Experts available: Smart toy safety, managing holiday stress, economics of Christmas music, and more
December 4, 2023
The Virginia Tech media relations office has the following experts available for interviews on holiday related topics. To schedule an interview, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Eco-friendly ways to celebrate the holiday
From electricity usage to piles of presents, and an overload of food, this time of year can take a toll on the environment. Virginia Tech sustainability expert, Jennifer Russell is available to share tips on having a more sustainable holiday season. More here.
Strategies for managing holiday stress and anxiety
The holiday season is often an overwhelming experience for many individuals. The combination of gift shopping, travel arrangements, and the expected anxiety of family and friends can create very stressful situations. Virginia Tech psychologist Rosanna Breaux shares her most effective tips for navigating seasonal stress.
The economics of Christmas music
It’s officially December, and you know what that means—the air is filled with the festive sounds of carolers, and classic Christmas tunes are taking over department store sound systems. But as you navigate through the aisles listening to popular hits from Mariah Carey and Ariana Grande, keep an ear out for something intriguing—classic Christmas songs reimagined by today’s favorite artists. Virginia Tech expert Jadrian Wooten is available to explain the economics of Christmas music and why the money lies in reimagining the familiar versus creating new songs. More here.
What parents should know about ‘smart toys’ and data security
The growing smart toy market puts millions of toys with computing power and audio and visual recording capability in children’s hands. Parents considering digital toy gifts for Christmas or Hanukkah should be aware of the data collection that these toys perform and how to better protect their children’s privacy in this new domain. Information security experts France Belanger and Donna Wertalik, co-founders of Voices of Privacy, share guidance for parents.
Horticulture agent offers tips on winter holiday plant acquisition and care
Traditional winter holiday plants such as poinsettia, holiday cacti, or amaryllis can add vital color to your interior décor. Horticulture agent Ed Olsen with Virginia Cooperative Extension offers guidance for how to select plants at the store and take care of them at home. Read more here.
Instead of calories and macros, think about the level of food processing, expert says
Scientific consensus is building around a clear recommendation: To improve health, we need to think differently about our diet of ultra-processed foods. Rather than focus on calories or macronutrients, consider how the food you eat has been physically and chemically modified, says Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, an assistant professor with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and associate director of the research institute's Center for Health Behaviors Research. More here.
Food safety tips for the season of sugar-plums
Once the big holiday feast is over, for how long is it safe to hang onto the leftovers? Will they keep their flavor if you put them in the freezer? Do candies and confections made during the holiday season need to be refrigerated? Melissa Wright, director of Virginia Tech’s Food Producer Technical Assistance Network, shares holiday food safety tips of many sorts. Read more here and here.
Managing tough topics at family gatherings
Holiday gathers bring family together, but conservations can be tense when loved ones disagree on issues of the day. Virginia Tech expert Todd Schenk says those conversations should not be avoided, but rather respectfully managed. “I would suggest explicitly seeking agreement among the parties that you are going to ‘go there’ and perhaps set aside a time for doing so.” Read more here.
Podcast Feature - Research and Innovation
Anna Zeide joined Virginia Tech’s “Curious Conversations” to chat about the history of foods traditionally connected to holidays occurring during the winter months, as well as the nature of developing personal traditions.
Anna Zeide is an associate professor of history at Virginia Tech. She is also the founding director of the Food Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts & Human Sciences. She studies food as a way of understanding environmental change, dynamic cultural practices, consumer behavior, technology, health, and justice.
New episodes will debut each Tuesday. Expert researchers are also available for media interviews. To listen and learn more, click here.