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Dr. Alycia Mosley Austin to Join the Graduate School

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The Graduate School is delighted to share that Dr. Alycia Mosley Austin will be joining the Graduate School as Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, effective September 8.

Dr. Alycia Mosley Austin is an accomplished leader of diversity and inclusion initiatives in graduate education. She has led work in this area for over a decade, serving as a visible national leader, with notable experience building programming for graduate students and incentivizing transformational change within graduate programs. Dr. Austin comes to Brown from the University of Rhode Island, where she served as Interim Associate Dean in the Graduate School.

Initiative to expand Ph.D. student diversity in STEM graduate programs has lasting positive effects

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For more than a decade, leaders of the Initiative to Maximize Student Development at Brown University have worked not only to expand diversity among doctoral students in the University’s science, technology, engineering and math programs, but also to propel the career success of underrepresented students over the long term — in effect, increasing diversity in STEM on a much larger scale. A new study in the Journal for STEM Education Research shows that the program is doing exactly that. Read more.

In socially distanced Graduate School ceremony, speakers call on peers to ‘show up’ and ‘do good work’

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For brief moments, a casual onlooker could be forgiven for assuming Brown’s Graduate School Ceremony during Commencement Weekend was no different than ever.

Like the ceremonies of years past, the event on Saturday, May 1, opened with a stirring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by one of Brown’s own — Arlen Austin, a Ph.D. graduate in modern culture and media. As usual, Graduate School Dean Andrew G. Campbell took to the podium to preside, welcoming and congratulating the 763 master’s and Ph.D. graduates. Read more.

Student Research: Thick lithosphere casts doubt on plate tectonics in Venus’s geologically recent past

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At some point between 300 million and 1 billion years ago, a cosmic object smashed into the planet Venus, leaving a crater more than 170 miles in diameter. A team of Brown University researchers, including doctoral student Evan Bjonnes, has used the ancient impact scar to explore the possibility that Venus once had Earth-like plate tectonics. For a study published in Nature Astronomy, the researchers used computer models to recreate the impact that carved out Mead crater, Venus’s largest impact basin. Mead is surrounded by two clifflike faults — rocky ripples frozen in time after the basin-forming impact. Read more.

Student Research: A new tool discovered for reconstructing ancient sea ice to study climate change

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Sea ice is a critical indicator of changes in the Earth’s climate. A new discovery by Brown University researchers, including Karen Wang, a doctoral student in Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences, could provide scientists a new way to reconstruct sea ice abundance and distribution information from the ancient past, which could aid in understanding human-induced climate change happening now. In a study published in Nature Communications, the researchers show that an organic molecule often found in high-latitude ocean sediments, known as tetra-unsaturated alkenone (C37:4), is produced by one or more previously unknown species of ice-dwelling algae. As sea ice concentration ebbs and flows, so do the algae associated with it, as well as the molecules they leave behind. Read more.

Student Research: Study Identifies predictors of timely enrollment in treatment for opioid use disorder

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For people living with opioid use disorder, the path to treatment is not always clear-cut. Sometimes, there’s no path at all. The gap between those recommended for medications for opioid use disorder — with methadone, buprenorphine or other medications prescribed — and those who ultimately receive it is wide and persisting. At the epicenter, accounting for more than one third of individuals with an opioid disorder, are Medicaid recipients. In an effort to gather information that might help to close that gap, researchers at Brown, including Alexandria Macmadu, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology, analyzed Medicaid databases to identify predictors of timely enrollment in treatment for those who experienced an opioid overdose or were diagnosed with opioid use disorder. Read more.

Student Research: Study reveals how airflow inside a car may affect COVID-19 transmission risk

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A new study, co-led by doctoral student Asimanshu Das, examines airflow patterns inside a car's passenger cabin to offer some suggestions for potentially reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission while sharing rides with others. The study used computer models to simulate the airflow inside a compact car with various combinations of windows open or closed. The simulations showed that opening windows - the more windows the better -- created airflow patterns tha dramatically reduced the concentration of airborne particles exchanged between a driver and single passenger. Read more.

Dean Campbell Elected as Fellow of the AAAS

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Andrew G. Campbell, dean of the Graduate School and a professor of medical science, and Susan Short, director of the Population Studies and Training Center and a professor of sociology, were elected by their peers as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest scientific society. The new fellows will be formally recognized in a virtual ceremony to be held in February 2021. Campbell was recognized for his scientific research as well as his “administrative leadership, and service to increase the full participation of all in science.” Read more.

Doctoral Student Support, Ph.D. Program Admissions

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The COVID-19 public health crisis has had a serious, ongoing impact on colleges and universities across the nation, students enrolled at Brown, our broader campus community, and multiple aspects of University operations and finances. Among the many challenges are the disruption of the ability of many graduate students to conduct research and fieldwork, and the more limited professional opportunities for new Ph.D. graduates that are a result of the financial impact of the pandemic on higher education. We write with an update on support for doctoral students at Brown and to inform you of steps that are being taken to ensure that we can best assist currently enrolled students as they complete their degrees. Read more.

Student Research: Stay-at-home orders significantly associated with reduced spread of COVID-19, study finds

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Across the globe, COVID-19 has infected more than 18 million people to date and has killed hundreds of thousands — and the United States has been hit especially hard. Although the U.S. comprises just 4.2% of the global population, it accounted for approximately 33% of all reported infections by the end of April. However, the majority of U.S. states eventually imposed stay-at-home orders, and those orders appear to have significantly slowed the spread of the disease for the nation as a whole.

These findings, co-authored by Joe Silva, a PhD student in Health Services Research, along with a state-by-state breakdown of how quickly COVID-19 spread before and after lockdown orders, were published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases on Saturday, Aug. 1. Read more.