Page 3February 6, 2013
Professor wins award
Perhaps you’ve heard of an operantconditioning chamber, or skinner box, which is a laboratory apparatus used inthe experimental analysis of behaviorto study animal behavior. An award after the name of its cre-ator, B. F. Skinner, has been recently awarded to Mercyhurst University’s Assistant Professor of Psychology Matthew T. Weaver, Ph.D. Weaver is the 2013 recipient of theB. F. Skinner award for his efforts todiscover why nicotine, the addictivecomponent in tobacco products likecigarettes, is so addictive. Particu-
larly, he wants to ﬁgure out why some
people get addicted to nicotine yetothers walk away from the drug.“I had a group of friends who scat-tered after high school,” said Weaver,“and some abused drugs, but somedidn’t, even though they had similarbackgrounds. I wanted to know why that was.” Weaver came to Mercyhurst fromthe University of Pittsburgh where he
and colleagues ﬁrst started to ponder
and research why nicotine was soaddictive. This turned out to be quitea complicated answer and led Weaverto be awarded the B. F. Skinner award while he continues his research.“It’s very humbling and gratify-ing,” said Weaver, about the award,“It is really nice to be recognized by my peers.” Weaver said that being therecipient of this prestigious award val-idates his research, especially because
Skinner greatly inﬂuenced his work.
“It validates what I came to [Mer-cyhurst] to do, validates what the uni- versity wants to do,” said Weaver, “andalso includes student assistance.”Currently, Weaver and several stu-dents are in the process of setting upa lab in order to study nicotine addic-
tion. They have placed ﬂiers all around
the university seeking people whosmoke to participate in their studies. Jessica Braymiller, psychology stu-dent and research assistant, set up the
lab’s ﬁrst study and anticipates the
beginning of several other studies asthe lab grows.“I’m glad to be working underDr. Weaver,” said Braymiller. “It’shands-on experience and exactly whatI want to do with my future.” Weaver and the students focus on abehavioral mechanism known as impul-sivity, and how that affects nicotineaddiction. Along with environmentaland other factors, they seek to discover what leads people to abuse drugs andother not so great practices in society.“Impulsivity is of interest to us
(and psychology as a ﬁeld) because it
is relevant to socially important pat-terns of behavior such as substanceabuse, pathological gambling, eating disorders, etc.,” said junior JordanKist. “I am very interested in the study of behavior, addiction, and the brainmechanisms involved.”Senior Josh Kimm is one of two“team leaders” running the researchproject that focuses on the effects of nic-otine. His interest in Weaver’s researchand psychology in general concerns themental disorder known as schizophrenia.“You mention the disorder [schizo-phrenia] and everyone has heard aboutit. It’s one of the most widely knownand occurring disorders yet it is able
to bafﬂe almost everyone as to why it
occurs/what causes it,” said Kimm,“I just want to know more about thedisorder and maybe understand whatcauses it. Hopefully my research heremight be able to tell me a little bit moresince it has been found that schizo-phrenic [people] have a higher smoking rate than non-schizophrenic [people].” The lab runs simple experimentssuch as using an eye tracker to see if smokers look at images of ashtrayslonger than non-smokers, and plans oncontinuing to run tests in the future. Weaver hopes that by keeping studentsinvolved in the journey, conceptslearned in the classroom will be trans-
lated into ﬁeld research.
By Kierston Bromley
Enter the 2013 C-CUE student video contest
The Consortium for Computing in Undergraduate Education, Incor C-CUE, is running a student video contest for the best creativesolutions to real world problems. Winning videos will be awarded on April 26, and will receive ashare of the $1,000 cash money.Student videos should include: background of the research, clearoutline of the real world problem and demonstration of creativesolution. The videos should involve creative use of technological basedresources such as social media and other similar technologies.Entries should be no less than three minutes, and should beemailed to email@example.com by Monday, April 15.
Springfest DJacts revealed
This week, Mercyhurst students were pleased with the revealing of this year’s Springfest performers, The White Panda and Super MashBros. The event, planned in conjunctionby Mercyhurst Student Government(MSG) and the Student ActivitiesCouncil (SAC), is a student favorite,and this year will hopefully not be anexception. The decision is a sharp turn fromprevious performers, which includedPlain White T’s, Hellogoodbyeand Sean Kingston, who are morerenowned in the pop scene than theDJs set to perform this year. Both art-ists scheduled for this year are knownfor their mash-ups, which combine various Top 40 hits into one track.“[Top 40 hits] are songs people listento when they go out,” said SAC Chair Adam Borgman. “We want people tocome out to dance and have fun at thisyear’s Springfest.” A major difference regarding thisyear’s announcement was the mannerin which it was done. As opposed tohaving a reveal party like they have thepast years, SAC decided to cut on costsso they could add to the production of the event itself.“Last year for Sean Kingston, wehad a low turnout. Around 30 peopleshowed up to the reveal party and, within an hour, the entire schoolknew. Since the rumor mill runs atthe speed of light, we decided to usethat instead,” added Jenna Dasciano,events coordinator for MSG.“We told one of our MSG Sen-ators, Emily Carrier, who the per-former was. She was the only one who knew, but we wanted to test how fast [word] spread. We really wantedpeople to guess who it was, so this was a great way to see it happen,”Borgman said.Student response has mainly beenpositive, with students excited to seea different kind of performance atSpringfest.“It’s a hundred times better than what we’ve had in past years. I’m
deﬁnitely attending the concert this
year,” sophomore Brendan Mortimersaid.Sophomore Damir Demirovicexpressed growing interest with theannouncement of this year’s perform-ers.“I’ve gotten into White Pandaover the last year and can’t wait tosee them at Mercyhurst,” Demirovicsaid. Although they have not faced any negative feedback regarding the deci-sion, Borgman encourages students toattend MSG meetings. The meetingstake place in the MSG Chambers inthe Student Union on Mondays at 8:30p.m., and are open to the students to voice their opinions, positive or nega-tive.Springfest is scheduled for Friday,May 3, and the ticket release date willbe announced closer to the event.
See review of The White Panda and Super Mash Bros. on page 6.
By Juan Mendez
Sami Rapp photo
Matthew T. Weaver Ph.D., wonthe 2013 B. F. Skinner awardfor his nicotine research.