Science & Society

As scientists, my colleagues and I are often told we need to engage the general public and decision makers, to use our expertise to inform public discourse and debates and to reach a far wider audience than just our professional colleagues.

I very much believe in the importance of doing this. This is, for instance, my 25th article for The Conversation. I’ve also written scores of articles for other popular venues such as New Scientist, Natural History, Yale Environment 360, Australian Geographic, the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times, among others.

Women's magazines influence decisions to have a more 'natural' childbirth or not, with most stories in favor of epidural or potentially a Cesarean section.

Scholars writing in Women&Health decided to assess the effect of communicating the benefits of more natural birth. Kate Young, lead author from Monash University's School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, said popular media was biased towards things like epidurals even in low risk births, though the authors say it leads to preventable maternal and infant morbidity.

"We wanted to look at how women's decisions might be influenced by communicating the alternative benefits of non-medicalized birth," Young said.


A large study examined the impact of growth in Medicare's hospice benefit among nursing home residents between 2004 and 2009 and found improvement in indicators of care quality, such as less reliance on intensive care and feeding tubes, but that came with increased costs to Medicare of $6,761 per patient on average.

Early in the history of the Medicare hospice benefit, care was most likely to be provided by non-profit organizations, and that was how politicians sold the Medicare expansion to taxpayers - that hospice growth would save Medicare money by reducing expensive, aggressive end-of-life treatments such as hospital intensive care, because groups did it out of compassion. But once a lot of government money is involved, things change.


Millie Dollar sashays onto the stage in a green, feathered dress to conclude the evening’s entertainment with a sultry burlesque routine. The capacity audience at the ornate Epstein Theatre in Liverpool is enraptured by her sensual beauty.

Burlesque, she says in an interview, gives her a way of communicating through costume, routine and dance – which she does with panache. What the audience can’t see though is the hearing condition that means she must work hard to follow the beat during her glamorous routine.

As a tenured professor and mother of four young sons, I am constantly asked, “How do you do it?” What people mean is: “How can you have a full-time job and still manage child care and housework?”

I usually respond, “High-quality husband and high-quality child care, in that order.” From the outset, my husband, a full-time, clinical pharmacist, has been a committed partner in caring for our house and raising our children.

But I’ve learned that, with our equal division of housework and child care, he’s an outlier. There may be some like him, but our research group at The Ohio State University recently discovered that such husbands in dual-earner households are, indeed, rare.

According to a new paper, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the impact of Saturday morning cartoons, in particular the popular 1980s cartoon series "The Transformers", and what it did to shape children's perceptions of what behaviors are associated with effective leadership.

"The Transformers" started in 1984 with a toy line of transforming factions of alien robots fighting a civil war that spread to Earth -- the "good" Autobots, seeking peace, and the "bad" Decepticons, vying for galactic domination. The franchise has grown to include animation, comic books, video games and films, grossing more than $1 billion, whereas their competitors at the time, the Go-Bots, have been left behind.


I was recently asked to give a talk in Toronto addressing this question: “Does science belong on my plate?” The quick answer is:

“No, because Science isn’t a “thing” you can serve or eat. Science is really a verb - a process, a method, a conversation.”

A longer, better answer is:

“There is a rich history of innovation and change in the human food supply extending over millennia. More recent innovation examples that have been achieved using sound science are a continuation of that tradition. They certainly belong on our plates.”

Militant animal rights activists have forced Tübingen neuroscientist Professor Nikos Logothetis’ to announce that he will no longer do primate research.

The death threats and hostility he has received are not worth it, he said. But scientists are showing solidarity, even if it just means signing a letter and they won't be getting in the way of any bullets. In less than 48 hours more than 2,000 scientists from all over the world signed a motion by Professor Peter Thier, Chairman of the Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (CIN) at the University of Tübingen.
American Millennials may be even more sexually permissive than the 1970s generation, noted for its bisexuality and drugs and unprotected sex in a consequence-free environment.

Teen sex, premarital sex, gay sex, it's all a lot more commonly accepted than was the case 40 years ago, but Millennials haven't embraced '70s-era Swinger parties: Affairs while married are bad, according to analysis of surveys led by psychologist Jean M. Twenge of San Diego State University. 
The existence of wage gaps between genders in some occupations, from environmentalism to the White House to science academia, continues to be a hot-button topic.

Medium- and lower-wage positions get the most attention but a new paper in The American Journal of Medicine says directors of internal medicine residency programs are also paid different based on gender. And that is despite the increased percentage of women faculty in U.S. academic medicine, and that is regardless of region, program type, academic rank, general internal medicine specialty, age, or years of experience. The gap has not narrowed in the last five years