Experts Guide

Supreme Court

Senate hearings for Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the US Supreme Court are under way in Washington, DC, this week. If appointed, he would have a hand in interpreting the Constitution and thus shaping the nation’s laws relating to primary issues including immigration and deportation; presidential power; free speech; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights, said Richard Pacelle, head of UT’s Department of Political Science. Read more.

Healthcare and ACA Replacement Plan

Robert Lieberthal

Robert Lieberthal is an assistant professor in the department of public health. His research focuses on health economics with a particular emphasis on the efficiency and effectiveness of health insurance.

He can speak about what the proposed Affordable Care Act replacement would mean for health insurance markets, especially in Tennessee; how the rate of uninsured might change, especially in Tennessee; and how the burden of premiums and out of pocket costs would change for individuals.

He is the author of “What is Health Insurance (Good) For? An Examination of Who Gets It, Who Pays for It, and How to Improve It.” Read more.

Sesame Street’s Newest Puppet, Julia

Tom Beeson is the program coordinator for FUTURE, which helps young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make a successful transition from high school to adult life by providing career counseling and developing academic, vocational, and decision-making skills. Beeson can discuss the addition of Julia, a character with autism, to Sesame Street, and the impact that has on awareness and perception of autism. Read more.

Trump’s Andrew Jackson Connection

President Donald Trump visited The Hermitage on the 250th anniversary of Andrew Jackson’s birth to lay a wreath at his grave. UT history professor Daniel Feller stood 50 feet from him as he delivered a speech from the home’s front porch. Feller said Trump drew a series of analogies between himself and Jackson, saying they were both men of the people, loved by common folk, and disliked by the Washington elite. Read more.

Gasoline and Diesel Taxes

Taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel could be going up in order to fill a funding gap between state and federal systems to maintain and update Tennessee’s aging highways and bridges. 

Matthew Murray, director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and associate director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, is an expert in state tax policy and has been studying the impact of fuel taxes in recent years. Read more.

Mark Burton, director of transportation economics at the Center for Transportation Research, helped lead the update of the state’s transportation funding plan, including a review of the gas tax, the changing nature of the revenue model and expenditures, and comparing and contrasting Tennessee’s system with other states. He can address the gas tax proposal, transportation funding, the current status of the system, and future concerns and potential problems. Read more.


Minority Groups in Today’s Climate

Grzanka photoPatrick Grzanka, assistant professor of psychology, can address fears that immigrants, people of color, Muslims, sexual and gender minorities, and any minority group might be facing. Read more.

Michael Higdon, director of legal writing and associate professor of law, is an expert on issues related to LGBTQ rights and same-sex marriage. Higdon’s scholarship focuses on the stigmatizing effects discriminatory laws pose to the LGBTQ community. Having taught family law for nearly a decade, Higdon can address the changing definition of family in American jurisprudence. Read more.

Summer Solar Eclipse

On August 21, much of the USA will plunge into darkness during a continent-wide total solar eclipse. The zone of totality, where stars could briefly come out in the middle of the day, crosses 12 states from Oregon to South Carolina.

Mark Littmann‘s focus is science writing and writing about astronomy. He directs the Science Communication program, teaches three different science-writing courses, and serves as program chairman for the UT Science Forum. Read more.