University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom

Hurricane Experts Available at UC Riverside

Experts Available to Talk to About Effects of Hurricane Katrina

(September 2, 2005)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. UC Riverside faculty expertise can add depth to news stories about the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina, which hit New Orleans and other Gulf Coast communities on Aug. 29.

Detection of contamination in water systems by human disease-causing microorganisms.
  • Marylynn V. Yates, professor of environmental microbiology and water quality specialist

  • Phone: 951-827-2358
    Dr. Yates studies the potential for and detection of water systems contamination by human disease-causing microorganisms. She studies the potential impacts on public health of the growing practices of using reclaimed water and biosolids.
    Yates researches better ways to detect disease-causing microorganisms in water, wastewater, biosolids and soil using traditional and molecular methods. She develops improved methods for assessing the vulnerability of groundwater to fecal contamination using viruses that attack bacteria. She also studies the effectiveness of water, wastewater and biosolid treatments at deactivating harmful microorganisms.

Waterborne diseases, hydrogeology
  • Sharon L. Walker, assistant professor and the John Babbage Chair in Environmental Engineering, Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering

  • Phone: 951-827-6094
    "This was an accident waiting to happen regardless of how well the flood control mechanisms were engineered," Walker has said. "The biggest concern for this toxic brew is sewage, the seepage from automobiles and other chemical sources, and decaying matter, whether waste, bodies or animals."

    The overall goal of Prof. Walker's work is to optimize effective water treatment and distribution, wastewater reclamation, and to understand mechanisms controlling microbial transport in aquatic environments.
    Walker's research interest lies at the intersection of physical, chemical, and biological processes in natural and engineered aquatic systems.

    More information about her research is available at the UCR Bacterial Adhesion Research Laboratory.

  • David Crohn, associate professor in Environmental Sciences

  • Phone: 951-827-3333
    The overall themes of Prof. Crohn's work include water quality, biosolids management, constructed wetlands for treatment of municipal wastewater, and composting. He is a member of theUC Waste Management Workgroup, and serves as a biosystems engineer with Cooperative Extension

  • William Walton, associate professor, Department of Entomology
    Office: 951-827-3919
    "With the increase of standing water with sewage in it, there will be an increase in the production of mosquitoes and in whose transmitting West Nile virus," said William Walton. His expertise is in mosquito ecology and mosquito production from man-made wetlands used to improve water quality from such sources as storm water, municipal wastewater and agricultural wastewater. New Orleans has become one big wetlands and a breeding ground in which mosquitoes can grow. "The mosquito population is there and it is increasing."

    The development of effective mosquito abatement programs that protect the encroaching human population from mosquito-borne disease and nuisance biting is necessary. Walton’s laboratory focuses on designing and implementing novel and practical management strategies for wetland mosquitoes.

Social affects of mass media
  • Charles Whitney, professor and associate chair of creative writing and professor of sociology

  • Phone: 951-827-6076
    Whitney can discuss the social effects of mass media, public opinion about the news media, opinion polls and the impact of televised debates on voters. His research specialties are in the sociology of mass media communicators, political communication and public opinion.

Media and children
  • Ellen Wartella, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost

  • Phone: 951-827-5034
    Wartella is an active scholar whose research focuses on the effects of media on child development. She can answer questions such as: Is it okay or harmful to let children watch news coverage of the chaos and suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina?

    She held the Walter Cronkite Regents Chair in Communication, Mrs. Mary Gibbs Jones Centennial Chair in Communication, UNESCO Chair Holder in Communication, and Professor of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas. She has written and edited several books and has published numerous book chapters and journal articles on mass media and communications. Dr. Wartella is co-principal investigator on a five-year, multi-site research project funded by NSF and entitled Children's Research Initiative.

  • Jonathan Turner, distinguished professor of sociology

  • Phone: 951-827-4622
    Jonathan H. Turner has a number of substantive specialties within his discipline, including: the sociology of emotions, ethnic relations, social institutions, social stratification, and bio-sociology. He can talk about the social, institutional and racial assumptions and forces at work in the chaos into which New Orleans has descended.

    He received his PhD from Cornell University in 1968, and has been at UCR since 1969. He has been president of the Pacific Sociological Association and the California Sociological Association. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has lectured widely all over the world, and he has been a visiting professor at Cambridge University, U.K.; Universitat Bremen, Germany; Universitat Bielefeld, Germany; Shandong University and Nan Kai University, Peoples Republic of China.

An updated list of media experts who can speak on hurricane and other topics is available at

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links