Nebraska in the national news: March 2019

· 10 min read

Nebraska in the national news: March 2019

An Associated Press article citing the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s National Drought Mitigation Center and coverage of a Husker-led, drone-based investigation of severe storms were among the 45-plus national news stories featuring the university’s faculty, administrators, students, alumni and programs in March.

Interest in a drought-free Cali

The U.S. Drought Monitor was mentioned in a March 14 AP story on California being drought-free for the first time since Dec. 20, 2011. The monitor is produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

California had experienced some form of drought for 376 consecutive weeks, the center reported.

The story was picked up by 250-plus media outlets across the country.

The drought monitor was also mentioned in a March 22 Los Angeles Times editorial on California’s drought ending but the state’s “hydrological bank account” still being drained.

Drone project generates buzz

An extensive drone-based investigation of severe storms will be launched in coming weeks by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Texas Tech University, the University of Colorado Boulder, and the NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory.

More than 50 scientists and students are making final preparations for the May 15 start. Fieldwork for the project will continue until June 16 and will cover a 367,000-square-mile area of the Great Plains from North Dakota to Texas, Iowa to Wyoming and Colorado.

“If there’s a supercell thunderstorm anywhere in the region, we hope to be there,” said Adam Houston, associate professor of atmospheric science at Nebraska and lead investigator.

Houston said the Targeted Observation by Radars and UAS of Supercells (TORUS) project is the largest-ever study of its kind based on the geographical area covered and the number of drones to be deployed (four).

The goal is to collect data to improve the conceptual model of supercell thunderstorms, the parent storms of the most destructive tornadoes. Scientists want to reduce the number of false-alarm tornado warnings and improve detection of the potentially lethal storms.

Stories on the TORUS project appeared in 10 Nebraska media outlets, including the Lincoln Journal Star, and more than 30 others across the country, including UAS Magazine and Unmanned Aerial Online.

Other coverage

Oxfam America included Chigozie Obioma’s second novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities,” in its annual list of books that illustrate the injustice of poverty. Obioma is an assistant professor of English at Nebraska.

Obioma recently contributed an essay on America to the anthology “The Good Immigrant USA.” The collection was included in a recommended-books list March 2 on Stylist. Obioma was mentioned in the article.

The play “The Fishermen” is coming to Trafalgar Studios in London’s West End. The play is based on the celebrated novel of the same name by Obioma. Broadway World published an article on the play’s move March 25.

Obioma discussed “An Orchestra of Minorities,” his writing process and career in a March 26 article in The Nation. He also discussed the novel in an interview with Nigeria’s PM News that published March 27.

Eric Thompson, economics, and director of the university’s Bureau of Business Research, was interviewed for a March 4 Omaha World-Herald article on Omaha’s cost of living increasing in recent years. Thompson said Omaha needs to make sure it has a competitive environment for new small businesses, stores and service providers, which means being careful about regulations and costs placed on those businesses. The article was picked up by more than a dozen other media outlets across the country.

Philip Schwadel, sociology, and a senior researcher focusing on religion at the Pew Research Center, wrote a March 6 Fact Tank post discussing how Americans’ drinking habits vary by faith. He noted that religiously active people are less likely to drink alcohol than those who are not as religious. Among U.S. Christians, Catholics are more likely than Protestants to drink alcohol. Rates and views on drinking also vary among religious and nonreligious subgroups, he wrote, and by other demographics besides religion.

Chancellor Ronnie Green discussed the university’s impact in the March issue of American Way magazine by American Airlines. The article, part of a package on the state of Nebraska, mentioned that the university is a research leader in areas such as agriculture, natural resources, virology and national security. Also mentioned in the package were food-security research at Nebraska, the Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts, the International Quilt Study Center and Museum, Sheldon Museum of Art and Memorial Stadium. (The package begins on Page 107.)

Frans von der Dunk, space law, was quoted in a March 7 article in The Week on space mining. He said the chances of every country in the world agreeing on an international space policy are slim.

Von der Dunk was also interviewed for a March 28 AFP article on India’s recent destruction of a satellite by missile, which created hundreds of pieces of “space junk.” He said the weapon test was not technically illegal but goes against the spirit of international law, which is “moving toward a customary international legal obligation to refrain from such junk-creating activities.” The story was picked up by more than 15 media outlets.

The College of Business is hosting two summer programs for high school juniors: the Accounting Summit and DREAMBIG Academy. Both programs will prepare students who graduate from high school in May 2020 for the opportunities awaiting them in college and beyond. Stories on the programs appeared in seven Nebraska media outlets, including The North Platte Telegraph, and about 20 others across the country.

A pioneering study from Matt Wiebe, veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences; Annabel Olson, doctoral student in biological sciences; and colleagues shows that losing a gene can improve evolutionary fitness. The team discovered the surprise after deleting the so-called B1 gene, critical to replication, from the vaccinia virus — which is best known for immunizing humanity against smallpox. The virus responded by deleting another gene — and regained its ability to replicate. ran an article on the research March 11.

Bedross Der Mattossian, history, and author of the book “Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire,” was quoted in a March 11 Newsweek article on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeting in Armenian for the first time. Erdogan’s tweet expressed condolences after the death of Armenian Patriarch Mesrob Mutafyan. Der Mattossian said he thought the tweet was aimed at influencing the election for a new patriarch.

A Nebraska consortium’s proposal to relocate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture to Nebraska Innovation Campus has advanced to the next round. Stories on the news appeared in 13 Nebraska media outlets, including the Lincoln Journal Star, and a few others.

The university was mentioned in a March 12 Business Insider feature listing Lincoln as one of the 50 happiest cities in America. Lincoln ranked 36th.

Nebraska agricultural land values declined by 3 percent over the last year, according to preliminary results from the university’s Farm Real Estate Market Survey. Stories on the survey results appeared in Nebraska Farmer, the Rural Radio Network, Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Waverly News and AgFax.

John Hibbing and Kevin Smith, political science, were cited in a March 13 New York Times opinion piece on partisan hostility increasing in the United States.

Hibbing was also interviewed for a March 25 Pacific Standard article on whether Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election would change anyone’s views. He said he assumed reactions to the report would follow patterns of motivated reasoning, which allows people who are especially attuned to politics to reject any information that does not fit their views.

Kwame Dawes, English, has won a prestigious Windham-Campbell Prize. Dawes is the author of 20 books of poetry and numerous other works of fiction and nonfiction. Stories on the prize win appeared in 12 Nebraska media outlets, including the Omaha World-Herald; The Guardian; Los Angeles Times; USA Today; and several other media outlets.

Wes Peterson, agricultural economics, was interviewed for a March 16 Yahoo Finance article on the effects of the ongoing U.S.-China trade war.

Yiqi Yang, textiles, merchandising and fashion design, and biological systems engineering, was quoted in a March 18 ThomasNet News article on sustainability efforts in textile production. He said many textiles are currently produced in “environmentally problematic ways.”

Ken Dewey, geography, and a regional climatologist, was interviewed for a March 18 Forbes article on the “bomb cyclone” that has caused widespread flooding in the Great Plains.

Christos Argyropoulous, electrical and computer engineering, discussed how he became interested in science, tips for effective collaboration, daily habits that have helped him be successful, advice for young scientists and what he is looking forward to next in a March 19 interview for Optics and Photonics News.

John Benson, assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources, and colleagues have shown that two populations of mountain lions in Southern California could go extinct in the next 50 years due to inbreeding and connectivity issues. Cities, real estate and freeways keep the lions from breeding with other populations. Stories on the research appeared in Capitol Public Radio, Gizmodo, the Los Angeles Times, and U.S. News and World Report.

A recent George Will column mentioned Don Winslow’s latest book, “The Border.” Winslow earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Nebraska.

A new study by researchers at the University of Missouri and University of Nebraska–Lincoln has found that men often use five metaphors — “lost gift,” “cataclysm” “death of a loved one,” “emptiness” and “chaotic movement” — to describe the physical, emotional and relational implications of their partner’s miscarriage. The research expands upon a communication model created by Haley Kranstuber Horstman, professor of communication at Missouri, and Jody Koenig Kellas, communication studies. Stories on the research appeared in Futurity and a few other media outlets.

David Yuill, architectural engineering, wrote a March 22 piece for The Conversation on his research showing that cleaning an air-conditioner condenser makes little or no difference in a unit’s performance. The story was picked up by the Houston Chronicle, New Haven Register and a few other media outlets.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune published an article March 22 on Robert Zink’s new book, “The Three-Minute Outdoorsman Returns.” Zink is a conservation biologist and professor in the School of Natural Resources.

An interdisciplinary team from the university has developed precision technology to help livestock producers continuously monitor animals and use the resulting data to improve animal well-being. The team includes Nebraska electrical and computer engineers Lance C. Pérez, Eric Psota and Mateusz Mittek, and animal scientists Ty Schmidt and Benny Mote, who developed the technology system using video footage of pigs. The Fence Post, National Hog Farmer and Pork magazine have run stories on the new technology.

A 2012 study by University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers was cited in a March 26 Psychology Today article on how anxiety warps one’s perception. The study found that people who pay more attention to aversive images tend to be more conservative politically.

David Hage, chemistry, was involved with recent research showing how the body transports testosterone and explaining why patients on certain medications have low levels of the hormone. Stories on the research appeared in WCAV/WVAW/WAHU in Charlottesville, Virginia, and a few other media outlets.

Heather Richards-Rissetto, anthropology, was interviewed for a March 28 story on scientists using ground-penetrating radar to find remnants of a mid-1800s military installation below the recreation yard of the defunct Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island. Richards-Rissetto, who uses lidar and photogrammetry in her research, discussed how technology is transforming archaeology.

Michael Sealy, mechanical and materials engineering, uses hybrid manufacturing to produce biodegradable medical implants. His work was mentioned in a March 29 Orthopedic Design and Technology article on laser manufacturing of medical devices.

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