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Faculty Focus

New faculty spotlight - David Gire

Photo: David Gire
Photo: David Gire

What do art, philosophy, and neuroscience have in common? Plenty, according to new Assistant Professor David Gire, who has interests in all three.

David’s interdisciplinary interests began in high school in San Jose, CA, where he was raised and his two brothers and parents still live.  Inspired by a nationally renowned teacher about the value of studying the intersections of different disciplines (in high school, it was genetics and the law), David went on to UC Berkeley to double major in Philosophy and Neurobiology. He continued on with a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Colorado at Denver, where he stayed on for a two-year post-doctoral position. He finished a second post-doc at Harvard before joining our department this January.

How does philosophy tie in with his science? Logical rigor and clean writing, attests David. Most importantly, it was philosophy that piqued his interests in the big, basic questions: Where does our sense of self come from? What is consciousness? David delved into such fundamental questions through research with humans at first, studying psychophysics with Mathew Diamond’s lab in Trieste, Italy. Others in the lab worked on information processing by neural circuits in rodents.  The ability of this work to more directly connect what neurons in the brain were doing with perception and behavior inspired David to attempt to understand the brain at this more reductionist level. 

And art? An early fascination and admiration for neuroanatomy led to interest in classical representations of the human form, which led him to seek out Caravaggio paintings in Rome when on fellowship in Italy. In his scientific reports, he incorporates his art, using computer software to create three-dimensional images from his findings. One was chosen for the cover of the journal Neuron in 2011.

In his research, David seeks to combine multiple disciplines to understand how neural circuits in the brain process complex natural stimuli to guide flexible behaviors such as navigation and foraging.  David’s research employs the rodent olfactory system as a model for sensory information processing. This sensory system is well suited for studying how neurons process complex stimuli since odors are transported through the environment by chaotic, turbulent plumes.  By studying how the brain uses these fluctuating odor cues to perform ethologically important behaviors, David seeks to define fundamental operations performed by the brain to interpret input from a chaotic, noisy environment.

The key attraction of UW, David explains, was the potential for fruitful collaborations. His interests in complex behaviors such as navigation were a natural fit with ongoing work in the Department of Psychology’s Behavioral Neuroscience area and his desire to employ ethologically-relevant paradigms was supported by research in the Animal Behavior area.  Across the campus, the strength of UW in neuroscience also drew David to Seattle.  In fact, he had his eye on UW after a series of invited lectures at Harvard from a variety of UW professors, including Jeff Riffell and Nathan Kutz.  Their work demonstrated the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the science in Seattle.

David is an eager instructor, having volunteered to teach without compensation while he was in graduate school. Here at UW, he has already accepted two graduate students and looks forward to teaching a graduate course on computer programming for data analysis in the Spring.

David has enticed a fellow neuroscientist from Denver, Mike Grybko, to come to UW as the manager of David’s new lab. Another man of many talents, Mike is a skilled classical guitarist.  David’s wife, Arisa, is a graduate from the same doctoral program in Denver as he attended. An Eagle Scout, he is excited about exploring with her the many outdoor attractions in the Northwest. This spring, they find themselves a little busy with other activities: they welcomed their first child in late April. 

Faculty accomplishments in the news

David Barash
David Barash 

In January, David Barash's work on monogamy was mentioned in an article about the purpose of love.

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/01/11/what-if-purpose-love-get-us-out-relationships-not-them

David Barash's evolutionary biology research on jealousy between partners was cited in this January article on insecurity and envy in relationships.

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/health/2015/01/11/insecurity-envy-can-cause-big-rifts-relationships/21586563/

In January, David Barash authored an Op-Ed published in the LA Times on nuclear weapons and the conflict between our biological and cultural natures.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-barash-nuclear-weapons-evolution-20150125-story.html

 

Jonathan Bricker
Jonathan Bricker 

In April, Jonathan Bricker gave a TED talk on "the secret to self-control", discussing his work that has uncovered a scientifically sound approach to behavior change that is twice as effective as most currently practiced methods.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTb3d5cjSFI&feature=youtu.be

Steve Buck
Steve Buck 
In February, Steve Buck's Perceptual and Neural Processing of Dark Colors was awarded a Royalty Research Fund grant, to explore how the visual system processes little-studied colors that are darker than their surroundings differently from bright colors.
Sapna Cheryan
Sapna Cheryan 

Sapna Cheryan's work highlights other factors in classroom design and layout that influence how we learn, featured in a January article.

http://www.fastcoexist.com/3038207/5-ways-classroom-design-can-improve-what-we-learn-and-who-learns-it

In April, a new study by Sapna Cheryan about the role sterotypes play in influencing women's participation in the fields of computer science and engineering was featured in mutiple articles.

Sapna Cheryan detailed the ideal physical classroom learning environment in this April article.

http://qz.com/375894/this-is-what-the-ideal-learning-environment-looks-like-according-to-science/

 

Jaime Diaz
 Jaime

Jaime Diaz presented some of his recent data on incorporating certain technologies into university teaching at the 2015 UW Teaching and Learning Symposium on April 14.

http://www.washington.edu/teaching/innovation/teaching-and-learning-symposium/

Ione Fine
Ione Fine 

A paper by Ione Fine on a man with restored sight provides valuable insight into how vision develops, discussed in this April article.

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-04-sight-insight-vision.html

Anthony Greenwald
Anthony Greenwald 

UW Professor of Psychology Anthony Greenwald exposes our hidden biases and questions the extent to which they shape our likes, dislikes, and judgments about people in a Seattle Channel video lecture in December.

http://www.seattlechannel.org/misc-video?videoid=x22212

This January article about implicit bias and employment law draws heavily on work done by Tony Greenwald.

http://www.thelegalintelligencer.com/latest-news/id=1202715873466/Use-of-Implicit-Bias-Evidence-to-Prove-Discrimination?slreturn=20150027143214

An April New York Times opinion piece on racial bias cited Tony Greenwald's UW-developed Implicit Association Test.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/26/opinion/charles-blow-officer-race-matters-less-than-you-think.html?_r=0

 

James Ha
James Ha 

James Ha gave some insights about animal behavior in a preview of his sold out seminar in April.

http://www.washington.edu/wholeu/2015/03/26/animal_behavior/

Renee Ha
Renee Ha 

Renee Ha and her lab’s research on Mariana crows was featured in Bird Conservation International in June.

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=9703811&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0959270914000045

Susan Joslyn
Susan Joslyn 

Susan Joslyn's study on false alarms in extreme weather scenarios was featured in January and February in varioius articles on noncompliance with weather warnings.

Susan Joslyn's expertise on real world decision-making was discussed in this February article in the Seattle Times.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/weigh-decisions-but-often-you-have-to-go-with-your-gut/

 

Cheryl Kaiser
Cheryl Kaiser 

In February, Cheryl Kaiser received the 2014 Gordon Allport Prize from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues for the best paper of the year addressing intergroup relations.

Kaiser, C. R., Major, B., Jurcevic, I., Dover, T. L., Brady, L. M., & Shapiro, J. R. (2013).Presumed fair: Ironic effects of organizational diversity structures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104, 504-519.

Peter Kahn
Peter Kahn 

Peter Kahn's findings were mentioned in an April article about humans' relationship to robots.

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/lovesick-cyborg/2015/03/15/robot-funerals-reflect-our-humanity/#.VYxJvBtVhHx

Peter Kahn describes "environmental generational amnesia" in this April article on the greater consequences of climate change.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marianne-krasny/extinction-of-experience-_b_7035252.html

 

Liliana Lengua
Liliana Lengua 

In January, Lili Lengua's work with the UW Center for Child and Family Well-Being was highlighed in an article in which she discussed the changing definition of family, in order to combat neglect and build better families.

http://crosscut.com/2015/01/building-better-family-kathleen-donnelly/

Marsha Linehan
Marsha Linehan 

Marsha Linehan's Dialectical Behavior Therapy was mentioned in an article about radical acceptance surrounding the outcome of the Super Bowl in April.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-gregory-jantz-phd/deflated-in-seattle_b_6680156.html

In April, the results of a study by Marsha Linehan showed that a variety of dialectical behavior therapy interventions were effective at reducing suicide attempts.

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-03-variety-dbt-interventions-therapists-effective.html

Marsha Linehan delivered a James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award Address at this year's Association for Psychological Science Convention in May.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/convention/2015-award-addresses#linehan

Marsha Linehan was recognized for her lifetime of contributions to Psychology and mental health research when she received the Association for Psychological Science James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award in June.

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/members/awards-and-honors/cattell-award/past-award-winners/linehan

 

John Palmer
John Palmer 

Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer's 1974 framing study was referenced in an April article from Business Insider about how to capture someone's attention.

http://www.businessinsider.com/proven-ways-to-get-anyones-attention-2015-3

Kate McLaughlin
Kate McLaughlin 

University of Washington Assistant Psychology Professor Kate McLaughlin's work is at the cutting edge of new research on how abuse and neglect shape the human brain, featured in a December four-part podcast series.

http://crosscut.com/2014/12/neglected-brain-podcast-steve-scher/

An April study by Kate McLaughlin shows that children's early environments have a lasting impact on their stress response systems.

http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/04/20/study-shows-early-environment-has-a-lasting-impact-on-stress-response-systems/

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-04-early-environment-impact-stress-response.html

Kate McLaughlin’s work suggests that childhood adversity is a bigger risk factor for heart disease and type 2 diabetes than nearly anything else, in this May article.

http://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-if-even-heart-disease-and-dementia-are-your-parents-fault-042415#1

 

Andrew Meltzoff
Andrew Meltzoff 

Andrew Meltzoff helped to conduct a new study about the role sterotypes play in influencing women's participation in the fields of computer science and engineering, featured in April.

http://thejournal.com/articles/2015/02/18/want-to-draw-women-into-cs-and-engineering-broaden-the-stereotypes.aspx

Andrew Meltzoff's work in developmental psychology was featured in an April article on the importance of everyday interactions between parents and children on childrens' cognitive development.

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/02/18/the-benefits-of-bath-time-for-babies

In April, Andrew Meltzoff and the team at I-LABS identified that playing a computer game in sync creates a greater percieved similarity and closeness among children who have just met.

http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/04/08/game-played-in-sync-increases-childrens-perceived-similarity-closeness/

 

Kristina Olson
Kristina Olson 

In February, Kristrina Olson began a landmark study to document the experience of transgender children, the first of its kind in the nation.

Kristina Olson was awarded a Royalty Research Fund grant in February for her work exploring basic gender cognition in a national sample of transgender children, titled "Gender Nonconformity in Middle Childhood".

Kristina Olson's groudbreaking research on gender nonconformity in childhood continues to make news in February.

Kristina Olson's research on gender cognition in transgender children disproves claims about kids "outgrowing" their gender confusion, published in April.

http://www.dailyuw.com/news/article_b1a6a166-c210-11e4-880d-4f6b6b420d81.html

Kristina Olson's work is helping parents support their children to be their truest selves, in a series of April articles.

http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/new-resources-for-parents-of-transgender-children

http://magazine.good.is/articles/raising-ryland-raises-awareness

http://artsci.washington.edu/news/2015-03/identifying-transgender-childhood

Kristina Olson's exciting new research on transgender and gender non-conforming youth was featured on a May PBS NewsHour "Is gender identity biologically determined?"

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/videos/#143893

 

John Palmer
John Palmer 

John Palmer and Elizabeth Loftus' 1974 framing study was referenced in an April article from Business Insider about how to capture someone's attention.

http://www.businessinsider.com/proven-ways-to-get-anyones-attention-2015-3

Chantel Prat
Chantel Prat 

Chantel Prat was quoted in a January Huffington Post article, "5 Amazing Advances in Brain Research in 2014", discussing University of Washington research in direct brain-to-brain communication.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/31/brain-research-2014_n_6334088.html

Ronald Smith
Ron Smith 

In January, Ron Smith's work on coaching styles was mentioned in an article discussing how coaching means different things to different people.

http://www.stack.com/2015/01/13/whats-the-most-effective-coaching-style/?icn=navigation&ici=Navigation_Content

Frank Smoll
Frank Smoll 

Frank Smoll's work was discussed in an April article on the struggles of parent-coaches.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865623434/The-delicate-job-of-a-parent-coach.html

Frank Smoll explains how to be a true winner in a May post at Psychology Today.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/coaching-and-parenting-young-athletes/201402/how-be-winner

KJR Sports Radio interviewed Frank Smoll about the Professionalization of Youth Sports in May.

https://psych.uw.edu/newsattach/media/smoll3.mp3

 

Jessica Sommerville
Jessica Sommerville 

Jessica Sommerville found that humans are capable of altruism earlier than previously thought, discussed in this January Huffington Post article.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-tauber/we-share-more-when-we-fee_b_6457086.html

Andrea Stocco
Andrea Stocco 

Andrea Stocco's work in direct brain-to-brain communication research was discussed in a January Huffington Post article on 2014 advances in brain research.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/31/brain-research-2014_n_6334088.html

Andrea Stocco and colleagues research on brain-to-brain communication is discussed in this May article in the Smithsonian magazine.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-brain-brain-communication-no-longer-unthinkable-180954948/?no-ist

 

Wendy Stone
Wendy Stone 

In January, Wendy Stone and UW's Research in Early Austism Detection and Intervention (READi) Lab implemented a new five-year, 3.9 million initiative to expand their work and continue to lead the field in identifying children with special needs.

Wendy Stone's early autism identification research continues to attract attention in April.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSae0DwyvYY&feature=youtu.be

 

New Research Grants

The Psychology Department is excited to announce a new funding opportunity to jumpstart innovative research.  The department-sponsored Faculty Interdisciplinary Research Pilot Awards (FIRPAs) are aimed at stimulating new, interdisciplinary research among Psychology Department faculty that has the potential to secure additional extramural funding.  Awards cover research costs up to $20,000 for a one year period. 

In this first round, nine faculty teams from across the different areas of the Department submitted proposals.  An anonymous review committee of fellow faculty members made the difficult decision of choosing the three that would receive funding this year.  The inaugural awardees are:

Kristina Olson, Katie McLaughlin, and Stephanie Fryberg
Project:  Roles of Cultural and Self Construal in Children's Responses to Trauma in One's Community

Jessica Sommerville and Wendy Stone
Project:  Behavioral and Physiological Response to Emotional Displays in Infants at High and Low Risk for ASD

Lori Zoellner, Jeansok Kim, and Libby Marks
Project:  Memory Reconsolidation: α-amylase, Salivary Cortisol, and Physiological Correlates

 

Congratulations to the following faculty members who have recently been awarded new and highly competitive federal or foundation grants to conduct cutting edge research concerning a number of important issues facing our society:

Dr. Sapna Cheryan received a three year National Science Foundation grant that will help us to better understand the role of social peer pressure on career choice. Dr. Cheryan will also develop environmental strategies that reduce such social pressures. This work should increase diversity of membership in a number of traditionally gender biased careers.

Dr. Melanie Harned was awarded a three year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to assess the effectiveness of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Prolonged Exposure (an integrated treatment for individuals who suffer PTSD with suicidal ideation) when implemented in community agencies, and to develop methods that facilitate the implementation of this intervention method in clinical practice.

Dr. Susan Joslyn began a three year grant project supported by the National Science Foundation that will help us to better understand climate change perception, and the role that factors such as trust, self-efficacy, and concern have on that perception.

Dr. Marsha Linehan received a two year grant from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to investigate the role of a potential warning sign of acute risk of suicide deaths in adolescents, and that is sleep problems. Of particular interest is how sleep problems affect emotion regulation. This work will provide important information that could improve treatment strategies for high risk suicidal individuals.

Dr. Kate McLaughlin received a five year grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study the effects of child trauma on areas of the brain that are responsible for emotional regulation. This research will provide new insights into a possible link between adverse environments and psychopathology.

Dr. Scott Murray began a five year grant (also from the National Institute of Mental Health) that seeks to understand how inhibitory systems of the brain contribute to sensory and motor symptoms of autism spectrum disorder. A better understanding of the role of inhibitory systems could lead to more effective pharmacological treatment options.