Laser sheds new light on oral cancer detection
Oral cancer kills 10,000 Americans every year and has one of the worst survival rates of all cancers, largely because early detection is difficult. But the outlook for oral cancer victims may improve, thanks to a promising laser-based technique developed at UCI's Beckman Laser Institute. Dr. Petra Wilder-Smith has found that fluorescent laser light can identify pre-cancerous lesions in the mouth by making them literally glow in the dark. "The laser makes lesions show up that otherwise wouldn't be visible to the naked eye," Wilder-Smith said. The measuring instruments are painless and pick up lesions within seconds. Next, the research, performed to date on laboratory animals, needs to determine if the results can be duplicated in humans.
Contact: Andrew Porterfield, (949) 824-3969
For healthy aging, social networks should accentuate the positive
A supportive network of friends and family may be critically important for healthy aging. But what happens when this kind of support falls short of expectations? When social interactions are negative? These are among the questions UCI researchers hope to answer in a three-year study of 875 older adults. A research team led by Karen Rook, professor of psychology and social behavior in UCI's School of Social Ecology, is examining the impact of negative social exchanges on older adults. "Researchers have neglected the negative aspects of social ties, even though such ties have potent effects on emotional and physical health," Rook says. "When family or friends fail to provide support, or when they're critical, demanding or insensitive, the effects can be devastating. It may take as many as five positive social exchanges to balance one negative exchange."
Contact: Karen Morris, (949) 824-7913
'Hidden curriculum' harms K-12 minority students' futures
A so-called "hidden curriculum" of lowered academic expectations and teacher indifference in some inner-city schools is undermining many minority students' efforts to receive a quality education. In research published in Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Louis F. Miron, chair of the UCI Department of Education, found that this hidden curriculum amounts to "academic discrimination" that keeps inner-city students' educational and career aspirations in check. But in a finding that surprised Miron, these students value a good education as much as their more affluent counterparts do-and are frustrated when it is kept from them. The nation should launch an aggressive campaign to improve inner-city schools, Miron says. It should include developing more focused, challenging curricula and drawing enrollments from across entire cities rather than a single residential area.
Contact: Tracy Childs, (949) 824-5484
Saving the planet with crop waste-and other unusual ideas
If plans for next weekend seem too far off to worry about, UCI physics & astronomy professor Gregory Benford would like you to stop for a moment to think. Why? Because time matters. Despite our propensity for preserving our accomplishments for posterity, our vision of time is too short-sighted, argues Benford in his new book, "Deep Time." We must look beyond our lifetimes and even those of our grandchildren, he says. With a long-range view, humans can choose to be stewards of the planet. Benford proposes extraordinary visions of people intervening to save the environment, creating our era's most lasting legacy. Among them: throwing crop waste from farms into the ocean to reduce carbon-laden greenhouse gases and freezing endangered species to be reanimated later. "Deep Time" is the first non-fiction work by Benford, who has written 20 novels.
Contact: Alicia Di Rado, (949) 824-6455