November 24, 2015
The eyes of the world have been on Paris in recent weeks, and the focus won’t be shifting anytime soon. The city is set to host officials from across the globe on Nov. 30 to Dec. 11 at the United Nations’ COP 21, also knows at the Paris Climate Change Conference 2015.
At the gathering, leaders will work to establish a pact to keep global warming below what most scientists say is a critical threshold.
Professors at the University of Utah will be watching the discussions closely. Many have their own research to add to the debate, and are available for commentary on what’s happening at COP 21 as well as their own academic research on the topic. A few of the many researchers at the U studying issues related to climate change include:
Prospects for the Greatest Snow on Earth in a Warming World
Utah’s climate is about 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer today than it was in the early 1900s. Scientists expect this warming will continue during the 21st century, with the amount of warming dependent on future greenhouse gas emissions. University of Utah atmospheric scientists Jim Steenburgh and Courtenay Strong project that during coming decades, this warming will exert an increasingly discernible influence on the Greatest Snow on Earth. More winter precipitation will fall as rain instead of snow, especially at lower elevations. Utah’s higher elevations have some insurance against the early stages of global warming due to their cool winter climate. But winter storms will become warmer, the density of snowfalls will increase, and the quality of powder will decline. Eventually, with continued greenhouse gas emissions, the likelihood of significant snowfall and snowpack declines at even upper elevations increases. Ultimately, the future of the Greatest Snow on Earth depends on the decisions we make today.
Jim Steenburgh, office: 801-581-8727, cell 801-230-5715| Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtenay Strong, office: 801-585-0049| Email: email@example.com
The kids aren’t alright: Climate change can lead to lower birth weights
From melting glaciers to increasing wildfires, the consequences of climate change and strategies to mitigate such consequences are often a hotly debated topic. A new study led by the University of Utah adds to the ever-growing list of negative impacts climate change can have on humans—low birth weight. In the first study of its kind, a two-year project led by U geography assistant professor Kathryn Grace examined the relationship among precipitation, temperature and birth weight in 19 African countries. The findings show that a pregnant woman’s exposure to reduced precipitation and an increased number of very hot days results in lower birth weights. Grace is available to discuss her study’s results and implications.
Office 801-581-3610 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment
Over the summer, Pope Francis’ much-anticipated encyclical on the environment drew much attention, and may be discussed again at COP21. The document calls for urgent action to protect the Earth and fight global warming, a trend the pope declares is a result of the burning of fossil fuels and human activity. The document outlines Francis’ viewpoint on the scientific and moral reasons for protecting the environment. It states low-income people in the world suffer the most from air pollution and toxic dumping. Law professor Lincoln Davies can offer a local perspective on these issues. He previously organized a summit on religion, faith and the environment. A recognized expert in energy law and policy, Davies’ research spans a broad array of energy topics, including renewables and alternative energy, carbon capture and sequestration, nuclear power, utility law and regulatory and technology innovation.
Phone: 801-581-7338 | Email: email@example.com
Communicating Climate Change
Scholars have called climate change the most difficult communication challenge of the century. Communication plays a major role at all levels of social change to address the issue and involves far more than simply providing more information. Julia Corbett, professor of communication, teaches both an undergraduate and graduate course exploring the major players in climate communication: the public, mass media, climate scientists and their deniers and institutions. Corbett writes both academic research and creative nonfiction about human relationships with the natural world. She’s available to speak about news coverage, attitude and behavior, social and cultural change, activism and protest in regards to climate change.
Office: 801-581-4557 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
November 6, 2015
How toxic is social media?
This past week, a 19-year-old Instagram model Essena O’Neill with over 800,000 followers made international headlines when she announced that she would quit social media. O’Neill has since re-captioned many of her old photos to reveal the amount of effort and sponsorship that went into seemingly effortless and spontaneous moments. She also spoke out on the toxic effects social media had on her self-esteem and perceptions of reality. It’s undeniable that social media is an unavoidable aspect of Americans’ lives and have many benefits such as keeping distant friends and family members connected. However, there are many negative effects too, such as unrealistic expectations and unhealthy comparisons. Avery Holton, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Utah, is available to comment on O’Neill’s recent actions, motivations and social media’s impacts in general.
Avery Holton Phone: 801-585-1067| Email: email@example.com
Utah Legislative Preview: What will be the hot issues in 2016?
Medicaid expansion, LGBT rights versus religious freedoms, the right to use medical marijuana and a host of other issues took center stage during the 2015 Utah legislative session.
What’s on deck for 2016? Jason Perry, interim director of the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah, is available to offer commentary on the notable political events of 2015 as well as predictions for what’s to come in 2016.
*To schedule an interview with Jason Perry, contact Natalie Tippets, Phone: 801-581-8514 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Link between family history of Alzheimer’s disease and financial planning
A new study from University of Utah researchers asserts that the people most likely to see expert financial advice and to delay retirement are those whose families People whose families have a history of Alzheimer’s disease. The study, by U researchers Cathleen Zick, Robert Mayer and Ken Smith, suggests that people who may be prone to Alzheimer’s are perhaps more in tune to the costs of institutionalized care and therefore plan more. The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, found people whose families had a history of Alzheimer’s were 86 percent more likely to have visited with a wealth management professional and 40 percent less likely to retire before age 65 in comparison to people without a history of Alzheimer’s in their families. The study has been submitted to American Journal of Alzheimer’s disease & Other Dementias and will be published in coming weeks. Researchers are happy to discuss their findings.
Cathleen Zick Phone: 801-581-3147 | Email: email@example.com
Nice guys can finish first
Do nice people have a greater ability to motivate others to cooperate? Or is competence the most important factor at play when it comes to organizing cooperation? Those questions are at the forefront of new research published by University of Utah anthropologist Shane Macfarlan and co-author co-author Henry F. Lyle of the University of Washington in the journal, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. After spending several months studying the dynamics of people in Dominica and Peru, Macfarlan and Lyle uncovered new information about how people respond to different characteristics among leaders. “The gist is this: do competent or “nice” folks have a greater ability to motivate others to cooperate? While nice guys are nice and everyone likes them, we may not believe they are capable of getting the job done and therefore they may have difficulty getting others to contribute to collective endeavors,” said Macfarlan. “It might feel good to help Forrest Gump because he’s a nice guy; however, he’s not the guy you want to organize cooperation because he doesn’t seem so competent. The information is relevant to ongoing debates over what makes a strong leader, said Macfarlan. He noted that society continually debates whether they prefer leaders who can get the job done, —or who are cooperative. Macfarlan is available to speak to media about the findings of his study.
Shane Macfarlan | Phone: 510-295-9282 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
New York Mets star and U alum George Theodore remembers
He was nicknamed “The Stork.” At 6 feet 5 inches tall, George Theodore stood out among the 1973 New York Mets. He moved well on his long legs, making him a dynamite first baseman and a quick outfielder. Today, as a school social worker, he towers above the elementary students with whom he works, yet his warm demeanor, quirky sense of humor, and terrific baseball stories make him easily accessible to both kids and parents. During his senior year of college – upon the recommendation of his aunt – Theodore applied to the U’s Master of Social Work (MSW) Program. Shortly after being accepted, he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 31st round of the amateur draft. He eventually returned to the U in 1976 and finished his degree, embarking on a lifelong career in social work. Theodore recently shared his story with the College of Social Work and is happy to speak about the role the U played in shaping who he is today.
Jennifer Nozawa, public relations specialist, University of Utah College of Social Work | Phone: 801-585-9303 | Email: email@example.com
Saturday, Nov. 7
Religious freedom in a changing world
Religious freedom: it’s a topic that has received intense national attention in recent months, following the actions of Kentucky Court Clerk Kim Davis —who refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples because of her religious beliefs. Davis spent five days in jail after ignoring a court order that she issue marriage licenses to all couples, following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June 2015 that legalized gay marriage. Her actions drew both ire and support, and the high profile case is one example of many cases before legislatures and courts that have addressed conflicts between civil rights and religious liberties. In Utah, other issues of religious freedom have also made headlines, including this week’s announcement by the LDS Church on membership of same-sex couples and their children. Continued attention on the topic is one reason students at the S.J. Quinney College of Law are helping to organize a symposium discussing the issue. Sponsored by the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, the event will feature discussion by attorneys, faith community leaders and a legislator on various topics related to religious freedom. Cost is $10 for the general public and $5 for students.
S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 9
Evidence-based decisions for policy: The case for eyewitness identification
The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law on will host a symposium dedicated to better understanding eye witness identification through the use of science for decision-making about public policy. The event at the law school takes place at the Flynn Faculty Scholarship Room (6500) on the sixth floor of the law building. “Evidence-Based Decisions for Policy: The Case for Eyewitness Identification,” will feature a lecture by Joanne Yaffe, a professor at the University of Utah College of Social Work. In late 2013, the National Academies asked Yaffe to help with a fast-track study examining eyewitness identification. For 11 intensive months, she collaborated with a multidisciplinary team of well-known experts from across the country, examining the issue through the lenses of law enforcement, the judiciary, and social sciences. The National Academies later released the group’s report, which urged caution in handling and relying upon eyewitness identifications in criminal cases. The group also recommended best practices for law enforcement and courts.
S.J. Quinney College of Law, 383 South University Street, 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 10
The authors and illustrator of “March,” the best-selling graphic novel series that narrates U.S. Rep. John Lewis’s account of the civil rights movement, will speak at the U Nov. 10. Lewis, co-author Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell will discuss the books and their goal to educate and inspire young people to understand the power of nonviolence. They will participate in a book signing immediately following the event.
Libby Gardner Hall, 1375 Presidents Circle, 11 a.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 11
The U will honor 11 Utah veterans, including Chris Haley, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and lost a leg while trying to aid another injured solider, at its 18th annual Veterans Day commemoration ceremony. The tribute includes a panel discussion, “Forgotten and Abandoned Vietnam Veterans,” a 21-cannon solute, an awards ceremony and a concert.
Union Building, Ballroom, 200 S. Central Campus Drive, 8:30 a.m.-Noon
Thursday, Nov. 12
“The Case Against 8”
The Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah will host a public screening of the Sundance film, “The Case Against 8” draws back the curtain on one of the most contentious legal cases of recent years that paved the way for the ultimate Supreme Court ruling to legalize same-sex marriage. The film will give audiences the opportunity to experience this historical journey in an in-depth and intimate way. The director Ryan White will lead a Q&A session immediately following the screening.
Salt Lake Film Society’s Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. Broadway, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 12
Reflections on the 2015 UK parliamentary election
You may know all about how election day shook out in the U.S. this month, but do you know how the 2015 UK parliamentary election changed the political landscape across the pond? Here’s your chance to find out: The Hinckley Institute of Politics hosts “Reflections on the 2015 UK parliamentary election.” John Francis, a professor of political science, will host a panel exploring the recent election.
Orson Spencer Hall, Room 255, 260 Central Campus Drive, 9:10 to 10:10 a.m.