Experts available: Trump immunity ruling, Olympics, 4th of July, and more (2024)

The Virginia Tech media relations office has the following experts available for interviews this week surrounding issues in the news. To schedule an interview, please contactmediarelations@vt.edu.

Virginia Tech experts available to discuss headlines in the news

Supreme Court to rule on Trump’s immunity claim today

The U.S. Supreme Court will hand down its decision today on whether former president Donald Trump has “absolute immunity” from prosecution for acts committed while he was in office. This decision could impact whether he goes on trial in D.C. for election obstruction charges. It could also impact the criminal trials in Florida and Georgia. Political scientist Karen Hult is available to discuss the ruling and its potential ramifications. Public Relations expert Cayce Myers can talk about the impact the decision has on Trump’s campaign efforts.

Biden team working to reassure Democrats after poor debate performance

President Biden’s campaign spent the weekend reassuring Democrats that he is up for the job. His own family reportedly is pushing him to stay in the race but some democrats still question whether he should remain on the ballot. Political science expert Karen Hult and public relations expert Cayce Myers are available to discuss where things stand for Biden, what it would mean for him to step aside, and how this impacts the race for the White House.

As Paris 2024 approaches, experts give tips for athletes, weekend warriors, and travelers

With less than a month until the Summer Olympic Games in Paris, and with Olympic Trials wrapping up all around the world in different sports, Virginia Tech experts offer perspective on aspects of the competitions, applying Olympic habits to our own lives, and how the Games are impacting both travel to and life on the ground in Paris. See a full list of story ideas and related experts here.

Fireworks safety

The July 4th holiday brings a dramatic increase in eye injuries each year. Virginia Tech expertStefan Duma says that’s mostly due to fireworks. TheU.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that approximately 10,000 people are treated in an emergency department for fireworks-related injuries per year and that about 2,100 of these are specifically related to the eye. Bottle rockets and firecrackers comprise nearly half of these injuries. Duma’s research focuses on injury and impact biomechanics. In a study for the Department of Defense, he looked at eye injuries from blasts, specifically bottle rockets which are the leading source of eye injuries. The findings showed that these injuries were actually from the projectile speed and not the blast. His work contributed to bans on bottle rockets and other projectiles in states like Virginia.

Lessons from hot dog eating contests

Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest is a 4th of July tradition. But the contest itself isn’t all about eating. There’s actually an economic lesson here. Virginia Tech economist Jadrian Wooten says competitors, both professional and backyard amateurs, face diminishing returns as they consume more hot dogs. “Initially, people can eat quickly and efficiently, but as time goes on, each additional hot dog becomes increasingly difficult to consume within the fixed time limit, usually 10 minutes for the pros,” says Wooten. Diminishing returns in hot dog eating contests illustrate the same economic principle that impacts other experiences, whether it’s watching fireworks or walking in a parade. “The first few minutes are great, but each additional minute isn’t as enjoyable as the minute before.”

Safeguarding pets

Summer heat and holiday travel can always be dangerous for pets, and so can the noise of fireworks. “Every year near the 4th of July, we see a significant increase in the number of traumatic injuries to dogs, specifically related to the fear response associated with fireworks,” says Dr. Mark D. Freeman, associate professor with theVirginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech. “Dogs have jumped through glass windows and off decks and balconies, chewed through doors and walls, and are then much more susceptible to accidental injury when they panic and run away from the noise.”

Picnic and grilling safety tips

Melissa Wright, director of the Food Producer Technical Assistance Program at Virginia Tech, has a few tips for keeping foodborne illness away from your holiday picnics and cookouts. To protect yourself from foodborne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical. Wright also offers tips for safely grilling alternative and non-beef burgers such as plant-based and turkey burgers.

Managing hot temperatures

Intent on staying out in the sun through the holiday weekend? Dr. Stephanie Lareau with theVirginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine says to plan ahead, so your time outdoors won’t be ruined by prospects of dehydration, heat exhaustion, sunburn, or risk of skin cancer. “Being prepared and educating yourself on the effects of heat are key to prevention. Wear light-colored, breathable clothing, and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.” Dr. Lareau says. As for safely catching rays, “You should apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before sun exposure, and reapply it within an hour, and then every two hours if you are out in the sun for a long time.” Read more of Dr. Lareau’s summer safety tips here and here.

History of food in the U.S.

From Jello-O to green bean casserole and wheat bread to peanuts, the evolution of U.S. history is clear in the foods that Americans eat. For a decade,Anna Zeide, an associate professor of history and director of the Food Studies program at Virginia Tech, has used food as her platform for research and teaching. Through her work, she found 15 foods, highlighted in her book “U.S. History in 15 Foods” that tell America’s story. Zeide’s research takes everyday items, like spaghetti, peanuts, and chicken nuggets, and shows the part that they played in the making of America. “Food is the critical link among all aspects of American history, among disparate groups of people, among the connections that remind us of our shared humanity,” Zeide said. “Food is fundamentally personal and embedded in systems far beyond the individual. This is why food history matters. It has the ability to unite and illuminate that which we too often artificially divide.”

Experts available: Trump immunity ruling, Olympics, 4th of July, and more (2024)

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