Nebraska in the national news: April 2019

· 9 min read

Nebraska in the national news: April 2019

The announcement of a major grant to support a new University of Nebraska–Lincoln research center made national headlines in April. The articles were among 45-plus to feature the university’s faculty, students and programs during the month.

The university has earned an $11.85 million National Institutes of Health grant to establish the multidisciplinary Rural Drug Addiction Research Center. The center will conduct cutting-edge research into understanding the extent and nature of rural addiction, develop evidence-based treatment methods, and support outreach and policy efforts to help reduce addiction and overdoses.

“The patterns of drug use addiction in the Midwest are so different from those on either coast or in Appalachia,” said center director Kirk Dombrowski, John Bruhn Professor of sociology. “This will be the only major research center in the country that focuses specifically on rural drug use in the Midwest.”

Stories on the center appeared in more than a dozen Nebraska media outlets — including the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and KETV. An Associated Press story on the center was picked up by more than 50 other outlets across the country — including The Kansas City Star, Houston Chronicle and Miami Herald.

Other coverage:

Heather Richards-Rissetto, anthropology, participated in a discussion on the risks of people archiving their lives online April 1 on WBUR’s “On Point.” The segment aired on several other stations across the country.

A University of Nebraska–Lincoln study was cited in an April 1 Food Business News article on meat processors working to reduce food waste by extending shelf life. The study showed that using a lower level of rosemary extract in combination with green tea extract often results in a blend that works better to preserve meat than using rosemary alone.

An article by Travis Mulliniks, range cow production systems specialist at the university’s West Central Research and Extension Center, was featured in an April 2 Beef magazine story on the drawbacks of cattle with high milking ability. Cows with an abundance of milk cost more to feed and have lower rates of fertility, Mulliniks wrote.

Adam Houston, Earth and atmospheric sciences, is leading a multi-institutional, drone-based investigation of severe storms. The Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells (TORUS) project, the largest-ever study of its kind, begins May 15. The National Science Foundation and UAS Vision ran stories on the project.

Leslie Carlson, marketing, was interviewed for an April 3 Forbes article on cow brushes, which are designed to help dairy cows reduce stress, enjoy themselves and stay clean. Carlson said he’s not convinced that the appeal of the brushes cuts across all consumers of any age group and cautions against any strategy that leads to increased milk prices. Still, he acknowledged that there is a segment who will find it appealing.

Chigozie Obioma, English, recently contributed an essay on America to the anthology “The Good Immigrant USA.” In the essay, he traces his journey from Nigeria to North Cypress to the United States by way of his debut novel, “The Fishermen.” The essay was highlighted in an April 3 review of the anthology in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Obioma was also interviewed for The Times Literary Supplement’s “Twenty Questions” feature. The interview was published April 15.

Members of the university’s Theme Park Design Group — a campus club of multiple majors — have created enrichment items for the giraffes at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo. The colorful feeders and other playthings were designed and fabricated at Nebraska Innovation Studio. published a story on the project April 5.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs auditioned for the ABC reality show “Shark Tank” April 6 at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The event was organized by the university’s Engler Entrepreneurship Program. Stories on the auditions appeared on KLKN and in the Lincoln Journal Star and Silicon Prairie News.

Yvonne Lai, mathematics, was interviewed for an April 7 NPR story on George Berzsenyi, a retired math professor who has mentored thousands of gifted high school students. Lai first met Berzsenyi at his Young Scholars Program in 1995.

The U.S. Drought Monitor was cited in an April 8 Wall Street Journal article on California potentially seeing fewer wildfires this year thanks to a wet winter. The state is drought-free for the first time since 2011, according to the monitor. The monitor is produced by the university’s National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The drought monitor was cited in an April 12 Weather Channel article on drought coverage in the continental United States dropping to a record low for the 21st century.

A recent NASA article also mentioned the drought monitor. Looking to give the monitor a more complete picture for its assessments, an Applied Sciences project, led by NASA hydrologist Matt Rodell, developed new drought indicators using Earth observations from ground data and NASA satellites.

Frans von der Dunk, space law, recently wrote an article for the Friends of Europe website on how Europe should respond to President Donald Trump’s proposed Space Force. He said whether the proposal should be seen as a positive development for Europe or an exacerbation of rising global political tensions depends on what the Space Force turns out to be.

Jody Green, an urban entomologist with Nebraska Extension, was interviewed for a series of articles in Reader’s Digest about bed bugs. She discussed the ineffectiveness of bed bug sprays and repellents (April 9), tips for preventing bed bugs (April 11); home remedies (April 12); what bed bug eggs look like (April 25); whether bed bugs can fly (April 25); and how big they can get (April 30).

The university’s Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program kicked off its 2019 competitions March 19. More than 100 participants on 49 teams — the largest number in the program’s three-year history — are set to compete. Stories on the program appeared in Growing America and Nebraska Farmer.

Kathleen Cue and John Porter with the Dodge County Extension Office contributed to an April 10 Outdoor Enthusiast Lifestyle article on morel mushroom hunting. They wrote that any mushrooms growing in areas recently exposed to flooding should be assumed to be contaminated and should not be eaten.

Kate Lyons, biological sciences, was quoted in an April 11 article on how humans have hunted, farmed and warmed their way to the sixth mass extinction. She said humans have caused extensive losses of other species because people aren’t like other predators. Humans don’t follow the typical predator-prey cycles, with predator populations falling in response to overhunting. The human intellect has also given rise to extremely effective weapons, such as the spear-hurling atlatl.

Husker researchers used eye tracking to study situational awareness on a construction site. The research was mentioned in an April 11 EHS Today story on eye-tracking technology and workplace safety.

Abby Kurth, of Bettendorf, Iowa, a senior vocal performance major at Nebraska, took second place in the 2019 North American Vocal Competition, sponsored by music publisher Hal Leonard. The Quad-City Times published a brief on the accomplishment April 11.

Patrick Shea, xenobiotic chemistry and toxicology, was part of a multi-institutional research team that found that beads made of discarded lithium-ion batteries can be used to remove heavy metals from water. The Times of India published an article on the research April 14. The story was picked up EQ International.

The University of Nebraska is developing a summer service program to pair 50 skilled students with the highest needs of areas affected by flooding. For example, engineering students may help assess roads and bridges, and nutrition students may help with family nutrition, said Kathleen Lodl, associate dean and 4-H program administrator with Nebraska Extension. Lodl was interviewed for an April 16 Pew Charitable Trusts article on the flooding aftermath. Extension educator Gary Lesoing was also interviewed for the story.

Tyler Williams, associate extension educator with Nebraska Extension, was quoted in an April 16 Christian Science Monitor article on Nebraskans talking about extreme weather after recent severe flooding in the state. The story said many are hesitant to attribute the flooding to climate change. The story also cited a 2015 University of Nebraska–Lincoln report showing that most Nebraska pastors are afraid of addressing climate change for fear of splitting their congregations.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln was highlighted in an April 17 Forbes article on universities that offer application deadlines of May 1 or later. Nebraska has a rolling admissions deadline of May 1.

Concetta DiRusso and Paul Black, both biochemistry, and colleagues have authored a study implicating a protein in fueling tumor growth — and showing that a compound developed at Nebraska may assist cancer therapies by slowing that growth. Stories on the research have appeared in KFXL, KHGI, KOLN/KGIN, Ecancer, Medical Xpress, ScienceDaily and a few other media outlets. The study was originally published in the journal Nature.

Husker researchers are studying land resiliency to help manage the future of agriculture. RFD-TV aired a story on the research April 18. Craig Allen, director of the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, was featured in the story.

Jay Parsons, agricultural economics, and Allan Vyhnalek, extension educator with Nebraska Extension, were quoted in a April 19 Successful Farming article on eight reasons the livestock industry is on a roll.

Eric North, urban and community forestry, has created two charts showing possible growth rates of the character Groot from the “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Avengers” movies. One chart assumed Groot would top out at his original “Guardians” height of 12 feet, 4 inches (an exponential function). The other suggested he could reach 28.5 feet or more (a power function). North was featured in an April 22 SyFy Wire story on the topic. He was also interviewed about Groot for an April 28 Omaha World-Herald article.

A 2016 study led by Rebecca Brock, psychology, was cited in an April 22 Wall Street Journal article on the right ways for parents to argue in front of their children. The study showed that unresolved tensions after a parental disagreement are linked to increased anxiety, depression and social phobia in children eight years later.

Eileen Hebets, biological sciences, was interviewed for an April 22 article in The Scientist on new research involving the spotted coin spider. The research suggests that the species uses its orange colors to both lure prey and repel predators. Hebets said the research is important for advancing the understanding of the evolution and ecology of color-based signals.

The university’s Interfraternity Council recently made a unanimous decision to ban hard alcohol at fraternity events beginning in August. USA Today ran a brief on the ban in its “50 States” feature April 22.

Adrian Wisnicki, English, director of Livingstone Online, was interviewed for an April 24 Guardian article on the recent publication of the diary of Jacob Wainwright, an African attendant on Scottish explorer David Livingstone’s final journey into the continent. The diary contains the only handwritten witness account of Livingston’s death in 1873.

Wheeler Winston Dixon, film studies, was interviewed for an April 25 Marketplace story on what the Hollywood box office would be like without superhero movies. He said Westerns once made up about half of new movie releases before fading away and that if superhero flicks didn’t exist, something similar — such as end-of-the-world movies or action films — would take their place.

Research on milk exosomes by Janos Zempleni, nutrition and health sciences, and colleagues was highlighted in an April 30 Knowable Magazine article on extracellular vesicles — tiny bubbles that transmit messages among cells.

Faculty, administration, student and staff appearances in the national media are logged at
 If you have additions to this list, contact Sean Hagewood at or 402-472-8514. If you have suggestions for national news stories, contact Leslie Reed at or 402-472-2059.

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