Social science that uses qualitative research methods is ideal for understanding complex social and political processes that contribute to pressing societal issues. But this type of research is limited by the time-consuming process of manually collecting and analyzing qualitative data. To address this problem, sociologists at Boston University (BU) and the University of Denver joined forces with software engineers at BU to study the complex issue of criminal justice reform across the United States.

The project, led by Hariri Institute steering committee member Heather Schoenfeld, Associate Professor in Sociology at BU, and Michael Campbell, Associate Professor in the Department of…

Community health sciences expert discusses the importance of open communication with sexual partner(s), affirmative consent, and how to stand with survivors this month and beyond.

By Katherine Gianni

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, on average, there are 433,648 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. April 2021 marks the official 20th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, an annual campaign aimed to raise public awareness about the prevalence of sexual violence, educate communities on how to prevent it at all…

Researchers pull from Thoreau’s findings to investigate how climate change is affecting local environments.

By Katherine Gianni

As a leading naturalist, essayist, poet, and philosopher, Henry David Thoreau could teach courses across a variety of disciplines, but it’s his observations on fruiting that has guided Boston University Professor of Biology Richard Primack and his colleagues’ latest research. In a new article in Annals of Botany, the BU plant ecologists demonstrate that there is a strong sequence of fruiting in New England plants, with species such as blueberries fruiting in mid-summer and hollies fruiting much later in autumn. The findings help…

Sleep neurologist shares strategies to improve sleep and overall well-being

By Molly Gluck and Sari Cohen

Photo by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash

Having trouble sleeping? Look no further. Dr. Naina Limbekar, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Boston University School of Medicine within the Sleep Disorders Division, and sleep neurologist at Boston Medical Center, is an expert on the relationship between health, wellness and sleep.

A good night’s sleep is critical for our mental health and well-being, but maintaining healthy sleep habits can be difficult — especially now, when our routines and lifestyles have been significantly shifted by the pandemic. Dr. Limbekar recently took to Reddit to help people experiencing sleep-related challenges. …

Environmental researchers discuss the link between the environment, ethics, and human health while outlining ways to live more sustainably.

Photo by Marina Logvin on Unsplash

By Katherine Gianni and Molly Gluck

As the old adage goes, it’s easy to wake up and feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. On a global scale, people continue to face a crippling health pandemic, challenge the deep roots of institutional racism and oppression, fight the environmental crisis, and deal with an uncertain political climate. …

By Jonathan Levy for The Conversation

Residents of the Jacob Riis Settlement in New York City hold photographs of leaks, mold, peeling paint and other issues during a community town hall meeting on March 7, 2019. AP Photo/Kathy Willens

During a presidential election debate on Oct. 22, 2020, former President Donald Trump railed against Democratic proposals to retrofit homes. “They want to take buildings down because they want to make bigger windows into smaller windows,” he said. “As far as they’re concerned, if you had no window, it would be a lovely thing.”

What a difference five months makes. While replacing your big windows with small ones is not on the Biden-Harris administration’s agenda, increasing home energy efficiency is. …

Psychology offers some clues to how they arise and thrive

Photo by Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Peter Blake for BU Today

In the 1980s, Satan was everywhere. Satan worshippers ran daycares and forced children to do heinous acts. They flew through the air and killed babies in ritual sacrifices. Most of these fantastical claims came from children, eager to please the adults asking leading questions. Investigations were conducted in multiple cities across the United States and Canada, and although no physical evidence of the crimes was found, people were convicted and sent to prison.

What came to be called the Satanic Panic offers a useful parallel to the conspiracies we see today. QAnon adherents claim…

Health System Innovation and Policy expert Rena Conti on the historic COVID-19 vaccine deal between Merck and Johnson & Johnson

In a White House–brokered deal, business rivals Merck and Johnson & Johnson will partner to manufacture the latter’s COVID-19 vaccine. Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

By Rich Barlow for BU Today

President Joe Biden on Tuesday announced a rare and historic collaboration between two Big Pharma behemoths and rivals, Merck and Johnson & Johnson, in which the former will help manufacture the latter’s recently approved single-shot COVID-19 vaccine.

These collaborations don’t happen often, and when they do, it’s usually in pursuit of something big: in 2004, Sony and Samsung teamed up to research designs for flat-screen LED televisions. In 2011, Toyota and Ford started jointly designing a hybrid vehicle. …

Earth and environment scientist talks about the trouble we should have seen coming and what could lie ahead

Cutler Cleveland says Texas grid planners elevated cheap electricity above planning priorities and deliberately ignored repeated warnings that the grid was highly vulnerable to extreme weather. Photo by Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP

By Art Jahnke for BU Today

Last week’s cross-continental deep freeze was a stunning weather event in what appears to be a cascade of extreme weather events, many of them highlighting a lack of preparedness by state and federal agencies. The most recent disaster triggered massive power blackouts in several states, shut down one-third of the country’s oil production, and paralyzed roadways across the South. At least 58 people died, more than half in Texas, where 2 million people lost power and 13 million needed to boil their water before drinking it.

Power blackouts also plagued hundreds of thousands of…

Study shows personal stories are more effective than facts in countering anti-vaxxers

Photo by zoranm/iStock

By Andrew Thurston for BU Today

Just after Christmas, a Wisconsin pharmacist attempted to destroy 570 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, yanking precious vials from a storage refrigerator. According to multiple reports, he’d become convinced it could alter human DNA. It can’t. Nor, as other false rumors have claimed, will it allow the government to track you or fill your body with fetal tissue — but that hasn’t stopped vaccine misinformation from spreading online, spooking people concerned about potential side effects.

“Misinformation is more impactful than the correction,” says Michelle A. Amazeen, a Boston University associate professor of mass communication.

BU Experts

Cutting-edge research and commentary out of Boston University, home to Nobel laureates, Pulitzer winners and Guggenheim Scholars. Find an expert:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store