UC Riverside Astronomers Help Discover the Most Distant Known Galaxy

UCR’s Bahram Mobasher, professor of physics and astronomy, and Naveen Reddy, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, are members of a team that has discovered the most distant galaxy ever found. The galaxy is seen as it was just 700 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only about 5 percent of its current age of 13.8 billion years.

In collaboration with astronomers at the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A & M University, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatories, Mobasher and Reddy identified the very distant galaxy using deep optical and infrared images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Results appeared in the Oct. 24 issue of the journal Nature.

Economist to Study Effectiveness of Rural Poverty Program in Brazil

Steven Helfand

Steven Helfand

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) of the United Nations has awarded UC Riverside economist Steven M. Helfand a $70,000 grant to determine the effectiveness of programs aimed at reducing rural poverty in Brazil.

The project is part of a seven-country study in Latin America that will examine potential synergies between rural development programs funded by organizations like IFAD and the World Bank and a new generation of anti-poverty programs in the region called conditional cash transfers.

Helfand, associate professor of economics, is focusing on the developmental and agricultural economics by evaluating the United Nations Organization’s agriculture and sustainability project that is aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty and whether there are greater impacts on alleviating poverty when such programs work with efforts like IFAD’s Community Development Project for the Gavião River Region (PROGAVIÃO).

Researchers Quantify Toxic Ocean Conditions During Major Extinction 93.9 Million Years Ago

By looking at the chemistry of rocks deposited 93.9 million years ago, a research team led by UCR biogeochemists Timothy W. Lyons, principal investigator on the project, and Jeremy D. Owens, a former UCR graduate student, who is now a postdoctoral scientist at the woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, reports that oxygen-free and hydrogen sulfide-rich waters extended across roughly five percent of the global ocean during this time period. This quantification of five percent is far more than the modern ocean’s 0.1 percent but is much less than previous estimates for this event.

The research suggests that previous estimates of oxygen-free and hydrogen sulfide-rich conditions, or “euxinia,” were too high. Nevertheless, the limited and localized euxinia were still sufficiently widespread to have dramatic effect on the entire ocean’s chemistry and thus biological activity.

A grant to Lyons from the National Science Foundation supported the study.

News That Is Better or Worse Than Expected Influences Health Decisions

Kate Sweeny

Kate Sweeny

Kate Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology, finds that unrealistic pessimists are less likely to take preventive action after receiving good news. This discovery poses a serious dilemma for health care professionals: Should they withhold accurate risk information from unrealistic pessimists to avoid undermining their perceptions of the severity of their potential consequences and ultimately their motivation for preventive behavior?

Sweeny along with co-author Amanda Dillard, assistant professor of psychology at Grand Valley State University, wrote in “The Effects of Expectation Disconfirmation on Appraisal, Affect, and Behavioral Intentions.” The journal, an official publication of the Society for Risk Analysis, a multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, scholarly, international society based in McLean, Va., was published in October in the online edition of Risk Analysis: An International Journal.

Sweeny and Dillard are the first to demonstrate that how an individual reacts and responds to objective risk feedback may depend on initial expectations prior to the feedback.

Riverside County Master Gardeners Visit the Entomology Research Museum

About a dozen members of the Riverside County Master Gardeners paid a visit to the Entomology Research Museum on Oct. 19.  Douglas Yanega (right), the museum's senior scientist, gave the tour. Photo courtesy of David Brandtman

About a dozen members of the Riverside County Master Gardeners paid a visit to the Entomology Research Museum on Oct. 19. Douglas Yanega (right), the museum’s senior scientist, gave the tour. Photo courtesy of David Brandtman

About a dozen members of the Riverside County Master Gardeners paid a visit to the Entomology Research Museum on Oct. 19. The visitors were interested mostly in a presentation on the interactions between the museum and the public, and what the museum can do for those who are not academics. Established in 1923, the UCR Entomology Research Museum contains some 3 million specimens, and serves as a repository for voucher specimens associated with research conducted by faculty, staff, and students at the University of California.  Besides insects, it maintains a small collection of arthropods such as spiders, centipedes, and scorpions.

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