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UW In The News

  • ‘Crazy Worms’ Threaten America’s Trees And Maple Syrup : NPR

    NPR | June 14, 2021

    “They are very active,” Monica Turner, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, once told Wisconsin Public Radio. “They almost seem like worms that want to be snakes.”

  • Reduced U.S. Covid-19 Data Reporting Worries Some Health Experts

    Wall Street Journal | June 10, 2021

    Ajay Sethi, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, said a basic tenet of surveillance is to “do something,” and for a disease like Covid-19, real-time public-health data spurs action in ways that weekly or monthly reporting cannot.

  • Spreading Vaccine Fears, And Cashing In

    HuffPost | June 8, 2021

    “People trying to reduce confidence through misinformation — that’s unfortunate and it’s something that’s sort of hard to fight,” said Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine who teaches a class to future doctors on conspiracy theories. He urges his students to be compassionate and not condescending, since all of us are vulnerable to misinformation when it seems to confirm our prior beliefs. “It’s all innuendo, but it’s wrong, and it does spread like wildfire.”

  • Earth has lost and gained many oceans. Here’s where a new one might appear next.

    National Geographic | June 8, 2021

    “The changes in the entire Earth system that take place as part of that changing geography are profound,” says Shanan Peters, a geoscientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who specializes in the co-evolution of life and Earth’s systems.

  • Jair Bolsonaro is facing a political reckoning in Brazil. How far will it go?

    Vox | June 7, 2021

    “This is one more element in place that could lead to Bolsonaro’s downfall,” Jessica Rich, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin, said. “I don’t think they are yet all in place. But this is a real escalation of the threat against him.”

  • South Dakota Meat Processing Plant Weighing Walkout After Union Rejects Smithfield Contract

    Newsweek | June 7, 2021

    “This is a moment when workers have leverage right now,” said Laura Dresser, a labor economist at COWS, a liberal think tank at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

  • Czech women might be able to have different last names

    Washington Post | June 7, 2021

    David Danaher, professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, noted that similar proposals have failed in the past, but said that non-gendered last names aren’t necessarily new in the Czech Republic.

  • What lurks beneath: A new answer to more intense storms

    The Washington Post | June 7, 2021

    As storm-water infrastructure is failing, climate change is driving more frequent and intense rainfall. A 2019 study by University of Wisconsin researchers found in the eastern half of the United States, 100-year storms — ones with a 1 percent chance of happening in any year — were occurring almost twice as often as in 1950. In 2020, there were a record 20 storm and hurricane events each causing more than $1 billion in damages, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  • Air purifiers can’t save us from airborne pandemics.

    Slate | June 7, 2021

    Scientists have only begun to study the chemical mechanisms by which the purifiers actually work indoors, says Timothy Bertram, a University of Wisconsin chemist leading a study of bipolar ionizers. Without that understanding, it’s hard to evaluate what, if anything, additive purifiers do when they’re installed inside an air vent or plugged in at the back of a classroom. So far, Bertram’s study has found no evidence of the ionizers reducing aerosols.

  • No seditious conspiracy charges emerge in U.S. Capitol riots cases

    Reuters | June 4, 2021

    “Seditious conspiracy is a vague and overbroad statute that could be used to criminalize some legitimate forms of protest and much mundane criminal activity,” said Joshua Braver, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

  • Memorial Day Will Likely Mark Covid-19 Pandemic Milestone – WSJ

    Wall Street Journal | June 3, 2021

    “Our outlook continues to improve, but there are still too many people yet to be vaccinated to feel completely safe as a whole,” said Ajay Sethi, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

    Dr. Sethi said he wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in cases within communities with low vaccination rates, but he didn’t expect the kind of surge the country saw last summer.

  • UW System Bringing Back Summer Youth Programs

    Wisconsin Public Radio | June 1, 2021

    As colleges and universities ease restrictions aimed at preventing outbreaks of COVID-19, the University of Wisconsin System has announced it is bringing back pre-college and summer youth programs this summer.

  • Pittsburgh Is Losing Black Residents. One Entrepreneur Is Trying to Bring Them Back.

    Wall Street Journal | June 1, 2021

    Economic conditions for Black residents are among the worst in urban America, despite sustained efforts to improve them. In Pittsburgh, nearly 45% of Black children live in poverty. Only Milwaukee, Buffalo and Cleveland have higher rates, according to a University of Wisconsin study last year of the nation’s 50 largest cities.

  • Every state offers a 529 plan—here’s how to pick the best one for you

    CNBC | June 1, 2021

    “Everyone’s situation is different, but 529 plans for most people are an excellent choice,” says Cliff Robb, associate professor of personal finance at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “The most important benefits of 529s are the flexibility — flexibility in what you’re investing in within those plans and flexibility to pick any state’s plan — and the true benefit of tax-free growth upon withdrawal.”

  • Fact check: Lemon drops and red onions won’t cure or prevent COVID-19

    USA Today | June 1, 2021

    “Nothing is yet known on whether the compounds found in onion would have protective or inhibitory effects on COVID-19,” Irwin Goldman, a professor of horticulture at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, wrote in an expert opinion for the trade group.

  • WHO renames COVID variants with Greek letter names to avoid stigma

    USA Today | June 1, 2021

    Not all geographic names are stigmatizing, said Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Here in Wisconsin, we have Lacrosse encephalitis virus, but no one ever stigmatizes Lacrosse, Wisconsin. And Norovirus is originally from Norwalk, Ohio, but people aren’t afraid of Ohio,” he said.

    But for SARS-CoV-2, which has caused such global devastation, names can have serious consequences. “It’s always a good idea to have a name that is just a name,” he said.

  • Study finds 37% of global heat deaths caused by climate change

    USA Today | June 1, 2021

    “People continue to ask for proof that climate change is already affecting our health. This attribution study directly answers that question using state-of-the-science epidemiological methods, and the amount of data the authors have amassed for analysis is impressive,” said Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin.

  • 14 Excerpts from Commencement Speeches Without the Word C*vid

    New York Times | June 1, 2021

    André De Shields

    Mr. De Shields is an actor, director and choreographer. He was the keynote speaker at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Why is today different from any other day?

    Because you are about to use the many years you have prepared to go out into the world and find employment.

    But not just any employment. Here is my charge to you: Don’t look for just a job. Look for that horizon that if you do not discover it, it will forever remain a secret. Look for that treasure, that if you do not uncover it, it will forever remain just X marks the spot. Look for that mystery that if you don’t unravel it, it will forever remain a mystery.

  • A Number Theorist Who Connects Math to Other Creative Pursuits

    Quanta Magazine | May 28, 2021

    “There are many different pathways into mathematics,” said Jordan Ellenberg, a mathematician at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “There is the stereotype that interest in math displays itself early. That is definitely not true in general. It’s not the universal story — but it is my story.”

  • In defense of the two-state solution

    Vox | May 27, 2021

    “Abandoning the desire for self-determination, something that has been the very raison d’etre of Palestinian nationalism since the 1960s and something that has actually been achieved by Zionists, is a steep demand to make of both,” Nadav Shelef, a University of Wisconsin professor who studies national identity and ethnic struggle, wrote in a recent essay applying academic research on how nationalist sentiment declines to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

  • Why Amazon just spent more than $8 billion on MGM

    CNN | May 27, 2021

    This was the “beginning of a 35-year period when Kerkorian would buy and sell MGM three times,” according to Tino Balio, professor emeritus of communication arts at UW-Madison, who also authored a book about MGM.

  • 5 AAPI Women From History Whose Names You Should Know

    Bustle | May 27, 2021

    “The first recorded history of a Chinese woman in the United States tells the story of a ‘beautiful Chinese Lady’ transported into New York Harbor,” Leslie Bow Ph.D., professor in the Department of English and Program in Asian American Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison, tells Bustle. This was Afong Moy, a 19-year-old Chinese woman who was coerced into traveling to the U.S. In the 1830s and ‘40s, Moy would tour the U.S. as an act, displayed for up to eight hours a day in private homes, and later in P.T. Barnum’s circus. “The spectacle of Afong Moy produced by Barnum and white traders unfortunately sutured American associations between race and exoticism that cling to Asian American women today,” Bow says.

  • What Honest Abe Learned From Geometry

    Wall Street Journal | May 26, 2021

    Knowing geometry protects you: Once you’ve experienced the sharp click of an honest-to-goodness proof, you’ll never fall for this trick again. Tell your “logical” opponent to go square a circle.—Mr. Ellenberg is a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin. This essay is adapted from his new book “Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy and Everything Else,” which will be published May 25 by Penguin Press.

  • Lung Samples From 1918 Show a Pandemic Virus Mutating

    The Atlantic | May 25, 2021

    Scientists have long speculated about why the 1918 pandemic’s second wave was deadlier than the first. Patterns of human behavior and seasonality could explain some of the difference—but the virus itself might have changed too. “And this starts to put some meat on the bone” of that hypothesis, Andrew Mehle, an influenza researcher at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, who was not involved in the study, told me.

  • An All-American Cheese From the Atomic Age

    Saveur | May 25, 2021

    The year was 1947. The place, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Bacteriology professor Stanley Knight had long admired the research of Nobel laureate H.J. Muller, whose body of work within and after the Manhattan Project focused on mutations in living things exposed to radiation. Muller’s research had been weaponized, but his findings got Knight thinking: Could the science behind radiation-induced mutations be used for productive ends—to make a better piece of cheese? It was a highly Wisconsonian quest.

  • George Floyd’s murder fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. Activists are clashing over what comes next

    USA Today | May 25, 2021

    Pamela Oliver, a professor emerita of sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who has studied protest movements for 40-plus years, said the generations-old struggle for Black rights had gained significant momentum until the events of 9/11 diverted national attention. Activists have been trying to make up lost ground ever since, she said – including the additional loss of some white allies in 2016 after the fatal ambush of five police officers in Dallas by Micah Johnson, a Black man.

  • Scientists are zeroing in on when the Earth’s plates started to move

    Axios | May 21, 2021

    That subduction process operates like a “conveyor belt,” recycling and exchanging material and volatile chemicals between the surface of Earth and deep within it, says Ann Bauer, a geochemist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • COVID-19: Cattle farmers may be immune to the coronavirus

    USA Today | May 21, 2021

    Dr. Christopher Olsen at the School of Medicine and Public Health at UW-Madison said, “The virus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 disease is only distantly related to common bovine coronaviruses. While not impossible for there to be some level of cross-recognition of this new virus by antibodies to bovine coronavirus (they are in the same overall subsection of the coronavirus family), I would expect it to be very limited.”

  • How the pandemic has upended the lives of working parents

    The Economist | May 21, 2021

    Mothers have suffered most. Ben Etheridge and Lisa Spantig of the University of Essex found that in the first months of Britain’s lockdown women’s well-being dropped twice as much as men’s. That some friendships have withered and others have never bloomed could have a lasting impact on new mothers in particular, predicts Margaret Kerr of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • Children and the Covid Vaccine: What Parents Need to Know

    The New York Times | May 21, 2021

    Dr. James Conway, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health who oversees vaccination programs there, said vaccines will likely be available for 5- to 11-year-olds in late 2021, and for babies over 6 months, toddlers and preschoolers in early 2022.

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