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La Salle News

December 4, 2020

La Salle University experts available to discuss COVID-19

Image of College Hall at La Salle University.

Experts from La Salle University are available to discuss a range of subjects related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including: herd immunity, vaccine efficacy, public health policy inequalities, supply chain disruptions, unemployment, remote work, and more.

For interview requests, email Christopher A. Vito, Senior Director of Strategic Communications, at


Brian R. Wyant, Ph.D.

Associate professor of sociology and criminal justice

About: Wyant is available to discuss the utilization of health services and health care in prisons. Further, he can discuss how COVID-19 and the associated change in daily routines may impact policing and neighborhoods and crime.

Quotable: “Individuals incarcerated have been hit particularly hard by recent spikes in COVID-19. Inadequate access to healthcare and general unsanitary conditions coupled with close quarters make prisons in the United States hotspots for the coronavirus. Further, COVID-19 and changes in individual’s routine activities, like working from home, can affect criminal opportunities and public safety.”


Adam Pellillo, Ph.D.

Assistant professor of Economics

About: An expert on health care economics, Pellillo can discuss fiscal and monetary policy responses to COVID-19, supply chain disruptions and shortages, and economic effects of the pandemic.

Quotable: “The economic implications of the pandemic are indeed profound. While there are some signs of economic recovery, in the aggregate, economic activity is still well below its pre-COVID level. In my view, the Federal Reserve has done everything in its power to respond to the recession, while there are still several policies and programs that the federal government could develop to help households, workers, businesses, nonprofits, and state and local governments, starting with a second round of stimulus checks.”

Elizabeth Paulin, Ph.D.

Associate professor of economics

About: A labor economist, Paulin can discuss the immediate and long-term economic outlook due to the pandemic. This includes job loss, job growth, labor reallocation, and the economic impacts of remote work, earning potential, and more.

Quotable: “It’s not going to be that once businesses reopen everyone will be able to return to their same job. Until a vaccine is discovered and distributed, there are jobs that are going to be lost as a result and they won’t be coming back for quite a while. And for those who are rehired, as well as for those who were able to retain their jobs, many can expect to be doing things quite differently going forward. Furthermore, I think we’re looking at a major restructuring in the next two years, coinciding with a major reallocation of jobs.”


Jason Diaz, Ph.D.

Assistant professor of integrated science, business, and technology (ISBT)

About: Diaz, a virologist and molecular biologist, is available to discuss the spread of viruses and the concept of herd immunity, as well as vaccine design, clinical trial data, and reasons for optimism about COVID-19 vaccines.

Quotable: “The protective effects of herd immunity relies on those who are susceptible to be evenly distributed within a protected population. If there is ever clustering of susceptible individuals, then their local community immunity levels will be dangerously low. We’ve seen this many times with measles, where communities decide to no longer get the measles vaccine, and the disease immediately causes an epidemic in that community. By refusing the vaccine, they drop herd immunity to a level that the virus can easily spread once again. … It’s important to remember that there are always individuals in our community who are at much higher risk for disease, and who cannot afford to be exposed to a given pathogen.”


Charles A. “Chip” Gallagher, Ph.D.

Professor and chair of the Sociology and Criminal Justice Department

About: His research focuses on social inequality with a particular focus on race relations and racial inequality and institutional racism.

Quotable: “Every single quality of life indicator in the United States varies by race, and COVID-19 has pulled back the curtain on how life and death are linked to one’s racial group. Many questions—who gets tested for COVID-19, who can stay home and telework, which groups have greater incidences of preexisting conditions, and who lives in denser housing situations or must take public transportation to work in a job where you interact with others all day—are almost perfectly predicted by race.”

Candace Robertson-James, DPH

Assistant professor of public health

Director of bachelor and master of public health programs

About: Robertson-James is available to discuss the similarity in symptoms of COVID-19, the flu, and the common cold, as well as epidemiology and gender- and race-based health disparities, particularly those issues affecting women, minorities and adolescent, among other public health topics.

Quotable: “The sequencing of symptoms may differ. For instance, a person could experience a sore throat before a cough or other symptoms as part of the common cold viruses, compared to the sore throat experienced by someone with COVID-19. That’s why we all need to do our part to keep our communities and ourselves safe. The best way to do just that is by committing to daily personal health monitoring, limiting social gatherings, and practicing personal safety measures like wearing face coverings and washing our hands.”


Kathleen Bogle, Ph.D.

Associate professor of sociology and criminal justice

About: Bogle’s work spans gender, intimate relationships, dating, domestic violence, and women’s studies. She led a course during the pandemic called, “Love, Marriage, and Parenthood,” during which she gathered insights and anecdotal data from 32 students on how dating and relationships are affected by COVID-19. She can discuss a possible pandemic baby boom, a potentially higher divorce rate, increases in domestic violence, and the pandemic’s impact on dating.

Quotable: “Major world events have trickle-down effects on dating and mating. The pandemic could slow relationship progression. Rather than relationships getting sexual and advancing quickly, we may see people more inclined to get to know their partners virtually and emotionally first—and out of necessity.”

Katie Dunleavy, Ph.D.

Associate professor of communication

Director of M.A. in Strategic Communication

About: An expert on interpersonal and cultural communication, Dunleavy’s work explores the ways these areas provide insight into people’s words and messages. She is also available to discuss the long-term effects of the coronavirus on interpersonal relationships including relationship maintenance, relationships in failure, and nonverbal communication such as greetings (like handshakes, hugs, and high-fives). She can also speak about stigma and the effects of stigma on relationships.

Quotable: “Humans need physical touch. It isn’t a matter of liking contact; it is a valuable way through which we reduce stress in the body. The United States was a fairly hands-off society before the pandemic. I think we might see even less touch after the pandemic, which means the physical touch from our romantic partners is going to be that much more important.”


Nina Mendez, Ph.D.

Assistant professor of psychology

About: Mendez is available to discuss coronavirus phenomena like alcohol abuse, social media usage during the pandemic, fear of missing out (FOMO) anxiety brought on by quarantining, and family and relationship dynamics, particularly in almost exclusive contact with those in one’s household. She is also available to discuss grief, loss, and trauma related to death and family separation during the pandemic.

Quotable: “The physical and medical consequences of the pandemic are incredibly important. However, the psychological, emotional, and behavioral byproducts of this global crisis are equally as critical to evaluate. We must review the outcomes of COVID-19 related but not limited to experiences of grief, loss, trauma, substance consumption, coping strategies (social media use), and overall relationship challenges.”

Interview requests

To request an interview with any La Salle faculty member, please email Christopher A. Vito, Senior Director of Strategic Communications, at


Brian DeHaven, Ph.D.

Assistant professor of biology

About: A virologist and microbiologist who studies immunology, DeHaven leads courses in cell biology and microbiology. He is available to discuss how the immune system responds to viruses, viral transmission, mitigation efforts, and more. He also studies wild yeasts’ ability to brew beer.

Quotable: “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of viruses in animals that have the potential to jump species and cause a pandemic. This time it was a coronavirus.”

Christen Rexing, Ph.D.

Assistant professor of public health

About: Rexing’s research focuses on public health policy development, adoption, and evaluation at the state and federal levels. She is available to discuss transmission and mitigation efforts, and inequalities in allocation of resources and public health policies.

Quotable: “We can help contain the virus through individual practices, but we must also work to ensure that all members of society have the ability to participate in these activities because we are only as strong as our weakest link. Individual stockpiling of supplies is counterproductive and quite harmful during pandemics. Each household should contain an emergency preparedness kit; however, purchasing mass quantities of items is not necessary and can harm your community by not providing everyone the opportunity to prepare.”


Kelly Daily, Ph.D.

Associate professor of communication

About: Daily’s expertise centers on analysis of strategic health communication practices and the influence of media coverage on health decisions, like the decision to get vaccinated. She is available to discuss perceptions of vaccine efficacy and safety, managing vaccine hesitancy, and related communication strategies and challenges.

Quotable: “We know that people’s perceptions of the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine are key predictors of willingness to get vaccinated, but those are not the only factors that go into the decision-making process. When deciding whether to get vaccinated, people also consider how likely it is they will get the disease and how serious getting the disease will be for them, and how easy or difficult it will be for them to get to a health care professional to get vaccinated.”

—Christopher A. Vito