Your Week on Campus Art

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Grace Gorenflo: Hello and welcome to The Daily Nebraskan’s weekly news podcast. Here we take you through our top three stories of the week in case you missed them. My name is Grace Gorenflo, assistant news editor, and this is Your Week on Campus.

First we have reporter Jolie Peal here to update us on a chain of recent car thefts. Jolie, where do those investigations stand?

Jolie Peal: Well, right now, the first car theft that happened on Oct. 9, it is closed, technically, but if they have any new evidence that come forward, or if the car is recovered — because the car is a silver 2003 Saturn — if they find that, then they can reopen the case. There is a crime stoppers video for Lincoln Crime Stoppers that you can go watch and see if you know the suspect and call about any information you may know.

The second case of a stolen 2016 Jeep Patriot has also not been recovered; that car is still out there. It’s flagged as stolen though, so if they find the vehicle, they’ll know to bring it back here. It was stolen from East Campus, and it is also closed. But it’s believed to be connected to the third case where the car has been recovered, which was a Toyota Camry, 2006. They recovered that car, so that case is still open, and they just took fingerprints from the car. They found a debit card that they believe could lead them to the suspects, and so they have that sent to the lab, and they’re following up on leads with that, [according to UNLPD officer Russell Johnson Jr.].

Gorenflo: And what is UNLPD’s suggestion for how students can avoid future car thefts?

Peal: Their number one suggestion, Captain John Backer said, is just lock your cars and make sure your valuables are out of sight. That’s the best way because, for all of these cars, the vehicles were unlocked, for whatever reason, and that was how the suspects got it — they had unlocked vehicles. So keep your vehicles locked and, if you’re in a parking garage and you notice someone that doesn’t seem to be going to a specific vehicle, you know, report that. UNLPD wants to know about that, and that is a way we can also prevent these car thefts and any other crimes happening.

Gorenflo: Great. Thank you, Jolie. 

Next, reporter Hanna Christensen is going to tell us about a new addition to UNL’s incident reporting system. Hanna?

Hanna Christensen: Thanks to sophomore Emma Sidel, UNL’s TIPS Incident Reporting System now has the option for students to report mental health and well-being related tips. It can be accessed via a link at the bottom of any UNL website. Emma got the idea from a mental health tip reporting app that she used when she lived in Utah called SafeUT. She used it to help her know how to help her friends who were struggling with their mental health, and she thought UNL should have a similar service. She and her group of faculty that aided her in making it a reality are also hoping to take things further by expanding it into an app and making their services more accessible. 

Gorenflo: Good to know. Thank you, Hanna. 

Christensen: Thank you.

Gorenflo: To close out today’s podcast, reporter Zach Wendling will give us a break down on a new $4.5 million grant UNL received from the U.S. Department of Defense for research in DNA nanotechnology. For starters, Zach, what is DNA nanotechnology?

Zach Wendling: Well, DNA nanotechnology is very programmable and predictable. And, while most people think of DNA as the double helix structure, it can be programmed into a number of shapes for various applications. That science is attempting to have more control over those shapes at the smallest level. Graphene nanoribbons, however, have their limitations and cannot be programmed to specific shapes.

As a result, Alexander Sinitskii, an associate professor of chemistry and leader of this new research team, is attempting to create hybrid materials of these two fields of science to create circuits for more useful electronics in the future. It has had applications in conductive films, like touchscreens, and mechanisms that help move machines. This new research is in an attempt to create those hybrid machines, and thus more useful electronics at a smaller scale. 

Gorenflo: Okay, so, why was the UNL team chosen for this grant, and what do they plan to do with it?

Wendling: Yeah, so, I spoke with Ashley Washburn, who is the director of research communications, and she said, “We are very fortunate to have the faculty expertise at Nebraska to carry out a project of this magnitude. Sinitskii is one of the leading experts in his field, in this area, and that made us very competitive for this award.”

And Sinitskii and his team are attempting to create those hybrid materials. And the U.S. Department of Defense noticed this. And Sinitskii said that it’s important to have people from different areas, with these different levels of expertise, in order to create these new electronics in the future and allow all these different aspects to come together and create the new field of science. 

Gorenflo: Awesome. Thank you, Zach. 

Wendling: Thank you.

Gorenflo: Alright, thank you everyone for tuning in to this week’s podcast. Be sure to check out for more on these stories and even more UNL news. Tune in next time and enjoy Your Week on Campus.