Robert Provine, Psychology, in Slate

Robert ProvineAn article published March 25 in the online magazine Slate examines the factors that cause humans to laugh. The story cites the work and research of Psychology Professor Robert Provine that helps explain why humans laugh.

“For his book, Laughter: A Scientific Investigation, Provine engaged in what he called ‘sidewalk neuroscience,’ tracking and observing real-world laughter,” the article states.

The authors write that Provine’s research helps illustrate the reasons human laugh usually aren’t in response to something that is humorous.

“Provine discovered that the laughter of our everyday lives isn’t for the most part in response to anything resembling jokes,” the authors note. “Instead, most of it occurs in conversations that, out of context, don’t seem funny at all. Provine’s discoveries suggest that laughter is inherently social, that at its core it’s a form of communication and not just a byproduct of finding something funny.”

To read the full article in Slate, click here. Provine was also interviewed about the same topic on “The Arlene Bynon Show” on Sirius XM radio. Additional coverage can be found on by clicking here.

Liz Walton, Dance, in Washington Post and New York Times

liz2Two articles — which included interviews with Liz Walton, dance –were featured in the Washington Post and New York Times last week. The pieces, focused predominately around the history, success and upcoming reunion of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, featured discussions with Paul Taylor alumni, including Liz Walton on her involvement in the company during the 1950′s and 60′s.

Read the interviews, “A family reunion with the Paul Taylor Dance Company” and “Institutional Memory Onstage: Paul Taylor Alumni Return for 60th Anniversary Celebration”

Nicole King and Michelle Stefano, American Studies, in City Paper

In their second article in a series of essays for the “City Folk” section in City Paper, American Studies Assistant Professor Nicole King and Folklorist in Residence Michelle Stefano profile Courtney Speed, a cosmetologist and community leader. The essay, titled, “Days of their lives,” was published March 26.

The article focuses on Speed and her devotion to Turner Station, a neighborhood at the tip of Dundalk in Baltimore County where she has lived since the 1960s. King and Stefano describe Speed’s time working at a barbershop that her husband owned, and later opening the Thomas and Martha Allmond Economic Development Center which trains young people and adults with special needs to run a business. It also serves as an incubator for the Henrietta Lacks Museum.

King and Stefano write that Speed worries about the Turner Station community changing due to developers taking over the neighborhood: “Speed would love to see Turner Station remain the utopian community she recalls from its heyday,” the authors write.

You can read the full essay in City Paper here.

George Derek Musgrove, History, in The Washington Post

Derek MusgroveA recent Washington Post column explores the possibility of District Mayor Vincent Gray being indicted on federal criminal charges while running for reelection. Gray has said he wouldn’t resign if the charges were brought and would defend himself at trial.

George Derek Musgrove ’97, history, assistant professor of history, was interviewed for the column and offered his perspective on what a trial would mean for Gray if he were to continue governing.

A trial “would be horrible — it would just be a magnification of the current situation,” Musgrove said. He added such a spectacle would hurt the city’s relations with Congress and hamper Gray’s performance.

Musgrove is currently writing a book about race and democracy in the District. To read the full column in The Washington Post, click here.

Dennis Coates, Economics, on Econ Journal Watch

Economics Professor Dennis Coates was recently a guest on an Econ Journal Watch podcast discussing his research that found economists mostly frown on government subsidies for professional sports franchises, facilities and events. He was a guest on the program with Brad Humphreys, an associate professor of economics at the University of Alberta.

During the interview, Coates commented on claims that sports stadiums bring economic benefits and prosperity to cities and their immediate metropolitan areas.

“The evidence is that they are minimal at best, and may in fact even be negative,” Coates said. “We think of tangible benefits as job creation and income growth, and any benefits that occur, they occur in a form that is not job creation or income growth or tax revenue growth.”

To listen to the full podcast on Econ Journal Watch and for more on the research by Coates and Humphreys, click here.

Jason Schiffman, Psychology, in The Baltimore Sun

Jason SchiffmanJason Schiffman, an associate professor of psychology, and his team of researchers are leading a study this spring to increase awareness of mental illness and break down the stigma that often prevents those with symptoms from getting the help they need. Their work was featured in an article published March 21 in The Baltimore Sun.

“Many of the folks who need help get lost somehow,” Schiffman said. “”There are so many kids and young adults who slip through the cracks.”

The article details the work behind the study, which will have participants listen to a tape that simulates the voices that those with psychosis hear as they go about their routines, and watch a video in which UMBC students talk about their personal experiences with mental illness.

The research study is part of the overall work Schiffman and his team are doing as part of the Center for Excellence on Early Intervention for Serious Mental Illness, a collaborative effort among the University of Maryland School of Medicine, the university’s Medical Center and UMBC to identify and treat mental illness in young people.

Danielle Denenny and Eryn Bentley, two graduate students working as part of Schiffman’s research team, are also quoted in The Baltimore Sun article titled, “UMBC study among efforts to increase awareness of mental illness.” To read the full story, click here.

Brian Grodsky, Political Science, Op-Ed in Al Jazeera America

As Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a bill that completes Russia’s annexation of Crimea, nearby Poland is keeping a watchful eye on the developing situation.

Brian Grodsky

Brian Grodsky, an associate professor of political science, wrote an op-ed for Al Jazeera America that explores Polish perspective on the most recent developments. Grodsky is currently a visiting professor at the University of Warsaw, where he teaches classes on democratization and comparative politics. 

“Poles are watching the latest developments in their next-door neighbor with a mix of quiet anxiety and resignation,” Grodsky writes in his column titled, “Poles jittery over Russia’s expansion.” In the article, Grodsky argues Poland has cause for concern.

“For starters, Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine. Securing Kiev, the source of the problems in Ukraine, would be a logical and easy next step for him. Putin has also warned “meddlers” farther west, including Poland and Lithuania, that they are under watch,” he writes.

Grodsky adds, “the West’s halfhearted reaction to Russia’s takeover of Crimea has made it clear to a growing number of Poles that they will be, at the end of the day, largely on their own in the face of a Russian threat.”

To read the full column in Al Jazeera Americaclick here.

Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy, Op-Ed in Fox News Latino

In an op-ed on the Puerto Rican debt crisis published March 20 in Fox News LatinoPublic Policy Ph.D. student Justin Vélez-Hagan argues default will be inevitable as a more than $1 billion deficit is expected to round out the current fiscal year. Vélez-Hagan is also executive director of the National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce.

“Puerto Rico’s well-known dependency on credit first made public waves when every credit-rating agency gave Puerto Rico a vote of no confidence last month, citing major liquidity concerns as the biggest culprit for the downgrades,” Vélez-Hagan writes.

To dig itself out of the debt crisis, Vélez-Hagan adds: “[Puerto Rico] has to shed its fat by yanking off the fiscal Band-Aid and restructuring its debt. Speculators will suffer the most, and may have the loudest complaints, but after the initial shock Puerto Rico will finally have the chance to break its cycle of deficit-spending and will only then have another opportunity to make the right decisions that ensure long-term economic prosperity.”

You can read the full column in Fox News Latino here.

Meredith Oyen, History, on CNBC News Website

Meredith OyenMeredith Oyen, an assistant professor of history, is quoted in a CNBC News article about the five-man alternative rock band from Taiwan known as Mayday that is set to kick off a tour in the United States this month.

In the article, Oyen says music groups like Mayday are beginning to become more popular in countries around the world: “Mayday is starting to challenge the assumption that English-speaking pop stars are global stars, and Chinese-speaking acts are only regional ones,” she said.

Oyen is currently in China serving on a Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (Beijing) external evaluation panel to evaluate U.S. history courses taught at several Chinese universities. As part of the trip, she gave a lecture at Minjiang University called “The Meeting of Minds: Academic Exchanges in US-Chinese Relations.”

To read the full CNBC article that Oyen is quoted in, click here.

Judah Ronch, Erickson School, in The Baltimore Beacon

Judah RonchAn article published in the April 2014 edition of The Baltimore Beacon newspaper examines the current view of retirement and how it looks much different today than it has in the past.

Erickson School Dean Judah Ronch is quoted extensively in the article and comments on how people are living longer and healthier lives due to less demanding work environments and better healthcare.

“We have more vigor and more energy than our parents and grandparents did,” Ronch said. “As a result, we don’t feel the need – or the desire – to view retirement as a life of total leisure. Many of us still want to contribute, whether it’s using our skills in new ways, or developing new areas of expertise and new careers altogether.”

In the past, retirees would keep busy through volunteer work, but Ronch said that is one of the many aspects of retirement that is changing.

“Baby boomers are used to being compensated for their time,” he said. “We may still want to work and earn money, but perhaps in a less competitive environment.”

To read the full article titled, “Retirees are hardly retiring,” click here (Ronch is quoted extensively on page 24).