Category Archives: Society & Culture

Live, from the Dead Sea

[Penn State scholar Daniel Falk got the chance of a lifetime last week, when he, Martin Abegg (emeritus professor from Trinity Western University), and Alison Schofield (from the University of Denver) were invited to join an archaeological expedition to a cave in a high bluff near the Dead Sea. Falk and his colleagues, all experts in the translation and interpretation of scroll texts, were recently chosen to edit a new, 15-volume critical edition of the Dead Sea Scrolls. They are in Israel now to study fragments of scrolls that were found in similar caves decades ago. The chance to perhaps discover more fragments (and play at being Indiana Jones for a few days) was too good to pass up. Here are some of Falk’s updates from the site. All photos courtesy of Daniel Falk.]

[Also see our follow-up post featuring video clips from the expediton.]

May 31. Off today to join the team excavating in the Cave of Skulls in the Judean Desert, with Alison Schofield and Martin Abegg.


The hope of the excavation is to find some more Dead Sea Scrolls, or at least to make sure nothing has been left there. Some small fragments were found recently by looters. The cave is about 80 meters from the top of the cliff, and c. 250 m above the base of the wadi.

View of caves

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Probing Question: How can we prepare for storm surge?

What happens when a hurricane makes landfall and brings with it a deluge of deadly water? The storm surge in a hurricane is arguably the greatest threat to lives and one that is often ignored.

Brent Yarnal, professor of geography in Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, researches the vulnerability of coastal communities to contemporary hurricane storm surge and the role of our rising sea level in increasingly destructive storms. Are there ways to rebuild the shoreline’s natural defenses against hurricanes and flooding? Can coastal communities prevent catastrophic damage to people and property?

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Minding mental health


Mental health has long been a taboo topic, but with the help of education and awareness efforts the stigma is beginning to fade.

More and more college students are seeking out their campus counseling centers, as Brian Locke, executive director of the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, wrote in this week’s Focus on Research column.

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Focus on research: More college students seeking mental health help

By Ben Locke

Beginning in 1949, a week in May was promoted as Mental Health Awareness Week — which eventually became Mental Health Awareness Month. The goal was — and still is — to educate the public about the signs, symptoms and treatments as well as the positive lifestyle choices that lead to mental health.

An estimated 1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. And the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation shows that when compared to other health risks, mental illness is responsible for approximately 30 percent of all lost life and productivity for Americans aged 15 to 24, an age range that includes the majority of U.S. college students.

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Focus on research: PA primaries offer microcosm of unusual election year

By Michael Berkman and Zachary Baumann

In an election year notable for the success of “outsider candidates,” Pennsylvania confirmed that the party establishment has a much stronger hold on the Democratic than it does the Republican Party.

Pennsylvania Democrats participated in three notable statewide races: for president, for senator and to replace Kathleen Kane as attorney general. As we saw, in all three cases, the establishment candidate won by a significant margin.

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