Media Spotlight on Frans de Waal

Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior in the Department of Psychology, is interviewed by NPR “Talk of the Nation” host Ira Flatow about his book The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates.

[T]he philosophers always assume that our sense of justice and many of our moral principles are things that we logically derive. We think about these issues, and then we come to a logical conclusion, and we say this is how we ought to behave.

But what I show with the primate studies is that a lot of these things are actually based on emotions, basic emotions, a bit like David Hume, the philosopher, tended to speak about moral sentiments. So that’s the view that’s becoming dominant, also dominant, I would say, among neuroscientists now, and psychologists. And so the philosophers have to deal with this new kind of science that’s coming out.

See full interview

AWIS Week at Emory Features Plenty of Events

Emory’s first Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Week is being held from March 18-22nd, featuring networking, outreach, and mentorship opportunities.

Please note: RSVP ( for the “Mocktail Networking Night” event — see below — by March 20th.

Monday 6pm: Get your questions about pre-health, research, pre-Ph.D, or any science-related career answered. Pizza provided.

The panel will provide an open environment in which Emory students could come have questions concerning medicine, research, professorship and other science related careers answered and the opportunity to hear about the professional challenges the panelists have encountered and overcome. The panelists will range from professors and P.I.s to accomplished deans and doctors.

Tuesday 12pm: Lunch with a Scientist- Talk with and ask questions with a science professor in a comfortable and informal setting with 4-5 of your peers. Email to reserve a seat.

Wednesday 11:30 — 1:30pm: Wonderful Wednesday and Cake Cutting. There will be cake in honor of AWIS, a “make your own molecule” activity, and other interactive activities.

Thursday 3pm: Druid Hills High School Tutoring (you can specify subjects that you feel comfortable with or prefer to tutor). Email to sign-up.

Friday 6pm: Mocktail Networking Night. The closing event of a week-long series of educational, service oriented and awareness activities for AWIS Week. This mocktail night will allow students, faculty and professionals alike to gather together for an evening of fun and mingling to celebrate the 42 years of AWIS service. The night will be divided into 3 parts:

  1. Brief AWIS presentation — AWIS Emory Chapter will take a few moments to reflect on the past year by showing a short multimedia presentation highlighting our mission, past service trips/events, and goals for the future.
  2. “Speed dating” — Students meet and speak with faculty members/professionals in short 4 minute intervals before rotating to the next guest. This segment will aim to reduce the tension often experienced by students when required to “mingle and network,” in a fun manner.
  3. “Mocktails and mingling” — Guests will freely sample various “mocktail” drinks and light snacks while music is played. Undergraduate and Graduate students will get an opportunity to network with faculty and professionals in a more casual setting and enjoy a festive ambiance.

New fMRI Supports College Research

It wasn’t your typical office delivery last week. The 15-ton functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine required two flat-bed trucks and a 40-foot crane outside the PAIS building. But it’s now found a home in the Facility for Education and Research in Neuroscience (FERN). “From anthropology to economics, political science, music and literature, students and faculty from virtually every discipline we have on campus now have the ability to examine the brain in relation to their area of interest,” says Patricia Bauer, senior associate dean of research for Emory College of Arts and Sciences.

Read more

Your Brain on Religion and Science

In his new book, Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not (Oxford University Press, 2011), Robert McCauley (William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor and director of Emory’s Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture) describes how our minds are better suited to religious belief than to scientific inquiry. Religion has existed for many thousands of years in every society because the kinds of explanations it provides are precisely the kinds that come naturally to human minds.

Science, on the other hand, is a much more recent and rare development because it reaches radical conclusions and requires a kind of abstract thinking that only arises consistently under very specific social conditions.

Religion makes intuitive sense to us, while science requires a lot of work. The naturalness of religion, he suggests, means that science poses no real threat to it, while the unnaturalness of science puts it in a surprisingly precarious position.

Check out McCauley’s blog in

Helpful tips for parents of freshmen


Emory psychology professor Marshall Duke has helped ease the separation process for parents and their newly minted college students with a tremendously popular Emory orientation seminar on “Parenting a College Student: What To Expect.” He’s delivered his tried-and-true advice to thousands of parents for nearly 25 years.

Below are some of Duke’s insights on navigating new family dynamics.

• Think about your parting words.

“The closing words between parents and children are crucial. Whatever wisdom you have to offer, whether it is ‘I love you,’ ‘I’m behind you,’ ‘I’m proud of you,’ say it. If you can’t express yourself verbally, write your thoughts down and mail the letter to your child immediately after you arrive home. Your children will remember your messages and hold on to them.”

• Your lives will change.

“Younger siblings may be quite happy to see the older child leave home. I’ve heard stories of younger children who usually have stayed in their rooms suddenly appearing at the dinner table. If the college-bound student is your youngest, you’ll begin to reestablish a one-on-one relationship with your spouse after years of parenting.”

• You won’t be able to wait for them to come home — or leave.

“Your child will arrive home with a whole new set of habits, particularly when it comes to food and sleep. When my daughter came home from college for the first time she decided to call her friend at 10:30 p.m. one evening. When I expressed surprise, she said, ‘Oh, I know it’s early, but I want to catch her before she makes plans with someone else.'”

See full article

Marshall Duke (Psychology) blogs about family health

How do families deal with the stress of modern living (jobs, school, carpools, soccer, gymnastics, religious school, fast food restaurants, etc.)? Marshall Duke, Candler Professor of Psychology, is writing a blog for Huffington Post about his research — along with that of his colleagues at the MARIAL Center — on family rituals and psychological well-being and resilience in children.