Nebraska in the national news: April 2020

· 6 min read

Nebraska in the national news: April 2020

University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty were quoted in Scientific American and The Wall Street Journal in April. The stories were among 20-plus featuring Husker faculty, staff, programs and projects during the month.

Kate Lyons, assistant professor of biological sciences, was quoted in an April 13 Scientific American article on a new study showing that mammalian fossils from the current geologic age will consist almost entirely of humans, livestock and pets.

“As I was reading the paper, I was thinking sadly of all the ecological questions that I am able to ask using the Pleistocene fossil record that will be unanswerable using this future fossil record,” she said.

Yiqi Yang, Charles Bessey Professor of textiles, merchandising and fashion design, and biological systems engineering, was quoted in an April 24 Wall Street Journal article on whether DIY masks help stop the novel coronavirus. He mentioned the tradeoff between filtration and breathability.

“If you want better filtration, you will have less air flow,” he said. “It will feel more difficult to have oxygen.”

More coverage:

The university has announced it will hold a virtual graduation ceremony, Go Big Grad, on May 9. The program will feature a keynote address by Husker volleyball coach John Cook. May graduates are invited to attend a future commencement ceremony. The changes were highlighted in USA Today’s 50-states feature April 1.

Nebraska Innovation Studio, Husker engineers, and private companies and individuals have been working together to create 13,000-plus face shields for Nebraska health care workers treating patients with COVID-19. Stories on the project appeared in more than a dozen Nebraska media outlets and

Josephine Potuto, law, faculty athletics representative at Nebraska, was interviewed for an April 3 Education Dive article on the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on university athletics departments. “It’s always been a juggling act,” she said of NCAA payment distributions. “But that’s probably going to get harder.”

John Fech, a horticulturist with Nebraska Extension in Douglas and Sarpy counties, wrote an April 6 column for Turf magazine on the importance of proper tree placement in landscaping.

Aaron Berger, a Nebraska Extension beef educator, wrote a recent UNL Beefwatch column offering tips to help ranch managers decide whether expensive equipment is truly necessary. Nebraska Farmer ran the column April 6. The column was also highlighted in an April 14 BEEF Magazine blog entry.

The university is partnering with the Nebraska ethanol industry to produce hand sanitizer for use by hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and other health care providers in Nebraska and nearby areas. Stories on the project appeared in 16 Nebraska media outlets, including the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald, and Ethanol Producer Magazine.

Brad Lubben, agricultural economics, discussed the Nebraska Rural Poll during an April 7 segment on RFD-TV. The Rural Poll — the largest annual poll of rural Nebraskans’ perceptions on quality of life and policy issues — is marking its 25th anniversary this year.

Edgar Cahoon, chemistry, director of the university’s Center for Plant Science Innovation, was highlighted in Chemistry World’s “Chemistry Amid Coronavirus” feature on April 7.

Yufeng Ge and Nuwan Wijewardane, both biological systems engineering, and colleagues have created a penetrometer prototype that uses light to gauge the composition and density of subsoils. Stories on the prototype have appeared in KRVN, the York News-Times and the Environmental News Network.

Holly Hatton-Bowers, child, youth and family studies, wrote an April 10 column for EdSurge titled “Why early childhood educators should turn to mindfulness and compassion, now and always.” She wrote that “studies point to promising results when implementing mindfulness-based interventions with K-12 teachers, including improvements in health, emotion regulation, relationship and work satisfaction, as well as reduced stress and improved care for children.”

Carrick Detweiler, computer science and engineering, and Adam Houston, Earth and atmospheric sciences, will be working on NASA’s University Leadership Initiative as part of the Oklahoma State University team. The team will look for ways to improve real-time weather forecasting of low-level winds and turbulence in both rural and urban environments with an eye toward improving safety for unmanned aircraft systems flying in AAM operations. The project was highlighted in Nebraska Ag Connection, and more than 130 other media outlets.

A team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has applied ultrafast electron diffraction to molecules in liquid samples. They developed a method to create 100-nanometer-thick liquid jets that enable them to get clear diffraction patterns from electrons. In the future, this method could allow them to explore light-driven processes such as vision, catalysis, photosynthesis and DNA damage caused by UV rays. ran an April 10 article on the research.

Tierney Lorenz, psychology, has published a study showing that taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants during childhood or adolescence is linked to lower sexual desire in adult women. PsyPost published an April 13 article on the research.

Scientists from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and three other institutions have discovered a way to synthesize a special type of organic solids that are lightweight, intrinsically porous and offer unique properties and applications. These solids, known as porphyrin-based covalent organic frameworks, are the focus of research by experimentalists at Nebraska and computational material scientists at the Colorado School of Mines, Harbin Institute of Technology and University of Pennsylvania. ran an April 14 article on the research.

Galen Erickson, animal science, interim director of the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, was interviewed for an April 14 Successful Farming story on the distillers’ grain shortage caused by ethanol plants slowing or halting production. “Feeding a wet byproduct provides protein, particularly bypass protein or rumen-undegradable protein, which is helpful for younger, rapidly growing cattle,” he said.

Ash Smith, emerging media arts, was featured in an April 17 Variety article on the top film schools and educators from around the world. Smith’s background as a speculative artist, designer and researcher ties heavily into her role as a professor focusing on filmmaking and storytelling on new platforms.

Dennis Burson, animal science, was quoted in an April 22 Associated Press article on the challenges of preventing the spread of COVID-19 in meat-processing plants. “It’s not that people aren’t trying,” he said. “It’s just that it is very difficult to control this illness.” The story was picked up by more than 450 media outlets.

Adam Thimmesch, law, was interviewed for an April 23 Bloomberg Law article on the Uniform Law Commission’s new committee examining state taxation of online sales. Thimmesch is technical lead for the committee. He said the committee will study the issue for up to two years but may ultimately decline to draft final recommendations or a model law aimed at greater uniformity among states.

Ajai Ammachathram, nutrition and health sciences, was interviewed for an April 25 article on how the hospitality industry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and how it might recover.

Xia Hong, physics and astronomy, and colleagues recently discovered unusual light-filtering effects in a nanoscopic structure that could spur the development of smaller, smarter optical filters. and ran articles on the research.

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.

Recent News