Skip to main content

Category: UW Experts in the News

‘This is Powerful’: Mourning the National Loss Endured This Year

Spectrum News

Quoted: Omar Poler wants people to recognize that and to remember the people who lost their battle with COVID-19.

‘We never take the time to stop and reflect on the loss we’re all experiencing,’” “A friend said to me, ‘We never take the time to stop and reflect on the loss we’re all experiencing,’” Poler said. “At the same time, a newspaper article came out that said no collective mourning had emerged within the United States.”

Poler is UW-Madison’s Indigenous education coordinator. He wanted to change the way America looks at coronavirus-related deaths. He wanted people to spend a moment grieving.

“What we do is I spend some time before Thursday trying to learn about specific people,” Poler said. “I look through obituaries and try to come up with a way to remember them.”

What Are Antioxidants, and How Much of Them Should You Be Eating?

SELF

Quoted: Then there are antioxidants that aren’t exactly considered essential nutrients, but still have effects on cells and tissues, Bradley Bolling, Ph.D., an assistant professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tells SELF. You can find these in plant, animal, and other dietary sources.

Many of these non-essential antioxidants are being studied for their potential effects on optimizing health, preventing chronic disease, promoting longevity, and reducing inflammation, says Dr. Bolling. “There are varying grades of evidence for the effectiveness of these non-nutritive antioxidants,” he says.

Vaccine lotteries and personal appeals: The medically vulnerable find their priority status slipping away

Washington Post

Noted: Jonathan L. Temte, associate dean for public health and community engagement at the University of Wisconsin and a liaison to to the covid-19 work group that helped the CDC advisory panel issue its guidelines, called the result a “free-for-all.” The decisions could become even more torturous when a third vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson — which is expected to gain regulatory approval this weekend — joins the mix, though with only a trickle of supply at first.

Congress on Track to Approve Millions More in Federal Funding for Water Debt Relief

Circle of Blue

Noted: Manny Teodoro, a public policy scholar at the University of Wisconsin, suggests that states should prioritize simplicity over precision — by using an allocation formula based on population and poverty. He argues in favor of a two-tier system. Large utilities, which generally have more experience with financial assistance programs and more administrative resources, should be capable of handling outreach and distribution on their own. Smaller utilities, which have less sophisticated billing systems and fewer staff, should be assisted by regional social services agencies.

Picture a deserted downtown

In Business Madison

Denia Garcia, a UW–Madison sociologist whose specialty is race and ethnicity. The answer is that immigrants are a self-selected group. They have the resources and motivation to uproot themselves for a foreign shore. Often, they move to the U.S. to provide better opportunities for their children. Social networks of kin and friends are extraordinarily helpful in navigating their strange new world, including its prejudices, Garcia points out.

Tension is growing in the Wisconsin State Capitol as some Republican lawmakers refuse to wear face masks

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: “Indoor settings with prolonged exposure present the greatest risk for transmission, hence why universal masking is particularly important – even if the individuals are immunized,” said Jim Conway, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Global Health Institute.

Patrick Remington, former epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s preventive medicine residency program, said if lawmakers who choose to go maskless are vaccinated against COVID-19, then the risk is lower.

“One obvious question for people not wearing masks is whether they have been vaccinated. If they have, then it seems to be a reasonable thing to do,” Remington said. “That is, the vaccine provides sufficient protection to significantly reduce the risk of becoming sick or getting others sick.”

Lone high-energy neutrino likely came from shredded star in distant galaxy

Ars Technica

As for the future, “We might only be seeing the tip of the iceberg here. In the future, we expect to find many more associations between high-energy neutrinos and their sources,” said Francis Halzen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who was not directly involved in the study. “There is a new generation of telescopes being built that will provide greater sensitivity to TDEs and other prospective neutrino sources. Even more essential is the planned extension of the IceCube neutrino detector that would increase the number of cosmic neutrino detections at least tenfold.”

Direction of milk prices for the remainder of year still uncertain

Wisconsin State Farmer

Growing cow numbers and increased milk production have dairy experts walking on a knives edge when predicting the trajectory of milk prices for the coming year.

Mark Stephenson, director of Dairy Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Center for Dairy Profitability and Bob Cropp, emeritus professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, delved into the factors impacting milk prices for 2021 during the February “Dairy Situation and Outlook” podcast this week.

‘It’s Voter Suppression:’ Lawmaker Floats Overhauls To Wisconsin’s Voting Rules

WORT FM

Quoted: David Canon is a political scientist at UW-Madison, and he echoes many of Gardner’s concerns.

“In my view, it’s clearly voter suppression…Our elections are very secure. The number of cases of voter fraud are so infinitesimally small that it’s just not something that changes the outcome of elections,” Canon says.

Scientists have uncovered a gigantic cosmic particle accelerator

Tech Explorist

Francis Halzen, Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Principal Investigator of IceCube, who was not directly involved in the study, said, “We might only be seeing the tip of the iceberg here. In the future, we expect to find many more associations between high-energy neutrinos and their sources. A new generation of telescopes will be built that will provide greater sensitivity to TDEs and other prospective neutrino sources. Even more essential is the planned extension of the IceCube neutrino detector, that would increase the number of cosmic neutrino detections at least tenfold.”

Cape Cod robins gather in noisy flocks in winter to follow the food

Cape Cod Times

Elizabeth Howard, founder and director of Journey North at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, told The Nature Conservancy’s “Cool Green Science” that the birds “can withstand very cold temperatures. In most places you can see robins in the wintertime. You’ll see them wandering around and yet it’s not considered migration because basically they’re moving in a nomadic way, following the food.”

Scientists Just Changed the Rules of What You Can Do While You Sleep

Popular Mechanics

Quoted: Benjamin Baird, a sleep researcher at the University of Wisconsin–Madison who wasn’t involved in this study, told Scientific American the findings “challenge our ideas about what sleep is.” SciAm has more: Sleep has classically been defined as unresponsiveness to external environmental stimuli—and that feature is still typically part of the definition today, Baird explains. “This work pushes us to think carefully—rethink, maybe—about some of those fundamental definitions about the nature of sleep itself, and what’s possible in sleep.”

For Generations, African Americans Have Led Global Antiracist Movements

History News Network

Noted: Brenda Gayle Plummer is a historian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in African American history, the history of U.S. foreign relations, race in international affairs and Caribbean history. She is the author of several books, most recently of In Search of Power: African Americans in the Era of Decolonization, 1956-1974.

Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: A recipe for rest

Tone Madison

As we approach a full year of this pandemic and attempt to survive sub-zero Wisconsin winter, many of us are tired; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I teach at UW-Madison and the beginning of the semester is always an intense energetic marathon for me so I find myself having to be extra mindful about resting. So this month’s piece isn’t about food, but about rest as a political practice of resistance.

Ancient Trees Show When The Earth’s Magnetic Field Last Flipped Out

NPR

Quoted: “That high-resolution temporal record is, I think, pretty impressive,” says Brad Singer, a geologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies the history of the Earth’s magnetic field but was not part of the research team. “This is only a small number of specimens that they measured, but the results look fairly reproducible in the different trees, and I think that’s a pretty impressive set of data.”

People Answer Scientists’ Queries in Real Time While Dreaming

Scientific American

Quoted: These findings “challenge our ideas about what sleep is,” says Benjamin Baird, a postdoctoral researcher who studies dreams at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and was not involved in this study. Sleep has classically been defined as unresponsiveness to external environmental stimuli—and that feature is still typically part of the definition today, Baird explains. “This work pushes us to think carefully—rethink, maybe—about some of those fundamental definitions about the nature of sleep itself, and what’s possible in sleep.”

Scientists entered people’s dreams and got them ‘talking’

Science Magazine

Quoted: “This work challenges the foundational definitions of sleep,” says cognitive neuroscientist Benjamin Baird of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who studies sleep and dreams but was not part of the study. Traditionally, he says, sleep has been defined as a state in which the brain is disconnected and unaware of the outside world.

Experts Say Cold Is Unlikely To Cause Power Crisis In Wisconsin, But There Are Still Lessons From Texas

Wisconsin Public Radio

Noted: Demand for electricity goes up when temperatures drop, said Dr. Line Roald, an assistant professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The surprising part of what happened in Texas was that so many generators — from nuclear and natural gas plants to wind turbines — stopped producing energy due to the freezing temperatures, she said.

What Is a Mask Brace? Does It Work?

Popular Mechanics

To bring surgical and cloth masks up to par with N95s and KN95s, you can opt for a mask brace, which is an even better solution than double masking, says David Rothamer, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has conducted work evaluating mask braces.”It’s kind of interesting that it’s taken awhile for mask fitters or braces to have more visibility,” Rothamer tells Popular Mechanics. “The whole double masking thing is really trying to do the same thing as a mask fitter or a brace, but in a more indirect way. My main concern with double masking is that it’s going to depend on the combination of the two masks.”

Proposed Legislation Aims To Address Racial Disparities In Maternal Health Care

Wisconsin Public Radio

In Wisconsin, while the maternal mortality ratios are lower in absolute terms than the nationwide average, the magnitude of the gap between Black mothers and white mothers is larger, said Tiffany Green, University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor in the Departments of Population Health Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

US life expectancy falls by a year amid COVID-19 pandemic

New York Post

But the US experienced a backslide due to the pandemic, according to Michal Engelman, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“This has been an issue of concern for a while, that we weren’t making progress and we were sliding a little bit backwards,” Engelman told the newspaper. “After a couple of years of worrisome declines, we dropped as a country a whole year just in the first half of 2020.”

Nature Makes Wood. Could a Lab Make It Better?

WIRED

In addition to the tantalizing possibilities of growing whole furniture, the plant-based materials could enhance fuels and chemicals production, says Xuejun Pan, a professor in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who wasn’t involved in the study. “You don’t have to necessarily grow a strong piece of wood. If you can produce a biomass, for example, as a future feedstock for bioindustry—competitively and productively—that could be attractive,” he says

Panpsychism: The Trippy Theory That Everything From Bananas to Bicycles Are Conscious

Discover Magazine

Of course, panpsychism is likely not falsifiable. There’s no experiment that can determine whether or not your mailbox has a mental life, much less a quark. Yet that doesn’t mean science isn’t working on the problem. Giulio Tononi, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has developed something called the integrated information theory of consciousness (IIT). IIT holds that consciousness is actually a kind of information and can be measured mathematically, though doing so is not very straightforward and has caused some to discount the theory.

What Presidents Mean When They Talk About ‘Equity’

Bloomberg

While Obama also used equity in the more modern, social-justice sense of the word, he did so less often than Biden already has — a possible sign of his reluctance to center race as a national issue as the country’s first Black president, said Dietram A. Scheufele, a social scientist who studies political communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What Does Leading for Racial Justice Look Like?

Education Week

On Feb. 10, I had the pleasure of talking with Jennifer Cheatham from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and John Diamond from the University of Wisconsin-Madison on our Education Week show A Seat at the Table. When participants register to view the live or on-demand show, they are able to input one question they would like me to ask our guests, and the questions they offered focused on many different facets of racial equity.

Wisconsin Labs Use Genomic Sequencing To Track Spread, ‘Architecture’ Of New Coronavirus Strains

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Two researchers at UW-Madison began sequencing SARS-CoV-2 samples in February 2020. Virology professor Tom Friedrich and pathology professor Madison Dave O’Connor have a background in HIV research, and began sequencing SARS-CoV-2 samples from around Dane County as soon as local spread began.

“The sort of architecture of how the virus looks at the genetic level is a little different,” O’Connor said. “But the basic principles are the same as for HIV, and flu and other viruses.”

Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader right on relationship between mask mandates and COVID-19 cases

PolitiFact

Quoted: When studying the impact of mask mandates, it’s important to consider whether people follow them and if they’re enforced, said Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He said it can be difficult to assess mandates individually when they’re issued with other public health guidelines, but he believes the Kansas study offered compelling data on the matter.

“You could argue that with or without a mandate, people might wear a mask because that’s what they do and the mandate is just confirming what they do,” he said. “At the end of the day, an entire county had fewer cases.”

Economist Says Wisconsin Should Increase Minimum Wage To At Least $10

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: The rate has stayed consistent in the state with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Workers earning minimum wage who work 2,000 hours a year — 40 hours for 50 weeks — make about $14,500 before taxes and work expenses.

“That’s just about enough to keep one single person out of poverty,” said economist Tim Smeeding, a professor of public affairs and economics at the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Experts Highlight Issues Ahead For Next State Superintendent

Wisconsin Public Radio

Quoted: Erica Turner, a University of Wisconsin-Madison education professor who specializes in equity issues, said the incoming superintendent will face steeper-than-usual challenges. Education funding in Wisconsin, as in many states, hadn’t fully recovered from the recession more than a decade ago by the time the pandemic began. With some state revenue sources having taken a hit, and the unexpected costs of managing a pandemic, Turner said the new superintendent will likely have to contend with more limited funding.

“This is an equity issue because it has been the case, and it’s likely to continue to be, that a lot of the cuts will come from equalization aid — efforts to make school funding more equitable,” she said. “For educational equity, you need someone who can be an effective advocate around the budget, and then also will have to prioritize that what cuts happen, and how they happen, happen in an equitable way.”

Spending in Wisconsin’s fall legislative races skyrocketed to nearly double the levels of 4 years ago

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Barry Burden, director of UW-Madison’s Elections Research Center, said the fall spending levels appears to be a case of politics in Wisconsin “moving in line with some surprising national trends.”

He said both the presidential campaigns and congressional campaigns around the country more than doubled their spending from 2016, and the jump may be the biggest step increase ever between two consecutive presidential election cycles.

Bice: Supreme Court didn’t release study showing Black men 28% more likely to do prison time in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: “Overall, when I read the study, I think I’m looking at clear documentation of racial disparities in sentencing in the in/out decision,” said Pamela Oliver, an emerita sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Oliver said disparities in sentencing usually show up with a judge’s ruling on whether to lock someone up — which she called the “in/out decision” — not in the length of the sentence. She said that was the finding of the 2007 Wisconsin Sentencing Commission report, which was removed from the state website several years ago.

Sun Prairie seeking to ensure diverse student bodies ahead of new high school’s opening

Wisconsin State Journal

Walter Stern, a UW-Madison assistant professor of educational policy studies and history, said “some research has found diverse schools to be academically beneficial” but warned of potential negative unintended consequences to desegregation efforts of the past, such as poorer students and students of color having to travel long distances to desegregated schools outside of their neighborhoods — schools that can have few nonwhite staff.

‘Check your credit report’ campaign

La Crosse Tribune

Quoted: “Sometimes incorrect information is a simple data entry error, and other times, it could be a sign of fraud,” says Peggy Olive, University of Wisconsin-Madison financial capability specialist. “It is up to each individual to look over his or her own credit report for old information that should be removed, common mistakes or signs of identity theft. Better to discover an error yourself than to have a creditor find it first.”

Tight-Fitting Masks Can Slash COVID Transmission by 95%, CDC Says

US News and World Report

David Rothamer, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has experimented with masks on mannequins in classrooms while studying the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus in college classes. He told the Post that he is not a proponent of double masking because it consumes more masks and can lead to more air leakage.

How Right-Wing Radio Stoked Anger Before the Capitol Siege

The New York Times

“It’s like your friend in the bar,” said Lewis A. Friedland, a professor who studies talk radio and politics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where stations serve up six or more hours of right-wing talk a day. “He’s your buddy, and he’s kind of like you and he likes the same kind of people that you like and doesn’t like the same kind of people that you don’t like.”

CDC urges to double mask or to wear masks that fit

The Washington Post

David Rothamer, an engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison, has experimented with masks on mannequins in classrooms while studying the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus in college classes. He said he is not a proponent of double masking because it consumes more masks, and can also lead to more air leakage.