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

The political optics of a government shutdown

While a stopgap measure will keep the government open for 45 days, extending negotiations on Capitol Hill, Virginia Tech public relations expert Cayce Myers says the perception by the American public becomes part of a larger political narrative about what party can govern effectively. “The biggest concern for Republicans is not appearing to be politically dysfunctional,” says Myers. “For Democrats, it’s trying to show that this is not caused by their unwillingness to compromise.” Virginia Tech political expert Karen Hult can also speak to the implications of the government showdown.  

Social media’s new role in UAW negotiations

The United Auto Workers union, now in the third week of an ongoing strike against General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, used the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to announce a deal with Volvo Group-owned Mack Trucks. Last month leaks from a private X chat potentially provided union members with insight into UAW strategy. Virginia Tech multimedia journalism professor Mike Horning can provide insight into the new roles social media has played in union negotiations. “All social platforms can now play a disruptive role in those processes and can even influence how those negotiations play out,” he says. Read more here.

Netflix Halloween adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe works displays his staying power

Virginia author Edgar Allan Poe accomplished astonishing things during his short, troubled life. Providing evidence of Poe’s continuing appeal, streaming giant Netflix will soon unveil “The Fall of the House of Usher,” a miniseries based on Poe’s story of the same title and other works. “I think Poe’s stories make us shiver because they remind us how very thin the line between ‘normalcy’ and ‘madness’ can be,” says Ashley Reed, an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech. Read more here.

Research Highlights

Could stopping 'zzz's' prevent mosquitoes from spreading disease? 

Research is underway in Virginia Tech's Department of Biochemistry to examine how sleep-deprivation may affect mosquitoes’ ability to find human hosts or even stop their ability to spread disease. Clément Vinauger, an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences received a two-year $430,000 R21 grant from the National Institutes of Health to research the sleep habits of mosquitoes with the thought that if sleep-deprived humans have trouble functioning, maybe sleep-deprived mosquitoes do too.

Vinauger is collaborating with a team from the University of Cincinnati in this research, the first of its kind to study how sleep deprivation may affect a mosquito’s ability to find human hosts or even stop its ability to spread disease.  “People are suffering and dying all over the world from these diseases, and with climate change, it’s getting worse,” Vinauger said. “To me, that’s the most obvious demonstration that we need to think outside of the box.”

New Podcast Feature

Cayce Myers joined Virginia Tech’s “Curious Conversations” to field questions on artificial intelligence’s impact on the workforce, regulations, copyright law, and more. Myers is a professor and graduate director in the School of Communication. His work focuses on media history, political communication, and laws that affect public relations practice.

"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 are shared each Tuesday.

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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