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Category: Experts Guide

‘I’ve Never Seen Anything Like This,’ Experts Say As States Introduce Hundreds of Election Bills


Quoted: “I think one of the unfortunate things about 2020 was that the election system itself was a top issue,” Barry Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, told Newsweek. “It got debated and litigated more than just about any other issue in that election. … And that’s not how elections should be run.”

Forget what you think happiness is

The Wall Street Journal

Noted: Psychologist Richard Davidson, founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, believes the brain can be trained, and that exercises including short meditation practices will become routine, like running and weight lifting. Emotional well-being will be as important as physical well-being in the coming years, according to Dr. Davidson.

Here’s how a Waukesha Neighborhood Watch Program is going ‘modern’ with Ring doorbell cameras

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Noted: Because the association wants to equip as many homes as possible with the Ring devices, leaders had to seek out grant funding to buy the equipment. Salb said Steve Chmielewski, a community educator with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Waukesha County, has helped facilitate that process, which involves Community Block Grant Funds.

As Republicans welcome maskless crowd, Democrats say those following COVID-19 precautions are essentially shut out of government process

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.

New York Times Columnist David Brooks Blogged For Facebook’s Corporate Site

BuzzFeed News

Quoted: Kathleen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, said Brooks has a responsibility to disclose to his editors, and to readers, his connections with the Aspen Institute and Facebook.

“If the Times and David Brooks are asking people to trust his opinion journalism, then he should be clear about any entanglements that might affect the independence of that journalism,” she said.

With One Move, Congress Could Lift Millions Of Children Out Of Poverty

National Public Radio

Quoted: In 2015, Congress convened a committee to study how to cut child poverty in half within a decade. Hoynes served on that committee, as did Tim Smeeding, a professor of public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They say the group issued a clear warning to policymakers: Alleviating child poverty would cost billions, yes, but not doing so would be even more expensive.

“We argued that the cost of not doing anything was $800 billion” in lost productivity, as well as in increased costs associated with crime and health care, Smeeding says. “On the other hand, the cost of doing one of our [recommendations] was about $100 to $110 billion — an 8-to-1 return.”

Biden hikes cost of carbon, easing path for new climate rules


Noted: The number could rise as climate science advances, said Paul Kelleher, an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in climate change economics. Advances in translating temperature increases to economic damage have enabled more precise measurements of climate impacts. And the Biden administration has emphasized equity considerations to take into account low-income areas and communities of color, which new modeling makes more possible.

Wisconsin Sea Grant Releases Biennial Report Addressing Progress On Organization’s 4 Pillars

Wisconsin Public Radio

The Wisconsin Sea Grant recently released it’s biennial report addressing the organization’s progress on its four pillars: healthy coastal ecosystems; sustainable fisheries and aquaculture; resilient communities and economies; and environmental literacy and workforce development.

Part of the national Sea Grant, the Wisconsin Sea Grant has studied the Great Lakes for more than 50 years.

Jim Hurley, director of the Wisconsin Sea Grant, said it makes sense for the Great Lakes to be part of the Sea Grant because many of the issues that occur in the oceans and coasts also occur in the Great Lakes.

“Issues like sea level rise,” he said. “We’ve seen tremendous fluctuations in Great Lakes water levels. Where they may be looking on the ocean coast at small increments of sea level rise, we’ve seen changes in Lake Michigan of 4 feet over the course of maybe five or six years.”

Three Rust Belt Governors Seek More Taxes, Less School Choice


Quoted: “At a time when we want to encourage saving and investment in the state, the Evers budget would sharply raise the cost of capital by increasing capital gains taxes,” Noah Williams, Professor of Economics at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, told the Institute for Reforming Government (IRG), a Wisconsin-based think tank that recently published an analysis of Evers’ budget. “I also think it’s unlikely that the capital gains tax would raise the projected amount of revenue, as past episodes of capital gains increases have found that people either realize the gains before the tax takes hold or delay realization.”

How do you talk to kids about the Holocaust?

The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

If you’ve wondered just how, or whether to, discuss the Holocaust with a younger child, Simone Schweber has a workshop that should be able to help you. 

The Goodman Professor of Education and Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Schweber will be working with the Jewish Museum Milwaukee this week to host the online event: How to Talk to Your Kids About the Holocaust.  

A year after deadly shooting, Molson Coors has set a course for more inclusive culture — but cultivating real change will take time

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Repeated, daily acts of racism at work — like those some employees described last year — can wear people down, said Jerlando Jackson, director and chief research scientist at Wisconsin’s Equity & Inclusion Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In workplaces where employees of color see that harassment is not handled well by supervisors, they might not speak up about their experiences, Jackson said.

The issue is two-fold, he said: most workers face both organizational and internal barriers to success. So even if companies work to address some of the structural hurdles, employees might be struggling silently if they aren’t given a chance to be heard.

Each person carries their burden differently. Many people in hostile work environments eventually quit or are fired, he said.

“Usually there’s no good end to it, for those people,” Jackson said. “Individuals leave opportunities they spent their whole lives trying to get.”

UW-Madison professor Tracey Holloway wants to educate moms on climate change through work with Science Moms

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

As a scientist, Tracey Holloway has spent a lot of time thinking about how climate change is going to affect the world.

As a mother of two young boys, she spends a lot of time thinking about what the world will be like when her youngest son — now only 10 months — turns 30.

“It always seemed like 2050 was so far into the future, but now my baby’s going to be 30 in 2050, and that’s not that far away,” she said.

Holloway, a professor at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been studying air quality and pollution for nearly 20 years. Now, she’s teaming up with other women scientists to help make understanding climate change accessible, forming a group called Science Moms.

‘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?


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.

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.”

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


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 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


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 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


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.”

‘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.”

Progress in driving COVID-19 numbers down in Wisconsin could be ‘undone’ by new variants

The Capital Times

“We can have a fair degree of confidence that if there was a significant number of the variants that first caused concern in the United Kingdom or in South Africa, we would have seen it by now,” UW School of Medicine and Public Health Professor David O’Connor said in a UW report posted Monday. “And the fact that we haven’t means that if these viruses are here, they’re here in low enough levels that we don’t have to worry too much — yet.”

10 years later: Wisconsin’s Act 10 has produced labor savings, but at a cost

Wisconsin State Journal

UW-Madison professor emeritus of public affairs and applied economics Andrew Reschovsky said data show a growing gap in student achievement between white and Black students in Wisconsin, which already ranks among the worst states in the nation on the racial achievement gap. “If you reduce compensation for teachers and you reduce the power of teacher unions, it’s not as if you can say, ‘Ah, that’s a tool. Everybody can cut spending,’ as if there’s no consequences to that,” Reschovsky said.

10 years later, workers still seek a seat at the table despite lack of collective bargaining

Wisconsin State Journal

After years of wage freezes, a union representing 225 UW System trade employees negotiated a 1.81% raise for this year, which ended up being less than the 2% raise their non-union colleagues received … “There’s been a range of responses to Act 10,” David Nack, a professor in the UW-Madison Department of Labor Education said. “Workers often want to or need to find a way to effectively represent their interests with their employer. Act 10 doesn’t change any of that.”

If you’re a solo parent traveling internationally with your kids, be ready for this question

Washington Post

Quoted: Solo parents aren’t the only travelers noticing increased scrutiny. “All border crossings have become more difficult over the past few years,” says Erin Barbato, a clinical professor and director of the Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wisconsin Law School. From political unrest to the global pandemic, different forces have added complexity to international travel. In this environment, we need to expect that agents may ask more questions, Barbato says.

New York can’t get rich quick with GameStop

City & State New York

Bjorn Eraker, a finance professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said those high numbers point to a bubble, not long-term stability of the stock.

“It’s a speculative bubble more than it is a safe investment,” Eraker said. “There’s no way of knowing what they might do because the stock is trading way, way above its fundamentals. It is a game more than it is an investment.”

As world reels from coronavirus, UW researchers report on chimpanzee-killing disease, raising concerns about jump to humans

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A new and always fatal disease that has been killing chimpanzees at a sanctuary in Sierra Leone for years has been reported for the first time by an international team of scientists led by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Wisconsin advisory panel that decides who’s next in line for the vaccine will ‘pause’ to wait for Biden’s strategy

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Quoted: Committee co-chairman Jonathan Temte of the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health said the committee will break because it will take months to distribute vaccine shots to everyone eligible in phases underway.

Jim Conway, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Global Health Institute who is a member of the panel, said during the meeting he was concerned about the effect of the break on the subcommittee members’ ability to provide information to the health care community and others about the status of the rollout.

“Now that we’re on this committee (many of us) are sort of viewed as sources of information for a lot of the people around the state and a lot of organizations and it’s been incredibly beneficial to be part of these conversations to be able to help shed some light on these things,” Conway said. “I’m a little concerned if we’re going to take a long pause that we won’t continue to be able to be those resources for others, so I do wonder where things are, what we know about how the distribution is going and if there is anything that we can offer.”

Temte agreed, saying, “At the end of the day we serve at the pleasure of the Secretary or Acting Secretary so if our efforts, skills, knowledge and opinions are of value, I think we stand ready to come back.”

An old arrest can follow you forever online. Some newspapers want to fix that.

Washington Post

Quoted: The idea of removing names — let alone an entire article — from a newspaper’s digital archive is traditionally anathema for many journalists. “For a long time the instinct was, ‘Nope, we’re not even going to think about this. We are about seeking the truth and reporting it and we don’t go back and unreport it,’ ” said Kathleen Culver, the James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Walmart Presses Into Stores as Fulfillment Center Strategy


Quoted: As customers make their way through shelves, they may move or pick up items in ways that can make the location and quantity of inventory difficult to to gauge, said Hart Posen, professor at the University of Wisconsin school of business.

“It leads to lots of mistakes and errors because what the computer system says is on the shelf might not be there, because a customer has it in their cart, or…picked it up and moved it someplace else,” he said. “So mostly using store shelves for e-commerce fulfillment is not a scalable and efficient way to do it.”

Young People Spreading Covid a Concern in Rapidly Aging Japan


Noted: One way to appeal to youth on Covid-19 is by placing the wellbeing of their social group on their shoulders, said Dominique Brossard, a professor specializing in science communication at University of Wisconsin at Madison.

She pointed to the decades-old “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive” slogan in the U.S. as one successful campaign that helped lower incidence of youth drunk-driving. Simply relaying information about the virus may have limited effectiveness with the younger generation, who are accustomed to being bombarded with a constant stream of content.