Scholarship & Creativity
Shine on, shine on, climate monitoring station: Moon-based observatories proposed
Poets may see "a face of plaintive sweetness" when they look at the moon, but Shaopeng Huang sees the ideal location for observatories studying climate change on Earth.
Using data from an Apollo 15 experiment, the U-M geophysicist recently showed that surface temperatures on the near side of the moon accurately record important information about Earth's climate system.
Based on his analysis, recently published online in Advances in Space Research, Huang is calling for an international effort to deploy monitoring stations on the moon for the study of terrestrial climate change.
Global climate change is driven by an imbalance between incoming energy from the sun and outgoing energy from Earth. Without understanding the climate system's inputs and outputsits so-called energy budgetit is impossible to tease out the relative contributions of natural and human-induced influences and to predict future climate, Huang says.
But detecting changes in the energy budget is difficult with existing ground-based and space-borne technologies, he notes. Fortunately, instruments left behind by the Apollo 15 astronautsall U-M alumniprovide the necessary measurements as NASA has acquired 41 months-worth of records of the moon's surface temperature.
On the near side of the airless moon, where Apollo 15 landed, surface temperature is controlled by solar radiation during daytime and energy radiated from Earth at night. Huang showed that due to an amplifying effect, even weak radiation from Earth produces measurable temperature changes in the regolith. Further, his revisit of the data revealed distinctly different characteristics in daytime and nighttime lunar surface temperature variations.
Huang received funding for the study from the National Science Foundation and the Michigan Space Grant Consortium.
Daily discrimination can lead to illness for Asian Americans
Asian and Pacific Islander Americans who felt they were discriminated against daily indicated the stress led to chronic health problems, according to a newly published U-M study.
The findings, which are from the first known nationally representative study of discrimination and physical health conditions among Asian Americans, indicate that discrimination was related to ailments such as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, and pain.
"Our findings are noteworthy in countering the notion that Asian Americans are a 'model minority' who do not experience discrimination," says Gilbert Gee, the study's lead author and an assistant professor of health behavior and health education in the School of Public Health. A "model minority" refers to the stereotype that Asian Americans are successful, such as being good students, and no longer encounter discrimination.
Collaborating with Gee were Michael Spencer and Juan Chen of the U-M School of Social Work and David Takeuchi of University of Washington's School of Social Work. The findings appeared May 30 in the current issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Data were from 2,095 respondents from the National Latino and Asian American Study, conducted in 2002 and 2003. Analyses involved the entire sample and three Asian subgroups (Chinese, Vietnamese, and Filipino).
Filipinos reported the highest levels of discrimination, followed by Chinese and Vietnamese. The respondents says they believed race, ethnicity or skin color were the main reasons for discrimination. Vietnamese and Chinese respondents indicated they were more likely to have cardiovascular problems due to the increased stress from discrimination. Pain and respiratory conditions were associated with Vietnamese and Filipinos, but not Chinese Americans.
Gee says the results are consistent with other studies showing relationships between discrimination and illness among African Americans, Latinos and other minority communities.
The researchers say policies designed to strengthen civil rights also can promote health.
Too much standardization hurts chain-owned nursing homes, study finds
Standard marketing and strategic planning practices can hurt patient care throughout a nursing home chain, but only if too much emphasis is placed on such administrative standards to the detriment of clinical and facility standards, a new study indicates.
Research from the School of Public Health (SPH) suggests that one of the strengths of a nursing home chainthe ability to standardize and perfect administrative practices throughout the chainalso can hurt patient care.
"Consumers need ways to identify what is a good or bad nursing home when making choices about where to place a loved one," says Jane Banaszak-Holl, corresponding author on the study. "Right now, we have an easier time distinguishing the quality in McDonalds versus Boston Market than we have distinguishing how, for example, a Sun-owned nursing home differs from a Beverly Enterprises nursing home."
Chain-owned nursing homes are the predominant type of institutional care provided in the United States, yet studies have shown that the patient care received in chain-owned nursing homes is generally not on par with the patient care received in nonprofit and singly-owned nursing homes. "If they (chain-owned nursing homes) are really not as good, we need to think about how to improve them," says Akiko Kamimura, a doctoral student in Health Management and Policy at SPH, and first author of the study.
The study suggests corporate standardization of clinical and facility processes improved resident care, but that corporate standardization of administrative processes hurt patient care. The study concludes that chains must balance administrative efficiency with the local needs of the individual chain-owned facilities to optimize patient care. Researchers surveyed 203 nursing homes in Michigan and North Carolina.
The study, "Do corporate chains affect quality of care in nursing homes? The role of corporate standardization" appears in Health Care Management Review and is available on-line. Authors on the paper include: Whitney Berta, University of Toronto; Joel Baum, University of Toronto; Carmen Weigelt, Rice University; and Will Mitchell, Duke University.
'Cowboy' culture can be seen in some Japanese
The frontier experience long has been cited as a major reason for the individualism and independence that characterize American culture. Now a new line of research shows that the impact of this kind of "cowboy" experience also shows up in a very different cultureamong settlers of Japan's frontier.
At the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science May 25 in Washington, D.C., U-M psychologist Shinobu Kitayama presented evidence that Japanese who were born in Hokkaido have attitudes about independence that are similar to those of Americans, and very different from those of their fellow Japanese, who tend to place more value on cooperation and inter-dependence. Hokkaidothe northernmost island of Japanwas settled primarily during the first half of the 20th Century by peasants and jobless ex-samurais.
"We looked at four groups of college students," says Kitayama, who conducted the research with Keiko Ishii of Hokkaido University. "One group was from the United States, another was born in Hokkaido, a third group was born in mainland Japan but lived in Hokkaido and a fourth group was born and currently lived in mainland Japan." Altogether, the researchers studied 682 individuals.
The researchers found that mainland Japanese reported they were happiest in society and among others, while Americans and Hokkaido natives reported being happiest as a result of their own accomplishments and efforts.
In his presentation Kitayama highlighted research on the ways culture affects personality and basic cognitive processes. This research has established substantial cultural variations in thought patterns, emotions and motivation between East Asian and European American cultures. His work is part of a broader research program in progress at the U-M Culture and Cognition Program, which was started by psychologist Richard Nisbett and which Kitayama now directs.
Among the broad cultural differences identified by Kitayama and colleagues are that European-American cultures tend to enhance the personal self, while East Asian cultures have a tendency toward self-criticism or effacement.