FABBS news

FABBS News Highlights

“National Interest” Research at NSF: Benign or Problematic?
Just before Congress headed out of town for its August recess, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee introduced legislation that would “provide for greater accountability in Federal funding for scientific research” at the National Science Foundation. The Scientific Research in the National Interest bill is only three pages long and is a duplicate of a section of the America COMPETES legislation that passed the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. The America COMPETES bill reduced authorized funding for NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic (SBE) Sciences Directorate by 55% and the Geosciences Directorate by 8%. It was widely opposed by the scientific and higher education communities. Many in the scientific and higher education communities are also concerned about the motivations for, and impact of, the new National Interest legislation.

FABBS Foundation Honors Carol D. Lee
Carol D. Lee is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Education in the School of Education and Social Policy and in African-American Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, U.S.A. She has worked in the Learning Sciences Program at Northwestern from its inception, the first such program in the U.S. She received a B.A. in the Teaching of English from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in 1966, a Masters of Arts in English from the University of Chicago in 1969, and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Chicago in 1991. Her career spans a 49 year history, including work as an English Language Arts teacher at the high school and community college levels, a primary grade teacher, and her current university professorship. She is a founder of four African centered schools and institutions that span a 46 year history, including three charter schools under the umbrella of the Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools (est. 1998) where she serves as chair of the Board of Directors.

Criss Presented with Early Career Impact Award at Society for Mathematical Psychology Annual Meeting 
At New York’s Syracuse University, cognitive scientist Amy H. Criss, PhD, predicts memory using computer programs similar to those used by meteorologists or market analysts. “It’s like weather forecasting,” she said of her computational models of memory. “You might be right, you might be wrong. You generate predictions of how people might behave, or how they might remember or forget things.” An associate professor of psychology, Criss studies normal memory and describes her work as a potential early step in understanding memory loss. “If we are to have any hope of helping people who have Alzheimer’s disease or other problems that affect memory, we first have to understand how basic memory works.” Criss is the 2015 FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award winner from the Society for Mathematical Psychology.

Roth Presented with Early Career Impact Award at International Society for Developmental Psychobiology Annual Meeting 
Abuse and neglect have a host of negative effects on children, as social workers, doctors, and scientists have known for decades. But now there is evidence that maltreatment can actually impact the brain, and even more surprising, those neurological changes can be passed on to the next generation. Dr. Tania Roth of the University of Delaware has found that maltreatment affects regions of the brain that are associated with behavioral and emotional regulation, working memory, and even skills like spatial navigation. She studies changes in the brains of rats who have been maltreated, but her findings are consistent with human research showing that children who have been abused and neglected have more problems with executive functioning, inhibitory control, and emotional regulation than their peers. Roth’s work is part of the burgeoning field of epigenetics, which studies how nature and nurture work together. Epigenetics research shows that environmental factors can cause genes to be switched on or off, explaining why some people with similar or even identical genes may behave differently. Roth’s research shows that adverse caregiving leads to changes in an epigenetic process called DNA methylation, leading to less genetic transcription or “turning on” of certain genes. Roth is the 2015 FABBS Foundation Early Career Impact Award winner from the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology.

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