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COVID-19 experts available: Job market, retail, dairy, more

May 28, 2020

Numerous experts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison are available to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and provide tips and information to help people navigate the challenges to their daily lives.


Major League Baseball’s owners and players are negotiating a possible return to the diamond. Laura Albert, an expert on modeling and analysis of complex systems like healthcare, airline safety and emergency services, thinks the low-contact, outdoor game might be a good candidate for renewed competition. However, she says, the off-the-field logistics of travel and locker rooms still present important risks to players and other staff required to play nine innings — whether fans fill the stands or not. Albert can discuss the risk-management and contingency planning needed for sports to stage a comeback.

Contact: Twitter: @lauraalbertphd


Matthew Hora, an expert on internships and college to workforce transitions, is available to discuss the impact of internships lost due to the pandemic.

Hora says, “The loss of in-person internships due to the COVID-19 pandemic will likely hurt the career development and future prospects of thousands of college students, but online internships (and possibly short-term projects called “micro-internships”) may help ameliorate these negative impacts, though little research has been conducted on online, remote, or micro-internships.”

Hora can discuss:

  • Why research suggests the large numbers of cancellations during the COVID-19 pandemic will have negative consequences for those unable to take an internship
  • Why online internships that may become available may have the added benefit of increasing access
  • Why online internships could struggle to provide experiences like the opportunity to learn about professional cultures, behavioral norms of a workplace, and the building of professional networks to students.

Contact:  Twitter: @matt_hora


Rebekah Paré, executive director of UW–Madison’s Letters & Science Career Initiative and Career Services, is available to discuss the waiting job market for graduates in the era of COVID-19. She can comment on:

  • Internship and job placement
  • Career preparation and return on investment in higher education
  • Liberal arts education and career readiness
  • Career preparation for college students

Paré says, “College students are graduating into a recession that is rapidly worsening. With job and internship offers being rescinded and start dates postponed, UW–Madison is providing much needed support to enable students to build experiences and skills, find mentors, and connect with alumni and industry partners to get those jobs and internships that do still exist.”

Contact:, Twitter: @rppare


Richard Monette, law professor and director of the Great Lakes Indian Law Center, is available to discuss the dispute over South Dakota roadside checkpoints that members of two Native American tribes say they have put into place to curb the spread of coronavirus into tribal land.



U.S. retail sales plunged by more than 16 percent in April, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. Jerry O’Brien, Executive Director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing in the School of Human Ecology, says of recent trends, “I don’t see why this number would be a surprise with so many physical stores, shopping centers, and malls closed. The thing to watch for in the long run is how are consumers making decisions on what to shop for. In the end, we will still consume and shop, but many are taking a pause to reconsider what and how they consume.”



Marianne Smukowski, outreach program manager for the Center of Dairy Research (CDR), is well versed in assisting dairy manufacturing facilities with food safety plans, performing third party audits for dairy plants, and serving as a regulatory liaison for dairy manufacturers. Currently, dairy plants are struggling with manufacturing and distribution of their products, employee wellbeing, and financial loss. Smukowski is available to discuss and answer the kinds of questions she would address with dairy plant owners/managers:

  • What is the best way to control and maintain social distancing in the plant?
  • What is the proper use of face masks?
  • Should on-site temperature checks be performed?
  • What happens when an employee — or a family member of an employee — tests positive for coronavirus?
  • How do dairy plant supervisors communicate with workers when information is very fluid and employees are already saturated with information?

The CDR has assembled a set of resources to assist Wisconsin dairy manufacturers on the CDR website at

Contact:, (608) 265-6346

In addition, John Lucey, UW–Madison professor of food science and director of the Center for Dairy Research (CDR), has expertise in dairy manufacturing, dairy food products, and the cheese industry. He can talk about the unprecedented challenges facing the dairy industry due to COVID-19. The pandemic has caused much of the foodservice industry to close, which isn’t good news for the dairy industry—since about 40 percent of all cheese goes into foodservice. Many dairy processors are trying to find new areas in which to sell their products.

CDR is working with the dairy industry to help companies adapt to this challenging situation. Among other work, CDR has been sharing research on how dairy processors can extend the shelf-life of cheese, including via a webinar attended by over 500 participants. Extended shelf-life helps give plants more time to find new customers or export their cheese. Since the start of this crisis, CDR has worked with over 50 companies to address the loss of foodservice markets for cheese manufacturers.

“At CDR, our work centers around supporting the dairy industry through innovation and research,” says Lucey. “The research we do, which is supported in part by dairy farmers and the dairy industry, is key to providing new solutions to the challenges the dairy industry is facing.”

Contact:, (608) 509-2399

More experts can be found at here and in these tipsheets:

April 28

April 14

April 3

March 27

March 23

March 17

March 12