Top stories of 2021: University experts helped provide fact-based COVID knowledge

The good news was that Nevada Today readers increasingly turned to site for news they could use

Deans Thomas and Muge in front of building

Among the most viewed Nevada Today stories of 2021 was a series of COVID-19-related "Ask the Professor" stories that featured the expertise of two of the campus' most respected public health administrators and practitioners, Dean Debera Thomas of the Orvis School of Nursing and Dean Muge Akpinar-Elci of the School of Public Health.

Top stories of 2021: University experts helped provide fact-based COVID knowledge

The good news was that Nevada Today readers increasingly turned to site for news they could use

Among the most viewed Nevada Today stories of 2021 was a series of COVID-19-related "Ask the Professor" stories that featured the expertise of two of the campus' most respected public health administrators and practitioners, Dean Debera Thomas of the Orvis School of Nursing and Dean Muge Akpinar-Elci of the School of Public Health.

Deans Thomas and Muge in front of building

Among the most viewed Nevada Today stories of 2021 was a series of COVID-19-related "Ask the Professor" stories that featured the expertise of two of the campus' most respected public health administrators and practitioners, Dean Debera Thomas of the Orvis School of Nursing and Dean Muge Akpinar-Elci of the School of Public Health.

If there was any positive news associated with 2021, it might just be how far we’ve all come in how we seek information regarding COVID-19.

This isn’t to say there is misinformation out there. There is enough out there to ensure that the COVID-19 will continue to persist into the new year, if not beyond.

And yet Nevada Today, the University’s online news hub, did what it could to help disseminate creditable, fact- and science-based news and information related to COVID that the students, faculty, staff as well as its broader readership, could use. Nevada Today’s three most viewed stories for the year reflected this fact in perhaps its most tangible way ever.

All three of the most viewed Nevada Today stories for 2021 were COVID-related. All three stories featured what the University does best – provide the expertise of faculty members whose professional training, experience and insight into a particular field’s science and research can make a world of difference in the public health choices a person will make.

In fact, Nevada Today’s top three most viewed stories for 2021 were overwhelmingly the top stories in a way that has never happened previously. The top three stories – “Is the vaccine riskier than getting COVID”; “If vaccinated people can get COVID, why should I get vaccinated?”’; “Five COVID-19 vaccine myths debunked” – were viewed nearly 79,000 times throughout 2021. None of the other stories on this year’s top 25 most viewed list even got close to this type of interaction, with none of them reaching even 6,000 views.

What does this say about 2021?

People needed information about the vaccines as vaccine mandates were implemented throughout the nation, in Nevada and on campus. And in the case of Nevada Today’s top three stories, information was provided through knowledge provided by the University’s current deans of the Orvis School of Nursing and the School of Public Health, as well as a former dean of the School of Public Health and a longtime infectious disease expert.

As much as the information was helpful and fact- and science-based, perhaps the sum of the three stories might have been best stated by Dr. Trudy Larson, M.D., the former dean of the School of Public Health and longtime University faculty member whose experience with infectious diseases reaches back more than three decades, not only in the United States but in foreign countries in helping battle previous pandemics.

“I’m here to talk to you about COVID, specifically COVID vaccines,” Larson said in the video, “Five COVID-19 vaccine myths debunked,” which was viewed more than 19,000 times. “I want to give you information so that you feel confident to get vaccinated and get back to your life.”

Although it wasn’t linear, there were instances of life achieving something resembling normalcy during 2021, as was evident in the top 25 most viewed stories of 2021.

The ninth most viewed story, “Initial fleet of autonomous food delivery robots have already ascended onto the University campus,” spoke to what has now become a delightful and commonplace sight -- the white, box-like autonomous food delivery robots who quietly and determinedly make their way about campus delivering much-needed sustenance to students, faculty and staff. The robots, part of a launch brought out about between an agreement between Starship Delivery and Chartwells Higher Education, were seen throughout the fall toting sometimes up to the equivalent of three shopping bags of food throughout campus.

Achievement by the people of the University also registered well throughout 2021.

The 16th-most viewed story featured a bit of University history, as 2021 would be remembered as the year that the University had its most National Science Foundation CAREER awards earned by members of the faculty.

Krysta Palmer, a volunteer assistant coach for the women’s diving team and the Wolf Pack’s greatest diver ever, won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, a story that checked in at No. 25 most viewed for the year.

The University’s proven knowledge for science-based issues confronting the world wasn’t just evident regarding COVID, either. As wildfire raged throughout the West in 2021 and even threatened the Tahoe Basin with the mammoth Caldor Fire, University researchers were there to provide useful tools in detecting the fires and in understanding what the future of climate change will mean to the Earth.

In “Thermal cameras installed by ALERTWildfire to help firefighters see through Caldor Fire smoke,” the year’s fifth-most viewed story, spoke to how an already successful fire detection technology spearheaded by University researchers had pivoted during the fire to help firefighters battle the Caldor Fire. “Scientists keep watch on climate and weather as drought grips Nevada,” spoke of an interdisciplinary approach by Extension, including the Nevada State Climate Office, in helping Nevadans live and do business in an increasingly drier and hotter world.

In fact, it was a line from Loretta Singletary, a longtime Extension interdisciplinary outreach liaison and economist for Extension in the story about Nevada drought, that might also have summed up the top stories of 2021 as well.

As much as the world was filled with turbulence, whether it was COVID-19, global climate change or other challenges facing humankind, Nevada and the University in 2021, there was always the chance that if people could come together and work in harmony for a shared future, there was always a hopeful possibility that things could get better.

We always “need to adapt accordingly,” was how Singletary put it when talking about water use and drought strategies in Nevada.

It wasn’t a bad way to put it. For just about everything in 2021.

Here are the top 25 most-viewed Nevada stories or 2021:

  1. Is the vaccine riskier than getting COVID? – 33,509 views
  2. If vaccinated people can get COVID, why should I get vaccinated? – 26,267 views
  3. Five COVID-19 vaccine myths debunked – 19,162 views
  4. Hennessey Capital Management funds new student investment competition – 5,087 views
  5. Thermal cameras installed by ALERTWildfire to help firefighters see through Caldor Fire smoke – 4,627 views
  6. Does talking about suicide make someone more likely to commit suicide? – 3,958 views
  7. Anthropologists debunk popular theory that Native Americans originated from Japan – 3,826 views
  8. Are female leaders better during a pandemic? – 3,810 views
  9. Initial fleet of autonomous food delivery robots have already ascended onto the University campus – 3,531 views
  10. COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students approved by Nevada State Board of HealthB – 3,466 views
  11. Titanium and ultraviolet light powerful combination against SARS-CoV-2 virus – 2,940 views
  12. Why does everyone want me to get vaccinated? – 2,583 views
  13. DARPA international robotics challenge won by University of Nevada, Reno teamD – 2,516 views
  14. Study shows cactus pear as drought-tolerant crop for sustainable fuel and food – 2,434 views
  15. Most ever CAREER Awards received by University faculty – 2,339 views
  16. Scientists keep watch on climate and weather as drought grips Nevada – 2,208 views
  17. Mercury levels in pet food cause for concern, fish-based foods main culprit – 2,188 views
  18. What is the "Science of Reading," and why does it matter? – 2,087 views
  19. Nevada athletics to require proof of vaccination for men's and women's home basketball games – 1,963 views
  20. Vision 2021: The Nevada Economic Forecast – 1,930 views
  21. Improving health by studying gut bacteria – 1,929 views
  22. What is a breakthrough infection? – 1,881 views
  23. Ultraviolet-C LED test confirms sterilization of human coronavirus at distance of 5 feet in 8 seconds – 1,865 views
  24. "Let's Vax the Pack" kicks off with vaccination events, prizes – 1,848 views
  25. Krysta Palmer, the Wolf Pack's woman of bronze – 1,812 views

 

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