Tackling Alarming Decline in Nature Requires ‘Safety Net’ of Multiple, Ambitious Goals, Researchers Say
Amy Zanne, associate professor of biological sciences, was part of an international team of researchers analyzing new goals for biodiversity being drafted by the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity. The team is studying failed goals from the past in order to better plan for the future. Their work aims to provide a safety net for nature that will help scientists and politicians approach the subject holistically in order to slow the loss of biodiversity.
The George Washington University Announces Transformational $12.5 Million Gift Advancing Work on Religious Freedom
Professor of Classics and Anthropology Eric Cline co-directed a team of Israeli and American researchers that uncovered evidence of an earthquake that may have destroyed a flourishing Canaanite palatial site about 3,700 years ago. Funded by grants from the National Geographic Society and the Israel Science Foundation, the group made the discovery at the 75-acre site of Tel Kabri in Israel, which contains the ruins of a Canaanite palace and city dating back to 1900-1700 B.C.
Enquye Negash, a postdoctoral researcher in the Columbian College’s Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology, led a new study that documents dietary shifts in herbivores that lived between 1 to 3 million years ago in Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley. By examining the fossilized teeth of herbivores such as antelopes and pigs, she found a shift away from woody vegetation foods to foods representative of grasses and sedges. The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
Associate Professor of Anthropology Brenda Bradley and PhD candidate Elizabeth Tapanes uncovered significant variation in how chimpanzees, our closest ape relatives, experience pigment loss. While silver strands and graying hair are signs of aging in humans, graying occurs in chimps until they reach midlife and then plateaus as they continue to age, making it an unreliable indicator of age. The study by the researchers from the CCAS Center for the Advanced Study of Human Paleobiology was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Professor of Physics Neil Johnson led a research team that developed a first-of-its-kind map to track COVID conversations among 100 million Facebook users. Along with Associate Professor of Political Science Yonatan Lupu, the team’s findings, which were published in the journal Nature, revealed that online communities that distrust establishment health guidance are more effective than government health agencies at reaching and engaging audiences.
Associate Professor of Biology Amy Zanne was part of a research team that developed a better understanding of the factors accounting for different wood decomposition rates among fungi. Using a combination of lab and field experiments, they revealed how an understanding of fungal trait variation can improve the predictive ability of early and mid-stage wood decay, a critical driver of the global carbon cycle.
The 71st annual Arthur S. Flemming Awards honored the accomplishments of 13 federal employees from agencies across the federal government. Among the achievements recognized were creating the most accurate clock in the world, developing ways to see crime scene evidence invisible to the human eye and finding new ways to track influenza around the world. The Arthur S. Flemming Awards Commission partners with the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration.
Politics Poll: Misinformation Concern Bipartisan. But Democrats Blame Foreign Powers, Republicans Blame Media.
The GW Politics Poll revealed a stark partisan divide over who is to blame for misinformation circulating during the presidential election season. A nationwide survey led by Associate Professor of Political Science Danny Hayes and Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs Kimberly Gross found Republicans and Democrats are highly concerned about the spread of misinformation and the potential impacts it might have on American politics and society. However, when asked who is at fault, Democrats are more likely to blame foreign governments while Republicans largely fault the media.
Professor of Astrophysics Chryssa Kouveliotou and Assistant Professor of Astrophysics Alexander van der Horst were members of an international team of scientists who identified previously unseen components of gamma-ray bursts, the most powerful explosions in the cosmos. These explosive events emit extreme amounts of energy and are accompanied by an afterglow of light over a broad range of energies that fades with time. The researchers observed a gamma-ray burst with an afterglow that featured the highest energy photons—a trillion times more energetic than visible light—ever detected in a burst. Their discovery was published in the journal Nature.
Professor of Physics Neil Johnson led a team of researchers in developing a mapping model, the first of its kind, to track how online hate clusters thrive. Online hate spreads globally through self-organized, scalable clusters that interconnect to form resilient networks across multiple social media platforms, countries and languages. Published in the journal Nature, the team’s project seeks to understand how hate evolves online by mapping how clusters spread their narratives and attract new recruits. The mapping model could help social media platforms and law enforcement in the battle against hate online.
The Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics (IDDP), a newly created GW research platform supported by a $5 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will fight the rise of distorted and misleading information online. With a team of researchers spanning political communication, journalism, physics, international affairs, computer science and engineering, IDDP will work to educate national policymakers and journalists on strategies to grapple with the threat to democracy posed by digital propaganda and deception. IDDP is supported by a $5 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Associate Professor of Anthropology David Braun joined an archaeological team in Ethiopia that discovered the oldest evidence of stone tool production, dating back more than 2.58 million years. The excavation took several years before the researchers exposed a layer of animal bones and hundreds of pieces of chipped stone representing the earliest evidence of our direct ancestors making and using stone knives.
Assistant Professor of Biology Keryn Gedan co-authored new research that highlights the growing recognition that sea-level rise will mostly impact rural land—much of which is privately owned—complicating the complex tradeoffs between the value of different land uses. Published in the journal Nature Climate Change, their work is the first to synthesize the growing number of studies of land conversion driven by sea-level rise.