WILL HE FLY? Steven Hawley, professor of physics and astronomy and a former astronaut, was quoted in a New York Times article about the decision Mark E. Kelley faces about whether or not to make an upcoming shuttle flight. Kelley is married to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona representative who is in rehabilitation after being shot. Hawley was a crewmate of Jeffrey S. Ashby, who was replaced on a mission when his wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “I always admired that very much,” Hawley said of Ashby’s decision not to make the flight. “That someone would have the presence of mind to recognize that that was going on and make that courageous and appropriate decision — you don’t always assume people will do that.”

MEASURING SUCCESS: Susan Twombly, professor and chair of educational leadership and policy studies, was quoted in an Inside Higher Ed article about the Voluntary Framework of Accountability, or VFA, a project that aims to gauge how well two-year institutions serve their students. Phase one of the testing has begun, and not everyone is sure the metrics it creates will work as planned. “Assuming a nationally standardized assessment instrument can be developed, will students take it and take it seriously? Will colleges end up teaching to the test? Will the test determine what is taught?” Twombly said.

MORE THAN FACEBOOK FRIENDS: Nancy Baym, associate professor of communication studies, was quoted in a New York Times article about peoples’ willingness to share their relationship status on Facebook. While the trend of making such a status available via the web is relatively new, it’s not unheard of. “What is a wedding ring, but a status report?” Baym said. It has changed the way people announce such matters, though. “It can force you to have discussions, or arguments, or decision points,” she added. “When you start dating somebody, you go through the transition, ‘Gee, we are hanging out and having fun,’ you don’t usually make an announcement.”

LOOKING INTO HALLUCINOGENS: Tom Prisinzano, associate professor of medicinal chemistry, was quoted in a KMBC story about the effects of salvia, and whether it could potentially be used for medicines. "The reality is it's probably the most-potent, naturally occurring hallucinogen that we're aware of in terms of a dose," Prisinzano said. “By better understanding it, we might be able to design more effective medications to treat pain or drug abuse and maybe harvest some good out of this particular aspect.”

Campus closeup
Susan Mercer, associate director, Institute for Policy and Social Research
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