Sharing his philosophy
Brian Skyrms, logic & philosophy of science Distinguished Professor and winner of the 2011 Extraordinarius award, discusses the finer points of social contract theory
It's rather fitting that world-renowned philosopher Brian Skyrms occupies an office on the seventh floor of UC Irvine's Social Science Tower. The bearded professor is on a higher plane than most mortals — pondering life's deepest questions and framing complex theories about how we interact and communicate. "The theory of knowledge shouldn't be, 'Oh, how do we define knowledge?' It should be how information flows," Skyrms says. "Philosophers are supposed to think about this stuff." The Distinguished Professor of logic & philosophy of science, who joined UCI in 1980, thinks about stuff a lot. He's published seven books and more than 100 articles on the philosophy of science, causation, decision theory, game theory, and the foundations of probability. Because of his influential ideas, Skyrms has earned membership in the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He received the 1999 Lakatos Award — philosophy's most prestigious international prize — and the 2005-06 Paul H. Silverman Award and has been a Guggenheim Fellow as well as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.
Daisy Reyes, sociology graduate student, earns Outstanding Graduate Student Lauds & Laurels Award for research on roles of student clubs on college campuses
Prospects for better employment may be the common driving force behind students' college aspirations, but the key to keeping them connected and enrolled has a lot to do with peer-bonding experiences and organizational involvement, says UCI sociology graduate student Daisy Reyes. According to her research, this is particularly true for ethnic minorities. "American students learn the benefits of creating associations early in their academic experience, so it is not surprising that they organize as they strive to form collective voices and carve out communities on their campuses," says Reyes. "Although creating student associations is not unique to ethnic groups; underrepresented ethnic minorities and first-generation college-going youth find college campuses particularly unfamiliar and thus seek refuge in student groups." Reyes, who is both a Latina and first generation university student, can personally relate.
Studying health disorders at the neuron level
UCI cognitive scientist and Center for Cognitive Neuroscience director receives grant to advance basic science-level understanding of stroke, schizophrenia and stuttering
It can be heart wrenching to watch a loved one grasp for words to explain what they are thinking but literally can't say due to stroke-induced brain damage known as conduction aphasia. The disorder produces brain lesions that interfere with the neurological process that translates thought into speech, says cognitive neuroscientist Greg Hickok, and the interference is believed to occur in the brain area known as SPT – short for Sylvian parietal temporal due to its location within the Sylvian fissure. The same region, he says, provides a link to understanding why some people stutter, and why schizophrenics can misinterpret their internal thought processes as external voices. In December, Hickok received a five-year, $3.2 million renewal grant from the National Institutes of Health to support his continued research on how neural abnormalities impact speech and language abilities in stroke victims. The grant adds to the $6.1 million he has already received to make advancements in our understanding of the brain's role in speech and how abnormalities can inhibit this process.
UCI Chancellor's Professor receives grant to study health of children of Mexican immigrants
Funding provided by National Institutes of Health Child Health and Human Development Program
Frank D. Bean, sociology and economics Chancellor's Professor, is part of a collaborative UCI-Pennsylvania State University research team that has been awarded a five-year, $2.6 million grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to study the health of Mexican immigrant children. Findings from the study will be made publicly available for future studies and public policies targeted at immigrant children health. Bean, who also directs the UCI Center for Research on Immigration, Population, and Public Policy will be co-leading one of three subprojects under the grant with a $72,000 subaward, focusing primarily on obesity among the children of Mexican immigrants.
UCI Graduate Division awards grants for social sciences research
Research topics funded to advance academic understanding of issues impacting our everyday lives
Six social sciences graduate students have been recognized by the UCI Graduate Division for their research excellence. Highlighted here, their work and continued funding for it, will advance academic findings on labor unions, human rights, social movements, public policies aimed at helping the elderly, and relationships between technology and economic growth. Pictured: Heidi Nichols Haddad, political science graduate student, Brython Davis Fellowship recipient.
UCI social scientists use blogs to share research, experiences
"We can learn a lot by listening to people talk about their lives – saying whatever is important to them. This is especially true in places where there are diverse points of view - like a university campus," says UCI anthropologist and documentary photographer Frank Cancian. His latest project, a blog called Main Street UCI, is aiming to capture some of these points of view in an effort to digitize and archive firsthand accounts of life at UCI. For the less-tech savvy, Dictionary.com defines a blog as a website containing the experiences, observations and opinions of the site's writer or group of writers. In the School of Social Sciences, blogs have provided an opportunity for researchers to share experiences, thoughts and studies on a number of topics ranging from the human brain to mobile money in Haiti. Check out some of the blogs currently being hosted by UCI social sciences faculty, departments and centers. A continually growing list is being kept at www.socsci.uci.edu/ss_blogs.
On to nationals
UCI's Mock Trial performance lands team a fourth consecutive national bid
For the fourth consecutive season, UC Irvine's Mock Trial team has qualified for the National Championship Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. At the weekend's Opening Round Championship Series held in Irvine March 19-20, UCI came out on top, beating out UCLA's varsity team in the final round for the top national bid. Participants Andy Tran (sophomore, business economics) and Neil Thakore (senior, political science) received Outstanding Attorney awards, and Ana Dixit (senior, political science) received an Outstanding Witness award for her performance. The team, coached by attorney Justin Bernstein, will head to the Midwest April 15-17 where they will be among the top 48 teams competing for the Mock Trial national title.
SPOTLIGHT EVENT: Expert Speaker Series: Making Sense of Information Overload in a Digital Age
Thursday, April 14, 2011 @ 7:00 p.m.
Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway, Room 1517
How do people remember, think, make decisions and use language in an information overloaded digital age? In the final event of the 2010-11 Social Sciences Expert Speaker Series, UCI cognitive scientists Michael Lee, Lisa Pearl and Mark Steyvers will discuss how they are using cognitive models to learn what topics are most helpful and harmful for reconciliation during marriage counseling sessions; accuracy of sport competition predictions using numerous online sources; and how to detect - based on language used - when your email address has been stolen and used fraudulently.
SPOTLIGHT EVENT: Celebrate UCI
Saturday, April 16, 2011 @ 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Aldrich Park, UCI
Come Celebrate UCI! This spring event features an outdoor festival, open house and car show. Wayzgoose, UCI's oldest tradition, is a student run festival in Aldrich Park filled with live entertainment, food, games and rides for UCI and the community. Many offices and services will be open and available with information for everyone - especially prospective students. This includes academic program information and sessions; campus, housing and recreation facilities tours; Financial Aid and Admissions; and much more.