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Dietrich College News
Marianna Brown Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Carnegie Mellon University

August 2015
A Safe and Creative Space To Share Difficult Stories
Since 1999, Carnegie Mellon University has encouraged Pittsburgh-area high school and college students to write poetry and prose pieces about how discrimination has affected their lives.

This video shares the history of the program as well as a few recent winners reading their award-winning works at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Awards Ceremony.

Working Memory
People have more difficulty recalling the string of letters 
BIC, IAJ, FKI, RSU and SAF than FBI, CIA, JFK, IRS and USA. 

The well-established reason is that the amount of information we can hold in our short-term or working memory is affected by whether the information can be "chunked" into larger units.

New research takes this learning principle one step further by uncovering how the strength - or familiarity - of those chunks plays a crucial role. 

"We are suggesting that working memory capacity is not a fixed quantity but interacts with the familiarity of the elements that need to be processed," said Lynne Reder, professor of psychology.

Training PA's Chinese Teachers
Speaking Chinese in the United States is on the rise, with more than 2.6 million speakers in 2009 and a growing number of students interested in learning the language.
To promote quality Chinese education for students in western Pennsylvania, CMU's Sue-mei Wu founded and leads the Chinese Language Teachers Association of Western PA (CLTA-WPA). The non-profit organization works to help improve and strengthen Chinese language and culture instruction by providing teachers opportunities to exchange information, ideas, experiences and materials.
Last month, Wu and her Modern Languages Department colleagues Gang Liu and Haixia Wang participated in a conference to train Pennsylvania's Chinese teachers.
Alumni Q&A with Patrick Cavanagh
Patrick Cavanagh (DC'72) started out as a computer and electrical engineer, but an interest in artificial intelligence led him to Carnegie Mellon University, where he could study "the really big computer."
Since receiving his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from CMU, Cavanagh worked on aspects of memory and now focuses on how the visual perception system constructs our three-dimensional world. He is currently on the faculty at Harvard University and Université Paris Descartes.
Cavanagh calls vision research "an adventure of discovery, full of surprises and challenges, with the ever-pleasant company of hardy, ingenious colleagues and students."
More Dietrich College News 
New Assistant Dean, AAC Director Named

Meet the New Assistant Dean for Educational Initiatives

In & Out of the Classroom With Vicki Helgeson

BrainHub Scientists Visualize Critical Part of Basal Ganglia Pathways

Alumna Danielle Pieratti Wins National Poetry Award

Patient-Funded Trials May Do More Harm Than Good, Ethicists Warn

'Apology to the Moon' Is Latest Poetry Collection by Jim Daniels

National Institute of Statistical Sciences Honors Stephen E. Fienberg

World Economic Forum Selects CMU BrainHub Startup as Technology Pioneer

Simon Initiative Hires Learning Engineer
Center for the Arts in Society "A Dialogue with Charleston Artists"

Class Notes


Find out what's new with Christine de Briffault (DC'08), Laura Thoren (DC'10), Chloe Fraboni (DC'11) and others in Class Notes


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Personal Mention
Dietrich College Personal Mention shares news and accomplishments from the college's faculty and staff.

Included in this issue are Gary DiLisio, Mara Harrell, Ken Kotovsky and more.

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Dietrich College
in the News
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: 
Rockers find welcome reception, new gigs in today's culture

Chicago Tribune: 
Be generous: It's a simple way to stay healthier

LA Times: 
Gaming against sexual assault, with 'Decisions That Matter' and other video games

Can Therapy Help You Balance Your Checkbook?

CBS Detroit: How A Philosophy Course Based On "The 100" Came To Be At Carnegie Mellon 

Welcome Back!
First Year Orientation is underway, and classes start on Monday.

The next issue of Dietrich College News will feature photos, videos and stories from orientation, including the Postprandial Scavenger Hunt as pictured below.

Join the fun on social media by following the #CMUdietrich hashtag.
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