Nebraska in the national news: April 2023

· 6 min read

Nebraska in the national news: April 2023

University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty members were featured in a pair of Lead Stories fact checks in April. The articles were among 25-plus national news stories featuring Husker faculty, staff, centers and programs during the month.

  • Eric Weaver, director of the Nebraska Center for Virology, was quoted in an April 11 fact check debunking the myth that mRNA vaccines used on animals can cause the involuntary vaccination of humans who eat their meat. “There are no commercial veterinary mRNA vaccines,” he said. “There are some in research stages, but, for almost all cases, mRNA is not a cost-effective animal vaccine platform. … Every living thing that we eat contains mRNA. The mRNA is either destroyed during processing/cooking or during digestion and is not expressed.”

  • Justin “Gus” Hurwitz, associate professor of law and Menard Director of the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center, was quoted in an April 12 fact check debunking a video put out by a Bitcoin mining company that claims its operation produces zero carbon emissions. “My basic take on the video is that I hope it’s satire and sarcasm,” he said. “I can’t believe that the company that produced it has such a flawed understanding of how computers work — and the fact that it was shared in response to the New York Times story suggests that it was, in fact, a sarcastic response to that story.”

Additional national news coverage in April includes:

Chigozie Obioma, English, was featured in a recent Q&A for The Week. He discussed serving as a Booker Prize judge, his love for reading and writing, his writing approach and the similarities between Indian and Nigerian writing.

Joe Weber, journalism, was quoted in an April 5 Poynter article on what the arrest of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich by the Russian government means for foreign reporting. “Sadly, this journalist and the Journal are pawns in a geopolitical game, much as Brittney Griner was,” Weber said. “That game may involve yet another trade of prisoners, but only after a long time and a lot of suffering by Gershkovich.”

John Fech, a certified arborist with Nebraska Extension, was interviewed for an April 8 article on trees falling at Augusta National during the 2023 Masters Tournament. There are many ways to assess the risk, he said, including inspection of a tree’s roots and how it leans, a stress test that involves wrapping a tree in canvas and pulling on it with a machine, and ground-detecting radar.

Peter Revesz and Shruti Daggumati, both computing, were featured in an April 10 Discover article on how AI language models such as ChatGPT can be used to unlock mysterious ancient texts. In a 2018 paper, the researchers found that the signs of the Indus script resembled some characters of the Phoenician alphabet with 90% certainty, according to the AI algorithm they used.

The Atlantic published an April 10 review of Kelsy Burke’s new book, “The Pornography Wars: The Past, Present and Future of America’s Obscene Obsession.” Burke is an associate professor of sociology at Nebraska. (This article requires a subscription.)

Burke was quoted in an April 16 New York Times article on how a campaign against transgender rights has mobilized conservatives in the United States. “For many religious and political conservatives, the same-sex marriage issue has been largely decided — and for the American public, absolutely,” she said. “That’s not true when it comes to these transgender issues. Americans are much more divided, and this is an issue that can gain a lot more traction.” Burke was also quoted in an April 19 article in The Week.

A 2017 study by Husker researchers was cited in an April 10 article on two Alabama community colleges taking a new approach to advising. The study found that while “prescriptive advising,” such as class scheduling or registration, may be more valuable early on, long-term, or “developmental” advising can be better suited to help students define and achieve their individual goals. Deryl Hatch-Tocaimaza, educational administration, a co-author of the study, was quoted in the story.

Katja Koehler-Cole, Nebraska Extension educator, was interviewed for an April 11 segment on RFD-TV. She discussed her research on the benefits of cover crops.

Robert Hutkins, food science and technology, was interviewed for an April 11 U.S. News and World Report article on prebiotics. “Unlike probiotics that must be alive at consumption, prebiotics are food constituents that are stable and therefore more amenable to include as part of one’s diet,” he said.

Katie Edwards, educational psychology, and colleagues have partnered with tribal organizations, other institutions and community partners to establish and evaluate an Indigenous-led center dedicated to preventing sexual violence among Indigenous youth. The project received a four-year, $3,210,177 grant through the Grand Challenges initiative at Nebraska. The Lakota Times (Martin, South Dakota) published an April 12 article on the project.

Mark Svoboda, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, was interviewed for an April 13 Associated Press article on a new study showing that climate change is making droughts — especially heat-driven “flash droughts” — faster and more furious. Svoboda said he coined the term “flash drought” to “dispel the notion that droughts only manifest themselves over long periods of time.” The story has been picked up by 200-plus media outlets.

A study of Plains bison led by Nic McMillan, agronomy and horticulture, has found that the once-endangered mammals respond to air temperature and severe drought in ways that should inform their long-term management. Stories on the research appeared in The North Platte Telegraph, and the Environmental News Network.

A 2022 study out of the university’s Canine Cognition and Human Interaction Lab was featured in an April 25 Woman’s World article. The study found that subjects who interacted with a dog improved their positive affect (positive emotions and expression of emotions) and decreased their negative affect, stress and anxiety compared to people who did not interact with a dog. The story was picked up by 20-plus media outlets.

Dan Uden, School of Natural Resources, was interviewed for an April 25 segment on RFD-TV. He discussed how Husker researchers are working with ranchers to better understand land management in the Nebraska Sandhills.

The “Volleyball Day in Nebraska” event, Aug. 30 at Memorial Stadium, sold out in about 48 hours. With 82,900 tickets sold, the event is expected to shatter the college volleyball attendance record. Stories on the event appeared in more than a dozen Nebraska media outlets, as well as The Athletic, CBS Sports, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.

A new study co-authored by Thomas Kubick, accounting, was featured in an April 27 Forbes article. The study found that financial executives who experience a significant accounting-related event seem to be more conservative with their accounting moving forward. The study also found that their new companies are less likely to experience an accounting restatement or SEC investigation.

Faculty, administration, student and staff appearances in the national media are logged at If you have additions to the 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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