Study of human behavior takes ASU anthropology student across globe

April 29, 2015

How do humans obtain and transmit information in their social environments? What are the evolutionary foundations of human deception? How does human behavior vary across cultures?

These are some of the questions Arizona State University doctoral anthropology student Leonid Tiokhin is attempting to answer. Leonid Tiokhin Download Full Image

Tiokhin’s research is strongly grounded in evolutionary theory. In particular, he is interested in the evolution of information transmission and the ways in which humans’ reliance on social information leaves them vulnerable to deception.

“For my master's thesis I am developing a new hypothesis for the evolution of symptom expression, grounded in evolutionary theories of communication,” he explained. “In the future, I hope to expand my work across cultures by establishing a long-term field site in Indonesia.”

Tiokhin has already conducted on-the-ground research in two diverse regions. In Indonesia, he worked with the Karo Batak of North Sumatra for two months and lived in different villages for the next four as he studied Bahasa Indonesia, the official language of Indonesia. After Southeast Asia, he traveled to Armenia and spent six months learning Armenian before returning later to do fieldwork.

This summer, he will revisit Indonesia as a Fulbright-Hays scholar. He plans to immerse himself in the study of Bahasa Indonesia by attending the Consortium for the Teaching of Indonesian advanced language program in Salatiga, Java.

Born in Russia, Tiokhin moved to the U.S. when he was three and grew up in California, graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA, he worked at the Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture, where he spent two years as its coordinator.

As an undergrad, he was part of a news-making research team led by evolutionary anthropologist Daniel Fessler, which introduced the “Crazy Bastard Hypothesis.” This research proposed an evolutionary basis for the typical risk-taking behavior of young men: it creates the image of a dangerous enemy and a powerful ally in the eye of the beholder.

At ASU, Tiokhin’s research is conducted as part of the Laboratory of Culture Change and Behavior, overseen by associate professor Daniel Hruschka in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Hruschka is excited about his advisee's recent Fulbright-Hays win, as well as his future. "This will be a great opportunity for Leo to grow his Indonesian skills as he prepares for a career in anthropology and evolutionary medicine," he said.

Tiokhin hopes to eventually obtain an academic post at a major research university.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Engineering achievements earn ASU professors fellow status

April 29, 2015

Outstanding accomplishments in engineering have earned Arizona State University professors Daniel Bliss and Yong-Hang Zhang honored status in one of the world’s most prominent professional organizations.

They are among colleagues selected as new fellows of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Fellow is a distinction reserved for the most prestigious IEEE members and is conferred by the board of directors upon engineers with an extraordinary record of accomplishments in their field. portrait of ASU associate professor Daniel Bliss Download Full Image

The total number of new fellows selected in any one year does not exceed one-tenth of one percent of the total voting institute membership of approximately 400,000 from 160 countries.

Bliss is an associate professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

His research focuses on developing new capabilities and improved performance of wireless communications and remote sensing. He is working on better radar technology for the military and automobile industry, for example, and how to enable significantly higher phone and Wi-Fi data rates in congested environments, as well as dramatic reduction of power consumption of Wi-Fi routers (which are estimated to consume a significant fraction of a billion watts in the U.S., continuously).

Bliss also researches anticipatory medical analytics, finding ways to use technology to predict medical events that humans are not able to identify, such as epileptic seizures and possible postoperative complications of cardiac surgery patients

Zhang is a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering and associate dean for research for the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

His research covers a broad area of optoelectronics, a branch of electronics that is responsible for innovations like electric eyes and photovoltaic (solar) power. Over the past nine years, Zhang and his research group have developed more than two dozen invention disclosures with applications in the aforementioned solar power industry, as well as optical communication and environmental monitoring and defense.

Sharon Keeler