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Media Tip Sheet: Bucknell’s Summer Story Ideas

LEWISBURG, Pa. — These are Bucknell University story ideas that may interest you this summer.

CATCHING FIREFLIES — Possibly nothing touches our childhood wonder more than seeing fireflies illuminating the sky on a hot summer night. Professor Sarah Lower, biology, and her research team continue to study all things fireflies and they will be continuing research this summer. One in three firefly species in North America may be at risk of extinction, according to a study by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. One explanation may be the way fireflies react to common bacterial pathogens found in their environment. Lower and Professor Moria Chambers, biology, and Professor Owais Gilani, mathematics, teamed up with a trio of biology students to assess how pathogens and environmental characteristics affected survival after infection among fireflies they had collected locally. They published findings back in November in Ecological Entomology, finding that infection with higher doses of the pathogens Serratia marcescens and Providencia rettgeri — bacterium commonly found in both water and land environments — but not three other pathogens, had an increased risk of death for fireflies caught later in the season than those captured earlier, but seasonality did not significantly impact mortality with any of the other three pathogens they tested. The results highlight the importance of taking into account host, pathogen and environmental factors when investigating infection outcomes in wild-caught fireflies. The researchers are planning to see if their findings extend to other local firefly species that live in the same habitats and how these infections influence energy stores within the firefly by using imaging to measure body condition over time. CONTACT: Lower, 570-577-3145,

SUMMER HOME PROJECTS — Summer is a time when many homeowners start work on planned renovation projects. Freeman College of Management Professor Annetta Grant, markets, innovation & design, has done related research and published a study last fall finding that homeowners are increasingly influenced by home improvement media like HGTV and it’s stressing them out when making renovations. Rather than prioritizing their own tastes and preferences, homeowners are pressured to adhere to marketplace standards. The home, once meant to be representative of oneself and a place to seek comfort, is now seen instead as our biggest financial asset that must meet certain marketplace standards in order to maximize value, says Grant. Her study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, found that this market-influenced pressure leaves consumers feeling unease with their own homes and as though it’s never quite “finished.” This sense of “dysplacement,” as the researchers define it, keeps homeowners on the perpetual home renovation treadmill. CONTACT: Grant, 570-577-3915,

MAKING PLAYGROUNDS SAFE — Once school’s out for summer, younger kids frequently head to their local playgrounds for some regular summer fun. But safety at those playgrounds should be a parental concern. Professor Eric Kennedy, biomedical engineering, conducts research in the field of child injury prevention, particularly in playground safety. Kennedy actively collaborates with several organizations, including ASTM International, the National Recreation and Parks Association, and the National Program for Playground Safety. One of Kennedy’s students, Drew Filchner ’22, completed an honors’ thesis on school injuries and found that most incidents occurred on elementary school playgrounds. Kennedy’s team recently published those findings in the journal Clinical Pediatrics. “It’s not our intent to say that playgrounds are inherently dangerous — they are absolutely not, most of the injuries are very minor — but it does go to show that we might take these spaces for granted and often overlook these risks,” Kennedy says. “Design decisions, utilization practices, and supervision all play a role in helping to mitigate those injuries. He can make specific playground safety recommendations, but in general, he emphasizes, “It cannot be overstated that the playground is first and foremost desired to be an engaging social space for our children to be active, stimulated through play and social development. I believe our approach to playground safety should be focused on risk- management, rather than elimination of risk – and done so in a way that unobtrusively makes these spaces inclusive and enjoyable to the children that should enjoy them.” CONTACT: Kennedy, 570-577-1405,


CONTACT: Mike Ferlazzo, 570-577-3212, 570-238-6266 (c),

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