Nebraska in the National News: January 2017

· 8 min read

Nebraska in the National News: January 2017

Drug addiction in rural areas, fruit fly genetics and concrete that self-melts snow and ice were among the topics that brought national attention to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and its people and programs during January 2017.

More than 50 individual stories appeared that quoted people from the university, but in several instances, reports were picked up and carried by dozens more outlets across the nation.

For example, Harvest Public Media, which reports on issues facing rural areas of the Plains states and Midwest, spoke to Kirk Dombrowski, sociology, about how rural social ties contribute to the epidemic of opioid addiction plaguing rural areas and small cities. That’s because rural people, perhaps counterintuitively, tend to have larger social networks, which makes it more likely they know someone who can sell them drugs. The story originally aired Jan. 3 on a handful of stations in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas, but was heard on stations nationwide after it was included on the All Things Considered national news program on Jan. 23. Many news outlets also carried an announcement that Dombrowski had been named to the education board of the American Health Council.

In another instance, the effort by Christopher Tuan, engineering, to perfect a versatile form of concrete that conducts electricity gained nationwide attention when it was featured on CBS’s “Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca” on Jan. 14. The program aired on a number of stations in major markets. published its own story on Tuan’s work on Jan. 30.

An innovative study that investigated how fruit flies evolved their impressive tolerance for alcohol generated international attention for Kristi Montooth, biological sciences. During the study, Montooth worked closely with her former undergraduate student, who now is pursing a doctorate at the University of Chicago. The Science Daily news site carried two reports on Jan. 13 and Jan. 16, on the study; Science 360, the National Science Foundation’s news service, included a link to the report; A TV news report was carried on a number of ABC affiliate web sites, and the International Business Times in the U.K., Yahoo! News and the Business Standard carried versions of the story.

Other highlights from January’s news coverage:

Larry Barksdale, forensic science, was quoted in a widely carried Associated Press report about a new crime scene technique that makes it easier to distinguish between blood spatter and fly specks.

Though he was not involved in the study, asked Andy Benson, food science and technology, for his take on new research on how long it takes for the gut’s microbiome to respond to improvements in diet.

The Winston-Salem Journal carried a BH Media story quoting Dawn Braithwaite, communication studies, on how couples can navigate winter’s thermostat wars in their households. cited a past interview with Daniel Brooks, biological sciences, for a Jan. 28 report on how ignoring climate change could lead to increased disease outbreaks.

Kenneth Cassman and Patricio Grassini, agronomy, were mentioned in a Jan. 7 report from Agri View in Wisconsin on a study from late last year that farmers in sub-Saharan Africa won’t be able to keep up with food demands without significant investment in agricultural infrastructure.

Sidnie White Crawford, classics and religious studies, was cited in a Jan. 12 Bangor Daily News article “That’s Not in the Bible.” The story extensively referred to a 2015 CNN story that included Crawford among the exports discussing “phantom” Bible verses.

The Jamaica Gleaner recognized the Calabash Literary Festival, established by Kwame Dawes, English, with an honour award, reported Jan. 29.

Wheeler Winston Dixon, film studies, discussed some web businesses’ attempts to move from ad-based to subscription-based revenue models for a Jan. 19 article published by the trade journal He’s not sure it will work.

With winter storms alleviating drought in many areas of the country, the National Drought Mitigation Center was cited in at least 20 stories, including a Jan. 27 Christian Science Monitor report on California officials considering whether to life the state’s drought-related emergency status. Other articles reported drought status in Arkansas and Alabama. carried a Jan. 27 report on the nation’s dramatic drought improvement.

A Jan. 31 Harvest Public Media video report on farmers’ increased use of cover crops to protect the soil featured Roger Elmore and Katja Koehler-Cole, agronomy and horticulture, and Tyler Williams and Chris Proctor, extension. It aired on KCUR in Missouri.

U.S. News & World Report interviewed Courtney Hillebrecht, political science, for a Jan. 19 report on elections around the world that involve the same national and populist movements that shaped the election of President Trump and the Brexit vote in Great Britain. A version of the story was carried by Yahoo! News.

USA TODAY COLLEGE included student Caitlin Holman, political science, in a piece about members of College Republicans who attended President Trump’s inauguration.

Ari Kohen, political science, was quoted in an Associated Press story that examined “Trump’s America” as illustrated by the nearly even political divide in Lincoln and Lancaster County. The story was carried Jan. 17-19 by outlets across the United States and Canada, including Voice of America, and Minnesota Public Radio.

A new study showing a connection between better grades, physical fitness and iron levels, was covered by United Press International, Indo Asian News Service, and London’s Daily Mail, among others. Karsten Koehler, nutrition and health sciences, contributed to the study, which analyzed 105 female students at Pennsylvania State University.

More than a dozen local TV stations, including this one in Cincinnati features a Jan. 13 report about how student Heidi Kratzer, engineering, and Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital used 3-D printing to modify a toy Jeep for use by a 16-month-old boy with a brain injury.

Harvest Public Media quoted Brad Lubben, agricultural economics, in a Jan. 19 story about agriculture bracing for another year in the red. The report was carried by KBIA and KCUR radio in Missouri.

Sally Mackenzie, agronomy and horticulture, discussed the latest science on genetically modified organisms for a Jan. 30 Harvest Public Media report on a genetically engineered apple that doesn’t brown after you slice it. The story aired on Missouri public radio stations KCUR and KRCU.

Dennis Molfese, psychology, and Victoria Molfese, child, youth and family studies, were quoted in a widely carried Associated Press report about legislation to recognize dyslexia as a learning disability in state law. The story originated in the Lincoln Journal-Star.

Feedstuffs, Food Safety News, Quality Assurance and Food Safety, and the Food Poisoning Bulletin were among trade publications that carried updates Jan. 6-17 on the status of the far-reaching Shiga toxin-producing E. coli research being led by Nebraska and Rodney Moxley, veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences.

Max Perry Mueller authored a Jan. 19 column about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and some Mormons’ dislike of President Trump.

Stefan Newbold, facilities planning and construction, was quoted in a Jan. 1 Associated Press report on how a 8.1 million-gallon water tank will help the university reduce its energy bills.

Tom Omer, accounting, was quoted in a Jan. 13 report on his study that found corporations become extra careful about complying with tax laws after they get a comment letter from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC regulates disclosures to investors, not taxes, but Omer said companies may be concerned that SEC attention also may draw scrutiny from other agencies.

The Chronicle of Higher Education announced Jan. 1 that Donde Plowman had been named executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.

Research by Kenneth Price, English, to compare the various first-edition versions of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” was featured in the Winter 2017 issue of Fine Books & Collections magazine.

The Verge interviewed Matthew Schaefer, space, cyber and telecommunications law, about the 50th anniversary of the Outer Space Treaty, which continues to govern commercial space endeavors.

“Conflict and Consequence,” a new exhibit of war-related photography at the Sheldon Museum of Art, was featured Jan. 18 by

The January issue of Solid State Technology: Insights for Electronics Manufacturing covered recent advances in fabricating graphene nanoribbons for use as computer chips. Alexander Sinitskii, chemistry, is a leader in the research effort.

Roberto Stein, finance, offered tips for financial New Year’s resolutions in a Jan. 3 feature on WalletHub.

A number of outlets, including Digital Journal, and International Business Times, carried an announcement of a new partnership between Ritter Pharmaceuticals and the Food for Health Center to explore development of microbiome therapeutics in metabolic syndrome. Amanda Raimer-Tait, food sciences and technology, will lead the collaboration, along with a University of Alberta scientist who also is a leader in the fields of gut health and microbiome research.

Scores of news sites, such as carried an announcement by The Poynter Institute of drone journalism training camps to be held this summer at four universities. The university is a partner in the training camps, which will be taught in part by Matt Waite, drone journalism lab.

In a column published Jan. 2 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Robert Zink, School of Natural Resources, examined the public reaction to Cecil the Lion being killed by a hunter in 2015.

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

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