Nebraska in the national news: May 2022

· 7 min read

Nebraska in the national news: May 2022

A University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty member was interviewed for a May 23 Successful Farming article on the new National Agricultural Producers Data Cooperative, which aims to help ag producers take advantage of their data. The story was among 30-plus national news stories featuring Husker faculty, students, staff, centers and programs during the month.

“The domestic agricultural industry, in general, has a troubled history in this area,” said Jennifer L. Clarke, professor of food science and technology, and statistics, and director of the Quantitative Life Sciences Initiative at Nebraska. “So producers are very skittish when it comes to their data.”

In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has tasked land-grant universities with developing a blueprint for a national data framework and cooperative where producers, universities and nonprofit entities can store and share data and create tools that enable producers to maximize production and profitability.

“They see land-grant universities as a trusted partner for farmers — that’s why they’re leaning on us to spearhead the … project,” Clarke said. “We are not trying to profit off your data. Our goal is based on the needs of producers. We want to enable you to handle your data and to learn from it.”

Clarke said she believes the USDA has finally decided to develop this type of system — essentially a network of regional databases — because the federal government recognizes the potential value of artificial intelligence in addressing issues around carbon capture, sustainability and productivity.

The deadline for the project is April 2023.

More coverage:

Curtis Riganti, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, was interviewed for a May 3 segment on RFD-TV. He discussed how his team tracks drought, current conditions in various regions, how those conditions compare historically and some tools homeowners can use for mitigation.

Cody Creech, agronomy and horticulture, was interviewed for a May 3 RFD-TV story on drought conditions causing winter wheat stress. He said ag producers should be cautious of moving too quickly and plowing winter wheat under for another crop. Some wheat is better than none, he said, and the Midwest might not get much more rain that would make another crop a better choice.

Chigozie Obioma’s second novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities,” was highlighted in a May 3 Book Riot article titled “8 of the best Greek mythology retellings.” The novel reinterprets “The Odyssey” as a story about a Nigerian farmer. Obioma is the James E. Ryan Associate Professor of English at Nebraska.

Jessica Petersen, animal science, was interviewed for a May 4 Knowable article on a new DNA analysis showing when and where horses became domesticated. “It’s great to have this big piece filled in, in the puzzle of where horses actually came from,” she said. But, she added, the domestication process was a complex series of events, and more intricate details will be difficult to uncover. The Atlantic published a similar story May 7.

Daizaburo Shizuka, biological sciences, and Eli Strauss, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Germany, have co-authored a new study suggesting that wealth inequality in animals can shed light on social evolution. Stories on the research appeared in Cosmos,,, Scienmag and a few other media outlets.

John Hibbing, political science, was interviewed for a May 10 Nebraska Public Media story on Nebraska’s Republican gubernatorial primary. The story was picked by more than two dozen NPR stations across the country.

Dawn O. Braithwaite, communication studies, was interviewed for a May 11 Huffington Post article on what parents should consider when introducing their children to a new dating partner. “While there are exceptions, most scholars have found that new partners can play a positive role in children’s lives but that they should go slow and act as a friend for children rather than overstepping and acting in ways that are confusing or inappropriate for children,” she said.

Janos Zempleni, nutrition and health sciences, and colleagues are pursuing a way to use milk to deliver cancer-fighters to the brain. The project recently received $630,000 in support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Stories on the research have appeared in the Omaha World-Herald, Rural Radio Network, York News-Times, Agri-View, and Feedstuffs.

Brandon Fogel, a doctoral student in business, discussed “Gentelligence,” a new book he co-authored, in a May 13 Forbes article. The book focuses on how to make intergenerational workforces work better.

Robert Hutkins, food science and technology, was interviewed for a May 16 Consumer Reports article on whether sourdough bread is more nutritious than other types. “Some flours contain phytic acid, which is considered an ‘anti-nutrient’ due to its ability to bind important minerals, like zinc, iron and calcium,” he said. “Sourdough microbes degrade the phytic acid, enhancing the nutritional quality of the bread.” However, he said this benefit only applies to real sourdough, made in a traditional way.

A Q&A featuring Casey Kelly, communication studies, was highlighted in a May 17 NPR story on how the “replacement” theory has gone mainstream on the political right. Kelly is the author of “Apocalypse Man: The Death Drive and the Rhetoric of White Masculine Victimhood.”

Candace Hulbert, an Americorps VISTA with Nebraska Extension, was interviewed for a May 17 segment on RFD-TV. She discussed Weather Ready Farms, a pilot program that aims to help ag producers up their operation’s resiliency against extreme weather events and disasters.

Kwakiutl Dreher, English, and William G. Thomas III, history, were interviewed for the May 19 episode of WYPR’s “On the Record” program about their new film “The Bell Affair.” The film, which chronicles an enslaved family’s fight for freedom, makes its public premiere June 2.

A new study co-authored by Heather Hallen-Adams, food science and technology, suggests that the genes responsible for synthesizing the deadly alpha-amanitin toxin were directly transferred to three unrelated genera of mushrooms by means other than biological inheritance. ran a May 19 article on the research.

Nebraska will suspend its tradition of releasing red balloons after the first touchdown of home football games due to a global helium shortage, Athletic Director Trev Alberts announced on his radio show May 23. Stories on the decision appeared in at least 10 Nebraska media outlets,, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo! Sports and more than 140-plus other media outlets.

Cory Walters, agricultural economics, was interviewed for a May 24 segment on RFD-TV. He discussed his research showing that ag producers indirectly receive a higher price for higher quality wheat.

Margaret Jacobs, history, director of the Center for Great Plains Studies, was interviewed for a May 25 ABC Online story on the search for the remains of Native American schoolchildren at the former Genoa Indian Industrial School. Jacobs is the co-director of the Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project.

Husker students Priscila and Leslie Castaneda were surprised on campus by a reunion with their brother, U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Allen Castenada, on Jan. 27. Allen was in training on the East Coast and deployed overseas for more than a year while his sisters have been in school at Nebraska. The Military and Veteran Success Center helped coordinate the surprises. USA Today published a May 27 story on the surprises.

Noori Choi, a recent doctoral graduate of Nebraska; Eileen Hebets, biological sciences; and colleagues have found that females of the Schizocosa stidulans spider seem to reward males that produce more complex mating signals. Stories on the research have appeared in the Daily Mail,, Live Science and ScienceAlert.

William Belcher, anthropology, was interviewed for a May 31 Live Science article on the Indus Valley Civilization, one of the oldest civilizations in human history. “The Indus Valley Civilization, also called the Saraswati or Harappan civilization, is one of the ‘pristine’ civilizations on our planet,” he said. The civilization, which thrived from about 2600 B.C. to 1900 B.C., covered about 386,000 square miles, extending through northwest India, Pakistan and parts of Afghanistan, Belcher said. “This really makes it one of the largest ‘Old World’ civilizations in terms of geographic extent,” he said.

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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