November is a busy time of year for many. It’s filled with final exam prep, holiday shopping, and excitement for the end of the year.
November proved to be a groundbreaking month with a UNLV researcher unearthing a newly discovered mineral known as davemaoite. Over in the legal world, a UNLV professor was chosen by President Biden for judgeship, while UNLV experts in other disciplines continued to monitor COVID-19 repercussions. Experts also discussed a variety of issues affecting school systems, and economists analyzed the current state of the casino industry and how it’s affecting Las Vegas’s economy. Finally, experts talked about this year’s holiday season.
Read on to learn more in the newest edition of UNLV Newsmakers.
Check Your Diamonds
UNLV geochemist Oliver Tschauner and colleagues reported in the journal Science in November the discovery of a new mineral on the surface of the Earth. There’s just one catch: it shouldn’t be here. The mineral — entrapped in a diamond and now named "davemaoite" — rose up to the surface from deep within the Earth’s lower mantle. It’s the first time that lower mantle minerals have ever been observed in nature because they usually fall apart when they reach the Earth’s surface, unable to retain their structure outside of a high-pressure environment.
- Oliver Tschauner, head mineralogist on the study, championed the discovery as a possible gateway into further exploration of Earth’s lower mantle: USA Today, NBC News, Inverse, Vice, DailyMail, NPR, CNET, The Independent, Smithsonian Magazine, Science News, Scientific American, Space.com, Nature, Tech Explorist, New Scientist, Big Think, CNN Indonesia, Nature World News, Live Science, National Jeweler, MSN, Tempo, Space.com, Spektrum der Wissenschaft, Las Vegas Review-Journal, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, and KSNV-TV: News 3.
Biden Taps Law Professor For Judgeship
UNLV professor Anne Rachel Traum was nominated by President Biden to fill a Northern Nevada federal court seat that has been vacant since 2016. Traum had been previously nominated by Barack Obama during his presidency, making this her second nomination to a federal courtship.
- The White House, Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, San Antonio Express-News, Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, and KVVU-TV: Fox 5.
COVID, Almost Two Years Later
As we round the corner on the second full year of the COVID-19 pandemic, university experts have continued to do their part in the recovery process. Big topics university experts discussed vary from the anti-mask and anti-vax debate to the impact of shelter-in-place mandates on working parents.
- Natalie Pennington, communications professor, led a study which found that the switch to remote work early in the pandemic proved especially stressful on working moms: Sify, The Economic Times, Sambad English, Phys.org, CTV News, KAKE Television, Mid-day, and Prokeraia.
- Marc J. Kahn, Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine dean, discussed the effects of long COVID with the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Pahrump Valley Times.
- Pediatric chair Evelyn Montalvo Stanton discussed parental concerns over COVID vaccines for children with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
- Brian Labus, public health professor, discussed several COVID topics including the omicron variant, vaccination mandates in colleges, and holiday travel precautions for cities with high infection rates: Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Nevada Independent, Elko Daily Free Press, and KTNV-TV: ABC 13.
- KLAS-TV: 8 News Now and KTNV-TV: ABC 13 highlighted how Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine researcher Edwin Oh’s lab tracks COVID variants through the city’s sewage system.
Schools, Universities Facing Teacher Shortage
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, a number of K-12 and higher education institutions around the country are seeing sparse faculty numbers — which observers fear could be exacerbated by increased vaccine mandates. University experts offered insight on what steps schools could take next.
- Danica G. Hays, College of Education dean, explained howCOVID has simply placed a new spotlight on ongoing staff shortage issues: NPR, Boise Public State Radio, Wyoming Public Media, and KUER.
- Education Week interviewed education professor Bradley Marianno on how a vaccine mandate among teachers could worsen the teacher shortage.
- Brookings Mountain West interim executive director David Damore talked with KNPR about the complications that arise when politics mix with school policymaking.
- The Las Vegas Review-Journal and El Tiempo quoted Stephen Bates, journalism and media studies professor, on Clark County teachers union ad language.
Holiday Season Kicks Off
As the holiday season kicked off in November with Thanksgiving, many Las Vegans were left wondering what to expect for this year’s holiday season. University experts addressed consumers’ swirling uncertainty about growing food shortages, supply chain issues, and COVID’s repercussions on the holidays.
- The New York Times and couple and family therapy professor Katherine M. Hertlein prepared female readers on how to answer marriage status questions during family holiday gatherings.
- Hospitality professor Amanda Belarmino talked about Las Vegas’s hopeful tourism outlook during the upcoming holiday season and how COVID will factor into traveling restrictions: Best U.S. Casinos, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), El Tiempo (twice), and KVVU-TV: Fox 5.
- Jamie Schwartz, director of industry and business engagement in the Office of Economic Development, gave the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now (twice) advice on where to shop during Black Friday weekend.
- Economics professor Ian McDonough and UNLV Food Pantry coordinator McKenzie Mayor informed Vegas PBS and the Las Vegas Review-Journal about food insecurity in Nevada ahead of Thanksgiving.
- Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine professor Deborah Kuhls and Vulnerable Road Users Project director Erin Breen emphasized the importance of safe driving given the earlier sunsets during the winter holiday season: Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now (twice).
Business Booming Almost Too Well
November proved a dizzying month for Las Vegas economists and gaming analysts. The Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) hosted its end-of-year economic Outlook conference early in the month. Casino experts observed all-time high profits for casinos across the board, while two hospitality researchers explored the potential influence of gamblers’ habits on casino revenue. Meanwhile, economists noticed Las Vegas was on-trend to experience inflation and, as the Las Vegas market saw itself in high demand, university experts analyzed the ups and downs of this shift.
- Hospitality professors Anthony F. Lucas and Ashok Singh conducted a study on how the gambling rule known as “house edge” affects casino and gambler payout: Travel Daily News, Gambling Insider, U.S. Bets, CDC Gaming Reports Inc., and Gambling 911.
- Alan Feldman, distinguished fellow in Responsible Gaming, announced that the International Gaming Institute plans to study responsible gaming measures in more detail and discussed who is most likely to buy the properties being sold by MGM and Caesars Entertainment: Yogonet, Legal Gambling, Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, CDC Gaming Reports Inc., and iGaming Business.
- CBER director Andrew Woods and economist Stephen Miller’s Outlook conference report found that Las Vegas looks to be on its way towards inflation: CDC Gaming Reports Inc., Casino.org, The Nevada Independent, El Tiempo, and Pahrump Valley Times.
- David G. Schwartz, gaming historian, broke down exactly why casinos are seeing historically high profits this year and why Disney is looking to throw their hat in the sports betting scene: Associated Press, Yahoo!, ABC News, Travel Industry Today, Sportico, Hollywood Recruiter, Daily Independent, Las Vegas Sun, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, and Nevada Appeal.
General Expert Round-Up
- USA Today spoke to law professor Ruben Garcia about the strength of former Las Vegas Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s lawsuit against the NFL.
- Pamela Burnley, a geomaterials professor, commented on the possible cause of a recent lower mantle earthquake, a phenomenon previously thought to be impossible: Live Science, Nature World News, Esquire, RT News, Yahoo!,
- Political science professor Austin Horng-En Wang analyzed how the Hong Kong-Taiwan tensions have left a generation scarred: CNN, Voice of America, ExBulletin, and The Limited Times..
- Sara Gordon, William S. Boyd School of Law interim dean, spoke to the difficult nature of giving jury instructions in reference to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Associated Press, Yahoo!, Illinois News Today, Las Vegas Sun, and KVVU-TV: Fox 5.
- Discover Magazine talked to anthropologist Angela Perri about dogs’ concurrent evolution alongside humans and to David Copeland, associate professor of psychology, about activities to prevent cognitive decline.
- Steffen Lehmann, architectural professor, talked about environment-friendly city design with Financial Review.
- The Houston Chronicle spoke to criminal justice professor Tamara D. Herold about crowd safety measures in light of the Astroworld concert tragedy.
- Stowe Shoemaker, William F. Harrah College of Hospitality dean, was quoted about the launch of a new Greek cuisine program at UNLV: Greek Reporter and Nouvelles du monde.
- Shashi Nambisan, UNLV Transportation Research Center director, discussed several transportation projects in the works around the city on KNPR.
- Insider spoke with UNLV neuroscientist Jeffrey Cummings about an Alzheimer’s nasal vaccine.