As summer rolls in, along with the heat, it’s finally time to enjoy the fruits of the community’s hard labor.
This month, UNLV reflected on the accomplishments and contributions that the late Brookings Mountain West and Lincy Institute executive director Robert E. Lang has made to the Nevada community. In addition, UNLV’s School of Dental Medicine and College of Engineering took to space through a partnership with Colgate. UNLV also saw the LGBTQ+ community on campus fighting for equality in honor of Pride month. Meanwhile, the Las Vegas community watched as vaccination rates and COVID-19 cases started to even out at long last. At the same time, Las Vegas celebrated a livening economy in the weeks leading up to the opening of Resorts World and an overall tourism surge.
Even with the summer sun in full effect, UNLV’s future continues to look brighter than ever. All these success stories and more are highlighted in the newest edition of UNLV Newsmakers.
Renowned Public Policy Leader Passes Away
The UNLV community came together to honor and mourn Nevada public policy leader Robert E. Lang. As executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute, Lang left an impact all across Las Vegas and the entire Silver State — from helping reimagine the economic potential of Nevada to playing advocacy and advisement roles in initiatives to build the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, Allegiant Stadium, and Interstate 11. His research and work have brightened Nevada’s future in ways we’ll see for years to come.
- Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Sun (twice), (three times), (four times), KSNV-TV: News 3, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, El Tiempo.
Colgate Blasts Off with the Help of UNLV
June began with a minty fresh blast as researchers with UNLV’s School of Dental Medicine and Department of Mechanical Engineering teamed up with Colgate and NASA to test how efficient toothpaste is in space. Media outlets around the world discussed the experiment’s potential to improve the quality of life on astronaut trips and toothpaste functionality as a whole.
- Jeffrey Ebersole, associate dean for research in the School of Dental Medicine, and engineering scientist Shengjie (Patrick) Zhai served as lead researchers on the project. They explained the parameters of the experiment and offered predictions on the project’s future implications.
Aducanumab: Controversial New Alzheimer’s Treatment
The Food and Drug Administration on June 7 approved Aducanumab as the first new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years. UNLV research professor Dr. Jeffrey Cummings, a world-leader on Alzheimer's research and clinical trials, recently published two studies on the disease and spoke with media outlets about the new drug's pros and cons.
Preparing for Blistering Winds and Scorching Deserts
Meteorological projections indicate that most of the nation will experience record-high temperatures this summer, with many Western states already having broken well past 100° Fahrenheit. As the nation prepared for the ruthless summer heat, university experts commented on what the torrid temperatures say about the region’s drought conditions and the current state of climate change.
- The Las Vegas Sun interviewed surgical professors Paul Chestovich and Syed Saquib about signs of a heatstroke, dehydration, and staying safe amid the heatwave.
- Kristen Averyt, research professor, spoke at length about the increasing heat being anything but harmless for farmers and the national drought crisis with Forbes, KNPR, Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Nevada Independent (twice), and Seemorerocks.
- Geology professor and climate expert Matthew Lachniet spoke with BBC News, RTÉ, Nature World News, and KTNV-TV: ABC 13 about the human element contributing to the drought in the Southwest region of the country and how historic climate data can inform our understanding of what’s happening today.
Slowly but Surely: LGBTQ+ Equality and Pride in 2021
The LGBTQ+ community was challenged as countries around the world, including the U.S., reversed legal protections. However, as history has proven time and again, love will persevere. University experts and students played their respective parts in upholding the LGBTQ+ legacy, be it through activism or personal experience.
- Amanda Melilli, head of the Teacher Development and Resources Library, spoke with Diverse: Issues in Higher Education about the need for diversity in children’s books, especially inclusion of LGBTQIA+ characters.
- Law professor Leslie C. Griffin commented on Catholic Review about how the Fulton v. Philadelphia case ruling may threaten LGBTQ+ rights, and wrote on Verdict about what the community can do to help out.
- Recent UNLV graduate Louis Z. Anderson detailed in USA Today his journey in figuring out his sexuality and his many coming out stories along the way.
- The Las Vegas Sun interviewed university architect John Treston, director of design & associate university architect, about UNLV’s decision to be more inclusive of non-cisgender individuals by changing 165 bathroom signs around campus to say “all-gender restrooms.”
Vaccinations Versus COVID-19
Vaccinations finally began to outnumber COVID-19 cases in June. Even so, the community is still struggling to close that gap, as local officials try to make vaccination sites more accessible, incentivize the public, and combat the Delta variant, which has been growing in Nevada in recent weeks. University experts weighed in on the issue and recommended several solutions:
- Public health professor Brian Labus spoke about the Delta variant, the likelihood of achieving herd immunity, and rewarding fully vaccinated individuals.
- Delta variant: Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, KTNV-TV: ABC 13, KSNV-TV: News 3 (twice), KLAS-TV: 8 News Now.
- Herd immunity and vaccination rates: CNN, Healthline, KSNV-TV: News 3, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now.
- Reward incentives: Medscape, WebMD, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), El Tiempo (twice), KSNV-TV: News 3, Nevada Current.
- Marc J. Kahn, dean of the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated and reevaluating the U.S. healthcare delivery system: KLAS-TV: 8 News Now (twice) and Las Vegas Sun.
- Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs Michael Gardner talked to KLAS-TV: 8 News Now about pop-up vaccine sites and COVID-19 cases rising again.
- Emma Frances Bloomfield, communication studies professor, explained to Fatherly how to discuss getting vaccinated with vaccine-hesitant family members.
Economic Uphill Battle: A Journey Almost Over
At the start of June, pandemic restrictions were lifted and Nevada began operating at 100% capacity. Casinos have by and large benefitted the most from the embargo lift, welcoming in a pandemic-weary nation that has been itching to enjoy the entertainment capital of the world. However, even among the good news, some are still struggling to return to pre-pandemic normalcy. Numerous university experts and media outlets analyzed the situation:
- UNLV economist Stephen Miller spoke with the media about employment rates after COVID-19 and commented on the economics of the tourism surge.
- Gaming historian David G. Schwartz talked about the opening of Resorts World and the importance of conventions and tourism in Las Vegas: Stateline, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now (twice), CDC Gaming Reports Inc., Marketplace, and Casino Review.
- Wall Street Journal interviewed executive director of the Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Leith Martin about small businesses and the Small Business Administration.
- Alan Feldman, Distinguished Fellow in Responsible Gaming, explained the importance of self-exclusion in online gambling and pent-up demand for Las Vegas: The New York Times, Casino.org, and Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice).
- Mehmet Erdem, hospitality professor, commented on Resorts World’s potential to innovate the hospitality industry with the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
- Hospitality professor Amanda Belarmino gave insight into the struggle to meet the 100% capacity demands and the World of Concrete outlook: Casino.org (twice), Travel Pulse, Online Poker Report, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and El Tiempo.
- Vivek Sah, director of the Lied Center for Real Estate, analyzed the short-term rental law with The Nevada Independent. He also lent his expertise on the topic of housing price surges and mortgage lenders: The Motley Fool, GlobeSt.com, Vegas Inc., MR Capital Advisors.
General Expert Round-Up
- Journalism lecturer Michael Easter explained the mental and physical health benefits of embracing discomfort in daily life: Men’s Fitness, Radiowest, and KTNV-TV: ABC 13.
- Kenneth J. Varner, professor of literary education, spoke with Yahoo! about critical race theory and what parents should know about it.
- Pahrump Valley Times interviewed Anjala S. Krishen about the remote home workspace.
- Tyler D. Parry, African American and African Diaspora Studies professor, spoke with the media about Juneteenth, the police’s history of weaponizing dogs against Black people, and his book, Jumping the Broom: KNPR News, The Nevada Independent, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, AL.com, Reckon, and WomensRadio.
- Michael Kagan, director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, was featured on NBC News over the controversy of the HR1/For the People Act. He also spoke with DailyMail.com about the Supreme Court blocking 400,000 immigrants from applying for a green card.
- Inside Higher Ed quoted biostatistician Kavita Batra about the value of suicide prevention programs in colleges.
- Katherine M. Hertlein, professor in UNLV’s Couple and Family Therapy Program, discussed maintaining a healthy and happy relationship, even during the pandemic: HuffPost, Metro, Explica.co, and Pulse.ng.
- The Washington Post interviewed Dan Bubb, a professor in residence at UNLV’s Honors college and aviation historian, about the first new air carriers in 14 years.
- Science Magazine asked Francis Cucinotta, Health Physics and Diagnostic Sciences professor, for his opinion on the technicalities behind NASA’s decision to change radiation exposure levels for astronauts.
- Psychology professor Renato (Rainier) M. Liboro talked to Verywell Mind about the link between psychosis in people of color and systemic racism.
- NASA spoke to astronomy professor Daniel Proga and postdoctoral researcher Tim Waters about supermassive black holes being able to produce tsunamis above the disk.
- Nancy Lough, co-director of UNLV Sports Research and Innovation Initiative, talked to KNPR News and the Las Vegas Sun about the NCAA decision to allow student athletes to profit from use of their likeness.
- David Damore, professor and chair of political science, told USA Today about the millions of people with felonies who likely don’t know they can vote now.
- Sociology professor Robert Futrell analyzed the psychology behind far-right activists pushing the limit of what's socially acceptable in The Washington Post.
- Yahoo! Sports interviewed Constancio R. Arnaldo Jr., Asian and Asian American studies professor, about the lack of Asian Americans in sports.
- Jayce Farmer, governance professor, was quoted in Quartz about cities losing their classifications as metropolitans.