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Welcome to the July 2014 issue of the Social Sciences eNews!

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Social Sciences
in the Media

North Africa: African migrants in the Middle East and North Africa - separate line of theorizing needed (Opinion)
Norman, allAfrica

Politics of border security hamper immigration overhaul
DeSipio, USA Today

Capital in twenty-first century China
Feng, China Spectator

Lee with Tavis Smiley
Lee, PBS

Cuba's Buena Vista Social Club on 'Adios Tour'
Fernandez, NPR, Star Tribune and The Washington Post

Can Kevin McCarthy make a difference on immigration reform?
DeSipio, Southern California Public Radio

Immigrants now fear reform will never pass
DeSipio, The Arizona Republic, ABC10 News and USA Today

102 brain-based learning resources for, well, brain-based teaching
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Engineering, TeachThought

When it comes to numbers, culture counts
Sarnecka, Imperial Valley News

BMW's mini, beloved by China's women, targets male driver
Feng, Bloomberg and The Washington Post

When it comes to numbers, culture counts
Sarnecka, Phys.org

The problem with a culture of excellence
Lee, Pacific Standard

Optimism grows for startups
Neumark, The Wall Street Journal

IMF To US: Raise the minimum wage
Neumark, The Daily Caller

Immigration reform died with Cantor's defeat, analysts say
DeSipio, AZ Central

Mass. poised to be pacesetter for minimum wage
Neumark, The Boston Globe

Amodei: Cantor loss won't stop immigration reform
DeSipio, Reno Gazette-Journal

UCI study links robots, rats
Krichmar, Orange County Business Journal

Assessing what is cultural about Asian Americans' academic advantage
Lee, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

The winners and losers of raising the minimum wage
Neumark, St. Louis Public Radio

Soon, robots will take human-like decisions
Krichmar, Business Insider India

Neurotic robots fall apart when asked to act human
Krichmar, Examiner.com

Where's the beef?
Fiala, Isla Earth

Neurotic robots act more human
Krichmar, Discovery, The South Asian Times, The Economic Times, The Hindu Business Line and French Tribune

Despite demographics, Riverside County board remains homogenous
DeSipio, Bloomberg Businessweek

Vodka-spiked oranges and tamale lessons: Irvine's lost commune
Farm School, Los Angeles Times

Hilda Solis, former Labor Chief, wins seat on powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors
DeSipio, Fox News Latino

Women drummers break barriers in Cuba percussion
Fernandez, NPR, Associated Press, Alaska Highway News, and Yahoo! Celebrity Philippines

Hilda Solis, former labor chief, now a frontrunner for powerful Los Angeles county post
DeSipio, Fox News Latino

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Commencement 2014

Social sciences major Jacqueline Rodriguez helps President Obama master the "Zot!"

Jacqueline Rodriguez is the first person in her family to finish college. A Hacienda Heights native, Rodriguez was selected to be the undergraduate speaker at the all campus commencement ceremony headlined by President Barack Obama at Angels Stadium on June 14. The community college transfer student received degrees in sociology and Chicano/Latino studies and will enroll in a Ph.D. program in education this fall. While at UCI, Rodriguez was a member of UC Irvine's SAGE Scholars program. She pursued and presented research through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program and was an active participant in the campus's Early Academic Outreach Program. Her speech to the crowd of more than 39,000 focused on investing in education. She credits her family and faculty mentors with giving her the support and motivation she needed to succeed in higher education. After graduation, she'll lead a summer residential program at UC Irvine for community college students and travel to her family's homeland, El Salvador.

Read on for more coverage on the campuswide commencement celebration and photos from the school's ceremonies...

UCI cognitive scientist uses crowdsourcing to predict World Cup outcome

Algorithms use Ranker data to predict host country Brazil as 2014 soccer champs

Millions of soccer fans around the globe watched in shock as World Cup defending champion Spain was knocked out of the running for a repeat title by losing to the Netherlands and Chile. But UC Irvine cognitive scientist Michael Lee wasn't surprised. He says the team to beat is host country Brazil and he bases this call on his "wisdom of the crowd" modeling skills. He has put those skills to work in partnership with Ranker – a website that solicits crowd opinions – to predict the outcome of the World Cup. "The World Cup tournament structure places strong constraints on possible outcomes – something a good prediction should follow," says Lee. Together with Ravi Selker, a visiting graduate student from the University of Amsterdam, and Ravi Iyer, chief data scientist from Ranker, Lee created algorithms to aggregate and analyze different types of rankings provided by the site's users, as well as the tournament structure, in order to arrive at their prediction.

Read on...

Soc sci alumni honored by San Diego County Bar Association

Bermudez, '98, Kanter, '00, recognized for service

UCI political science alumni Nadia Bermudez, '98, and Rebecca Kanter, '00, were recently honored by the San Diego County Bar Association with 2014 service awards. Bermudez was named the recipient of the association's Diversity Award, recognizing her commitment to promote and encourage diversity in the legal profession. Kanter received the Public Attorney Award in recognition of her excellence in the practice of law with service to the community, profession, association and legal education. Bermudez is a partner of Garcia, Hernández, Sawhney & Bermudez LLP in San Diego and her practice focuses on employment litigation, counseling and general business litigation. Kanter is an assistant U.S. Attorney in San Diego, a criminal prosecutor and an active community volunteer for causes ranging from the environment to the arts. The two received their awards April 30 at the association's annual Law Week Luncheon & Celebration of Community Service at the Westin San Diego.

Read on...

Brueckner edits special issue of Economics of Transportation

Journal features studies on airlines and airports

Check out the special issue of Economics of Transportation for a series of articles on airlines and airports, edited by UC Irvine economics professor Jan Brueckner. Brueckner is an expert on airline pricing policy, mergers and their impact on consumers. He also specializes in urban finance and housing research. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and was a Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before coming to UC Irvine in 2005. He is currently the chair of the economics department.

Read on...

More positive press for Myth of Mirror Neurons

Book by UCI cognitive scientist refutes role of so-called mirror neurons in human cognition

The Myth of Mirror Neurons by Gregory Hickok, UCI cognitive sciences professor, is getting more positive press. It's featured in the July issue of Booklist Magazine and Kirkus Review, available now online. In May, the book received a positive review in Publisher's Weekly. The Myth of Mirror Neurons: The Real Neuroscience of Communication and Cognition uses scientific data and literature review to refute claims made about these brain cells' roles in everything from language and empathy to autism and schizophrenia. Drawing on a broad range of observations from work on animal behavior, modern neuroimaging, neurological disorders and more, Hickok argues that the assumptions underlying mirror neuron theory fall flat in light of the facts. He then explores alternative accounts of mirror neuron function while illuminating a host of questions about human cognition and brain function. The book will be available in August from W.W. Norton & Company.

Read on...

Capital in twenty-first century China

Wang Feng, sociology professor, on rising inequality in China, courtesy of the China Spectator

China's inequality story received only scant attention in Thomas Piketty's monumental new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Piketty drew data mostly from sources in France, Britain, the United States and, to a lesser extent, Germany, Canada, Japan, Italy and Australia. These are all countries that have large quantities of capital and long histories of capital accumulation. But now, as China is poised to become the largest economy in the world, it is also one of the countries in which inequality is rising faster than anywhere else. China could, to a large extent, define the contours of global inequality in the twenty-first century, just as Great Britain and the United States did in the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, respectively.

Read on...

Lee with Tavis Smiley

Jennifer Lee, sociology professor, discusses the erosion of affirmative action opportunities for higher education with PBS's Tavis Smiley

Lee's research projects stem from her interests in the intersection of immigration and race/ethnicity, with much of her work focused on the ways in which contemporary immigrants affect native-born Americans. She's a sociology professor at the University of California, Irvine and author of Civility in the City, co-author of The Diversity Paradox and co-editor of Asian American Youth. She's been a fellow at Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and at the University of Chicago's Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture and a Fulbright Scholar to Japan. She's also been a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.

Read on...

Who really gets the minimum wage

Economist David Neumark weighs in in Wall Street Journal op-ed

President Obama is pushing hard for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $10.10, from $7.25. State and local governments have jumped on the bandwagon. Massachusetts has passed a minimum of $11, the highest state minimum in the country, and Seattle's City Council has voted to raise the wage floor to $15 an hour over seven years; San Francisco is considering a hike to $15 too. The president and others argue that a higher minimum wage is needed to help poor and low-income families, who have suffered from stagnating wages and rising income inequality. But a higher minimum wage would do little for such families.

Read on...

North Africa: African migrants in the Middle East and North Africa - separate line of theorizing needed

Kelsey Norman, political science grad student, provides perspective in an allAfrica op-ed

States in the Middle East and North African (MENA) regions are primarily considered to be senders of migrants, despite the fact that they are also becoming countries of settlement for African migrants. This phenomenon is a direct result of the increasingly stringent border controls enacted by Western states since the end of the Cold War. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) calls these former transit states 'countries of settlement by default,' implying that the new receiving countries consider permanent or semi-permanent migration to be undesirable. Generally, destination countries - otherwise referred to as 'immigrant receiving' countries or 'traditional countries of settlement' - have been Western states.

Read on...

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