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Media Tip Sheet: Bucknell’s March Story Ideas

LEWISBURG, Pa. — These are Bucknell University story ideas that may interest you in March, which will be the first anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a pandemic on March 11.

CALLING ON COVID RESEARCH — The COVID-19 pandemic has become a worldwide fascination and the focus of research by much of the scientific community. “That’s also been true on the Bucknell campus where a group of University faculty are applying their diverse scholarship and expertise to pandemic and COVID-19 related research and sharing their work and expertise through the Bucknell pandemic/COVID scholarly group, facilitated by Professor David Rovnyak, chemistry. “In brief, we aim to develop community, stay current, help promote these topics in curricula, and help support colleagues engaged in such work across campus,” Rovnyak says. One of the group’s initial projects by Professor Deborah Sills, civil & environmental engineering; and Professor Marie Pizzorno, biology, is using wastewater-based epidemiology to measure levels of SARS-COV2 RNA in samples taken from sewer lines on Bucknell’s campus. Tampons are being used as low-cost passive samplers to collect wastewater from the sewers. The researchers are using their measurements to determine if there are infections in specific areas of campus to help the University monitor the effectiveness of the testing and isolation protocols in place to prevent virus spread among the campus community. CONTACTS: Rovnyak, 570-577-3676,; Sills, 607-277-5609,; Pizzorno, 570-217-3050,

CREATING RURAL OPPORTUNITY — Another project from the Bucknell pandemic/COVID-19 scholarly group involves exploring impacts of COVID-19 on the rural economy, including responses to severe demand shock and statewide shutdowns, and the consequences to workers, working-class families and marginalized populations. Professor Christine Ngo, economics, has already conducted 60 interviews with business owners, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, city organizers, and scholars living and working in the Central Susquehanna Valley region. In her initial fieldwork, she has found that the pandemic offered unique opportunities — namely, time, space and financial resources — that workers and small and medium businesses in rural Pennsylvania rarely experience under normal conditions. “In particular, COVID-19 enabled businesses to focus on their workers by offering additional wages, and retraining — a difficult and costly task when production was near capacity,” Ngo says. “They were also compelled to take extra investment risks, often venturing into segments outside their traditional business models.” CONTACT: Ngo, 570-577-3444,

COVID CORPORATE EUPHEMISMS — The pandemic has brought about economic hardship, producing diminishing corporate earnings, downsizing and layoffs in businesses across the nation. Freeman College of Management Professor Kate Suslava, accounting, studies corporate euphemisms — or one of the linguistic tools used by managers to soften their explanation of poor company performance in earnings calls — and has found some novel ways managers are delivering the bad news amid the pandemic. Carnival Corporation President and CEO Arnold Donald explained to stakeholders that they were “right sizing” their organization back in October when the cruise industry slowed considerably. United CEO Scott Kirby told stakeholders that his company was working on “creative deals” to get through the crisis and reduce the number of impacted employees. Christopher Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide Holdings, Inc., said the new business reality required them to adapt their organizational structure moving forward. Using machine learning algorithms, Suslava’s corporate euphemisms research has found that words matter. Her paper entitled Stiff Business Headwinds and Uncharted Economic Waters: The Use of Euphemisms in Earnings Conference Calls, was published earlier this year by the journal Management Science. CONTACT: Suslava, 570-577-3385,


CONTACTS: Mike Ferlazzo, 570-577-3212, 570-238-6266 (c),; Emma Arrighini,

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