The UT System leads the state of Tennessee in researching public health and how it intersects with all aspects of our lives. The following experts are available for media to answer questions about the impact of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Use the Table of Contents below to navigate to each subject area. For interviews, please use the contact information listed under each expert’s biography.

 

Economics

UT Knoxville

William Fox (PhD)

Fox is director of the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research and professor of economics at UT Knoxville. He can discuss the potential economic issues the economy faces if coronavirus becomes an epidemic.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

UT Knoxville

Matthew Harris (PhD)

Harris is associate professor of economics at UT Knoxville. He can discuss the effects of coronavirus on the state’s economy. Much of his research has focused on health and labor economics, such as the opioid epidemic and how it’s decreased the labor force. As far as COVID-19, the main thing from the health economic standpoint is an increase in avoidance behaviors. If the risks for much of the population are relatively low, but people are not doing the normal activities they otherwise would (e.g., travel, meetings, shopping) – then that has hard-to-quantify costs. If this escalates to a place where there are more closures in China and other points, that will affect supply chains and the provision of intermediate goods.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

UT Knoxville

Andy Puckett (PhD)

Puckett is professor and Ph.D. program director in the department of finance. He can discuss the impact on investments.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

UT Knoxville

Georg Schaur (PhD)

Schaur is professor of economics and can discuss the effects of the ongoing outbreak on international trade, global supply chains and the economy.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

 

 

History

UT Knoxville

Susan Lawrence (PhD)

Lawrence is a historian of medicine and professor at UT Knoxville. She can discuss epidemics and pandemics from a historical perspective. She can address how communities in the past responded to disease outbreaks and the lessons to be learned from their experiences. Lawrence cautions that fear of disease generates panic and scapegoating that harms communities, sometimes more than the disease itself. She said that one of the most fragile commodities during epidemics and pandemics is loss of trust in experts, the very people who have spent their careers learning from past outbreaks, studying possible epidemics, and working on preparedness plans.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

 

 

International Trade, Trade Policy, Global Food Demand

UT Institute of Agriculture

Andrew Muhammad (PhD)

Muhammad is a professor, agricultural trade expert and Blasingame Chair of Excellence in Agricultural Policy in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. In 2019, he was appointed to the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, where he provides advice to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on international agricultural trade issues. Muhammad assists the state and nation’s agricultural decision makers in the evaluation of policies and programs dealing with agricultural commodities, food and international trade, as well as advocating for state and regional agricultural opportunities. His current research focuses on agricultural trade and trade policy, effects of trade on developing countries, and global food demand. His research on global food demand has been widely cited and used in economic and global models.


Media Contact:
Patricia McDaniels, 615-835-4570, 865-363-6009 (mobile), pmcdaniels@tennessee.edu

 

 

Medical Research, Public and Community Health

UT Chattanooga

Christine Benz Smith (PhD, FNP-BC)

Smith is director of the UTC School of Nursing and, as chief health affairs officer for the University, also oversees student wellness. Smith’s responsibilities include oversight of University Health Services—where she also works part-time providing primary care for the University community, with responsibility also for the UTC Counseling Center, Center for Student Wellbeing, and Health Education and Wellness Promotion. She has traveled with the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti, a Chattanooga based non-profit, as part of a medical team providing primary care to underserved people in Haiti. Smith is the author of a published paper on how healthcare providers protect their own health while working in third-world regions. Smith recently completed work on addressing obesity across the lifespan that was funded by a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.


Media Contact:
Gina Stafford, 423-425-4363, Gina-Stafford@utc.edu

UT Health Science Center

Rudra Channappanavar (DVM, MVSc, PhD)

Channappanavar is an assistant professor in the department of acute and tertiary care in the College of Nursing, and the department of microbiology, immunology and biochemistry in the College of Medicine at the UT Health Science Center. He holds an appointment with the Institute for the Study of Host-Pathogen Systems at UTHSC. He can speak to virus-host interactions and the mechanisms of protective and pathogenic immunity.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UT Health Science Center

Martin Croce (MD)

Croce is a professor of surgery in the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine and the senior vice president and chief medical officer at Regional One Health in Memphis. He was previously chief of trauma and surgical critical care and medical director for the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center at Regional One Health.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UT Health Science Center

Sara Cross (MD)

Cross is an associate professor of medicine-infectious disease and medical education in the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine. She is also the assistant dean of student affairs for the college and an infectious disease physician at Regional One Health.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UT Martin

Shannon Deal (APRN-BC)

Deal is director of student health and counseling services at UT Martin and is a nurse practitioner. She can speak to community health concerns related to the virus.


Media Contact:
Bud Grimes, 731-881-7615, bgrimes@utm.edu

UT Health Science Center

Alisa Haushalter (DNP, RN)

Haushalter is the director of the Shelby County Health Department and an associate professor of advance practice and doctoral studies in the UT Health Science Center College of Nursing.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UT Health Science Center

Nick Hysmith (DNP, RN)

Hysmith is an assistant professor of pediatrics, infectious diseases in the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine and medical director of infection prevention at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UT Health Science Center

Colleen Jonsson (PhD)

Jonsson is the Van Vleet Chair of Excellence in Virology, director of the Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, and director of the Institute for the Study of Host-Pathogen Systems at the UT Health Science Center. She is the program director for a newly NIH-funded Center of Excellence for Encephalitic Alphavirus Therapeutics. In addition, she serves as a professor in the College of Medicine’s department of microbiology, immunology and biochemistry. She can speak to antiviral discovery and basic and translational research targeting respiratory, encephalitic and hemorrhagic fever viruses.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UT Chattanooga

Yasmine K. Key (DNP, APN, NP-C)

Key is director of UT Chattanooga University Health Services and brings a healthcare perspective to multiple University administrative committees she serves. In addition to her role as administrator for the clinic, Key also sees patients and is a member of faculty for the School of Nursing.


Media Contact:
Gina Stafford, 423-425-4363, Gina-Stafford@utc.edu

UT Health Science Center

Kui Li (PhD)

Li is a professor in the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine’s department of microbiology, immunology and biochemistry. She can speak to the understanding of virus-host interactions that regulate pathogenesis and outcome of RNA (ribonucleic acid) virus infections.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UT Health Science Center

Jon McCullers (MD)

McCullers is the senior executive associate dean for clinical affairs and the chair of pediatrics, infectious diseases in the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine. He is also pediatrician in chief at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital. He is a virologist and viral researcher studying pandemic influenza. He can speak to the incidence and etiology of pneumonia in children, integrated genomic approaches to understanding novel virulence factors for bacteria complicating influenza, and the bacterial virulence factors contributing to virus-associated pneumonia.


Media Contact:
Peggy Reisser, 901-448-4072, mreisser@uthsc.edu

UTKnoxville & Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Jeremy Smith (PhD)

Smith is a UT Governor’s Chair for Molecular Biophysics and director of the UT/Oak Ridge National Laboratory Center for Molecular Biophysics. He is conducting early research on existing drug compounds via supercomputing that could combat coronavirus. Using the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer—known as Summit—Smith and team members have identified 77 small-molecule drug compounds that might warrant further study in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which is responsible for the COVID-19 disease outbreak. Researchers have performed simulations on Summit of more than 8,000 compounds to screen for those that are most likely to bind to the main “spike” protein of the coronavirus, rendering it unable to infect host cells.


Media Contact:
Sara Shoemaker, 865-576-9219, shoemakerms@ornl.gov

UT Institute of Agriculture

Lisa Washburn (PhD)

Washburn is associate professor and Extension specialist in the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and can address community health.


Media Contact:
Charles Denney, 865-974-7141, 865-382-8058 (mobile), cmdenney@utk.edu

 

 

Public Policy and Policymaking in Response to Social and Public Health Issues

UT Knoxville, UTIA and IPS

Coronavirus-19 Outbreak Response Experts (CORE-19)

The Coronavirus-19 Outbreak Response Experts (CORE-19) team at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a network of researchers in public health, economics, public policy, agriculture, veterinary medicine, and other disciplines. The CORE-19 team provides timely and evidence-based information for policymakers, industry, and the public on pressing questions regarding the global pandemic.

This effort is being coordinated by The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the University’s Department of Public Health. Additional expertise is provided by the Institute for Public Service (IPS), the Institute of Agriculture (UTIA), the Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research, the Tennessee State Data Center, the Colleges of Law, Nursing, Social Work, and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

Visit core19.utk.edu for regular updates →


Contact Information: 865-321-1299, core19@utk.edu

UT Chattanooga

Michele Deardorff (PhD)

Deardorff is Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Government and head of the UTC Department of Political Science and Public Service. She particularly enjoys teaching classes and engaging with the public in ways that allow people to apply their understandings of law, politics and political theory to current events. Deardorff believes that universities have an important role in developing thoughtful citizens who are prepared to participate in community and national government. From Chattanooga and Hamilton County social and political issues she has researched to being a U.S. News & World Report-cited leader in her field, Deardorff is a widely recognized expert in the areas of constitutional and statutory protections surrounding gender and race, along with exploring insights provided by political theory.


Media Contact:
Gina Stafford, 423-425-4363, Gina-Stafford@utc.edu

 

 

Public Relations

UT Knoxville

Daniel Flint (PhD)

Flint is Regal Professor of Marketing and faculty lead for the Professional Sales Forum in the department of marketing. He can address topics related to brand management, marketing strategy and marketing research.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

UT Knoxville

Elizabeth Avery Foster (PhD)

Foster is professor of advertising and public relations at UT Knoxville, and she studies crisis preparedness. Her most recent work centers on the Zika virus and the different considerations and information channels publics use for information. Foster can discuss crisis self-efficacy—the perceived ability to perform safeguarding behaviors to avert risk—aspects of public health crisis management and preparedness, and best practices in public health campaigns.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

 

 

Safety, Risk and Emergency Management

UT Chattanooga

Robie Robinson (JD)

Robinson is UT Chattanooga assistant vice chancellor for emergency services. He is responsible for the UTC Police Department, campus and workplace safety, risk management, environmental compliance, and emergency management. Robinson is a commissioner for the Emergency Management Accreditation Program and is global president of the International Association of Emergency Managers.


Media Contact:
Gina Stafford, 423-425-4363, Gina-Stafford@utc.edu

 

 

Social Media

UT Knoxville

Courtney Childers (PhD)

Childers is associate professor of advertising and public relations and executive director of the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center.

Brandon Boatwright is doctoral student in the College of Communication and Information and assistant in residence at the center. Both are experts in social media analytics. They use Salesforce Social Studio technology to monitor the online conversation around Covid-19 including the social media chatter around its impact on public health, economic effects associated with the outbreak, misinformation about the virus, and influential figures in the discussion.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

 

 

Supply Chain

UT Knoxville

Shay Scott (PhD)

Scott is executive director of the Global Supply Chain Institute and distinguished lecturer in the department of supply chain management at UT Knoxville. He can discuss how the ongoing outbreak affects global supply chains and international business. He also can address the importance of supply chain management strategy during times of disruption and how companies might utilize technical innovations to mitigate risk.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

UT Knoxville

Ted Stank (PhD)

Stank is the Harry J. and Vivienne R. Bruce Chair of Excellence in Business in the department of supply chain management and faculty director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at UT Knoxville. He can discuss how the ongoing outbreak affects global supply chains and international business. He can address the strategic implications and performance benefits of supply chain management best practices, especially during times of disruption.


Media Contacts:
Owen Driskill (865-974-2383, jdriskil@utk.edu)
Karen Dunlap (865-974-8674, kdunlap6@utk.edu)

UT Institute of Agriculture
Additional experts are available to speak about how the virus might be affecting the production or use of specific agricultural commodities, such as beef, soybeans, dairy, etc.


Media Contact:
Patricia McDaniels, 615-835-4570, 865-363-6009 (mobile), pmcdaniels@tennessee.edu

 

 

Veterinary Medicine and Wildlife Health

UT Institute of Agriculture

Debra Miller (DVM, PhD)

Miller is professor in the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, director of the Center for Wildlife Health and interim director of the recently launched UT One Health Initiative. She can discuss biomedical and diagnostic sciences related to animals. The One Health concept is a global effort that transcends political boundaries, recognizing that the health of humans is connected to the health of animals and the environment. Approximately 70% of emerging infectious disease cases in humans and livestock are a consequence of spillover events from wildlife. The COVID-19 virus that is currently ravaging China and threatens to become more prevalent internationally is believed to have crossed over from a wild animal population.


Media Contact:
Patricia McDaniels, 615-835-4570, 865-363-6009 (mobile), pmcdaniels@tennessee.edu

UT College of Veterinary Medicine

Marcy Souza (DVM, PhD)

Souza is the director of Veterinary Public Health at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine. She can discuss diseases that spillover from animals to people (zoonoses) and steps people can take to reduce transmission of infectious diseases. She can provide information on the current global situation of the COVID-19 outbreak and steps UTIA is taking to reduce risk on its campus.


Media Contact:
Sandra Harbison, 865-974-7377, 865-755-6861 (mobile), sharbiso@utk.edu