In 2019, faculty, students, and staff helped UNLV continue its ascension up the list of the nation's top research universities.
It was a busy year full of innovation, with researchers exploring everything from the culture that makes Southern Nevada unique and its influence on other regions, the vast range of unknown experiences and species from the past, ways to improve our mental and physical health, and how we can better connect with others.
Here are just a few examples that made local, national, and international headlines in 2019.
UNLV researchers examined the beginnings of human life from a variety of perspectives.
A team of UNLV Medicine doctors found that daily cannabis use among expectant mothers is associated with delayed fetal growth, which can put a baby at risk of certain health problems during pregnancy, delivery, and even after birth.
Sociology professor Elizabeth Lawrence and a national team of researchers found that the risk of dying for children and young adults is substantially higher for those whose parents have lower levels of education, lower levels of income or for those who live in a single-parent family.
And UNLV Couple and Family Therapy professor Brandon Eddy led a study that took a deep dive into new fathers’ experiences with postpartum depression, the stigma they face, barriers to diagnosis and treatment, and the impact that can have on their partners and children.
- Pot while pregnant: HealthDay, Las Vegas Sun, ConsumerAffairs, Nevada Current, Romper, What to Expect, Fox 5 Vegas, KSNV TV-3, and Las Vegas Review-Journal
- Early-life mortality study: Las Vegas Review-Journal and Science Daily
- Postpartum depression in men: Reuters, Healthline, Business Standard, Medical Daily, PsychCentral, The Bump, TODAY, and Whole Mamas Podcast
From the innermost recesses of the human brain to the tips of our toes, UNLV researchers explored what makes the human body tick, how it does it, and how to protect all that precious cargo. Among those 2019 discoveries:
Media outlets around the world highlighted UNLV Medicine surgeons' five-year study of pavement-related burn cases in Southern Nevada, and the implications for other regions where summertime temperatures regularly soar into the triple digits.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, public health researcher Marya Shegog shared findings about the health care disparities in diagnosis and treatment faced by men who develop the illness.
Public health professor Courtney Coughenour led a study which compared the quality of produce at dollar-discount stores versus traditional grocery stores. She concluded that both are essentially the same — providing an alternative for residents of "food deserts" who currently access fast food or sugary and savory nutrient-deficient snacks found at gas stations or convenience stores that can lead to obesity or other health problems.
- Hot pavement study: USA Today, Daily Mail, The Weather Channel, Reno Gazette Journal, Gizmodo, U.S. News & World Report, Live Science, and Yahoo! News
- Male breast cancer: KSNV TV-3 and Rolling Out
- Dollar store diet: Reader's Digest, New York Post, iHeartRadio, Yahoo! News, Healthline, MSN, Southern Living, KTNV TV -13, and Grocery Dive
Multiple researchers delved into our interactions with each other, as well as with the world around us.
Communication studies professor Natalie Pennington shared findings from her research into the mental health impacts of National Unfriend Day. The holiday, created in 2010 by late-night host and former UNLV student Jimmy Kimmel, encourages users of Facebook and other social networking platforms to examine how close or superficial their online relationships are.
Internet relationships were also the focus of a study by sociologist Simon Gottschalk, who analyzed thousands of discussion threads on white supremacist websites to help better understand what moves users from expressing their private thoughts to like-minded individuals online to committing violent actions offline.
Business professor Richard Gardner examined imposter syndrome, a nagging feeling that one doesn't belong despite accomplishments to the contrary.
On Earth Day, sociology instructor and Ph.D. candidate Jennifer Reed officiated a “Marriage to the Earth” ceremony in Pida Plaza and spoke to the media about her dissertation on ecosexality, which can be defined as anyone who seeks a closer relationship with the Earth.
- National Unfriend Day: CNET, Parade Magazine, Yahoo via KTNV TV-13, KLAS TV-8, and Las Vegas Review-Journal
- Hate speech study: Las Vegas Review-Journal, Mountain West News Bureau, Las Vegas Sun, and Yahoo via KTNV TV-13
- Imposter syndrome: Psychology Today, The State Press, and Curiosity
- Ecosexuality: The Washington Post, Inverse, High Country News, Playboy, and Las Vegas Review-Journal
UNLV scientists made discoveries about civilizations and scientific phenomena from afar — ranging from intercontinental to intergalactic.
Geoscientist Terry Spell and former master's student Dawn Reynoso are part of a research team that discovered primitive monkey teeth in Kenya. The fossils were determined to belong to a previously undiscovered species — filling a 6-million-year void in primate evolution.
Just in time for beach season, multiple media outlets picked up on a study — led by UNLV anthropology graduate student Lyndsey Craig and co-authored by professor Peter B. Gray — which combed through written records from the 1890s to early 2000s from nearly 200 societies around the world to figure out how pubic hair removal practices differ from Western societies and the motives behind it.
More out-of-this-world discoveries are on the way, thanks to a nearly $700,000 National Science Foundation award to bring a high-precision scientific instrument — the first of its kind in the state — to campus, in an effort to boost the university’s research power. The sophisticated scientific device, nicknamed the "multicollector tool," helps researchers measure concentrations of very rare, naturally occurring isotopes that are so tiny, they can’t be seen with the naked eye, or even with a traditional microscope. It will support ongoing research in a variety of fields, including Earth, environmental and planetary science, geochemistry, geology, and archaeology, among others.
- Primate fossil find: Science Magazine, Phys.org, and News.21.by
- Hair removal study: Vice, The Exploress Podcast, The Hook Up Podcast, American Sex Podcast, Dirty History Podcast, and AskHistorians Podcast
- Multicollector: Las Vegas Review-Journal and Nevada Independent
What better place is there than the Entertainment Capital of the World to find some of the world's most renowned experts on gaming?
Scholarship this year included myth-busting research led by UNLV Hospitality College professor and former gaming industry operations analyst Anthony Lucas which contradicted long-held beliefs by casino operators about a player’s ability to detect differences in how much – and how often – a slot machine pays. (Spoiler alert: They can't, says Lucas.)
Brett Abarbanel, director of research at the International Gaming Institute, explored the potential impacts of cheating in the burgeoning $1 billion esports industry. She found that fans don't appear to be particularly bothered by match-fixing — the purposeful intent to lose a competition, such as a soccer match or even an esports competition. Spectators, she found, were sometimes quite sympathetic to the professional, and especially financial, pressure of an esports career and were more forgiving of this gambling-related bribery.
- Slot machine study: Ars Technica, CDC Gaming Reports, World Casino News, and KNPR
- Esports match-fixing study: Gambling.com, CDC Gaming Reports, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Casino Connection
Learn about UNLV news as it happens at UNLV In the News