Published May 11, 2021
Photo credit: Suburbia by David Shankbone
The roller coaster of supply and demand has a tragic racial component, made painfully visible in today’s housing market. Meanwhile, the natural world offers both treasure and trouble, and the challenges facing everyday heroes come into focus. Rutgers experts address all these issues on a wide range of news platforms.
Donna Murch, associate professor of history in the School of Arts and Sciences, writes a Star-Ledger op-ed about disturbing currents in the real estate market, especially those affecting people of color who are searching for a home. “There is no question that the intensity of the spring seller’s market is the product of multiple, painful realities,” writes Murch, drawing upon her recent personal experience of trying to purchase a house in Philadelphia. “Sadly, many African Americans find themselves in a pre-Civil Rights-era housing market” marked by “historic patterns of unequal access to credit, redlining, and buyer choice.”
A new exhibit in Manhattan by artist Maya Lin recreates a “ghost forest” made up of dozens of dead trees. The exhibit is meant to bring attention to a phenomenon that is happening with alarming regularity in New Jersey and elsewhere. Richard Lathrop, the Johnson Family Chair in Water Resources and Watershed Ecology at Rutgers, says that all along the Delaware Bay shore, once thriving stands of forests are slowly dying off. “This is a process that’s been happening for thousands of years,” Lathrop told The Star-Ledger, but is accelerating because of the incursion of rising ocean levels.
Trillions of cicadas are expected to emerge across the East Coast and Midwest in the coming weeks, and experts advise keeping them safe, as they provide ecological benefits. George Hamilton, an entomologist at Rutgers–New Brunswick, says people should leave the insects alone when they emerge. “There is no need to do anything unless you’re a tree fruit grower or nurseryman and even then it may not be necessary,” Hamilton tells Newsweek. “Aside from the noise and the numbers that may spend a day in a person’s yard, the only thing they may damage are your woody ornamentals and that can be avoided by wrapping them in burlap.”
Some insects need protection, others do not. Case in point: Volunteers in a Camden County, New Jersey, community are working to eliminate the spotted lanternfly from their town. The non-native insect can cause serious damage to trees and crops. Anne Nielsen, an associate extension specialist in entomology at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, told NJ.com, “Because they are an invasive species and don’t have natural predators, they are able to build up fast. Now we’re trying to suppress really, really large populations.”
U.S. News reports Rutgers research findings that firefighters have higher levels of “forever chemicals”—toxic and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS—than the general public. Judith Graber, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Public Health, warns that these chemicals are linked with heart disease, which poses a great risk to firefighters, as their primary cause of death is heart attacks. “Firefighters have heightened exposure to PFAS through their protective gear, fire suppression foam, and the burning materials they encounter that release particles, which can be inhaled or settle on gear and skin,” says Graber. “Further research is needed to better understand the sources of these chemicals and to design effective foam and protective clothing that do not use these chemicals.”
Two Rutgers alumnae, both highly accomplished in their respective health care fields, join NJ Spotlight to discuss crucial pandemic issues. Judith Persichilli NUR’76, New Jersey’s health commissioner and the only trained nurse ever to hold that office, answers questions about declining vaccine demand and downgrading the state’s health alert from high to moderate. In a separate segment, Kelly Moore GSAPP’09,’11, director of Rutgers’ Center for Psychological Services, examines the impact of COVID-19 on mothers in terms of career issues, parenting, childcare, and mental health.
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