Meteorology Associate Professor Awarded Fulbright to Study Pollution in Italian Alps  

David Lerach, PhD, an associate professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award.

Lerach will travel to Italy in the spring and summer of 2022 to work with the University of Trento through the Department of Civil Environmental and Mechanical Engineering in the program of Environmental Meteorology. There, he will study how pollution in the northern Italian Alps may impact precipitation patterns across the region, specifically how much precipitation falls, where it falls and whether it’s being shifted between different watersheds.


Exploring the Relationship Between Social Gaming, Anxiety and Loneliness 

Molly Jameson, PhD, UNC associate professor of Psychological Sciences; Joanna Lewis, PhD, UNC assistant professor of Psychological Sciences and Mia Trojovsky, pursuing a master’s at UNC in Marriage, Couples and Family Counseling/Therapy, recently published “New Social Horizons: Anxiety, Isolation, and Animal Crossing During the COVID-19 Pandemic” in Frontiers in Virtual Reality. The article explores the relationship between the social game, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons,” and feelings of anxiety or isolation during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Based on past research, the team predicted that players who  engaged more with the game would have decreased feelings of loneliness and anxiety, but they found the opposite to be true: increased hours of game play resulted in higher feelings of loneliness and anxiety — a finding that could have been the result of how or why people were using the game, such as for a coping mechanism, rather than the experience of gaming itself.  

“The key to this research is establishing that there is a relationship between social gaming and anxiety and loneliness,” Lewis said. “We can’t yet say the direction of the impact, but social gaming may be particularly consequential or a coping mechanism for those with higher anxiety, which is something that should continue to be studied.”