To get more of what you want, walk; an ’08 grad’s Pulitzer; bridging the Valley of Death

May 23, 2023

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Walk it out.

If you think of negotiation as a boardroom battle, you’ve already lost. In fact, you might want to leave the room altogether, says Margaret Neale, a professor emerita at the Graduate School of Business.

She and her colleagues were curious to know if the demonstrated cognitive and psychological benefits of walking could lead to less competitive, more cooperative negotiations. Neale’s previous research has shown that small shifts in context (putting the two parties side by side, for example) can affect the experience of women, who tend to fare worse than men in traditional, adversarial negotiations. So in a new study, her team had same-sex pairs leave the traditional setting entirely. And they felt better: Neale found that among duos who negotiated a fictional job offer while walking outdoors rather than sitting, participants left the encounter with more positive feelings about their negotiation partner, and women had fewer negative feelings about the negotiation as a whole. In terms of outcomes, women who walked achieved more equitable results than their seated counterparts, whereas men fared worse when walking. You can check out other negotiation tips from Neale in this 2020 Stanford magazine story.

Four ways to help research reach the world. 

There’s a place where academic research goes to die, and it’s known as the Valley of Death. It’s a concept that Chaitan Khosla, a professor of chemistry and of chemical engineering, knows all too well. In Stanford magazine, Khosla shares how his son’s celiac disease diagnosis at age 3 launched him on a mission to develop a cure. Khosla’s son is now five years out of college, and Khosla’s experimental treatment for celiac disease is still stuck in the Valley.

Most professors aren’t entrepreneurs, and many don’t have the time, funds, or technical know-how to get even the most promising research across the chasm between lab bench and bedside. Stanford hopes to bridge the gap with four new accelerators designed to help academics convert their research findings into products, policies, and medicines in the broader world. They are the Stanford Accelerator for Learning, Stanford Impact Labs, the Sustainability Accelerator, and the Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA), for which Khosla is the founder and faculty director. He hopes the support provided by IMA and the other accelerators—assistance with, for example, protocol development and regulatory activities—shortens the timeline between a promising discovery and its practical delivery. “For every one project that even gets a shot, there are 10 stories at Stanford that are at least as interesting and as potentially transformative at an equivalent stage that don’t even write the first chapter,” Khosla said.

CS 106A: The Play.

Three students sitting around a table on stage.Photo: BRAD YAC-DIAZ/The Stanford Daily

Did Stanford’s introductory computer science course make you want to act out? You’re not alone. For her capstone project, Sam Howell Petersen, ’23, created four theatrical vignettes, each named after an assignment from CS 106A. “I was really drawn to the idea of unpacking computer science in an artistic way,” she told the Stanford Daily. Each piece probes questions about the ethics and effects of technology. The Loop would like to give this concept an A, but who needs more than a C++?

The Sesame Street treatment.

Most parents can tell you that screen time turns their kids into zombies, but now the distraction factor that video affords could help doctors treat children with cancer. Typically, young children receive general anesthesia before radiotherapy treatment to ensure that they stay very still while doctors aim radiation beams at their tumors. A new study found that 78 percent of kids ages 3 to 10 could hold still through a 10- to 30-minute radiotherapy session without anesthesia if they watched videos. Repeated doses of anesthesia pose risks to children’s brains, and given that kids may need up to 35 treatments—often multiple sessions per week—and that a typical six-week course of pediatric radiotherapy costs $50,000, a little extra Paw Patrol time sounds pretty great. The study showed that replacing anesthesia with a video not only reduced the cost of treatment but also improved the total quality of life, physical appearance, and treatment anxiety of young patients.

Anxiety over cancer treatment doesn’t end when patients outgrow Elmo. One in 12 chemotherapy patients refuses chemo because they don’t want to lose their hair. Kate Dilligan, MBA ’03, sees hair loss as a privacy issue. “It is about controlling the narrative around who knows that you are sick,” she told the San Diego Union-Tribune. Dilligan is a breast cancer survivor and the founder and CEO of Cooler Heads, which debuted its FDA-approved scalp-cooling device last year in an attempt to make scalp cooling more affordable than it was for her. (She paid $8,000 for it during her cancer treatment.) Scalp cooling works by lowering the temperature of the scalp, thus constricting blood flow and reducing the amount of medication that enters hair cells. Not as fun as watching TV, but still cool.

We’d rather raise the roof.

As legal scholars debate the authority of the executive branch under the 14th Amendment to raise the nation’s debt limit, Michael McConnell, a professor of law and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, weighs in. He says that the Constitution does not allow for a unilateral decision from either side. The debt ceiling is not “a restriction on what would otherwise be the president’s ability to borrow,” he wrote. “It is an authorization for the executive branch to borrow up to that ceiling. Above that, the president may not go.”

With the days until June 1 slipping by, policy expert and Hoover Institution fellow Lanhee Chen says that there may not be enough time to hash out a compromise that meets both GOP demands and the need to raise the debt ceiling. The best option, he wrote, may be a temporary suspension of the debt ceiling, “which could improve the chance that Biden and congressional Republicans reach a budget agreement later this year that restrains spending without risking default.” But this shouldn’t be about procrastination, he says. Funding for nearly all discretionary spending programs—which Congress must approve each year—is set to expire on October 1. A suspension until October would move this debate into the annual budget and spending discussions, creating “an action-forcing mechanism to avoid both a shutdown and a debt ceiling default,” he wrote.

But wait, there’s more.

Robert Gregg, the Stanford dean for religious life from 1987 to 1999 and founder of the Abbasi Program for Islamic Studies, died in March. Gregg was a scholar of early Christianity whose vision and admiration for the multifaith student body helped shape religious and spiritual life at Stanford.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been an FDA-approved treatment for depression since 2008, but now we know how it works. In a Stanford-led study, researchers found that the magnetic pulses reversed the direction of abnormal brain signals in people with treatment-resistant depression.

Research has revealed the first cellular connections between the Mediterranean diet and longevity. Lab worms who were fed food rich in oleic acid, a healthy fatty acid, lived about 35 percent longer than those in the slimy control group. The fats increased the number of two key organelles and protected cellular membranes from damage. The same mechanisms may be at work in humans.

Until this month, only three Stanford golfers in history had won 11 career events: Maverick McNealy, ’17, (who achieved 11 wins after starting 45 times), Patrick Rodgers, ’15, (who needed just 35 starts), and Tiger Woods, ’98 (who did it in 26). Step aside, please, and give your loudest golf clap to sophomore Rose Zhang, who tied them all at the NCAA D-I Pullman Regional for 11 wins in just 19 starts.

Toluse Olorunnipa, ’08, MA ’09, White House bureau chief at the Washington Post, and co-author Robert Samuels won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction for His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice. And fellow journalist Vauhini Vara, ’04, was named the finalist for the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel The Immortal King Rao.

No. 1 women’s water polo made a splash this month with its second straight (and ninth overall) NCAA title. The past 13 NCAA titles were won by either the Card or the USC Trojans (who fell to Stanford in this year’s final, 11–9). Stanford is the only program in the country to have participated in every NCAA water polo championship since the event’s inception in 2001.

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