Student-developed software streamlines archaeological analysis

An interdisciplinary research team of Brown undergraduates led by Assistant Professor of Anthropology Parker VanValkenburgh developed a bilingual, tablet-based app for field and laboratory use.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] —Over three seasons excavating reducciones, or colonial planned towns, in Peru, Parker VanValkenburgh and his international research team collected tens of thousands of small ceramic sherds. Those tiny pieces of pottery, dating back hundreds of years, could shed light on the lives and habits of the indigenous populations forcibly resettled into towns by Spanish colonialists — what they ate, how they organized their living spaces and how they were connected to the rest of the world.

In such an endeavor, critical mass is both a key and an obstacle.

“A single sherd on its own is often mute, but with 80,000 sherds you notice patterns and establish lines of evidence that enable you to tell really interesting stories,” said VanValkenburgh, an assistant professor of anthropology at Brown University.

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Brown provost joins global leaders awarded for work on fairness and human rights

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Society for Progress recognizes Richard M. Locke with an inaugural Progress Medal for his scholarship on working conditions and labor rights in the global economy.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Society for Progress has named Richard M. Locke, Brown University provost and professor of political science and international and public affairs, recipient of one of five inaugural Progress Medals awarded to leaders across the globe for scholarship on issues of fairness and well-being.

The award recognizes Locke’s “work on labor justice in global supply chains and the influence and limits of private standards in integrating equity and efficiency,” the Society stated in announcing the awards on Sept. 23.

“I am both honored and humbled to be a recipient of this award,” said Locke, a scholar and authority on international labor relations and worker rights, and comparative political economy.

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Brown’s First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center opens

In a ribbon-cutting ceremony, speakers talked about the efforts that led to the center’s establishment and its essential role at Brown.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University’s First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center celebrated its official opening on Sept. 16 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception in its new, dedicated space in the University’s Sciences Library.

In joining students, faculty and staff from Brown at the opening ceremony, Brown President Christina Paxson said the center will serve as a vital resource for students who are the first in their family to attend college or come from a low-income background — and acknowledged the essential role that Brown students played in the creation of the center, the first of its kind in the country.

“Students here have a lot to be proud of. Not just for what you are doing on this campus, but for what you are doing around the country. It’s really remarkable,” she said.

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With MRI technique, brain scientists induce feelings about faces

In a new study, researchers report they were able to train unknowing volunteers to develop a mild but significant preference or dislike for faces that they had previously regarded neutrally.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Volunteers who started an experiment feeling neutral about certain faces they saw ended up unknowingly adopting the feelings that scientists induced via an MRI feedback technique, according to newly published research.

The study in PLOS Biology therefore suggests that there is a single region of the brain where both positive and negative feelings for faces take shape and provides the second demonstration this year that the MRI technique can be used to train a mental process in an unknowing subject. This spring, the team used the same method to associate the perception of color with the context of a pattern so strongly that volunteers saw the color when cued by the pattern, even if the color wasn’t really there.

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