With the start of another school year, so, too, came yet another semester of students and professors joining together to navigate education during the pandemic.
August proved arduous for many in Las Vegas and around the world. As the Taliban occupied Afghanistan’s capital city, UNLV students and professors did their part in raising awareness. Lake Mead reached low enough levels for a federal drought to be declared, leading to local concerns about water and regional climate issues. Another big topic was the vaccine’s place in the school system as COVID-19 cases spiked. Meanwhile, medical experts noted that vaccinations are the best way to prevent further COVID mutations. Lastly, Las Vegas economists discussed rebounding financial trends.
Read about all this and more in the latest edition of UNLV Newsmakers.
Colorado River, Lake Mead Feeling Parched
A federal water shortage was officially declared at Lake Mead this month, a sign of worsening drought conditions in the Colorado River Basin. UNLV experts stressed once again the importance of taking preventative measures sooner rather than later and analyzed the repercussions that water-reliant systems will soon face.
- Climate research professor Kristen Averyt was interviewed by media outlets about failing hydropower infrastructures: Reuters, Scientific American, MarketScreener, The Limited Times, and Spiegel Wissenschaft.
- Paleoclimatologist Matthew Lachniet spoke about the federal water shortage’s implications for the future of Lake Mead: AZoCleantech, Nevada Current, and VRT NWS.
- A study conducted by UNLV business professors Nicholas Irwin, Ian McDonough, and Shawn McCoy warned that remote work puts a heavy strain on water usage in Las Vegas: KJZZ, Yahoo!, and KTNV-TV: ABC 13.
- UNLV Boyd School of Law senior fellow Pat Mulroy outlined potential water shortage solutions in The Nevada Independent.
Afghanistan News Breaks Hearts of Las Vegans
August marked a new page in history with the tragic news of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul. Although the event took place nearly on the other side of the world, members of the Las Vegas community prayed for the safety of those affected.
- Saha Salahi, UNLV student researcher, told KTNV-TV: ABC 13 about her prayers for her family back in Afghanistan and for those seeking asylum.
- University Legal Services Fellow Michael Shamoon explained to KSNV-TV: News 3 viewers the legal options for Afghan people looking to immigrate to somewhere safer.
- KSNV-TV: News 3 broadcasted UNLV student Medinah Yusufzai’s push for the community to protest in solidarity with Afghan families.
- UNLV historian Michael Green analyzed the course of history that eventually led the U.S. to withdraw from Afghanistan on KSNV-TV: News 3.
Schools, Vaccines, and Mandates
Frustrations began to spill over in August as education leaders parsed growing tension over another COVID-19 surge circulating in the Las Vegas community and discourse on mandating vaccines. Students, professors, and medical experts alike advocated for change as the conversation boiled over nationwide.
- A State Board of Health vote mandated that Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) students provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 in order to enroll for the Spring 2022 semester.
- Time Magazine interviewed education professor Bradley Marianno about national teacher unions’ hesitance to advocate for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate due to potential conflicts with local bargaining power.
- Lisa Durette, director of the child & adolescent psychiatry fellowship program, shared insight into the mental duress children may be under as the new school year begins with KNPR.
- School of Public Health epidemiologist Brian Labus advised that enforcing vaccinations could prevent COVID surges in schools: Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice).
- David Di John, pediatric professor, offered comment to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and KNPR about the pandemic’s lasting impact on children.
- Alison Netski, chair of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine’s department of psychiatry and behavioral health, told KSNV-TV: News 3 that the pandemic will likely continue to worsen the mental health of children and teens.
Debunking COVID-19 Myths, Promoting Safety
August proved to be an important month in the medical field as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Despite the good news, experts are still skeptical as to how much this will help increase vaccination rates. UNLV experts examined ways the community can assist.
- Brian Labus discussed a variety of COVID-19 related topics including the latest COVID-19 surge, vaccination mandates, the FDA approval, and continuing vaccine hesitancy.
- COVID-19 surge and vaccination rates: The Nevada Independent, KNPR (twice), KLAS-TV: 8 News Now (twice), (three times), Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, KTNV-TV: ABC 13,
- Mandates, FDA approval, and vaccine hesitancy: NBC News, The Guardian, NPR, KTNV-TV: ABC 13 (twice), Las Vegas Sun (guest column)
- Pediatrics department chair Evelyn Montalvo Stanton informed KSNV-TV: News 3 (twice) that this year’s flu season will look different and that research is being conducted on the effects of “long COVID” in children.
- Marc J. Kahn, Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine dean, appeared on KSNV-TV: News 3 (twice). He advised immunocompromised individuals to get a booster shot and analyzed how the booster shot may affect flu shots.
- KNPR spoke with Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine bioethics director Johan C. Bester about the ever-increasing importance of getting vaccinated.
- Medical professor David Glenn Weismiller told KSNV-TV: News 3 that people who contracted COVID-19 should still get vaccinated.
- Popular Science and KSNV-TV: News 3 asked Emma Frances Bloomfield, communications professor, about ways to positively guide conversations with vaccine-hesitant people.
- School of Public Health professors Erika Marquez, Brian Labus, Francisco S. Sy, and Jose L. Melendrez hosted a webinar for minority communities in hopes of overcoming vaccine skepticism: Las Vegas Sun and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now.
Economics and Statistics Galore
While economists appeared to hold their breaths in July, in August they were able to exhale with sighs of relief. Industry leaders and university experts looked at the statistics and noted that while the outlook isn’t stellar quite yet, there are signs that the economy will slowly revert to normal.
- UNLV president Keith E. Whitfield spoke to Nevada Business Magazine about higher education’s place in Nevada’s future.
- Vice president of economic development Bo Bernhard offered insight to the Las Vegas Review-Journal about the UNLV Harry Reid Research and Technology Park’s potential to bring economic growth to Las Vegas.
- The Las Vegas Review-Journal and El Tiempo included commentary from economics professor Stephen Miller in their coverage of the latest census data showing that diversity bloomed in Las Vegas.
- Public policy professor Jessica K. A. Word’s research on the stability of nonprofit organizations after the pandemic was featured in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and El Tiempo.
- Lied Center for Real Estate director Vivek Sah told the Nevada Current and Las Vegas Review-Journal that the Las Vegas housing market can’t keep up its current price streak forever.
- Casino.Org asked law professor Anthony Cabot about the legality of fining businesses that ignore mask mandates.
- Hospitality professor Amanda Belarmino analyzed the potential long-term effects of vaccine requirements for large events, as well as the evolution of AI in the hospitality industry: Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), El Tiempo, and TechCrunch.
General Expert Round-Up
- Alzheimer’s researcher Jeffrey L. Cummings continued to provide his expertise on the experimental Alzheimer’s treatment drug aducanumab: Practical Neurology, Alzheimer’s News Today, BioPharma Dive, Alzforum (twice), Yahoo!, PharmiWeb.com, and Nature Medicine.
- Law professor Michael Kagan announced the UNLV Immigration Clinic’s expansion plans on KNPR. He additionally spoke about ICE’s swiftness to deport immigrants: NPR and LexBlog.
- The Nevada Current reported on Brookings Mountain West fellow Jenny Schuetz’s research on the likely rise of homelessness rates in Las Vegas.
- Eve Hanan, co-director of UNLV’s Misdemeanor Clinic, advocated in The Nevada Independent for more progress within the misdemeanor system.
- Forbes quoted architectural professor Dak Kopec on the history and resurging popularity of the timeless pink hotel.
- Fashion expert Deirdre Clemente explained the history behind past and present fashion trends: Refinery29, Fashionista, JSTOR Daily, Jezebel, and BBC World Service.
- Inverse and the Las Vegas Sun discussed cults and conspiracy theorists with sociologist Robert Futrell.
- Psychology professor Stephen D. Benning answered questions about humans' need to explain away acts of violence, how fathers can effectively control their temper, and why astrology interest is on the rise: Stylist Magazine, Fatherly, Discover Magazine, Germanic.
- Barbara G. Brents, sociology professor, commented on TechRadar and the Las Vegas Sun about OnlyFans’s controversial decision to remove sexually explicit content.
- The Boston Globe spoke to political science professor Tiffiany Howard about the racial wealth gap.
- Political science professor Kenneth Miller was quoted in The Washington Post on the topic of socioeconomic power struggles in the U.S.
- William Bauer, history professor, advocated for the remembrance of the Native American children who experienced abuse while attending Indigenous boarding schools: NPR, KQED, KPFA, and WQCS.