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UConn faculty experts can provide insights on a variety of topics and are available to respond to inquiries from journalists, conference organizers, and more.
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Professor of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture
Expert on plant genetics, plant biotechnology, GMOs and public perception of GMOs.
- Storrs CT UNITED STATES
Associate Professor and Director of Field Education
Prof. Berthold's clinical and research expertise is with refugee and asylum seeking survivors of torture and the Cambodian genocide.
- Hartford CT UNITED STATES
Professor, University of Connecticut; Senior Research Fellow, US Census Bureau
Extensive research consulting experience with Fortune 100 and US govt on “Big Data” driven decision making in IT and operations.
- Storrs CT UNITED STATES
Clinical Professor & Director, Post-Graduate Prosthodontics
Dr. Avinash Bidra is an expert in advanced prosthodontics, subcrestal prosthodontics (implant surgery) and maxillofacial prosthodontics.
- Farmington CT UNITED STATES
Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics
Robert Bird is an expert in corporate compliance, employment law, legal strategy, business ethics, and corporate governance.
- Storrs CT UNITED STATES
Associate Professor of History
Dr. Joel Blatt is an associate professor of European History at the UConn-Stamford campus.
- Storrs CT UNITED STATES
Professor Bolnick is an expert on how evolution maintains genetic variation within species.
- Storrs CT UNITED STATES
Dr. Bolnick is an expert on genetic ancestry testing and how sociopolitical forces & history shape human genomic diversity.
- Storrs CT UNITED STATES
Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor and Executive Director
Mark A. Boyer studies environmental policy and global-local linkages. His research focuses on climate adaptation from global to local.
- Storrs CT UNITED STATES
Associate Professor of Sociology
Dr. Braunstein is a cultural sociologist interested in the role of taxes, taxpaying, religion, and morality in American political life.
- Stamford CT UNITED STATES
Our Experts Weigh In
#Expert Research: Biodegradable ultrasound implant could improve brain tumour treatments
One of the challenges in treating certain types of brain cancer is the way that the blood-brain barrier prevents chemotherapy drugs from reaching the tumors they're meant to target. UConn's Thanh Nguyen, a biomedical and mechanical engineer, is developing new technology that could improve how we are able to treat brain tumors. He recently spoke with Physics World about this groundbreaking research: A new type of biodegradable ultrasound implant based on piezoelectric nanofibres could improve outcomes for patients with brain cancer. Researchers led by Thanh Nguyen from the the University of Connecticut’s department of mechanical engineering fabricated the devices from crystals of glycine, an amino acid found in the human body. Glycine is not only non-toxic and biodegradable, it is also highly piezoelectric, enabling the creation of a powerful ultrasound transducer that could help treat brain tumours. Brain tumours are particularly difficult to treat because the chemotherapy drugs that would be effective in tackling them are blocked from entering the brain by the blood–brain barrier (BBB). This barrier is a very tight junction of cells lining the blood vessel walls that prevents particles and large molecules from making their way through and damaging the brain. However, ultrasound can be safely used to temporarily alter the shape of the barrier cells such that chemotherapy drugs circulating in the bloodstream can pass through to the brain tissues. Currently, to achieve such BBB opening requires the use of multiple ultrasound transducers located outside the body, together with very high intensity ultrasound to enable penetration through the thick human skull bone. “That strong ultrasound can easily damage brain tissues and is not practical for multiple-time applications which are required to repeatedly deliver chemotherapeutics,” Nguyen tells Physics World. By contrast, the team’s new device would be implanted during the tumour removal surgery, and “can generate a powerful acoustic wave deep inside the brain tissues under a small supplied voltage to open the BBB”. The ultrasound would be triggered repeatedly as required to deliver the chemotherapy that kills off the residual cancer cells at tumour sites. After a set period of time following treatment the implant biodegrades, thereby eliminating the need for surgery to remove it. The research, reported in Science Advances, demonstrated that the team’s device used in conjunction with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel significantly extended the lifetime of mice with glioblastomas (the most aggressive form of brain tumour) compared with mice receiving the drugs but no ultrasound treatment. This is fascinating research and if you are interesting in covering this topic, then let us help. Professor Nguyen focuses on biointegrated materials and devices at nano- and micro-scales for applications in biomedicine, and he's available to speak to media about his research. Simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview today.
July 17, 2023
Pioneering UConn Researcher Regrows Human Bone Using a Biodegradable Implant
A pioneer in the field of regenerative engineering, UConn's Dr. Cato T. Laurencin is charging toward his goal of regenerating a human limb by the year 2030. In a step toward reaching that goal, Dr. Laurencin and his team have detailed their success in regrowing bone using a plant-derived molecule in a recent study published by PNAS, marking a major step toward affordable, safe bone regeneration and growing replacement limbs. Dr. Laurencin discussed this impressive breakthrough this week with Hearst Connecticut Media: Most bone fractures heal reasonably well with care. But in severe breaks, where sections of bones are missing, or in crush injuries bones don’t always heal very well. In those cases, self-grafts or donated grafts of healthy bone from other, non-broken bones can be used to help close the gaps. But bone grafts don’t always take. Since about 2001, recombinant bone morphogenic proteins have been used to help stimulate bone growth in injuries where bone wouldn’t otherwise heal but their use has limits. While they work on long bone fractures, like those in your limbs, they’re not used on more complex bones. In some experimental treatments with fractured pelvises, recombinant bone protein caused bone tissue to form outside the skeleton. Forming bone tissue outside the skeleton is one of the more troubling side effects of this treatment. Bone tissue engineering seeks to get around this by developing implants that use adult stem cells to direct the growth of new bone across breaks that bones could not heal on their own. Some of this work involves building custom implants designed to mimic the missing bone to guide bone healing. Others attempt to deliver the bone protein in an implant, stopping it from leaving the injury area, to prevent side effects. These bone treatments are also expensive. In a meta-analysis from 2006, researchers found that they cost more than standard care for severe fractures. But UConn team took a different approach, using the drug forskolin, a molecule derived from a plant in the mint family. Forskolin triggers cells to make something called “cyclic AMP” a messenger molecule that is normally made in response to hormones. This messenger molecule turns on a wide variety of cell functions depending on what cells in which locations it stimulates. “We were intrigued by being able to find some natural material that people were already consuming in quantity,” said Dr. Laurencin, “But obviously there’s a difference between ingesting it and putting it on one location, like a bone site.” Dr. Laurencin’s team created a biodegradable plastic implant impregnated with forskolin, testing this on rabbits. The implants guided the creation of new bone tissue after 12 weeks. If you're a journalist looking to know more about this groundbreaking research taking place at UConn, let us help with your questions and coverage. Dr. Cato Laurencin, CEO of the Cato T. Laurencin Institute for Regenerative Engineering at UConn, is available to for interviews. Simply click on his icon now to arrange a time to talk today.
June 14, 2023
Why does Alabama have more gun deaths than New York? UConn expert explains.
Only five million people live in Alabama, but the state has the fourth highest firearms death rate in the country. In 2021, the state had 26.4 firearm deaths per 100,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Compared to New York -- a state with about 20 million people and a rate of 5.4 gun deaths per 100,000 in 2021 -- the question becomes: Why does such a small state rank so high for gun violence? UConn expert Kerri Raissian offered perspective and insight on the causes and reasons why these tragic incidents occur in specific regions and states more often across America in an interview with the Alabama Reflector: A 2019 brief published by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a nonprofit research center for the State University of New York (SUNY) system, said universal background checks, concealed carry permits and laws prohibiting people who have committed violent misdemeanors reduce gun homicides. “One policy that has come up against legal challenges recently has been not allowing people under the age of 21 years old to have certain guns or types of weapons,” Raissian said. “It is helpful. That age group has the highest risk of perpetuating homicides of any age group in the U.S.” Social policies can also deter gun violence. “It is laws, it is access to guns, it is also poverty,” Raissian said. “We have a lot of evidence that laws that you wouldn’t think have anything to do with gun violence, like Medicaid access, summer school for kids, employment opportunities for kids, are really good at reducing gun violence.” Raissian cited a randomized controlled trial of a youth summer employment program that was established in Chicago that had reduced incidents of gun violence compared to a control group. “It is not just about keeping them busy because these differences persist,” Raissian said. “It is also learning conflict resolution. It is also learning communication skills — all those things that come from employment and positive interactions tend to reduce violence of any form.” But Raissian and Grant Reeher, a professor of political science at Syracuse University, both said no single law will solve the issues of gun violence. The full article is attached above, and well worth the read. Kerri Raissian is an associate professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Connecticut, director of the University of Connecticut's UConn’s Center for Advancing Research, Methods, and Scholarship (ARMS) in Gun Violence Prevention, and co-director of the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy (InCHIP) Gun Violence Prevention Research Interest Group. She is available to speak to media about this important topic - simply click on her icon now to arrange an interview today.
June 02, 2023
CEO Compensation: What's the Limit of 'A Lot'?
Should corporate executives be paid a lot? Yes, says management expert David Souder, a professor in the UConn School of Business Boucher Management & Entrepreneurship Department. But, he says, "What's the limit of 'a lot'?" “It’s proven very hard to determine where it stops being the appropriate amount of ‘a lot,'" says Souder in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media. The highest-paid CEO in this year’s Equilar 100 was Peloton Interactive’s Barry McCarthy, whose awarded compensation totaled about $168 million. At No. 2 was Apple’s Tim Cook, whose awarded remuneration amounted to about $99 million. Equilar’s survey also highlighted the huge gap between CEO compensation and the income of rank-and-file workers. Last year, there was a median ratio of 288 between CEO compensation and median worker pay; the ratio was 254 in 2021. The compensation awarded last year to Cigna’s Cordani equated to about 277 times his company’s median worker pay of $75,627, according to Equilar. Including several thousand employees based in Connecticut, Cigna operates globally with more than 70,000 employees. At many companies, shareholders weigh in on executive compensation through “say on pay” proposals that let them cast advisory votes. Shareholders typically endorse remuneration, as seen in the results of Cigna’s 2023 shareholders meeting that was held on April 26. About 221 million votes were cast in support of the company's executive compensation, compared with nearly 30 million votes against, about 18 million “broker non votes” and nearly 612,000 abstentions. Some progressive elected officials such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, are unhappy with CEO compensation levels at large companies because they believe their pay constitutes corporate greed that hurts rank-and-file workers. Among their proposals, they have sought to pass legislation that would increase taxes on companies that pay their CEOs more than 50 times the median level. “The pay disparities raise questions that are very hard to answer,” Souder said. “If you want an experienced chief executive, and they’ve been paid at these (exceptionally high) levels, then you have to also pay at these levels. And nobody wants a below-average CEO. So you end up with these subtle underlying pressures that cause CEO pay to rise.” David Souder specializes in strategic management and is available to speak with the media. Click his icon to arrange an interview today.
June 01, 2023
UConn Expert: An athletic trainer saved my life as a teen. Student athletes don't have to die
Dr. Douglas Casa was a 16-year-old student athlete when he collapsed during a 10K race -- in the midst of a life-threatening exertional heat stroke, or EHS, the quick action of an athletic trainer saved him. Now a professor of kinesiology a UConn and CEO of the Korey Stringer Institute, Casa is a leading voice on heat-related illnesses and preventing sudden death in sport -- and he has lifesaving advice for parents and policymakers as the summer sports season begins, published recently in the Courier-Journal: Change happens when a few key leaders come together to find a path to advocate for these life-saving policies. The key factor that determines if a high school athlete will live or die is the actions in the first 10 minutes after a condition presents itself. EHS has a 100% survival rate if cooling is done correctly, and proper prevention strategies can prevent nearly all EHS cases. Cardiac conditions survival rates can be as high as 90% when an AED is applied within 3 minutes of onset. When the moment comes and your child’s life lies in the balance, you want to be sure these life-saving policies are in place and that the appropriately trained licensed medical professional (i.e. AT) is on-site. So much hinges on those first few minutes. Most of all, your life will never return to normal if your child dies from a condition that is nearly always survivable when cared for properly. Do whatever you can before they die. Dr. Douglas Casa is available to speak with the media today - simply click on his icon now to arrange an interview.
May 17, 2023
King Charles and the Power of Pomp
With the approach of the first coronation of a British monarch in 70 years, the world is watching, dissecting, and analyzing every element involved in the Coronation of King Charles III and his wife, Camilla, the Queen Consort. Cameras, photographers and journalists from across the globe are working overtime on this historic event, as are observers and scholars, including UConn anthropologist Dimitris Xygalatas, who penned a piece for the BBC where he explains the power behind the pomp and ceremony around the crowing of Britain's new king: On 6 May, 2023, one of the most spectacular rituals in the world will take place: the Coronation of King Charles III and his wife, Camilla, the Queen Consort. Shrouded in spectacle and adorned with priceless regalia, the ceremony will be officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Westminster Abbey and attended by a host of foreign royals and heads of state. The whole event will be broadcast around the world, with hundreds of millions of people expected to tune in. Once crowned, the royal couple will return to Buckingham Palace in the Gold State Coach, a carriage so loaded with gold that it needs eight horses to pull it. They will be escorted by thousands of troops from all branches of the armed forces, making up the largest military display in three generations. The festivities will last all weekend – and a long weekend at that, as Monday has been proclaimed a public holiday nationwide. Events include colourful parades, public concerts, spectacular light shows, and thousands of street parties across the UK and the Commonwealth. The scale of this undertaking might seem exuberant. After all, King Charles may have dominion over all swans, dolphins, whales and sturgeons in the UK's waters but he will wield little political power beyond a largely ceremonial role. What is more, a coronation is not even necessary to become king. In fact, Edward VIII reigned as sovereign without ever being crowned. As heir apparent, King Charles III's accession to the throne occurred automatically the moment Queen Elizabeth II died, on 8 September 2022. ... The effects of ceremonial opulence may extend well beyond the Kings’ subjects. To the world at large, they act as status symbols – what anthropologists call “credibility-enhancing displays”. Our minds intuitively link effort with value. A ceremony that requires such enormous cost and effort to organise provides tangible evidence of the importance of the institution it celebrates and people’s commitment to that institution. At a time of political instability, with an increase in Russian aggression, the UK emerging from Brexit and a global pandemic, the British state could use some of that social glue. And above all, so could the royal family. The last few years have been rough on the royals, to say the least. Prince Andrew lost his military titles and royal patronages as he faced allegations of sexual assault that he has consistently denied. Internationally, as the world grapples with the legacy of colonialism, more and more countries seem inclined to cut their ties to the Crown. All the while, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, have had a very public exit from the centre of royal life and their media presence has been rubbing salt to these wounds. In light of these developments, the Coronation may play a crucial role in the Royal Family’s struggle to stay relevant. Indeed, as public support for the monarchy has been steadily declining, two recent grand ceremonies, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and funeral, have been accompanied by boosts to British attitudes towards the institution. King Charles III's Coronation will be one of the most grandiose royal celebrations of this century. It remains to be seen whether it can help convince his subjects that he still has a role to play in British society. Dimitris Xygalatas is an associate professor of anthropology and psychological sciences, and head of UConn's Experimental Anthropology Lab, which develops interdisciplinary methods and technologies for studying behavior in real-life settings. He is available to speak with media, answering all your questions about coronations and their rituals and purpose. Click on his icon to arrange an interview today.
May 03, 2023