Rylan Simpson advances to finals of Grad Slam challenge

April 2017

Rylan Simpson, a graduate student at the Irvine Laboratory for the Study of Space and Crime, advanced to the files of the UCI Grad Slam Research Program for his research on the public perceptions of police officers. Grad Slam is a systemwide competition that showcases and awards the best three-minute research presentations by graduate scholars. Finals will be held on April 11 in the Newkirk Alumni Center at 3 p.m. Contestants will give their three-minute research presentations in front of a panel of judges and a live audience.

How experiencing awe in nature can promote altruistic behavior

April 2017

Stand small in a redwood forest and feel awed by the enormity of the trees around and above you. Such a feeling -- awe in nature -- can promote altruistic, pro-social behavior, according to research by Paul Piff, an assistant professor of psychology and social behavior.

Piff's research was recently cited in Psychology Today. Such an experience in nature, the article says, "puts our individual lives in perspective by helping people realize that there is something much bigger than yourself in the universe."

Read the article.

Wrongful conviction registry now housed at School of Social Ecology

April 2017

The 2,000-plus wrongful convictions compiled in UCI's National Registry of Exonerations are just scratching the surface, according to Maurice Possley, a senior researcher for the registry. Tracking down and verifying those wrongful convictions -- which stem from misleading evidence, mistaken witness identification, false accusation, official misconduct and inadequate legal defense -- is a laborious process that relies on published news reports and exonerated defendants coming forward.

"We don't know how many cases there are," Possley told the Los Angeles Times. "We don't know how representational it is of the system. But the more we look, the more we find."

Social Ecology April 2017 E-Newsletter

April 2017

The April 2017 Social Ecology E-Newsletter has been published. Don't miss this issue's story on Ph.D student Janice Phung, who is researching how a martial arts program helps kids cope with autism. Also, check out a study by Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychology and social behavior, that found that people who experience adversity are likelier to become more extreme in their political beliefs.

Sparring with autism: Social Ecology Ph.D student studies how martial arts training helps kids with autism cope


Be like water. Change. Adapt to shifting circumstances.

These kid martial artists don’t spar with each other. But they do learn a host of martial arts techniques – boxing, kickboxing, grappling – to use correctly in different situations. They learn to kick gentler if training partners aren’t holding protective pads. They learn never to use their skills at home or school, but that it’s acceptable to defend themselves against attackers and flee.

The reason sanctuary churches go public with immigrant stories

March 2017

Susan Bibler Coutin, professor of criminology, law and society and anthropology, discussed the history of the sanctuary church movement with NPR's Code Switch. Churches today are responding to President Trump's immigration crackdown by shielding immigrants who face deportation, and allowing them take sanctuary at church, where immigration agents usually don't arrest them. Churches did the same thing in the 1980s, when Central Americans fleeing war in their home countries came to the U.S. -- and faced potential deportation. Churches went public with those stories, and led a movement that ended up changing culture and policy.

Why Trump won't reduce crime by shutting the door on immigrants

March 2017

Charis Kubrin, professor of Criminology, Law and Society, is quoted in Univsion News discussing her research on how immigration affects crime levels. Contrary to what many people believe, Kubrin found that greater levels of immigration in a community correlated with lower levels of crime. Her study, co-authored with Graham Ousey of the College of William and Mary, will be published in the inaugural issue of The Annual Review of Criminology.