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UNL’s Swearer to lead Gaga’s advisory, research board

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor Susan Swearer will lead a new research board to advise Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation on its youth empowerment and tolerance programs, the foundation announced this week.

The group also will work to boost the influence of the foundation’s proposals and apply well-founded research to all of the foundation’s upcoming programs.

Swearer, professor of school psychology in the College of Education and Human Sciences, will be chairwoman of the six-person group, called the Research and Advisory Board. It includes researchers from New York University, Harvard University and the University of Chicago, among other schools.

“It’s an honor to be working with an esteemed group of scholars,” Swearer said. “The Research Advisory Board has been helping the Foundation make sure that its initiatives are grounded in research and will make sure that research guides their programming.”

Gaga’s foundation, co-founded by her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, recruited Swearer to help its official launch in February. Swearer co-directs the Bullying Research Network, which promotes international collaboration among bullying and peer victimization researchers. Swearer has been working with Born This Way since 2011, helping to create resources as the foundation prepared to officially enter the national anti-bullying discussion.

“Susan Swearer knows how to translate strong, solid research into practical, relevant strategies for youth and the adults and families who work with them,” said Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of UNL’s College of Education and Human Sciences. “She is a bridge from the research world that cares about bullying, to the public that cares about bullying. Her ability to connect those two worlds will serve her well in this role.”

In a statement, Germanotta said the board is “made up of some of the brightest minds in education and adolescent research. With the help of these university-based experts, we will be able to reach even more youth and provide them with the tools necessary to be the brave person they were each born to be.”

The board will evaluate ongoing programs and give feedback on new proposals, while also providing assessment and evaluation strategies for existing programs – including Born Brave Nation, localized groups of supporters working to affect change in their homes, schools and communities.

Swearer and Gaga in February during the BTWF launch.

Contact: Susan Swearer, Professor of School Psychology, 402-472-1741 or

It’s about time: Research tracks how campaign information plays, stays in voters’ minds

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

(Photo: CBS News)

Maybe you’re a Republican and believe Mitt Romney will sail to victory on the lasting momentum of his early October debate performance. Or maybe you’re a Democrat who thinks that President Obama’s consistent policy messages in the late summer and early fall will remind voters to award him with a second term in November.

But if your candidate of choice wants his message to leave a lasting impact on undecided or low-information voters as they cast their ballots, he may want to focus on having a strong closing week, University of Nebraska-Lincoln political scientist Dona-Gene Mitchell says.

Mitchell researches the effects of time on the political process — and specifically, how long information endures or how fast it fades from people’s minds during multi-week campaigns. Her most recent findings, published in the American Journal of Political Science, suggest that in a tightly controlled information environment, issue-related information about a candidate was supplanted quickly from voters’ minds by new data.

Character and personal facts about a candidate, meanwhile, were found to stick in people’s memories a little longer – but not by much.

“I find a remarkably limited role for enduring information effects,” Mitchell said. “In other words, during campaigns, citizens appear to operate as if they have short-term memory loss where information this week mattered but the effects quickly faded a week later.”

Mitchell’s work employs a unique approach into the study of how different kinds of candidate information is processed. Unlike previous experimental studies, which had been done in a single sitting, the method releases different types of information about a candidate to study participants over 12 weeks. This approach, Mitchell said, brings new insights into the lifespan of campaign information – and just how much of it helps voters to modify their judgments about a candidate.

In her most recent study, information was provided once a week about a hypothetical Republican candidate for Congress. The type of information varied: Sometimes it was about the candidate’s character or communicated a personal detail; others, his positions on different political issues. After receiving the information each week, participants then evaluated the candidate.

Some information, such as the candidate’s party affiliation, exhibited stronger staying power with the study’s participants. But Mitchell said she was surprised at how other less sticky information, particularly where a candidate stood on a single issue, was displaced to make room for new facts. Partisanship combined with new short-term information to push other stockpiled information about the candidate out of participants’ minds.

“What is particularly striking about these findings is that the rapid rate at which information effects decay may be greater than previously imagined,” Mitchell said.

Does this mean that whoever gets the last word in the campaign can expect to spend the next four years in the White House? Not necessarily, Mitchell said. While the study brings new understanding into the lifespans of certain types of political messages, it was primarily designed to look at low-information campaigns such as races for the House of Representatives and not forecast presidential horse races. But it does provide food for thought in a presidential campaign in which a relatively small slice of undecided or low-information voters in a handful of states may swing the election.

Mitchell’s upcoming research looks further into the temporal dynamics on political information effects. A forthcoming study examines how much more voters pay attention when a staunchly partisan official becomes more inconsistent in his or her views. She also is determining empirically how much the timing of a political scandal, and the amount of coverage devoted to the scandal, matters in a race.

“We have only a limited understanding of how and to what extent people modify their judgments as new information becomes available and the salience of old information fades,” she said. “But what we know from this research is that timing definitely matters.”

Contact: Dona-Gene Mitchell, assistant professor of political science, (402) 472-5994 or

Childfree women feel most pressure to have kids — but stress least about it, national study finds

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Women who choose to be permanently childfree perceive more social pressures to become mothers than other women, but feel less distress about not having kids than women who are childless from infertility or other reasons, a new national study shows.

The first-of-its-kind study, from a national survey of nearly 1,200 American women of reproductive age with no children, identified various reasons why women have no children, from medical and situational barriers to delaying pregnancy to choosing to be childfree. It sought to determine if those different reasons contributed to different types of concerns about being childless.

“Motherhood is so highly connected with adult femininity in the United States that many women feel that they need to be mothers,” said Julia McQuillan, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln sociologist and the study’s lead author. “Yet we also found that there are women who have low or no distress about not being mothers, even if their friends and family want them to have children.”

In recent years more U.S. women – estimates suggest about 20 percent – are ending childbearing years without having children. Some can’t conceive because of biomedical infertility; others simply delay because of financial concerns, educational demands, job demands, not finding the right partner or other situational barriers.

Though all the women were in the same social situation – not being mothers – researchers questioned if the specific reason for not having children shaped how they experienced their situation.

The study found that the reason for having children did matter for distress related to not having children, but only because reasons were associated with how important motherhood is to women’s identities. Women who were involuntarily childless because of biomedical reasons put the highest importance on motherhood, and had the highest distress.

Researchers were surprised that pressure from others was not a bigger factor in explaining differences in distress, since many American women face social pressures to have children. But the study showed that influence from others to have children was associated with distress only if the women considered motherhood important.

That key factor overrode many others – social pressures, income, age, race and education level – as the most important attribute in judging childlessness concerns.

The results of the study, the first to closely examine the different reasons behind childlessness and their social effects on women, raise questions about what room there is in American culture for women to have successful, fulfilling lives without being mothers, McQuillan said.

“This highlights that not all women without children are the same. While some may be devastated, others are content and finding fulfillment through other avenues such as leisure or career pursuits,” she said. “Rather than assume that women without children are missing something, society should benefit from valuing a variety of paths for adult women to have satisfying lives.”

Also in the study:

- The proportion of Hispanic and African-American women was lowest among those who were voluntarily childfree, but was highest among women with biomedical fertility barriers. That pattern was the opposite for white women.

- The average age of voluntarily childfree women was about four years older than the average age among childless women with biomedical barriers, and about six years older than childless women with or without situational barriers.

- Family income was highest among voluntarily childfree women and lowest among women with medical barriers.

- Women who considered themselves more religious actually perceived fewer average social messages stressing the importance of having children, compared with less religious women.

“Listening to a broad spectrum of American women about the degree of importance of motherhood in their lives and the meanings of not having children is reshaping how we think about opportunities for meaningful adult femininity,” McQuillan said. “Just as reproductive options have increased, both for limiting fertility and overcoming fertility barriers, we are learning what is devastating for some women is a relief for other women.”

The study is published in The Journal of Marriage and Family. In addition to McQuillan, the work was authored by Arthur Griel of Alfred University; Karina Shreffler and John Hathcoat of Oklahoma State University; and Patricia Wonch-Hill and Kari Gentzler of UNL.

Contact: Julia McQuillan, professor of sociology, (402) 472-6040 or

Coverage: LiveScience | Fox News | NBC News | DN |

UNL in the national news: September 2012

Monday, October 8th, 2012
National media outlets featured and cited UNL sources on a number of topics in the past month. Appearances in national media included:

Amanda Fujikawa, a graduate student in Natural Resource Sciences, had her research on how decomposition of mammal carcasses affects nearby ecosystems in the Sandhills featured by Scientific American on Sept. 13.

Ray Hames, anthropology, was quoted Sept. 24 by the New York Times about the massive health study involving the Tsimane peoples in northern Bolivia.

John Hibbing, political science, spoke with the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight on Sept. 23 to discuss the state of Nebraska’s electoral map.

Michael Hoff, art and art history, had his archaeological team’s unearthing of a massive Roman mosaic in southern Turkey featured in dozens of national media outlets in mid-September. Appearances included the History Channel, Der Spiegel (Germany), the New York Times, The Associated Press, United Press International, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Mail (UK), The Register (UK) and NBC News.

Ann Mari May, economics, was quoted Sept. 4 by ABC News about the ‘Lipstick Effect’ during stressful economic conditions. Throughout the month, May’s research on the gender gap in policy views among economists that she co-authored with Mary McGarvey was featured in a number of national media outlets, including The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, Bloomberg Businessweek, the Wall Street Journal and USA TODAY.

David Moshman, educational psychology, wrote a Sept. 12 opinion column for the Huffington Post about the latest version of the Guide to Free Speech on Campus by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

UNL climatologists at the National Drought Mitigation Center were quoted extensively in September as drought persisted in the continental United States. Brian Fuchs, Mark Svoboda and Michael Hayes were quoted by dozens of media outlets around the nation and world, including Reuters, The Associated Press, the Globe and Mail (Canada) and CNN.

Mario Scalora, psychology, was quoted Sept. 30 by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune about red flags portending violence in the workplace, in the wake of a mass shooting in Minneapolis.

Dean Sicking, former director of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, was featured Sept. 26 by the Birmingham News on whether short tracks can do without SAFER walls.

National media often work with University Communications to identify and connect with UNL sources for the purpose of including the university’s research, expertise and programming in published work. Faculty and administration appearances in the national media are logged at

To offer suggestions on potential national news stories or sources at UNL, contact Steve Smith at or 402-472-4226.

UNL team unearths giant Roman mosaic in southern Turkey

Monday, September 17th, 2012

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln archaeological team has uncovered a massive Roman mosaic in southern Turkey – a meticulously crafted, 1,600-square-foot work of decorative handiwork built during the region’s imperial zenith.

It’s believed to be the largest mosaic of its type in the region and demonstrates the reach and cultural influence of the Roman Empire in the area in the third and fourth centuries A.D., said Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied professor of art history at UNL and the director of the excavation.

“Its large size signals, in no small part, that the outward signs of the empire were very strong in this far-flung area,” Hoff said. “We were surprised to have found a mosaic of such size and of such caliber in this region – it’s an area that had usually been off the radar screens of most ancient historians and archaeologists, and suddenly this mosaic comes into view and causes us to change our focus about what we think (the region) was like in antiquity.”

Since 2005, Hoff’s team has been excavating the remains of the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum on the southern Turkish coast. Antiochus of Commagene, a client-king of Rome, founded the city in the middle of the first century.

“This region is not well understood in terms of history and archaeology,” Hoff said. “It’s not a place in which archaeologists have spent a lot of time, so everything we find adds more evidence to our understanding of this area of the Roman Empire.

“We’re beginning to understand now that it was more Romanized, more in line with the rest of the Roman world than was suspected before. (The nature of the mosaic) hammers home how Roman this city truly is.”

Antiochia ad Cragum had many of the trappings expected of a Roman provincial city – temples, baths, markets and colonnaded streets, said Hoff. The city thrived during the empire from an economy focused on agricultural products, especially wine and lumber.

Excavation has focused on a third-century imperial temple, and also a street lined with shops. In July, the team began to explore the mosaic, which was part of a Roman bath. The decoration consists of large squares, each filled with different colored geometric designs and ornamentation.

“This would have been a very formal associated pavement attached to the bath,” Hoff said. “This is a gorgeous mosaic, and its size is unprecedented” – so large, in fact, that work crews have uncovered only an estimated 40 percent of its total area.

Hoff said it appears the mosaic served as a forecourt for the adjacent large bath, and that at least on one side, evidence shows there was a roof covering the geometric squares that would have been supported by piers. Those piers’ remains are preserved, he said.

Meanwhile, the middle of the mosaic was outfitted with a marble-lined, 25-foot-long pool, which would have been uncovered and open to the sun. The other half of the mosaic, adjacent to the bath, has yet to be revealed but is expected to contain the same type of decoration, Hoff said. Crews expect to unearth the entire work next summer.

Team members first noticed the mosaic in 2001 when a large archaeological survey project that included Hoff noticed plowing by a local farmer had brought up pieces of a mosaic in a field next to a still-standing bath structure. The find was brought to the attention of the archaeological museum in Alanya, who two years later made a minor investigation that revealed a small portion of the mosaic.

Last year, the museum invited Hoff to clear the mosaic and to preserve it for tourists and scholars. Hoff’s 60-person team also included Birol Can, assistant professor of archaeology at Atatürk University in Ezrurum, Turkey, a sister university to the University of Nebraska; students from UNL; other students from Turkey and the United States; and workers from a nearby village. About 35 students participated in the project as part of a summer field school Hoff runs.

Watch a video of Hoff discussing the find and see footage of the excavation.

Phalin Strong, a sophomore art major from Lincoln, said the work was difficult but satisfying.

“It is strange to realize that you are the first person to see this for centuries – a feeling that also made me think about impermanence and what importance my actions have on humanity and history,” Strong said.

Ben Kreimer, a senior journalism major, agreed: “(Working on) the mosaic was great because the more soil you removed, the more mosaic there was,” he said. “Visually, it was also stunning, especially once it got cleaned off. It wasn’t very deep under the surface of the soil, either, so … we had to be careful not to swing the handpick too hard so as not to damage the priceless mosaic that lay just inches beneath us.”

Hoff said the significance of this summer’s discovery has him eager to return to the site and see what the rest of the excavation uncovers.

“As an archaeologist, I am always excited to make new discoveries. The fact that this discovery is so large and also not completely uncovered makes it doubly exciting,” he said. “I am already looking forward to next year, though I just returned from Turkey.”

Contact: Michael Hoff, Hixson-Lied Professor of Art History, (402) 472-5342 or

Coverage: New York Times | The Associated Press | LiveScience | Omaha World-HeraldYahoo! News | NBC News | Fox News | Discovery News | Christian Science Monitor | Mother Nature Network | |Business Insider | Huffington Post | WOWT | History Channel | United Press International | RedOrbit |Daily Mail (UK) | The Register (UK)Der Spiegel |

UNL in the national news, August 2012

Thursday, September 6th, 2012
National media outlets featured and cited UNL sources on a number of topics in the past month. Appearances in national media included:

Namas Chandra, mechanical and materials engineering, had the Trauma Mechanics Research Initiative that he is leading appear in an Aug. 9 story in Popular Science.

Wheeler Winston Dixon, film studies, was quoted Aug. 2 by the Boston Globe on celebrities facing PR crises.

Ismail Dweikat, agronomy and horticulture, was featured Aug. 9 on CBS News about the harvest potential of sorghum, particularly during a severe drought.

Sarah Gervais, psychology, had her research on how men and women are perceived appear in a number of media outlets in early August, including the Huffington Post and Prevention Magazine.

James Goecke and John Gates, earth and atmospheric sciences, were both quoted extensively in an Aug. 6 special report by the Washington Post on the Keystone XL and the Ogallala Aquifer.

Matthew Jockers, English, had his text-mining project that plotted the relationships between 3,500 18th- and 19th century novels featured by several outlets in mid-August, including New Scientist, WIRED, NBC News and Smithsonian Magazine.

Bruce Johnson, agricultural economics, was quoted by United Press International on Aug. 29 about U.S. farm incoming rising despite persistent drought.

Experts at UNL’s National Drought Mitigation Center continued to appear regularly in national and international media outlets as drought persisted in August. Mark Svoboda, Brian Fuchs, Mark Hayes were quoted in dozens of outlets throughout the month, including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, NBC News, Reuters, the Kansas City Star and many others.

Christal Sheppard, law, was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 24 about Apple’s legal victory over Samsung in a much-watched patent case. She was also quoted by the Dow Jones Newswire about the International Trade Commission’s finding that Apple did not violate Google’s patents. The story ran in several media outlets around the country.

Paul Steger, Director of the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film, had his Houston-based production of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” reviewed by the Houston Chronicle.

Eric Thompson, economics, was quoted Aug. 17 by The Associated Press about the state’s unemployment rate topping 4 percent, and about UNL’s Bureau of Business Research’s economic indicators for the state.

David Wilson, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs; Ruth Lionberger, international projects manager; and Pat McBride, coordinator of student engagement; appeared in an Aug. 26 Associated Press story about UNL changing its programming to improve service to international students. Students Guman Singh, Mei Yee Ng and volunteer Beth Cordell were also quoted in the story, which ran in dozens of media outlets around the country.

National media often work with University Communications to identify and connect with UNL sources for the purpose of including the university’s research, expertise and programming in published work. Faculty and administration appearances in the national media are logged at

To offer suggestions on potential national news stories or sources at UNL, contact Steve Smith at or 402-472-4226.

National survey of economists finds vast gender gap in policy views

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Is there a “gender gap” in the views of professional economists? A new national study finds that while most economists agree on core economic concepts, values and methods, they differ along gender lines in their views on important economic policy.

The study – believed to be the first systematic analysis of male and female economists’ views on a wide variety of policy issues – surveyed hundreds of members of the American Economic Association. The research team found that despite having similar training and adherence to core economic principles and methodology, male and female economists hold different opinions on particular current economic issues and specific economic policies including educational vouchers, health insurance and policies toward labor standards.

Women economists in the study, for example, are less likely to favor limiting government-backed redistribution policies than men. They also view gender inequality as a U.S. labor market problem more than their male counterparts do, and are more likely to favor government intervention over market solutions than men.

Meanwhile, the average male economist sees government regulation as more excessive, exhibits greater support for reducing tariffs, and is more opposed to mandating that employers provide their employees health insurance.

“We wanted to learn if it would make any difference if men or women were at the table when economic policies were debated and alternatives considered,” said Ann Mari May, professor of economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Business Administration and the study’s lead author. “These results suggest that the answer to that question is a clear and definitive yes.”

The research also found very different interpretations of the status of job opportunity for men and women, both in economics academia and in the broader job market. Male economists, on average, said that opportunities are relatively equal between the genders in the United States, while the average female economist in the study disagrees.

Similarly, when economists were asked about the gender wage gap, the average male economist agrees that differences in productivity and voluntary occupational choices lead to men earning more, while female economists tend to disagree.

The study comes at a time when the national discussion, including the presidential campaign, is dominated by the economy and about which policies are best for the United States. The authors say their results highlight the importance of including economists of both genders when forming policy to ensure that a variety of professional perspectives are included.

“If demographic differences such as sex help shape our views of policy related questions, it is important that women be included on boards and in policy-making circles at all levels of decision-making,” said Mary McGarvey, UNL associate professor of economics and one of the study’s co-authors. “While including women in policy-making circles does not prevent the selection of only those individuals with shared beliefs, it nonetheless may increase the possibility that diverse viewpoints will be represented.”

Also among the findings:

- By 20 percentage points, women economists are more likely to disagree that either the United States or the European Union has excessive government regulations. They also are 24 percentage points more likely to believe the size of the U.S. government is either “too small” or “much too small.”

- Women are 41 percentage points more likely than men to favor a more progressive tax structure and 32 percentage points more likely to agree with making the U.S. income distribution more equal.

- Men support the use of vouchers in education more strongly and were more likely to support drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The study is forthcoming in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy. In addition to UNL’s May and McGarvey, the study was authored by Robert Whaples, professor of economics at Wake Forest University.

Contacts: Ann Mari May, professor of economics, (402) 472-3369 or; Mary McGarvey, associate professor of economics, (402) 472-9415 or

Coverage: USA TODAY | Slate | Wall Street Journal | Bloomberg | Chronicle of Higher Education | Inside Higher Ed | NBC News | Daily Mail (UK) |

By text-mining the classics, UNL prof unearths new literary insights

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Mark Twain once said that all ideas are second hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources. Oscar Wilde put it more bluntly when he said that talents imitate, but geniuses steal.

Matthew Jockers has assembled a way to quantify the spirit of those sayings, particularly when it comes to certain authors and the impressions they left on other writers. And in doing so, he’s opened a new door for literary theorists to study classic literature.

Jockers, an assistant professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, combines programming with text-mining to compare 18th- and 19th century authors’ works with one another based on their stylistic and thematic connections. The process, which he calls macroanalysis, crunches massive amounts of text to discern systematically how books are connected to one another – from each work’s word frequency and word choice to its overarching subject matter.

“We’ve known for some time how to search these works electronically, and how to look for things we already know are out there,” said Jockers, a fellow at UNL’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. “But the question became ‘How do we mine them to find something we don’t already know?’ What became apparent was that the next frontier was analyzing large amounts of text to learn new things (about the books), and this is a way to do just that.”

Using macroanalysis, Jockers processed digital versions of nearly 3,500 books from the late 1700s through 1900 – everything from giants like Jane Austen and Herman Melville to lesser-known writers such as Scottish novelist Margaret Oliphant. The process affixed each book with its own unique “signal,” allowing it to be plotted graphically near other books that it was closely related to, but farther away from books exhibiting more dissimilar styles and themes.

The result was a stunning graphical distribution that displays connections, insights and trends both obvious and perhaps not so obvious about the period’s literary world. The systematic method found that, unsurprisingly, the books of Austen and Sir Walter Scott were highly original and influential; and that Melville’s “Moby Dick” was an outlier from much of the literary network of the period while still being related to several works by James Fenimore Cooper:

And, though gender was not included in the comparison data, the program plotted a large majority of the period’s books by female authors in very close vicinity of one another. The purple dots represent female writers:

Another insight: On the map, habits of theme and style were seen to evolve chronologically, and most authors throughout the period huddled into clusters, from left to right, on the map near their chronological peers:

Jockers said the process of macroanalysis isn’t intended to be a computerized replacement for literary theory – rather, it’s a complementary method that, in the hands of theorists, can help them read and study classic authors’ works in new ways.

And he’s careful in his use of the word “influence,” as well: While measuring and tracking true influence, either conscious or unconscious, isn’t really possible, Jockers said macroanalysis enables theorists to use measures of stylistic and thematic affinity as a clear indicator of an author’s influence.

“Literary scholars are very interested in influence – and this is a kind of quantitative measure of similarity, as a proxy for influence,” he said. “This doesn’t take into account things like plot, or form. But the data we’ve mined is a legitimate way to judge similarity between different texts.”

Jockers presented his work in July at the international Digital Humanities Conference in Hamburg, Germany. It also will be included in a book he’s now completing called “Macroanalysis: Digital Methods and Literary History.”

At the macro scale, it’s clear that the most recognizable and well-read books from the era are not isolated books, he said during his Hamburg presentation. It’s also clear that Macroanalysis can be a powerful tool for literary theorists to collect new information about both familiar and unfamiliar works.

“The canonical greats are not necessarily outliers, often they’re similar to the many orphans of literary history that have long been forgotten in a continuum of stylistic and thematic change,” he said.

“Macroanalysis provides one method for studying the orphans and the classics side by side – a way of sifting through the haystack of literary history, of isolating and then studying the canonical greats within the larger population of less familiar titles.”

Contact: Matthew Jockers, assistant professor of English, at

Coverage: WIRED | NBC News | New Scientist |

UNL in the national news: July 2012

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

National media outlets featured and cited UNL sources on a number of topics in the past month. Appearances in national media included:

Ken Bloom, physics, was mentioned in a July 4 story in The Courier and Mail of Brisbane, Australia, about the highly anticipated announcement regarding the “discovery” of the Higgs Boson particle.

Sarah Browning, extension horticulturist, appeared in a July 8 article by The Associated Press about the origins and disease-resistant qualities of heirloom plants. The story appeared in dozens of media outlets around the country.

Beth Burkstrand-Reid, law, was quoted in a July 13 article at about potential legal challenges in Mississippi aiming to close the state’s lone abortion clinic.

Kwame Dawes, English, was featured in a July 20 blog post at the New York Daily News’ Pageviews books blog about the newly formed African Poetry Book Series. He also was a daily contributor to the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog, posting daily poems about the 2012 Olympic Games.

Sarah Gervais, psychology, debuted as a Psychology Today blogger on July 9. In the final week of July, her research into the differing cognitive processes our brains use to perceive men and women appeared in hundreds of media outlets around the world, including NBC News, Forbes, the Daily Mail (UK), United Press International, the Huffington Post and Jezebel.

John Hibbing, political science, was quoted in a July 10 story in the Washington Times about Nebraskans’ reactions to a joke by U.S. Senate candidate Bob Kerrey’s wife.

Bob Hutkins, food science and technology, appeared on NPR’s Talk Of The Nation with Ira Flatow on July 6 to discuss the science of the barbecue.

David Moshman, educational psychology, penned a July 10 op-ed for Huffington Post regarding Israel, Palestine and the teaching of history.

The National Drought Mitigation Center at UNL was in the news regularly in July as extreme drought tightened its grip on the continental United States. NDMC staffers Brian Fuchs, Michael Hayes and Mark Svoboda were quoted by hundreds of media outlets across the country, including the Kansas City Star, The Huffington Post, the Orange County Register, Discovery News, PBS NewsHour with Gwen Ifill, U.S. News & World Report, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Bloomberg News, CNN, MSNBC and The Associated Press.

Reece Peterson, special education and communication disorders, appeared in a July 11 article in Education Week about a Senate hearing on special educators’ use of restraints and seclusion.

Josephine Potuto, law, appeared in a July 2 Yahoo! Sports story about potential NCAA punishment at Penn State. On July 24, she penned an op-ed for The Chronicle of Higher Education in reaction to the severe penalties handed down by the NCAA.

Karl Reinhard, earth and atmospheric sciences, had his research into the link between ancient Natives’ diets and their modern susceptibility to diabetes featured by a number of national media outlets in late July, including NBC News, The Huffington Post, Discovery News, and the International Business Times.

Dean Sicking, civil engineering, and director of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at UNL, appeared in a USA TODAY article about the 10-year anniversary of the use of SAFER technology at NASCAR facilities.

William Thomas, history, appeared in a July 9 story in the Kansas City Star about the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act.

Eric Thompson, economics, appeared in a July 21 article by Associated Press on the UNL Bureau of Business Research’s two-year economic forecast. The story ran in dozens of media outlets across the nation.

Matthew Waite, journalism, appeared in a July 2 Kansas City Star story about the advent of drones in various U.S. industries. He also appeared in a July 2 Washington Times story about newly released guidelines for unmanned aircraft.

Timothy Wei, dean of the College of Engineering, appeared in a video produced by NBC and the National Science Foundation about fluid dynamics and the sport of swimming. The segment ran on dozens of NBC affiliate stations around the country. On July 22, he appeared in a Fox News story on the same topic.

Ted Weidner, former assistant vice chancellor for facilities, appeared in a July 17 story in The Chronicle of Education about aging facilities workforces on campuses.

National media often work with University Communications to identify and connect with UNL sources for the purpose of including the university’s research, expertise and programming in published work. Faculty and administration appearances in the national media are logged here.

To offer suggestions on potential national news stories or sources at UNL, contact Steve Smith at or 402-472-4226.

UNL political science experts on the 2012 election

Monday, July 30th, 2012

As we enter the final weeks before the 2012 election, several University of Nebraska-Lincoln political science professors can discuss the presidential, U.S. Senate and other campaigns.

John Hibbing, Foundation Regents University Professor of Political Science

American politics, U.S. Senate race, Congress

Hibbing is a nationally known expert in political psychology, biology and politics, political behavior, public opinion and legislative politics. For reporters, he can provide insight into this year’s national and statewide campaigns, including the races for U.S. Senate in Nebraska and the presidential campaign, and can provide reaction and analysis on campaign-trail developments.

Reach John Hibbing at 402-472-3220 or

* * *

Kevin Smith, professor of political science

American politics, U.S. Senate race, Presidential race, political messaging

Smith focuses on public policy, public administration, American politics, and biology and politics. He can discuss the dynamics of this year’s U.S. Senate race and other major races, including the presidential campaign. He can analyze broad aspects of these campaigns, including the effectiveness or lack thereof of political advertising. He also can discuss differences between liberals, conservatives and moderates in the context of the 2012 election, and how developments on the campaign trail may be interpreted by these different groups of voters.

Reach Kevin Smith at 402-472-0779 or

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Dona-Gene Mitchell, assistant professor of political science

Public opinion and effects of campaign information or scandal over time

Mitchell’s expertise is in American political behavior, public opinion and political psychology. She researches and teaches in the areas of how opinions are formed via information, campaigns and time, and the lifespan of information effects. She can discuss the effectiveness over time of campaign messaging or how long unfavorable information may affect politicians and elected officials.

Reach Dona-Gene Mitchell at 402-472-5994 or

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Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, Willa Cather Professor and Chair of Political Science

Public opinion, political behavior, political psychology

Theiss-Morse’s research examines Americans’ attitudes about various aspects of the American political system and about their fellow Americans. She is currently working on a project on politicians’ use of heated rhetoric and how this affects democracy.

Reach Elizabeth Theiss-Morse at 402-472-3221 or