They are frequently quoted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and other major newspapers, and you can catch them being interviewed on National Public Radio or watch them on the latest episode of NOVA.
Our professors, scientists, and lecturers are go-to sources when reporters look for analysis of current events or need help explaining complicated issues. In fact, these experts appear in local, national, and international news media hundreds of times each month. Given their visibility, it’s easy to overlook their expertise with topics that hit much closer to home.
For example, take Phil Pellitteri, a veteran entomologist who cheerily takes questions from both reporters and the general public about all manner of insects that invade the home or garden. Some people simply email him photos of pesky critters, asking both, “What is this?” and “How do I get rid of it?” Scott Craven, a professor of wildlife ecology, gets similar inquiries from people who want to help injured birds in their yards or who hope to identify snakes that have taken up residence in their garden sheds.
Pellitteri and Craven are not the exception but the rule. Other UW experts field a range of questions — from a woman wondering about the origin of artwork purchased at an estate sale, to a grandparent concerned about a grandchild’s picky eating, to a school-age boy working on a science project about microbes.
The On Wisconsin staff began pondering things that we really wanted to know, devising our own list of questions about relationships, raising kids, talking politics, and choosing pets, to name a few. We were confident that we could find the answers without having to leave campus, and we were right.