Published May 4, 2021

Photo courtesy of PANYNJ

As the global economy struggles to recover, new tools to fight the coronavirus are more important than ever, and Rutgers is at the forefront of their development. Meanwhile, members of the university community make headlines in other areas, from politics to racial inequality to suicide prevention.

Observing the recent 100th anniversary of the founding of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Angus Kress Gillespie, a professor of American studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick writes a Star-Ledger op-ed citing the port authority as an outstanding example of bond-funded, fee-supported infrastructure development. “I hope the Biden infrastructure bill is passed by our divided Congress and signed into law,” says Gillespie. But if political gridlock kills the measure, he continues, “the different states may wish to consider setting up their own authorities” in a manner similar to the New York/New Jersey model, which avoids taxation. | Happy anniversary Port Authority

Rutgers researchers received a two-year, $443,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a rapid breathalyzer test for COVID-19 and other illnesses. Edward DeMauro, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Rutgers School of Engineering, says that the breathalyzer will be able to give results within 10 minutes. “In addition to helping diagnose COVID-19, the goal of the project is to create a platform that can be expanded into a future, easy-to-use, non-invasive rapid breathalyzer to diagnose respiratory diseases, including possible future pandemics,” DeMauro tells TAPinto.

TAPinto | Rutgers researchers receive funding to develop COVID-19 breathalyzer test

Lyneir Richardson, executive director of the Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers University–Newark, believes that ownership of commercial real estate by people of color can shrink the racial wealth gap and help neighborhoods thrive. He tells Forbes that’s why he’s working with local investors to buy shopping centers in Black communities. “We want people to experience a sense of pride and ownership,” Richardson says. “That’s our goal—to facilitate that ownership.”

Forbes | Closing the racial wealth gap through community ownership of shopping centers

While there are actions people can take to prevent suicide, assigning that responsibility to specific individuals is difficult, says Michael Anestis, an associate professor at Rutgers School of Public Health and a suicide expert. In a Washington Post story about the family of a mentally ill man that is suing Walmart for selling him a gun, which he used to kill himself, Anestis says, “If people who are trained to [prevent suicide] struggle to do it effectively, it’s tough to go to people who are outside the field of mental health and expect them to do it.”

The Washington Post | Walmart sold a gun to an employee with history of mental illness, lawsuit says. He killed himself two hours later

A USA Today article reports on findings from Rutgers’ Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) that women are underrepresented in all levels of government: national, state, and municipal. The findings show that the percentage of women holding municipal office is similar to that of women serving in state government and the U.S. House of Representatives. “There’s always been this assumption that, if we just went down a little further, if we just got to a more local level, that we would see a lot more women there,” says Debbie Walsh, the director of CAWP. “And we have long suspected that was, in fact, a myth. And the data now bears that out.”

USA Today | Women underrepresented in municipal, state and national politics, new Rutgers study finds

Two brothers, both Rutgers alumni, are planning to walk from the Jersey Shore to California’s Redwood National Park to raise awareness of the plight of restaurant workers. Former bartenders who faced joblessness during the pandemic, Aiden SAS’15 and Louis Ardine MGSA’18 aim to raise $30,000 for unemployed workers on their months-long camping journey. “We’re going to interview restaurant workers and small business owners across the country,” Aiden tells NJ 101.5, “to share their stories with the rest of America…[and offer] insight into what this year has been like for us.”

New Jersey 101.5 | Middletown brothers to walk 3,000+ miles for restaurant workers

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