UCLA In the News January 19, 2016

Searching for the origin of man’s best friend | New York Times

Robert Wayne, an evolutionary biologist at UCLA who studies the origin of dogs and is part of the research, said, “There’s hardly a person working in canine genetics that’s not working on that project.” That is something of a triumph, given the many competing theories in this field. “Almost every group has a different origination hypothesis,” he said.

Iranians in Jane Austen’s England | New York Times

Nile Green, a professor of history at UCLA, has followed the Iranian students through Regency England with the determination and skill of a forensic detective. Using the diary of Mirza Salih as his primary guide, he has managed to trace his subjects through disparate archives, scattered letters, newspaper articles and even paintings.

Lack of diversity in Academy Awards leads to boycott | Los Angeles Times

“It has such high ratings most years, so the image of Hollywood that the academy presents is at stake,” said Ana-Christina Ramón, assistant director and associate researcher at UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies. Ramon noted that the academy strives to present an image of diversity, an image that could be jeopardized by a boycott. “People will take notice,” she said. “Even when they’re not nominated, minority actors are trotted out. They try to show diversity among presenters.”

The real mountain lions of Santa Monica | 60 Minutes

“It’s a family you wouldn’t want to belong to....” said UCLA’s Bob Wayne. Bob Wayne is an evolutionary biologist at UCLA. Using DNA from the blood samples taken by the Park Service, primarily in the Santa Monica Mountains, his scientists have built a family tree, unlocking some strange and deadly secrets. “It’s just rife with incestuous matings. It’s not a healthy situation.” (UCLA’s Seth Riley also featured)

Another all-white docket for Oscar acting nominees | NPR’s “All Things Considered”

“I was surprised and I wasn’t,” said UCLA’s Darnell Hunt. “Of course, this is the second year in a row. We’re talking about an Academy that’s overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly male; 93 percent white, 76 percent male, average age 63. People are voting for thing that resonate with their experiences, and unfortunately, it’s too narrow a slice.” (Also: Salon, Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post and KNX-AM [audio download])

Martin Luther King’s legacy on gun violence | Associated Press

“There is nothing in the history that suggests that Martin Luther King felt that guns weren’t useful for self-defense,” said Adam Winkler, UCLA law professor and author of the book “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”… In his book, Winkler writes that after the 1956 bombing, which occurred during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King applied for a concealed carry permit. He was denied by a county sheriff.

False emissions report hinder pollution fight in China | Reuters

“Data falsification is a longstanding problem: China will not get its environmental house in order if it does not deal with this first,” said Alex Wang, an expert in Chinese environmental law at UCLA.

In Oregon standoff, government’s only weapon is time | Christian Science Monitor

To be sure, it’s still far from clear whether the occupiers will see any of their demands met. And while waiting it out has its own potential pitfalls for Washington, “the government realizes … the only possible victory is to allow it to dissipate,” UCLA constitutional law professor Adam Winkler told OregonLive.com recently.

Republicans square off before Iowa primary | KPCC-FM’s “Take Two”

“I think that we got exactly what anyone would have expected,” said UCLA’s Lynn Vavreck. “We got good TV, we got a little bit of distinction on the issues across and among the candidates, and there were no really big surprises. So, I think, my expectations, at least, were met.”

New superintendent proposes single-gender schools | KPCC-FM’s “AirTalk”

“The research is very clear… It is decisively the case after decades of analysis… that there are no proven benefits in terms of student outcomes for single-sex approaches over co-education,” said UCLA’s Juliet Williams. “What is very important to consider, is that in recent years, new data has begun to come, which is showing that there actually is evidence of harm associated with single-sex approaches.”

Unknown long-term risks of Porter Ranch leak | KPCC-FM

“Anytime you have elevated levels of benzene, it is a concern because there is not a safe level,” said Michael Jerrett, professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at UCLA…. UCLA’s Jerrett says without an accurate picture of the gases escaping the well it’s hard to say how dangerous this leak has been. “The monitoring efforts here have been inadequate to fully access the health risks that the community might be facing,” he noted.

How to improve schools in LAUSD | KPCC-FM’s “Take Two”

“Because we do not provide quality education across the entire region, we accept something like this triage approach to education where we try to provide quality education for a small number of students because we assume that’s all that we can serve really really well,” said UCLA’s John Rogers. “What we need to have is quality education for all students across the entire region so that parents don’t feel like they need to move out of their own community or somehow find a way to access a permit out of the district.”

Daily pill to prevent HIV as safe as aspirin | Buzzfeed

“Everyone’s got aspirin in their medicine cabinet,” Jeffrey Klausner, professor of medicine and public health at the University of California, Los Angeles, and lead author of the study, told BuzzFeed News. “But as a physician I’ve seen people come into the hospital and die from aspirin overdoses — people can be allergic.”… But after crunching the numbers, he said, “it really looked like I could say Truvada compared favorably, in terms of its safety profile, to aspirin.”

Persistent segregation in schools | Vice

According to a report by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, a mere 23 percent of blacks attended majority white schools in 2011—the same percentage as in 1968. This is important because teachers at schools with a majority of minority students typically are paid less and thus lack the experience and certifications of those teaching in white schools.

Exploring the science of concussions and the brain | STAT

[UCLA’s Dr. Christopher] Giza’s work is part of several ambitious efforts now underway across the nation that could redefine the science of concussion and fill many huge and frustrating gaps…. While detractors liken the NCAA’s study of concussion to tobacco companies studying smoking, Giza argues that sports leagues have a moral obligation to research head injuries. “You could argue it’s not ethical to let people participate in dangerous things and not try to make it safer,” he said.

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