During a month that, for many, is reserved for sun and poolside fun, many UNLV faculty members and students were in campus labs conducting research and out in the community strategizing.
They tackled regional, national, and international issues ranging from the mental, physical, and social justice obstacles that Olympic athletes wrestle with to the growing apprehension over the record-low water levels in the West. Locally, the medical community worked together with Las Vegans to encourage more people to pursue health care careers. COVID-19 remained a prevalent topic in community discourse after cases of the more transmissible Delta variant surged amid a reawakening tourism economy.
As we prepare for a new school year, let’s reflect on the university’s summer accomplishments in this edition of UNLV Newsmakers.
Inside the Mind of the Olympic Athlete
Around the world, the 2021 Tokyo Olympics dominated headlines and showed the true extent of the human physique. However, when American Olympian Simone Biles withdrew from the competition, many were left wondering what kinds of mental trials accompany physical ones? University experts offered a look into the mind of an Olympic athlete.
- Gabriele Wulf, kinesiology professor, wrote an essay for The Conversation about the ways an athlete’s concentration can impact their body movement and, ultimately, their success. Her research also caught the attention of Inc. Magazine and Yahoo! News.
- NBC News, Yahoo!, Sunday Times Live, HK01 and Ritz Herald quoted Kendra Gage — an Interdisciplinary, Gender, and Ethnic Studies professor and sports history expert — about the history behind rules mandating skimpy attire for female athletes and the ways Olympians this year are fighting against it.
- Everyday Health spoke to sports psychology professor Brad Donohue about the future impact of Simone Biles’ decision to withdraw from several competitions on athletes also struggling with mental stress.
Health-Focused Community Outreach
Teamwork is the name of the game. With the need for doctors in Nevada becoming more evident with each passing day, UNLV and the local community came together to mend the shortage. While the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine reached 50% completion in its construction, the School of Nursing hosted a summer camp for high school students aimed at raising interest in the discipline. The medical school also hosted an immunization clinic ahead of back-to-school season.
- Media outlets delved into the construction progress for the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine along with computer rendered images of what it will look like at completion: Las Vegas Sun (twice), (three times), Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, KVVU-TV: Fox 5, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13.
- Minnie Wood, director of Clinical and Community Partnerships in the School of Nursing, talked to local media outlets about the high turnout for Nurse Camp and the importance of the training sessions for Southern Nevada’s future: Yahoo!, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Sun, KVVU-TV: Fox 5, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now (twice), KSNV-TV: News 3, KTNV-TV: ABC 13.
- Evelyn Montalvo Stanton, chair of pediatrics, filled in KLAS-TV: 8 News Now on the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine’s pop-up immunization clinic for kids.
Water Scarcity and Overconsumption in the Valley
July saw worrying reports about water levels in Lake Mead decreasing faster than the community could keep up with. The situation was only aggravated by the mass shift to remote work, which meant more water was being used than normal. University experts researched and discussed the situation with media outlets across the country.
- Business professor Nicholas Irwin — who co-authored a study with fellow UNLV economists Ian McDonough and Shawn McCoy — explained their finding that Henderson used 1 billion gallons of water more than usual during the pandemic and that continued remote work en masse could spell water shortage problems for the entire Southwest:
- Kristen Averyt, UNLV research professor, talked to Bloomberg, NBC News, and MSNBC about the impact of the increasing drought on the future of the Southwest and the potential for it to fuel wildfires.
- Hydrologist David Kreamer was interviewed by The National about how the fragile state of Lake Mead’s water levels could cause algal blooms, negatively affecting water quality.
Coronavirus: Yet Another Stop on the Road
Nevada saw its coronavirus progress seemingly halt after a new wave of infections and hospitalizations hit the community. As community members grapple with vacillating guidance on how to combat a rise in cases thanks in large part to the more transmissible Delta variant, university experts weighed in:
- Brian Labus, public health professor, chimed in on the COVID-19 resurgence, vaccine hesitancy, the variant strains circulating in Nevada, and the new mask mandates.
- COVID resurgence and vaccine hesitancy: The New York Times, NPR, Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), El Tiempo, KNPR (twice), The Nevada Independent, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13.
- Delta variant and mask mandate: The Guardian, Insider, Healthline, Men’s Health, STAT, Nevada Current (twice), The Nevada Independent, Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), (three times), (four times), El Tiempo, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, KVVU-TV: Fox 5.
- Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine researcher Edwin Oh shared his discovery of peak concentration levels of the Delta and Lambda variant strains in Las Vegas sewage systems: Insider, Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, KNPR, KLAS: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, NorthJersey.com.
- Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine dean Marc J. Kahn explained the paramount impact that vaccinations and mask-wearing will have on preventing more dangerous COVID-19 variant strains to KLAS-TV: 8 News Now (twice), (three times).
- School of Medicine director of bioethics Johan C. Bester told the Nevada Current that having only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is largely ineffective, especially against the variant strains.
- Verywell Health asked public health professor Melva Thompson-Robinson about the possibility of vaccinations becoming mandated.
- Bloomberg and the Las Vegas Review-Journal interviewed Michael Gardner, vice dean for clinical affairs, about Nevada leading the nation in COVID-19 cases.
- Health law professor David Orentlicher answered questions about the legal technicalities behind asking for proof of vaccination on Pissed Consumer.
- Vegas PBS interviewed Brian Labus, Marc J. Kahn, and marketing professor Anjala S. Krishen about vaccine hesitancy.
Economic Landscape in a State of Cautious Optimism
Nationwide, communities are slowly rebounding from the pandemic’s stronghold on the economy. However, many businesses and experts remain on guard after spikes in COVID-19 cases in some pockets of the country. Las Vegas, being one of those areas, is remaining particularly prudent and has begun enforcing mask mandates on businesses again. University experts debated the long-term efficacy of the restrictions and the effects of other pandemic-era economic policies.
- Law professor Francine J. Lipman reached the eyes and ears of millions of parents with her explanation of the new child tax credit: CNBC, CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Quartz, Taxgirl, The Nevada Independent.
- Andrew Woods, newly appointed director to the Center of Business and Economic Research, projected that Las Vegas’s population will increase by 1 million by the year 2060: Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, Las Vegas Sun, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, Casino.org Woods and UNLV economist Stephen Miller also wrote a guest column in the Las Vegas Sun on how Las Vegas can prepare for the projected population boom in the next 30 years.
- Vivek Sah, director of the Lied Center for Real Estate, was quoted in Marketplace and the Nevada Current about home-buying prices.
- Comments by Mehmet Erdem, hospitality professor, were featured in a USA Today piece abouthotels operating differently amid a nationwide labor shortage.
- Economics chair C. Jeffrey Waddoups commented on the labor shortage and groups having difficulty returning to work post-pandemic: Nevada Current, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
- Amanda Belarmino, hospitality professor, advised the community to stay vigilant as casinos try to balance tourism and COVID safety: Casino.org, Reno Gazette Journal, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), (three times), (four times), El Tiempo (twice), US Bets, Poker News Daily.
The Next Step for Room-Temperature Superconductivity
Mere months after their discovery of a room-temperature superconductor, UNLV physicist Ashkan Salamat and colleagues from UNLV and the University of Rochester have recorded a new phenomenon that inches the research closer to reality and could one day “find a place in physics textbooks.” The recent discovery landed Salamat and colleagues an “editors’ choice” accolade in the journal Physical Review Letters, their second paper in almost as many months to receive the distinction.
General Expert Round-Up
- Michael Kagan, director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, spoke to The New York Times, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and The Nevada Independent about the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling on DACA.
- Brain health researcher Jeffrey L. Cummings moderated a panel to discuss recommendations for the new Alzheimer’s disease drug, Aducanumab: Endpoints News, MedPage Today, and Practical Neurology.
- Martin Schiller, executive director of the Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine, was quoted in Popular Science about new advances in CRISPR gene editing.
- Healthline asked psychology professor Felix Wang how parents influence a child’s language skills.
- African and African American Diaspora Studies professor Tyler D. Parry wrote as a guest column for The Washington Post about Black history erasure.
- Journalism lecturer Michael Easter revealed the benefits of discomfort to Forbes and Las Vegas Weekly.
- Astronomy professor and College of Sciences associate dean for research Bing Zhang spoke on NASA about a record-breaking gamma ray burst that comes from a supernova.
- Alyssa Crittenden, anthropology professor, appeared in The New York Times for her work with and support of the Hadza people.
- Deirdre Clemente, director of the Public History program, was sought out by The Washington Post, The Guardian, Refinery29 (twice), and Today for her predictions on the fitness-lounge wear trend, the resurfacing skort, and engagement watches.
- KNPR interviewed social work lecturer Anne-Marie Abruscato about post-pandemic trauma.
- Sociology professor Robert Futrell was featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education for what colleges should expect on campuses in the current political climate.
- Brandon Eddy, professor in the Couple and Family Therapy program, told Verywell Health that many Americans are in favor of paid paternity leave.
- Bradley Marianno, education professor, defended critical race theory’s place in K-12 curriculum on The 74 Million and Education Week.
- Neuroscientist Dustin Hines and physical therapy professor Jing Nong Liang were featured in a Healthline piece about exercises that improve spasticity after a stroke.
- The Wall Street Journal interviewed Nancy B. Rapoport, business law and ethics professor, about the unethical ways in which some bankruptcy firms are run.