Time filter

Source Type

News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Jaqueline Jimenez looks out from the window of a building where she used to live, near Chile's port of Antofagasta (AFP Photo/Martin BERNETTI) Antofagasta (Chile) (AFP) - Black dust stains the walls of the building where Jaqueline Jimenez and her children once lived in northern Chile. In an industrial city like Antofagasta, there is perhaps nothing so unusual in that -- but Jimenez says she fears that this dust carries a poisonous burden, and that her children now bear it in their bodies. It is blown on the wind from the nearby port, where copper from the region's abundant mines is loaded and shipped across the world. Long known as a hub of production in the world's biggest miner of the red metal, Antofagasta has earned a darker distinction as Chile's cancer capital. Authorities have called for calm, insisting that heavy metals cannot be breathed in and are only poisonous if ingested. But Jimenez is not convinced. "It is not normal that everyone should be dying of cancer here," she says. "It is a death sentence for my family." Run your finger along the window sill in Jimenez's old home and it will come away black with dust that is hard to wash off. A study by the Public Health Institute identified 16 different metals in the dust. The Antofagasta Medical College said it found "arsenic, cadmium, zinc, chrome, copper, lead and manganese which far exceed Chilean norms." Jimenez lived for five years in an apartment building opposite the port terminal in the city center. Her children would play out on the roof terrace, unwittingly exposed to the dust. She says medical tests carried out by specialists abroad have confirmed that the children, now aged 10 and 20, have traces of carcinogenic heavy metals. Mining has helped raise residents' annual income in Antofagasta to nearly double the national average: some $36,000. But it is also blamed for giving the city the highest rate of lung cancer deaths: more than double the average at just under 35 per 100,000 inhabitants. Bladder and skin cancer deaths are also high. "Scientists consider that the Antofagasta area is undergoing a biological experiment in having the population exposed to such levels of contamination," the president of the Antofagasta Medical College, Aliro Bolados, told AFP. The scourge of pollution in Antofagasta goes back decades. In 1998, doctors detected dangerously high levels of lead in children living near a freight railway in the city. Further back, high levels of arsenic found in the local drinking water between 1958 and 1971 are blamed for a rise in diseases. People born during that period who are now in their forties or fifties are at high risk of cancer, says Catterina Ferreccio, deputy head of the Center for Advanced Study of Chronic Diseases, Epidemiology and Cancer. "There is a whole generation that has had all these things," she told AFP. "Despite having the highest per capita income, they have the lowest life expectancy in Chile." The arsenic threat was brought under control. Now attention is focused on the black dust blowing from the port. The port's operators, the major Chilean conglomerate Luksic, have signed a commitment to "clean production." Despite that, a court fined the company $1.3 million in October for pollution and ordered them to clean up the area. The port continues to operate. "They prefer to sacrifice Antofagasta than to stop Chile making money," said Ricardo Diaz of "This Dust Kills You," a group campaigning for the port to be moved. Authorities have called for calm, insisting that even people living nearby have been exposed to levels of heavy metals below the legal safety limits. In late 2015, hundreds of children in surrounding schools and nurseries were tested for lead in the blood. More than 99 percent of them were found to be within the safe limits, according to international recommendations. But the Antofagasta Medical College said further tests were needed. Jimenez sent samples of her children's hair abroad to have them analyzed. She says the results indicated higher levels of poisonous metals. Some experts have cast doubt on the validity of the hair tests -- but they say children's exposure to the dust should in any case be limited, due to uncertainty about what effect it could have over the long term. "There should be obligatory annual tests for children from one to six years old," the city's mayor, Karen Rojo, told AFP, "to determine the damage to the population."

News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

One of the nation's most accomplished scholars of race, inequality, and poverty will deliver a public award lecture in June at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences Los Angeles, CA (Feb. 21, 2017) SAGE Publishing and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University are pleased to announce that William Julius Wilson is the 2017 recipient of the SAGE-CASBS Award. Established in 2013, the SAGE-CASBS Award recognizes outstanding achievement in the behavioral and social sciences that advance our understanding of pressing social issues. It underscores the role of the social and behavioral sciences in enriching and enhancing public policy and good governance. Past winners of the award include psychologist and Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, sociologist and education rights activist Pedro Noguera, and political scientist and former U.S. Census Bureau director Kenneth Prewitt. Sociologist William Julius Wilson is considered one of the most influential and pathbreaking social scientists of the past half-century. He is currently the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University, and previously was the Lucy Flower University Professor and founding director of the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. Among his extensive list of publications and other accomplishments, Wilson has published three widely read, controversial, landmark works of scholarship on different dimensions of race, class, and the urban poor: The Declining Significance of Race (1978), The Truly Disadvantaged (1987), and When Work Disappears (1996). Along the way, he has earned broad respect by challenging liberal orthodoxy about causes of a permanent underclass in U.S. society as well as conservative views that attribute the state of poverty to a dependency on welfare or cultural deficiencies. As a fierce advocate of inclusive, far-reaching policy interventions at all levels, Wilson has shaped public as well as academic discourse. In 1996, he was named one of Time magazine's 25 most influential Americans. Widely read, cited, and quoted, Wilson also has appeared frequently on television, testified before Congressional committees, and served as consultant to elected officials at all levels across the country. In 2001, with former CASBS director Neil Smelser, he co-edited America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, a two-volume study of evidence of racial disparities prepared for President Bill Clinton's Advisory Board on Race. "Bill Wilson has been instrumental in defining questions, refocusing debate, pointing to answers and, ultimately, enhancing society's understanding on some of the most significant questions of our time involving race, class, poverty, and urban inequality in the United States," said SAGE founder and executive chairman Sara Miller McCune. "Moreover, he has worked tirelessly to bridge gaps among the academic, public, and policy-making spheres. His impact is undeniable." Wilson spent the 1981-82 academic year as a CASBS fellow and the preface to The Truly Disadvantaged, published five years later, credits the Center for providing space and time for "a good deal of the initial reading" for the book. As he further notes in the preface, "partly through participation in a series of stimulating seminars at the Center with some of the leading policy experts in the country, [I] developed ideas about economic and social welfare policy." Wilson later served on the CASBS Board of Trustees from 1989-2002 and as its chair from 1999-2002. "The seminal work of William Julius Wilson, so important when it first appeared, is at least as timely now," said CASBS director Margaret Levi. "Few academics have had such a significant mark on both research and policy. We at CASBS are proud to count him as a former fellow and a current friend and ally in our efforts to analyze and combat inequality and inequity." Wilson is the recipient of 46 honorary degrees. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992, he has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of education, and the British Academy. Among the honors he has received are the National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor bestowed in the United States (and only the second sociologist to receive the honor); the Talcott Parsons Prize in the Social Sciences by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize by the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; the Robert and Helen Lynd Award for Distinguished Career Achievement by the Community and Urban Section of the American Sociological Association; and the WEB Du Bois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award by the American Sociological Association. In 2012, the Inequality, Poverty, and Mobility Section of the American Sociological Association renamed its Early Career Award as the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. Driven by the belief that flourishing educational programs and engaged scholarship create healthy minds and healthy societies, SAGE Publishing is the proud funder of the award. Since its founding in 1965, SAGE has been a passionate advocate for the social and behavioral sciences. In addition to a cash prize, Wilson will deliver a lecture on June 8, 2017, at CASBS. The event will be free and open to the public with registration. CASBS and SAGE will release event details in April. Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1,000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. Our growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company's continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne. sagepublishing.com Founded in 1954, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University is renowned as a place where great minds come together to confront the problems of the day - a place where original, interdisciplinary thinking is the norm. CASBS has hosted generations of distinguished scholars and scientists who, in the spirit of collaboration, form an enduring community that advances our knowledge and changes the way we understand the world. casbs.stanford.edu

Moller A.P.,University Paris - Sud | Moller A.P.,Center for Advanced Study
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2010

Many animals have successfully adapted to human proximity, with dramatic increases in abundance as a consequence. Although such transitions imply a fitness advantage, the fitness benefits of associations between animals and humans have not been thoroughly investigated. In a comparative study of nest predation, I compared predation rates in 6874 nests of 11 species of birds with sympatric populations breeding indoors and outdoors. Mean nest predation rates were 23.5% outdoors, but only 1.0% indoors, because corvid nest predators never entered buildings. There was a negative correlation between nest predation rate and the proportion of individuals breeding indoors, implying that as species became more adapted to humans, and hence breeding indoors became more frequent, there was a significant decrease in nesting failure that translated into a difference in reproductive success due to reductions in nest predation. Finally, the difference in predation rate between outdoor and indoor nests was related to time since urbanization and number of generations since urbanization, implying that initially there was a large selection differential followed by reduced fitness differences between birds breeding outdoors and indoors due to gradual adaptation to human proximity by reproducing birds. With a high intensity of natural selection, these findings suggest that such adaptation to human proximity may only take a few hundred generations, as shown by several species that have only recently become associated with humans. © 2010 The Author.

Moller A.P.,University Paris - Sud | Moller A.P.,Center for Advanced Study
Behavioral Ecology | Year: 2010

Urbanization and domestication share features in terms of characters that are favored by selection. These include loss of fear of humans, reduced corticosterone levels, prolonged breeding seasons, and several others. Here, I test the hypothesis that urbanization results from differential colonization of urban areas by species with heterogeneous levels of fear in the ancestral rural populations, followed by a reduction in variance in fear responses with a subsequent increase in diversity of fear responses as urban populations become adapted to the urban environment. Using information on variance in flight initiation distances (FIDs) when approached by a human, I show that rural populations of birds characterized by short mean flight distances and large variances in flight distances differentially colonized urban areas. As a consequence of this urban invasion, urban populations lost variation in FID. The variance in FID was initially larger in rural than in urban populations but eventually became larger in urban populations with time since urbanization. This secondary increase in variance in FID of urban populations was associated with an increase in population density of urban populations, suggesting that as birds became adapted to urban areas, they secondarily gained variance in behavioral flexibility.

Garamszegi L.Z.,CSIC - Doñana Biological Station | Moller A.P.,CNRS Ecology, Systematic and Evolution Laboratory | Moller A.P.,Center for Advanced Study
Biological Reviews | Year: 2010

Comparative analyses aim to explain interspecific variation in phenotype among taxa. In this context, phylogenetic approaches are generally applied to control for similarity due to common descent, because such phylogenetic relationships can produce spurious similarity in phenotypes (known as phylogenetic inertia or bias). On the other hand, these analyses largely ignore potential biases due to within-species variation. Phylogenetic comparative studies inherently assume that species-specific means from intraspecific samples of modest sample size are biologically meaningful. However, within-species variation is often significant, because measurement errors, within- and between-individual variation, seasonal fluctuations, and differences among populations can all reduce the repeatability of a trait. Although simulations revealed that low repeatability can increase the type I error in a phylogenetic study, researchers only exercise great care in accounting for similarity in phenotype due to common phylogenetic descent, while problems posed by intraspecific variation are usually neglected. A meta-analysis of 194 comparative analyses all adjusting for similarity due to common phylogenetic descent revealed that only a few studies reported intraspecific repeatabilities, and hardly any considered or partially dealt with errors arising from intraspecific variation. This is intriguing, because the meta-analytic data suggest that the effect of heterogeneous sampling can be as important as phylogenetic bias, and thus they should be equally controlled in comparative studies. We provide recommendations about how to handle such effects of heterogeneous sampling. © 2010 The Author. Biological Reviews © 2010 Cambridge Philosophical Society.

Cotter S.C.,University of Cambridge | Topham E.,University of Cambridge | Price A.J.P.,University of Cambridge | Kilner R.M.,Center for Advanced Study
Ecology Letters | Year: 2010

Social immune systems comprise immune defences mounted by individuals for the benefit of others (sensuCotter & Kilner 2010a). Just as with other forms of immunity, mounting a social immune response is expected to be costly but so far these fitness costs are unknown. We measured the costs of social immunity in a sub-social burying beetle, a species in which two or more adults defend a carrion breeding resource for their young by smearing the flesh with antibacterial anal exudates. Our experiments on widowed females reveal that a bacterial challenge to the breeding resource upregulates the antibacterial activity of a female's exudates, and this subsequently reduces her lifetime reproductive success. We suggest that the costliness of social immunity is a source of evolutionary conflict between breeding adults on a carcass, and that the phoretic communities that the beetles transport between carrion may assist the beetle by offsetting these costs. © 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS.

Moller A.P.,University Paris - Sud | Moller A.P.,Center for Advanced Study
Journal of Evolutionary Biology | Year: 2010

Animals fleeing a potential predator can escape horizontally or vertically, although vertical flight is more expensive than horizontal flight. The ability to escape in three dimensions by flying animals has been hypothesized to result in greater survival and eventually slower senescence than in animals only fleeing in two dimensions. In a comparative study of flight initiation distance in 69 species of birds when approached by a human, I found that the amount of variance explained by flight initiation distance was more than four times as large for the horizontal than the vertical component of perch height when taking flight. The slope of the relationship between horizontal distance and flight initiation distance (horizontal slope) increased with increasing body mass across species, whereas the slope of the relationship between vertical distance and flight initiation distance (vertical slope) decreased with increasing body mass. Therefore, there was a negative relationship between horizontal and vertical slope, although this negative relationship was significantly less steep than expected for a perfect trade-off. The horizontal slope decreased with increasing density of the habitat from grassland over shrub to forest, whereas that was not the case for the vertical slope. Adult survival rate increased and rate of senescence (longevity adjusted for survival rate, body mass and sampling effort) decreased with increasing vertical, but not with horizontal slope, consistent with the prediction that vertical escape indeed provides a means of reducing the impact of predation. © 2010 The Author. Journal Compilation © 2010 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-SICA | Phase: HEALTH-2007-3.5-2 | Award Amount: 3.85M | Year: 2009

In much of Asia, households are liable for large out-of-pocket payments when they use health services. As a result, many fail to seek care or get inadequate care, while others seek care but end up in financial difficulty. Expanding insurance is one obvious policy solution, but private and community-based insurance schemes have rarely been successful, and social insurance schemes have struggled with the problem of covering the informal sector and the poor; some countries as a result have resorted to a predominantly tax-financed health system. But demand-side factors are only one part of the problem. The cost of health care itself is often unnecessarily high because of weak supply-side incentives. Limited controls on provider prices and type of care delivered can mean that the insured simply end up with higher-priced care. A first strand of the project examines how, in six Asian countries (Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam), price and other barriers impede use of health care, and result in inequalities in use. It also looks at how households cope with health shocks, and whether they are able to prevent health expenditures and income losses associated with illness from causing sudden and potentially impoverishing drops in consumption. A second strand evaluates the impact of a variety of programs that aim at promoting health care use (especially among the poor), enhance quality and contain costs, and hence help ensure that households are protected from the financial consequences of health shocks. The project builds on successful previous collaborations, but has several innovative features: a focus on the causes of inequity and lack of financial protection, and the impact of programs on both; a mix of cross-country comparative work and in-depth country-specific work; a mix of academic researchers and policy analysts; and an equal emphasis on dissemination to researchers, policymakers and the international development community.

In a time of increased concern about how minorities are treated by police, teachers, and other authorities, it is critical to examine whether students of color have experiences in school that lead to mistrust of authorities and what the long-term implications are for young people. In a new set of longitudinal studies, minority youth perceived and experienced more biased treatment and lost more trust over the middle school years than their White peers. Minority students' growing lack of trust in turn predicted whether they acted out in school and even whether they made it to college years later. The research, which appears in the journal Child Development, was conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, Columbia University, and Stanford University. "The end of seventh grade seems to be a period for developing trust in institutions like school," explains David S. Yeager, assistant professor of developmental psychology at the University of Texas at Austin, who led the study. "When adolescents see that school rules aren't fair to people who look like them, they lose trust and then disengage. But it doesn't have to be this way; teachers have an opportunity to earn minority students' trust, and this helps students do better in middle school and beyond." Researchers examined students' perceptions of the fairness of their teachers in middle school and how these perceptions related to whether they were disciplined in school and whether they eventually attended a four-year college. Data were drawn from an eight-year study, conducted two years in a row at the same school, that tracked students in the northeast region of the United States from sixth grade until college entry. In one part of the study, researchers surveyed 277 White and African American students twice yearly; about a fifth of the students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of poverty. In a followup part of the study, they surveyed 206 White and Latino students from Colorado twice yearly; most of the students were from working-class families and these students have not been followed through college entry. Researchers assessed trust by asking the students to complete surveys that featured questions such as "I am treated fairly by teachers and other adults at my school" and "Students in my racial group are treated fairly by teachers and other adults at [my] middle school." Students were also asked questions that examined their perceptions of how minority students were treated, such as "If a Black or White student is alone in the hallway during class time, which one would a teacher ask for a hall pass?" Academic achievement was assessed from school records (including grade point averages in core classes); disciplinary incidents were also determined from school records. In the first study, researchers found that African American students reported more racial disparities than White students in decisions involving school discipline. School records confirmed this: Only minorities were disciplined for defiance and disobedience, not White students. This suggests the possibility of bias: When teachers have to make a judgment call, minority students may be more likely to be disciplined than their White peers. Minority students notice this, Yeager says, and it undermines their trust in school. Every semester in middle school, African American students became more aware of this bias and lost trust. By seventh grade, this loss of trust made African American students more likely to get in trouble in school and defy school rules, even if before losing trust, they had never been in trouble and had made good grades. African American students who lost trust in school in seventh grade were then less likely to make it to a four-year college six years later. A similar pattern was found among Latino students in the second study. The more semesters students spent in middle school, the more they came to distrust that their teachers were fair. But this pattern doesn't have to be inevitable, the authors point out. The research also featured a pilot randomized experiment, which was built into the study and designed to serve as an antidote to students' mistrust of staff in school settings. Building on pioneering research by Geoffrey Cohen at Stanford University on "wise" critical feedback, researchers randomly assigned a group of 88 seventh grade social studies students (White and African American) to receive a single display of respect from their teachers (who were White): a hand-written note on a first-draft essay encouraging them to meet a higher standard and implying that the teacher believed in them as they tried to do so. African American students who received these notes had fewer disciplinary incidents over the entire next year and were more likely to be enrolled in college six years later. "Youth of color enter middle school aware that majority groups could view them stereotypically," notes Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, associate professor of psychology at Columbia University, who coauthored the study. "But when teachers surprise them with an early experience that conveys that they are not being seen in terms of stereotypes, but rather respected, it creates trust and may set in motion a positive cycle of expectations." In this study, neither trust nor receiving the intervention predicted subsequent college entrance for White students as it did for minority students. The authors suggest that for students with group-based advantages, such as majority-group students who are more positively stereotyped and overrepresented, a loss of trust or a poor relationship with a teacher might be only a temporary setback. The study can inform educational policy and practice. The researchers caution that the one-time note is not an intervention that is ready for wide-scale use. Instead, they say, it highlights that teachers can work more systematically to create a classroom climate that boosts the trust of students who may have to contend with discrimination. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the W. T. Grant Foundation, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and was supported by the Mindset Scholars Network . The Society for Research in Child Development will hold its Biennial Meeting in Austin, Texas, April 6-8, 2017. Members of the media are encouraged to attend to hear presentations on the latest research. Those journalists interested in learning more about this year's conference, or obtaining a press pass, should contact hklein@srcd.org. Conference attendance is free for qualified press with advanced registration. Summarized from Child Development, Loss of Institutional Trust Among Racial and Ethnic Minority Adolescents: A Consequence of Procedural Injustice and a Cause of Lifespan Outcomes by Yeager, DS (University of Texas at Austin), Purdie-Vaughns, V (Columbia University), Hooper, SY (University of Texas at Austin), and Cohen, GL (Stanford University). Copyright 2017 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved.

News Article | February 24, 2017
Site: www.futurity.org

New research lends evidence to the idea that children learn the ability to understand basic grammar early in language development, rather than possessing it innately. Matthew Frank, associate professor of psychology at Stanford University, analyzed toddlers’ early language and found that rule-based grammatical knowledge emerges gradually with a significant increase around the age of 24 months. The new study in Psychological Science also points out the need to gather more data that track children’s speech over time, which would help make future research more precise. “The ability of humans to acquire and use language is a big difference between us and other species, and it’s also one of the biggest scientific puzzles out there,” says Frank, who coauthored the study. “Studying language acquisition in children is one way for us to try to find out what makes us human.” Previous research has shown that children use articles, such as “a” and “the,” early and in an overwhelmingly correct way. But, Frank says, it is difficult to sort out whether children are just imitating adults or if they actually understand that articles should be used before nouns like “dog” or “ball”—and can use them appropriately with new nouns that are unknown to them. To address that difficulty, the team created a new statistical model to measure changes in a child’s grammar over time. The model relies on Bayesian inference, a method that helps estimate the level of certainty in results. In addition, it takes into account the relationship between what the child says and what the child has heard from adults, separating imitation from generalization. Researchers applied this model on data sets available for 27 toddlers and found that rule-based grammatical knowledge in their speech wasn’t constant and was more present in older children. Frank says the statistical model they used allowed them to not only analyze children’s language but also stay away from overly confident interpretations when there was too little data for a particular child. The study underscored the fact that data on language development in children under two years old is lacking. To characterize children’s initial level of grammar use, Frank says, it’s critical for scientists to have a sophisticated analytical model as well as consistent recordings that start from the time children begin talking. According to Frank, the current lack of data and the analytical challenges it presents have led to researchers on opposite sides of the grammar debate to draw contradictory conclusions. For instance, two studies published in peer-reviewed journals in 2013 used similar data sets, but one inferred that grammatical knowledge is innate while the other concluded that grammar is a learned skill. “People have very strong feelings about the question of innateness versus learning,” Frank says. “We really didn’t know what to expect because there were these conflicting reports out there.” The team hopes that its statistical model, together with new data sets, will help move the debate forward. To help increase the pool of data, Frank and his colleagues are building an online database called Wordbank. The site aims to spur the gathering of data on children’s vocabulary and early language development and encourages researchers to share their data with different institutions and universities. Frank is also collaborating on a smartphone app for collecting early vocabulary data from parents. “It’s going to take a tremendous amount of data to study this problem and build enough evidence for how children learn language,” Frank says. “We’re hoping that once we have those data, we can get a clearer picture of children’s early learning.” Additional coauthors of this study are from the University of California, Berkeley; Stanford and the MIT Media Lab; and MIT. The National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences supported the work.

Loading Center for Advanced Study collaborators
Loading Center for Advanced Study collaborators