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.
Beyond the pandemic
Numerous experts from the University of Wisconsin–Madison are available to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and provide tips and information to help people navigate related changes to their daily lives.
James Conway on: Kids and vaccines
As Pfizer applies for emergency approval for use in younger children, the question of when children will receive vaccines is still being answered. Dr. Jim Conway, professor of pediatrics at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and an infectious diseases and vaccine expert at UW Health, is available for interviews on the subject.
“When the time is right, it will be vital to vaccinate children if we hope to provide broad immunity for Americans against this dangerous virus,” Conway said. “However, children are not small adults and we must make sure these vaccines are safe for them.”
Bianca Baldridge on: The role of community-based afterschool programs
Bianca Baldridge, an expert on afterschool education and assistant professor in the department of educational policy studies, says the pandemic brought an overlooked loss to school-age children in the halt of community-based afterschool programs. Baldridge says these programs provided meaningful connections to adults, opportunities to imagine, create, organize, and quiet spaces to work.
Denia Garcia on: Racial inequalities of pandemic impact and recovery
Denia Garcia, an expert on the ways in which inequalities are experienced and reproduced, can discuss how the pandemic has impacted certain communities harder than others.
"COVID-19 has exacerbated racial inequalities across health, social, and economic outcomes," Garcia says. "After the pandemic, Black and Latino communities will experience a slow recovery that will have long-lasting consequences."
Sarah Halpern-Meekin on: Learning in a pandemic
Sarah Halpern-Meekin, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, and of Public Affairs, uses qualitative and quantitative methods to study romantic relationships and low-income families’ finances, as well as government policies directed at these areas. Her research includes examining how social poverty shapes people’s well-being and decisions.
"During the pandemic, children's learning and connections to supportive adults and institutions outside their homes were disrupted, though not equally across all children," Halpern-Meekin says. "Unless we take steps to address the consequences of these disruptions, they may exacerbate preexisting disparities among children along socioeconomic, English-language-learner, and racial/ethnic lines."
Thomas Friedrich on: Burnout among scientists, viral sequencing framework, improving the regulatory environment
Thomas Friedrich is a professor of pathobiological sciences and an expert on pandemic viruses. He is available to provide analysis on:
- Viral sequencing and its application for other emerging pathogens. How to build a sustainable framework, now and for the next pandemic.
- Moving toward a simpler, more nimble regulatory environment to support research and diagnostics while still promoting safety and privacy
- High burnout rate among scientists, physicians and public officials whose pace of work accelerated. How to help them recover?
- Career development of junior scientists, many had to put their work on hold during the pandemic.How will this impact the scientific enterprise?
Experts on today’s news
Pamela Oliver on: The #BlackLivesMatter movement and the Chauvin trial
Pamela Oliver is a professor emerita of sociology and an expert on social movement and racial disparities in criminal justice. She is available for interviews on the #BlackLivesMatter movement and its response to the unfolding Chauvin trial.
Oliver says, "Mostly, police who kill unarmed civilians are not prosecuted or if prosecuted are found not guilty. A few have been found guilty on lesser charges. Very few police have done prison time for brutality, and these have been only egregious cases. There are usually protests in response to acquittals or convictions on lesser charges. We can assume that movement groups are watching the trial and making contingency plans for how to respond depending on the trial outcome.”
Alvin Thomas on: Chauvin trial and the burden placed on Black men and boys
Alvin Thomas is an assistant professor in the Human Development and Family Studies Department in the School of Human Ecology, and director of the Thomas Youth Resilience Lab at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's available for interviews about the pain endured by Black men and boys, the fear directed at them, and the way these negative perceptions can be internalized in their bodies.
Jirs Meuris on: Potential impact of Derek Chauvin trial on police enforcement
Jirs Meuris can discuss how the Derek Chauvin trial may influence police departments. Meuris has researched law enforcement management and how work practices within police departments influence its outcomes. His research has looked at the effect of overtime and moonlighting policies on arrest rates and the effect of increasing racial diversity among police officers on racial disparities in cite-and-release decisions.
"Current problems in law enforcement are in part a failure of management," Meuris says. "It is clear that the way departments choose to manage their workforce has direct implications for its outcomes. As part of the movement to reform police departments, we need to consider the organizational levers including selection, training, compensation, and diversity that can facilitate improvements in the way officers interact with the community.
Keith Findley on: Trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin
Keith Findley, an expert on criminal procedure, can talk about the legal standards governing police use of deadly force, and general questions about trial practice, trial strategy, and admissibility of evidence.
Cindy Cheng on: Anti-Asian attacks rise during pandemic
Crimes targeting Asian Americans have risen since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. While authorities in Atlanta are saying it’s too early to label a Wednesday morning shooting that left eight dead, including six Asian women, a hate crime, Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition that tracks incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., reported nearly 3,800 instances of discrimination against Asians in the past year. Cindy Cheng, an expert on Asian American history and culture, can discuss.