BMW drivers are jerks?

A few weeks ago, on Black Friday, my parents surprised me with a new car as an upcoming graduation gift! I previously drove a 2004 Toyota Celica that had a dent on the passenger door (thanks to my sister) and an engine light that wouldn’t turn off no matter our attempts to fix it. It was so low to the ground and had no room for passengers. My parents felt like I needed a more spacious adult vehicle. Needless to say, I was so beyond excited to get a “new-to-me” car.

You could imagine my surprise when they handed me the keys to a (used) BMW X5! Never in my wildest dreams did I see myself driving a “luxury” vehicle. I’m extremely thankful and love my new ride, but I feel like there are certain stigmas about BMW drivers that people have. I decided to do some research.

Apparently, studies done in the U.S. and the UK provide statistical evidence that BMW drivers are jerks.


A study from the Institute of Personality and Social Research at the University of California Berkeley observed how drivers acted at stop-and-go intersections where they had to deal with pedestrians. In their study they saw that eighty percent of drivers in common brand vehicles stopped and waited for pedestrians. However, luxury car drivers, especially BMWs and Mercedes Benzes, were extremely less patient or concerned about pedestrian safety. “They consistently ignored the stop signs, only slowing instead of stopping and disregarded crossing pedestrians,” said researcher Paul K. Piff. “Fancy cars were less likely to stop. BMW drivers were the worst,” he said.

So there you have it. Exciting new car with jerk persona included.

So what do you think? Is there any merit to this claim? What are your experiences with bad drivers or specific vehicle brand drivers?

I’d like to think of myself as a nice person despite the car I drive. I promise to always look both ways and stop for pedestrians.



The Detroit News


What kind of dog is that?

As stated in a previous post, my pet dog, Ducky, is my world. I have loved her since the day that I found her on the road near my house. So many people love her playful, tender spirit and I often get the question, “What kind of dog is she?”

Before doing any research, I have always just assumed that she has some dachshund in her blood somewhere because of the resemblance in her face. She acts like a dachshund and sort of looks like one, only taller. I became curious myself and decided I wanted to find out for sure what sort of mix she is.

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At our next visit to the vet, I brought up the question to the doc. He told me, in his professional opinion, that she may have some chihuahua in her lineage. He based this off of how nervous she would get around him. However, she has no temper or mean attitude that most chihuahuas I’ve met have so I wonder how accurate his opinion is. Other than that, perhaps some terrier because of the energy she has and her size.

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As hopeful as I was for answers, the vet only gave me possible explanations. I began looking online to compare her to other breeds that I felt were similar. I’ve always thought that she resembled an italian greyhound based on the shape of her body, but there had to be more in the mix somewhere.

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My only option in truly discovering the truth is to submit a DNA sample in order to receive accurate results. Unfortunately, the costs of these tests are quite high for mere curiosity.

So, for now I am satisfied with the not knowing. No matter her true breed mixture, she will always be a Ducky to me.

If you are interested in identifying your dog’s breed, you can follow a few of these steps that I’ve taken or you can even submit a DNA sample to be sure:

  • Compare breed pictures
  • Ask your vet’s opinion
  • Contact local kennel club
  • Submit a DNA sample




Youth Oasis Children’s Shelter communication research

For an entire semester I’ve had an opportunity to participate in a public relations service learning class where I partnered with students to create a PR firm that put on a campaign for a nonprofit in the Baton Rouge area. We were assigned the nonprofit Youth Oasis Children’s Shelter. We conducted research on the nonprofit’s past success in communication and awareness.

Our research can be found in our Youth Oasis Research Report

In order to collect primary research, we created an online survey that we sent to individuals in our desired key public across Baton Rouge.

From the survey, we attempted to discover the awareness and attitudes Youth Oasis’s key publics have towards the nonprofit, as well as what people think of when they hear “Youth Oasis.”

Our results have shown us that most people are way off-base when it comes to what the nonprofit is and what it does. We decided that we need to focus on the nonprofits mission in order to correct those views.

The following word clouds depict what the public thinks of when they hear “Youth Oasis” as well as what nonprofits come to mind according to our research.

Our research proves that the Youth Oasis Children’s shelter lacks the necessary community awareness in order for it to thrive. Upon receiving these findings, we developed a fundraiser event to increase its awareness and funding for the shelter in hopes that its image and message would be accepted in the community.


We raised a total of $5,700 for the nonprofit and had more than 200 people attend the event. We plan to send a post event survey to measure the effect on awareness the event created.

To learn more about the campaign and event success visit our blog post titled, “Thrive’s overall experience and service-learning.” You can watch our group’s evaluation video here.

The Eye Scare


You may not know this about me, but I am a proud dog parent. My dog is Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 7.22.02 AMbasically my child and I take her everywhere with me. She is my best friend and an important part of my family. Her name is Ducky and she is a chestnut colored mutt, but the she’s cutest one I’ve ever known.

A few weeks ago noticed that Ducky’s left eye was a little glossy. I began to panic because I thought it was a sign that she was losing her sight. I thought to myself, “This can’t be right, she’s so young! Dogs don’t lose their vision until they’re older.” I quickly called my local veterinary clinic, Griffith’s Veterinary Clinic and asked if it was something I should be concerned about. The vet secretary urged me to bring her in because animals’ eyes are so fragile.

Hours later I arrived at the vet with my dog-child in hand and we waited for the doc to see us. He came in and gave Ducky a thorough eye exam. He soon quieted my fears and told me that the fogginess in her eye simply meant that her eye was inflamed. He told me that she may have gotten something in her eye while frolicking about outside and if the eye begins to tear that I should bring her back for treatment.

I was intrigued when he told me that a dog’s eye could heal itself within a 30-minute time frame. This led me to do research on my own. I discovered that the healing time for eye injuries in dogs differs with the severity of the injury. For minor injuries like Ducky’s it only takes a short amount of time for the eye to heal itself. In more severe cases, medication, protective collars and even surgery may be necessary. According to some of the most common causes of eye injuries in dogs include:

  • When your dog has been running through heavy vegetation
  • Gunshot, fireworks, or other rapid projectiles in the vicinity of your dog
  • Pre-existing visual impairment or deformity in the structure of the eye
  • Young, naïve, or highly excitable dogs that have not learned caution
  • Fights with other animals; most notably, cats will scratch at the faces of dogs

Some of the other reasons for cloudy eyes like Ducky’s are dog cataracts and nuclear sclerosis. The eye cloudiness symptom can appear similar for cataracts and nuclear sclerosis so defines the differences between the two in an article titled “Dog Eye Problems.” The article says, “Dog cataracts is usually genetic and causes the clear lens behind the pupil to become cloudy or white. It causes the dog’s vision to worsen over time, eventually to the point of blindness.” Additionally it writes, “Nuclear sclerosis is a common and normal condition of aging, where a bluish gray (not cloudy or white) change to the lens is seen. With nuclear sclerosis, vision can become blurry but it does not lead to blindness or the more significant vision problems caused by dog cataracts. While cataracts is often genetic, it can be a result of injury or stem from chronic disease or immune problems.”

Please be sure to keep your pets eyes healthy. They are the windows to their furry souls! If you happen to see any discoloration or cloudiness in your pet’s eyes be sure to contact or visit a vet to start the appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Luckily for Ducky it was nothing major, but my hope is that this information will benefit others in a similar situation.


Milk causes prostate cancer?

How ridiculous is it to believe that something most Americans consume daily could possibly cause a serious cancer? However, there are some scientific websites out there that report, “Dairy causes prostate cancer.” To a naïve, susceptible audiences, these presumptions are considered facts.


Source: Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

According to Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, “[S]everal lines of evidence indicate that consumption of dairy products is associated with increased risk of prostate cancer incidence and mortality. Avoidance of these products may offer a means of reducing risk of this common illness.” With multiple different types of studies that have taken place in order for these conclusions to be made, one’s disbelief may begin to waiver.

WebMD cited the Dec. 7 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “Given the high prevalence of prostate cancer in American men … these findings suggest caution before one embraces the new recommendations to increase dairy intake, especially among older men,” The article also points out the scientific studies that have been conducted to back up the argument. “The researchers reviewed 12 studies, conducted between 1966 and 2005, which examined dairy and calcium intake and prostate cancer incidence. They report that men who ate the most dairy products had an 11% increase in prostate cancer risk compared with men who ate the fewest. Men with the highest intake of calcium were 39% more likely to develop prostate cancer than men with the lowest.”

The average person may be convinced after two seemingly scientific sources have confirmed there may be a link between milk and prostate cancer.

In an interview conducted with Dr. Mercola he revealed that,

“Dairy products have long been linked to prostate cancer, and the most popular theory as to why this may be is because calcium, in high levels, may impair the function of the enzyme that converts vitamin D to its active form 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D. So, over time, if you consume too much calcium, you could actually be depleting your body of cancer-fighting vitamin D.

The evidence that pasteurized dairy products contribute to prostate cancer is fairly substantial. For instance, worldwide, men seem far more likely to die of prostate cancer in countries where dairy consumption is high than in countries where it is low. In a 10-year study of nearly 21,000 male doctors, those who consumed at least 2.5 servings of dairy food per day were 30 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer than doctors who consumed less than half a serving.”

A more reliable of the online source is the Cancer Research UK. The site reported that, “Researchers and doctors all agree that diet and cancer are closely linked. And eating a well balanced diet can help to reduce the risk of cancer. What is more difficult to say is exactly which foods are most important in causing or reducing cancer risk. Studies investigating a link between cancer and dairy products have not given clear results. Some research shows an increase in the risk of developing cancer, and some shows a decrease.”

Additionally, Oncology Nutrition has done its part in easing the minds of dairy lovers everywhere. According to an interview with expert Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD,

“Dozens of research studies have looked at potential connections between calcium and prostate cancer risk. Unfortunately, this research presents a very mixed picture. Some studies suggest that too much calcium can increase prostate cancer risk. Yet other research does not show this connection.

The picture also is unclear because most of the calcium in the American diet comes from dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. It is possible that calcium itself is not a problem, but something about dairy foods increases prostate cancer risk. Further, taking into account the type of dairy food is important. Perhaps certain types of dairy foods increase prostate cancer risk while others do not.”

Furthermore Dixon states, “The one clinical trial on calcium supplements did not show that calcium increases prostate cancer risk. The dozens of observational studies on dairy foods, dietary calcium, and prostate cancer risk paint a mixed picture. However, it appears that eating moderate amounts of dairy (three or fewer servings per day) and/or dietary calcium are not associated with increased prostate cancer risk.”

The world of the web can be a confusing place especially when a topic as scary and common as cancer is in play. The most important thing when delving into any popular scientific “discovery” or “conclusion” is to do your research and use caution! Not all sources are accurate or even serve the purpose to educate. Most blogs and posts sensationalize their stories just so they can capture an audience. Unfortunately for my friend, she has been convinced of the dangers of milk. Although some studies may presume that cause and effect is the case with milk and prostate cancer, there are no clear results. Causation and correlation are important to decipher when looking at research findings.

Don’t believe everything you read online and certainly don’t be scared into banning milk from your home. In fact, feel secure in knowing that you can enjoy your cereal and cookie-dunking without any risk.


Boyles, S. (n.d.). Lots of Dairy Linked to Prostate Cancer. Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Does milk cause cancer? (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Milk Consumption and Prostate Cancer. (2010, September 24). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Nonfat Milk Linked to Prostate Cancer. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Prostate Cancer & Calcium Concerns. (n.d.). Retrieved October 22, 2015.

Dr. Kristine Delong: Under the Sea

Dr. Kristine Delong is a professor and researcher in the field of paleoclimatology, the study of reconstructing past climate patterns. Dr. Delong teaches several classes at LSU, including Sclerochronology: the use of bone and skeleton to tell time. As we walked through her lab it was easy to see that she is fascinated with life on the ocean floor. From coral skeletons and oyster shells to ancient petrified bald cypress trees found underwater, Dr. Delong says she studies “things that have annual chronology; anything that has rings and can be counted.”

On a typical day as a professor and researcher she tends to emails, teaching classes, more emails, talking with students, reading and reviewing papers and proposals. Although she spends a lot of her time dealing with the required administrative work that she describes as a “necessary evil” of her profession, her true passion lies under the sea.

“Just look at the world around you

Right here on the ocean floor

Such wonderful things surround you

What more is you looking for?”

– “Under the Sea”

Her favorite part as a scientist is the fieldwork and the scuba dives that take place within her research. Her team has had opportunities to research areas in New Caledonia, Tahiti, the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. On one specific dive Dr. Delong and her team found something truly amazing.

She described a recent dive that took place this past August off of the coast of Orange Beach, Alabama where they collected buried ancient wooden planks from bald cypress trees ten miles off of the coast.

Along with her graduate student, Dr. Delong set off on a shrimp boat out into the Gulf of Mexico to their research site which surrounds buried bald cypress trees.

“The first day was rough and I got see sick which is ironic for an oceanographer,” she said.

On the first day, the team was inside of the boat looking at computer screens and doing geophysical mapping. The team used Sonar to look through the sediments and map the pathometry of the site. Basically, the boat went back and forth over the site all day long, and everybody was sick because the waves were rough. Most people wouldn’t find this part of the job to be too glamorous.

The second day was beautiful and is where Dr. Delong finds her passion. The waves flattened out for them and they were finally able to collect sediment. Based on the geophysical data they collected the day before, they picked six locations to collect the cores. They used a vibrocore system that works under water so they were able to get almost 5 meters off of the first core.

The sample was a meter and a half of sand and the bottom of it was just plyctoseen mud, what you would see in a swamp today. There were roots and little pieces of wood in it. Then they moved closer to the site where there are trees to collect the rest of their samples. That’s where they found several of the samples they showed to us during our lab visit.

She described the site as an underwater forest of cypress stumps. When Hurricane Ivan hit the coast, these stumps of petrified wood were exposed.

“What’s unique about the site is the wood is preserved and wood doesn’t last that long under water. It decomposes.” Dr. Delong showed us samples from the trip, which they dug out of the mud while scuba diving.

(Dr. Delong describes her samples)

Essentially, these tree stumps could potentially redefine our understanding of the Gulf of Mexico’s past climate timeline. The samples are too ancient to accurately carbon date, which means they’re more than 50,000 years old. In fact, the sea level in the Gulf has not been low enough for bald cypress swamps to thrive in that location since the last glacial period: 20,000 to 100,000 years ago. Therefore, the samples are presumed to be from the glacial age! This is important because the location that the stumps were found differs with the previously established climate record of the area, which suggested that the region was too cold and dry for subtropical plants, and bald cypress trees only grow in wetland regions. This could change so much about what we thought we knew about our coast, making this new discovery truly amazing.

For more information visit the PAST Lab Homepage: