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 on today’s news…
Barry Burden on: New battleground state poll from UW Elections Research Center
New surveys in three key battleground states show Bernie Sanders with sizable leads in the Michigan and Wisconsin Democratic primaries, but a closer contest among Democrats in Pennsylvania.
And in a series of general election matchups, all three states appear to be up for grabs in November. Democratic candidates either slightly lead or are tied with President Trump in head-to-head comparisons, although the differences are generally within the statistical margin of error.
These findings are from the first UW-Madison Elections Research Center Battleground Survey of 2020. The Wisconsin Poll is conducted in collaboration with the Wisconsin State Journal.
"Sanders is well positioned to pick up the lion's share of delegates in these states unless another Democrat breaks out of the pack to challenge him," says ERC director and professor Barry Burden. In the general election, "Trump is in a more difficult position in Michigan than the other two states, but each of the battleground states could be won by either party, almost regardless of who becomes the Democratic nominee."
Kristen Bernard on: Wuhan coronavirus
A new type of coronavirus linked to an outbreak that started in Wuhan, China has now spread to five other countries. A man in Washington State was also sickened with the virus, officials announced Tuesday, Jan. 21, after recently traveling to China. It has caused a respiratory illness in more than 300 people and killed six.
Bernard is an expert on zoonotic viruses, which are transmitted between animals and people. She currently works on mosquito-borne and tick-borne viruses, but also worked with another coronavirus, SARS, after it first emerged in 2003. She says: "Although information on the novel coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China is still limited, there is now documented person-to-person transmission. Fortunately, there have been few deaths. Several recent cases have been identified in travelers outside of China, including a case in the state of Washington."
Christopher Olsen is also an expert on zoonotic infections. He has worked on coronaviruses in animals and was a coronavirus consultant in the early days of the SARS pandemic.“While a great deal is yet to be defined about the nature of the novel coronaviruses that has emerged in Wuhan, China, it is troubling that case numbers are increasing, cases have been detected outside of China after travel to the Wuhan area, and early evidence is emerging to suggest the potential for person-to-person transmission,” he says.
Further, Robert Kirchdoerfer is an expert on how coronaviruses infect cells and make copies of their genomes once inside their hosts. He can talk about the biology of coronaviruses. "We can compare the Wuhan coronavirus to the related SARS-coronavirus. By looking for commonalities between the two viruses we can start to make educated guesses about how this new virus might infect host cells," he says.
Richard Keller, an expert on historical and cultural dimensions of global health, can speak about the history of global epidemics and the intersection of infectious disease and racism.