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

U.S. soldiers killed in Jordan base drone strike

Three U.S. soldiers were killed and 30 service members injured in a drone strike in Jordan on Sunday — marking the first deaths of U.S. troops by enemy fire since the Israel-Hamas war began. While it remains unclear who was behind the strike, the incident raises further worries that the conflict in the Middle East will widen. Global affairs expert Ariel Ahram can discuss potential consequences of the drone strike against U.S forces and concerns about how tensions in the region could be affected.

Super Bowl LVIII: Kansas City vs. San Francisco

The teams are set. Kansas City will take on San Francisco in the Super Bowl on February 11. Kansas City won the match up four years ago when the two played in the big game. At the time, it marked the first Chiefs Super Bowl appearance in 50 years. Since then, Kansas City has played in it four out of the last five seasons, making them only the third franchise ever to reach the Super Bowl that many times in a five-year span. Meanwhile, San Francisco is aiming to win its 6th Super Bowl and their first since the 1994 season. A win for them would tie the 49ers with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots for the most all-time. Virginia Tech sports media expert and former ESPN analyst Anthony Amey is available to break down the history between the two teams, what a win means for the franchises, a push to dub Patrick Mahomes the greatest quarterback of all time – even at the age of just 28, the Taylor Swift effect on the game, and more.  

Taylor Swift effect and impact on the Super Bowl

This NFL season has been unlike any other and a big part of that is Taylor Swift being there to cheer on Travis Kelce and the Kansas City Chiefs. Now they’ve clinched a spot in the Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers and it’s expected she’ll attend - despite having a concert in Japan. Virginia Tech economist Jadrian Wooten says her likely attendance will continue to attract viewers who wouldn’t normally watch and that will result in a big return for Super Bowl advertisers who bought ad spots back in the Fall. Wooten is available to discuss more about the “Taylor Swift Effect” on the big game and what is likely to be one of the most watched Super Bowls.

2024 tax season begins today

Tax season is officially underway with a few changes from last year. The government is also rolling out its new pilot tax filing service. Virginia Tech finance expert Jesse Lineberry is available starting Tuesday to discuss what people need to know before filing and the changes they’ll see this year.

Bird populations are declining in North America

According to recent data, bird populations in North America have declined by approximately 2.9 billion birds, a loss of more than one in four birds since 1970. Ashley Dayer, an associate professor in the College of Natural Resources and Environment, says this bird loss will continue to grow unless changes are made in our daily lives. Dayer is available to explain why this is happening and what can be done to reverse the trend. More here.

Dayer also joins Virginia Tech’s “Curious Conversations” this week to talk about her work at the intersection of birds and humans, including a new project that explores the positive impact bird feeding has on human well being and general tips for the hobby.  

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

2024 Headlines in the News - experts available

Virginia Tech experts share their thoughts on what they expect to make headlines in 2024. Topics include climate change, artificial intelligence, the presidential election and more. For a full list of experts and those topics, click here.

Research Highlights

Virginia Tech research explores hybrid fostering of shelter dogs for improved canine welfare

Adoption can be challenging for man’s best friend, and Virginia Tech researchers are exploring ways to make the process better for dogs in animal shelters and increase community involvement.

With a grant totaling more than $135,000 from PetSmart Charities, researchers in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ School of Animal Sciences will work in collaboration with a PetSmart. During the day, the dogs will stay in one of PetSmart's Everyday Adoption Centers to be available for adoption by the public, and they will go home at night with their foster families.

More here.

Research project to map early modern travel

Imagine traveling without a GPS or the Google Maps app. A new digital project will provide a window into the ways that people traveled the world in early modern times.

With a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Rachel Midura, assistant professor of digital history at Virginia Tech, is researching the ways and challenges of travelers before the year 1700. By dissecting at least 86 travel itineraries or small books, Midura and a group of researchers will trace everything from the natural disasters that people encountered to the trade routes that they took across oceans and land, mostly throughout Europe. 

More here.

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