Psychology Professors Study
||Heejung Kim and David Sherman
Two psychologists have provided a new twist on the old adage that people are products of both nature and nurture, in introducing a framework for understanding how these influences interact. The researchers are studying how genotypes (nature) can express themselves differently as a function of culture (nurture). Their findings appeared in a recent issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Using the oxytocin receptor polymorphism (OXTR), which is linked to socioemotional sensitivity, Heejung Kim and David Sherman, associate professors in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, have demonstrated in research funded by the National Science Foundation that individuals can have the same gene, but manifest it differently, depending on their respective cultural experiences. The study involved Korean and American participants, which allowed the researchers to compare the expression of OXTR in people raised in a more collectivistic East Asian society, with that of people who grew up in the more individualistic American society.
Scientists Make Strides Toward Drug Therapy for Inherited Kidney Disease
Scientists have discovered that a drug that is currently available for other uses may help patients with an inherited kidney disease. The findings appeared in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Over 600,000 people in the U.S. and 12 million worldwide are affected by the inherited kidney disease known as autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD). It is one of the leading causes of renal failure in the U.S.
?Currently, no treatment exists to prevent or slow cyst formation, and most ADPKD patients require kidney transplants or lifelong dialysis for survival,? said Thomas Weimbs, associate professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, and in the Neuroscience Research Institute.
Weimbs and his team found that the drug Leflunomide, which is clinically approved for use in rheumatoid arthritis, is also highly effective in reducing kidney cyst growth in a mouse model of ADPKD.
Scientist to Blog From Antactica
Armchair scientists can get a feel for conducting research in Antarctica ? as it?s happening ? thanks to John Cottle.
The assistant professor of earth science spends several months each year in the mountains of Asia and Antarctica. Last month, he and his research team of graduate students embarked on a two-month expedition through the TransAntarctic Mountains. They will provide information over the course of their scientific explorations via a blog he created just for this trip.
The research team is focusing on the dynamics of rocks found in the subduction zone preserved in the TransAntarctic Mountains.
Cottle, who also does extensive research in the Himalayas, sees the blog as a chance to provide insight into what he does as a scientist, as well as how he does it.
?When I talk to [friends in Santa Barbara] about Antarctica, there?s an inherent curiosity about what happens when you go down there,? he said. ?What is it like? I really wanted to use this as a mechanism to increase people?s understanding of what we do when we are there.?
Flower Petals Reveal Evolution at the Cellular Level
A new study of flower petals shows evolution in action, and contradicts more than 60 years of scientific thought. The findings appeared in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
According to Scott A. Hodges, a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, and a research team from Harvard University, Columbine flowers, known as Aquilegia, evolved several lengths of petal spurs that match the tongue lengths of their pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds, and hawkmoths. The petal spurs are shaped like a tubular pocket and contain nectar at the tip.
The research team discovered that longer spurs result from the lengthening of the cells in one direction, called anisotropy, and not from an increased number of cells. This finding contradicts decades of scientific thinking that assumed the elongated petals formed via continued cell divisions.
English Scholar Studies Global Icons
In her new book, Global Icons ? Apertures to the Popular (Duke University Press, 2011), Bishnupriya Ghosh, professor of English, examines how Mother Theresa, the bandit queen-turned-Parliament-member Phoolan Devi, and author and activist Arundhati Roy rose to the stature of global icons ? highly visible public figures capable of galvanizing intense affect and, sometimes, even catalyzing social change.
Ghosh develops a materialist theory of global iconicity, taking into account the motional and sensory responses that these iconic figures elicit, the globalized mass media through which their images and life stories travel, and the multiple modernities within which they are interpreted. The collective aspirations embodied in figures such as Barack Obama, Eva Perón, and Princess Diana demonstrate that Ghosh?s theory applies not just in South Asia but around the world.
Ghosh is also affiliated faculty in the Departments of Film and Media Studies, Comparative Literature, and Feminist Studies.
For more information on these and other research developments, visit www.ucsb.edu.