Thomas Schaller, Political Science, Op-Ed in the Baltimore Sun, in the Daily Beast

Tom SchallerIn his latest column in the Baltimore Sun, Political Science Professor and Chair Thomas Schaller wrote about his views on what he notes as recent systemic manufacturing of distorted news stories. He described the Benghazi investigation, the IRS controversy, ACORN, and Shirley Sherrod as recent examples that have been prevalent in the national conversation. To read Schaller’s full column, click here.

Schaller was also quoted in a December 5 article in the Daily Beast in which he commented on Republican control of state legislatures and Congressional delegations in the South. To read the full article, click here.

Dennis Coates, Economics, in Capital New York

Dennis CoatesIn a recent article published in Capital New York, Economics Professor Dennis Coates discussed the economic impact of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, home to the New Jersey Nets. The article described how businesses within and immediately surrounding Barclays have been benefiting from the Nets recent move from North Jersey to Brooklyn, but Coates described how it’s unclear that the arena’s impact on business is a sign of economic growth.

“Did people not eat dinner before the Barclays Center?” said Coates. “Did they not go out to restaurants before the Barclays Center? They did, just not there.”

He added, “if the eating and drinking happens inside the stadium instead of outside, you’re taking money from moderate income business and giving to wealthy owners. If you think that’s a good idea, you’re going to be happy with the outcome.”

To read the full article titled “The Barclays effect,” click here.

Roy Meyers, Political Science, in USA Today

Roy Meyers (UMBC)Political Science Professor Roy Meyers was quoted in a recent USA Today article that analyzes a federal budget action in which the Obama administration moved nearly $4 million in health insurance subsidy payments from one Treasury account to another. The budget director described the transfer as a way to improve efficiency. In response, the House of Representatives filed a lawsuit last month calling for part of the Affordable Care Act to be struck down.

Meyers was asked about the move by then Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell: “The Burwell change of the accounts is a very interesting strategy, and one that’s been used before, but I don’t know if it’s legal,” said Meyers, who studies the federal budget process.

Meyers was recently inducted as a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow. To read more, click here. To read the full article in USA Today, click here.

Christopher Swan, Geography and Environmental Systems, in the New York Times

Chris SwanChristopher Swan, an associate professor of geography and environmental systems, was quoted in a recent New York Times article about an urban ecology study that found millions of tiny insects are consuming the equivalent of 60,000 frankfurters a year in Manhattan. The study concluded that street litter and discarded food is a major source of food for rats and other pests.

In the article, Swan discussed the need for more urban ecology studies and how the recent study like the one conducted in New York City could serve as an example of how such research could be performed in the future.

“We don’t see studies like this in urban places,” he said. “The environment in a city is performing a function. In this case, it turns out that arthropods are removing refuse. Studies like this have to happen, and this is a pretty good one.”

To read the full article “Bugs in Manhattan Compete with Rats for Food Refuse,” click here.

Robert Provine, Psychology, in Mashable

Robert Provine“Although our laughter may be as distinctive as our speech, laughter is not infinitely variable. If we all laughed differently, we could not identify a vocalization as laughter,” said Psychology Research Professor and Professor Emeritus Robert Provine in a recent Mashable article.

The article, published December 1, examines why people have different laughs. Provine, who is author of Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccuping and Beyond, said “most classical laughs have a short, harmonic blast (‘ha’) of about one-fifteenth of a second duration, that repeats every one-fifth of a second. It’s hard to laugh in any other way. Try it. The result doesn’t sound very much like a laugh — at least not a convincing one.”

He adds, “linguists, psychologists and philosophers often have trouble dealing with such primal vocalizations, treating laughter as if it’s speech. Laughter — and crying — have more in common with the barking of a dog than speech.”

To read the full article titled “Why do people have different laughs?” click here.

Kate Brown, History, Named to Physics World 2014 Books of the Year List

History Professor Kate Brown has been named to the Physics World 2014 Books of the Year list for her book Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford University Press, 2013). Physics World is a publication issued by the United Kingdom’s Institute of Physics. Below is an excerpt describing the process for selecting the ten best books of the year:


“As in previous years, the entries on our ‘Book of the Year’ shortlist are all well written, novel and scientifically interesting for a physics audience. They represent the best of the 57 books that Physics World reviewed in 2014, being highly commended by external experts (the diverse group of professional physicists and freelance science writers who review books for the magazine) and by members of our own editorial staff, who helped winnow the field down to a shortlist of 10.”

In a blog post announcing the finalists, Physics World provided the following description for Brown’s book:

“This hard-hitting look at life in the ‘atomic cities’ that produced plutonium for the US and Soviet nuclear arsenals during the Cold War will make compelling reading for many physicists. Those who have a professional interest in radiation safety or the nuclear industry will have special reason to be outraged by the long list of environmental crimes described in Kate Brown’s important book, which also featured in a Physics World podcast earlier this year.”

The winner of the physics book of the year will be announced in a podcast on December 16. For more information, click here. The honor was the latest in a series of awards that Brown has received for Plutopia.

Films by Vin Grabill, Visual Arts, at the Guggenheim Museum

Piene-Image-1-205Three films by Vin Grabill, associate professor and chair of Visual Arts, will be featured this month at the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Produced in 1982, 1986, and 2010, the films — Otto Piene’s Sky Art, Otto Piene’s Sky Art Neon Rainbow, and Sky Kiss at Desert Sun/Desert Moon — will be screened as part of the “Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s-60s Film Program” and will play daily at 3 pm, December 5 – 30. “These programs featuring artist documentaries provide an expanded look at the ZERO network and the processes that the artists employed,” states the Guggenheim.

The subject of the films, Otto Piene, was one of the founding members of Group Zero, “an international network of artists that shared the group’s aspiration to redefine and transform art in the aftermath of World War II,” and was the recipient in 1995 of an honorary doctorate from UMBC.

Complete information about the screenings can be found here.