Research News | Duke Kunshan University

Research News

Recent research highlights from Duke Kunshan University’s centers and programs, plus a few other places. Use the filter to narrow your search.

Mefenamic acid may ease depressive symptoms triggered by chronic stress

Psychosocial stresses such as a perceived threat to one’s safety or social status are major risk factors for the onset of depression. However, biologist Chang Y. Chung and fellow researchers have discovered that depressive behaviors induced by chronic mild stresses may improve with the use of mefenamic acid, an anti-inflammatory drug used for short-term pain relief. Mefenamic acid inhibits microglia activation/phagocytosis induced by chronic stress in the hippocampus, resulting in the improvement of depressive symptoms. The findings were published by Brain Research.

Reducing air pollution, increasing greenery could slow or prevent cognitive decline

Despite cognitive decline being the most feared aspect of growing old, there is a lack of research into the potential effect air pollution and other risk factors can have on brain function, especially in developing countries. Using data from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Study to conduct two separate studies, environmental health expert John Ji and colleagues in China and the U.S. found that reducing exposure to PM2.5 (tiny, harmful airborne particles) could delay or prevent poor cognitive function, while increasing residential greenness could have a similarly positive effect.

Indistinguishable particles can enhance collective performance of quantum heat engines

In research published in Physical Review Letters, quantum physicist Myung-Joong Hwang and colleagues in China, Germany, India and the U.S. show that by harnessing indistinguishability, a fundamental property of quantum particles, the collective thermodynamic performance of quantum heat engines can be made more efficient.

Duration of exposure to air pollution could affect inflammatory response in adults

Exposure to air pollutants has been associated with respiratory and cardiovascular illness, yet the scientific community still does not fully understand the underlying molecular mechanisms. After testing 53 adults over two months, environmental health expert Jim Zhang and colleagues found that breathing in ozone for different time durations could affect a person’s inflammatory responses in different ways. The findings were published in Environmental Pollution. Zhang is director of the Regional Ozone Sino-U.S. Collaborative Research Center.

Using personal air filters to cut PM2.5 exposure protects airways of asthmatic children

With the importance of airway mechanics in child asthma receiving increased recognition, a research team including Jim Zhang, director of the Regional Ozone Sino-U.S. Collaborative Research Center, conducted a study in Shanghai to examine the responses of airway mechanics to air pollution exposure in asthmatic children. The findings, published in Environment International, suggest that reducing exposure to PM2.5 (tiny airborne particles that can harm health), such as through air filtration and other personal air quality management, is important to protecting airways.

Partisan bias in economic perceptions

With the recent rise of polarization and adversarial politics, many have blamed political parties for constraining individuals in forming a reasoned and dispassionate view of politics and issues. In a chapter for “Research Handbook for Political Partisanship” (Edward Elgar, 2020), political scientist Philip Santoso empirically measures the strength of partisan bias across 15 European countries and concludes that it’s the structure of the media environment that shapes how citizens acquire information and form political attitudes.

On-the-fly data loader with utterance-level aggregation for speaker, language recognition

Working with four different datasets, Ming Li and fellow researchers directly modelled utterance-level aggregation for end-to-end speaker and language recognition with a data loader that generates mini-batch samples on the fly, allowing batch-wise variable length training and online data augmentation. IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing published their findings on the effectiveness of the training.

How environmental policy can affect polluters’ exports

Stringent water pollution regulations in China not only can help improve the environment but also significantly affect the decisions polluting companies make regarding their exports, including types of products and destinations, depending on the trade mode, economist Jingbo Cui and colleagues found in a study published in China Economic Review. They discovered that tightened standards have led to some “dirty firms” switching to less-polluting products.

Does residential greenness protect against the dangers of air pollution?

Air pollution in China is the fourth-largest cause of death and disability combined. In a study, John Ji and Anna Zhu of the Environmental Research Center and colleagues assessed whether greenness protects against air pollution-related mortality. The findings, published by The Lancet Planetary Health, suggest people living in urban areas benefit more from greenness, while rural residents experience more harm from low-level air pollution.

The longer history of imperial incidents on the Yangtze

Today, the United States operates nearly 800 overseas military bases in more than 70 countries. But before World War II, China hosted the largest U.S. military presence on foreign soil. A new article by historian Zach Fredman published in Modern American History examines how this presence contributed to anti-imperialist resentment by looking at a deadly 1933 accident involving the USS Panay, a U.S. Navy gunboat that Japanese aircraft famously bombed and sank near Nanjing in 1937.

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