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 contact

Are tornadoes becoming more common?

Another round of storms are expected in the Southeast on Monday after a weekend of intense storms left 26 people dead. At least 20 confirmed tornadoes were reported in Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, with Mississippi being the hardest hit. Virginia Tech expert Andrew Ellis is available to discuss this severe weather pattern and whether tornadoes are becoming more common.

Possible indictment of a former U.S. president

Virginia Tech political professor Karen Hult can discuss the historical and political implications of an indictment of former U.S. President Trump, as the New York City grand jury is set to resume work today. This comes just two days after he spoke to supporters at his first 2024 presidential campaign rally in Waco, Texas.

Silicon Valley Bank sold to First Citizens Bank as interest rates rise again

All branches of the former Silicon Valley Bank opened Monday morning with a new name. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced Sunday that the collapsed and insolvent SVB has been purchased by Raleigh, North Carolina-based First Citizens Bank. Meanwhile, despite the uneasiness over the stability of banks, the Fed Reserve has raised interest rates again. Virginia Tech economics professor David Bieri can put these developments in context.

Israel court system overhaul sparks protests, labor strikes

Labor strikes and protests by Israeli military officers have decried moves by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to overhaul the judiciary system, potentially reducing the power of the country’s Supreme Court. Last week Netanyahu fired a defense minister who opposed the overhaul. While calls for judiciary reform have been long standing, critics say the Prime Minister aims to protect himself from the outcome of his corruption trial. Ariel Ahram, chair of Virginia Tech's government and international affairs program, can share insights on what the controversy means for the country, the Middle East and the United States.

New pest targets Virginian’s onions, garlic, and leek crops

Home gardeners and commercial farmers alike should be on the lookout for a new Virginia pest: the allium leaf miner, says Tom Kuhar, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech.The allium leafminer is an invasive fly that can devastate allium crops like onions, garlic, and leeks. It was first recorded in the U.S. in Pennsylvania in 2015 and was recorded in Virginia in 2021. To protect plants, Kuhar says covering crops with agricultural fabric in April-May and September-October, during the adult flights will exclude egg-laying females from reaching your plants and help prevent larval infestations.

Shattering stereotypes: How women-led nations succeeded during pandemic

As COVID-19 spread rapidly around the world, the nations led by women managed the public health crisis well, according to various studies. Farida Jalalzai, associate dean for global initiatives and engagement in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences studies the behavior of women in executive political positions. She points to New Zealand and Iceland in particular because both consulted experts, particularly the scientific community and took the threats to safety seriously. Jalalzai says they were transparent and skillfully communicated the stakes of the crisis to the public, while also being empathetic.

The real villain in Ted Lasso may not be who you think

People tend to focus on the character of Ted Lasso and what he does - the fact that he’s optimistic and bubbly, but according to Virginia Tech’s Matthew Gabriele that hides the bigger picture of what he’s doing, trying to create a community from this disparate and disaffected group. Gabriele says that everyone is part of the “team,” including Rebecca (the owner) and he wants to get them all to care for one another. This is really coming into focus in the last season because Nate can be part of it, but feels alienated. He seems like the villain, but it’s clear that he’s hurt and confused and can’t see because of his previous trauma from his family, the love that Ted is offering him. Instead, he only sees the manipulation of Rupert and misinterprets that. Matthew is available for interviews Thursday & Friday.

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