Nebraska in the national news: July 2022

· 6 min read

Nebraska in the national news: July 2022

Husker faculty members’ contributions to an octopus-inspired smart glove and a study showing the spread of desert climate in central Asia were featured in national news stories in July. The stories were among 35-plus featuring Husker faculty, staff, students, centers and programs during the month.

  • Eric Markvicka, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Nebraska, worked with a Virginia Tech-led research team to develop an octopus-inspired glove capable of securely gripping objects underwater. He added an array of micro-LIDAR optical proximity sensors that detect how close an object is. Stories on the glove appeared in several media outlets, including Cosmos, and Popular Science.

  • Qi (Steve) Hu, professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences, co-authored a recent study showing that desert climates have spread north by up to 62 miles in parts of central Asia since the 1980s. Stories on the research appeared in, the Environmental News Network, The Indian Express and Nature.

More coverage:

Ken Bloom, physics and astronomy, was interviewed for a July 5 Popular Science article on the energy demands of the Large Hadron Collider and the possibility of creating greener particle accelerators. “Just as monetary costs are a consideration in the planning of any future facility, future experiment, future physics program,” he said, “we can think about climate costs in the same way.”

Kelsy Burke, sociology, wrote a July 6 guest column for The Washington Post on white conservative Christians leveraging the issue of pornography to secure their power within American culture and law. She wrote that it is a tactic that has been used for more than a century, dating back to Anthony Comstock’s anti-obscenity campaign in the 1870s.

Benny Mote, animal science, discussed ways to prevent lameness, the “leading identifiable reason for sow mortality,” for a July 6 article in Farm Journal’s Pork magazine. The story focused on three areas to watch: group housing, nutrition and genetics.

Amanda Easterly, agronomy and horticulture, was quoted in a July 6 KCUR story on various conditions affecting wheat crops in the United States. She said wheat farmers have faced drought, hail and fungal diseases this growing season. “I’ve heard of a number of farmers who have had a good chunk of their fields zeroed out by the insurance adjusters,” she said. “It’s patchy in some places, but I don’t think anyone’s fully escaped everything.”

Construction Equipment Guide published a July 6 article on the progress of Kiewit Hall. Preliminary work on the $115 million project began in fall 2020, and the building is expected to be completed in 2023.

The university’s Extreme Light Laboratory was highlighted in a July 7 BBC Science Focus roundup of laboratories “pushing science to its limits.” The laboratory broke records in 2017 by generating a light a billion times brighter than the surface of the sun.

Casey Kelly, communication studies, co-wrote a July 11 piece for The Conversation with the University of Arkansas’ Ryan Neville-Shepard on some Republican politicians using guns in political ads as a coded appeal for white voters. “While they might have been a bit more ambiguous in the past, candidates are increasingly making these appeals appear more militant in their culture war against ideas and politicians they oppose,” they wrote.

Ryan Sullivan, law, was interviewed for a July 12 U.S. Sun article on people being owed refunds from a $147 million settlement between Western Union and the federal government. Refund checks will go out to nearly 33,000 people who sent money to scammers through Western Union wire transfers. “Even if the money may be nominal, being part of a settlement or class-action suit is sending a message to all corporations that they cannot take advantage of consumers,” Sullivan said.

Midwest Messenger published a July 15 article on the Feedlot Innovation Center planned for the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center near Mead. Galen Erickson and Ruth Woiwode, both animal science, were interviewed for the story.

Adam Houston, Earth and atmospheric sciences, was the featured guest on the WeatherBrains podcast July 19. He discussed the Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells (TORUS) project, a multi-institutional investigation that aims to better understand supercell thunderstorms. The storm-chasing team concluded its most recent field research season June 17.

Dawn O. Braithwaite, professor emerita of communication studies, wrote a July 20 Psychology Today article on how people live both independently and together in close relationships. “Understanding our close relationships as a braided rope helps us to understand that while we are knitted together … we are also individuals,” she wrote.

A 2021 study led by Rajib Saha, chemical and biomolecular engineering, suggests that nonflex-fuel vehicles could burn E-30 ethanol blends and get performance comparable to E-10 or E-15 blends. The study was highlighted in a July 22 Mitchell (South Dakota) Republic article. Several media outlets, including Yahoo! News, picked up the story.

Luke Mostello of New Lenox, Illinois, a recent graduate of Lincoln-Way Central High School, is among 43 incoming first-year students selected to join the Nebraska Business Honors Academy at Nebraska this fall. The Chicago Tribune ran a July 26 brief on Mostello. (This article requires a subscription.)

The Nebraska ethanol industry produced over 2.25 billion gallons in 2019, resulting in a value of production for ethanol and co-products of greater than $4.04 billion, according to a new University of Nebraska–Lincoln study estimating the industry’s impact in 2018 and 2019. Stories on the study appeared in the Holdrege Citizen, KETV, KLIN, the Rural Radio Network, Biofuels Digest, DTN Progressive Farmer, Ethanol Producer Magazine, Feed and Grain, The Fence Post and SeedQuest.

New research co-led by Kate Lyons, biological sciences, shows that whether by the spear or the plow, humans have been homogenizing the mammal communities of North America for 10,000-plus years. and ScienceDaily ran articles on the research.

Publishers Weekly published a July 27 obituary for Mark Heineke, marketing manager at University of Nebraska Press, who died unexpectedly July 24 at age 51.

The U.S. Drought Monitor — produced jointly by the university’s National Drought Mitigation Center, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture — was cited in multiple media outlets in July, including the Boston Globe, and Philadelphia Inquirer.

The African Poetry Book Fund at Nebraska has received a three-year, $343,750 grant from the Poetry Foundation to study poetry book distribution in Africa, the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reported July 28. The project is led by Kwame Dawes, English, who established the fund in 2012.

Soil bacteria may be the microscopic building blocks to greater crop growth and higher yields — while knocking down chemical fertilizer use — but Husker researchers recently found that more blocks do not always build taller towers. The study was authored by Yen Ning Chai, a postdoctoral researcher; Daniel Schachtman, agronomy and horticulture; and Stephanie Futrell, research technician. ran a July 29 article on the research.

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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