An undergraduate who made an amazing find during her very first fossil-hunting trip. An 87-year-old great-grandmother who earned her bachelor’s degree. An English professor nominated for one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards.
Those were among the high-impact stories that generated more than 700 national news mentions for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, its people and its programs during 2015. University Communications works regularly with national media to connect reporters with UNL faculty, staff, students and stories; appearances in the national media are logged at UNL in the News.
Many stories generated scores of coverage in multiple outlets. In other instances, reporters turned to UNL experts for analysis and explanation of some of the biggest events of the year, such as Nebraska’s repeal of the death penalty, the ongoing dispute over the Keystone XL oil pipeline, drought and climate change, campus shootings and commercial space endeavors.
Discoverers, trailblazers, and prognosticators
Sophomore Carissa Raymond and her professor, Ross Secord, Earth and atmospheric sciences, were covered in October by Time, ABC, Scientific American, and NPR Morning Edition among many, many others, after Raymond discovered a fossil that turned out to be part of a previously unknown mammal species dating back to the age of the dinosaurs.
Daniel Brooks, a zoologist affiliated with the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology, received around the world coverage in February after he co-authored an article warning that climate change will increase vector-borne diseases. BBC, Scientific American, the Washington Post and Newsweek were among the outlets filing reports on his predictions.
Azzeddine Azzam and Christopher Gustafson, agricultural economics, and their former student Sarah Rehkamp generated national buzz with their study that showed how much thinner Americans might be if they ate more like the French, the Japanese or Mediterraneans. The Washington Post broke the story in July in its To Your Health blog, with dozens of other outlets nationwide picking up the report.
A study showing the surprising frequency of sibling bullying was covered by NBC News and other national outlets in February. The study was conducted by Eve Brank and Lori Hoetger, psychology.
A new theory about how snakes evolved, described by Jason Head, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, and an Indiana University colleague, was covered by Popular Science and other outlets in January.
Research by Matthew Jockers, English, using digital techniques to map and analyze plot structures in fiction generated news stories in Paris Review, Motherboard, and several United Kingdom newspapers in February.
Efforts to develop a drone that can start controlled fires for conservation purposes were covered by a number of technology news sites in November, including Slate.com’s Future Tense. The research is led by Sebastian Elbaum and Carrick Detweiler, computer science and engineering, and Dirac Twidwell, agronomy and horticulture.
Popular Mechanics reported in December on a laser-derived X-ray that could be used to detect hidden nuclear materials. Donald Umstadter and Shouyuan Chen of the Diocles Extreme Light Laboratory reported that the unconventional X-ray produced an image of a small disk of uranium hidden behind three inches of steel.
Rising stars and role models:
Chigozie Obioma, English, received international acclaim after his debut novel, “The Fishermen,” became one of six nominees for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. Obioma, who is from Nigeria, began teaching creative writing and literature at UNL this fall. His book tells the story of Nigerian brothers who turn on one another after they defy their parents to go fishing in a forbidden river. The New York Times and National Public Radio reviewed his book in April. The Washington Post and the Atlantic were among the outlets covering his Booker Prize nomination in September and October.
Time, USA Today and the Huffington Post were among the national outlets that took notice when Jean Kops, 87, collected her bachelor’s degree from UNL in August. She left college in 1947 to marry Lyle Kops and become a ranch wife in Bassett, Neb. After her husband died in 2011, Jean Kops went back to college at her daughters’ urging.
Time and CBS News were among outlets that carried a September Associated Press story reporting alumna Kent Broyhill’s efforts to finally pay the parking tickets he was issued as a UNL student in 1974. Broyhill said he didn’t have enough cash at the time. After a college friend recently reminded him of the tickets, Broyhill sent $100 to Parking and Transit Services because “it was the right thing to do.” UNL, however, returned the money because it no longer has records of the ticket.
Trusted experts and recognized authorities
After the New England Patriots were accused of cheating by deflating footballs used by star quarterback Tom Brady, Timothy Gay, physics, was quoted in the New York Times on whether the Ideal Gas Law explained why the footballs seemed to have less air pressure than required. In January, Gay said it was possible. In a follow-up story in May, Gay said the team could no longer hide behind the Ideal Gas Law. Gay, who went to high school with Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick, also was quoted on “Deflategate” by NBC News and the Los Angeles Times.
Wheeler Winston Dixon, film studies, was quoted nearly monthly about trends and events in the movie and entertainment industry, from the departure of Amy Pascal from Sony and the downfall of producer Ryan Kavanaugh, to this year’s trend of ‘80s reboots and moviegoers’ enduring love for the James Bond franchise.
The National Drought Mitigation Center continued to serve as the authority on drought trends, with its statistics and data used by outlets across the nation as they covered weather and climate at the local, regional and national level.
As drones’ popularity exploded, Matt Waite, journalism, was a favorite source for information and analysis about uses and abuses of the trendy technology. He appeared nearly every month in news outlets large and small about topics ranging from poignant drone imagery of Auschwitz (The Washington Post, February), to the hazards created for firefighters by drone hobbyists seeking wildfire footage (The New York Times, July); to pending FAA drone regulations (Peninsula Press, December).
To review month-by-month stories highlighting UNL’s national news mentions, click here.