UW Madison: Halloween experts available
10/24/2017

MADISON, Wisconsin - Halloween brings spooky costumes, superstitions and sooooo much candy. Experts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison can talk on a variety of subjects, including spiders and bats and pumpkins. Oh my!

RETAILERS SEE GREEN DURING HALLOWEEN

Jerry O'Brien, an expert on retail and executive director of the Kohl's Center for Retailing, can talk about the big business of Halloween. "Trick or Treating is not growing and may be on the decline. But that has not led to a decrease in sales of Halloween-related products," O'Brien says. "Halloween has become an important spending period for the millennial shopper. With the focus millennials put on experience, Halloween is a perfect holiday, with haunted houses, fall festivals and parties. So even though trick or treating isn't growing, costumes sales should continue to grow as the millennial wants to be seen and to impress." He can be reached at 608-263-7996 or Jerry.OBrien@wisc.edu.

VAMPIRES STILL LEAVE THEIR MARK

Tomislav Z. Longinović, an expert on vampire legends and professor of Slavic, Comparative Literature and Visual Culture, can comment on the enduring intrigue of vampires and Dracula. "The interest in vampires endure because they are liminal creatures, whose existence revolves around violence and sexuality, issues that popular culture is obsessed with," Longinović says. He may be reached at tlongino@wisc.edu.

FUN WITHOUT FEAR

Dr. Marcia Slattery, an expert in child psychiatry, can talk about how Halloween makes some children anxious and what parents can do help make Halloween a little less scary. Contact: Susan Lampert Smith, ssmith5@uwhealth.org, or (608) 890-5643.

HAVE YOUR TREAT - AND VEGGIES TOO

Cassie Vanderwall, a clinical nutritionist with UW Hospital and Clinics, can offer tips on how to make sure your little trick-or-treater doesn't overdo it in the treat department. Contact: Emily Kumlien at ekumlien@uwhealth.org

BATS ARE GOOD

Everyone knows vampires require a healthy diet of blood to ... thrive. But what about vampire bats? Graduate student Amy Wray is using genomic techniques to learn just what some species of bats are eating. This much is true: These bats have no interest in sucking your blood this Halloween. "People think of Halloween, and of course, they think about bats. But bats are certainly not creepy or scary, in fact, they are fascinating (and adorable!) animals that play a key role in the ecosystem," says Wray, who can be reached at awray2@wisc.edu or 760-917-0585.

PICKING PUMPKINS

It's pumpkin season, but what makes for the perfect gourd? Irwin Goldman, a professor of horticulture and expert on plant breeding, can talk about this seasonal tradition. Contact: Irwin Goldman, ilgoldma@wisc.edu, 608-262-7781

DON'T BE SPOOKED BY SPIDERS

PJ Liesch, director of the UW-Madison Insect Diagnostic Lab (more commonly known as UW's "bug guy"), can talk about spiders - like the colorful, slightly creepy and completely harmless orb weaver typically found in abundance in some parts in the fall, as well as other creepy crawlies. "If you ask someone their thoughts of spiders, feelings of fear, disgust, repulsion and anxiety might come to mind," Liesch says. "In the grand scheme of things, you're more likely to be injured by a pet dog than you are to be harmed by a spider. If anything, spiders should be considered beneficial as they eat an astonishing mass of insects every year." Contact: PJ Liesch, pliesch@wisc.edu, 608-262-6510.


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