Experts Guide

Sports as a Shared Experience

The fevered revelry of the NCAA college basketball tournament begins this weekend with millions of fans filling the stands and tuning in to watch their favorite teams compete. That collective experience is powerful and influences how our brains process information related to that event.

“College sports transform one’s identity from an ‘I’ into a ‘we,’ ” says Garriy Shteynberg, associate professor of psychology. “As a consequence, when we witness college sports, we experience them from a collective perspective evoking more passionate emotions and loyalties.”

Shteynberg studies how shared experiences with social groups influence what we remember, the goals we pursue, and the things we value. He investigates both the nature of shared experiences—what makes an experience shared—as well as how shared experiences can lead to the emergence of novel cultural norms.

Social Media & Terrorism

Nick Geidner

Social media played a part in a recent terror attack in New Zealand. The attacker used a body camera to live-stream directly to Facebook. Facebook says it removed 1.5 million videos within the first 24 hours of the attack.

Nick Geidner is an associate professor of journalism whose interest focuses on social media. He is an expert on the spread of content on social media and the use of social media by hate groups. 

Tornado Season

Kelsey Ellis

Kelsey Ellis is a physical geographer specializing in meteorology and climatology. Her research focuses mainly on extreme and hazardous weather, including hurricanes, tornadoes, and extreme temperatures and precipitation. She also studies the climate variability across urban neighborhoods.

Regional Earthquakes

A series of earthquakes and aftershocks in the region have raised alarm and prompted questions about the frequency of seismic activity in East Tennessee.

Robert Hatcher

Robert Hatcher is a distinguished scientist and professor of tectonics and structural geology. He is an expert on Tennessee and Appalachian geology and the East Tennessee seismic zone.

Measles Outbreak & Vaccinations

Outbreaks of once-rare diseases are becoming more common as parents eschew vaccinations based on misinformation on social media and debunked junk science.

Elizabeth Avery Foster

Elizabeth Avery Foster, an associate professor of public relations, focuses on political and public health campaigns and crisis communications.

Opioid Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported that more than 63,600 people died from drug overdoses in 2016; more than two-thirds of those were due to opioids. It was the worst year on record — and even more families lost loved ones to opioids in 2017, according to STAT News.

Shandra Forrest-Bank

Shandra Forrest-Bank, assistant professor of social work, has expertise in the transition to adulthood, risk and resilience, and positive youth development. Her main focus is understanding how poverty and racism are factors impacting young adult trajectories. Read more.

Aaron Brown

Aaron Brown, a PhD student in the College of Social Work, is studying opioid addiction and relapse prevention. He has worked as a residential tech at a group home, then as a case manager, and later as a counselor and LCSW. His clinical practice was focused on the treatment of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and substance use disorders. Read more.

David Patterson

David Patterson, Cooper-Herron Endowed Professor in Mental Health Research and Practice, is the director of the College of Social Work’s DSW program.  He has developed curriculum related to evidence-based substance abuse treatment and is the principle investigator for HUD’s Knox Region’s Homeless Management Information System. Read more

Sustainable Transportation

Candace Brakewood focuses on “smart” transportation systems and aims to use new information and communication technologies to improve urban transportation networks. Her expertise includes public transportation, shared mobility, transportation planning, and intelligent transportation systems.

Chris Cherry

Chris Cherry is an expert in environmentally friendly modes of transportation including e-bikes. His expertise includes transportation planning, public transportation systems, environmental impacts of transportation, and transportation infrastructure in developing countries.

David Clarke

David Clarke, director of the Center for Transportation Research, is focused on railways, transportation planning, freight systems, and transportation safety. Clarke says that when we think about sustainable transportation, we can look to railways for a path forward.

Thomas K. Davis

Thomas K. Davis‘s primary interest is in addressing problems and opportunities in urban and architectural design, with an emphasis on transit-oriented development. Davis’s students are working with the Nashville Civic Design Center to contribute to Nashville’s long-range vision for urban core and mixed-use developments along the waterfront to transit-oriented developments, micro-housing residences, and a new visitor center for Centennial Park.

David Greene‘s research interests are focused on energy use in transportation and policies to reduce petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions and achieving a transition to sustainable energy sources. He has published extensively on automotive fuel economy. How technology and policy can accomplish a transition to sustainable energy for transportation is a current focus of his research and modeling. Other research interests include the costs to the US economy of petroleum dependence, the “rebound effect” of increased vehicle use due to increased fuel economy, and modeling consumers’ choices of vehicles and fuels.

Lee Han

Lee Han is one of the leading authorities on traffic in the United States. He has been called on for his expertise in everything from the impact of red light cameras to developing transportation plans. He uses modeling and simulations to study the impact of various factors on traffic grids and is instrumental in bringing new technologies into traffic planning and use. He is partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and works on developing intelligent transportation systems.

David "Butch" Irick

David “Butch” Irick is faculty sponsor of the university’s EcoCar program. His areas of focus include emissions and performance testing for automobiles, hybrid vehicle design and integration, alternative fuel development and use, and computer integrated manufacturing.

Jonathan Overly is a research associate in the Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment and executive director of East Tennessee Clean Fuels. He has been in the advanced fuels and vehicles industry since 1997, and in 2001, he founded the nonprofit East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition, a designated partner in the US DOE Clean Cities program.