News

Trisha Dehrone receives NSF support for six-month American Immigration Council internship

Trisha DehroneTrisha Dehrone, PhD student in the psychology of peace and violence program, was recently awarded funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support a six-month internship. Part of NSF’s INTERN program, the award is designed to provide non-academic research experience and training.   

Dehrone will hold an internship with the American Immigration Council, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based out of Washington, D.C. She will design, implement, and evaluate interventions to build positive relationships between racially and ethnically diverse neighbors. 

Actively addressing inequalities promotes social change

people stand at opposing sides of a chasm

What does it take for people to commit to take action to promote social equality? And how might this differ for people from advantaged and disadvantaged groups?

An international team, including Linda Tropp at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and researchers in 23 countries, finds more mutual support for social change among advantaged and disadvantaged groups when inequality is actively addressed and the psychological needs of each group are met. The new research, led by the University of Zurich (UZH), was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

UMass Amherst research pinpoints role of dopamine in songbird’s brain plasticity

two zebra finches perch on a branch

Neuroscientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have demonstrated in new research that dopamine plays a key role in how songbirds learn complex new sounds.

Published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the finding that dopamine drives plasticity in the auditory pallium of zebra finches lays new groundwork for advancing the understanding of the functions of this neurotransmitter in an area of the brain that encodes complex stimuli.

Mélise Edwards, Brooke Burrows, and Jasmine Dixon receive Wendy Helmer Graduate Student Award

We are pleased to announce that Mélise Edwards, Brooke Burrows, and Jasmine Dixon (pictured left to right) were chosen as recipients of the Wendy Helmer Graduate Student Award! The awardees' fellow graduate students recognized their important contributions in PBS and in the broader community. They have been strong advocates for racial justice, and have worked tirelessly to address inequities in our community.

Alumna Gale Sinatra releases new book | Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It 

At a time when science denial has become deadly, this is a vital book on how to improve science literacy, understanding, and communication 

tree emerging from lakeSCIENCE DENIAL: Why It Happens and What to Do About It 

Oxford University Press 
July 6, 2021; 9780190944681 

By Gale M. Sinatra and Barbara K. Hofer  

How do we decide whether to accept the human causes of climate change, practice social distancing during a pandemic or decide whether to vaccinate ourselves or our children? The past year has brought home to each and every one of us how critical it is for scientists, policy makers and the media to be good communicators of often complex scientific subjects. It’s also shown why each and every one of us has a responsibility to make informed decisions that are based on facts and evidence, rather than emotions and instincts. Neither of these tasks are easy, but they can save lives. 

Stylianos Syropoulos awarded sixth annual Keith Rayner Memorial Graduate Student Research Award

Stelios posing in office with shelves of booksStylianos Syropoulos, a third-year student in the Psychology of Peace and Violence concentration in the Social Psychology program working with Dr. Bernhard Leidner, was awarded the sixth annual Keith Rayner Memorial Graduate Student Research Award. His project, titled “De-polarizing" American Society: Emphasizing Intergroup Similarities versus Differences as a Mechanism for Decreasing Political Polarization and Hostility, will study whether an emphasis on the dissemination of psychological findings with a focus on intergroup similarities, and not differences, as is the norm of the field, can promote harmony and cooperation between Republican and Democrats. The ultimate goal of the project is to highlight ways through which the dissemination of psychological research can depolarize the American electorate.

Songbird neurons for advanced cognition mirror the physiology of mammalian counterparts

zebra finch

UMass Amherst research advances understanding of brain circuits

University of Massachusetts Amherst neuroscientists examining genetically identified neurons in a songbird’s forebrain discovered a remarkable landscape of physiology, auditory coding and network roles that mirrored those in the brains of mammals.

The research, published May 13 in Current Biology, advances insight into the fundamental operation of complex brain circuits. It suggests that ancient cell types in the pallium – the outer regions of the brain that include cortex – most likely retained features over millions of years that are the building blocks for advanced cognition in birds and mammals.

Spring 2021 Newsletter

Catch up with the latest PBS news including spotlights on our talented students, faculty, and alumni!

Read full issue

Features include:

  • Virtual Graduation Celebration for the Class of 2021
  • Senior Awards
  • Tweet Blitz: Undergraduate Theses
  • Study shows predictors of cognitive decline in midlife women varied by race
  • Spotlight on Alumni

Also Research Highlights, Awards and Updates, and PBS faculty and students In the Media

Children’s Thoughts on Race and Social Status

Tara Mandalaywala
Dr. Tara Mandalaywala

On Tuesday, April 20, 2021, the psychology departments at Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women, together with the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Honors Program at Yeshiva College, hosted Dr. Tara Mandalaywala, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts. In her lecture, “A Kid’s Eye View of Race and Social Status,” Dr. Mandalaywala shared her research on young children’s thoughts and observations on the important issues of race and social status, work that comes out of Dr. Mandalaywala’s Cognition Across Development Laboratory at UMass Amherst, which explores the development of social cognition across human and nonhuman primates. Her research examines how young individuals make sense of and cope with the complex social world around them.

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