UA experts offer predictions for 2013


Image: 2012What to eat next year? Can we steer clear of the fiscal cliff? Will the Cleveland Browns ever make the playoffs? Are there technology advances on the horizon for energy efficiency?

We’ve polled some of our campus experts to find the answers to these and other questions. Here are their predictions for what may lie ahead.


Prediction: The political forecast for 2013? More of the same.

By John Green, director, Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and distinguished professor of political science

John Green

One of the surprises of the 2012 election is that the long, intense and expensive campaign preserved the political impasse in Washington, D.C. The Democrats retained control of the White House and the Senate, but the Republicans held on to the House of Representative.

So we are right back to where we started — gridlock over taxes, spending and entitlement programs, popularly known as the "fiscal cliff."

Thus, 2013 is likely to see more of the same partisan wrangling. And Americans are likely to be even more frustrated with their government.

The alternative is leadership.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, along with their colleagues, could enact workable compromises on these tough issues. Because the president will not face re-election again, he is in the best place to begin the discussion, but the Republicans need to participate as well.

Such leadership would be a welcome surprise — and a surprising legacy of 2012. 

Sheldon Wrice


Prediction: The words we will hear and use with great frequency in 2013 will echo our collective experiences from the year just ending.

By Dr. Sheldon B. Wrice, department chair of Associate Studies, professor of technical writing and composition, and interim director of Pan African Studies.

In light of the events of the past year, both traumatic and positive, I predict that words like forgiveness, self-reflection, reanalyze, pay it forward and hope will echo throughout the coming year. Ultimately, these words reflect our desire to live harmoniously within our society. I think our focus, how we share our time, where we put our energy and devote our resources is based on our love for humankind. These are the words we’ll be hearing and saying as we try to fulfill that desire for harmony.


Prediction: 2013 has the potential to be a very successful year financially, as long as several very important conditions are met.  

Fred Carr

By Dr. Fred Carr, professor emeritus of education and former director of The H. Kenneth Barker Center for Economic Education

The Federal Reserve is committed to a steady support to underwrite the economy. It will keep interest rates low until unemployment falls to around 6 percent. We unfortunately will not reach that figure this year. The economy could become derailed, to the detriment of retirement accounts and savings accounts, if Congress continues to spend $1.25 trillion more than it takes in, in taxes. Raising taxes will not solve the debt crisis. Only controlling spending will stimulate the economy. If that spending control is not put in place in 2013, the financial picture for individual workers will be very bleak. The "fiscal cliff" is not important, running a national spending debt in excess of our national productivity is.   


Prediction: Among the food trends that will take overtake your plate in 2013, we expect to see healthier dishes from chefs and Asian flavors infiltrating American comfort food.

By Chef Mark Kent, operations manager of UA’s Crystal Room Restaurant and an American Academy of Chefs Academy Fellow

Mark Kent

The American dining scene will move beyond sweet, salty, and fatty. We’ll have a plethora of tart, acidic and bitter flavors to choose from, as menus and grocery stores feature flavors like fermented cherry juice, varietal vinegars and even sour beer. Awesome! With DIY pickling and brining, you will see more sauerkrauts, pickles and tart flavors at restaurants.

Butter, bacon and cream have been chefs’ best friends since the beginning of time, but in 2013, we will be working quietly behind the scenes to make your dishes better for you with ingredients like brown rice, high-fiber grains, and vitamin-rich veggie broths.

The fresh, spice-forward flavors of Thailand, Vietnam and Korea will work their way into menus. Expect to walk into a classic American diner and see options like Vietnamese chicken sandwiches, Sriracha mayo, or Korean-glazed pork ribs.

The snack of 2013?

Popcorn. Light, crispy and equally delicious with sweet or savory flavors, this popped whole grain is addictive, not to mention low in fat and calories. Which is why popcorn is going to explode (no pun intended) as a bar snack, crouton, ice cream and more.


Prediction: The Supreme Court of the United States' rulings this term will have a long-term impact on civil liberties, making it clear whether the court will remain a guardian and champion of equality, or become an obstacle to equality movements that span grassroots to federal and state-government-initiated recognition of respect for human diversity.

Elizabeth Reilly

By Elizabeth A. Reilly, interim dean, School of Law, 
vice provost for academic planning and
 C. Blake McDowell Jr. Professor of Law

Four cases in this term of the Supreme Court address three of the major civil rights issues of our time:

  • Gay rights and same-sex marriage (United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry)
  • Voting rights and the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act (Shelby County v. Holder)
  • Affirmative action in higher education (Fisher v. University of Texas)  

In each case, the lower courts decided in favor of equality. The outcome in the Supreme Court is likely to come down to how Justice Anthony Kennedy votes. In each case, the court is likely to seek a narrow ruling if choosing to uphold the equality rights, and a broader ruling if choosing to reverse the lower courts and overrule or distinguish the precedents upon which they relied.

The Supreme Court has the opportunity to reaffirm its role as a guardian of liberty and equality simply by deferring to other decision makers who evoked equality on behalf of their determinations in every one of these cases – to the states, the Congress, higher education, or the lower courts applying precedent. Those could be narrow, crafted decisions. The court could go further, whether ruling in favor of or against the disputed practices before it. In that event, it must express a strong constitutional commitment to a vision of equality that it will need to articulate with compelling clarity and defend against those who will, inevitably, disagree with that vision.


Prediction: Building on a successful agreement to avert the "fiscal cliff," House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama will achieve historic agreements on immigration reform and tax code reform in 2013. (Also, Zips men's soccer will win another national championship, the Cleveland Browns will make the playoffs and LeBron James will win a second NBA title.)

William Lyons

By William Lyons, director of the Center for Conflict Management and professor of political science

As we watch the president and the speaker give and take on the fiscal cliff negotiations, the horserace perspective may obscure our capacity to see the possibility of cooperation lurking beneath the headlines. If they are successful at negotiating a deal here (and I believe they will be, because there are clear indications that both have made this a priority), this will signal that they have found a way to work together. This will then present them with an opportunity to lead, taking on other must-do challenges. And the two that are both pressing and doable would be immigration reform and tax reform. 

Like President Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich, they will come together to put democracy and country first. And if this happens, there is a better than even chance that the speaker will be a republican candidate for president in 2016. 


Prediction: New discoveries in materials science will provide breakthroughs in technology that lead to greater energy efficiencies.

 By Dr. Gary L. Doll, Timken Professor of Surface Engineering

Gary Doll

The discovery that two-dimensional semiconductors only a few layers thick can possess indirect band gaps and desirable photoluminescence characteristics will lead to the next generation in solar cell technology. One example that has shown to be particularly promising is a single layer of molybdenum diselenide, which has the ideal band gap for harvesting solar energy. 

New findings that have shown that heat propagates like waves (instead of particles) through nanostructured super lattices will yield new and improved thermoelectric devices that will be much more efficient at producing electricity from temperature differences. 

Finally, researchers have found that calcium-silicate-hydrate particles in cement form in random sizes, rather than in homogeneous spheres. This nanoscale-size distribution leads to a denser packing of the particles, which corresponds to a stronger cement. This new understanding will allow materials scientists and engineers to alter the particles at the molecular level to develop stronger, more durable concrete.