News highlights for October 11, 2010

CisionPoint news monitoring provides this small sampling of the university's daily news coverage. Click headline to read full text via Cision or link directly to the online article where available. For questions or comments about this service, or to add or delete a name from the mailing list, please contact Gerry Everding.

The Australian
A ‘Mike’ found in buffalo?

A family in upstate New York may have had an unfinished Michelangelo painting hanging on their living room wall for years. Michelangelo expert William Wallace, a professor of architecture and art history at Washington University in St. Louis, said he saw the painting before it had been privately restored to remove 500 years of wear and tear. Since there is no definitive scientific way to attribute such a painting, Wallace said it would be the weight of experts over time that would hold sway. See also New York Post (UK)
Beware of competition overload

Too much competition in the workplace can sack collaboration and creativity, new research has found. The notion that winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing may help win football games, but it may be counterproductive when the goal is fostering creativity through team competition in the workplace, said Markus Baer, a management professor at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author of the study in the current Academy of Management Journal. Link to Article
Report: fertilizer overloading Earth’s plant life

Fertilizer use has exploded, overloading plants worldwide, likely altering ecosystems for decades to centuries, scientists report Thursday. Biochemist Robert Blankenship of Washington University in St. Louis says the report raises important concerns about the nitrogen cycle now being significantly out of balance and the need to address the problem by changing agricultural practices. “The world’s food supply depends directly on nitrogen application in the form of fertilizer, but current practices are such that much of the applied nitrogen ends up in rivers and eventually in the ocean where it causes serious problems,” he says. Link to Article

The Boston Globe
On a quest to map the brain’s hidden territory

Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Minnesota will map the connections in the brains of 1,200 healthy adults and combine that information with genetic and behavioral data. Eventually, by making comparisons with brains of people with psychiatric diseases and developmental disorders, scientists hope to begin to unravel how differences in the wiring and connections of the brain might underlie behavior or disease. Link to Article
Greed is not good when trying to rebuild for long term

Humans are naturally greedy. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found flashing a dollar-sign cue sparked immediate activation in a brain region that coordinates the interaction of cognitive control and motivational functions. This causes our brains to think for the short term — to make money now, not 10 years from now. That emotional state leads to too many poor decisions that only set back our finances and can delay goals. Link to Article See also (Mississippi), Modesto Bee (California), (Minnesota)
Anthropologists adopt a more favorable view of Neanderthals

Scientists are broadly rethinking the nature, skills and demise of the Neanderthals of Europe and Asia, steadily finding more ways that they were substantially like us. In 2007, Erik Trinkaus of Washington University in St. Louis published research into prehistoric fossil remains in Europe that showed a significant number of attributes associated with both the Neanderthals and more-modern humans. “Both groups would seem to us dirty and smelly, but, cleaned up, we would understand both to be human,” he said when the paper was released. Link to Article
A look at where Senate candidates Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt stand on the issues
They agree that America needs more jobs. But as to which candidate is best suited to create those jobs, Democrat Robin Carnahan and Republican Roy Blunt sharply disagree. In a race that has featured sharp attacks by each, the two split on a host of other hot-button issues: the federal stimulus package, the bank bailout plan, some aspects of the Bush tax cuts even on offshore drilling in the wake of the gulf oil disaster. The differences are as stark as they could be, said Steve Smith, a political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. This is a very clear left-versus-right choice. Link to Article

St. Louis Business Journal
The Face of St. Louis: A conversation with Dr. William Danforth

Dr. William Danforth was exerting his influence in the region long before the first edition of the St. Louis Business Journal went to print in October 1980. He has been a dominant force in the region for the past three decades and beyond, making his influence known in fields ranging from education and health care to life science and philanthropy. Link to Article

St. Louis Business Journal
Wash. U. gets $4M for cancer program

Washington University School of Medicine researchers have won a new $4.27 million, five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to extend their work to eliminate racial and economic gaps in cancer care in communities that have some of state’s highest cancer mortality rates. Focus on these areas is based on poverty levels, limited access to cancer screening and prevention services, excess cancer incidence or mortality and expressed community interest. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
A coming out in hope of reaching troubled gays: Man’s father called himself a ‘proud homophobe.’
Isaac Katz came out to his parents as a gay man this summer after returning from college. He did so about a month after his father, Washington University professor Jonathan Katz, was booted from a panel of scientists assembled to help stop the BP oil spill. Gay activists pushed the Obama administration to remove Professor Katz because of an essay he had written and posted online declaring himself a proud homophobe. In an essay submitted to the Post-Dispatch, Isaac Katz comes out publicly — not as a jab to his father or to embarrass other relatives, he said. Read Full Text

Mapping the brain: what a thought

Suppose you could make a map of your brain. Not just a drawing of the outside of it, but a map showing all of the circuits that open and close to create thought, feelings, speech, the five senses. Washington University School of Medicine researchers in St. Louis are heading a consortium that plans to map the brain within five years. Researchers from St. Louis University also are involved. The project’s goal is to understand how the brain works and what happens when it doesn’t. Link to Article

St. Louis Beacon

Where we live can determine how long we live


Series explores health experiences of people from different neighborhoods in north St. Louis, all of whom have health problems that are largely preventable and far more prevalent among African Americans than the rest of the city’s population. “When you have a population of poverty experiencing all the consequences, it makes us weaker as a society and a community,” says Matt Krueter, director of the Health Communication Research Laboratory at Washington University’s Institute of Public Health. Link to Article

St. Louis Post-Dispatch / Associated Press

Analysis: Something broken? Politicians say fix it
10/ 10/2010
They may differ somewhat on exactly why it’s broken and how to fix it. But those details may be less important than the overall ability of a candidate to empathize with Americans frustrated with the federal government, said Wayne Fields, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who studies political rhetoric and directs the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics. Link to Article

News in higher education

The New York Times

In higher education, a focus on technology

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and four nonprofit education organizations are beginning an ambitious initiative to address that challenge by accelerating the development and use of online learning tools. An initial $20 million round of money, from the Gates Foundation, will be for postsecondary online courses, particularly ones tailored for community colleges and low-income young people. Another round of grants, for high school programs, is scheduled for next year. Link to Article

The Associated Press

Report: College dropouts cost taxpayers billions

Dropping out of college after a year can mean lost time, burdensome debt and an uncertain future for students. Now there’s an estimate of what it costs taxpayers. And it runs in the billions. States appropriated almost $6.2 billion for four-year colleges and universities between 2003 and 2008 to help pay for the education of students who did not return for year two, a report released Monday says. Link to Article

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The Chronicle of Higher Education
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