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New MU Metagenomics Center to Make Important Research Process Cheaper, Faster

University of Missouri officials celebrate the opening of the MU Metagenomics Center, located at Discovery Ridge Research Park. The new center will serve as a comprehensive resource for microbiological research performed at Mizzou, other universities and private entities around the country.

Perceptions about Body Image Linked to Increased Alcohol, Tobacco Use for Teens

How teenagers perceive their appearance, including their body image, can have significant impacts on health and wellness. Prior body image research has shown that people with negative body image are more likely to develop eating disorders and are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem. Now, Virginia Ramseyer Winter, a body image expert and an assistant professor in the University of Missouri’s School of Social Work, found negative body image also is associated with increased tobacco and alcohol use, with implications for both young men and women. Notably, she also found relationships between substance use and perceived attractiveness, with girls who believe they are very good looking being more likely to drink.

Community Partnerships Can Help Art Programs Succeed

Bipartisan federal legislation, such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015, has emphasized the importance of arts education, placing it alongside reading and math as integral parts of a well-rounded education. Despite this inclusion and increased local control over academic standards and accountability, many schools and districts across the country continue to struggle in incorporating strong art programs due to resource and budget constraints. According to Brian Kisida, assistant professor in the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri, the combination of federal support and local autonomy presents new opportunities for partnerships between public schools and community arts organizations.

Climate Change Misconceptions Common Among Teachers, Study Finds

Recent studies have shown that misconceptions about climate change and the scientific studies that have addressed climate change are pervasive among the U.S. public. Now, a new study by Benjamin Herman, assistant professor in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum in the University of Missouri College of Education, shows that many secondary school science teachers also possess several of these same misconceptions.

Health Care Process a Roadblock for Adolescents with Autism and their Caregivers

For most people, trips to the doctor can be quite scary. For adolescents and young adults with autism, taking control of health care decisions is not only frightening, it also can be a barrier to independence. Now researchers from the University of Missouri have found that the health care process not only impacts adolescents with autism, but caregivers also feel they lack the skills and support necessary to help those adolescents achieve health-related independence. As more children with autism enter adulthood, improved communication between providers, adolescents and caregivers is needed to help those with autism transition to independence.

Cultural Backgrounds of Media Organizations Affect International News Coverage, Study Finds

For most major events around the world, public access is only available through the media. In a new study, researchers at the University of Missouri School of Journalism examined the photographic news coverage of a visit Pope Francis made to Cuba to determine how major media outlets from different countries covered the international event. T.J. Thomson, a doctoral candidate at Mizzou, found that the cultural values of the photojournalists’ home countries affected the ways in which the pope’s visit was framed by each media outlet.

3.3 Million-Year-Old Fossil Reveals the Antiquity of the Human Spine

For more than 3 million years, Selam lay silent and still. Eager to tell her story, the almost perfect fossil skeleton of a 2 1/2 year-old toddler was discovered at Dikika, Ethiopia—and she had a lot to say. An international research team slowly chipped away at the sandstone surrounding Selam at the National Museums of Ethiopia to reveal something remarkable—even though millions of years have passed, she’s a lot like us. Selam, which means “peace” in the Ethiopian Amharic language, was an early human relative from the species Australopithecus afarensis—the same species as the famous Lucy skeleton. The findings, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, indicate that Selam possesses the most complete spinal column of any early fossil human relative, and her vertebral bones, neck and rib cage are mainly intact. This new research demonstrates that portions of the human skeletal structure were established millions of years earlier than previously thought.

Exposure to BPA Potentially Induces Permanent Reprogramming of Painted Turtles’ Brains

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical that is used in a variety of consumer products, such as food storage containers, water bottles and certain resins. In previous studies, Cheryl Rosenfeld, an investigator in the Bond Life Sciences Center, along with other researchers at the University of Missouri, Westminster College and the Saint Louis Zoo, determined that BPA can disrupt sexual function and behavior in painted turtles. Now, the team has identified the genetic pathways that are altered as a result of BPA exposure during early development.

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