These experts from the UW-Madison faculty and staff have agreed to comment on breaking news, ongoing developments and trends in their areas of expertise. If you need help arranging interviews, email University Communications.
Experts in the Spotlight
Lauren Bishop-Fitzpatrick on: Understanding health needs of adults with autism
In the 1990s, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) among children rose sharply. These children are now entering adulthood, yet physicians and scientists know very little about the health outcomes they might face. New research published this week found that older adults with ASD may be at greater risk of developing several health problems, including cardiovascular, urinary, respiratory and digestive issues. "Knowing what health issues adults with autism are more likely to encounter is critical to provide them with effective care and develop prevention strategies," says lead author Lauren Bishop-Fitzpatrick.
Experts on today’s news…
Jeff Sindelar on: Summer grilling
Jeff Sindelar, an expert on meat science and food safety, can offer tips for grilling season. "To ensure that you have a great eating experience and lots of fun, it’s always important to make sure that you think of and consider just having some good food safety practices," Sindelar says.
Claudio Gratton on: Bats vs. mosquitos
It’s a common assumption: Bats are important because they feast upon those pervasive warm-weather pests known as mosquitoes. You want to see bats flying above, cleaning up the night sky and ridding you of itchy bites and pesky ear-buzzing.
However, the claim that bats can make a dent in the mosquito population (and save your cherished Wisconsin summer) has little evidence to back it. That is, until now.
A team of University of Wisconsin–Madison researchers, including Claudio Gratton, set out to determine the extent to which mosquitoes are included in the diets of two common species of North American bats found in Wisconsin. Their findings, published recently in the Journal of Mammalogy, suggest that bats may indeed be effective exterminators of the aggravating insects.
Noah Williams on: The Health of Wisconsin's Economy
Noah Williams is the founding Director of the Center for Research On the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE). The newest CROWE report is out now. Williams can discuss the findings, including:
- Overall convergence across counties in many measures of living standards. Those counties with the highest unemployment and highest poverty rates have seen the most improvement.
- Continuing population trends: the state's biggest areas have grown bigger while the smaller areas are shrinking. Similar trends have happened nationwide but the effects have been stronger in Wisconsin.
Clifford Thurber on: Kilauea volcano and Hawaii earthquake
Kilauea, the youngest and most active volcano on Hawaii's big island, began active eruption last Thursday, May 3, sending molten lava through the streets, sprays of lava into the air and opening fissures beneath neighborhoods. Thurber has studied Kilauea since 1983, primarily aimed at seismic imaging of the volcano system – using the siesmic equivalent of a CAT scan. He has also studied the fault system below Kilauea, which is responsible for a magnitude 6.9 earthquakes recorded there on Friday. Geoscientist Brad Singer does not study Kilauea, but he studies the processes that occur with magma that can lead to eruptions. He also reconstructs the past history of volcanoes' eruptions over the course of several thousands of years. Crystals found in lava and ash can reveal the timing and nature of underlying eruptive processes, like the mixing of magmas and thawing of crystallized magma. Additionally, Mike Pavolonis is a NOAA atmospheric scientist who can talk about how satellites detect lava and volcanic gases.
Joel Pedersen on: CWD Prions in Wisconsin Soils
Joel Pedersen, a professor of soil science and expert in prions, can discuss his recent work that detected the prions responsible for chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin soils. “We have for the first time detected prions responsible for CWD in environmental samples collected from sites where deer congregate. We view our findings as a step towards elucidating the relative importance of direct (animal-to-animal) and indirect (animal-environment-animal) transmission of CWD," says Pedersen. The findings come as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposes tougher regulations to fight CWD across the state.
Lyric Bartholomay on: CDC - mosquito and tick diseases
A May 1, 2018 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed mosquito-and-tick-borne diseases pose a continuing threat to people in the U.S. and most local organizations and agencies are ill-equipped to prevent their spread. Bartholomay can talk about efforts by the CDC-funded Midwest Center of Excellence for Vector Borne Disease in the upper Midwest to prevent and combat diseases carried by mosquitoes and ticks. She says: "We are tackling the growing threat of vector-borne disease by finding new ways to control ticks in backyards, by expanding the ways that we look for vectors and diseases they transmit, by critically testing methods for mosquito control, and by training students to be able to collect, recognize and control mosquitoes and ticks." For example, the Center was involved in 2017 in work to prevent the spread of disease following Hurricane Harvey. Her colleague, Kristen Bernard, is also an expert on vector-borne diseases and public health threats.