Micro 55: When humans leave low-Earth orbit

With development underway on a new heavy-lift rocket and crew capsule, NASA is getting poised to send astronauts out of low-Earth orbit for the first time since the end of the Apollo program. The time is now to start planning the scientific goals for those future human missions, says Jim Head, professor of geological sciences at Brown University.

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Annenberg's Renée earns AERA award

Michelle Renée, principal associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and assistant clinical professor in the Urban Education Policy master’s degree program, will receive the 2014 Division L Policy Report Award from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

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Prof Tom Doeppner receives President’s Award

The themes of collegiality and collaboration were unavoidable as colleagues and friends reflected on the news that Thomas W. Doeppner, Associate Professor (Research) and Vice Chair of the Computer Science Department, had just received Brown University’s President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Governance. He joins previous winner John Savage of the Department, who was honored in 2009. “Tom is one of the elders of BrownCS,” explains Department Chair Roberto Tamassia, “and this award really celebrates his vision.

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Analysis: 32 years of U.S. filicide arrests

Instances in which parents kill their children may seem so horrifying and tragic that they defy explanation. Published scientific and medical research, meanwhile, doesn’t offer much epidemiological context to help people understand patterns among such heinous crimes. A paper in the March edition of the journal Forensic Science International provides the first comprehensive statistical analysis of filicide in the United States, drawing on 32 years of data on more than 94,000 arrests.

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Experts call for prison health improvement
Dr. Josiah Rich:

In a new paper in the journal Health Affairs, several participants in a workshop convened by the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine unveil their recommendations to improve health care for prisoners both during incarceration and after release. From a public health standpoint, they argue, it’s shortsighted to regard prison populations as separate from the community.

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Understanding PP1, the ubiquitous enzyme
The company it keeps:

The enzyme PP1 has a key role in many of the body’s healthy functions and diseases. It’s so generally important that drug developers dare not target it. In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Brown University scientists report a big leap in understanding how PP1 interacts with other proteins to behave specifically in distinct situations. That could lead to medicines that target it for precise benefits.

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Returning vets face ‘warring identities’ distress
A long road back from soldier to civilian:

Much of the research on post-combat mental health of veterans focuses on problems like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression. A paper co-authored by R. Tyson Smith, visiting assistant professor of sociology, takes an even broader snapshot of returning soldiers’ mental state by focusing instead on the identity conflict many face when transitioning from soldier to civilian life and how that conflict manifests as mental distress. The paper was published in the January issue of Society and Mental Health.

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‘Melbourne Shuffle’ secures cloud data
Dance steps:

Encryption might not be enough for all that data stored in the cloud. An analysis of usage patterns — which files are accessed and when — can give away secrets as well. Computer scientists at Brown have developed an algorithm to sweep away those digital footprints. It’s a complicated series of dance-like moves they call the Melbourne Shuffle.

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A new way to profile immune cells in blood
Methylation microarray    :

The specific proportions of immune cells in a blood sample form a profile that can indicate disease or exposure to a toxicant. A new epigenetic technique described in Genome Biology provides a reliable way to detect such profiles, even in archived blood where whole cells may no longer be intact.

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TRI-Lab announces next steps
An integration of scholarship and public engagement:

Brown's TRI-Lab program announced several next steps at an open house on Thursday, including two new Rhode Island-centered research collaborations that will focus on access to healthy food and on climate change and environmental justice. Participants also discussed the progress made so far in the current lab focusing on early childhood development. Brown University President Christina Paxson and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee both made remarks. 

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Maze puts images on floor, where rats look
Stimuli designed to be seen:

Visual acuity is sharpest for rats and mice when the animals are looking down. Researchers have found that rodents can learn tasks in a fourth to a sixth of the usual number of repetitions when visual stimuli are projected onto the floor of the maze rather than onto the walls. Findings are reported in the Journal of Visualized Experiments.

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LUX dark matter results confirmed
A more intense search for dark matter :

A new calibration of the Large Underground Xenon (LUX) dark matter detector brought a 10-fold increase in calibration accuracy, confirming findings announced last October from the instrument’s first 90-day run. If low-mass “WIMP” particles had passed through the detector, LUX would have found them.

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Forest model predicts canopy competition
The forest is taller, but why?:

Scientists use measurements from airborne lasers to gauge changes in the height of trees in the forest. Tree height tells them things like how much carbon is being stored. But what accounts for height changes over time — vertical growth or overtopping by a taller tree? A new statistical model helps researchers figure out what’s really happening on the ground.

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