University faculty provide expertise, depth in the news

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

UNC Charlotte’s faculty members are quoted often and widely in the news media about current topics, ranging from the presidential transition to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the dangers of misinformation in social media. Interviewed extensively over the years by local news outlets, faculty members increasingly are sought after by national media for their expertise and opinions.

“The University’s impressive faculty experts are requested by news media on a daily basis to provide relevant, comprehensive commentary on topics and events that are in the news cycle and moving at a fast pace,” said Buffie Stephens, director of external media relations. “The topics vary widely and are sometimes controversial. Faculty provide an objective perspective based on their research, and they are an important resource for journalists.”

Karen Cox

History professor and Confederacy monument expert Karen L. Cox recently penned an op-ed for CNN about the state of New York’s ban on Confederate imagery, and one for the New York Times titled “What Trump shares with the ‘Lost Cause’ of the Confederacy.” She is the author of the forthcoming book, "No Common Ground: Confronting the Legacy of Confederate Monuments."

“While many people primarily associate Confederate imagery, very often the battle flag, with White Southerners who have used them to intimidate African Americans in their fight for racial justice since the 19th century, the New York ban illustrates that the use of this emblem for similar purposes has found a home far beyond the borders of the former Confederacy,” Cox wrote. 

“(New York Gov. Andrew) Cuomo and the backers of this measure aren't the first New Yorkers to recognize that the Confederate battle flag is a Northern problem, too.”

Eric Heberlig

On Jan. 7, political science professor Eric Heberlig, whose expertise spans the politics of Congress, interest groups, political conventions and elections, and campaign finance, participated on a recent panel on WFAE radio’s Charlotte Talks that covered the details of the previous day’s attack on the U.S. Capitol. He also was interviewed by Charlotte’s Fox 46 for a story about the pressure to remove President Trump from office prior to Inauguration Day.

Heberlig was asked if Trump would be banned from running for president in 2024 if he was convicted by the new Democratic majority in the Senate after he leaves office.

“There’s nothing I’m aware of that would say you couldn’t do it after the fact to prevent them from running again,” he said. “But it’s something that no one has really ever anticipated or thought through.”

Heberlig’s deep knowledge of political conventions was sought from across the country and around the globe in summer 2020, prior to the Republican and Democratic conventions. He was quoted in Sputnik International, and he was a featured guest for the Foreign Press Center’s information session for international journalists, “Elections 2020: Understanding the U.S. Political Party Conventions.” In September, he appeared on NBC's Today Show for a segment about the vote tabulation process from state to state. 

Rob Cramer

Public Health professor Rob Cramer’s op-ed for Psychology Today expressed rationale, based on decades of social science research, for invoking the 25th Amendment. “Violence begets violence through observing people committing violence and being rewarded for it,” Cramer wrote.

Heather Freeman

Also on Fox 46, art professor Heather Freeman said misinformation and disinformation spread on social media channels helped fuel events such as the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

“People like things that get them upset. They like things that are exciting. They like things that get them angry or get them laughing,” Freeman said. “So, we tend to be triggered by strong emotional responses. They just want to keep us on these platforms. That’s their only goal. In order to do that, they take us down these rabbit holes.”

Michael Thompson

With COVID-19 continually in the forefront, UNC Charlotte’s faculty are frequently sought for their input. Michael Thompson, associate professor of public health sciences, offered his expertise about local hospital capacity to an article in the Charlotte Observer, warning that a “looming surge could happen gradually, with family and friends traveling to see one another over the lengthy holiday season.”

Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson, a history professor whose latest research explores the development of the “military industrial complex” in the U.S. during the second half of the 20th century, was interviewed by in regard to the Biden administration’s plan for COVID-19 surge testing, and how its deployment might compare to the management of resources during World War II.

Cliff Scott

Cliff Scott, professor of organizational science and communication studies, was asked by Charlotte Agenda whether employers can require their staff to get a coronavirus vaccine before they return to in-person work. For employers, there are sensitive issues to consider beyond just what’s legal, he said.

If employers require the vaccine, they’d have to make some exceptions (i.e., medical conditions or pregnancy, religious objections). “The worker’s individual situation may be more complicated than the employer knows,” Scott said. He added it is a delicate balance for an employer to consider the need for a safe working environment with the need to protect employees’ rights.

For a complete look at UNC Charlotte’s recent faculty media participation, visit In the Media on Inside UNC Charlotte. To learn about faculty experts, visit UNC Charlotte’s Experts Guide.