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Vighnesh Viswanathan, a Research Technician in the Reinhart Laboratory, explains the experimental task instructions to study volunteer Eleni Kouvaras before beginning data collection.

At times, we all ‘double-check’ whether we locked the door, or wash our hands again ‘just to be sure.’ However, one billion people worldwide experience these urges so intensely and continuously that they cannot help but do these actions compulsively, over and over again. Despite the prevalence of this distressing condition, our mechanistic understanding of these behaviors is incomplete and effective therapeutics are unavailable. Dr. …


By Gina Mantica

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People’s fear of 5G technology is rational. Such technology does emit radiation, even if it’s at low levels. But 5G isn’t all that different from 4G, and it certainly doesn’t cause COVID-19 despite such rumors having spread rapidly across the globe.

Researchers need to better understand how misinformation like this spreads in order to hone their intervention efforts and prevent misinformed perspectives from taking root. In society’s virtual world, preventing technological misinformation, in particular, is important now more than ever.


By Molly Gluck and Sari Cohen

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to sweep the globe, Boston University researchers sprung into action. A team of scientists at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) was the first in Boston to start research on live samples of the coronavirus — and since then, researchers across the University have dropped other projects to join the worldwide effort against COVID-19. Read below for Boston University’s most significant coronavirus-related research developments from the past year, starting with the most recent.

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What are different states doing about COVID-19? Boston University School of Public Health’s Julia Raifman has the answers. The Assistant Professor of health law, policy and management leads the team that created the COVID-19 U.S. State Policy Database — cataloging 100 policies enacted by various states and the District of Columbia to combat the medical and financial woes of the pandemic. Raifman explains: “I knew that the harms that COVID and its economic ramifications would cause were so much larger than any one research team, I wanted everyone who could work on these topics to have access to this database if it would help them.” Check out the public database and learn more about how scholars and journalists are using the resource.


By Molly Gluck

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Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

There is one thing that everyone can agree on about 2020: it was completely unpredictable. For many, this year brought more uncertainty, changes and challenges than any other time period. Although every year comes with industry disruption and innovation — the global pandemic unearthed a whole new dimension of our ‘expect the unexpected’ mentality.

Before the start of this new decade — and of our ‘new normal’ — we asked Boston University experts to share their 2020 predictions for the presidential elections, the environment, and our sentiment towards businesses and brands. As one of the most difficult and historical years comes to a close, we tapped the same experts to look back and reflect on their pre-pandemic predictions. See below for 2020 predictions from cybersecurity researcher Gianluca Stringhini, political science expert Virginia Sapiro, environmental researcher Henrik Selin, and markets, public policy and law expert Kabrina Chang — and their perspectives as they revisit their projections after living through year molded the by the COVID-19 pandemic. …


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Image source: Keyang Zheng on Unsplash

By Madeleine O’Keefe

On Sunday, November 3, most of America traveled back in time — by an hour. When daylight saving time ends and we set back our clocks, it signals the transition into late fall and winter.

With this changing of the clocks, daylight ends earlier. When this happens, some people may experience emerging feelings of sadness and sluggishness, and fluctuations in weight. If you suffer from these symptoms, you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in the seasons. SAD affects an estimated 10 million Americans, with women four times more likely to be diagnosed with it than men. …


Rather than swaying public opinion, corrections to Trump’s posts may actually backfire, study shows

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Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

By Dino P. Christenson, Douglas L. Kriner and Sarah Kreps

“STOP THE FRAUD!” President Trump tweeted November 5, the Thursday after the election. Twitter framed the tweet with warnings. Before the tweet was a label saying, “Some or all of the content shared in this tweet is disputed and might be misleading about an election or other civic process.” After, it offered a link to click to “learn about U.S. 2020 election security efforts.” As vote counting continued, Twitter flagged four such tweets in a 24-hour span.

For months, Twitter has been identifying and contextualizing Trump’s misleading tweets, aiming to stop misinformation from spreading on its platform. Such warnings may have been a public relations victory for Twitter and for the other social media companies that took similar steps in 2020, at least among some audiences. …


Child psychologist and research collaborator discusses the new study, and how the microbes in a child’s gut can impact their mental health.

By Katherine Gianni

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

What is your “gut feeling” anyway? Boston University child psychologist Nick Wagner and his peer research collaborators are ready to find out. In a first-of-its-kind study funded by a $3.6 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the team will explore how gut bacteria and brain development interact with each other to potentially make some people more susceptible to anxiety and depression later in life.

“The gut microbiome is a complex microbial ecosystem that has important effects on brain function and mental health,” Wagner said. “This research project brings together a multi-disciplinary team to examine the links between psychosocial stress, microbiome development across the first 4.5 years of life, brain functioning, and risk for anxiety.” …


The COVID-19 pandemic is putting significant stress on college students. Mental health researcher shares how to support the well-being of college students this holiday season.

By Molly Gluck and Sari Cohen

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Image credit:Noah Silliman on Unsplash

Traditionally, the holidays are a time to gather with friends and family to indulge in quality time together, delicious meals, and festivities. This year, the pandemic has stripped away the joys of gathering with loved ones, while also intensifying many stressors. For college students, this holiday season will be especially difficult as they cope with academic pressure, travel plans, isolation, and more.

Dr. Sarah Lipson, assistant professor in the Department of Health Law Policy at the Boston University School of Public Health, laser-focuses her efforts on understanding and addressing mental health concerns facing college students. Her recent research uncovered that the rate of depression among college students has increased since the start of the pandemic, and 60 percent of students report that the pandemic has made it more difficult to access mental health care. …


Environmental conservation expert discusses how his new research will play a key role in promoting a greener future.

By Katherine Gianni

For decades, scientists have been warning about potential future effects of global climate change, including more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought, and sharp increases in the number, duration, and intensity of tropical storms. And since the start of 2020, we’ve seen natural disasters in record-breaking numbers, from the wildfires that ravaged California and Colorado, to most consecutive days with temperatures skyrocketing over 100 degrees in places like Arizona. …


Mental health experts share how to cope with election-related stress and anxiety.

By Molly Gluck and Katherine Gianni

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Photo by Tiffany Tertipes on Unsplash.

There is one thing that Americans can all agree upon this election season: feelings of mounting stress. According to a new survey from the American Psychological Association, U.S. voters are reporting a significant uptick in their election-related anxieties. The survey found that 76% of registered Democrats, 67% of registered Republicans and 64% of Independents said that the upcoming presidential election is causing distress in their lives — a sharp increase when compared to the findings from 2016.

We spoke with Dr. Michelle Durham, psychiatrist and Professor of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine, and Dr. John Otis, Director of the Behavioral Medicine Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders and Research Associate Professor at the Boston University Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences to share actionable advice for reducing and coping with election-related stress and anxiety. From limiting 24-hour news consumption, to engaging in healthy, rather than heated discourse online, these professors lend their expertise for navigating a tense political climate — both on Election Day, and beyond. …

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BU Experts

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

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