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

Southern California hit with record rain, flooding, mudslides from Hilary

Tropical storm Hilary has weakened, but parts of Southern California are dealing with record rainfall and flooding after torrential downpours. This comes after a 5.1-magnitude earthquake struck near Los Angeles yesterday. Manoochehr Shirzaei, a geophysicist at Virginia Tech is able to discuss the coastal hazards posed by this storm. Virginia Tech meteorologist Stephanie Zick is also available to discuss why this storm did not impact some, like Los Angeles, in ways that were expected.  

GOP presidential candidates debate Wednesday on Fox News, sans Trump

The first debate between Republican candidates seeking to challenge Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential race takes place this week on Wednesday on Fox News. Yet the front runner in the nine-person field will not join them: former President Donald Trump has declared he’ll skip the debate. Of the remaining eight, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is running a distant second, which could make him the target of his rivals. Virginia Tech political professor Karen Hult can discuss the debate’s significance and what Trump might gain by staying away.

X, the app formerly known as Twitter, stirs new controversies

In January 2021, President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was banned because of “risk of further incitement of violence.” This week, under new owner Elon Musk, Trump will make a major appearance on the social media app, now rebranded to X. Trump’s interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carslon is expected to stream on X opposite the GOP presidential debate Wednesday. Also, Musk has indicated that he wants to do away with the “block” feature that allows Twitter/X users to stop communications from harassers. Virginia Tech multimedia journalism professor Mike Horning can speak to the implications of these developments.

Dropping your student off at college? Expert shares advice for parents

Classes are back in session at Virginia Tech. When students move into a campus residence hall or apartment, it may be the first time that they have lived away from home. It’s natural that young adults will become more independent and develop autonomy from their parents or guardians. So, how can parents best navigate these changes? Virginia Tech expert Jenene Case Pease can speak to how parents can best navigate these changes. More here.

Research Highlights

Virginia Tech’s Stability Wind Tunnel selected as a NATO Common Research Wind Tunnel

When a new NATO task group was being formed to advance computational models of turbulent flows, William Devenport and Virginia Tech jumped at the chance to lead the effort. The applied vehicle technology task group, formed in 2022, unites researchers and experts from NATO nations including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Leveraging each country’s unique expertise, the collaborators established select facilities around the globe as Common Research Wind Tunnels. These facilities are comprehensively documented and improved to enhance their characteristics as test cases for computational fluid dynamic (CFD) models. Virginia Tech’s Stability Wind Tunnel is among the four global wind tunnel facilities chosen in the U.S., France, and Germany.

“Being selected as a Common Research Wind Tunnel positions us as a model facility and enhances Virginia Tech’s visibility across the globe,” said William Devenport, Alumni Distinguished Professor and director of the Stability Wind Tunnel. “We are very glad to be leading the effort and for the opportunity to collaborate with pioneers and leaders in the field to help determine the future of CFD.” More here.

Study from School of Neuroscience urges more research into sex differences in depression

In 2016, recognizing that lack of research in female animals was hampering the success of treatments for mood disorders, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) changed its policy for basic research to include sex as a biological variable for basic research, a move that triggered an explosion of research into sex differences. Georgia Hodes, assistant professor in the School of Neuroscience, and co-author Dawson Kropp, a Ph.D. student in neuroscience, reviewed some notable findings since the NIH mandate in an article recently published in the journal Nature Mental Health

These include:

  • Compared to men, women have twice the risk of developing depression and anxiety disorders, experience their first episode of depression earlier, and have more cumulative episodes over their lifespan.  

  • Men are potentially underdiagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) because of sex differences in symptoms and they are more likely to externalize their symptoms, demonstrate anger or violence, and experience comorbid drug- or alcohol-use disorder.

  • Various cell types in the brain have baseline and stress-induced sex differences. For example, microglia, the immune cells of the central nervous system, express baseline differences in men and women across development and in adulthood, which may contribute to sex differences across psychiatric disorders.

  • Men seem to have greater vulnerability to prenatal or early-life stress exposure, resulting in stress-associated changes in physiology and behavior during the juvenile period. Changes in female behavior may not manifest until after puberty.

  • Some tests with mice show that chronic variable stress — recurrent physical, psychological, and social stress that is unpredictable and unavoidable — can produce behavioral responses in women after only six days. A minimum of 21 days is needed to produce the same behavioral responses for those tests in men.

More here.  

Share this story