Robert Provine, Psychology, in Time

On November 19, an article published in Time examined laughter and if it really has any health benefits. Psychology Research Professor/Professor Emeritus Robert Provine was interviewed for the article and commented on the complexity of laughter’s health benefits. Below is an excerpt from the article:

Robert Provine

Provine calls himself a “reserved optimist” when it comes to laughter’s health-bolstering properties. “One of the challenges of studying laughter is that there are so many things that trigger it,” Provine explains. For example, you’re 30 times more likely to laugh around other people than when you are by yourself, he says. Social relationships and companionship have been tied to numerous health benefits. And so the social component of laughter may play a big part in its healthful attributes, Provine adds.

Here’s why that matters: If you’re going to tell people they should laugh to improve their health, there may be a big difference between guffawing on your own without provocation, watching a funny YouTube clip or meeting up with friends who make you laugh, Provine says.

“That doesn’t mean the benefits aren’t real,” he adds. “But it may not be accurate to credit laughter alone with all these superpowers.”

To read the complete article, click here.

Russian Culture and Couture: An Evening of Russian Song, Cuisine, and Fashion (12/7)

Russian eventOn Sunday, December 7 from 5-8 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom, the UMBC Russian Club will present, “Russian Culture and Couture Hosted at UMBC: An Evening of Russian Song, Cuisine, and Fashion.” The event is supported by the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics, and Intercultural Communication; The Embassy of the Russian Federation, Washington,  D.C.; The Russian Center for Science and Culture in Washington, D.C.; and

“In these times of strained Russian American diplomacy,” says UMBC Lecturer Vira Zhdanovych, “we are happy to take the opportunity to promote cross-cultural understanding through Russian song, cuisine, conversation, and high fashion.”

Headlining the evening will be renowned Russian designer Evgenia Luzhina-Salazar. Guests will view professionally modeled highlights from Luzhina-Salazar’s collections. Music will include performances by the UMBC Russian Chorus, with Vira Zhdanovych as soloist. Award-winning musician Artem Starchenko and vocalist Victoria Sukhareva will perform traditional Russian selections. Guests will also enjoy performances by the folk group Lada and The Metaphor Academic Center for Russian Language and Culture. Traditional Russian food will be provided by Europe Restaurant and Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Admission is free and seating is limited to 300. Advanced tickets are required. For more information, contact Elena Volosina at

Humanities Forum: Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea (12/2)

Sherman's MarchOn Tuesday, December 2 at 4:00 p.m., UMBC professors Anne Rubin and Kelley Bell will present the Humanities Forum, “Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea.” The event will take place in the Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery.

Rubin, an associate professor of history, and Bell, an assistant professor of visual arts, will use the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s March to the Sea to discuss their collaboration on a digital project about this American Civil War event. Sherman’s March and America: Mapping Memory is an experiment in digital history that uses storytelling to introduce viewers to ideas about the intersections of place and memory. By showing the various approaches to one historical event—the 1864 March to the Sea—this project opens up questions about the stories that are told about the past.

The event is sponsored by the Dresher Center for the Humanities and by the History Department, the Imaging Research Center, and the Visual Arts Department. For more information, click here.

Center for Aging Studies Researchers Present at 2014 Gerontological Society of America National Meeting

Public Policy bldng.UMBC’s Center for Aging Studies had a strong presence at the 2014 Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting earlier this month in Washington, D.C. The conference brought together more than 4,000 leading researchers in the field of aging. The annual meeting is the premiere gathering of gerontologists from the United States and around the world. The theme of this year’s meeting was to challenge researchers to present aging-related connections and findings on alliances that improve policies and communities for older adults.

Center for Aging Studies researchers presented several papers, posters, and symposia. A complete list can be found below. Names in parentheses are researchers who are not currently affiliated with the Center. For more information on the 2014 GSA Meeting, click here.

GSA 2014 Symposia:

Implementing Autonomy into the Daily Lives of Residents with Dementia: Challenges in Assisted Living.  Symposium Chairs: Ann Christine Frankowski and Robert L. Rubinstein


Autonomy in Assisted Living: Observations of Dementia as a Complicating Factor. P.J. Doyle, G.G. Tucker, (R. Perez)

Whose Autonomy? Challenges of Integrating Persons with Dementia in Assisted Living Populations. L.A. Morgan, A.C. Frankowski,  (R.P. Perez)

Behind Locked Doors: “Free” Expression of Autonomy in Dementia Care Units. A.D. Peeples, C.R. Bennett, A.C. Frankowski

Family Involvement in Dementia Care Units:  Promoting Autonomy in Everyday Life. A.C. Frankowski, C.R. Bennett, M.A. Brazda, G.G. Tucker, A.D. Peeples, M. Nemec, R. Hrybyk, (R. Perez)

Older Adults and Diabetes: The Social and Cultural Contexts Shaping Patients’ Illness Management.  Symposium Chairs: Sarah Chard and Kevin Eckert


Defining ‘Healthy’ on Their Own Terms: Reflections of Older Adults with Type 2 Diabetes. (A.M. Reese)

Exploring African-American Women’s Expressions of Power and Strength as a Means to Managing Diabetes. B.H. Wallace

“You’re Cured!” A Physician’s Words and Their Effects. E. Roth, L.M. Girling

Operationalizing Diabetes Self-Management: the Patient’s Perspective. S. Chard, (C. Quinn)

Connecting Researchers and Respondents: Ethical Dilemmas in Qualitative Research. Symposium Chairs: Colleen R. Bennett & Amanda D. Peeples


Ethical Concerns as a Participant Observer: Physical Safety of the Researcher and Respondent. C. R. Bennett

“I know who that is…” Confidentiality and Anonymity in Ethnographic Research. A.D. Peeples, C. R. Bennett

“I’ll be your friend for a month”: Simulated Friendships and Recruiting Informants in Assisted Living. R. Hrybyk, C. R. Bennett

Ethically Analyzing and Reporting Data: Qualitative Considerations. L.M. Girling

GSA 2014 Posters:

Perceived Barriers to Exercise in Persons with Parkinson’s Disease.  L.M. Girling, L.A. Morgan

GSA Papers:

Childlessness, Chronic Illness, and Religion in Later Life Care Needs.  (S. Hannum), H. Black

Evaluating the Rapid Emergence of Geriatric Emergency Departments (GEDs).  J. Schumacher, (J. Hirshon, E. Couser, P.D. Magidson)

Anne Rubin, History, to Appear on WYPR’s Humanities Connection, Receives Wall Street Journal Book Review

On Thursday, November 20, History Associate Professor Anne Rubin will appear on WYPR’s Humanities Connection to discuss her research and digital humanities project, “Mapping Memory: Digitizing Sherman’s March to the Sea.” The project uses digital storytelling to explore Sherman’s historic 1864 March to the Sea during the Civil War. The segment is scheduled to air at 4:45 p.m. Thursday on WYPR 88.1 FM. On December 2, Rubin will further discuss her research with Visual Arts Associate Professor Kelley Bell at the Humanities Forum at UMBC.

Through the Heart of Dixie

Earlier this year, Rubin published, Through the Heart of Dixie: Sherman’s March and American Memory (UNC Press 2014). In the book, Rubin analyzes stories and myths about Sherman’s March, one of the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War, as a lens for examining how Americans’ ways of thinking about the Civil War have changed over time.

On November 14, the Wall Street Journal published a review of Rubin’s book. Written by author Fergus M. Bordewich, he states: “Anne Sarah Rubin…offers an engrossing exploration of the ways in which the march has been recounted and understood over the years. She notes that it ‘has come to stand for devastation and destruction, fire and brimstone, war against civilians, and for the Civil War in microcosm.’”

He later adds: “Ms. Rubin is more interested in the often contradictory ways in which white and black Southerners, and Union veterans, remembered the march…In essence, there is no single story of Sherman’s March but thousands, and though the Union forces wreaked havoc on the towns in Sherman’s path, their actions do not add up to the apocalyptic barbarism that plays such a role in Lost Cause mythology. That mythology, Ms. Rubin makes clear, was crafted by the Jim Crow politics and resurgent Southern chauvinism of the post-Reconstruction period.”

To read the complete review titled, “The Path to Power,” click here (subscription required).

Performing Arts and Humanities Building Reviewed in Baltimore Business Journal

UMBC’s Performing Arts and Humanities Building received a positive review in the Baltimore Business Journal in an article published November 18. Written by Klaus Philipsen, president of ArchPlan Inc., an architectural firm in downtown Baltimore, the review describes how the building is poised to make a lasting impact: “…this state-of-the art performance venue, designed by top-level experts, will indeed let students create community. It gives UMBC — and Baltimore County — a cutting edge in the region.”

Photo by Marlayna Demond

Photo by Marlayna Demond

The author comments on specific features of the building and highlights the PAHB’s ability to house several different academic programs while providing modern facilities and spaces for performances, teaching, and research.

“The 176,000-square-foot center accommodates a diverse program ranging from classrooms for philosophers and English majors to dance and music studios, a concert hall, black box and proscenium theaters and a high-tech recording studio.” He later adds, “each theater, music room, practice studio and classroom represents perfection of its own, visually, functionally and acoustically.”

To read the complete review titled, “UMBC’s new arts building creates community,” click here.

Political Science and Public Policy Faculty Provide Additional Election Analysis

Following last week’s election, UMBC political science and public policy faculty continued to provide analysis as the final vote totals were tallied and future policy issues were discussed.

Tom SchallerPolitical Science Professor and Chair Thomas Schaller wrote a column in the Baltimore Sun in which he analyzed the results in Maryland’s gubernatorial election. He noted that Governor-Elect Larry Hogans’s victory was, “less about turnout than a conversion of the Maryland electorate.” Schaller discussed his column on WYPR’s “Midday with Dan Rodricks” (begins at 23:40) and WBAL’s “The C4 Show.”

Donald Norris UMBCPublic Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was interviewed for a Washington Post article in which he commented on how the Congressional elections will affect Maryland: “’It’s going to be a really ugly two years’ for Maryland, said Norris. In particular, he said, federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup will likely be at risk. Republicans may also do their best to blunt federal regulations governing the bay environment.”

Roy Meyers (UMBC)Political Science Professor Roy Meyers was quoted in Grist and discussed Maryland’s stormwater management fee. He stated, “there’s no way to reduce your tax burden if you come up with ways of mitigating stormwater runoff at your home.” Meaning, for example, if you install equipment in your roof that captures the rain, preventing runoff, you still have to pay the stormwater fee.

Tyson King-MeadowsTyson King-Meadows, Chair of the Africana Studies Department and Associate Professor of Political Science, was quoted in a Salt Lake Tribune article and discussed a political study in Utah that he conducted with colleagues at Brigham Young University on racial attitudes and campaign messaging.

To read and listen to complete election coverage by UMBC faculty during the week of November 10, click below.

Thomas Schaller:
Race had a role in Hogan’s win (Baltimore Sun op-ed) 
Midday with Dan Rodricks (WYPR)
The C4 Show (WBAL- audio not posted)

Donald Norris:
With new Congress, D.C. Region is Losing Clout (Washington Post)

Roy Meyers:
Was the shocking outcome of Maryland’s gubernatorial race about rain, or something else? (Grist)

Tyson King-Meadows:
Mia Love: Utahns care little about race (Salt Lake Tribune)