Student Research Blog


The Impact of Childhood Experience on Neural Correlates of Race Perception

The amygdala, a brain region that responds to biologically and socially salient stimuli (Aldophs, 2010), has been shown to preferentially respond to the perception of outgroup members, that is, Black individuals for White perceivers. It has been suggested that negative evaluations of Black individuals by White perceivers account for the preferential recruitment of the amygdala (Kubota, Banaji, & Phelps, 2012). Indeed, preferential amygdala activity in response to Black targets tends to be apparent in perceivers with more prejudicial attitudes (Phelps et al., 2000).


Asymmetries in Semantics and Ontology: When Doctors Speak to Patients

Patients often have different understandings of medical practice from those of their healthcare providers. Such asymmetries can have significant implications for decision-making. How, then, do patients manage to give what counts as ‘informed consent’ to participate in medical treatment and research? This is not meant as a rhetorical question. Communication does take place in spite of the incomplete sharedness of concepts. In fact, it must take place; the stakes for both parties can be very high.


Tradition and Community During the Easter Service at St. Giragos Armenian Church, Diyarbakır

Almost immediately after our group of three deacons and a priest were picked up from the airport in Diyarbakır in the southeast of Turkey, the conversation turned to preparations for the second Easter celebration at the recently renovated St. Giragos Armenian Church in almost thirty years. Der Hayr (the Armenian term for a married priest) turned to the driver and asked, “Were you able to make choreg?” Choreg is an Armenian sweet pastry made especially for Easter.


Institutionalizing Incorporation: Foodways, Sectarian Pluralism, and Royal Authority at the Capital Āśramas of Angkor, Cambodia

Through the generous support of a Division of the Social Sciences Short-Term Research Grant, I was able to successfully complete the last phase of my dissertation fieldwork at archaeological sites in northwestern Cambodia.  Centered in the ancient royal capital of Angkor, my research consists in the use of archaeological and paleoethnobotanical analyses to investigate the dynamics of religious institutionalization and the politics of kingly patronage through the medium of foodways at royal hermitages, or āśramas, during the incipient phase of the Khmer Empire dating to the late 9th


Forming Impressions of Others Varying on Financial and Moral Status: An fMRI Investigation of Status-Based Person Evaluation

Non-humans and humans alike structure their societies on the basis of hierarchies, with social status as one of the main elements.


A Stranger in a Strangely Familiar Land

Although I have studied Chinese for the better part of a decade, my life situation had colluded to prevent me from visiting China. Finally, this fall, I was able to visit Beijing, and see the country I spent so much time studying. Although I never felt Chinese, I was surprised at how "non-foreign" my surroundings felt as I strolled around the alleys of this ancient city. The sights, sounds and especially smells were different than anything you would find anywhere else, and yet I was comfortable there.


Mindfulness and Happiness in America

During the past twenty years, there has been an explosion of scientific interest in the topic of “happiness” in the form of research on what is called “subjective well-being” (or SWB for short). Not only has the turn of the century seen the development of hedonomics, positive psychology and the neuroscience of happiness, but it has also witnessed the emergence of various statistical measures of well-being, or “gross national happiness” indices as they are also called.


The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Atheists and the Bible Belt

It came around the corner, its googly eyes scanning the crowd and its noodly appendages hanging free. The creature’s rosy meatball cheeks proclaimed its pleasure at the event’s success to the hundreds of admirers along the parade route.  Escorted by few dozen members of a local atheist organization, several holding pro-LGBT signs and banners, the Flying Spaghetti Monster had arrived at the Pride Parade in this conservative Bible Belt city.


Rediscovering Dejima: My journey through early modern Japan’s window to the West

The little-known artificial island of Dejima often surprises people.  Though the “opening” of Japan to the West is popularly regarded as the arrival of American Commodore Perry’s steam-powered gunships at Tokyo Bay in 1853, Dejima proves Westerners were welcomed in Japan long before Perry.  Ever since I first learned of Dejima, I have been fascinated by this intriguing site that can expand our understanding of early global commerce from a non-colonial perspective.


Billable Services and the ‘Therapeutic Fee'

In response to soaring depression rates, United States public health officials have expressed a commitment to understanding mood disorders as diseases of the brain. This biomedical framing is believed to legitimize these mental illnesses as "real" diseases that warrant state attention. Indeed, an influential commentary by the director of the National Institute of Mental Health argued: “psychiatry’s impact on public health will require that mental disorders be understood and treated as brain disorders” (Insel & Quirion, 2005, p. 2221, my emphasis).