World Hearing Day: March 3

On World Hearing Day — March 3 — the World Health Organization will draw attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. According to WHO, 466 million people have disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children) around the world and that number continues to rise. And a recent study by Johns Hopkins University found that the number of Americans aged 20 and older who suffer from hearing loss will double over the next 43 years. Still, many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing out on certain sounds and words.

Dr. David Myers, professor of psychology

Dr. David Myers, professor of psychology, is the author of the book, A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss. In it, Myers writes of his personal experience with hearing loss, interspersed with information about the psychology of hearing and new hearing technologies. Myers is an advocate of Hearing Loop, an assistive listening system, and he recently wrote “Getting People with Hearing Loss in the Loop” for Perspectives on Psychological Science. He recently served four years as a representative of Americans with hearing loss on the advisory board of NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

And the Winner Is…

The 91st Annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, will take centerstage on Sunday, February 24, in Hollywood, California. Deemed to be the highest honor given for artistic and technical merit in the film industry and popular for their extravagant ceremonies, the Oscars create a yearly buzz around the nominees and show. Most recently, the Academy has come under scrutiny for a lack of diversity and inclusion (#oscarssowhite), perceived overemphasis on independent films, and a mangled major presentation when LaLa Land was announced as the best picture of the year in 2017 when Moonlight was the actual winner.

Richard Smith, professor of theatre

For more than 40 years, Richard Smith, professor of theatre, has taught film studies at Hope College in his “Art of the Cinema” class. A specialist in scenography, Smith’s insights go beyond technical artistry as he can address trends, controversies and favorites when it comes to the Oscars such as,

  • How do certain actors and actresses, designers and directors, writers and craftspeople rise to the level of “best” in a certain category when so many films are released each year?
  • What happened to celebrating the “science” part of films? It is, after all, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences that bestows these awards.
  • Does this year’s more diverse nominee slate mean the Academy is on the right track toward more inclusion, or do they have more work to do?
  • Will the Academy make another attempt to save ratings and relevancy and rethink that “Best Popular Picture” category they proposed but reneged on in 2018?
  • And, why hasn’t Meryl Streep won seven Oscars after 21 nominations, instead of three? Or, why does Leonardo DiCaprio have 11 noms and just one win? And what about Spike Lee, who after 30 years directing notable films, finally received his first best director nomination for BlacKkKlansman? Hard luck? Politics? Or, is it really just an honor to be nominated?!

Random Acts of Kindness and the Superhero Effect

Practicing random acts of kindness is emotional nourishment and elevates both the giver’s and receiver’s psychological health. When we practice random acts of kindness, we just feel better about ourselves as do the recipients of our acts which then makes them more likely to be kind and helpful to other people, too. That’s the pay-it-forward effect, and it turns out viewing images of superheroes can actually contribute to it.

And what better time to think about helping, heroic or otherwise, than during Random Acts of Kindness Day on Sunday, February 17 and Random Acts of Kindness Week which begins Monday, February 18.

Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, associate professor of psychology

New research by Dr. Daryl Van Tongeren, associate professor of psychology, several Hope College students, and colleague Dr. Jeffrey Green of Virginia Commonwealth University have found that when people are exposed to images of superheroes, they were more likely than others to engage in altruistic behavior. The findings of their study were recently published in Frontiers in Psychology, and it reveals that even subtle activation of superhero stimuli increases prosocial intentions and behavior.

Van Tongeren conducts research on the social motivation for meaning in life, the function and nature of religious beliefs, and the relationship-enhancing features of virtues, such as humility and forgiveness. His Meaning, Religion and Virtues Lab at Hope investigates why people search for meaning and how that search may, or may not, result in moral behavior.


Valentine’s Day and the Scholarship of Romantic Relationships

Valentine’s Day will soon be here, the day in which people celebrate love and romance with candlelit dinners, Hallmark cards, love letters, red roses, and sentimental presents given to spouses and partners.

But how exactly do those spouses and partners come to choose each other in the first place? And what are some of the things that keep them together?

Dr. Carrie Bredow, associate professor of psychology

Dr. Carrie Bredow, associate professor of psychology, focuses her research on the development and maintenance of adult romantic relationships. She seeks to better understand why people select the life partners that they do and to identify ways to help people avoid “bad choices.” For example, her article entitled “Chasing Prince Charming” in Personal Relationships investigated how holding unrealistic standards for a spouse has partnering consequences. Most recently, Bredow’s scholarly work has looked at how unmarried individuals’ criteria for a long-term partner change or remain the same over a certain period of time in the mate selection process.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed Monday, February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. According to a UN study from 14 countries, the probability for female students graduating with a bachelor’s degree in science is 18 percent, while the male equivalent is 37 percent. This day is a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened.

Susan Ipri Brown, director of ExploreHope

Encouraging girls to pursue engineering and science careers needs to start at a young age. Hope organizes events such as the Middle School Girls STEM Day and Girl Scout STEM Badge days as a community outreach to help inspire K-12 girls in the area. Led by Hope female engineering and science students, the girls participate in hands-on sessions, tour our engineering research labs, and hear from practicing women engineers and current engineering students. Susan Ipri Brown, director of ExploreHope, organizes these efforts. Funding from a 2018 grant supports these events and facilitates training of Hope female STEM majors to be effective outreach leaders.

Dr. Catherine Mader, professor of physics

Dr. Cathy Mader, professor of physics, has worked with the American Physical Society on a variety of projects to increase access to and advancement in physics careers for women and underrepresented racial and ethnic minorities. Her engagement with the STEP UP 4 Women project, to the Professional Skills Development Workshop program for professional women in physics as well as her campus efforts to improve access and equity to education has led to her new role as the backbone lead for the NSF INCLUDES Alliance: Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN). This national network is a partnership of over 30 societies, institutions, organizations, corporations, and national laboratories that seeks to increase participation in careers in the physical sciences by underrepresented racial and ethnic minority students.  IGEN is launching with ~$10M in grant support  from the National Science Foundation to create of the network and programs needed for a sustainable program that closes the opportunity gap.

Facebook’s 15th Anniversary

Fifteen years ago on February 4, Mark Zuckerberg and his college classmates founded Facebook. From humble beginnings as a social network for Harvard University students, the company has grown into a social media giant. According to statistics from September 2018, the platform has 1.49 billion daily active users making it one of the most, if not the most, widely used social media network.

The power and influence of Facebook is undeniable. For better and for worse, the ways people communicate and relate to each other is much different because of the social network. Facebook lets us reconnect with classmates, keep up with grandchildren who live far away, and mark ourselves safe in the wake of tragedy and disaster. But it also invites potentially troubling moments, such as being “defriended,” making a new romance “Facebook official” (or not!), fear of missing out (FOMO), and becoming overly obsessed with how many people “liked” (or didn’t!) our new profile picture.

Dr. Jayson Dibble, associate professor of communication

Dr. Jayson Dibble, associate professor of communication, teaches and researches about interpersonal and relational communication and how technology plays a role in both. He has co-authored two journal articles — Ignore Your Partners’ Current Facebook Friends: Beware the Ones They Add and Facebook and Memory: Which is the Real Threat to Your Relationship — addressing how Facebook affects romantic relationships. He is also able to comment on how Facebook and other social media have changed our society’s communication tendencies, priorities and outcomes.

February is Healthy Heart Month

February 1 through 7 is National Women’s Heart Week. The goal of this week is to promote prevention and education, encourage early intervention, and spread awareness of symptoms of heart problems. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for American women aged 34 and older. During Women’s Heart Week, hospitals are encouraged to offer free heart screenings to women and on February 1, and people are encouraged to wear red to amplify the message about women’s heart health.

Also, February 10-16 is National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week. This effort, initiated by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR), seeks to draw attention to the role of cardiac rehabilitation in reducing the potentially devastating effects of heart disease and improving the quality of life for patients and families.

Donna Garrett, assistant professor of nursing and chair of the department

Cardiovascular nursing is the research interest of Donna Garrett, assistant professor of nursing and chair of the department. She looks specifically at the needs of patients with coronary artery disease and their ability to engage in self-care. She was the co-author of an article on recognizing and responding to symptoms of heart attacks and stroke in women that was published in the Journal for Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing.

Garrett was a clinical nurse specialist in cardiovascular service lines in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Cincinnati, Ohio, as well as a staff nurse in both surgical and medical intensive care units prior to teaching at Hope.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: January 21, 2019

Where would America be today without Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement? How would American life be different? Is it?

Two Hope experts can address questions such as these in light of Civil Rights Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 21. (And, January 15 marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of MLK.)

Dr. Charles Green

Dr. Charles Green’s interests involve making social science research on race, culture and ethnicity available to a broader audience. He does this in a variety of ways, including the Getting Race Right blog he maintains with his class, “Race in America,” and its related Twitter account, @GetRaceRight. Green, who is a professor of psychology, teaches and writes to help people find ways to work for racial justice within their spheres of influence.

Vanessa Greene

Vanessa Greene, associate dean for students and director of Hope’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, leads a campus-wide effort to empower students to flourish as socially responsible members in a diverse world. Greene has received awards for her advocacy work on race and gender issues. She also teaches an “Encounter with Cultures” class on Hope’s campus as well as co-teaches a June Term course in Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee called “Up Close and Personal: The African American Civil Rights Movement.”


Here’s a fun news alert for …


… the media to consider …


… in the days ahead.


On Monday, January 21, it’s National Squirrel Appreciation Day.  (Yes, it does seem there is, in fact, a national day for everything. But who can begrudge squirrels their very own day?)

Hope College has one faculty member and one staff member who know quite a bit about squirrels since the little critters are the college’s unofficial mascot due to their numerous, lively and beloved presence on campus.

Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology

Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray, professor of biology, has conducted several squirrel investigations as part of her Animal Behavior classes through the years. She’s able to set the record straight about the many myths surrounding black-coated squirrels. They are not a separate species, they did not arrive in Holland, Michigan, as the results of a wrecked circus train long ago, and their “aggressive” behaviors are the same as other squirrels. As a service to all squirrels everywhere, she can debunk misconceptions, relate some amazing foraging decisions squirrels make, as well as address squirrel genetic research regarding coat colors.

Greg Olgers, director of news media services

Greg Olgers, long-time director of news media services for the Public Affairs and Marketing Office, is also somewhat of a squirrel aficionado. His research and writing about the “culture” of squirrels at Hope, in Holland and even nationwide for a News from Hope College story in 2016 meant he was digging into multiple sources for nuggets of wisdom about the creature. He can address how Holland and other U.S. cities actively built their squirrel populations in city parks at the turn of the 20th century.

The Computer Mouse Turns 50!

Though it may not seem that old, the computer mouse will soon celebrate a half-century of existence. Inventors Douglas Engelbart and Bill English began working on the device as early as 1963. English was the lead author of a 1965 report that featured the first print mention of the first mouse prototype. The Mother of All Demos, as the event has come to be known, took place on December 9, 1968, when Engelbart demonstrated his mouse, which moved rigidly along x/y axes.

Dr. Herb Dershem

During Dr. Herb Dershem’s long tenure in the department of computer science at Hope College, he saw a wide and fast-moving array of computer innovation. “When I began at Hope, the only way to interact with a computer was by a punch card,” he says.  Dershem taught in the department for 44 years (1969-2013) during the period when the computer mouse was introduced, welcomed, and embraced, revolutionizing personal and business computing along the way. He is now director of institutional research at the college and can address such questions as:

  • How did the palm-sized contraption that we all know and love get its name?
  • How have the ergonomics, technology and functionality of the computer mouse changed since its invention?
  • How has the introduction and increased use of touch screens and voice recognition changed the way people use computer mice? Are they actually being used less frequently?