Nebraska in the national news: May 2023

· 6 min read

Nebraska in the national news: May 2023

A gene-edited calf produced by a team that includes the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Brian Vander Ley made national headlines in May. The stories were among 20-plus featuring Husker faculty, staff, students, centers and programs during the month.

Vander Ley, associate professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and assistant director of the university’s Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center, collaborated with federal and private-sector scientists to produce a calf resistant to the bovine viral diarrhea virus, a highly infectious disease that decades of vaccinations and other precautions have failed to contain.

If follow-up research confirms its efficacy, the gene-editing approach offers long-term potential to reduce antimicrobial and antibiotic use in the cattle industry.

Stories on the research appeared in Beef magazine, Drovers,, Midwest Messenger, and RFD-TV.

Chigozie Obioma’s second novel, “An Orchestra of Minorities,” was highlighted in a May 1 Reader’s Digest article titled “25 Greek mythology books and retellings that’ll take you back in time.” The novel reinterprets “The Odyssey” as a story about a Nigerian farmer. Obioma is the James E. Ryan Associate Professor of English at Nebraska.

Crystal Garcia, educational administration, was quoted in a May 2 Inside Higher Ed article on conservatives taking aim at identity-based graduation ceremonies. “Whenever we think about graduating classes in the hundreds or thousands, you’re really one in a sea of students. And sometimes, for students, it’s hard to see themselves reflected in that sea,” she said. “This is an opportunity for students … to see many reflections of themselves.”

Nebraska Athletics named Jonathan Bateman as its inaugural name, image and likeness director on May 2. He will manage day-to-day NIL operations for Nebraska and “serve as the primary liaison for all NIL and governance operations,” according to a news release. Stories on the announcement appeared in KLKN, KPTM, the Lincoln Journal Star and 247 Sports.

Kyle Langvardt, law, was quoted in a May 2 Lead Stories fact check of an Instagram video claiming that a person could, under the RESTRICT Act, be fined up to $1 million and imprisoned for at least 20 years for using a virtual private network to access TikTok if the app is banned. Langvardt said prosecution is unlikely, but the broad powers the bill would give to the commerce secretary are concerning. He also noted that 20 years in prison is the maximum sentence, not the minimum, as the Instagram user claims.

A paper by Langvardt was highlighted in a May 18 DL News article on whether software is protected under free speech laws. Langvardt wrote that the “code is speech” argument has no legal merit in crypto cases. These “wild theories” are “badly out of step with First Amendment case law and probably worthless in court,” he wrote.

Stapleton farmer Jon Walz is working with Husker researchers to test a tractor sensor — one of several technologies that aim to reduce the use of nitrogen fertilizer on crops, Chemical and Engineering News reported May 7. Laura Thompson, a Nebraska Extension educator, was interviewed for the story.

Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O’Lakes, gave a May 8 Heuermann Lecture as part of the 2023 Water for Food Global Conference. She discussed the growing demand for water as the world’s population continues to increase. Stories on the lecture appeared in Brownfield Ag News, High Plains Journal, Progressive Farmer and Seed Today.

Mary Emery, director of Rural Prosperity Nebraska, was interviewed for a May 9 segment on RFD-TV. She discussed the $25 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant that Rural Prosperity Nebraska has received to create the Heartland Regional Foods Business Center.

A limited menu of prey may weave a tangled food web by emboldening wolf spiders of multiple species to dine on each other and even cannibalize their own, says a study from Husker researchers. The North Platte Telegraph and published articles on the study.

Bedross Der Matossian, Hymen Rosenberg Professor of Judaic Studies and vice chair of the Department of History, was quoted in a May 11 Lead Stories fact check debunking the myth that there was once a powerful and technologically advanced “Tartarian Empire” that was buried in a great “mud flood,” which reset society. “It seems that the Tartarian Empire is a fictional place and the mud flood has never [been] taken seriously,” he wrote. “I have not been able to find … coverage of the topic by legitimate scholars.”

The university’s Indigenous Roots Teacher Education Program was highlighted in a May 12 Washington Post article. The program allows aspiring Native educators to receive a bachelor’s degree at no cost while being employed by their local schools. Alumna Nepthys Justo was interviewed for the story. (This article requires a subscription.)

The North Platte Telegraph, and The Fence Post have run an article on Nebraska Extension’s BeefWatch podcast. The program, which launched in 2015, offers expert-level information on a range of practical production topics, including pasture management, nutrition, health, reproduction, genetics and marketing.

Julie Peterson, entomology, was quoted in a May 15 Knowable article titled “The ever-tenuous success of plants engineered to kill insect foes.” Peterson is among scientists who are disturbed to see the caterpillar-killing toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis so quickly squandered. “Seeing resistance now to these traits can be quite disheartening, because there’s so much promise” for reducing insecticide use, she said.

Robert Hutkins, food science and technology, was quoted in a May 16 USA Today article on the health benefits of vinegar. Hutkins explained that vinegar is produced “by bacteria that converts ethanol into acetic acid. The type of vinegar depends on the source of the ethanol.”

Eric Berger, Dunlap Distinguished Professor of Law, was quoted in a May 16 Lead Stories fact check rejecting claims that the U.S. Supreme Court had overturned the results of the 2020 election and that Donald Trump had been awarded the presidency. He explained that the Supreme Court can’t secretly decide a case that no one knows about and that the court lacks the authority to overturn a presidential election. “It can review legal issues that arose … but it can’t just look at an election and decide to undo it,” he wrote.

Following a national search, the University of Nebraska has named Rodney D. Bennett as the priority candidate for the next chancellor of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Stories on the announcement appeared in more than 15 Nebraska media outlets and The Athletic.

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