Nebraska in the national news: March 2024

· 6 min read

Nebraska in the national news: March 2024

"In the News" in front of a smartphone, with multiple images of UNL campus behind.
Kristen Labadie | University Communication and Marketing

Two studies by College of Journalism and Mass Communications faculty were featured in national news stories in March. The coverage was among 25-plus national and international news stories featuring Husker faculty, staff, students, centers and programs during the month.

  • A 2019 study by Barney McCoy, professor of broadcasting and journalism, was cited in a March 13 Stateline article on state lawmakers considering laws to prohibit students’ cellphone use during class. The study of college students in 37 states (plus Alberta, Canada) found that respondents spent 19.4% of class time using digital devices for non-class purposes. McCoy was also interviewed for the story, which was picked up by Yahoo! News and several other media outlets.

  • In a new study, Ciera Kirkpatrick, assistant professor of advertising and public relations, found that new mothers with a higher social comparison orientation — or tendency to compare oneself to others — were more negatively affected by idealized portrayals of motherhood than those with a lower such orientation. The New York Post and Study Finds published articles on the research.

Additional national news coverage in March included:

  • Sheila Purdum, poultry nutrition, was interviewed for a March 1 Business Insider article on recent grocery store eggshells seeming to chip easier. “I suspect the issue is due to the age of the national flock,” she wrote in an email. “Due to a large loss of flocks when affected by avian influenza, the remaining birds are kept in production longer, which then starts a cycle of poorer eggshell quality.”

  • New research from a large survey study, co-authored by Husker political scientists Kevin Smith, Kyle Hull and Clarisse Warren, demonstrates the willingness of people to bend their morals — even behave unethically — when engaging in the political realm. Results also suggest that hostility toward outgroups is the driving factor for the moral ambiguity exercised when respondents switch from the personal to the political arena. The research was featured in Fast Company, PsyPost and Skeptic Society Magazine.

  • Jody Koenig Kellas, communication studies, was cited in a March 4 Deseret News article on the potential of using family history to improve youth mental health. “Not all stories and not all storytelling are equal,” she said during the RootsTech conference on March 1, with past experiences shared in “positive, hopeful, resilient ways” especially impactful. Yahoo! News picked up the story.

  • Successful Farming published a March 11 article on Rural Prosperity Nebraska’s Rural Fellows program. Helen Fagan, program coordinator; Russell Shaffer, communications specialist with Rural Prosperity Nebraska; Louis Niemann, office manager for Nebraska Extension in Butler County; and fellows Maryam Sule and Juliana Monono were interviewed for the story.

  • A new climatology tool available online from the High Plains Regional Climate Center provides detailed wind data for any location in Nebraska, as well as the center’s six-state region. The information has practical value for firefighting, agriculture and the energy sector. Stories on the tool appeared in KETV, Drovers and Iowa Farmer Today.

  • Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Mike Flood have helped secure an additional $25 million in federal funding for the National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture, planned for Nebraska Innovation Campus. Stories on the additional funding appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star, Rural Radio Network and Feedstuffs. Chancellor Rodney D. Bennett and Mike Boehm, NU vice president and Harlan Vice Chancellor for the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, were quoted in the stories.

  • Tiffany Heng-Moss, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, was interviewed for a March 12 segment on RFD-TV. She discussed the Elite 11 scholarship program, a new joint effort between Nebraska leaders and the University of Nebraska that aims to boost the number of large animal veterinarians working in rural areas of the state.

  • The Houston Chronicle published a March 13 article on Dr. Ted Voloyiannis of Houston, a consultant for Virtual Incision’s Miniaturized In Vivo Robotic Assistant (MIRA). The surgical robot, controlled by Voloyiannis and other surgeons at Virtual Incision’s headquarters in Lincoln, performed a successful simulated procedure aboard the International Space Station on Feb. 10. The MIRA Surgical System was invented by Shane Farritor, engineering, Virtual Incision’s co-founder and chief technology officer. (This article requires a subscription.)

  • Scientists from multiple states and NASA met at the university for the Harnessing the Heartland conference Feb. 26-28 to hear from a range of Midwest stakeholders about their climate-related concerns. Attendees then brainstormed ways that universities, NASA and the private sector can work together to promote climate sustainability in the region. The Fence Post ran a March 15 article on the conference.

  • A Psychology Today blog post by Dawn O. Braithwaite, professor emerita of communication studies, was cited in a March 16 WKRG story on “work spouses” making a comeback. “The number of work spouses has increased due to: a) active organizational efforts to encourage employee camaraderie, b) longer hours spent working, in person or remotely, and c) cultural tendencies to name and define relationships,” Braithwaite wrote. Yahoo! News picked up the article.

  • Kelsy Burke, sociology, was quoted in a March 17 New York Times article on the coarsening of evangelical mores. “There’s an automatic assumption that men are more sexual than women and they have this hypersexuality that is natural,” said Burke, who has written about evangelicals and sexuality. A certain amount of lust is “a sin that they acknowledge but is also part of the natural male condition,” she said. Yahoo! News picked up the article.

  • Jack Beard, law, director of the Space, Cyber and National Security Law program; Elsbeth Magilton, law, executive director of the afore-mentioned program; and Tyler White, political science. director of the National Security program, were interviewed for Straight Arrow News’ “Weapons and Warfare” program. They discussed the credibility of a Russian space-based nuclear threat.

  • University of Nebraska–Lincoln leaders joined Gov. Jim Pillen at Nebraska Innovation Campus on March 19 to celebrate Agriculture Week in the Cornhusker State. The event, held at the Greenhouse Innovation Center, included a proclamation from the governor, tours of research spaces within the greenhouse and a preview of the National Center for Resilient and Regenerative Precision Agriculture. ran a March 20 article on the event.

  • The market value of land in Nebraska increased 5% over the prior year, to an average of $4,015 per acre, according to the university’s 2024 Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Survey preliminary report. This marks the third consecutive year of increases, setting another high in non-inflation-adjusted statewide land value. Stories on the report appeared in the Norfolk Daily News, Syracuse Journal-Democrat and

  • Tomáš Helikar, biochemistry, was cited in a March 26 Forbes Africa article on the growing use of “digital twins” in medicine. Helikar said current medical treatment is like “playing a game of whack-a-mole.” He is developing a digital twin of the human immune system with the goal of making treatment safer and more predictable.

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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