UNLV Newsmakers 2021: October | Information Center



Astronomical researchers at UNLV reached infinity and beyond in October with two major deep space studies – one uncovering evidence of the first planet to orbit three stars and another dissecting the mystery of ‘a massive cluster of rapid radio bursts. Back on Earth, public health concerns continued as experts analyzed the convergence of the flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic. On the business side, academic experts have spoken of the large-scale changes seeping into Las Vegas’ biggest industries. In addition to this, the UNLV Small Business Development Center announced a one-stop-shop partnership with the City of North Las Vegas for small business owners seeking entrepreneurship advice. Finally, the story of the saving heroism of a UNLV student is garnering well-deserved recognition.

Read on to find out about all of this and more in the latest edition of UNLV Newsmakers.

Medical student puts classroom lessons into action

Elizabeth (Liz) Groesbeck, a third-year student at Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine, was recognized in October for her heroism as she helped rescue an accident victim. In August, Groesbeck was on his way to a Raiders game when she passed a pedestrian who lost a limb in a near-fatal hit and run car crash. The EMT-certified student jumped out of her carpool to provide crucial assistance to the man before the ambulances arrived. His quick thinking helped save his life. The Raiders presented Groesbeck with Super Bowl tickets and Clark County Commissioners were named on October 5 in his honor.

Step Back Tatooine: Discovering the Three-Star Planetary System

The latest scientific discovery from UNLV has left many memories of Luke Skywalker’s house, a binary star system named Tatooine – except it gets better. Researchers at UNLV have discovered evidence of a planet orbiting three stars at a time, in what is called a rare circumtriple orbit. The planet is located in GW Ori, a star system 1,300 light years from Earth in the constellation Orion. Although the planet remains hypothetical, the discovery could enrich astronomers’ understanding of planetary formation and how objects can form under extreme circumstances.

  • Jeremy Smallwood, lead author of the study and recent UNLV graduate, was cited about the importance of research: Forbes, New York Times, Salon, Mashable, Nerdist, Live Science, CNET, Phys.Org , New Scientist, Space.com, The Seattle Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Tiempo, KSNV-TV: News 3 (twice), KVVU-TV: Fox 5, National Geographic España, World News and Germanic.

Mysterious cosmic source embarks on a rant

Looks like some stars there were feeling nervous. In early October, UNLV participated in an international study that uncovered the largest set of rapid radio bursts (FRBs) ever detected from a source in deep space to date. A wave of more than 1,650 FRB detected by the FAST telescope over 47 days in 2019 reveals clues to the nature and location of powerful cosmic radio explosions of a millisecond.

  • Bing Zhang, UNLV astrophysicist and lead author of the study, was quoted on how in-depth research on FRB 121102 has the potential to shed new light on what fuels rapid radio bursts as a whole: CNN, Vice, Salon, Newsweek, Tech Explorist, Science Daily, Sky & Telescope, New Atlas, EurekAlert! and Germanic.

Small Business Center lends a hand

When the pandemic storm sparked a tornado of hardship for local business owners, UNLV’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was there for hundreds of entrepreneurs who needed help. In addition to offering advice on loans and business plans, the center has partnered with North Las Vegas officials by posting two advisers to the city’s Small Business Connector, a new SBDC satellite office to make business advice even more accessible to the public.

Double trouble of the COVID season and the flu

Like Michael Myers, COVID just won’t stay down. To make matters worse, COVID is now joined by its distant cousin, the flu, as temperatures drop. With the two viruses sharing a number of similar symptoms and both circulating in the air simultaneously, university experts have advised people how to protect themselves from both.

  • Immunization Mandate Updates: Las Vegas Sun, KTNV-TV: ABC 13 (twice), KSNV-TV: News 3, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now and Yahoo!.
  • Brian Labus, UNLV epidemiologist, spoke on several COVID-related topics including: approval of booster injections, accessibility of rapid COVID tests, mix and match injections, and COVID precautions for specific situations.
  • Edwin Oh medical school professor told KSNV-TV: News 3, KVVU-TV: Fox 5, KTNV-TV: ABC 13 and Yahoo! how he will track the most prevalent flu strains this season using techniques similar to those he used to monitor strains of COVID in wastewater.
  • The Nevada Independent published an article written by Brookings public policy student Olivia Cheche on the vaccination rate gap between black Nevadans and those of white, Asian and Latino residents.
  • Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine Dean Marc J. Kahn explained how COVID has impacted minority groups on Voice of America (twice).
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal spoke to Professor of Medicine David Glenn Weismiller about the possibility of “twindemia.”

The world of gambling, tourism and prosperity

The big three industry giants in Las Vegas – gaming, hospitality and tourism – had a busy October. Many experts have observed that these industries are undergoing rapid change, with pandemic-related pivots on the horizon. While the large-scale changes are dizzying, experts say they may be needed to evolve into something even better.

  • Asia Gaming Brief interviewed Brett Abarbanel, Research Director at the International Gaming Institute, about the increasingly blurred lines between gambling and gambling.
  • Fox Business reflected on the history of Las Vegas gambling with gambling historian David G. Schwartz. He also spoke about the expansion plans of the Hard Rock casino in New York: Associated Press, The Washington Post, Bloomberg and Yahoo!.
  • Alan Feldman, Distinguished Member of Responsible Gaming, spoke about Las Vegas’ post-pandemic recovery and was recognized for his many years of service in the gaming industry: Travel Weekly, Northern Nevada Business Weekly, GGB News (twice ), GGB Magazine Podcast and The Nevada Independent.
  • USA Today featured quotes from hospitality professor Mehmet Erdem on the subject of the evolution of hotel cleaning systems after COVID.

Overview of general experts

  • Austin Horng-En Wang, professor of political science, was quoted in Al Jazeera about the tense political situation between China and Taiwan.
  • Jeffrey L. Cummings, renowned Alzheimer’s disease researcher, commented on the reuse of the drug, bumetanide, to treat Alzheimer’s disease and continued to educate the media on the pros and cons of Aducanumab: STAT, The Scientist, MarketScreener and Neurology Link.
  • Research professor Kristen Averyt spoke about the historic drought in the American Southwest and measures to prevent it from getting worse for future generations: NBC News, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Las Vegas Sun and El Tiempo.
  • MEL magazine highlighted how the Optimal Sports Performance Program (TOPPS), a mental health training method led by psychologist Brad Donohue, can help athletes, first responders and others turn anger into a driving force.
  • Nancy Lough, co-director of the UNLV Sports Research and Innovation Initiative, spoke to the New York Times about the precedent the Raiders must set after former coach Jon Gruden’s race-insensitive comments.
  • Verywell Mind and communication professor Natalie Pennington have teamed up to discuss work-related stress in the context of the growing digital age.
  • Michael Green, Nevada historian, urged the people of Nevada to help protect historic sites at risk of being lost: KVVU-TV: Fox 5 (twice), KSNV-TV: News 3 and Nevada State News.
  • Social Behavioral Health professor Melva Thompson-Robinson explored HPV vaccine reluctance among Hispanic populations with Verywell Mind.
  • David Damore, president of political science, gave his first predictions on the Hill ahead of the 2022 Senate race.
  • Fox Business analyzed the implications that the large-scale shipping backlog in California will have on businesses with economics professor Stephen Miller.
  • Mashable asked astronomer Jason Steffen what makes the launch of the James Webb Telescope revolutionary.
  • Social Work Professor Nicholas Barr gave an overview of veteran housing and the influx of residents to the Desert Moon Motel home: MoneyGeek, Los Angeles Times and Yahoo!
  • Philosophy professor Amy Reed-Sandoval visited FAB Gab to talk about abortion bans and ethics in the event of a pandemic.
  • Bloomberg Law quoted law professor Jean Sternlight on the increasing escalation of arbitration in work-related cases.
  • William Bauer, professor of history, starred on KPFA to ruminate on the history of California with the enslavement of indigenous peoples.
  • Architecture professor Steffen Lehmann discussed the concept of “rewilding” urban areas with Bloomberg CityLab.
  • College of Urban Affairs Dean Robert R. Ulmer, Criminal Justice President Joel D. Lieberman, and Criminal Justice Instructor Daniel Holstein spoke with US News & World Report about the College of Urban Affairs’ partnership with the CSI show creator Anthony Zuiker to teach students about a simulated crime scene.
  • UNLV Film Professor Warren Cobb spoke to KTNV-TV: ABC 13 and KVVU-TV: Fox 5 Vegas about safety on film sets after the tragic death of a prominent cinematographer.


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