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SDSU psychology professor Jennifer Thomas working in lab.
SDSU psychology professor Jennifer Thomas working in lab.

Research to Reverse Alcohol's Effects on the Young Brain

July 26th, 2018 (Kellie Woodhouse)

Is it possible to reverse the cognitive deficits seen in children exposed to alcohol in the womb?

San Diego State University psychology professor Jennifer Thomas has made this question a central focus of her life's work. Thomas led the team that first studied how the essential nutrient choline, plentiful in food like eggs and liver, may improve the cognitive and behavioral function of a fetus or infant whose brain is impaired from prenatal exposure to alcohol.

Now Thomas has received a prestigious National Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) award to research how exactly choline affects development of the alcohol-exposed brain.

MERIT awards are given to productive researchers whose work the NIH deems "distinctly superior," and who "are highly likely to continue to perform in an outstanding manner."

The award guarantees several years of funding (typically up to a decade), allowing scientists to explore research paths they might not otherwise have the opportunity to investigate. Thomas's initial award is for $1.7 million over five years.

There are approximately 450 active MERIT awards in total, and SDSU boasts four of them--a number that's competitive with some of the most active research universities in the nation.


Six SDSU Students Receive Prestigious CSU Scholarship

July 27th, 2018 (Jeff Ristine)

Six San Diego State University students were selected as 2018-19 Sally Casanova Scholars, a CSU award to help students continue their education in doctoral programs. This year’s College of Sciences Scholars are: Ellen Kuang, chemistry graduate student, mentor: Erica Forsberg; Adoril Oshana, psychology undergraduate student, mentor: Kate Hattrup; and Elizabeth Villanueva, child development undergraduate student, mentor: Margaret Friend.


Deconstructing the Universe

July 24th, 2018 (staff)

“A breezy yet comprehensive and authoritative treatise” is one critic’s description of Thomas R. Scott’s new book, which takes on the formidable task of explaining the universe and the laws that govern it. “The Universe as It Really Is: Earth, Space, Matter, and Time” begins with physics and the building blocks of the universe—time, gravity, light and elementary particles—and goes on to explain Earth’s place in the cosmos and the forces that shape our planet. Scott also provides vivid narratives of breakthrough discoveries in science, such as the shape of the atom and the nature of the nucleus. Also considered is how we use GPS to measure time, and what that has to do with relativity.


A Blossoming Collaboration

July 17th, 2018 (Michael Price)

The wolf’s cholla cactus (Cylindropuntia wolfii) is an intimidating tangle of thorny green limbs inhabiting the Sonoran Desert of Southern California and Baja California. Yet once a year, its prickly stems erupt with bright red and yellow flowers, beacons for the desert’s wild bees and other pollinators. Usually, the cholla blooms in April, but when San Diego State University evolutionary plant ecologist Lluvia Flores-Rentería visited the Sonoran Desert during that time earlier this year, the flowers weren’t there.


Professor Honored for Work on Prenatal Alcohol Exposure

July 16th, 2018 (Michael Price)

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder presents many challenges, including a suite of cognitive and behavioral deficits, to people who grow up with the disorder, as well as their families and caretakers. Yet FASD is also notoriously difficult for health researchers to diagnose and investigate. Despite difficulties, progress continues to be made thanks to scientists like San Diego State University neuropsychologist Sarah Mattson, who last month was recognized by the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Study Group for her outstanding research contributions to the field.


Distinctive New Microscope at SDSU Allows for Groundbreaking Research

July 13th, 2018 (Kellie Woodhouse)

As a San Diego State University student in 1981, Tim Day could not have imagined that 37 years later he would be at the helm of a company that would make a truly transformative gift to the university's science enterprise. Day is the son of SDSU President Emeritus Thomas Day and co-founder of DRS Daylight Solutions, a company that recently donated a $475,000 newly developed chemical imaging microscope called the SperoQT to SDSU's College of Sciences. "This instrument will allow us to see this at a real, defined, chemical level that nobody else has been able to see yet. It's going to be very powerful."

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