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 

Time running out for lawmakers to avert a government shutdown

Spending laws are set to expire Saturday, Sept. 30. That means if a deal is not reached before then, the government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. on October 1. Holding up a deal is a small group of far-right U.S. House members who oppose a short-term extension. Virginia Tech political science expert Karen Hult is available to discuss what’s happening on Capitol Hill and why Republicans, who have the majority, cannot get a spending deal passed. A shutdown, depending on how long, could have great impacts on the U.S. economy which is still struggling with inflation. Virginia Tech economist David Bieri is available to break down what this means and how soon we could see its impacts.

What happens to the actors’ strike if the writers’ strike ends?

The Writers Guild of America has reached a tentative agreement with entertainment industry producers that could end the five month strike if the parties sign off on the fine details. Virginia Tech media studies expert James Ivory can discuss the significance of this development and how it could impact the concurrent actors’ strike. “If we can get a deal on the writers’ strike, it’s very likely that we’ll see a lot of that used as a template for solving the actors’ strike,” Ivory says, noting that the multi-month strikes have been hard on union members. “This isn’t just a bunch of multimillionaires that are having to go with one less fancy suit or one less private jet. We’re talking about people that don’t necessarily make a lot of money, a lot of them making less than the average incomes in the United States.”

Expert: "Barbie" is strong on entertainment value, soft on social change

The “Barbie” buzz continues, even months after the blockbuster movie’s release. The box office record-breaking film now is available to rent or buy through various video on demand platforms, including Prime Video and Apple TV. Bonnie Zare, who is director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Virginia Tech, encourages people to see “Barbie” for its sheer entertainment value, but don’t expect the flick to push boundaries when it comes to social change. Zare says even in Barbie Wonderland, where women have full power, the feminist message falls short of being reformist. More here.

Certain dog breeds will suffer from climate change, says expert

Bulldogs, pugs, and boston terriers all have one thing in common — their short snouts, and experts say as climate change worsens, they are going to suffer. The reason, as explained by Lisa Gunter, an assistant professor in the School of Animal Science at Virginia Tech, comes down to science. Lisa is available to explain why and what pet owners can do. More here.

Research Highlights

2023 Global Agricultural Productivity Report to be Released Oct. 3

In the last three years, gains in food security and nutrition have been lost through mounting food system pressures from climatic variability, conflict, and other crises. Agricultural productivity growth is the single most effective approach in simultaneously meeting food and environmental goals. Feeding the global population with nutritious foods is paramount to sustaining a growing population and to food security. 

The GAP Report, titled "Every Farmer, Every Tool," will be released in an in-person and virtual event from 8-11 a.m. Oct. 3 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The report launch is part of a larger event, “Every Farmer, Every Tool: Increasing and Sustaining Access to Proven Innovations for Sustainable Agricultural Productivity Growth,” a collaborative effort of the GAP Initiative, Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Strategic Productivity Growth Coalition for Food Security and Resource Conservation. More here

What is successful recovery? More than 10,000 people worldwide sign on to participate in addiction research

As of September, more than 10,000 people representing all 50 states, about 60 countries, and six continents had joined a network of people in recovery from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.

They are part of a thriving community on a shared journey toward recovery, and they have accessed resources, inspired others working to overcome addiction, and participated in research as part of the International Quit & Recovery Registry. Sponsored by the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, it is a tool created to advance scientific understanding of success in recovery.

Twelve years since its inception in September 2011, the registry has become a powerful tool. People can register anonymously and are regularly invited to participate in research, which is conducted virtually. Among discoveries based on research using the recovery network, scientists have found that:

  • Family history of addiction is a risk factor for substance use, and it is associated with other behavioral markers of addiction.

  • Confidence in the ability to abstain from substance use can help predict treatment outcomes and risk of relapse.

  • The degree to which someone in recovery values immediate, smaller rewards compared with larger but delayed rewards can help identify the perceived risk of relapse.

New Podcast Feature: The Metaverse, Digital Twins, & AI’s Impact on the Environment 

Walid Saad joined Virginia Tech’s ‘Curious Conversations’ to field questions about the metaverse, digital twins, and artificial intelligence’s potential impact on the environment. Saad is a professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Next-G Faculty Lead for Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Virginia.

‘Curious Conversations’ is a series of free-flowing conversations with Virginia Tech researchers that take place at the intersection of world-class research and everyday life. Produced and hosted by Virginia Tech writer and editor Travis Williams, university researchers share their expertise and motivations, as well as the practical applications of their work in a format that more closely resembles chats at a cookout than classroom lectures.

New episodes will debut each Tuesday throughout the fall. Expert researchers are also available for media interviews.To listen and learn more, click here

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