at Austin, is studying the medical records  from the Central Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane.

The amazing technology we see in science-fiction is fast becoming reality.

Radu Sporea, academic research fellow at the University of Surrey, is helping to bring some of these future-thinking inventions to life.

A University of Utah scientist is making engineering breakthroughs in the field of plasmonics using ink-jet printers.

Dr. Ajay Nahata, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Utah, is developing new technology using parts borrowed from some somewhat old technology!

Are strict police codes having unintended effects?

Dr. Lawrence Sherman, professor of criminology at the University of Cambridge, examines the nature of certain law enforcement practices.