From martian rocks to the human brain, the opportunities for research and innovation at UNLV have run the gamut this July.
As NASA’s Perseverance Rover launched into space on July 30, many UNLV scientists watched with anticipation, as discoveries from the Mars mission could have implications for their own work on campus. And just as UNLV unveiled a new brain research center, one professor led an extensive review of Alzheimer’s drug treatments, showing signs of hope for the neurodegenerative disease.
UNLV also responded to nationwide racial unrest and calls for social justice by creating an Anti-Black Racism Task Force to address myriad issues surrounding racial equity on campus. To cap off the month, the campus welcomed a new university president, who will begin the role right as the fall 2020 semester kicks off in a few weeks.
These stories and more make up the latest edition of UNLV Newsmakers.
UNLV Welcomes New President
On July 23, the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents appointed Keith Whitfield — previously the provost, senior vice president of academic affairs, and professor of psychology at Wayne State University in Michigan — as UNLV’s new president. Whitfield will begin Aug. 24 and becomes UNLV's 11th permanent president. An experienced university administrator and prolific scholar, Whitfield is a psychologist with expertise on the social, psychological, and cultural factors related to cognition and healthy aging.
Creative Solutions Arise During the Pandemic
COVID-19 has done more than alter everyone’s way of life — amid pandemic worries and cabin fever, social distancing has catalyzed new and innovative solutions that may improve work and personal life to even greater efficiencies.
- In a Forbes interview, UNLV’s MBA Programs Director Anjala Krishen identifies the opportunities available to business schools during COVID-19.
- Director of Hospitality and Esports Laboratory Robert Rippee tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technologies in resorts.
- Lee Business School is hosting a $1M competition to encourage safety innovations during the pandemic. Leith Martin, executive director of the Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, explains to the Las Vegas Review-Journal UNLV’s involvement in the competition.
- Christine Bergman, a professor in the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, explains to the Las Vegas Review-Journal how important and revolutionary the concept of ghost kitchens is – and will be – during and after the pandemic.
Space Talk with UNLV Experts
A comet visible from Earth once every 6,000 years. An ongoing mission to send NASA’s Mars rover to the red planet. From commentating on the best stargazing locations to becoming the select few to see Martian rocks, our UNLV experts have it all:
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Health physics professor Francis Cucinotta, and geoscience professors Libby Hausrath, Arya Udry, and Chris Adcock explain how Martian rocks from the rover mission may help advance their research.
UNLV geoscientist Libby Hausrath explains her role as one of 10 scientists tapped by NASA to help select the samples that will be returned to Earth from the Mars 2020 Mission.
UNLV geoscientist Arya Udry weighs in on the Mars 2020 mission:
UNLV astrophysicist Jason Steffen and physics professor Michael Pravica weigh in on NEOWISE:
UNLV Moves COVID-19 Testing Operation
As the summer heat intensifies, UNLV has relocated its on-campus COVID-19 testing operations from curbside to inside the Thomas and Mack Center. The Thomas & Mack Strip View Pavilion site, which is being operated by Clark County, UMC and the Nevada National Guard in partnership with UNLV and University Police Services, replaces the drive-thru site that had been operating in the UNLV Tropicana parking garage since May 27. The new site will open Aug. 11.
Groundbreaking Research in Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s has been an unsolved mystery for scientists since its discovery more than a century ago. However, in recent years, research professor Dr. Jeffrey Cummings from the School of Integrated Health Sciences has led groundbreaking research into what causes the disease – and a potential cure. He recently completed a five-year review of all Alzheimer’s drugs in the pipeline and comments frequently on new developments in the treatment of the disease.
UNLV to Implement Resources for Racial Equity
Over the past few months, UNLV, like many other institutions around the country, has responded to calls for social and racial justice. This month, UNLV established the Anti-Black Racism Task Force to proactively address issues of racism and hate, to promote inclusion and understanding, and to support students, faculty, and staff of color. Meanwhile, faculty experts have been called upon to offer their expertise on racism and the current Black Lives Matter movement.
Javon Johnson, director of African American & African Diaspora Studies at UNLV, weighs in on UNLV’s new task force:
Tyler D. Parry, assistant professor of African American and African Diaspora Studies, talks about racism, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement:
COVID-19 Expert Roundup
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to make headlines throughout the summer, and with it comes new questions on how to stay safe via social distancing. UNLV experts from multiple areas of campus provide more tips and personal advice on how they respond to the pandemic, professionally and personally:
- Epidemiologist and public health professor Brian Labus speaks on myriad COVID-19 issues:
- Las Vegas Review-Journal interviews UNLV faculty on what precautions they’ve been making at home and in professional settings.
- UNLV biochemistry professor Ernesto Abel-Santos speaks with the Las Vegas Review-Journal about potentially hazardous materials used in hand sanitizers, and how to identify such ingredients.
- UNLV economist Stephen Miller explains to KSNV-TV: News 3 that a second stimulus package may be needed to stimulate the economy.
- Marc Kahn, dean of the UNLV School of Medicine, hints that mother’s advice may come in handy during the pandemic in a Las Vegas Sun guest column.
- Professor of surgery Deborah Kuhls and Dean of the UNLV School of Medicine Marc Kahn, speaks with KTNV-TV: ABC 13 and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now about the importance of wearing a mask, even in extreme heat.
- Kinesiology professor John Mercer explains to the Wall Street Journal how to exercise safely in the outdoor heat.
General Expert Roundup
- UNLV climate scientist Matthew Lachniet discusses his new study that links the Arctic and tropical Pacific warming to ancient climate records with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and ScienceDaily.
- Nancy Lough, Title IX, and Gender Equity researcher, offers her insight to Reuters about strong television ratings for women’s soccer and basketball.
- The Las Vegas Review-Journal quotes UNLV addictions expert Gloria Wong-Padoongpatt about rising fentanyl deaths.
- Michael Kagan, director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, speaks to MSN and The Nevada Independent about the future of the DACA program.
- Emma Frances Bloomfield, assistant professor in communication studies, speaks to Grist about how to convince older people to be less wasteful.
- Tax law professor Francine Lipman is quoted in Skift about the 1031 exchange.