University of Richmond experts for holiday stories

Holiday Experts

Rob Andrejewski

Eco-Friendly Holiday Tips

Rob Andrejewski, director of sustainability, provides tips to ensure an eco-friendly holiday season.

"Know someone who’s hard to shop for? Instead of buying an item for them, give an experience like a ticket to a concert or make a donation to their favorite charity. Carpool to nearby holiday events. Travel longer distances by bus or train instead of flying. Buy from local shops, makers, restaurants, and farmers when choosing holiday gifts and snacks," said Andrejewski.

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Tom Arnold

Holiday Retail

Tom Arnold, finance professor, can speak to holiday shopping trends including consumer spending predictions, physical vs. online sales, and more retail stories.

"When viewing the retail landscape, supply chain issues have mostly disappeared -- however, inflation and distribution/transportation costs are still problematic even as inflation starts to stabilize. The fact is, items have become more expensive and continue to get more expensive. The consumer has still been spending, however, with consumer credit debt increasing and getting more expensive as interest rates rise. An eventual reduction in spending may occur, but I do not see it likely during this holiday season." 

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Hayes Holderness

Hayes Holderness

Law professor Hayes Holderness, a tax law expert, can discuss why certain types of candy are taxed while others are not.

"Picture your two favorite candies; mine are Sour Patch Kids and Kit Kat. But looking at many state’s sales tax laws, one of my favorites isn’t actually ’candy,’" said Holderness. "Because of its flour content Kit Kat is simply food, which isn’t so bad a deal. That means it is subject to reduced tax rates available for basic necessities such as food and medicine. So break me off a piece of that tax-free bar!"

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Andy Kerscher

Holiday Cooking

Andy Kerscher, chef de cuisine, can offer cooking tips for home cooks and chefs on improving their meals throughout the holiday season.

"Try to bring the comfort of home and the holiday traditions that guests are familiar with in order to give them an experience that is memorable and exciting, while also starting their own traditions," Kerscher said.

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Kelly Lambert

New Year's Brain Tune Up

Kelly Lambert, professor of behavioral neuroscience, can offer tips for tuning up your brain in the New Year.

"When the calendar flips to a new year, it’s common to reflect on the past and look to the future. According to the neuroscience literature, this anticipation could be one of the most pleasurable – and healthy – tasks our brains engage in all year long,” said Lambert.

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Kristine Nolin

Deep-Fried Turkeys

Kristine Nolin, chemistry professor, can discuss the science behind deep frying turkeys.

"Deep-frying a turkey is a great way to get a delicious, moist meal for Thanksgiving. But this method of cooking can be a very dangerous undertaking," said Nolin.

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Camilla Nonterah

Sticking to Your Resolutions

Camilla Nonterah is a counseling psychologist who can suggest how to stick to New Year's resolutions.

“Change for the right reasons. Change for a desire to improve one’s health, to be a better example for your family or to prolong your life, are more likely to motivate positive change,” Nonterah said.

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Jennifer O'Donnell


Jennifer O'Donnell, biology instructor and animal care expert, cares for and studies a variety of tarantulas, including Tarrant, the Spider men's basketball team's live mascot.

“Caring for Tarrant and our other spider friends has been a rewarding experience for the biology department, for me, and for the University of Richmond community as a whole," said O’Donnell. “Spiders are fascinating creatures, and we are grateful for the opportunity to keep learning about them and sharing our love of all spiders.”

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Janelle Peifer

Christmas Creep

Janelle Peifer, psychology professor, can discuss "Christmas Creep" and why it's stressful.

"The creep of the holidays can trigger feelings of inadequacy for some," said Peifer. "People may wonder, ‘Am I behind the curve on preparing for the holidays? What if I can’t afford the trappings of the holidays being presented? Am I letting down myself or my family in some way?"

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Julie Pollock

Food Science & Holiday Nutrition

Julie Pollock, a chemistry professor and biochemist, can discuss the science behind some holiday favorites, including how to maximize nutritional value. For example, if buttered collard greens are a standard on your Thanksgiving table, that’s a good thing. 

“The vitamins in greens are fat soluble and need to be consumed with a fat for you to experience the full nutritional value and absorb the vitamins,” Pollock said. “Eating greens plain may give you some fiber, but it’s a waste of vitamins. It’s a great way to feel better about butter!”

Collard greens — a stand-in for green bean casserole at the holidays for some families — provide the following vitamins if consumed with a fat: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and vitamin B-6. They are also a good source of calcium, iron, and magnesium.

She can also speak to how different types of fats affect pie crust.

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Heather Sadowski

Holiday Wellness

Heather Sadowski, director of health promotion, can speak to meeting wellness goals despite holiday temptations. 

"When it comes to food, remember the three “M’s” – moderation, mindfulness, and move," she said. She also recommends eating a high protein snack shortly before attending a holiday party.

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