UNLV exists in part because Nevadans believe in the power of higher education to improve lives and transform communities.
Every day at UNLV, our people put their expertise to work through high-impact partnerships that solve challenges and create opportunity – both for students and the community at large. This includes programs to help dedicated educators become licensed teachers, camps that inspire future careers in tech and healthcare, and services that will improve the health of our region and help us stay ahead of emerging diseases.
At UNLV, our philosophy is that it’s not enough to simply invite the community to UNLV. Our goal is to bring UNLV into the community.
The following selection of news stories from 2022 reflect UNLV’s rich ties and deep commitment to serving our community, and they prove that UNLV wouldn’t be where it is today without the community around it and within it.
Wastewater Surveillance and Infectious Disease
Several UNLV faculty continue to lead the way on research and guidance as we enter the fourth year of a collective elevated alert surrounding public health. Just when we thought we were out of the woods on COVID, stories of new strains, long-haul symptoms, and reinfections made news headlines — then a litany of other illnesses, including mpox and RSV, began to gain attention. Here are just a few highlights from UNLV experts who waded through the research and helped the public make sense of the pandemonium:
- In addition to COVID, infectious disease expert Edwin Oh’s wastewater surveillance program started tracking mpox and polio, making Southern Nevada among the first few metropolitan areas nationwide to begin searching the sewers for the emerging viruses. The Street, New York Post, Fox News, Inverse, Capital & Main, Yahoo!, Las Vegas Sun (twice), Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice), LA Progressive, Casino.org, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13 (twice), and KTVU-TV: Fox 2 reached out for the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine professor’s insights on the potential role of wastewater surveillance and interagency, cross-jurisdictional collaboration in preventing another pandemic.
- From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to new infections like RSV and MERS and the mysteries of a brain-eating amoeba, School of Public Health epidemiologist Brian Labus was busy in 2022.
He spoke to Newsweek, The Guardian, Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada Current, Vegas PBS, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, KTNV-TV: ABC 13 (twice), ClinicSpots, and This is Reno to clear up mpox myths and share measures the campus and community can take to avoid contracting it.
Labus addressed the rise in RSV cases via KVVU-TV: Fox 5 and KNPR; a brain-eating amoeba that killed a boy who waded into Lake Mead via outlets including the AP and Insider; Legionnaire’s disease via Vox; and the kinds of infectious bacteria that can lurk in floodwater following natural disaster via Healthline and Gizmodo.
Healthline called on him to chime in on conversations surrounding MERS during the World Cup.
Regarding COVID, Labus was interviewed about topics including long-haul infection, hospitalization rates, new variants, tips for immunocompromised patients, conference and cruise ship safety, and the potential for a tripledemic: Verywell Health (twice), Men’s Health, HuffPost, The Street (twice), Bicycling, Tech Target, Healthline, Everyday Health, KNX News Radio, Lupus Chick, AP, Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice)
- Voice of America tapped UNLV medical school dean Dr. Marc J. Kahn for insights on mpox.
He spoke to dozens of outlets on everything from the ongoing pandemic to new illnesses that popped onto the public’s radar. Interviews included a KTNV-TV: ABC 13 piece about the rise of fungal infections among local hospital patients; stories from Voice of America (twice), KSNV-TV: News 3 (twice), KTNV-TV: ABC 13 (twice), and the Las Vegas Sun (twice) about COVID, new variants, long-haul cases, and reinfections; and a KLAS-TV: 8 News Now explainer on summer heat safety.
Shoring Up the Teacher Shortage
While the demand for teachers across Nevada continues, UNLV’s College of Education has created a solution that allows open teaching positions in CCSD to be filled by individuals who are already working in local schools. The Paraprofessional Pathways Project empowers CCSD support staff and instructional aides to make the transition to a full-time teaching career in as little as one year. Program participants either have an associate’s degree or 60 credits of college-level general education courses, and PPP puts them on the fast track to licensure. The combination of in-person, hybrid, and online will help CCSD diversify their workforce and chip away at the more than 800 teaching vacancies.
Helping Students, Faculty, and Staff Survive
In September, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now highlighted the UNLV Food Pantry’s work to aid students and employees in need. The facility — which was an instrumental stopgap for members of the UNLV community suffering hardship during the pandemic — operates out of a building adjacent to campus on University Center Drive.
Satellite Clinics Expand Community Outreach
Two UNLV community resource hubs opened off-campus offices in an effort to more easily serve even more members of the public.
- In March, the UNLV Immigration Clinic expanded operations beyond its primary office at the William S. Boyd School of Law and opened a new branch in downtown Las Vegas. The new office is an effort to make the clinic’s free legal services more accessible to campus community members, adults in detention, and unaccompanied children facing deportation: KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, The Nevada Independent, Las Vegas Review-Journal, El Mundo, Vegas Business Digest, Las Vegas Patch
- Thanks to over $4 million in federal grants, UNLV PRACTICE — a mental health training clinic for students from the College of Education and College of Liberal Arts’ Department of Psychology — in October opened a new satellite office in the Las Vegas Medical District that specializes in treatment and care of youth in the early stages of bipolar disorders and at high risk for psychosis: City Cast Las Vegas, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Las Vegas Sun
Less than two years after the groundbreaking, Kerkorian School of Medicine students and staff this fall moved into the school’s new permanent location in the Las Vegas Medical District. The new five-story, 135,000-square-foot building includes classrooms, patient rooms, a simulation suite and a cadaver lab. For students, there is a café, fitness/wellness center, and an amphitheater-style forum for community events and TED-style talks. The facility was built to support the advancement of medical education in Southern Nevada and help beef up the region’s ranks of doctors and medical specialists. Meanwhile, planning is underway to build an adjacent ambulatory care clinic and pathology lab on the medical school’s campus.
What better way to reach the next generation of Rebels than to give them a behind-the-scenes look at campus and hands-on experience in potential careers they’d like to pursue? UNLV offered a series of summer camps for K-12 students.
- After an explosion in popularity, Nurse Camp — an annual summer event that gives local high school students or those who recently graduated high school a hands-on glimpse into the profession — expanded this summer to offer three sessions and even garnered a visit by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak: KSNV-TV: News 3 (twice), KVVU-TV: Fox 5 Vegas, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, Las Vegas Review-Journal, City Cast Las Vegas
- KNPR reported on the Native American Youth Camp, which brought Indigenous students to campus to learn about higher education offerings.
- KLAS-TV: 8 News Now gave viewers a glimpse of a new STEM summer camp for middle school students focused on technology in the entertainment and hospitality industries that drive the city. The goal is to help students overcome negative stereotypes regarding STEM disciplines and show them that they can excel in STEM and that it can be fun.
- The College of Engineering also hosted a week-long GenCyber camp for middle and high school students. Jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and National Security Administration, the goal is to increase awareness and interest in cybersecurity topics and careers, and ultimately help solve the nation’s shortfall of skilled cybersecurity professionals: UNLV News Center
The UNLV Office of Economic Development was busy in 2022, forging community connections that will support local business development throughout the Valley. In October, the UNLV Tourism Business Igniter – in collaboration with Nevada Partners – was unveiled in the Historic Westside. Earlier in the fall, the office announced a National Science Foundation-funded partnership with universities throughout the West to spur innovation.
The Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV was awarded two grants from the Nevada Department of Public Safety to research Silver State traffic data.
One grant funds a longstanding study that maintains a database of more than a decade’s worth of vehicle crash and statewide trauma center injury data. The goal is to deepen our understanding of risk-taking behaviors that contribute to vehicular-related deaths and injuries.
The other study will deploy an interdisciplinary team of UNLV researchers to analyze statewide traffic stop data for potential disparities and promote transparency in policing. The work, which will support an annual report and public-facing data dashboard, stems from the passage of SB 236 during the 2021 Nevada Legislative Session.
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