Informing the Debate

UT Knoxville is a member institution of The Conversation—an independent source for news articles and informed analysis written by the academic community and edited by journalists for the public. Through our partnership, we seek to provide a better understanding of the important faculty research at UT.

Faculty write articles that can inform public debate through responsible, ethical, and relevant evidence-based journalism. The Conversation provides a fact-based and editorially independent forum, free of commercial or political bias. Since our partnership began earlier this year, several faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences have published articles with The Conversation.

Derek Alderman, a professor of geography, studies cultural and historical geography with a specific focus on public memory, race, heritage tourism, social/spatial justice, and politics of geographic mobility and travel – all with the goal of advancing our understanding of the American South. A seasoned writer for The Conversation, Alderman’s most recent piece, “Closing polling places is the 21st century’s version of a poll tax,” was published March 3, 2020.

Kelsey Ellis, an assistant professor of geography who specializes in applied meteorology and climatology and uses a variety of statistical and spatial analysis methods in further our understanding of tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and human-environment interactions, wrote “Tornadoes that strike at night are more deadly and require more effective warning systems,” published March 5, 2020.

Rachel McCord and Rebecca Prosser in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, co-authored a piece in February titled “Potential gene therapy to combat cocaine addiction.” McCord, an assistant professor, studies the basic features and building blocks of the 3D genome structure and investigates how the 3D genome structure responses or maintains its robustness during biologically relevant or physical stress or disruption. Professor Prosser focuses on circadian rhythms used in the mammalian circadian clock and investigates the cellular mechanisms through which mammalian circadian clock phases can be modulated.

Solange Muñoz, an assistant professor of geography who explores how the poor struggle to live and remain in the city despite government practices and policies and economic structures that exclude them from access to formal housing, wrote “The coronavirus pandemic is making the US housing crisis even worse,” published April 17, 2020.

Nicolas Nagle, an associate professor of geography whose research centers on the design and analytics of population surveys, wrote “Census 2020 will protect your privacy more than ever – but at the price of accuracy,” published April 6, 2020.

Christopher Ojeda, an assistant professor of political science who explores how poverty and poor mental health, among other issues, shape the way citizens think about and engage with politics, wrote “Post-election grief is real, and here are 5 coping strategies – including getting back into politics,” published Nov. 5, 2020.

Brandon Prins, a professor of political science whose research focuses on the relationship between domestic politics, international relations, and militarized conflict, published “Global sea piracy ticks upward, and the coronavirus may make it worse,” May 5, 2020.

Jeremy Smith, Governor’s Chair Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology and director of the UT/ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics, published an article in June about his research efforts to understand the novel coronavirus titled “Scientists tap the world’s most powerful computers in the race to understand and stop the coronavirus.” Smith performs research at the interface of biological, environmental, physical, and computational and neutron sciences. His goal is to study and understand the function of biologically relevant molecular systems by employing high-performance computer simulations in combination with biophysical experiments.

Deadric Williams, an assistant professor of sociology, focuses his research on two general themes – racism and families and stress, couples’ relationships, and health. Williams published “When police stop Black men, the effects reach into their homes and families,” August 28, 2020.

Our partnership with The Conversation is a great opportunity to engage the public in research conducted by UT faculty. Tennesseans and others can access a diverse range of critical research, demystifying academic inquiry by keeping it in the public eye. UT’s scholars can help provide insight into society’s biggest problems. The Conversation’s content is freely available to news outlets of all sizes in communities around the world— from Tennessee’s smallest towns to the world’s largest cities.

Read all articles published by UT faculty here.