April 15 marks the end of the 2018 tax filing season and is the final day to submit 2018 tax returns. For many, taxes are an unwanted chore made bittersweet by the promise of a refund. Or not. This year’s changes in the tax code have created headaches for taxpayers as unexpected payouts are being discovered by many.
Sheri Geddes, associate professor of accounting, primarily teaches individual taxation, corporate taxation, and managerial accounting at Hope. Her research interests are retirement preparation and financial literacy. Geddes is able to address the changes that have occurred for the 2018 tax filing season and how those changes affect individual taxpayers.
April 11 is World Parkinson’s Day, dedicated to raising awareness and support for people who have the disease. Parkinson’s disease is a disorder of the central nervous system, with tremors being the most recognizable symptom. Over the years, researchers have found that dopamine acts as a messenger between Parkinson’s patients’ brain cells and enables them to complete everyday behaviors like moving, eating, and learning.
Dr. Leah Chase, associate professor of biology and chemistry, is one of those researchers conducting Parkinson’s disease investigations at the cellular level. In fact, looking into the brain’s biological and chemical flaws, especially as they pertain to Parkinson’s, has driven her neurological research agenda in Schaap Science Center for the past 15 years. She and her student research team made a first-time discovery about how dopaminergic brain cells naturally protect themselves against oxidative stress, a known problem in the cells of Parkinson’s sufferers. “Our research is the basic science needed in order for somebody, someday to fix the problem with a new drug,” Chase said.
March Madness — aka the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament — begins on March 17 with Selection Sunday and concludes April 8 with the Final Four. The women’s tournament coincides closely with those dates as well. Office bracket pools will begin and result in distracted co-workers as the “madness” encourages fans to root for expected winners while bemoaning busted brackets due to upsets and Cinderella stories. From a collegiate athletic viewpoint, “fortunes” rise and fall as teams either win or go home.
Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of advancing clocks during summer (and spring and fall) months so that evening daylight lasts longer, while sacrificing normal sunrise times. In effect, DST causes a lost hour of sleep in the spring and an extra hour of sleep in the fall. DST disrupts our internal clock, contributing to productivity wanes at work, significant pedestrian and traffic accidents increases and serious health impacts.
Dr. Andrew Gall, assistant professor of psychology, is a behavioral neuroscientist who focuses his research on understanding the neural mechanisms and functions of sleep and circadian rhythms. He is able to address questions on how DST affects the mind and body’s ability to cope with lost sleep and disruption in the circadian rhythm.
“Brain regions that receive direct information about light, such as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, must re-entrain to the adjusted time of day following a time change,” Gall says. “It takes our bodies longer to adjust to the spring time change as compared to the fall time change, similar to when we travel east, due to the phase advance in our biological clock. One way to help your bodies adjust more quickly is to wake up about 15 minutes earlier each day starting several days before the time change, and go to bed earlier and earlier each night. Doing so will start to adjust your internal clock before the time changes in the early hours of Sunday morning.”
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.
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.
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?!
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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.