Nebraska in the national news: January 2022

· 7 min read

Nebraska in the national news: January 2022

Two University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty members were interviewed for opinion pieces in the New York Times in January. The stories were among 35-plus featuring Husker faculty, staff, students, centers and programs during the month.

Joy Castro, Willa Cather Professor of English and ethnic studies and director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies, was quoted in a Jan. 5 Times guest column on HBO’s “And Just Like That,” the reboot of “Sex and the City.” “It’s as if its characters must have been asleep for 20 years and awakened utterly gob-smacked to find themselves encountering such things as Black professors, nonbinary children and queer longings,” she said.

A new survey study by Kevin B. Smith, Leland J. and Dorothy H. Olson Chair and Professor of political science, was featured in a Jan. 21 Times opinion piece. The 2020 surveys found that about 40% of Americans identified politics as a significant source of stress, mirroring 2017 findings. “What I think is going on is that politics is unavoidable,” Smith said. “It is essentially a permanent part of the background noise of our lives.” The study was also featured in a Jan. 22 Mashable article, and Smith was a guest on the nationally syndicated Michael Medved Show on Jan. 25.

More coverage:

Jim Lewis, mathematics, was quoted in a Jan. 1 Santa Fe New Mexican article on lessons learned and not learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lewis said people want simple answers and “don’t understand percentages, statistics, probability, etc.” If people become ill during a mask mandate or after being vaccinated, some believe that’s proof they don’t work, he said.

Kwame Dawes, George Holmes Distinguished Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, is featured on the cover of the January/February issue of The American Poetry Review. Five of his poems are included in the issue.

Azzeddine Azzam, agricultural economics, was interviewed for a Jan. 4 article on the Biden administration’s new action plan to combat surging meat prices. Azzam, who has studied such government interventions, said “investments that go to meat processors (to encourage competition) really are not going to make that much difference,” given the high concentration in the industry.

Troy Smith, management, was quoted in a Jan. 4 work advice column in Insider on gaslighting. Smith, who has conducted research on toxic bosses, said one’s goal in a one-on-one meeting with such a manager should be to create congruence between one’s interests and the manager’s. “You need to go into it with the idea of, ‘How can we resolve this problem together?” he said.

A photo gallery titled “A Year Like No Other, Redux,” featuring University Communication’s best photos of 2021, was highlighted in Exposure’s “Campus Stories” section on Jan. 5.

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln was highlighted in a Jan. 5 Inside Higher Ed article on colleges and universities tackling inequity. The university has used DFW data to measure the impact of an active learning initiative in the Department of Mathematics. It also has hired a faculty director for undergraduate analytics to support each department in analyzing their DWF data, with a particular focus on equity.

With help from the ultra-intense lasers at the university’s Extreme Light Laboratory, Husker physicists have experimentally demonstrated just how strangely light can behave when scattering from electrons. By confirming certain light-scattering dynamics proposed a half-century ago, the researchers are casting fresh eyes on the universe-birthing fireworks ignited by the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago. Stories on the research have appeared in the York News-Times, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science website and

The Loess Canyons Experimental Landscape Science Report and Reducing Woody Encroachment in Grasslands: A Guide to Understanding Risk and Vulnerability, both produced by Husker researchers, were mentioned in a Jan. 6 Beef magazine article on efforts by Nebraska ranchers to restore grasslands through prescribed burns.

Jody Green, an urban entomologist with Nebraska Extension, wrote a Jan. 11 article for Entomology Today titled “The unique challenges of responding to desert locust outbreaks.” The recent locust plague is estimated to have affected 25 million people and cost $1.3 billion in damage in 23 countries, she wrote.

Kenneth J. Winkle, history, was interviewed for a Jan. 10 article on how the Union defended Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. “The two capitals (Washington, D.C., and Richmond, Virginia) were so vital that the capture of either one would end the war,” said Winkle, author of “Lincoln’s Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, D.C.”

Domesticated chickens in the United States alone produce more than 2 billion pounds of feathers annually. Yiqi Yang, textiles, merchandising and fashion design, and biological systems engineering, and colleagues have taken another step toward putting that byproduct of the food industry to use in the textiles industry. ran a Jan. 12 article on the research.

Anthony Schutz, law, was interviewed for a Jan. 15 Denver Post article on Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ $500 million plan to take more water from the South Platte River by building a canal in northeast Colorado. Schutz said Colorado appears to be upholding its end of the South Platte River Compact. The issue is likely to end up in court and could even make it to the U.S. Supreme Court, he said.

Justin “Gus” Hurwitz, law, director of the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center, wrote a Jan. 18 guest column for Real Clear Policy titled “What the FAA-FCC fight can teach us about our approach to risk.” He wrote that the fight is not really about technical rules for the wireless spectrum, but rather agency attitudes toward risk and responsibility. “The goal of bureaucracy is to adhere to its own proceduralism, but without consideration for the costs that those procedures create for society,” he wrote.

Michelle Paxton, director of the Children’s Justice Clinic, appeared in a Jan. 18 segment on RFD-TV. She discussed the Children’s Justice Attorney Education Program, a new expansion of the clinic to rural Nebraska.

Santosh Pitla, biological systems engineering, was a guest on a Jan. 18 WOSU segment on John Deere’s new self-driving tractor. Pitla discussed how he explores better using technology in the classroom.

The University of Nebraska College of Law has teamed up with the Nebraska legal community to start the Nebraska Legal Diversity Council. The council, which aims to expand diversity and inclusion in the Nebraska legal community, also includes the Nebraska State Bar Association, Creighton University School of Law and 16 law firms and businesses. The council was highlighted in a Jan. 19 preLaw article.

A study led by Valerie Jones, advertising and public relations, shows that voice-activated technology may help older adults cope with living in solitude. Medical Xpress ran a Jan. 21 article on the study.

A new Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources analysis, which studied data for 3,000 irrigated fields in three Nebraska regions over a 15-year period, shows that climate and field management, rather than genetics, has far greater influence on increased crop productivity. Stories on the research appeared in National Geographic, the York News-Times and The Fence Post.

Security magazine published a Jan. 25 article on the UNL Police Department switching its community service officers’ uniforms to a red polo shirt and khaki pants. The change was implemented to make students feel more comfortable around the officers and settle confusion on which uniforms indicated a CSO or police officer.

Chigozie Obioma’s second novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities,” was highlighted in a Jan. 26 Guardian article titled “Top 10 novels inspired by Greek myths.” “An Orchestra of Minorities” reinterprets “The Odyssey” as a story about a Nigerian farmer. The novel, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2019, explores love and sacrifice, vulnerability and misfortune, and the power of fate. Obioma is the James E. Ryan Associate Professor of English at Nebraska.

Obioma was also quoted in a Jan. 27 Los Angeles Times article on the new anthology “Anonymous Sex.” He contributed a story to the collection. Yahoo! News picked up the article.

Jack Beard, law, co-director of the Space, Cyber and Telecommunications Law program, was interviewed for a Jan. 27 Inverse article on the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. “There’s always someone saying, ‘Is outer space a lawless void?’” he said. “No — no, it’s not.”

Herbie Husker will no longer display an OK sign on merchandise and promotions, Nebraska Athletics has said. The sign has been associated with white supremacy in recent years. Flatwater Free Press first reported the change Jan. 28. Stories later appeared in Bleacher Report, CBS News, CNN, the Daily Mail, ESPN, HuffPost,, NBC News, the New York Post, USA Today, Yahoo! Sports and more than 150 other media outlets. (Jan. 29)

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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