SISTERS Program Launched

On Nov. 21, UCR had the first meeting of the new program called SISTERS Program.  SISTERS, which stands for Success in Science & Technology: Engagement with Role-models, uses a role model approach to encourage more girls to attend college and pursue a STEM career.

The SISTERS Program will pair 50 girls (7th and 8th grades) at University Heights Middle School with about 15 female UCR undergraduates who are already in STEM fields.  The idea is that the UCR students will mentor the middle-school girls for a year.   The middle-school girls will also have an opportunity to meet with UCR women faculty in the near future.  On these occasions, the faculty members will talk to the students about how they got into STEM, what challenges they faced, and what they research at UCR and how.  Field trips to museums and labs are also planned.

The goal of SISTERS is to empower the 50 middle-school girls to pursue STEM fields, while also boost their self-confidence; help them overcome bullying, stereotypes and other hurdles; and prepare them for STEM success.

The orientation meeting took place in the library at University Heights Middle School.  At this meeting, Pamela Clute, a mathematics educator at UCR for more than 40 years and a passionate advocate for girls’ education, gave a short presentation.  She discussed why STEM is important, how it impacts our everyday life and how a whole host of good jobs need STEM training.

All the UCR students doing the mentoring are members of the Science Ambassadors program at the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.  The SISTERS program was the idea of Roselyn Tran, a fourth-year biology major and president of the Science Ambassadors.

Training the Brain to Treat Auditory Dysfunction

Many combat veterans suffer hearing loss from blast waves that makes it difficult to understand speech in noisy environments — a condition called auditory dysfunction — which may lead to isolation and depression. There is no known treatment.

Building on promising brain-training research at UCR related to improving vision, researchers at UC Riverside and the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research are developing a novel approach to treat auditory dysfunction by training the auditory cortex to better process complex sounds.

The team is seeking public support to raise the estimated $100,000 needed to fund research and develop a computer game they believe will improve the brain’s ability to process and distinguish sounds.

“This is exploratory research, which is extremely hard to fund,” said Aaron Seitz, UCR professor of neuropsychology. “Most grants fund basic science research. We are creating a brain-training game based on our best understanding of auditory dysfunction. There’s enough research out there to tell us that this is a solvable problem. These disabled veterans are a patient population that has no other resource.”

Sweeny and Andrews in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

Waiting for uncertain news, such as the outcome of a job search or medical test, is easier for some people than others. For the first time, University of California, Riverside psychologists have identified when and for whom waiting periods are most difficult, findings that may help in developing coping strategies.

Researchers know relatively little about the universal experience of awaiting uncertain news, according to Kate Sweeny, associate professor of psychology, and Ph.D. student Sara E. Andrews.

“Unlike coping with bad news, which, though painful, has the clear goal of identifying ways to improve a bad situation, coping with uncertainty requires people to manage hopes and dreams, fears and worst-case scenarios, all without the simple certainty of knowing exactly with what they are coping,” Sweeny and Andrews wrote in “Mapping Individual Differences in the Experiences of a Waiting Period,” published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. “Waiting may be more anxiety-provoking than actually facing the worst-case scenario.”

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