All posts by Tori Indivero

So what if some female Olympians have high testosterone?

By Jaime Schultz

On August 12, Dutee Chand became just the second female sprinter to represent India at the Olympic Games. Her road to Rio has been anything but easy.

In 2014, the International Association of Athletic Federations banned her from competition on the grounds that her body naturally produced too much testosterone, a condition called hyperandrogenism. It wasn’t her fault, the organization explained. But her condition gave her an unfair edge over other female athletes, according to the IAAF policy.

Chand appealed the ruling, and in July 2015, the Court of Arbitration for Sport determined that the IAAF:

“was unable to conclude that hyperandrogenic female athletes may benefit from such a significant performance advantage that it is necessary to exclude them from competing in the female category.”

Continue reading So what if some female Olympians have high testosterone?

The neuroscience of getting “in the zone”

By Jordan Gaines Lewis

Social media exploded earlier this week with a bevy of tweets and memes featuring a rather unimpressed Olympian – and this time, it wasn’t McKayla Maroney.

On Monday night, cameras captured a hooded Michael Phelps appearing to brood and snarl in the direction of South African swimmer Chad le Clos, who was shadowboxing in preparation for the 200-meter butterfly semifinal.

 JeffAuriemma via Imgur
#PhelpsFace gif by JeffAuriemma via Imgur

Thus, #PhelpsFace was born.

Continue reading The neuroscience of getting “in the zone”

Focus on research: Emotional abuse can affect growing children, like Harry Potter

By Jordan Gaines Lewis

Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared on The Conversation. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” was released on July 31, 2016.

Perhaps it had something to do with living in a dark cupboard, but Harry had always been small and skinny for his age … [he] had a thin face, knobbly knees … and wore round glasses held together with a lot of Scotch tape because of all the times Dudley had punched him on the nose.

And so we are introduced to our protagonist, The Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One: Harry Potter. The seven books about the young wizard and his time at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have been translated into 73 different languages and sold over 450m copies worldwide. And readers wouldn’t guess, after author J K Rowling’s introduction of Harry, that the orphaned boy would be the one to defeat the powerful and devastating Dark Lord Voldemort.

Harry’s home life wasn’t as exciting as his rising wizardry: he was snubbed by his only remaining family, bullied by his cousin and classmates, and resided in that dark cupboard under the stairs. His uncle Vernon, aunt Petunia, and cousin Dudley Dursley — to whom he was passed as an infant after the death of his parents — ensure that he’s properly malnourished at all times. After spending a day cleaning the Dursleys’ entire house and working outside in the blazing July heat (on his 12th birthday, no less), Aunt Petunia prepares for Harry “two slices of bread and a lump of cheese” before sending him off to hide during their dinner party with the Masons. It’s no wonder he was so small for his age.

Continue reading Focus on research: Emotional abuse can affect growing children, like Harry Potter

A (woolly) mammoth find

Environmental changes and a lack of fresh water may have wiped out the last bastion of woolly mammoths living on St. Paul Island in Alaska. And an international team of scientists was able to date this extinction with a precision that has not been seen before.

“It’s amazing that everything turned out so precisely with dating of extinction at 5,600 plus or minus 100 years,” Russell Graham, a professor of geosciences at Penn State and the study’s lead author said. The study was released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences yesterday (August 1).

The changing climate caused sea levels to rise, and in turn the mammoths had less access to fresh water. In a New York Times article today, Graham pointed out that “this study has profound implications for both island and low-lying populations today.”

You can read the full article about Graham and his colleagues’ findings on Penn State News.

Members of the news media interested in talking to Graham should contact A’ndrea Messer at 814-865-9481 or

Featured image by Charles Robert Knight (in the public domain)

Focus on research: What makes one economy more resilient than another?

By Stephan J. GoetzDavid A. Fleming, and Yicheol Han

Markets have been in turmoil for much of the year on concerns the global economy is heading for another recession. The suspected culprits are many: the plunging price of commodities and oil, crisis in the Middle East, a slowing China and other emerging countries, and weak prospects for financial markets in general.

Coming less than a decade since the global financial crisis dealt a devastating blow to economies around the world, the current challenges raise the question of how resilient our societies are to such shocks.

In our own research, we pondered a different question: what factors make one region more resilient than another? The answer could help us understand how to make our economies better able to resist the next shock, be it financial, a natural disaster, or something else.

The next shock need not come from the finance sector but could result from a melting glacier. Reuters

Continue reading Focus on research: What makes one economy more resilient than another?