February is always a month full of commemorative events: Valentine’s Day, Black History Month, sometimes the Super Bowl, and people start gearing up for tax season. For UNLV this year, February brought notable events including the historic landing of NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover – whose future work will be assisted by two university geoscientists – and full accreditation for our School of Medicine. University experts also continued to offer insight as an end to the pandemic came into view. Below are a few highlights from the professors, students, and UNLV making history in February.
UNLV School of Medicine Gains Accreditation
The UNLV School of Medicine gained full accreditation before the charter class of medical students graduates in May. Approved by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, the accreditation certifies the university’s standards for structure, function, and performance. The three-step process began in 2016, a year before the first class entered the program in July 2017. The accreditation is yet another milestone as the School of Medicine projects to finish construction on its permanent facility in 2022.
Black History Month
February marked Black History Month – a celebration of renowned African-American leaders, landmarks, and culture, as well the recognition of struggles African-Americans faced throughout our nation’s history. This year, new and ongoing crises, such as COVID-19 and structural racism, have overwhelmed the second largest minority in the country. UNLV professors, students, and staff addressed the dilemmas and identified positive steps for change.
UNLV and the Mission To Mars
Hearts stopped this February as the world watched NASA’s rover, Perseverance, finally land on planet Mars. The mission: Collect rock samples and seek any signs of ancient Martian life. Who would be better candidates than UNLV geoscientists Arya Udry and Elisabeth (Libby) Hausrath? Udry and Hausrath — who were selected by NASA to identify and research the rock samples — answered questions about their work with the rover and research on Martian geology.
McCarran Airport Renaming Approved
Since its establishment in 1947, Las Vegas’s primary international airport has been named after late Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran. Now, after years of controversy and careful consideration, the Clark County Board of Commissioners approved a name change to the Harry Reid International Airport, based on the former senator’s legacy in the Silver State. UNLV history professor Michael Green and African American and African Diaspora Studies professor Tyler D. Parry spoke to the media about the history and significance behind the name.
Super Bowl Stories
It’s what everyone had been waiting for – the 55th annual Super Bowl arrived amid worries of a COVID-related cancellation. Arguably the nation’s most beloved sporting event came with a series of questions, such as the pandemic’s influence in sports betting and the safety measures behind gatherings. Nonetheless, the Super Bowl brought solace to Americans as the nation inched toward a year-long quarantine. UNLV experts and a notable UNLV student found ways to make the most of the Super Bowl during the height of the pandemic.
Vaccines, Double-Masking, and More
February brought yet more hurdles surrounding the coronavirus. While the number of vaccinated Americans increased, so did the dangers of the virus as several new COVID-19 strains arose throughout the country. UNLV experts talk about local vaccine distribution, as well as the extra safety measures that can be taken when engaging with the outside world.
- UNLV has taken part in distributing vaccines for Nevada residents. UNLV nursing student Bianca Rodriguez-Villanueva described her experience to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and nursing student Kelsey Thompson caught up with KVVU-TV: Fox 5.
- The School of Medicine’s Michael Gardner explained to KVVU-TV: FOX 5 how vaccine distribution offers UNLV students clinical experience.
- Bioethics director Johan C. Bester weighed in on the benefits of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, AstraZeneca’s vaccine missteps, and vaccine hunters: ABC 6 On Your Side, Insider, Verywell Health
- Public health professor Brian Labus and Deborah Kuhls, director of the UNLV Medicine Surgical Critical Care Fellowship Program encouraged double-masking amid higher COVID-19 numbers:
- Labus and Distinguished Fellow in Responsible Gaming Alan Feldman reviewed Las Vegas deaths and tourism declines in the AP.
- Labus reported the current statistics of COVID-19 cases in Nevada:
- Hospitality and Esports Laboratory director Robert Rippee explained how the pandemic has sped up casino innovations in The Press-Enterprise.
- Architecture professor Dak Kopec explained how COVID-19 can influence home design on BU News Service.
- Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine professor Edwin Oh explained how to detect COVID variants in sewage water on KVVU-TV: FOX 5 (twice) and KSNV-TV: News 3.
General Expert Roundup
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