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Category: Research Briefs

Muslims May be a Minority in China, But They Play a Big Part in its Foreign Policy

Kelly Hammond studies Muslims in China. While China and its Muslim population might seem a world away, Kelly Hammond, assistant professor in the Department of History, believes it is important for the US to know more about one of our largest trading partners. “It’s a massive player in world politics,” she says. “Also a lot of business is done there, and they have a big soft-power arm.” Hammond first became interested in Chinese Muslims when she was an undergraduate student studying history and political science at Bishop’s University in Québec. She had moved to China to study and teach...

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Biologists Capture, Document Elusive Northern Saw-whet Owls in Arkansas

Kimberly Smith and Mitchell Pruitt captured and documented for the first time two Northern Saw-whet Owls wintering in the Ozarks. The elusive and small birds are rarely found this far south, with only a dozen sightings reported in the state over the last 55 years. The researchers used recordings of the saw-whet owl call and fine-gauge nylon mist nests to capture the birds before banding them and releasing them back into the wild. During winter, northern saw-whets are usually silent and difficult to locate, so little is known about their winter distribution. However, recent successes at banding stations in...

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Old Habits Die Hard for Wheat Growers

U.S. wheat growers resist converting to a more profitable method of farming because of ideology – their personal beliefs about organic farming – rather than technical or material challenges, according to a new study co-authored by Jeff Murray and a team of international colleagues. Organic wheat production over the past 30 years has consistently yielded higher profits for producers compared to conventional wheat farming methods that rely on chemical pesticides, herbicides and synthetic or chemical fertilizers. Organic farming relies on crop rotation, animal and plant-based fertilizer and other biological-based processes for pest control. And the higher profit margin for...

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The Significant Benefits of School Field Trips

Education researchers found that field trips to cultural institutions have significant benefits for students beyond educational aspects. “We found that students who attended a school tour at Crystal Bridges demonstrated stronger critical thinking skills, displayed higher levels of tolerance, had more historical empathy and developed a taste for being a cultural consumer in the future,” Jay Greene said. “We also found that these benefits were much larger, in general, for students from rural areas or high-poverty schools, as well as minority students.” The team announced the results of a study analyzing the impact of school field trips to Crystal Bridges Museum...

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Developing Safer and More Efficient Nuclear Fuels

Mechanical engineer Paul Millett is leading a study on strategies to minimize swelling in metallic nuclear fuels as a way to improve the safety and efficiency of nuclear reactors. “Almost all current nuclear energy reactors operate with ceramic fuels,” Millett said. “But as an alternative, metallic fuels have generated significant interest because they have much higher thermal conductivity, meaning the temperatures in the reactor are far lower than with ceramic fuels.” Fuels in metallic form, however, have a tendency to swell significantly during operation, which limits the efficiency of power generation. The swelling is a caused by gas elements...

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