Nebraska in the national news: September 2023

· 7 min read

Nebraska in the national news: September 2023

University of Nebraska–Lincoln experts were interviewed for two USA Today stories in September — on river shipping complications related to drought, and language shaming among Latinx people. The articles were among 35-plus national news stories featuring Husker faculty, staff, students, centers and programs during the month.

  • Mark Svoboda, director of the National Drought Mitigation Center, was interviewed for a Sept. 10 article on a low Mississippi River possibly stalling farmers’ deliveries. “Yes, we have that normal water cycle,” he said. “But we’re seeing an acceleration of how fast water moves through the cycle due to warmer temperatures in general.” A warming climate is expected to tighten and amplify existing cycles of flood and drought, he said.

  • Laura Muñoz, assistant professor of history and ethnic studies, was interviewed for a Sept. 20 article on a recent Pew Research Center study showing that about half of U.S. Latinos who don’t speak Spanish well have been shamed by other Latinos for it. She said the major force in generational language erosion is Americanization, with some laws meant to compel people to speak English. “If you have a child growing up in English-speaking society, you want that child to do as well as possible,” she said. “Encouraging them to speak English is part of that. So there’s this massive pressure on young children of Latino heritage to abandon their language.”

Additional national news coverage in September includes:

The College of Law is establishing a First Amendment Clinic, thanks to a gift from the Stanton Foundation. Stories on the clinic appeared in seven Nebraska media outlets, as well as and The National Jurist’s preLaw.

Eric Hunt, Nebraska Extension educator, was interviewed for a Sept. 7 Harvest Public Media story on how recent heat and drought might affect corn yields. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s August estimates put the national corn crop at about 175 bushels per acre, he expects that number to be lower. “The weather has been more of an impact this year than it’s been realized,” he said, noting that Nebraska has seen its worst drought since the 1950s. KCUR picked up the story.

A recent study by Kazi Albab Hussain, a doctoral student at Nebraska, and colleagues has found that microplastics are released in huge quantities from plastic containers when they’re microwaved. Stories on the research have appeared in KLKN, the Omaha World-Herald, Bon Appétit, Scripp News, The Times of India, The Toronto Star, The U.S. Sun, The Weather Channel, WebMD, The Week, Wired and 30-plus other media outlets.

Dirac Twidwell, agronomy and horticulture, was interviewed for a Sept. 9 Associated Press article on the declining numbers of North American grassland birds. Despite conservation efforts, many landowners are contending with fast-spreading eastern red cedar and juniper trees that are contributing to the grassland ecosystem collapse, he said.

Colleen Medill, law, was interviewed for a Sept. 9 New York Times column on the federal laws that protect savings in workers’ retirement plans when a company files for bankruptcy or goes out of business. She said that the bulk of workers’ savings in a 401(k) are well protected by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act in a bankruptcy. However, it’s wise to make sure one’s retirement contributions are deposited into the 401(k) promptly, she said. (This article requires a subscription.)

Frans von der Dunk, space law, was quoted in a recent Daily Express US article on a new paper arguing that “contact with aliens may be imminent” and that world leaders should develop a formal plan for diplomacy with intelligent extraterrestrial life. Von der Dunk said that defining “interstellar diplomacy” is not as easy as it might seem. “Not wanting to be facetious, but since this is not a well-established term or concept, it can be whatever you want it to mean,” he said. picked up the article.

The National Strategic Research Institute recently received a $24.5 million award from the Defense Health Agency to advance development of an acute radiation syndrome prophylactic. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s David Berkowitz, Patrick Dussault, Tomas Helikar, Massimiliano Pierobon and Robert Powers are part of the project. Stories on the project appeared in nine Nebraska media outlets, including the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World-Herald, and several national ones.

Tammy Mittelstet, statewide education and career pathways coordinator for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, was interviewed for a Sept. 12 segment on RFD-TV. She discussed the college’s statewide partnerships to incorporate ag concepts into K-12 classrooms.

Josephine Potuto, Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law Emeritus, was quoted in a Sept. 12 Lead Stories fact check dispelling the myth that a Pennsylvania judge’s ruling in a state civil lawsuit gives former President Donald Trump absolute immunity from prosecution. She said the judge’s ruling was “very narrow” and “restricted to the facts in the case before him” and that it doesn’t give Trump immunity in any other cases.

Husker researchers led by Shudipto Dishari and Ross McCollum, both chemical and biomolecular engineering, are converting plant wastes into antimicrobial agents that could help prevent pathogenic infections and death while significantly lowering the cost of antimicrobial treatments and being a boon to the bioeconomy. published a Sept. 14 article on the research.

Gerald Steinacher, history, was interviewed for a Sept. 15 Washington Post article on Argentina’s federal police raiding a clandestine Nazi printing press on Sept. 12. Since the late ’90s, Argentina has cracked down on instances of Nazi propaganda distribution and antisemitism — which Steinacher commended as a “very important step forward.” “It’s important not to be passive and allow hate to go by unchecked,” Steinacher said. picked up the story.

Kyle Langvardt, law, was interviewed for a Sept. 19 Washington Times article on a recent federal lawsuit by X, formerly known as Twitter, arguing that a new California law infringes on free speech. He said the law compels media companies to define certain speech, such as harassment. The companies also must report how they handle harassment and can be subject to fines if they omit or misrepresent anything. “The power to seek these fines could potentially empower prosecutors to pressure platforms to change their content enforcement policies,” he said.

Thomas Gannon’s “Birding While Indian: A Mixed-Blood Memoir” was featured in a Sept. 20 Christian Science Monitor article. He is an associate professor of English and ethnic studies and associate director of ethnic studies at Nebraska.

Gerald Steinacher, history, was interviewed for a Sept. 25 New Yorker article on photojournalist Evy Mages’ childhood experiences in an Austrian villa in which a psychologist experimented on children. Steinacher described the Sondergerichte, or Nazi special courts, that the psychologist’s father presided over, which existed to intimidate the populace and stamp out resistance. Such courts, Steinacher said, “made a mockery of justice,” quickly issuing harsh sentences, including death.

Hanna Pinneo, executive director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, was interviewed for a Sept. 26 segment on RFD-TV. She discussed a five-year, $10 million grant that the arboretum has received from the U.S. Forest Service to strengthen Nebraska’s urban forest infrastructure in disadvantaged communities across the state.

A research team consisting of Jessica Petersen and Dustin Yates, both animal science; Kristin Montooth, biological sciences; and graduate students Mackenzie Batt, biological sciences, and Lauren Seier, animal science, has begun a federally funded study to deepen the understanding of links between genetics and cattle growth efficiency. The study will focus on cattle’s mitochondria, cell components whose biochemical activity produces most of the body’s energy for cell function. High Plains Journal ran a Sept. 27 article on the research.

Brad Lubben, extension associate professor of agricultural economics, was interviewed for a Sept. 27 St. Louis Public Radio story on Congress missing the September farm bill deadline. He said December is “really the imminent deadline.”

Research by Dillon Fogarty and Dirac Twidwell, both agronomy and horticulture, was highlighted in a Sept. 27 All About Birds article on eastern redcedars threatening Nebraska’s grasslands.

The University of Nebraska unveiled plans for a $450 million renovation of Memorial Stadium on Sept. 28. The Board of Regents will vote on the project Oct. 5. Stories on the proposed renovation appeared in more than a dozen Nebraska media outlets, The Athletic, Sports Illustrated and more.

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.

Recent News