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With inflation going up, are companies working to raise salary budgets in 2022?

By Jenn Schanz   If you’ve bought gas or walked into a grocery store in the last several months, you already know that inflation is impacting our daily lives. The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows consumer prices jumped 7% in December, a near-40-year high. It was up 6.8% for November, and all of this is happening while annual pay increases range from 3-5%. Inflation may move the dial for raises in 2022, but how much will likely depend on your role and your specific company. “The inflation that we’re experiencing right now is a residual effect of the decision that the central banks around the world made last year to flood our economy with money,” said Matthew Roling, an adjunct finance professor at the Wayne state University Mike Ilitch School of Business. Roling said that the move has helped avoid a deep depression from the pandemic, although the increasing costs haves brought employer raises into question. “Employees have a lot more bargaining power with their employers right now than I think we’ve seen in years.”   
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Wayne State set to host its annual celebration in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wayne State University will host its annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute Friday, Jan. 14, with this year’s keynote address being presented by WSU alumnus Christopher Wilson, director of experience design at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The event will be livestreamed online at wayne.edu/live. “As has been our tradition, Wayne State University once again proudly celebrates the struggles, the sacrifices and the triumphs that mark the vibrant legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,” said President M. Roy Wilson. “This year’s theme, ‘Looking Back to Look Ahead,’ will reflect on Dr. King’s teachings and how we live them today and into the future. As in previous years, the university will also present its Arthur L. Johnson Community Leadership Awards. Additionally, the event will feature musical performances, and alumna and Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones will receive the first Wayne State University Warrior Strong Distinguished Service Award for her 16 years of public service.  
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Wayne State Word Warriors offer list of words to use in 2022

Looking to beef up your vocabulary? Wayne State University’s Word Warriors has published its 13th annual list of useful but not commonly-used words that deserve to be revisited and revived. Chris Williams, assistant director of editorial services for Wayne State University’s Office of Marketing and Communications and head of the Word Warriors program, curates the list, which is the antithesis of Lake Superior State University’s “banished” words list. “We lose forms of speech that add a lot to our writing and to our speaking,” Williams said. “Our goal is to see if we can bring some of these words back.” Anyone can submit a word for consideration, and the Word Warriors are already accepting nominations for next year’s list. 
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WSU presents Pulitzer Prize winning-play ‘Fairview’ at the Hilberry

The twists and turns of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Fairview” will take center stage Feb. 25 through March 5 at Wayne State University’s Hilberry Theater. The play, written by Jackie Sibblies Drury, won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and examines family dynamics and the insidious impact of racism. Directed by Billicia Charnelle Hines, associate professor of theatre and assistant chair/artistic director of the Black Theatre and Dance Collective at Wayne State University, the play begins with the planning for a “perfect” birthday party, which is challenged by family drama. The play brings the United States’ long-standing racial tensions to the forefront by overlapping different viewpoints of reality on the stage. It will leave audiences with questions and conversation-starters, and confront privilege and power as well as frustration and rage, as the play travels from familiar stereotype to chaos and discord. Tickets are not available; Covid-19 protocols require proof of vaccination, completion of a health screener, and a mask.  

Wayne State’s list of words to be revived and reused in 2022

There’s plenty of talk about what words we use too much, but what about the words that have fallen out of usage and haven’t been used in a few decades – or centuries? The Wayne State University Word Warriors have compiled a list for 2022 of the top 10 words that have fallen out of usage and that make the English language a little bit more eclectic. Chris Williams, assistant director of editorial services for Wayne State’s Office of Marketing and Communications and head of the Word Warriors program, said it’s more fun and productive to think of the words that have fallen out of usage that would be great to bring back into our writing and speaking, instead of thinking about what words to get rid of. Word Warriors is in its 13th year of accepting words and selecting 10 to be released. “Each year, I’m surprised by the variety of the submissions we receive from around the world,” Williams said. “Our Word Warriors once again provided a batch of words to make our language richer. The English language is so versatile and unique, and we’ve ended up with another list of 10 great words.”   

MI universities get funding to sequence COVID, other infectious disease

By Lily Bohlke  A new grant will increase the capacity for infectious-disease sequencing and research in Michigan to improve the state’s ability to respond to health crises. Four universities, including Wayne State, are receiving a total of $18.5 million for the work. Dr. Teena Chopra, co-director of Wayne State University’s Detroit-based Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases, said the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of upping the ante on researching and preparing for this and future pandemics. “The work under the grant involves looking at emerging infections, not only SARS CoV 2 which causes COVID, but also other multi-drug-resistant organisms that have plagued the city of Detroit for years and now are even worse after the pandemic,” Chopra said. Dr. Marcus Zervos, who also co-directs WSU’s Center, said the collaboration between the universities is important. He emphasized efforts to understand the spread and reach of viruses such as COVID require national and international cooperation. “We weren’t able to rapidly respond to a pandemic because we didn’t have mechanisms for testing and contact tracing and outbreak investigation and control,” Zervos said. “If it’s COVID, or if it’s a new strain of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it’s critical to have the public health infrastructure in place.” 
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James Webb Space Telescope is a huge leap forward for understanding the universe, Wayne State astrophysicist says

There was big news from NASA recently with the Christmas Day launch of the new James Webb Space Telescope, which that could reveal some of the most fundamental information about the origins of our universe. Astrophysicist Edward Cackett, who is an associate professor of astronomy and chair of the planetarium advisory board at Wayne State University, says the new telescope will give us a glimpse of some of the universe’s earliest galaxies, as well as give us hints about where extraterrestrial life might be abundant on other planets. “We’ll actually be able to see the signature, for instance, of water vapor around planets around other stars and potentially see the signatures of life on distant planets,” Cackett said.  
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Death rituals in Black communities have been altered or forgone in the pandemic

By Ayesha Rascoe  Mortician Stephen R. Kemp, who is an alum of the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and a leader in the Detroit funeral industry, speaks with NPR host Ayesha Rascoe about how the pandemic is affecting the role of funeral homes in Black communities. COVID-19’s death toll in the United States is over 837,000, and it keeps climbing, resulting in a lot of business for funeral homes over the last two years. Funeral homes aren’t necessarily making more money because many Americans went without costly burials, opting for less expensive cremations, which translates to a change in death rituals, especially in Black communities. “…I do see cremation growth because financially, it makes a whole lot of sense. We really – because of the pandemic, we really weren’t prepared with insurances and with the proper amount of money to do that. And cemeteries have increased their prices really, really disproportionately to the inflation rate…you’re beginning to see a lot more funerals here at the funeral home versus traditional places like a church…we have them in parks and tents, in people’s homes, in the backyards. And what traditionally has been the funeral has evolved into a celebration of life. I tell people, get pictures together. Put them on a flash drive. Play the person’s favorite music…” 
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Flurona symptoms and protections

The first case of Flurona has been reported in the United States. Doctors say the co-infections are a mix between Influenza and Covid, where patients will show positive results for both viruses. Health care professionals say the best defense is the vaccine, in addition to wearing masks and social distancing. Doctors recommend surgical masks, like an N-95, which provides the best protection, unlike cloth masks that don’t guard against the transmission of respiratory fluids. Flurona symptoms include fever, cough, fatigue, runny nose, body aches and sore throat. “Every year we get the annual Flu shot and it is still important this year, especially when we know that we have a very super-infectious variant circulating and we don’t want to get co-infections with Flu and Omicron,” said Wayne State University professor of infectious diseases Dr. Teena Chopra, MD, MPH. “Respiratory viruses have a very similar way of transmission. You know influenza transmission is through droplet infections, whereas Omicron, which is coronavirus, we know to be airborne and highly infectious.”  
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State awards WSU $4.3M to increase readiness to fight infectious diseases

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $4.3 million to the Wayne State University Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases. The funds will increase lab facilities to collect and analyze genomic data to address emerging infectious disease threats and enhance the state’s ability to respond to those threats. The funding, part of $18.5 million provided to WSU, Michigan Tech University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, will increase infectious disease sequencing capacity in the state, beginning with the COVID-19 virus. “COVID-19 has clearly demonstrated that we need more lab capacity in the state, and specifically in southeast Michigan,” said Marcus Zervos, M.D., co-director of the WSU Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases and COVID-19 advisor to the City of Detroit. “We must be prepared for the next mutation or the next disease.” 
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Can a Christian flag fly at city hall? The Supreme Court will have to decide

Mark Satta, assistant professor of philosophy at Wayne State University, wrote an article analyzing an upcoming case that the Supreme Court will hear, Shurtleff v. Boston, which addresses whether the city violated the First Amendment by denying a request to temporarily raise the Christian flag on a flagpole outside City Hall, where Boston has temporarily displayed many secular organizations’ flags. Satta writes that the case raises important questions about free speech at a time when many members of the Supreme Court seem concerned about restrictions on religion. The court’s decision will likely clarify one or more free speech doctrines, impacting how courts nationwide interpret the First Amendment’s guarantees. 

Supply chain and inflation issues in the meat industry

Kevin Ketels, assistant professor of teaching in global supply chain management at Wayne State University, shares his insights about the ongoing supply chain and inflation issues. As ongoing supply chain problems impact nearly every industry, some have accused the meat industry of unnecessarily raising prices to increase profit. Ketels says understanding the issue depends greatly on perspective. “If you’re asking the president, he’s saying there’s too much consolidation within the meat processors: they’ve cornered the market. In 1977, we had four firms that controlled 25% of meat processing – it’s about 80% today. That allows them to, perhaps, dictate price and so they have more control,” he said. “If you ask them, they would say that all costs are up: Costs for fertilizer, packaging, transportation, storage, labor. All of those expenses are up, and they’re driving prices up. Plus, demand is up.” Ketels said that he suspects many factors are contributing to the increase in prices, and most of those factors originate with the pandemic and subsequent conditions.   
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4 Michigan universities to receive $18.5M in funding to expand infectious disease research

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced that four universities in the state will be receiving $18.5 million in federal funding over the next two years to expand sequencing for COVID and other infectious diseases. Funding will be distributed to Wayne State University, Michigan Tech University, Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. The funding will be used to collect and analyze genomic data to address emerging infectious disease threats and enhance the state’s ability to respond to those threats.  
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Wayne Law names Lund new associate dean for research and faculty development

Professor Christopher Lund has been named Wayne State University Law School’s new associate dean for research and faculty development. The role, which was first held by professor Jonathan Weinberg, supports and promotes faculty scholarship and academic achievement. Since joining Wayne Law in 2009, Lund has taught a variety of courses, including torts, contracts, Constitutional law, religious liberty in the United States, and evidence, as has been voted Professor of the Year seven times. “During his time at Wayne Law, professor Lund has established himself as an amazing partner for the school, and has been a leading scholar in the field of religious liberty,” said Dean Richard A. Bierschbach. “I know how valuable his insights will be in his new role. He is the ideal choice to continue the outstanding work professor Weinberg has done to showcase the local, national and global impact our faculty have.”  
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WSU and AVL expand partnership, adds advanced mobility simulation software

By Jake Bekemeyer  Wayne State University announced AVL, one of the world’s largest automotive development, simulation, and testing company headquartered in Plymouth Township, is expanding its University Partnership Program for the next generation of engineers. As part of the program expansion, AVL will provide multiple departments in the College of Engineering with access to its full portfolio of cutting-edge simulation software tools, including the AVL Cruise M, AVL Excite, AVL Fire, AVL VSM, and Model.CONNECT. “As part of our strategy to close the skills gap, we want our students to have access to the latest technologies that industry leaders are using to foster innovation and grow their businesses,” said Farshad Fotouhi, dean of the College of Engineering and professor of computer science. “This partnership with AVL allows us to integrate these technologies into our curriculum and provide even greater learning experiences with real-world applications.” Gene Liao, professor of engineering technology and director of the electric-drive vehicle engineering graduate program, says that his students will use these tools in course homework assignments, term projects, and directed study for modeling and simulation. 
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New workplace needs to be more attuned to employees’ total needs

By Paul Vachon  Lars Johnson, assistant professor of psychology at Wayne State University, participated in an interview about the future of the workplace. He said the most effective way for employers to address the current labor circumstances is to listen closely to the personal concerns of workers and potential hires. In his view, the post-pandemic economy presents an opportunity for employers to rewrite the traditional social contract between management and worker. These include concerns over workplace safety, flexible scheduling, adequate compensation, and greater respect for employee work-life balance. “The pandemic forced people into their homes and out of their normal work routines, due to either remote work, layoff, or termination, so people had to find alternate modes of work,” he said. “The pandemic shifted the labor market in ways we couldn’t account for. People realized the conditions in which they worked were problematic.”  
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‘It’s not letting up’: Omicron fuels the number of Michigan hospitalizations

As omicron COVID-19 cases skyrocket in Michigan, hospitalizations are increasing as well – although at a far slower rate – and prompting concerns about capacity. Even though the variant is mild for most, the wave has increased hospital admissions statewide by 400 in one week, a 10% rise, while forcing hundreds of critical health care workers to quarantine. Just a few weeks after hospitalizations dropped from a peak of nearly 4,800 patients, the health care system is girding again for another COVID-19 crunch, which may be less lethal but could tax its ability to provide care. On Monday the state reported 61,235 new infections for the past five days, an average of 12,247. For the past week, the daily average of 12,442 is up 65% from the previous week’s average of 7,533 daily cases. Dr. Teena Chopra, director of the Center for Emerging and Infectious Diseases and a professor at Wayne State University School of Medicine works with local hospitals and said that although a smaller fraction of those who get infected are requiring hospital care, the previously unseen scale of infections is still leading to hundreds of people sick enough to require a hospital visit, especially in Detroit which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. “The sheer numbers are so huge, the hospitals are getting overwhelmed,” Dr. Chopra said.
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Where have all the truck drivers gone?

The United States is experiencing a shortage of more than 80,000 truck drivers, according to an estimate from the American Trucking Associations. The ATA also estimates that 72% of America’s freight transport moves by trucks, which shows just how dependent consumers are on the drivers who deliver turkeys to sores or gas to pumps or the Christmas presents you order to your doorstep. This is not just an American problem. Truck haul comparable amounts of freight in places like the European Union and China, and countries and regions around the world, are experiencing driver shortages. This is also not a new problem. Analysts and industry groups have warned of truck driver shortages for years, around the globe. But supply chain disruptions during the pandemic and surges in demand have made this slow-rolling crisis much more acute. The first thing to know about the truck driver shortage, experts say, is that it’s not exactly a shortage. “It’s a recruitment and retention problem,” said Michael Belzer, a trucking industry expert and professor at Wayne State University. “There are in fact millions of truck drivers – people who have commercial driver’s licenses – who are not driving trucks and are not using those commercial driving licenses, more than we would even need,” Belzer said. “That’s because people have gotten recruited into this job, maybe paid to get trained in this job, and realize, ‘This is not for me. This is not adequate for what I’m doing.’”  
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Ghislaine Maxwell guilty in Epstein sex trafficking case: What the case revealed about female sex offenders

Poco Kernsmith, professor, Erin B. Comartin, assistant professor, and Sheryl Kubiak, dean and professor, from the Wayne State University School of Social Work, have studied women who have been convicted of sexual assault, abuse and human trafficking, as well as public attitudes toward sex offenders. These scholars wrote an article outlining key takeaways about female sex offenders present in the Ghislaine Maxwell trial and verdict. The British socialite has been convicted for her role in luring and grooming girls to be sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was found guilty of five counts, including sex trafficking a minor, and now faces a maximum sentence of 65 years behind bars. Maxwell’s trial provided an opportunity for victims of Epstein and Maxwell to give testimony about the abuse they experienced, and the case also highlights the importance of understanding sex offenses perpetrated by women.  

Michigan research communities need more mental health support

The Wayne State University College of Nursing has received a $1.6 million grant from the state Department of Health and Human Services to educate more mental health and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Umeika Stephens, graduate specialty coordinator for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners at Wayne State University and a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Detroit, said it is important to have providers who can assess patients’ mental health needs holistically.  “Our goal is to make sure that when patients are able to come in, that they’re able to see a psychiatric nurse practitioner,” Stephens said. “They’re able to see somebody who can not only do therapy, but also prescribe medication for them if they needed it.”