When national and local media cover news and events, they come to Richmond for perspective and expertise. Here’s a sample of recent stories that put University experts in the news:

Leadership studies professor and social psychologist Don Forsyth explained why even reasonable people sometimes bend COVID-19 safety rules. “Social forces have a strong hold on us and shape our choices even when we know better,” he said.

Law professor Meredith Harbach Johnson commented about how divorced and separated parents are mediating pandemic-related co-parenting dilemmas on their own. “Courts are generally loath to make modifications because it interrupts continuity and stability for the kids,” she said.

Physics professor Jack Singal, an astrophysicist, shared insight on a Chinese mission to the moon to collect lunar rocks. “It could set the stage to give us a better handle on dating rocks on the rest of the surface of the moon and other rocky bodies,” he said.

Ellen Sayles, director of education abroad, talked about UR’s decision to reopen study abroad on a limited basis in the spring. “There was more time to plan and to understand in this new reality what kind of support and structures had to be in place,” she said.

Hundreds of outlets quoted finance professor Tom Arnold about online shopping’s pandemic-driven boost. “Retailers who still have a brick-and-mortar presence are advertising curbside pickup, so there’s no need to come into the store,” he said.

Business school professor Violet Ho and leadership studies professor Crystal Hoyt gave comments on unemployment in Virginia due to COVID-19. “The repercussions of this pandemic on workers’ physical and mental health will be far and wide,” Ho said.
President Ronald A. Crutcher spoke about the value of the arts with the program Arts Engines. “The arts can help lift any human being above the vicissitudes, fears, and disappointments of the day,” he said.
Biology professor and virus expert Eugene Wu discussed the difficulties of testing antivirals as the coronovirus spreads. “The middle of a large outbreak of a potentially lethal infection is not the ideal time to perform a carefully controlled clinical trial,” he said.
Jamelle Wilson, SPCS dean, suggested one pathway forward after civil unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd. “Commit to learning as much as you can about the experience of people who are not in your immediate circle, who don’t look like you, whose background is different from your own,” she said.
Historian David Brandenberger commented on whether Bernie Sanders, as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, aided Soviet propaganda in 1988 with his efforts to create a sister-city relationship with Yaroslavl, a Russian city. The contacts were “routine and pure officialese,” he said. “To call this ‘propaganda’ is an insult to Cold War propagandists.”
When Michael Bloomberg put redlining in the news, CBS News sought expertise from Rob Nelson, director of the Digital Scholarship Lab, which produced “Mapping Inequality,” a project focused on the discriminatory practice’s origin. “The federal government, at the time, called this best practices for responsible lending,” Nelson said.
Political science professor Ernest McGowen gave USA Today perspective on gun regulations being debated in Virginia in February. Similar proposals in other states have not been struck down as violating the Second Amendment, he said.
Fast Company published an article co-written by marketing professor Sara Hanson about how tech is increasingly making tipping a point-of-sale practice. “Customers, employees, and owners all benefit if businesses stick to tradition — and request the tip only after the coffee is poured,” she wrote.
In an article for Medium, math professor Della Dumbaugh made the case that you — yes, you — might benefit by revisiting algebra as an adult. “If you work toward mastering a mathematical idea with a goal of teaching it to others, you not only enhance your own understanding of the concept, but you also build communication skills in the process,” she wrote.
“There is a lack of information about the [rap] genre, and a lot of the characterizations of it that you see in a legal context are incorrect,” liberal arts professor Erik Nielson, an expert on the use of rap lyrics in court, told NPR’s 1A during a program on free speech.
PBS’s The Open Mind interviewed Ronald A. Crutcher, president, for an episode about race and higher education. “If you don’t pay attention to disparities with respect to race … then you miss the nuances that occur when you take a student and they are in an institution that feels very foreign to them,” he said.
ABC News asked physicis professor Jack Singal about the persistence of debunked moon landing conspiracy theories. “There was basically no prominent belief, or widespread belief in the moon landing conspiracy theory until the late 1970s,” he said.
In a Q&A about her book No Archive Will Restore You, English professor Julietta Singh told The Advocate, “We are told all our lives that we are self-contained individuals, and in opposition to this logic, I wanted to write the body in a way that lets us see and imagine how wrapped up we are with other bodies,” she said.
History professor Eric Yellin wrote in Inside Higher Ed about teaching the Scottsboro rape trials in the age of #MeToo. “The students … reached beyond simple categories of race, gender, or class and thought about how identities, power and place combine to create complex human experience,” he wrote.
Richmond’s CBS 6 interviewed Ellen Sayles, director of education abroad, about UR’s The Return, a re-entry program for students returning from abroad. “A lot of attention is paid on preparing them to go, but … they [also] need some time to reflect on the experience and to incorporate it into their life once they return,” she said.
The Christian Science Monitor asked constitutional law scholar Corinna Lain why execution methods matter for a story about a Supreme Court case. “We have to care, because we can’t use the baseline of horrible crimes as our standard for civilized society,” she said.
“They’re exquisitely adapted to reproduce, and to reproduce really fast,” biology professor Jonathan Richardson told NPR’s Marketplace while discussing New York City’s use of dry ice to control its rat population.
Professor and Latin American politics expert Jennifer Pribble wrote a piece for The Globe Post about how rising poverty impacts the reelection bid of Argentina’s president. “The social and human costs of this poverty and the devastating effects of deprivation for long-term human development loom large,” she wrote.
U.S. News & World Report asked Gil Villanueva, associate vice president and dean of admission, about the implications of the SAT’s new Environmental Context Dashboard. “In the end, schools have to look at it within the context of what they’re trying to accomplish,” he said. UR was an early pilot program participant of the dashboard.
“Heroes give us hope that we can all slay our dragons during the deepest, darkest times of our lives,” wrote psychology professor Scott Allison in an op-ed for Psychology Today about why Neil Armstrong still captures the nation’s imagination 50 years after the moon landing.
Physics professor Jack Singal explained the utility of NASA’s newest Mars explorer to CNN. “We are currently discovering thousands of exoplanets around other stars, some of which may be quite similar to Earth or Mars,” he said.
“A lot of people [wrongly] think they are too old to change careers,” Becca Shelton, assistant director of career services, told U.S. News & World Report for an article about encore careers.
Neuroscientist and psychology professor Kelly Lambert explained the link between green spaces and mental health on NPR. “If we were talking about a new medicine [with] this kind of effect, the buzz would be huge, but these results suggest that being able to go for a walk in the park as a kid is just as impactful,” she said.
Classical studies associate professor Walter Stevenson gave digital outlet Ozy context for understanding Roman general and politician Crassus. “Many Roman nobles wanted to imitate Alexander the Great with campaigns to defeat Persia, so we don’t need to look too deep for [Crassus’] motivation,” he said.

In an op-ed for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond College dean Joe Boehman responded to a controversial Gillette advertisement. “I am trying — and failing — to see the problem with this ad,” he wrote. “The essential message to men is this: Do the right thing.”

Fast Company turned to management professor Kevin Cruz to explain the importance of solving conflict among colleagues. “Coworkers can be a particularly strong influence on employee satisfaction, especially when employees have to rely heavily on each other to complete their work,” he said.

“Good writing helps me to look at my surroundings with new eyes,” Martha Merritt, dean of international education, told The Washington Post for an article about travel literacy. She also recommended one of her favorite travel-related books, The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

Business Insider published an essay by longtime Writing Center director Joe Essid in connection with the release of the Neil Armstrong biopic The First Man. “In our era of incessant self-promotion and celebrity billionaires, I wonder if there’s a place for a humble yet insanely focused national hero like Armstrong,” Essid wrote.

Law professor Kristen Jakobsen Osenga wrote an opinion piece for The Washington Times about the need to protect patent holders’ rights. “Companies spend millions of dollars developing inventive technologies ... and bringing them to the American public,” she wrote. “One reason these companies can invest so much in invention and innovation is the patent system.”
The Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted Boatwright Memorial Library archivist Taylor McNeilly in an article about the opening of the Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker Collection, which the civil rights leader gifted to UR following his death last year. “You know you’re touching history and preparing it, but it’s not every day you get to work on something of this importance,” he said.
Mathematics professor Della Dumbaugh explained how new knowledge develops in her field to the news site How Stuff Works. “Before long, you start to recognize patterns, and, in time, you start to propose theory to support your observations,” she said. “That’s the essence of being a mathematician.”
Leadership studies professor Kristin Bezio described the popular culture of William Shakespeare’s era for a Slate podcast about Richard II. “Our biggest forms of pop culture are television and film, and public theaters were a lot more like that,” she said. “Everyone knew about it even if they didn’t necessarily go, but pretty much everyone went.”
In CMSWire’s story “The High Toll of Toxic Workplace Dynamics,” management professor Kevin Cruz, an expert on workplace dynamics, noted that “companies lose millions of dollars per year because of lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover, resulting from incivility.”
For Inside Higher Ed, sociology professor Bedelia Richards proposed five questions institutions can use to answer the question “Is Your University Racist?” “Colleges and universities that are serious about being equitable and inclusive must pay attention to where power is concentrated within their institutions,” she wrote.
For a story called “Trump Orders a Lifeline for Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants,” The New York Times asked energy law expert and law professor Joel Eisen for perspective on a presidential proposal to use federal authority to prevent unprofitable coal and nuclear power plants from closing. “The idea of superseding the market for a full two years and directing that purchases be made from specific plants is well beyond any existing use of these statutory powers,” he said.
Law professor Hayes Holderness's article “The next tax reform: Internet sales tax” appeared in The Hill. “We should be concerned when sales and use taxes go uncollected,” he wrote. “As a result, the quality of state services such as roads and schools suffer, or other taxes go up to cover the losses.”
Dance Spirit asked Anne Van Gelder, UR’s director of dance, for advice for students choreographing their first dance in college. “We think we can’t be creative within strict guidelines, but it’s within parameters that we find creativity,” she said.
In The Chronicle of Higher Education’s article “The Fight Against ‘Toxic Masculinity,’” Joe Boehman, Richmond College dean, explained how the expectation to “be a man” creates challenges for male students. “When they run into a wall, whether that’s academics harder than they’ve ever experienced or an emotional or personal issue, it’s really hard for them to be vulnerable,” he said.
Slate published “The Feminist Case for a Universal Basic Income” by leadership studies professor Jessica Flanigan. “Many social policies in the U.S. are influenced by extremely paternalistic thinking that perpetuates discriminatory stereotypes about women’s abilities to make informed and reasonable decisions for themselves,” she wrote.
Voice of America interviewed law professor Andy Spalding, an expert on anti-corruption law, for two segments about the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. “I think there is some reason to think that enthusiasm for the games in South Korea is not as high as the organizers would have liked or planned,” he said. “One reason for this is that the games have been tainted by corruption scandals.”

The Washington Post sought expertise from psychology professor Scott Allison on combatting sexual harassment. One technique? Creating strong protections against retaliation for people who report it. “What we’re talking about,” he said, “is making it easier for people to do the right thing.”

During the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation conference broadcast on C-SPAN, Richmond Law professor Kimberly Robinson said the nation’s funding model for schools is “broken, inefficient, and ineffective. ... We need to push for an actual federal right to education that gives you a right to go to federal court when the state is denying you equal access to an excellent education.”

The Christian Science Monitor discussed Buddhism and the Rohingya crisis with religious studies professor Scott Davis. “[While] there is a romantic, more often than not, Western and academic vision of Buddhism as pacifist, … the urge to protect the community and disseminate the teachings has been tied to the use of military force,” he said.

Inside Higher Ed asked Gil Villanueva, dean of admission, about the growth of early-action admission programs, which are popular with prospective students. “If their chance of gaining admission is higher and they can know well before the spring, then it’s a no-brainer for them,” he said.

There will be “more strong rhetoric, more saber rattling” in the near future, predicted political science professor Monti Datta during a Richmond Times-Dispatch panel discussion on American-North Korean tensions. “But thankfully cooler heads will prevail in, I think, President Trump’s National Security Council.”

Entrepreneur magazine sought comment from Frederick Talbott, a professor in the Robins School of Business and a stand-up comedian, about the incomprehensibility of business jargon. “This is the herd mentality,” he said. “No one wants to be the person who says, ‘Hey, I don’t know what that means.’”
Voice of America turned to political science professor RICK MAYES to explain the dilemma Republican lawmakers face as they debate health care policy. “They’re desperately searching some middle way that keeps them safe electorally in the next primary election, but they’re also trying not to actually hurt people,” he said.
Richmond Magazine published an op-ed by adjunct professor Lauranett Lee about the need to better commemorate the history of Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, where the city’s slave markets were once concentrated. “Interpreting this national historic landmark offers an opportunity for greater empathy and understanding across racial, cultural, and class divides,” she wrote.
In The Christian Science Monitor, professor and landscape ecologist Todd Lookingbill helped explain a puzzling east-to-west migration of trees. “Shifts are occurring downslope, towards the coast, or laterally in mountains,” he said. “The findings … highlight the important role that changes in precipitation are already having on tree distributions,” a development he attributed to climate change.
Fortune tapped Patrice Rankine, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, for its summer reading recommendations. He suggested The Faithful Scribe by UR colleague Shahan Mufti, which explores the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan through one family’s history. Issues of Muslims in America “have become much more important to talk about and discuss now,” Rankine told Fortune. (You can hear NPR's interview with Mufti about his book here.)
CBS Moneywatch turned to Richmond Law professor Jack Preis for comment about Apple’s decision to speak out against the White House’s decision to amend Obama-era policy applying federal sex discrimination laws to transgender students. “When Apple speaks, its message is more likely to be heard than, say, the local grocer down the street,” he said.
The Scientist magazine asked biology and biochemistry professor Eugene Wu to comment on researchers who developed a semisynthetic organism that can replicate artificial DNA base pairs indefinitely. “I think they’re moving towards a place where we are able to ask questions that we’ve never asked before,” he said.
A New York Times investigative reporter turned to Richmond Law professor Carl Tobias in a March 7 piece about a petitioner’s request that a judge throw out the class-action settlement reached in the Trump University lawsuit. The judge would have to weigh the objection to the settlement against “substantial pressure to hold the deal together,” Tobias said. “A lot of work has gone into this, and people are generally satisfied all around.”
“American business is global business,” Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the Robins School of Business, wrote in a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed explaining business leaders’ reactions to the president’s first executive order restricting travel. “Not every business will think that the executive order is a bad idea, but what is remarkable is that so many do and are willing to say so.”
In a Yahoo Finance piece warning of the dangers of weak enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a U.S. anticorruption law with worldwide reach, analyst Max de Haldevang turned to Richmond Law professor Andy Spalding. “The FCPA train has left the station,” Spalding said, “and to repeal it now would be analogous to repealing the Civil Rights Act or our securities law.”

Americans looking to understand the potential impact of school vouchers should look to Chile, where it was instituted nationwide by dictator Augusto Pinchet in 1980, write professors Jennifer Pribble and Jennifer L. Erkulwater in The Washington Post. The subject has become a hot topic in the U.S. with the nomination of voucher advocate Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. “The aggregate socioeconomic status of a school more strongly predicts test-score achievement in voucher schools than it does in public schools,” they write. “This suggests that voucher schools fail to level the playing field.”

CNN came to campus for a live broadcast with a focus group of 28 undecided voters during and after the vice presidential debate Oct. 4. After the debate, the Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted political science professor Dan Palazzolo, who said that both candidates likely “passed the capability test” with voters of being able to step in as president, if necessary.

In a story on retailers’ “Thanksgiving dilemma,” USA Today turned to finance professor Tom Arnold, who pointed out that some stores’ decision to close creates an incentive for their competitors to remain open.“I think it will bother people maybe for the next three years, but eventually I think [staying open] is just going to become status quo,” he said. “The next potential uprising might actually be Christmas Day.”

In an editorial about the rise in the price of EpiPens, which auto-inject epinephrine during severe allergic reactions, the Winston-Salem Journal quoted Jepson leadership professor Jessica Flanigan to support its case for reform of the FDA’s approval process for generic drugs. “Though it may be politically useful to vilify the pharmaceutical industry in the short run,” she said, “rethinking pharmaceutical regulation is the best way to lower drug prices and help patients in the long run.”

The Washington Post published analysis by political science professor Sandra Joireman that explained how a border dispute led to rioting and the use of tear gas in Kosovo’s parliament earlier this year. “Drawing borders can instead be the spark that re-ignites conflict,” she wrote.

Style Weekly published an opinion piece by Jepson leadership studies professor Thad Williamson about lessons to be drawn from Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize. “If you think that human lives are supposed to be defined by consistency and logic, then Bob Dylan is the enigma you’ll never crack,” he wrote.

The Washington Post turned to law professor Andrew Spalding in May for a story about the U.S. Justice Department looking into allegations of doping by Russian Olympic athletes. The U.S. is “trying to change worldwide cultural norms around bribery and fraud and just governance generally,” he said. “These sports cases, they’re a bullhorn for the anti-corruption message, because people listen.”

Also in May, C-SPAN broadcast FBI Director James Comey's commencement address to Richmond Law’s Class of 2016. He told graduates that good judgment is a rarer attribute than intelligence. “Very intelligent people can master a data set and show you the answer on a graph,” he said. “People of great judgment can look at that and say, ‘That’s what it says. Let me tell you what it means.’”

For an Aug. 3 story examining Bernie Sanders’ education proposals, The Atlantic discussed the UR Summer Fellowship program, which funds research and internship opportunities for all students. It’s because of programs like that, enrollment management vice president Stephanie Dupaul said, that “retention is actually higher among low-income students” at Richmond.

Nancy Bagranoff, dean of the Robins School of Business, wrote about the benefits of establishing a dean’s book club in BizEd, a collegiate business education magazine. “It has the potential to influence organizational culture, help faculty to become better at their craft, and impact student learning,” she wrote. “Plus, as we’ve found, it’s a lot of fun.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch published a Q&A in June with new Arts and Sciences Dean Patrice Rankine in which he discussed his academic background, his personal interests, and his 16-year-old dog. “Because he’s a more aggressive breed, I named him Gandhi to cultivate quietude,” he said. “It worked.”