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

Biden 2024 reelection announcement

Virginia Tech political professor Karen Hult expects that the President Joe Biden’s long-awaited launch of his reelection campaign, anticipated to be announced Tuesday, will be relatively low-key, designed to convey that he is primarily focused on governing. “The timing reflects the complex balancing act of a president running for reelection. There are many factors in play, including the attempt not to distract from negative coverage of one's opponents, such as criminal investigations of former President Trump, and Republican nomination and House controversies.”

SpaceX launch wasn’t a failure, says expert

Can a space launch in which a rocket explodes just minutes after takeoff be considered a success? It can if it provides information that will help the next launch perform better, says Virginia Tech engineering professor Scott Bailey, director of the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research. Bailey points out that for the sake of testing, NASA launched about 100 rockets before attempting any of the manned Apollo missions. 

Bailey is available for interviews beginning Tuesday morning.

“Verified” on Twitter? Only if you pay

The Twitter social media network, purchased last year by tech mogul Elon Musk, has at last followed through on pledged changes to its “blue check” authentication system. Before, Twitter Blue was only available to at times arcanely-selected celebrities, creative types and media personalities, who had to undergo a screening process to prove their identity. Going forward, Twitter Blue will be available to anyone who pays a monthly fee and provides a phone number. Virginia Tech social media expert Megan Duncan can speak about what this means for Twitter’s status as a credible information source.

How the end of pandemic Medicaid benefits could affect the economy

At the end of March, pandemic-expanded Medicaid eligibility expired, and states have begun reviewing the Medicaid rolls to remove those who no longer qualify, a process that could create new hardships for millions. Virginia Tech economics professor Jadrian Wooten explains what effects this change to Medicaid could bring about on both an individual and national level. “The people who are removed may find themselves without access to affordable healthcare services, which can lead to untreated illnesses and financial strain for those who need medical care,” Wooten says. “This could also result in increased emergency room visits and hospitalizations, which are more costly and less effective than preventative care, crowd out other people who need attention as well, and drive up medical costs for everyone.”

It takes only seconds for data thieves to steal information - protect yourself

Today’s technology provides those with ill intentions the ability to collect private information with only a few movements of their fingertips. Virginia Tech faculty members have conducted research on information privacy matters for quite some time, and the university is taking a lead on providing informed perspectives into personal digital privacy.  “Many people say, ‘There’s nothing I can do’ or ‘I have nothing to hide.’ The reality is it's the long-term implications that we need to understand about digital privacy,” says France Bélanger, a professor in Pamplin College of Business. “It’s not about hiding all information. It's about making choices of what is known out there to others and what others can do with this information.” 

Bélanger and Donna Wertalik are available to discuss the importance of privacy measures, how easy it is to access information, social media privacy, and popular technologies.

Virginia Tech will host a panel discussion on this topic this week on April 27 at 2 p.m. in Commonwealth Ballroom B at Squires Student Center in Blacksburg. President Tim Sands and France Bélanger will lead the discussion and will be joined by Megan Duncan and Wertalik. A link to the livestream will be available on Virginia Tech’s homepage. More here.

Misaligned Incentives Plague Professional Drafts

Professional sports leagues use amateur drafts to promote competitive balance within the league, with the worst-performing teams at the end of the season getting the top picks in the next season. However, this system has been plagued with misaligned incentives that have led to an unsportsmanlike behavior known as tanking. Recent events in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL) highlight these problems and their economic implications. Virginia Tech economist Jadrian Wooten says tanking is considered a case of moral hazard. That’s the idea that behavior changes when people are insured against losses. Read more in Wooten’s weekly blog, Monday Morning Economist.

Virginia Tech announced as the First Certified Digitally Well University

Virginia Tech has been named the first Certified Digitally Well University™ for its transformational work in cultivating a positive digital culture among students and faculty. This recognition was named by the Digital Wellness Institute, a global leader in digital wellness education and certification focused on mitigating the risks of technology overuse.

Virginia Tech’s proactive approach to student well-being comes at a crucial time, when the broader impacts of Big Tech on society, and young people more specifically, continue to make national headlines.  

According to the 2021 National College Health Assessment, almost three quarters of students reported moderate or severe psychological distress. Coupled with the impacts of device use, which range from decreased ability to focus, decreased quality of sleep, and decreased productivity, today’s students are facing an increasingly challenging set of circumstances.

Interviews live and pre-recorded available. More here.

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