Experts Guide

Anniversary of Virginia Tech Shootings

The Virginia Tech massacre, the second deadliest mass shooting incident in U.S. history, occurred 10 years ago, on April 16, 2007.

Ashley Maynordigital humanities librarian and filmmaker, was working at Virginia Tech at the time and watched as a flood of condolence cards, teddy bears and other things began pouring into the area.

Five years later, on December 14, 2012, she watched as the world responded with a similar flood of gifts as people mourned the children and adults killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

These two experiences prompted Maynor to channel her grief into a scholarly project examining what inspires people to send condolence gifts and what happens to this “stuff” when the news subsides and a new normal sets in. Maynor compiled her findings into “The Story of The Stuff,” a web documentary about grief and mourning. Read more about Maynor.

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.


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.