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January 3, 2011

Office of Media Relations
Darlene Trew Crist, Director

Courtney Coelho, Editor
(401) 863-7287   27 December 2011
North American mammal evolution tracks with climate change
Climate changes profoundly influenced the rise and fall of six distinct, successive waves of mammal species diversity in North America over the last 65 million years, according to a novel statistical analysis led by Brown evolutionary biologists. Warming and cooling periods, in two cases confounded by species migrations, marked the transition from one dominant grouping to the next.

Scientific American    25 December 2011
Altered gene tracks RNA editing in neurons
RNA editing is a key step in gene expression. Scientists at Brown, led by Robert Reenan, professor of biology, report in Nature Methods that they have engineered a gene capable of visually displaying the activity of the key enzyme ADAR in living fruit flies. The advance gives scientists a way to view when and where ADAR is active in a living animal and how much of it is operating.

MSNBC   30 December 2011
2011 sees many congressional failures
Wendy Schiller, associate professor of political science, joins “Now with Alex Wagner” for a panel discussion on the legislative lowlights of 2011. She says, “This is the worst, most self-serving, most incompetent Congress we’ve seen in decades,” and says that unless Congress makes some changes, there could be significant repercussions for the Republican Party in 2012.

The Guardian (Nigeria)   1 January 2012
Paper names Achebe Nigeria’s Man of the Year
Chinua Achebe, the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and professor of Africana studies, has been named Man of the Year by Nigeria’s The Guardian. In giving him the award, the paper describes him as “master story teller, thinker, visionary, crusader, incurable optimist and fierce patriot. He loves his country to the extent he was willing to forego, for the second time, national honour, if only that would draw attention to the rot in our society, and set us thinking on the path to enthroning a better society.”

NPR   27 December 2011
How to deal with a dictator
As the death toll in Syria continues to mount, the international community is debating how to deal with the ouster of President Bashar Assad. Melani Cammett, associate professor of political science and director of the Middle East Studies Program, says that it’s important for the government to have a way to address public grievances that is perceived as fair: “There’s got to be a way to manage resentment so that people aren’t in unregulated revenge mode."   2 January 2012
Super PACs’ unique role in the presidential race
Tricia Rose, professor of Africana studies, appears on "Politically Direct" to talk about the influence super PACs are having on the current presidential race. She notes that negative campaign ads are often covered by these external groups: “The negative money isn’t primarily [coming from] the candidates so it becomes a sort of ’these are the sort of people who support me, this is what THEY think about my opponent,’" says Rose. "The reality is that once that kind of money can be assembled at a distance, it’s impossible to figure out the depths of the purchase going on – it’s not just about being purchased anymore."

The Atlantic   2 January 2012
Debating Ron Paul
An article on a recent episode featuring Glenn Loury, professor of economics, and The New Republic’s John McWhorter, as they discuss presidential candidate Ron Paul. The author describes their discussions as “consistently among the most interesting and delightful exchanges in American public discourse. These are two men who tend to elicit the best from one another, and who aren’t afraid to follow their always formidable thoughts to where they lead.”

National Geographic   20 December 2011
Wait for end of the world may be longer than expected
The ancient Maya calendar has long been thought to predict the end of the world in December 2012, based on glyphs carved into a stone tablet in Mexico. But experts of Mesoamerican culture say it’s merely the end of a cycle on the Mayas’ long-count calendar. After a recent visit to the tablet, Stephen Houston, professor of anthropology, concluded that the glyphs make no prophetic statements about 2012, but that they are simply a straightforward reference to a dedication to a nearby monument. Houston also appeared on BBC’s "Newshour" to discuss this research.

The Atlantic   30 December 2011
Attempting to define the middle class
David Rohde writes that despite extensive research on the American middle class, there is no official American government definition of the group, and no political consensus exists over how it was created or how to strengthen it. He cites research by John Logan, director of the Initiative in Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences, who has called for a large foundation to fund in-depth research on the middle class, which Logan believes would force academics to develop a more uniform definition.   30 December 2011
Smart snacking can help, not hinder, weight loss
Many dieters don’t realize that snacking smart can actually help with weight loss. Rena Wing, professor of psychiatry and human behavior and director of the Weight Control and Diabetes Clinic, advises portioning out snacks into 100-calorie servings as soon as they arrive home from the grocery store, which will prevent dieters from eating more than they should.   2 January 2012
What women should know before menopause
An article on what women should know about menopause quotes Sandra Carson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology. She says it’s important to know that women can still get pregnant in perimenopause and cautions that coming into menopause is a gradual process, not something that happens overnight: “The ovary doesn’t stop, boom!” Carson says.

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