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Our Experts Predict What's on Tap for 2016

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01/13/2016

As the university gears up for the start of a new semester, our campus experts weigh in on what’s in store in the year ahead - on subjects ranging from who will win at the Grammy Awards to the future of Uber.
 
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Alan Williams
Associate Professor, Music

Music

"Looking out to the Album of the Year at this year’s Grammy Awards, I'd say it's a toss-up between Taylor Swift’s “1989” and Kendrick Lamar’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.” Swift has established herself as a long-term career artist, with a track record of consistently good pop song craft. But I'm really hoping Lamar takes it. His album is an instant classic with a staggering artistic vision sustained over 75 minutes. It’s musically and lyrically experimental, challenging and confident. And it’s timeless, yet utterly of the moment."
 
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Scott Latham
Interim Dean, Manning School of Business

Business

"Oil’s continued collapse will further offset the United States’ traditional high cost of doing business. As the economy thrives, the divide between the strong and weak will be accentuated and, as a result, mergers will occur across all sectors. The strong will eat the weak (i.e. Amazon will acquire eBay). And as Millennials continue to shift to on-demand lifestyles, profound changes will hasten the adoption of the sharing economy. Numerous legal challenges to Uber will fail, and taxi cabs will be gone in 10 years.”
 
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Francis Talty
Assistant Dean, College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Politics

"The first woman presidential candidate to be nominated by a major party will be chosen next summer and the presidential race in the fall between Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee will be one of the most intense and potentially nasty we’ve ever seen. The consequences are tremendous, not only economically, but also because our stature and role in the world hinges on the next president’s approach. The next president could have as many as three appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
 
Katherine Tucker

Katherine L. Tucker, Ph.D.
Professor, Nutritional Epidemiology

Nutrition

"I predict we’ll see new findings about the importance of the gut microbiome and of having healthy bacteria living in our intestine. These bacteria assist in many functions including proper nutrient absorption, production of some nutrients and signaling to our brain that we have eaten enough. The American diet has, in many ways, disrupted this important bacterial balance. To maintain it, we need to increase our intakes of prebiotics, meaning dietary fiber from vegetables, legumes and whole grains; and from probiotics, like yogurt, kimchi or other healthy fermented foods."


 
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Fern MacKinnon
Director, Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences

Global Learning

"We’ll continue to see growth in the number of programs geared toward the STEM majors such as electrical engineering in Prague or mechanical engineering in Germany where students can experience not only language and culture immersion but also specific classes and experiences for their degree. This trend will grow at UMass Lowell in particular, with strong STEM majors that can take advantage of the many international university partnerships developed over the past five years."
 
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Frank Colby
Professor, Environmental, Earth & Atmospheric Science

Weather

"Researchers have found that when Siberia experiences extensive snow cover in October, the jet stream pattern is changed and we begin to have cold weather in New England in January. This past October, Siberia did have extensive snow. Our weather models are showing the expected changes in the jet stream. That generally means a snowy, cold winter for New England, but nothing as severe as last winter. Here in Lowell, our average snowfall for a winter season is a bit more than 50 inches. We expect that this winter will produce 60 to 75 inches of snow in Lowell."
 
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Patrick Drane
Assistant Director, Baseball Research Center

Sports Concussions

"There will continue to be new research and technological developments focused on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussions. With the release of the movie “Concussion," I predict that public awareness surrounding concussions will reach an all-time high. I also predict that there will be new helmets, sensors, training techniques and rules in both contact and non-contact sports to combat concussions, but I also worry that some of those developments will be implemented based on perception and fear rather than scientific understanding."