CAS has Lots of Science Underway

Posted on: April 16, 2013

MSU Science FestivalWritten by Whitten

Michigan State University is in the middle of its first campus-wide Science Festival which runs through Sunday, April 21. While our students' amazing, award-winning creative work is showcased throughout the corridors of our building, the college is also internationally respected for its outstanding science and research.

Just this week we learned that Communication and Media and Information(TISM) professor Joe Walther won the prestigious 2013 International Communication Association (ICA) Steven H. Chaffee Career Achievement Award. The award "acknowledges sustained and coherent work on a well-focused communication problem central to the communication discipline" and "must have comprised multiple projects and publications and generated second-generation work among students and other scholars." Join me in congratulating Joe, who is in Amsterdam at this time doing social media research as a Fulbright Scholar.

Additionally, the ICA is also awarding the 2013 Applied Research Award to associate dean of graduate studies Kami Silk, director of the Health and Risk Communication Center and communication professor Sandi Smith, and our beloved former chair of the Department of Communication Charles Atkin. This award "honors a scholar or group of scholars who have produced a systematic and outstanding body of research that addresses a significant communication problem…" We are so fortunate to have such an outstanding team of researchers working on internationally relevant health and risk-related communication problems, as well as mentoring our graduate and Ph.D. students here at CAS.

Coming up this week and featured in the MSU Science Festival agenda of events is the annual Brandt Lecture hosted by the department of Advertising and Public Relations, as well as two TISM video game demonstrations for children. This year's Brandt Lecture will feature Rob Gould, Executive VP of the PR firm Brodeur Partners, and an expert on how social science can contribute to designing and implementing communication campaigns. He was the lead researcher on the development of the Food Guide Pyramid for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and helped create the well-known "truth" anti-tobacco campaign. The lecture will take place in CAS Room 147 on Thursday, April 18 from 7-8:30 p.m.

On Friday, you can catch our TISM team Nathaniel Abernathy and Culver Redd in CAS Labs 240 and 246 from 4-6 p.m., demonstrating games on biology, evolution, astronomy and animals for children ten years and older, teenagers and adults. Video games are increasingly being used as a learning mechanism to help introduce students to science, math, technology and engineering subjects while also providing students the opportunity to practice digital art, storytelling and problem solving. Casey O'Donnell and Rabindra Ratan provided demonstrations earlier in the Festival.

Other exciting projects underway in CAS include work by TISM assistant professors Emilee Rader and Rick Wash on cyber security behavior by non-expert users. Two research projects funded by the National Science Foundation are directed toward increasing understanding of how non-expert users deal with security risks and how to better design online information protection. Assistant professor Wei Peng is studying the effects of video games on health behavior and the effects of social networks on behavior. Recent work funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on short and long-term effectiveness of exercise games for young adults.

John Besley, an associate professor and Ellis N. Brandt Chair in the department of Advertising and Public Relations is the lead writer for the National Science Board's (NSB) biennial chapter on public attitudes and understanding of science and technology. Besley also recently completed a pilot survey of scientists' views about online communication with the public in cooperation with the American Association for Advancement (AAAS).

And in the department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, assistant professor Laura Dilley is studying the role of prosody, or the properties of speech associated with voice pitch, loudness and speech rate, to understanding words. This research holds potential for significant advancement in human health, technology and science. For example, voice pitch, loudness and speech timing is often highly disrupted in many disorders affecting speech and language, including dyslexia, autism, stuttering and Parkinson's disease. Dilley's research could lead to new insights regarding mechanisms underlying these disorders.

And that's not even the tip of the iceberg with regard to the vast array of fascinating and potentially life changing scientific research taking place right here in CAS and campus wide. I urge you to expand your horizons by attending one of the many excellent events scheduled as part of the MSU Science Festival.

Let me close this week's blog with thoughts for those in Boston impacted in some way by the recent bombings. I know I speak for all of us in sending our heartfelt thoughts and prayers their way.

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