As gas pipeline operations resume, panic-buying and high prices are expected to last along the east coast and southeast for days to come.  The Virginia Tech media relations office has assembled a team of faculty experts to provide context, interviews and quotes for outlets covering the story. 

Cybersecurity and ransomware - Aaron Brantly, an assistant professor of political science at Virginia Tech, has worked on issues related to cybersecurity from multiple angles, including human rights and development, intelligence and national security, and military cybersecurity. His interests span the political science and computer science divide.

-        Quoting: “Ransomware is a growing scourge on the internet, and we can expect these types of attacks to continue and proliferate in the years to come.” 

Gasoline supplies and prices - Mike Ellerbrock teaches in Virginia Tech’s department of agricultural and applied economics and is a noted expert in natural resource and environmental economics, along with social and technological changes affecting individuals, families, and communities.

-        Quoting: “It’s a huge interruption. It’s a manageable shortage as long as consumers don’t continue to panic. It’s kind of a double whammy because this cyberattack shortage is occurring simultaneously with a huge increase in the tourist season. People are anxious to start traveling, so it could last a while.”

Panic buying and social mediaCayce Myers is a professor of communication law with expertise in public relations and social media. 

-        Quoting:  “When people see an aggregate amount of people posting the same experience, that creates a perception and then people act on that perception. Gas shortage is nothing new, it’s not a new phenomenon, it’s happened before. I think what’s different is when you have a lot of social media discussion about it, just like paper towels or toilet paper, it creates a perception that then people follow through with.”

Gas lines and consumer behaviorBroderick Turner is an assistant professor of marketing at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech, with expertise in consumer behavior and social media.

-        Quoting: “The best lens to think about this behavior is through a scarcity mindset lens. Research on scarcity mindsets finds that when people believe an important resource is scarce they are more likely to use competitive and zero-sum thinking. This means that if YOU get some there is less for ME. So, we should not be surprised that when the media reports a possible disruption to something as important as gas, that people rush to the pumps to fill their tanks.” 

Benefits of hybrid/electric vehiclesKevin Heaslip is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech with expertise in transportation operations, transportation cybersecurity, public transportation, and transportation automation and electrification. 

-        Quoting:   Our dependence on gasoline for transportation leaves us vulnerable to supply disruptions or increased demand spikes we have seen over the last week. Electric vehicles can be fueled by renewable energy, such as wind or solar. EV owners also save 50-70% on fueling costs compared to compatible gas fueled vehicles.  Increasing the share of EVs in the US fleet will drive down the costs of the EV, reduce our dependence on gasoline, and ultimately save owners costs for transportation.

Contact Us

To secure a print or broadcast interview with any of these faculty experts, contact Bill Foy at or 540-998-0288, or Shannon Andrea at or (703) 399-9494.



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