Our Microbial Partners

Congratulations to Ed Yong on his new book, I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life, in which he explores the microbes that live and multiply all over humans and other animals, helping us thrive and shaping our behavior.


While our view of microbes is still heavily skewed by the germ theory of disease, which paints them solely as pathogens, recent research has shown that an estimated 50% of the cells we carry around are microbial in nature, and only a fraction of these actually make us ill.

In fact, each animal is an ecosystem and our individual microbiomes play an essential role in keeping us healthy. They help us evolve, break down nutrients from the food we eat so we can better assimilate them, teach our immune system how to defend us from disease, and favor brain development, among other things. Scientists even found that germ-free mice exhibited autism-like behavior, and that probiotic therapies can have positive effects on depression and anxiety.

Yong cited seven of our articles in his book, all of which you can access for free for the next 30 days

The Influence of Milk Oligosaccharides on Microbiota of Infants: Opportunities for FormulasAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
Biofilms and Marine Invertebrate Larvae: What Bacteria Produce That Larvae Use to Choose Settlement SitesAnnual Review of Marine Science
The Microbiome in Infectious Disease and InflammationAnnual Review of Immunology
Ecological Physiology of Diet and Digestive SystemsAnnual Review of Physiology
Vaginal Microbiome: Rethinking Health and DiseaseAnnual Review of Microbiology
Human Milk Glycans Protect Infants Against Enteric PathogensAnnual Review of Nutrition
The Human Gut Microbiome: Ecology and Recent Evolutionary ChangeAnnual Review of Microbiology

For more, listen to Yong discussing his book with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross on August 18, 2016.

Leader and Leadership Development

We now know that leaders are mostly made, not born.

As organizations worldwide put a growing emphasis on finding, developing, and keeping leaders, leadership development has drawn from decades of research to become a discrete scholarly field of organizational psychology.

Establishing a framework for this field can help individuals and organizations create and expand their capabilities for effective leadership.

In their article “Leadership Development: An Outcome-Oriented Review Based on Time and Levels of Analyses,” David Day and Lisa Dragoni outline this framework and review the current knowledge to set up a theoretical foundation for future research.

“Leader development” implies a focus on individual leaders to identify short-term indicators that the work will bring about positive long-term outcomes. In this first video, Dr. Day, of the University of Western Australia, tells us more:

Once these indicators are established, Dr. Day goes on to explain that effectiveness of leadership should not be the goal of research and intervention. Instead, the goal should be to expand and enhance a leader’s capacity to be effective:

Beyond the individual, there are things organizations can do to foster leadership. In this video, Dr. Dragoni discusses the conditions that support leadership development. These include interpersonal comfort among team members, their expertise, and a shared mindset:

Lastly, Dr. Dragoni presents new avenues of research for leadership development. She insists that it is important to be very clear about the definition of the terms in order to advance this science.

Read the article in the 2015 Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, with our compliments. 

Housing and Poverty in the U.S.

Matthew Desmond, of Harvard University, was interviewed by The New York Times on his new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

Dr. Desmond co-wrote “Housing, Poverty, and the Law” with Monica Bell for the 2015 Annual Review of Law and Social Science. In this article, they examine the present state of the research on housing and housing policies, and call for further investigation of the private rental market, where the vast majority of poor families live, and its role in perpetuating poverty.

IScreen Shot 2016-02-25 at 12.59.23.pngn the book, Dr. Desmond recounts his embedded field work in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, during which he observed tenants in the city’s poorest neighborhoods, as well as their landlords.

An associate professor of social sciences at Harvard, Dr. Desmond has studied poverty from an angle that has been overlooked in recent years. While factors like jobs, the mass incarceration of black males, and parenting have drawn more attention, he says the issue of housing is  central to the creation of poverty.

As U.S. house prices soared and income and public assistance stagnated in the past two decades, Dr. Desmond says that those who can least afford to spend 70 to 80 percent of their income in rent are now the ones most likely to do it. This, he adds, is the “difference between stable and grinding poverty.” Legal and informal evictions, which used to be rare, are now happening by the millions each year. “If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women,” Dr. Desmond writes in his book. “Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.”

Dr. Desmond’s book will be published on March 1st. Powell’s. Amazon.

Group Affect

We always think of emotions as an internal feelings. Research, however, shows that emotions are contagious, and can spread quickly amongst co-workers.

Studies have even demonstrated that shared positive and negative emotions influence productivity. So how does emotional contagion help maintain group cohesiveness in a professional environment, and how can leaders cultivate positive affect for better results?

Sigal Barsade and Andrew Knight discuss their work in their article on group affect and its accompanying animated video:

Group Affect from Annual Reviews on Vimeo.