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…
Jeff Smith on: Oscar nominations
Smith, an expert on American cinema and music in film, can discuss this year's Academy Award nominees.
"The big story this year is Netflix's breakthrough," says Smith. "The streaming service received 13 nominations in all, the second most of any film distributor. Roma, of course, scored ten of those with The Ballad of Buster Scruggs scored the other three. It shows that Netflix's ability to attract top directorial talent is paying dividends, at least when it comes to awards."
"Another story involves the split between box office champs and critical darlings." Smith says, "three of the nine best picture nominees -- Black Panther, A Star is Born, and Bohemian Rhapsody -- have collectively grossed about $2.5 billion dollars worldwide. The expansion of the field a few years ago was done to accommodate more popular cinema and these films have finally delivered on that promise."
"A third story involves the relative dearth of nominations for women in many of the craft awards. No female director was nominated even though Marielle Heller, Chloe Zhao, Debra Granik, Lynne Ramsay, and Tamara Jenkins were considered worthy contenders."
Jirs Meuris on: Long-term effects of shutdown on workers
Jirs Meuris, an expert on financial wellness and HR practices, can comment on how the government shutdown may impact workers in the longterm. His research shows a link between employees’ financial worry and their performance. A recent report by consulting company Mercer found that employees on average spend approximately 150 hours per year thinking about their finances at work, which translates into roughly three weeks’ worth of work time annually.
“Based on my research, we should be worried about the impact of the current shutdown on our national security and health as thousands of government workers including those at the FBI, DEA, FDA, Border Patrol, and TSA work to protect us from threats while going without a paycheck and living in a state of financial uncertainty," Meuris says. "As their financial insecurity grows, we can be sure that our own security falters along with it. We need to recognize that a shutdown over border security may actually do more harm to it than what there may be to gain from it.”
Jordan Gerth on: Polar vortex
An expert in weather forecasting, meteorology and Wisconsin weather, Gerth can talk about the polar vortex, expected to soon affect large swaths of the United States. He says: "The polar vortex will bring some of the coldest temperatures of the season to Wisconsin over the next few weeks."
Pamela McGranahan on: Jayme Closs found -- the effects of childhood trauma
Thirteen-year-old Jayme Closs was found alive three months after her parents were murdered in their northwestern Wisconsin home. Pamela McGranahan, an expert on the impact of childhood adversity and trauma on lifelong health, can comment on the short and long-term impact of childhood trauma, including increased incidence of risk-taking behaviors, affects on relationship-development skills, and long-term physiological effects of trauma.
"Any child recovering from severe trauma needs first and foremost safety, which includes protection from media scrutiny and speculation, as well as unconditional acceptance from people who genuinely care for her," McGranahan says. "A child who has experienced the loss of parents, separation from family or other extreme incidents will likely need to work with a mental health provider who specializes in pediatric trauma to recover. Recovery is possible—people are amazingly resilient. Yet there is no roadmap for this. The appropriate response depends on the trauma -- its nature and severity. It also depends on the child. Adolescence is a particularly vulnerable time, and not all 13 year olds are at the same developmental stage."
Lori Anderson on: Surgeon general warns of teen risks from e-cigarettes
Lori Anderson, a certified school nurse and expert on risky behavior by teens, can comment on a warning from Surgeon General Jerome Adams that says parents, teachers, health professionals and government officials must take “aggressive steps” to keep children from using e-cigarettes.
Kenneth Mayer on: Government shutdown
Kenneth Mayer, an expert on the presidency and presidential powers, Barry Burden, an expert on American politics and the director of the Elections Research Center, and David Canon, an expert on the U.S. Congress, can comment on the potential impact of a government shutdown.