Expert Insights

University of Richmond faculty and staff are experts in their fields of study and chosen careers. Our experts have longstanding and ongoing research and expertise that adds perspective to the news of the day on a wide range of topics. The insights below include faculty-authored columns and research-based articles, as well as comments about headline news.

Recent Expert Insights

February 17, 2023
Extra SNAP benefits are ending as US lawmakers resume battle over program that helps low-income Americans buy food

Political science professor Tracy Roof authored this piece.

February 3, 2023
Civil rights legislation sparked powerful backlash that’s still shaping American politics

Leadership studies professor and historian Julian Hayter authored this piece.

January 3, 2023
This course teaches how to judge a book by its cover - and its pages, print and other elements of its design
Lynda Kachurek, head of book arts, archives, and rare books at the University of Richmond authored this piece.
December 5, 2022
Why does money exist?
M. Saif Mehkari, associate professor of economics, authored this piece.
November 18, 2022
Expert Comments
The Black Friday Shopping Season
Finance professor and retail expert Tom Arnold discusses Black Friday.
November 18, 2022
The Conversation
Why do frozen turkeys explode when deep-fried?
Just in time for Thanksgiving, chemistry professor Kristine Nolin explains the science behind the dangers of putting even a partially frozen turkey in a deep-fryer.
October 27, 2022
HBO's 'House of the Dragon' was inspired by a real medieval dynastic struggle over a female ruler
History professor David Routt authored this piece.
October 17, 2022
What is Fog Reveal? A legal scholar explains the app some police forces are using to track people without a warrant
Anne Toomey McKenna, visiting law professor, authored this piece.
September 29, 2022
Indigenous defenders stand between illegal roads and survival of the Amazon rainforest - Brazil's runoff election could be a turning point
David Salisbury, associate professor of geography, environment, and sustainability, authored this piece.
September 29, 2022
UN slavery estimate raises question: Are 50 million people really enslaved today?
Political science professor Monti Datta authored this piece.
September 26, 2022
How Chinese celebrities are amplifying official policy on Taiwan, pushing 'One China' messages to millions of fans online
Dan Chen, assistant professor of political science, and Gensong Gao, associate professor of Chinese studies, authored this piece.
September 22, 2022
The Justice Department's dilemma over prosecuting politicians before an election
Law professor Hank Chambers authored this piece.
September 6, 2022
Monkeypox is a national public health emergency in the U.S. - an epidemiologist explains what this means
Kathryn H. Jacobsen, an epidemiologist and professor of health studies, authored this piece.
August 26, 2022
A new US data privacy bill aims to give you more control over information collected about you - and make businesses change how they handle data
Anne Toomey McKenna, visiting law professor, authored this piece.
August 23, 2022
Slavery and war are tightly connected - but we had no idea just how much until we crunched the data
Political science professor Monti Datta coauthored this piece.
August 5, 2022
ADHD in adults is challenging but highly treatable - a clinical psychologist explains
Psychology professor Laura Knouse authored this piece.
August 2, 2022
Why declaring monkeypox a global health emergency is a preventative step - not a reason for panic
Kathryn H. Jacobsen, an epidemiologist and health studies professor, authored this piece.
July 29, 2022
The independent state legislature doctrine could reverse 200 years of progress and take power away from the people
Hank Chambers, professor of law, authored this piece.
July 18, 2022
When did the first fish live on Earth - and how do scientists figure out the timing?
Isaac Skromne, assistant professor of biology, authored this piece.
July 15, 2022
Is monkeypox a pandemic? An epidemiologist explains why it isn't likely to become as widespread as COVID-19, but is worth watching
Health studies professor Kathryn H. Jacobsen authored this piece.
July 11, 2022
What do molecules look like?

A molecule is a group of atoms bonded together. Molecules make up nearly everything around you – your skin, your chair, even your food.

June 27, 2022
BBQ Science: The chemistry of cooking over an open flame

Chemistry professor Kristine Nolin explains what makes smoky, charred barbecue taste so good.

June 6, 2022
Ukrainian refugees might not return, even long after the war ends
Political science professor Sandra Joireman explains why some people who are forcibly displaced choose not to return home.
June 2, 2022
Supreme Court allows states to use unlawfully gerrymandered congressional maps in the 2022 midterm elections
Hank Chambers, professor of law, authored this piece.
May 13, 2022
Biology with Tibetan Buddhist monks: What I'm taking back to my college classroom from teaching at a monastery
Dan Pierce, assistant professor of biology, authored this piece.
April 26, 2022
People of color have been missing in the disability rights movement - looking through history may help explain why

Jennifer Erkulwater, professor of political science, authored this piece.


April 4, 2022
Maps show - and hide - key information about Ukraine war
Timothy Barney, chair of the Department of Rhetoric and Communication Studies, authored this piece.
March 30, 2022
I no longer grade my students' work - and I wish I had stopped sooner
English professor Libby Gruner authored this piece.
March 9, 2022
Supreme Court inches towards deciding whether state legislatures can draw congressional districts largely free of court oversight
Hank Chambers, professor of law, authored this piece.
March 5, 2022
Sharing top-secret intelligence with the public is unusual - but helped the US rally the world against Russian aggression
The Conversation U.S. asked international relations scholar Stephen Long at the University of Richmond to analyze why the U.S. government made the choice to do this and what effect it had.
February 11, 2022
Supreme Court's ruling on Alabama voting map could open the door to a new Wild West of state redistricting

Hank Chambers, professor of law, authored this piece.

February 7, 2022
The Conversation
What's the difference between sugar, other natural sweeteners and artificial sweeteners? A food chemist explains sweet science
Chemistry professor Kristine Nolin, a food scientist, explores the science of sugar.
January 21, 2022
The Conversation
Online tools put will-writing in reach for most people - but they're not the end of the line for producing a legally binding document
Law professor Allison Tait, a trust and estate expert, authored this piece about physical and digital will writing.
January 1, 2022
The Conversation
Resolutions that stick
Health psychology professor Camilla Nonterah explains what successful New Year's resolutions have in common.


October 22, 2021
The Conversation
Tax or treat! State laws on candy taxation vary wildly
Law professor Hayes Holderness explains why not all candy is candy, at least in the eyes of tax law.
October 18, 2021
The Conversation
SNAP benefits are rising for millions of Americans, thanks to a long-overdue 'Thrifty Food Plan' update
Political science professor Tracy Roof explains factors impacting food assistance programs.
September 13, 2021
The Conversation
The invasive emerald ash borer has destroyed millions of trees - scientists aim to control it with tiny parasitic wasps
Biology professor Kristine Grayson explains how scientists are attempting to control an invasive pest that has destroyed millions of trees.
August 18, 2021
The Conversation
Tick bites: Every year is a bad tick year
Biology professor Jory Brinkerhoff, a disease ecologist, discusses the rise in tick-borne diseases across the U.S.
August 5, 2021
The Conversation
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the IPCC climate report - here's what you need to know and why it's a big deal
Geography professor Stephanie Spera talks about why the latest climate report is a "big deal."
August 4, 2021
The Conversation
Does outer space end -- or go on forever?
Physics professor Jack Singal, an astrophysicist, explores what is beyond outer space.
July 26, 2021
The Conversation
The EU wants a carbon tax on imports, but would it be the climate solution officials expect?
Economics professor Timothy Hamilton, an expert on environmental economics, explores whether carbon border taxes are an effective tool as countries try to slow climate change.
May 3, 2021
The Conversation
Why your mom may be the mother of all heroes
Just in time for Mother's Day, psychology professor Scott Allison, a leading expert on heroes, explains how mothers are masters at helping their children meet the full range of human needs.
March 2, 2021
The Conversation
Bipartisanship in Congress isn't about being nice - it's about cold hard numbers

New presidents often reach out across the aisle and for good reason.

February 12, 2021
The Conversation
How US Education Secretary nominee Miguel Cardona can stop the teacher shortage
SPCS education professor Bob Spires co-authored this piece.
February 11, 2021
The Conversation
UR's Wyatt Tee Walker collection shows the power of the civil rights movement
Boatwright Library is home to oral histories, journals, and other works from Walker, chief strategist for Martin Luther King Jr.
February 9, 2021
The Conversation
Do authors really put deeper meaning into poems and stories - or do readers make it up?

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, an English professor considers the roles of poets and readers in determining meaning. 

February 9, 2021
The Conversation
New steps the government's taking toward COVID-19 relief could help fight hunger
Political science professor Tracy Roof authored this piece.
February 1, 2021
The Conversation
Salt doesn't melt ice: Here's how it actually makes winter streets safe
Chemistry professor Julie Pollock authored this piece on the science behind how salt treats icy roads.
January 22, 2021
The Conversation
Customers hate tipping before they're served - and asking makes them less likely to return
Marketing professor Sara Hanson co-authored this piece in 2020 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
January 14, 2021
Column: Anthropologists with a Decade of Research on the U.S.-Mexico Border Weigh in on Trump's Border Wall
Anthropology professors Miguel Diaz-Barriga and Margaret Dorsey authored this piece..
December 16, 2020
The Conversation
A neuroscientist's tips for a new year tune up for your brain
Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience Kelly Lambert authored this piece in 2018 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
December 10, 2020
Rana Dajani Column: "I Believe COVID-19 Will Make Stronger and More Well-Rounded Students"
Jepson School of Leadership Studies Visiting Scholar Rana Dajani authored this piece.
October 28, 2020
The Conversation
No, President Trump, suburbia is no longer all white - and Black suburbanites are more politically active than their neighbors
Political science professor Ernest McGowen authored this piece.
October 27, 2020
The Conversation
SNAP benefits cost a total of $85.6B in the 2020 fiscal year amid heightened US poverty and unemployment
Political science professor Tracy Roof authored this piece.
October 27, 2020
The Conversation
Battlefields around the world are finding new purpose as parks and refuge
Geography and the environment professor Todd Lookingbill and biology professor Peter Smallwood authored this piece.
October 16, 2020
The Conversation
What is an algorithm? How computers know what to do with data
Computer science professor Jory Denny authored this piece.
October 8, 2020
The Conversation
Allies and foes watch as Trump fights the coronavirus
Political science professor Monti Datta authored this piece.
October 7, 2020
The Conversation
Trump's decade-old audit illustrates why the IRS targets the working poor as much as the rich
Law professor Hayes Holderness authored this piece.
September 15, 2020
The Conversation
Ancient DNA is revealing the genetic landscape of people who first settled in East Asia
Biology professor Melinda Yang authored this piece.
August 18, 2020
The Conversation: Nature and nurture both contribute to gender inequality in leadership - but that doesn't mean patriarchy is forever
Leadership Studies Professor Chris von Rueden, an Evolutionary Anthropologist, Authored This Piece.
August 6, 2020
Comments: Political Science Professor Shares Insights on COVID Legislative Package and Proposed SNAP Benefits
University of Richmond political science professor Tracy Roof, an expert on the history of supplemental nutrition assistance in the U.S., weighs in on the current congressional debate around nutritional assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 24, 2020
Comments: Trademark Professor Weighs in on Redskins, Other Teams Considering Name Changes; Less about Trademark, More About Business and PR
University of Richmond law professor Ashley Dobbs, who teaches and writes about both trademark and copyright law as part of her role as Director of Intellectual Property and Transactional Law Clinic, explains why the Redskins name change is less about the law and more about long-term business, financial, and public relations issues.
July 23, 2020
Comments: A Public Historian With a Passion for Fashion Reflects on the Industry's Response to BLM

Visiting Lecturer and Public Historian Lauranett Lee offers comments on the fashion and beauty industry's response to the Black Lives Matter Movement.  

July 22, 2020
The Conversation: How other countries reopened schools during the pandemic - and what the US can learn from them
Assistant Professor of Education Bob Spires, An Expert on Comparative International Education, Authored This Piece.
July 16, 2020
Comments: Constitutional Law Scholar and Death Penalty Expert Comments on Daniel Lewis Lee Execution
Law professor Corinna Lain, a lethal injection expert, comments on recent high profile executions.
July 16, 2020
Comments: Environmental Journalist Weighs in on the Near-Extinct 'Redwolves' - A Contending Replacement Mascot for the NFL's Redskins
As the NFL Redskins team explores the possibility of a name change to the 'Redwolves,' Visiting Senior Research Scholar Steven Nash, a seasoned environmental and science reporter, comments on the near-extinct species and how politics are at play.
July 14, 2020
Comments: How the COVID-19 Pandemic is Highlighting the Pitfalls of Humanitarian Aid
Professor Rania K. Sweis, a medical anthropologist, has studied humanitarian aid in North Africa and the Middle East. She explains why she isn't surprised to see global aid trend downward in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
July 13, 2020
The Conversation: Lyme disease symptoms could be mistaken for COVID-19, with serious consequences

University of Richmond biology professor Jory Brinkerhoff, a disease ecologist, has studied tick-borne illnesses as part of his academic research for many years, but this year he identified a trend he’s concerned could cause additional challenges this summer. Flu-like symptoms that could be the result of a tick-transmitted disease also mimic COVID-19 symptoms.