Nebraska in the national news: November 2018

· 5 min read

Nebraska in the national news: November 2018

The discovery of a rare, humorous mosaic in the ancient Roman city of Antiochia ad Cragum was featured in more than a dozen media outlets in November. The coverage was among 35-plus national news stories involving University of Nebraska–Lincoln faculty, students and programs during the month.

Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied Professor of Art History at Nebraska, has led an archaeological dig at the ancient city in southern Turkey every summer since 2005. His team recently uncovered a 2nd-century figural mosaic poking bathroom-style fun at the Greek myths of Narcissus and Ganymede on the floor of a public latrine there.

“We were stunned at what we were looking at,” Hoff told Live Science. “You have to understand the myths to make it really come alive, but bathroom humor is kind of universal as it turns out.”

The 2018 excavation also uncovered a hoard of more than 3,000 coins, dating to the early 17th century, which may have been treasure buried by Barbary Coast pirates at the site of an abandoned bathhouse near the ancient city; and a human skeleton, possibly a murder victim whose body had been dumped in the same bathhouse a thousand years earlier.

The excavation is in partnership with Uşak University in Turkey, Clark University in Massachusetts, the Peter Kiewit Institute at the University of Nebraska and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Turkey. Students from St. Olaf College in Minnesota also regularly participate in the project.

Articles on the discovery also appeared in KOLN/KGIN, Ancient Origins, Atlas Obscura, the Daily Mail, Fox News, IFL Science, Metro, National Geographic Spain, Paper, Politiken,, Yahoo! News and several other media outlets.

Other coverage:

BizEd magazine ran an article Nov. 1 on the Clifton Strengths Institute in the College of Business. The institute helps students identify and maximize their talents and guides faculty and staff in their personal, professional and leadership development.

College of Engineering students recently modified small electric cars for three children with special needs. The Lincoln Journal Star published an article on the project Nov. 2. It was picked up by the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald and San Antonio Express-News.

Catherine Medici-Thiemann, women’s and gender studies, was interviewed for a Nov. 12 Slate article on whether pregnant women should take anti-anxiety medication. She said that for most of human history, the overriding concern has been fetal purity, often at the expense of the mother.

The Extreme Light Laboratory, housed in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is one of the founding members of LaserNetUS, a new research network intended to unite the nation’s most powerful laser facilities. An item on the network was featured on the Office of Science website Nov. 13.

Wheeler Winston Dixon, film studies, was quoted in a Nov. 13 Los Angeles Times article on the discontinuation of the classic-movie streaming service FilmStruck.

Marco Barker has been named the university’s inaugural vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion. Stories on the new hire appeared in the Columbus Telegram, KFXL, KLKN, KLIN, KMTV, Lincoln Journal Star, Nebraska Radio Network, Omaha World-Herald, Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune.

Paul Hanson, associate director of the School of Natural Resources, was mentioned in a Nov. 19 article in The Atlantic on the roughly 200 million giant mounds, or murundus, created by termites in eastern Brazil. Hanson analyzed sand grains from the center of 11 murundus and determined that the youngest was 690 years old and the oldest was 3,820 years old.

New research from a Nebraska-led team suggests that the order in which bacterial species arrive in the gut can shape an intestinal ecosystem for a lifetime, potentially shifting the odds of certain health outcomes. The team included Amanda Ramer-Tait, Andrew Benson, Maria Maldonado-Gomez, João Carlos Gomes-Neto, Hatem Kittana, Robert Schmaltz, Roberto Jiménez Cardona and Nathan Marsteller. ran an article on the research Nov. 21.

Mekenzie Beattie, a freshman agribusiness major, finished in the final four in the swine proficiency area at the 91st National FFA Convention in October. Midwest Messenger published a story on Beattie Nov. 21.

The Wall Street Journal and Nature recently published reviews of David Cahan’s “Helmholtz: A Life in Science,” about 19th-century scientist Hermann von Helmholtz. Cahan is the Charles Bessey Professor of History at Nebraska.

A new study by sociologists at Nebraska shows that religious beliefs and political ideologies have little association with overall scientific curiosity, but they are correlated with scientific knowledge. The team included Joseph Jochman, Julia McQuillan, Alexis Swendener and Luke Novack. ran an article on the study Nov. 26.

Philip Schwadel, sociology, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, wrote a Nov. 26 article in the Pew's Fact Tank series on how the U.S. class divide extends to searching for a religious congregation. He wrote that how likely Americans are to look for a new church, and how they search for that church, vary by their education and income levels.

Research by John Benson, a wildlife ecologist at Nebraska, was cited in a Nov. 28 Science News article on beavers moving into the Arctic tundra and making it more hospitable to wildlife. In 2013, Benson and his team reported that predators such as wolves, coyotes and wolf-coyote hybrids were thriving in the eastern part of Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, where beavers are plentiful.

Scholastique Mukasonga’s “The Barefoot Woman” was named one of “10 books to read this December” by on Nov. 28. Jordan Stump, modern languages and literatures, translated the memoir from French to English.

A research team at Nebraska and collaborators at the Alabama-based HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology are working to reduce nitrogen fertilizer use by breeding plants with the ability to use nitrogen more efficiently than today’s crops. The Nebraska team includes James Schnable, Tom Clemente, Yufeng Ge and Jinliang Yang. Feedstuffs ran an article on the project Nov. 29.

New research by Cory Walters, Lilyan Fulginiti and Taro Mieno, all agricultural economics, challenges traditional thinking on federal crop insurance. A story on the research appeared Nov. 30 on the Ag Connection websites for 11 states.

Debra Hope, psychology, was interviewed for a Nov. 30 article on social anxiety.

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.