Nebraska in the national news: March 2023

· 7 min read

Nebraska in the national news: March 2023

Husker researchers contributed to two studies involving threats to animal species that received national media attention in March. The news stories were among 30-plus featuring Husker faculty, staff, students, centers and programs during the month.

  • Island-dwelling mammal species often evolve into giant or dwarf versions of their mainland counterparts. Kate Lyons, associate professor of biological sciences, and a global team found that those giants and dwarves have faced extreme risk of extinction — an existential threat exacerbated by the arrival of humans. Lyons was quoted in a March 9 Reuters article on the research. The story was picked up by the Daily Mail, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo! News and more than a dozen other media outlets.
  • John Benson, associate professor in the School of Natural Resources, and Kyle Dougherty, a doctoral student in the school, co-authored a new study showing that California mountain lions continue to be threatened by human activities despite being classified as specially protected. The multi-institutional research project tracked almost 600 mountain lions in 23 areas of California, assembling separate studies into a single statewide study — a significant methodological advance for strengthening such scientific work. Stories on the project appeared in, the Los Angeles Times and 90-plus other media outlets.

Additional national news coverage in March includes:

Patrice McMahon, political science, director of the University Honors Program, wrote a March 2 piece for The Conversation offering five takeaways on how Poland’s hospitality is helping many Ukrainian refugees thrive. The story was picked up by the Houston Chronicle, SF Gate, Yahoo! News and 20-plus other media outlets.

Frans von der Dunk, space law, was quoted in a March 6 Daily Beast article on commercial space defense. “By outsourcing, it becomes much more difficult to make sure the overriding security interests of military operations can be adequately protected …” he said. “Military activities are supposed to be undertaken for the sake of protecting the general interests of a people, a state, or a group of those in the context of security, not to make money for investors and entrepreneurs.” Yahoo! News picked up the article.

Robert Woody, music and music education, wrote a March 6 blog post for Psychology Today titled “Is reading fundamental for performing musicians?” He wrote that performers who can read music often rely on it to accomplish their most valued aspects of musicianship. The use of notation can, however, be a hindrance to free expression and the development of improvisation skills, he wrote.

Shane Farritor, mechanical and materials engineering, co-founder of Virtual Incision, was a featured guest on the March 12 episode of the Midwest Moxie podcast. He discussed his company’s MIRA surgical robot, which will be tested aboard the International Space Station in 2024.

Amy Desaulniers, veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences, is leading a research team that aims to develop boars that are more genetically tolerant of gestational heat stress. The Fence Post and National Hog Farmer ran articles on the research.

Jody Green, an urban entomologist with Nebraska Extension, was quoted in a March 14 Reader’s Digest article on the six best mattress covers for preventing bed bug infestations. “Bed bug encasements need to be fitted to the appropriate size of the mattress, box spring and pillow for it to be most effective,” she said.

The university’s “microinternships” were highlighted in a March 15 EdSurge article on students wanting more workplace skills from colleges and universities. Launched in 2022, the university’s microinternship and mentoring program connects students with paid positions at local organizations for a couple of weeks.

John Fech, Nebraska Extension educator, wrote a March 15 guest column for Golf Course Management on the importance of small-to-medium-sized plants on golf courses. “Shrubs, small trees, perennials, annuals and vines have an important aesthetic and functional purpose in locations such as turnarounds, distance and directional identifiers, refreshment stands, clubhouses, tee markers and restroom facilities,” he wrote. “Incorporating these elements and maintaining them well is the key to success.”

Julia McQuillan, sociology, is part of a multi-institutional research team that will use a $5 million grant to increase the use of artificial intelligence and robotics in chicken processing to reduce waste in deboning and detect pathogens. The grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture will establish the Center for Scalable and Intelligent Automation in Poultry Processing. McQuillan will study the effects of robotics on poultry industry laborers and how they perceive the technology. Stories on the project appeared in Feedstuffs and several other media outlets.

The Lied Center for Performing Arts’ 2023-24 Glenn Korff Broadway Series will feature “Les Misérables,” “Disney’s Aladdin,” “Mean Girls,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Shrek: The Musical” and “The Cher Show.” Stories on the new Broadway season appeared in at least three Nebraska media outlets and Broadway World.

Susan Sheridan, director of the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families and Schools, was interviewed for a March 17 American School Board Journal article on rural schools providing mental health services to their students. She discussed the Teachers and Parents as Partners program that she started in Nebraska, which is now expanding to other states. “Our intent is to give these services away by doing online, virtual professional development for educators, specialists and schools so they can work together with families to develop meaningful ways to help students who are struggling,” she said.

The LSE Impact Blog published a March 18 review of Ann Mari May’s “Gender and the Dismal Science: Women in the Early Years of the Economics Profession.” She is a professor emeritus of economics at Nebraska.

Anthony Schutz, law, was cited in a March 19 Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph-Herald article on the fight between farmers and farm equipment makers over the “right to repair.” He said a January memorandum of understanding by Deere & Co. “is a press release at best.” “It creates no rights by any party” and “none of it is enforceable by any entity.”

Geoff Lorenz, political science, was interviewed for a March 20 Washington Post article on Democratic state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh’s filibuster bringing the Nebraska Legislature to a standstill. The Unicameral used to be one of the least polarized in the country, he said, but that changed with the introduction of term limits for senators, as the old guard retired. “Over the last two decades, the Unicam has been among the most rapidly polarizing state legislative chambers in the country,” he said. (This article requires a subscription.)

Husker track athlete Jess Gardner was featured in a March 27 Associated Press article on social media influencers such as herself facing security concerns. Gardner said she is mindful of staying safe because of the possibility of an overzealous fan becoming menacing. Leslie Reed, director of public affairs at Nebraska, was also quoted in the article. “We have always had high-profile athletes on the University of Nebraska–Lincoln campus, and we address issues as they arise,” Reed said in a statement.

Katie Edwards, professor of 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. KOTA (Rapid City, South Dakota) aired a March 28 story on the project.

Alyssa Kerr, coordinator of sports programs with Campus Recreation, was quoted in a March 28 Campus Rec magazine article on the shortage of officials in intramural programs. “With the intramural program administrators serving as advisers to the (student officials) club and our intramural supervisors being the club officers, we have more opportunities to reach these students about how these two opportunities — working intramurals and working games off-campus — can continue in tandem to benefit both the program and the student,” she said.

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Willa Cather Professor of Communications Studies Emerita, wrote a March 28 blog post for Psychology Today titled “Can you do mindfulness?” She discussed characteristics of mindfulness across different relationship contexts and offered practical suggestions for cultivating mindful intimate relationships.

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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