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Media Tip Sheet: Bucknell’s November Story Ideas

LEWISBURG, Pa. — These are Bucknell University story ideas that may interest you in November.

PLANNING A #PLANTSGIVING — Given concerns over COVID-19, people all over the U.S. are making the tough choice to avoid gathering in large groups this Thanksgiving. Bucknell Professor Chris Martine, biology, and his botanical colleagues suggest that one way to still bring everyone together for the holiday is to join them in the 2020 edition of #PlantsGiving, a social media campaign in which people challenge one another to count the number of plant species used in their Thanksgiving meal. Biologists around the country have played along the last two years, but this year they want to include anyone who hopes to connect with people during this unusual holiday season. Students in Martine’s Bucknell courses this semester will report their families’ counts for homework, joining those who are participating in research in his lab this semester as well as students involved in The Bucknell Farm and the Lewisburg Community Garden. “It’s kind of the perfect assignment for this holiday,” Martine says. “But my real hope is that all sorts of other folks will join in. I am 100% certain that people will be really surprised by how quickly their plant numbers go up once they start counting.” According to Martine, the typical meal can include 15 or 20 different plant species without much trying. Side dishes like potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn and green beans are obvious, but others may be a surprise. “We’ve had dozens of species reported from individual meals, with a dinner last year hosted by a professor at the University of Arizona that included 122 species!” he says. To join in, just count the plants you’ve used in your Thanksgiving meal and then use the #PlantsGiving hashtag to post your report on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. CONTACT: Martine, 570-577-1135,, @MartineBotany

RETAIL RESILIENCY — In spite of the pandemic, holiday shopping is now well underway and will only intensify as “Black Friday” draws closer. Professor Jimmy Chen, analytics & operations management, Freeman College of Management, says the pandemic highlights how much our lives rely on the retail industry. “Consumers want to shop at the places where they feel safe and the employees are taken care of,” he says. “Thus, retailers should strive to enforce pandemic protocols and protect their employees. Without employee satisfaction, there hardly can be any customer satisfaction.” According to Chen, innovations that normally would take years are being implemented within just a few months. “Digital engagement and direct-to-consumer are just another two practices trending in the industry,” he says. “The retail industry once again shows its resilience and agility in the face of unprecedented challenges. Shopping is life. Many people are looking forward to this holiday season where the boundary between offline shopping (Black Friday) and online shopping (Cyber Monday) is even more blurry this year. Perhaps the pent-up demand and revenge-shopping mentality will significantly boost this holiday sales revenue.” CONTACT: Chen, 570-577-1678,

ASSESSING RITUAL RISK ASSESSMENT — The nation’s leading infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, urged caution around Thanksgiving gatherings, warning they could potentially cause spikes in positive coronavirus cases. For that reason, Bucknell Professor Anna Baker, psychology, believes that’s going to be a huge stressor for many families who may have disagreements about risk and what to do for holidays. She recommends working through acceptable levels of risk. “For example, deciding on smaller family gatherings, people test or quarantine before or after traveling, outside distanced gatherings, etc.,” she says. For some families, Baker says these holiday gatherings and rituals are important enough that after doing a risk assessment, some level of risk is acceptable. “People are desperate for some sense of normalcy and it will feel very important to be able to retain these rituals as much as possible,” she adds. CONTACT: Baker, 954-439-6504,


CONTACT: Mike Ferlazzo, 570-238-6266 (c),

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