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Author: Matt McGowan

Making Waves

In a recent blog, I mentioned the University Research Magazine Association, or “URMA,” as we call it. (Members are affectionately referred to as “URMAns.”) As a member of this organization for the past seven years, I have learned valuable lessons and acquired many practical tools that I use for much of my job. I also mentioned that we (the University of Arkansas, but specifically the science and research unit within University Relations) sponsored URMA’s annual conference three years ago. That experience was definitely one of the high points of my tenure as a science and research writer at the...

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“We’re Gonna Get Married!!!!!”

Recently I wrote a research news release about what could happen to same-sex couples if the state they live in legalizes gay marriage. Most people, especially those who value the institution of marriage – and I’m not saying I don’t – think gay and lesbian couples will rush out and get married and everything will be wonderful for the rest of their lives. But it turns out, according to the study, that some relationships will fall apart because legalization will spur conversations about escalating the relationship – from cohabitation to marriage, for example – and very often this conversation...

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Smells Like… Conservatism?!

I just read this sentence in “Caveman Politics,” Gregg Murray’s blog in Psychology Today about how evolution impacts politics: “Some political attitudes are biologically influenced. People do not fully control their political responses to disgust, just like they do not fully control their political responses to hormones and hunger.” It’s interesting to me to think that disgust alone – that is, an individual’s reaction to a gruesome sight or foul scent – could influence one’s politics. But apparently it’s true. A study published in 2011 showed that people with strong involuntary physiological responses to disgusting images tend to identify...

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Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (part 2)

Last week I wrote about Kirk Grimmelsman and his bass shakers (scientific name: transducers), which got me to thinking about other shaking research and one of my favorite experiences as a science and research writer at the University of Arkansas. Three years ago, our little science and research unit within University Relations, with help from many staffers and interns, hosted the annual University Research Magazine Association conference, which I will attend next month in Corvallis, Oregon. The format for these conferences is generally the same each year. There are many useful workshops in which writers and editors share ideas...

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Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (part 1)

Engineers – at least the pedagogical kind I work with – love tools and toys, which very often are one in the same. They like to show them off, especially when they know that a picture or something tactile will melt the confusion right off your face. This happened last fall when I was sitting in Kirk Grimmelsman’s office. We were listening to (and feeling!) the room rattle. Everything was shaking. His cell phone danced across the desk. Framed diplomas bounced against the walls. The sound was unsettling, like someone had just fired up a chainsaw. We had been...

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The University Relations Science and Research Team

Camilla Shumaker
director of science and research communications

Matt McGowan
science and research writer

Robert Whitby
science and research writer

DeLani Bartlette
feature writer

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