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

Experts analyze consequences and causes of auto strike

The United Auto Workers are in the fourth day of a historic strike against all three major Detroit auto manufacturers. Virginia Tech economic experts Jadrian Wooten and David Bieri can speak about the strike’s repercussions.

“Prolonged strikes could indeed lead to higher prices for cars, layoffs in adjacent business sectors, and reduced spending in regions with striking workers,” Wooten says. “In the long run, these impacts could extend beyond the local areas, most notably in higher car prices. It could seep into housing markets, financial markets, and beyond.”

“This is as much about strained labor relations as it is about an abject failure of the Biden Administration‘s much touted ‘industrial policy,’” Bieri says.” Overly generous federal subsidies have provided ample incentives for legacy automakers to grow complacent and downright negligent vis-à-vis their workforce management.”

Google is on trial - here’s why it matters

The first big tech trial in decades is underway, entering week two. The Department of Justice argues that Google abused its power as monopoly to dominate the search engine business. According to Virginia Tech expert James Ivory, the case hinges on claims that Google illegally orchestrated business dealings so that its search engine would be people’s first option on their devices. Ivory is available to discuss why this case should matter to the average person, its historic nature, and what’s at stake for both sides in the trial that’s expected to last weeks.

Writer and actor strikes have tough consequences for shows, incomes

Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Hudson have backpedaled on plans to bring back their talk shows despite the ongoing Hollywood writers and actors strikes, but so far Bill Maher seems determined to resume his show — drawing further criticism, as he is a writers guild member. Meanwhile, writers and actors are facing months ahead with no income as the strike goes on. “Writers and actors have been hit hard in the wallets for a long time. The vast majority of these strikers were not making exorbitant sums of money before the strike, so they have been having it especially tough without income,” says Virginia Tech expert James Ivory. Read more here.

New documentary inspires reflection on future of coal mining

A new, critically-acclaimed documentary, “King Coal,” mediates on the legacy of coal mining, exploring its influence on tradition and culture, and examining its impact on health and the environment. Aaron Noble, head of Virginia Tech’s Mining and Minerals Engineering Department, welcomes the new attention to mining that the documentary brings. “While demand for coal production, particularly in Appalachia, has been in a steady decline for more than 20 years, the demand for mined materials and metals will actually grow expeditiously as society transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy and electric vehicles,” he says. Read more here. (Screening at Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg)

Research Highlights

Studying the scientific basis for success in recovery; better assessing opioid use disorder

September is National Recovery Month, which started in 1989 as a national observance held to promote and support new evidence-based treatment and recovery. In addition, Sept. 21 is National Opioid Awareness Day, and October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Virginia Tech scientists are working in that space at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and are available for interviews:

  • In 2011, addiction researchers at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC started the International Quit & Recovery Registry as a tool for systematically studying success in recovery. At the beginning of September 2023, more than 10,000 people representing all 50 states, more than 60 countries and six continents had joined the registry, which has become, not only a research tool, but a thriving community for people in recovery from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. 

  • BEAM Diagnostics Inc. (BEAM) – a behavioral health company that sprung from research from Virginia Tech’s Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC – has been awarded a $1.84 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to commercialize its technology to improve assessment of opioid use disorder (OUD) in outpatient medical clinics. The 24-month Phase II SBIR grant from the NIH’s National Institute on Drug Abuse builds upon previous validation work with Carilion Clinic, allowing BEAM to finalize the development and implementation of Beacon-OUD into primary care clinics as a digital assessment for providers. BEAM will now work with UVA Health to further validate the technology and interface with UVA Health’s electronic medical record system, making the tool accessible to providers and patients.

New Podcast Feature: Semiconductors

This week, Virginia Tech launches a new podcast series, ‘Curious Conversations,’ that will feature experts and free-flowing conversations that take place at the intersection of world-class research and everyday life. Produced by Virginia Tech's Office of Research and Innovation and hosted by writer and editor Travis Williams, university researchers share their expertise and motivations, as well as the practical applications of their work, during interviews that more closely resemble chats at a cookout than classroom lecture.  

In its debut episode, Christina Dimarino joined the podcast to chat about semiconductors, the importance of packaging in onshoring their production, and what Virginia Tech is doing to excel workforce development in this field. She is assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and assistant director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Power Electronics Systems, located at the Virginia Tech Research Center-Arlington.

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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