UNLV Newsmakers 2022: August | University of Nevada, Las Vegas

UNLV Newsmakers 2022: August | University of Nevada, Las Vegas

August signaled the start of a new academic year at UNLV. And while classes are just getting underway, UNLV’s faculty experts have been hard at work all summer long sharing insight with journalists on local and global issues, research breakthroughs, and community engagement. 

From the future of energy production and the local economy to our evolutionary past and emerging health concerns, UNLV students and faculty appeared in hundreds of news stories around the globe.

Here are just a few that were covered by journalists in August.

Back to School

UNLV started the new academic year with a host of new academic programs, a new smoke- and vape-free campus policy, and renewed enthusiasm as the campus and surrounding community continue to ease out of pandemic restrictions.  

Big Brains

A UNLV-led team of anthropologists made international headlines for a paper that takes aim at a popular scientific claim that modern humans experienced an evolutionary decrease in brain size around 3,000 years ago. The evidence doesn’t support it, according to anthropology professor Brian Villmoare, who doubled down to say it may not have happened in the last 30,000 or even 300,000 years.

Discover Magazine, Haaretz, Advanced Science News, Frontiers Science News, Yahoo!, Europa Press, IFL Science, Laboratory Equipment 

Record-Breaking Physics Find

Tired of high electric bills and energy grid blackouts? Dream of an efficient bullet train system between Southern Nevada and California? A group of UNLV physicists may have a fix for that. Less than two years after shocking the science world with the discovery of a material capable of room-temperature superconductivity, a team from UNLV’s Nevada Extreme Conditions Lab has upped the ante once again by reproducing the feat at the lowest pressure ever recorded. In other words, science is closer than it’s ever been to a usable, replicable material that could one day revolutionize how energy, people, and goods are transported as well as change how everyday technological devices — from laptops to MRI machines — are powered.

Yahoo! (twice), KTNV-TV: ABC 13, Nevada Independent, KSNV-TV: News 3, KVVU-TV: Fox 5, Science Magazine 

Health Happenings

Just when we thought we were out of the woods on COVID-19, media outlets began reporting a rise in reinfection cases nationwide — and news about polio and monkeypox outbreaks also took center stage. Journalists also updated readers and viewers on construction of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine’s new medical education building, as well as plans to build an ambulatory care clinic and pathology lab.

  • Infectious disease expert Edwin Oh’s wastewater surveillance program started tracking monkeypox and polio, making Southern Nevada among the first few metropolitan areas nationwide to begin searching the sewers for the emerging viruses. The Street, New York Post, Fox News, Inverse, Capital & Main, Yahoo!, Las Vegas Sun (twice), Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), LA Progressive, Casino.org, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13 (twice), and KTVU-TV: Fox 2 reached out for his insights on the potential role of wastewater surveillance and interagency, cross-jurisdictional collaboration in preventing another pandemic. He also spoke to KLAS-TV: 8 News Now and the Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice) about COVID-19 infection rates.
  • School of Public Health epidemiologist Brian Labus spoke to the Las Vegas Sun, Nevada Current, Vegas PBS, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13 (twice), and This is Reno to clear up monkeypox myths and share measures the campus and community can take to avoid contracting it. He was also interviewed by Tech Target, Everyday Health, Lupus Chick, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice) about COVID reinfections, as well as tips for immunocompromised patients and conference safety.
  • Voice of America tapped UNLV medical school dean Dr. Marc J. Kahn for insights on monkeypox. He also chatted with KSNV-TV: News 3 and the Las Vegas Review-Journal about efforts to boost medical residencies and bring more doctors to Nevada, as well as with the Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, and KSNV-TV: News 3 about medical school expansion plans.

Population Forecast

The Center for Business and Economic Research in August released its annual population forecast, which found that Southern Nevada is still on track to add more than 1 million residents in coming years — bringing the population to an estimated 3.39 million by 2060. CBER director Andrew Woods and research director Stephen Miller told journalists that they expect strong economic activity, such as an anticipated high-speed light rail project and new hotel rooms, to drive the population growth. As Southern Nevada’s population ages, they also predict a shift away from reliance on the hospitality sector to other industries, such as health care.

KSNV-TV: News 3, KVVU-TV: Fox 5, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, City Cast Las Vegas, The Regulatory Review, Telemundo

General Roundup

  • Longtime UNLV Rebels public address announcer Dick Calvert retired: Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), Las Vegas Sun, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KSNV-TV: News 3, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, LVSportsBiz
  • Political scientist Austin Horng-En Wang shared his expertise on Taiwan-China tensions and the U.S.’s role with the Washington Post, Politico, and TV Europa.
  • In Science, UNLV Music Lab director Erin E. Hannon offered commentary on research into the ability of people without musical training to improvise melodies similar to those composed by professional musicians.
  • Gaming historian David G. Schwartz spoke to NBC News about the potential impact of measures to reduce Southern Nevada casinos’ and homeowners’ water consumption on tourism.
  • Labor expert Ruben Garcia’s expertise was featured on a CBS News piece about unionization efforts by Chipotle and Trader Joe’s employees.
  • Lee Business School professor Ian McDonough, who researches the economics of food insecurity, spoke to Bloomberg for a story on the end of pandemic-era free school lunch programs.
  • Newsweek and Agence France-Press called on Brookings Mountain West disinformation researcher Mary Blankenship regarding the Russia-Ukraine war and Kenyan election.
  • English professor Roberto Lovato’s comments on media bias surrounding Latinos were featured in the Los Angeles Times.
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal is among outlets that turned to higher education policy expert Federick Ngo and political scientist Dan Lee for insight on President Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan.
  • Telemundo Las Vegas (twice) quoted economist Nicholas Irwin in stories about top Las Vegas Valley water consumers and affordable housing.
  • Psychologist Stephen Benning and communication studies professor/misinformation expert Emma Frances Bloomfield appeared on a KNPR segment about local panic caused by several recent false alarm shootings.
  • Two professors spoke to media outlets about children’s health. The Nevada Current, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, and KPVI-TV: News 6 covered a study by social work professor Katherine Marçal that examined links between affordable housing and child abuse. Sociologist Elizabeth Lawrence wrote a column for the Population Reference Bureau about addressing the youth mental health crisis to stop preventable deaths.
  • The Street shared International Gaming Institute distinguished fellow Alan Feldman’s comments about a potential extension of the Las Vegas Strip. He and Bo Bernhard, vice president of economic development and IGI executive director, also participated in a KNPR panel discussion about Las Vegas’s 24/7 party “fun economy” reputation.
  • In a column for Zócalo Public Square, history professor Carlos S. Dimas wrote about his research into past pandemics and the implications for the current COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Historian Michael Green spoke to Bloomberg and NBC News about the U.S. West drought uncovering weird finds at Lake Mead.
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