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UW In The News

  • After a Century of Dispossession, Black Farmers Are Fighting to Get Back to the Land

    Mother Jones | April 22, 2021

    And yet, despite violent backlash from Southern planters, Black growers managed to gain a toehold. The key was collective action, University of Wisconsin sociologist Monica White explains in her book Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, 1880–2010. Launched in 1886 to organize landless Black farmers and to pool money to buy land and tools, the Colored Farmers’ National Alliance and Cooperative Union boasted 1.2 million members at its peak. At the Tuskegee Institute, the Alabama land-grant college founded by Booker T. Washington and other formerly enslaved people, agricultural scientist George Washington Carver pushed crop diversification, composting, and other proto-­organic methods to help sharecroppers “make enough profit to purchase their land, feed their families, and achieve economic autonomy,” White writes. Carver toured Alabama in an “agricultural wagon,” delivering lectures and demonstrations of his techniques.

  • After Derek Chauvin verdict, will police prosecutions change?

    The Washington Post | April 22, 2021

    “It’s one case out of thousands of cases involving police use of force, so we shouldn’t read too much into it,” said Keith A. Findley, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin. “But it’s nonetheless very important, because it is one in which, with the whole world watching, the justice system stepped up and acted to hold the police officer responsible for an unlawful use of deadly force.

  • COVID vaccines and kids: five questions as trials begin

    Nature | April 22, 2021

    Children rarely develop severe forms of COVID-19, and deaths from the disease are rarer still. On rare occasions — one estimate1 puts it at around one case in 1,000, although it could be even lower — kids who’ve experienced even mild infections can later develop a sometimes deadly condition called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). “I’m tired of seeing sick kids. I want to see them protected,” says James Conway, a paediatric infectious-disease specialist and vaccine researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

  • Herd immunity in US likely impossible, but vaccines can control COVID

    USA Today | April 20, 2021

    More people may yet decide to get vaccinated as it becomes clear how much protection it provides, said Ajay Sethi, a professor of population health studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    “I try to be an optimist,” he said. “I don’t want to write off rural areas saying they’re forever going to be the communities refusing vaccination. Over time, that will change.”

  • Opinion | What American Workers Really Want Instead of a Union at Amazon

    POLITICO | April 20, 2021

    Research has borne this out. In a landmark 1994 survey, Harvard professor Richard Freeman and University of Wisconsin professor Joel Rogers asked more than 2,400 nonmanagement workers whether they would prefer representation by an organization that “management cooperated with in discussing issues, but had no power to make decisions” or by one “that had more power, but management opposed.” Workers preferred cooperation to an adversarial stance by 63 percent to 22 percent, a result that held even among active union members.

  • What Does President Biden Need To Understand About Mexico?

    Forbes | April 20, 2021

    To discuss Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador and the current state of US-Mexico relations, I reached out to Patrick Iber, a professor of Latin American history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • COVID-19 Antibody Drugs Are Tough To Deploy In Surges : Shots

    NPR | April 19, 2021

    The challenge now is logistics. Dr. Peter Newcomer, chief clinical officer for University of Wisconsin Health, said the treatment never really took off at his facility. And now, with a low load of cases to begin with, his hospital is only treating a patient or two a day. Wisconsin hasn’t seen the same surge as Michigan.

  • Best vaccine: How Pfizer became the “status” choice.

    Slate | April 19, 2021

    As the vaccines have rolled out, many experts have strenuously rejected the idea that there’s any “best” vaccine. “The best vaccine is the one that goes in your arm,” said Mary Hayney, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy who researches vaccination. “I truly believe that there is not a big difference among the vaccines, or a discernable difference. Whatever one is offered to you, take it.” (Again, Hayney spoke to Slate before the latest J&J news.)

  • Biden administration invests $1.7 billion to fight COVID-19 variants

    CBS News | April 19, 2021

    Another hurdle is getting local, state and federal labs all working together. “There are lots of cats that need to be herded,” said University of Wisconsin virologist Thomas Friedrich.

  • Plant a Love of Nature in Your Kids

    The New York Times | April 19, 2021

    “Miss Carson” was Rachel Carson, who would later make history with her book “Silent Spring,” about the dangers of the pesticide DDT. Stanley Temple would become Dr. Temple, a well-known bird conservationist and a professor of wildlife ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • I’ve always wondered: Should there even be billionaires?

    Marketplace | April 16, 2021

    But visualizing or trying to understand “how many” a billion dollars is doesn’t really help us understand any better how much money a billionaire has. Jordan Ellenberg, professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of “Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else,” said thinking about “how much” a billion dollars is is more useful. Basically, how rich is a billionaire?

  • Kim Potter Is Charged With Manslaughter in Daunte Wright Killing

    The New York Times | April 15, 2021

    Steven Wright, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said second-degree manslaughter is a charge for offenses that are not planned — one example in the statute specifically addresses hunting accidents, not uncommon in Minnesota.

  • More COVID state shutdowns unlikely, despite CDC suggestion

    Washington Post | April 15, 2021

    “From a social science perspective, the decision from the governor to not go towards a lockdown I think is a sensible one,” said Dominique Brossard, chair of the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin. “You need to work with what you have as far as people’s psychological state.”

  • The Vaccinated Parent’s Guide to Life With Unvaccinated Kids

    New York Times | April 14, 2021

    If this new and perplexing reality has added to your stress, you’re not alone. “It has really produced a ton of new anxiety, this process of reopening, re-engaging with social interactions after a year trying to avoid them,” said Malia Jones, a community health scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The vaccines seem to have provided a promising path out of the pandemic, she said, “but also, oh my God, we have to renegotiate every single one of these situations.”

    It’s tricky to predict how long the rest of the clinical trials and approval processes will take, but 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 that it’s likely that vaccines will be available for 12- to 15-year-olds this summer, for 5- to 11-year-olds in late 2021, and for babies over 6 months old, toddlers and preschoolers in early 2022.

  • Butterflies provide ‘extraordinary’ help pollinating cotton fields

    Science | April 13, 2021

    “This paper will drive people to look at the importance of butterflies as pollinators,” says Karen Oberhauser, a butterfly biologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who was not involved in the research. If the results hold up in other crops, butterflies might be added to a short list of commercially important pollinators including honey bees, bumble bees, hoverflies, and beetles.

  • The genetic mistakes that could shape our species

    BBC Future | April 13, 2021

    “In the whole global accounting of Crispr [gene editing] therapies, somatic cell genome editing is going to be a large fraction of that,” says Krishanu Saha, a bioengineer at University of Wisconsin-Madison who is currently part of a consortium investigating the technique’s safety. “I mean, that’s certainly the case now, if you look at where trials are, where investment is.”

  • Students Who Gesture during Learning ‘Grasp’ Concepts Better

    Scientific American | April 13, 2021

    “It’s a nice, clean demonstration” of movement’s benefits, says Martha Alibali, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who studies gesture in education and was not involved in the study. A model, she says, is “a super important concept, a really foundational statistical concept.”

  • Why covid arm and other post-vaccine rashes might actually be a ‘good thing’

    The Washington Post | April 12, 2021

    “It doesn’t happen in the summer,” says Beth Drolet, professor and chair of dermatology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who is studying the covid toe phenomenon. “The toes can stay blue for weeks, but eventually go back to normal.”

    As the vaccine rollout accelerates this spring and summer, “we would expect to see a decrease in post vaccination covid toes,” says Lisa Arkin, director of pediatric dermatology at Wisconsin. “Covid toes are easily treatable with rewarming. They resolve spontaneously. Sometimes, we use topical medicines to treat inflammation in the skin.  Most patients experience mild swelling and itch, which resolves within days to weeks.”

  • Meghan Markle won’t travel to Prince Philip’s funeral. Experts say flying while pregnant during the pandemic can be risky.

    Business Insider | April 12, 2021

    Dr. Makeba Williams, an OB-GYN at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told Insider flying during pregnancy is generally safe before 36 weeks, though more precautions are needed during the pandemic, especially if you’re not vaccinated.

    “It’s unfortunate we have to talk about [flying while pregnant] in the context of a death,” she said, “but it’s relevant to a lot of people.”

  • Key ingredient in coronavirus tests comes from Yellowstone’s lakes

    National Geographic | April 7, 2021

    When Brock went to Yellowstone to study hot springs, he never imagined his work would revolutionize the study of DNA. “I was free to do what is called basic research … Some people called it useless because it was not focused on practical ends,” Brock said in an acceptance speech for an honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “What use could there be in looking for living bacteria in hot springs and boiling pools at Yellowstone National Park?”

  • Proctoring Tool Failed to Recognize Dark Skin, Students Say

    Inside Higher Ed | April 6, 2021

    The University of Wisconsin at Madison has changed how it uses exam proctoring software Honorlock in response to complaints that the software failed to recognize the faces of students with darker skin tones, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

  • Pandemic food benefit expands for qualifying children

    Marketeplace | April 6, 2021

    “Even in the communities that do the best job of this, those summer meals are only reaching a fraction of the kids who normally get fed during the school year,” said Judi Bartfeld, a food security research and policy specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • How Wisconsin turned around its lagging vaccination program — and buoyed a Biden health pick

    Washington Post | April 5, 2021

    These factors make Wisconsin well-prepared for the next phase of its immunization campaign, as the challenge of insufficient supply gives way to issues of access and vaccine hesitancy, said Jonathan Temte, associate dean for public health and community engagement at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. That’s because a robust network of small and midsized providers allows tailored outreach to vulnerable or resistant groups.

  • Pandemic Helps Stir Interest in Teaching Financial Literacy

    New York Times | April 5, 2021

    A study released in March by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Montana State University found significant increases in teacher participation in professional development.

  • Vapor condenser copies beetle trick to harvest water

    Futurity | April 5, 2021

    “Water sustainability is a global issue,” says Zongfu Yu, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, another leading corresponding author. “You can’t set out to solve the water problem without addressing energy.”

  • Why Being ‘Anti-Media’ Is Now Part Of The GOP Identity

    FiveThirtyEight | April 5, 2021

    Take, for instance, a recent study of tweets mentioning “fake news.” Over the course of 15 months, study authors Jianing Li and Min-Hsin Su of the University of Wisconsin-Madison found an uptick in the number of tweets that used the words “we” or “our” and “they” or “their” in conjunction with the phrase “fake news.” Essentially, the researchers concluded that online discussions about “fake news” were a way for conservatives to create a sense of group belonging (“This is the worst kind of fake news possible.

  • States requiring personal finance classes need to train teachers too

    CNBC | April 5, 2021

    Research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that training educators helps improve whether they feel well-qualified to teach personal finance. Among a 2020 survey of teachers — mostly instructors likely to teach such a course — those who said they would feel very confident teaching it reached 70%, up from 9% in 2009.

  • A Biblical Mystery and Reporting Odyssey: 1883 Fragments

    The New York Times | March 29, 2021

    But then, in 1956, Shapira popped up again — on the front page, no less — when The Times reported that Menahem Mansoor, a respected scholar at the University of Wisconsin, was reopening the case.

  • The Way Bosses Conduct And Communicate Layoffs Is Inhumane. There’s Another Way.

    HuffPost Life | March 29, 2021

    After layoffs, morale tanks and turnover increases. As Charlie Trevor, a professor of management and human resources at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, previously told HuffPost, how layoffs are handled can tell “a survivor a great deal about the company’s priorities and about the type of treatment one might expect moving forward.”

  • Super-cold thunderstorm sets temperature record

    BBC News | March 29, 2021

    Dr Proud and Scott Bachmeier, a research meteorologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, report the event in a paper in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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