UF receives record $706.8 million in research funding in 2015

September 1, 2015
Joe Kays
Research funding

The University of Florida received $706.8 million in research awards last year, surpassing the previous record set in fiscal year 2014 by $5.1 million.

Among the highlights of the 2015 fiscal year, which ended June 30, was a record $102 million in funding from industry, a 41 percent increase over 2014.

“The success of our relationships with industry last year are a testament to our researchers’ ability to move new discoveries from conceptualization to commercialization,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “Leading engineering, health and agricultural companies know UF can help them advance the science of their industries more effectively.”

Funding from the federal government topped $432 million in 2015, led by the National Institutes of Health, with $152 million, up 7 percent over 2014, and the National Science Foundation, also up 7 percent to $47 million. State of Florida and local government agencies provided another $46.9 million. Foundations and non-profits awarded $90.4 million.

The College of Medicine in Gainesville and Jacksonville brought in $268.3 million; the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or IFAS, received $125.8 million; the College of Engineering was at $79.7 million; and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences received $34.8 million. The remaining colleges had a combined $198.2 million.

The new total marks a 32 percent increase in UF research awards since 2005-06.

Notable awards during the year included nearly $5 million in funding from the National Science Foundation and industry to create the Multi-functional Integrated System Technology, or MIST, Center in the College of Engineering to research the next generation of “smart” electronics. As a designated NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, the MIST Center will receive over $880,000 from NSF and upwards of $4 million from industry and government partners to help power the “Internet of Things.”

The College of Engineering also received $2.7 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, to test neural implants designed to offer more intuitive control of prosthetics on military veteran and civilian volunteers.

“This research will directly impact the quality of life for a number of our veterans,” engineering Dean Cammy Abernathy said, “and in doing so, we will further develop our faculty’s already outstanding work in neuroprosthetics. This kind of research exemplifies how UF works for the ‘Gator Good.’”

IFAS researchers were awarded more than $13.4 million for four studies to help fight citrus greening, the devastating disease that threatens Florida’s $10 billion citrus industry.

“UF/IFAS has more than 150 scientists working to find viable solutions for Florida citrus producers,” said Jack Payne, senior vice president for agriculture and natural resources. “These funds support research that has shown promise for both short- and long-term methods to fight greening. They are an investment in the future of the industry.”

The College of Medicine secured a total of $8.4 million in funding for hepatitis C research from seven pharmaceutical industry leaders—Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences, Merck, Bristol Myers Squibb, Genentech, Glaxo Smithkline and Roche Molecular Systems. This funding is largely concentrated in support of the international HCV-TARGET project, which collaborates with multiple pharmaceutical companies and the FDA to gather data from thousands of hepatitis C patients as part of an ongoing effort to cure the liver disease.

“Leading liver doctors across the country have joined HCV-TARGET to study and navigate rapidly evolving treatment options for hepatitis C,” said medicine Professor David Nelson, UF’s principal investigator on HCV-TARGET. “We see a healthier future for patients battling this virus and formed HCV-TARGET to help guide the way.”

HCV-TARGET is led jointly by Nelson and Michael W. Fried, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Global Impact

What’s on your mind?
Join in and find out.

September 1, 2015
Paul Bernard

The UF Mindfulness project, a collaborative program involving many UF colleges, has announced the first-ever UF MedMob, which will take place in Library East, Room 100 from noon to 1 p.m. on Sept. 24.

MedMob, a meditation flash mob, is intended to spark a mindful UF campus. Mindfulness is described as deliberately paying full attention to what is happening around you and within you (in your body, heart and mind) in the present moment. It is awareness without criticism or judgment. The free event is open to students, staff, postdocs, faculty and administrators at UF as well as the general public. All are asked to bring a yoga mat, tarp, cushion or pillow.

To further its goal of emerging mindfulness into the campus culture, the organization is hosting the first-ever UF Mindfulness Day, to be held 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sept. 28, also in Library East, Room 100. Michael A. Singer, author of the No. 1 New York Times best-seller “The Untethered Soul” and “The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection,” will be the keynote speaker.

Mindfulness Day will include training and practicing sessions, performances and talks on the subject. If you are a novice or long-term practitioner, the UF Mindfulness project encourages you to attend the events, which are all free. The first 10 participants at each walk-in session will receive a free T-shirt. For more information, please visit https://mindfulness.ufl.edu/. You can also share your thoughts by contacting mindfulness@ad.ufl.edu, visiting facebook.com/MindfulnessUF or tweeting @sacred_swamp.

Campus Life

UF Performing Arts announces appointment of new director

September 1, 2015
UF News

Brian Jose has been named the new director of University of Florida Performing Arts.

Jose comes to UF from the College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University in Central Minnesota where he has served as the executive director of Fine Arts Programming since 2008.  In this position, he was responsible for establishing strategic direction for the program, creating a collaborative environment between Fine Arts Programming and the faculty/staff of both college campuses. 

Prior to his current position, Jose worked in various capacities for the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland, Arizona State University’s Herberger College of Fine Arts, the Phoenix Art Museum, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

“I am so thrilled to join one of this country’s most storied performing arts programs. It is an honor to take over for Michael Blachly, and to build on his arts legacy at this great university,” Jose said.  “I look forward to sharing my passion for the performing arts with the UF and Gainesville communities.”

Jose, who currently serves as the Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters will assume his new director duties effective early November.   

For more information, please contact Amy Douglas at 352-273-2476 or adouglas@performingarts.ufl.edu.

Campus Life

UF awarded $8 million toward Phase II of Innovation Hub

September 2, 2015
Office of Research
research, business, innovation

The University of Florida will receive $8 million in federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration toward construction of Phase II of the Florida Innovation Hub, a 50,000-square-foot building adjoining the original business super-incubator at Innovation Square.

In announcing the grant on Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said, “The EDA investment will ensure that innovators and entrepreneurs in and around the University of Florida have a place to develop their ideas and build their businesses to make the region more competitive in the global economy.”

Phase II will provide much-needed expansion space for technology startups near UF, the state's leading generator of commercializable technology, said Jane Muir, director of the Innovation Hub.

“Several companies in the Florida Innovation Hub are projecting significant growth in the near future and will need expansion space that is not readily available in Gainesville,” Muir said. “In addition, Phase I is operating at capacity and needs additional space to accommodate demand.”

Companies that start in an incubator are four times more likely to succeed than those that don’t, Muir said, but “technology-based startups require a considerable amount of nurturing from numerous sources in order to be successful.”

Phase II will also include an Entrepreneurial Woman’s Center to provide ongoing assistance to women, who are underrepresented in the “entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

“A shortcoming of UF’s Empowering Women in Technology Startups program is the lack of follow-up support to participants after they have been through the program,” she said. “This will allow women entrepreneurs to continue to the next stage.”

The university is investing $9 million toward the project in expectation that it will continue the impressive record of commercialization seen at the original Innovation Hub.

“In its first three years, Phase I of the Innovation Hub assisted 60 companies, resulting in 760 jobs and $50 million in private investment,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “We’re confident that this second phase will continue this unprecedented record of success.”

UF President Kent Fuchs said, "The expansion of the Innovation Hub will enable UF to go even further in its mission to create and grow innovative, high-tech companies that will drive future economic growth within the state of Florida."

Muir said the project is targeted for completion within 36 months.

Global Impact

UF Foundation announces Preeminence professorships

September 3, 2015
UF Foundation
UF Preeminence, awards, faculty, research

An internationally recognized microorganism researcher and an expert in health-related communication are recipients of this year’s University of Florida Foundation Preeminence Term Professorships. The professorships recognize the extraordinary accomplishments and prestige the awardees bring to the university and are accompanied with a cash award to advance their research.

Julie Maupin-Furlow and Janice Krieger will each receive $25,000 to hire research assistants, purchase equipment, participate in special training, collaborate on work and invest in other means of support that enhance their research. Maupin-Furlow is pioneering the use of microorganisms to create biofuels and chemicals. Krieger is focused on making scientific research more accessible and understandable for the general public. They were selected to receive the Preeminence Term Professorships from a pool of UF’s top faculty members who were nominated by their deans.

Julie Maupin

Maupin-Furlow, a microbiology and cell science professor in UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, concentrates her research on microorganisms that thrive in hot springs and other severe environments once thought uninhabitable. Her research has helped scientists better understand the molecular mechanisms that are fundamental to all life. Her discoveries are also generating new biocatalysts that can be used to produce renewable fuels. 

Janice Krieger

Krieger is director of UF’s STEM Translational Communications Program in the College of Journalism and Communications. Her research looks at how to best share complex information with laypeople and on informed decision-making at the intersection of health and science – for example, explaining to people how and why medical recommendations change so doctors maintain credibility.

“The heart and soul of a university is its faculty — the men and women who come to work each day to share their knowledge with tomorrow’s leaders and to search for ways to enhance our lives,” UF Provost Joe Glover said. “Julie and Janice exemplify that through their research and dedication to their disciplines. These term professorships provide funding that will help them address real-life issues.”

Endowed term professorships are representative of UF’s commitment to, and investment in, faculty members whose work is transforming lives. Such endowments are a cornerstone in UF’s aspiration to be among the best public universities, because they provide additional funding for projects and help UF retain and recruit the most talented professors. Maupin-Furlow and Krieger are the fifth and sixth Preeminence Term Professorships winners. Last year, medicinal chemistry professor Hendrik Luesch and associate sociology professor Stephen Perz were honored. And in 2013, diabetes researcher Mark Atkinson and chemical engineer Fan Ren were the winners.

“It’s amazing to me what our faculty accomplish, a lot of it seemingly through pure will. Imagine what they can do with more funding to support their work,” said UF Foundation Chair Scott Hawkins. “That’s the reason for these professorships. We want to give our faculty the tools to make amazing happen.”

Campus Life

Ignorance of racially biased decision-making is no excuse, study shows

September 4, 2015
Alisson Clark
bias, prejudice, psychology, liberal arts and sciences

What if prejudice influenced someone’s actions, but that person didn’t realize it?

Most people hold an unaware person just as morally responsible as someone who is fully conscious of discriminatory behavior, a new University of Florida study shows.

“You’re not freed from blame if you don’t know about the impact of your biases,” said psychology doctoral student Liz Redford, the lead author of the study published last month in the British Journal of Social Psychology.

Typically, when a consequence is unexpected, the perpetrator is considered less at fault, Redford said. When it came to racial bias, however, participants assigned responsibility regardless of awareness.

“That suggests that there are some things everyone ought to know, and this seems to be one of them,” Redford said. “If you have an implicit bias, you ought to know it will affect your actions.”

In first part the study, Redford and UF associate professor Kate Ratliff analyzed participants’ reactions to stories about a person who was either unaware, partially aware or fully aware of the consequences of his bias against African Americans in situations such as hiring, promotion, university admission and health care.

Participants held the partially aware perpetrators just as morally responsible as those who were fully aware of the role their biases played in their actions. In the second part, the researchers looked at why participants held the biased people responsible for outcomes they did not anticipate.

“What explained the equality between the two was the obligation of foresight – they felt that the person should have known, even if they didn’t,” Redford said. 

Redford hopes the study will encourage people to take a closer look at how bias could influence their actions. 

“People need to think about becoming aware – only when they do that can they change their behavior,” she said.

But how can people tell if bias might be influencing their decisions? Redford suggests visiting Harvard’s Project Implicit website to take an anonymous Implicit Association Test, which can identify prejudice based on race, gender, weight, skin tone, religion, disability and more.

“Implicit attitudes can be tough to change, but being aware of it is the first step,” she said.

Source: Liz Redford, lizredford@ufl.edu

Society & Culture

A journalist’s view of a “savage frontier”

September 4, 2015
UF News

Since 2008, Ieva Jusionyte has conducted fieldwork in the tri-border region between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, known as a haven of international organized crime for drug and human trafficking, contraband and money laundering. She has seen it all up close and has written about her experiences.

An assistant professor in the department of anthropology and UF Center for Latin American Studies, Jusionyte will talk about her book “Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border” Tuesday, Sept. 22 at 4 p.m. in Smathers Library, Room 100. The event is part of the Authors@UF series presented by the George A. Smathers Libraries.

Jusionyte is a cultural anthropologist with a background in news journalism. She specializes in political and legal issues, applying an ethnographic approach to the study of security, governance and borders.

“Savage Frontier: Making News and Security on the Argentine Border” focuses on the experiences of local journalists who draw on their encounters with crime, violence and other forms of social vulnerability, marginalization and government impunity, to report on some illegal activities, but not others. Security for them is not an all-encompassing discourse about existential threats, but a lived experience embedded in their everyday practices, where the role of the media is to maintain the boundary between news stories and public secrets.

You are welcome to come meet Jusionyte, who believes that social science research should participate in broader conversations on public issues and especially contribute to the well-being of communities under study. She strongly advocates for collaborative ethnographic projects.

Campus Life

Why did Google's logo rollout go more smoothly than Yahoo's?

September 4, 2015
Kay Tappan
advertising, faculty, public relations

Public relations lecturer Kay Tappan explains how Google fared better than Yahoo in unveiling a new logo.

We’re uncomfortable with change. From a cynic’s perspective, the bevy of adages embracing it (flashback to high-school yearbook opening page: “The only constant is change”) is evidence: it’s as if we’re trying too hard to convince ourselves.

Perhaps the most illustrative phenomenon of this aversion is the logo switcheroo. Remember Gap’s logo disaster in 2010? Oh wait, you probably don’t; they reverted back to their original logo only four days after the rollout. And more recently, after spending five months and more than $125,000, Penn State’s new logo had disenchanted students and alumni taking to Twitter in droves.

So it’s no surprise at all that Google’s new logo has ruffled some feathers: an informal Ad Age poll shows a majority dislike it.

Yet, at least anecdotally, the Google logo unveiling has not solicited quite the vitriol that Yahoo did when it rolled out a logo re-design in 2013.

Why was this the case?

On the face of things, there are plenty of similarities: Both Google and Yahoo are tech behemoths that have been around since what seems like the beginning of the Internet – long enough that each likely had its respective logo done by a developer experimenting with CorelDRAW in a nondescript Northern California garage.

But this is not really about design. Yahoo’s final product could have been the 21st century’s answer to the Mona Lisa, but I suspect reactions would have been the same.

When it comes to logo redesigns, it’s not what’s done so much as when it’s done and how it’s rolled out.

Tech years are like dog years

Brand scholars posit that brands age much like humans: there’s birth, childhood, adolescence, marriage (mergers and acquisitions), parenthood (brand extensions), aging (market share decline) and death.

Yahoo, which launched in 1994, had four real years on Google, which appeared in 1998. In the tech world, that’s at least a generation. So while Google is arguably somewhere around marriage/parenthood, Yahoo was already well into the aging stage when Marissa Mayer (formerly of Google) became CEO in 2012.

Let’s face it: staging a late-life comeback is tricky (see: Arby’s and IHOP). On the other hand, making significant changes is baked into the marriage and parenting “life stages” of brands.

It’s all in the execution

In 2013, crowdsourcing was a hot (kinda) new thing, so it’s no wonder Yahoo jumped on the train. The company pushed out 29 versions of its logo – the reason for which is still unclear to me. I do believe the public was under the impression that it had a say. But then Mayer announced she and a team had spent the past weekend hammering out the new logo. It’s like we got all riled up and then learned, post-hoc, that we didn’t score an invite to the slumber party.

Google, on the other hand, incorporated its change in a way that felt organic. Google Doodles – those delightful animations that often stand in for the organization’s logo on the Google homepage – have been around nearly as long as the company itself.

So to introduce the new logo in a way that was consistent with previous Google Doodle animations was genius; I might be thicker than most, but I didn’t actually realize a logo rebrand was going on. I just thought it was kind of cute how the hand reached up and tilted the last “e” ever so slightly.

The aspirational unveiling

Both companies announced the logo changes via blog and video channels, but that’s where the similarities stop. Mayer’s blog post gives a rational appeal, outlining a step-by-step explanation of the design choices in detail that only an engineer could appreciate. The video is equally mathematical (news flash: Americans are terrified of math), with music that, inexplicably, sounds like it should be blaring in a Gap store, circa 1999.

Meanwhile, the Google post, signed by the VP of Product Management and Director of User Experience, is emotional without being at all personal, and the video is simply a multimedia translation of this message (though it does feel a bit like a frenetic timeline of Dr Evil’s mounting world domination). It’s a rallying cry for where Google has been and where it’s going.

Yahoo, once the leading search engine, made a huge fanfare of its intent, and the rollout was an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink affair.

Google, on the other hand, has been evolving since nearly Day 1, so the new logo felt like just another iteration; its communique stayed consistent with this theme.

After all, for Google, the only constant is change.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Society & Culture

Rare and common species to be featured
at tenth annual ButterflyFest

September 4, 2015
Florida Museum of Natural History

Florida Museum of Natural History visitors will have the opportunity to learn about “Connections to Nature,” during this year’s annual ButterflyFest on Sept. 19.

Featuring live butterfly releases, workshops, entertainment and activities for all ages, the free event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. will focus on healthy interactions with nature, including information on biodiversity and environmental conservation, management and sustainability.

One special activity this year will be the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s launch of a butterfly component to its “Wings Over Florida” program. Previously focused solely on birding, the program now includes the rewarding of six certificates based on butterfly-watching achievement.

Florida Museum and FWC representatives will unveil the program during a brief ceremony at 1 p.m.

“We are extremely excited about the program,” said Jaret Daniels, associate curator and director of the McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity. “It’s a great incentive to get outdoors, reconnect with nature and improve your butterfly identification skills in the process.”

Following the unveiling, visitors may sign up for the program, start building their butterfly life list in the museum’s wildflower garden or adjacent natural area, and earn a basic level certificate.

“We want Florida’s residents and visitors to explore all the state has to offer, and looking for butterflies and native birds is a great way to do this,” said Jerrie Lindsey, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission office of public access and wildlife viewing services. “This event is a great way to join with our partners in promoting the program and its role in conservation.”

ButterflyFest also includes a three-day plant sale Sept. 18-20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. This is one of the museum’s largest sales of the year with more than 150 species and 2,500 plants. The museum also is open extended hours Sunday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“ButterflyFest is always so much fun, it’s a great opportunity to show our influences on nature,” said Catherine Carey, Florida Museum public programs coordinator. “There is something for everyone from our plant sales to our workshops.”

The festival also includes a children’s area, a special photography workshop in the Butterfly Rainforest exhibit, food and merchandise vendors and a pollinator parade for visitors dressed in costume.

Other participating groups including the Alachua County Office of Waste Alternatives, Lubee Bat Conservancy, Southern Lepidopterists' Society, University of Florida Wetlands Club and other museum and UF organizations.

For those looking to capture the ideal butterfly image, the “Picture Perfect Photography Workshop” from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Sept. 19-20 allows participants to photograph inside the “Butterfly Rainforest” before it opens to the public with equipment not generally permitted inside the exhibit. Museum employees also are available to help stage photos with newly emerged butterflies, and pre-registration is required. The cost is $25 for museum members and $28 for non-members, and includes exhibit admission. Participants must be at least 18 years old.

Additional information about ButterflyFest can be found at visit www.flmnh.ufl.edu/butterflyfest or by calling 352-273-2064.

Campus Life

Gaps in our biodiversity knowledge aren’t where you might think

September 8, 2015
Alisson Clark
biodiversity, florida museum of natural history

Imagine a place where there’s much left to discover about animal life, and you might picture a remote tropical jungle. Scientists did, too – until they discovered that the places we know the least about aren’t always those with fewer resources for studying them, but emerging economies such as Brazil and China.

An international team – including the University of Florida’s Robert Guralnick, associate curator of biodiversity informatics at the Florida Museum of Natural History – evaluated millions of species distribution records for mammals, birds and amphibians around the world. The team then evaluated how well the available data, much of it housed in natural history museums, represent global species distribution.

Their findings, published today in the journal Nature Communications, show the biggest gaps in emerging nations such as Brazil, India and China, and that even when information is available, it often goes unshared with the scientific community. That makes it harder to answer critical questions such as which species should be listed as endangered or how animals might respond to climate change, Guralnick said.

The team hopes the findings will lead to better international coordination on biodiversity data. Industrialized nations often have the experience and funding but not the rich diversity of species, while emerging nations find themselves in the opposite predicament.  “Partnerships and knowledge transfer between institutions in more industrialized and emerging nations are key for enhancing our ability to mobilize data,” Guralnick said.

Global Impact

Gator100 nomination deadline Sept. 15

September 8, 2015
Milenko Martinovich
innovation, entrepreneurship, business, awards

The deadline to submit nominations for the 2016 Gator100, a ranking of the 100 fastest-growing, Gator-owned or Gator-led businesses, is Sept. 15.

Sponsored by the University of Florida, the Warrington College of Business and the College's Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, the Gator100 recognizes entrepreneurial excellence by UF alumni whose growth and innovation have made genuine differences in their communities.

To qualify for the Gator100, companies must have been in business for five years or more as of Oct. 1, 2015, and have had verifiable annual revenues of $250,000 or more in 2012. Additionally, a UF alumnus or alumni must have met one of the following three leadership criteria:

  1.  Owned 50 percent or more of the company from Jan. 1, 2012, through Oct. 1, 2015; or

  2.  Served as company's chief executive from Jan. 1, 2012, through Oct. 1, 2015; or

  3.  Founded the company and been active as a member of the most senior management team from Jan. 1, 2012, through Oct. 1, 2015.

To nominate a company — nominations will not be made public and self-nominations are welcomed — visit gator100.ufl.edu/nominations.asp.

Campus Life

It's little crabs vs. big environmental problems in reef habitats

September 9, 2015
Stephenie Livingston
research, caribbean, environment

It’s tough out there for a crab. As if overfishing, ocean acidification and pollution were not enough, they are also dealing with losing a key habitat: coral reefs. A University of Florida researcher says the oceans’ smallest crabs—some only the size of a pea—are facing extinction due to their dependence on reef systems.

When post-doctoral researcher Adiel Klompmaker with the Florida Museum of Natural History compiled the body size measurements of 792 species of prehistoric crabs and lobsters, he and colleagues found habitat appears to control the evolution of crustacean size. By evolving markedly smaller body sizes compared to crabs in other habitats, Klompmaker says reef crabs thrived in the nooks and crannies of corals and successfully radiated into reef environments millions of years ago.

Corals get a little help these days from crabs that defend the stony skeletons against preying species like snails and starfish in exchange for shelter and food. But the tiny guardians are losing the fight in places like the Caribbean, where as much as 80 percent of coral reef coverage has been lost in recent years due to threats like disease and climate change, Klompmaker said.

“The addition of human influences pushes some of these reefs over the edge,” he said. “Many species of crab are so strongly adapted to reef life, they simply won’t survive elsewhere, including 52 species of tiny cryptochirid crabs that live inside corals all over the world, including in Florida.” 

Science & Wellness

With NEH grant, libraries preserve 100,000 more pages of the past

September 9, 2015
Alisson Clark
history, libraries, digitization, newspapers, Florida

Tampa wallowed beneath three feet of water. Jacksonville was buffeted by 60 mile-per-hour winds. Snapped power lines sparked fires in St. Augustine, and Orlando went dark as power plants failed, pummeled by a Category 3 hurricane. Nearly 100 years after that storm, we can still trace its impact from the headlines of newspapers digitized by the University of Florida libraries.

UF’s George A. Smathers Libraries recently received $288,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to make pages from historic newspapers available digitally, supplementing a $325,000 grant from 2013 and adding up to the largest direct award in the libraries’ history. The funds will be used to digitize 100,000 additional pages as part of the Florida and Puerto Rico Digital Newspaper Project, a collaboration between UF and the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. The project provides free online access to historically significant Florida and Puerto Rican newspapers published from 1836 to 1922.

In addition to the 1921 storm – which struck before the advent of today’s storm-naming convention – the newspapers detail other natural disasters, such as the freezes that swept Florida in 1894 and 1895. They follow the rise and fall of railroads and steamboats, citrus and cattle, sugar cane and phosphate. They trace the impact of the Civil, Seminole and World Wars. And now they will be available worldwide.

“Because these pages are not just on microfilm anymore, it completely changes the access. Anybody with an Internet connection can see them,” said project director Patrick Reakes, the libraries’ associate dean of scholarly resources and services. “It’s also a more sustainable way to preserve them. Microfilm gets old and brittle and hard to read. Once these pages are digitized, they’re safe. They’ll still be readable in the future.”

The digitized papers will be available through the Library of Congress Chronicling America, the University of Florida Libraries Florida Digital Newspaper Library and the Biblioteca Digital Puertorriqueña at the University of Puerto Rico.  


Global Impact

Good deeds to honor the victims of evil

September 10, 2015
Paul Bernard

On Friday, Sept. 11, Gainesville’s annual Good Deed Mitzvah Marathon commemorating the victims of 9/11 will be held at Turlington Plaza.

The marathon, a joint effort of the Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Student Center and the Chabad-Lubavitch Student Group, will last from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and provide current students and community members an opportunity to do a good deed in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

Participants will choose from a variety of good deeds and document their efforts on a form. They will then attach the form to a 9/11 victim's photo fastened to a mini wooden replica of the twin towers. This will create the “Twin Towers of Good Deeds and Love.”  All participants will receive a sticker acknowledging their deeds.  At 12:45 p.m., a moment of silence will be observed.

Rabbi Berl Goldman, Executive Director of the Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Student Center at UF, said that, “Although our world at times experience great darkness and deliberate expressions of hate; love and kindness chase away much darkness.  The ‘Twin Towers of Good Deeds and Love’ will express an outpouring of giving, generosity and care, which will help alleviate much pain and sadness.”

Jessica Zank, student president of the Lubavitch-Chabad Student Group at UF expressed the importance of this project. “Students tend to get very busy with their own lives. It’s important that they take a few moments to remember those who sacrificed their lives and do a good deed in their memory,” Zank said.

Chanie Goldman, co-director, added, “It is especially important with the global threat of ISIS and other terrorist groups that all people infuse goodness and kindness into our world, proving that evil will never win.”

The event is free to all students and the general public. For further information, please contact Rabbi Berl Goldman at 352-336-5877 or 352-256-3323.

Campus Life

Here's what you need to know about your child's homework

September 11, 2015
Ellen Amatea
education, research, family

Education professor Ellen Amatea looks at homework's effect on children and their families.

Many parents and educators view homework as an important indicator of classroom rigor. The Back-to-Basic movement, which emphasizes the need for schools to teach basic academic skills in particular, has increased the emphasis on homework as a measure of a school’s success.

In fact, many parents and students judge the difficulty of a course or teacher by the amount of homework assigned. Furthermore, many educators believe that asking parents to help their children with homework is a particularly effective strategy for enhancing children’s achievement.

Many parents, too, agree that their involvement will make a positive difference. In a recent study conducted by the US Department of Education, 90% of parents reported that they set aside a place at home for their child to do homework, and 85% reported that they checked to see that homework had been completed.

But does helping with homework really improve student achievement? As a high school and college teacher who has assigned homework, and a mother of two sons who were not always too enthusiastic about completing homework, I have studied the many ways that families from different income levels support their children’s academic success.

I have come to believe that homework can not only enhance children’s achievement but can be a powerful opportunity for parent-child nurturing. But research also tells us that it is not just any homework assignment that will have that kind of impact.

Here is what we are learning about homework.

When parent involvement helps

Despite a widespread belief that parent involvement in homework is good for kids, researchers are discovering that it can have both positive and negative effects.

In 2008, three researchers – Erika A Patall, Harris Cooper and Jorgianne Civey Robinson – conducted an extensive review of research on the effects on students of parent involvement in homework. They found that the effects of parent involvement appear to be strongly influenced by four factors:

  • the nature of the homework assignment
  • the particular involvement strategy used by the parent
  • the child’s age and ability level
  • the time and skill resources in the home.

When does parent involvement help. New Jersey State Library, CC BY-NC

The researchers found that homework assignments in which students are expected to memorize facts, and the parent is expected to teach school skills, provide less meaningful opportunities for parent and student interaction in the learning process.

In contrast, homework assignments in which students choose a project that requires in-depth investigation, thought and some creative license enable meaningful parent participation. Parents can play supportive roles in discussing the project with their child, which is more enjoyable both for the child and parent.

For example, students may demonstrate math skills; share ideas and obtain reactions to written work; conduct surveys or interviews; gather parents' memories and experiences; apply school skills to real life; or work with parents or other family partners in new ways.

Strategies for parents

In addition, how parents help their child with homework appears to have distinct effects on student achievement.

Most parents engage in a wide variety of involvement strategies, such as creating “school-like routines” in which they make rules about when, where or how homework is done. They also interact with the teacher about homework and provide general oversight or monitoring of homework completion.

In some instances, parents control these structures; in others, parents follow the student’s lead.

For instance, parents may engage in the learning processes with the child (eg, engage in homework tasks with the child or in processes that support the child’s understanding of homework). Parents may also help their child learn self-management skills (eg, coping with distractions).

The strategies that parents use may vary depending on their beliefs about child-rearing and broader cultural values. Yet these different parent involvement strategies appear to have distinct effects on student achievement.

Strategies that support a child’s autonomy and also provide structure in the form of clear and consistent guidelines appear to be the most beneficial.

For example, in a 2001 study, researchers reported that parent homework involvement that supported autonomy was associated with higher standardized test scores, class grades and homework completion.

In contrast, direct aid (doing the homework for the student) was associated with lower test scores and class grades.

In another study, parent involvement in homework was reported by students to have a detrimental effect if the parent tried to help without a request from the child or was perceived as intrusive or controlling by the child.

Age matters

Researchers have also noted that the age and ability level of a child strongly influenced the amount of help with homework that parents provided and its subsequent benefits to the child.

Parents reported spending more time helping their elementary-age children with homework than their secondary school-age children. Parents of low-ability students reported spending more time helping with homework than did parents of high-ability students.

Parents are more likely to help younger kids. Asheboro Public Library, CC BY-SA

While teachers and parents of elementary-aged children were more likely to work together to help students complete their assignments, parents of secondary school students often did not monitor their adolescents’ homework as faithfully as when their children were younger. This, in part, is because they were not expected or asked to do so by secondary teachers.

As a result, low-ability students in middle and high school were less likely to complete homework or to achieve academically.

Another factor was that parents of older students often reported feeling increasingly less able to help with homework.

What can educators do?

These research findings have important implications for how teachers design homework assignments and how parents and teachers might participate in the homework process.

First, students (and parents) need to know why they should be doing a particular homework assignment. What skill is to be practiced/reinforced? Why does this skill matter?

Teachers need to explicitly communicate the purpose of a particular homework assignment and emphasize how the skills they are learning in a homework assignment can be applied in the real world.

Second, educators should design homework assignments that are more meaningful and allow for creativity. Students should be able to have a choice in how they carry out an assignment.

Third, students have different learning styles, and educators need to consider how they might need to express their learning differently (via audiotapes, videotapes, posters and oral presentations rather than the standard written report).

Fourth, teachers should design interactive homework assignments that involve students in interactions with peers and with family and community members. For example, authors Alma Flor Ada and F Isabel Campoy have developed an approach of creating family storybooks that are used as reading and writing texts in the classroom.

Another group of researchers designed “interactive” homework assignments that guided students on how to conduct conversations with family members in math, science and language arts.

Another team of educators worked with teachers and parents to develop curricular approaches that brought students' cultural backgrounds and families' “funds of knowledge” into the classroom. For example, class lessons and homework were based on how parents use math in cooking or sewing or how workers use reading and math to build a house.

Homework is a daily activity for most students that takes time, energy and emotion, not only for students but for their families as well. Given these investments, it is important that homework be a more beneficial learning experience, in which parents too can bring their interesting and enriching skills.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Society & Culture

New research from landmark trial suggests a new low for healthy blood pressure

September 11, 2015
Morgan Sherburne

Do you remember the last blood pressure reading from your annual physical? If your physician told you the reading was in the normal range, it might be time for a reassessment.

New findings, including research conducted at University of Florida Health, suggest that blood pressure readings even lower than previously recommended could cut risk of heart attack, heart failure and stroke by a third, and risk of death by a quarter in people 50 and older.

Normal range for blood pressure is typically considered any number below 120 for the upper, or systolic, number, and less than 80 for the lower, or diastolic, number. For decades, physicians considered it unnecessary to treat blood pressure until it a reached a systolic reading of 140 millimeters of mercury, or mm Hg — the upper number of the blood pressure measurement. In 2014, that number was moved in some guidelines to 150 for those over 60.

But this study found that keeping blood pressure readings to 120 or below drastically cut the rates of cardiovascular events and the risk of death.

“That’s really low. A 20-year-old may have an upper reading of 115 to 120,” said Mark S. Segal, M.D., Ph.D., the chief of the division of nephrology, hypertension and renal transplantation in the UF College of Medicine’s department of medicine. “This study suggests that there may be a benefit to lowering the blood pressure in certain populations below what has previously been defined as prehypertension.”

The results are from a clinical trial sponsored by the National Institutes of Health called the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial, or SPRINT. The trial’s primary sponsor, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, or NHLBI, released the results today.

Segal is the principal investigator of the research conducted at the UF Health. The UF Clinical Research Center and the UF Health Family Medicine – Main was one of about 100 practices at which patients were treated during the trial. The Malcom Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville was another site in the trial. Its principal investigator was Ron I. Shorr, M.D., director of the VA’s Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center in Gainesville and a professor in the UF department of epidemiology.

The SPRINT study, which began in fall 2009, includes more than 9,300 participants ages 50 and older, recruited from about 100 medical centers and clinical practices throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. It is the largest study of its kind to date to examine how maintaining systolic blood pressure at a lower than currently recommended level will impact cardiovascular and kidney diseases.

The findings were so striking, NIH stopped the blood pressure intervention earlier than originally planned in order to quickly disseminate the significant preliminary results.

Between 2010 and 2013, the SPRINT investigators randomly divided the study participants into two groups based on targeted levels of blood pressure control. The standard group received blood pressure medications to achieve a target of less than 140 mm Hg. They received an average of two different blood pressure medications. The intensive treatment group received medications to achieve a target of less than 120 mm Hg and received an average of three medications. 

The study population included women, racial and ethnic minorities, and the elderly. The investigators point out that the SPRINT study did not include patients with diabetes, prior stroke or polycystic kidney disease, as other research included those populations.

 “This study provides potentially lifesaving information that will be useful to health care providers as they consider the best treatment options for some of their patients, particularly those over the age of 50,” said Gary H. Gibbons, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. An estimated 1 in 3 people in the United States has high blood pressure. 

“Our results provide important evidence that treating blood pressure to a lower goal in older or high-risk patients can be beneficial and yield better health results overall,” said Lawrence Fine, M.D., chief of the clinical applications and prevention branch at NHLBI. “But patients should talk to their doctor to determine whether this lower goal is best for their individual care.”

The study is also examining kidney disease, cognitive function and dementia among the patients. These results are still being analyzed.  The primary results of the trial will be published within a few months.

In addition to primary sponsorship by the NHLBI, SPRINT is co-sponsored by the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute on Aging.

Science & Wellness

First colony? First Thanksgiving? Not so fast, pilgrim.

September 11, 2015
Florida Museum of Natural History

Long before the founding of Jamestown, Spaniards, free and enslaved Africans and Native Americans crafted America’s original “melting pot” in St. Augustine, Fla. In 1565, to be precise.

Visitors at the Florida Museum of Natural History can discover the little-known history of the nation’s first enduring European settlement at the “First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” exhibit, which opens Oct. 17. The site’s archeology, history and stories of people who lived there will be featured.

“‘First Colony’ challenges the long-standing belief that the English were the first to colonize America and establishes St. Augustine as our country’s oldest enduring European settlement,” said Florida Museum exhibit developer Julie Waters. “We’re excited to bring this story to the general public in a format that we hope will both enlighten and entertain as well as correct the long-held Anglo-American bias to our country's history.”

The exhibit reveals why some Spaniards risked the demanding journey to travel by ship to Florida. “First Colony” also features more than 400 artifacts and an in-depth discussion on how archaeologists uncovered the city’s story, complete with a multimedia excavation activity.

Visitors can discover the daily lives of the Spanish settlers and their relationships with the native Timucua people, including the first Thanksgiving. Other exhibit components allow guests to test their strength with a cannonball lift, examine colonial currency and plot their family origins on a wall map.

An interactive table provides insight into St. Augustine’s planning and design based on Spanish law, while 3-D software helps visitors visualize the first settlement as they fly through the town and hear stories of its residents.

Admission is $6.50 for adults ($6 for Florida residents, seniors and college students); $4.50 for ages 3-17 and free to museum members and University of Florida students with a valid Gator 1 card.

The Florida Museum will display the exhibit through April 17, 2016. For more information, please visit lmnh.ufl.edu/firstcolony/home.

“First Colony: Our Spanish Origins” was produced by the Florida Museum of Natural History and University of Florida Historic St. Augustine Inc., and sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources and the State of Florida.

Campus Life

Stroke patients fare better with private insurance than with Medicaid, UF Health researchers find

September 11, 2015
Doug Bennett
research, health

Stroke victims who use Medicaid or are uninsured were more likely to die, stay hospitalized longer and have worse medical outcomes than patients with private insurance, a study by University of Florida Health researchers has found.

The uninsured and Medicaid patients were also more likely to develop a new medical condition in the hospital, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Neurosurgery. The study was the largest and most comprehensive analysis of how insurance status relates to stroke outcomes in the United States. Researchers analyzed nationwide data from more than 1.5 million hospital admissions involving stroke patients between 2002 and 2011.

The most concerning part of the findings was the statistically higher rate of patient-safety issues for those without private insurance, as well as their higher death rate, longer stays and worse outcomes, researchers said. Among Medicaid and self-pay patients, 5.1 percent of stroke victims died in the hospital, compared with 4.4 percent of those with private insurance.

Dr. Maryam RahmanThat doesn’t mean hospitals treat people differently based on their insurance status, said Maryam Rahman, M.D., an assistant professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of neurosurgery and the study’s principal investigator. Rather, the difference in mortality rates and medical outcomes between Medicaid patients and those with private insurance may be influenced by what happens before they arrive at a hospital.

“This is most likely related to the fact that Medicaid and uninsured patients don’t have access to primary preventive care the way insured patients do,” Rahman said. “In general, they’re going to be a sicker population with higher obesity rates and a greater rate of uncontrolled diabetes. That’s going to influence how they do with any diagnosis.”

Patients with Medicaid or no insurance are often in worse shape due to many factors, Rahman said. Stroke outcomes in particular are dependent on how quickly a patient gets medical attention.

“They may not be recognizing the symptoms in a timely fashion or getting to the hospital soon enough,” she said.

Once hospitalized, those with Medicaid or no insurance also fared differently, the study found. Medicaid and uninsured patients were more likely to suffer from pressure ulcers, respiratory failure and infections. Still, privately insured patients weren’t immune from so-called patient-safety indicators: They were more likely to have postoperative bleeding, pulmonary embolism and accidental cuts and punctures than Medicaid patients, the study found. Overall, 22.8 percent of Medicaid and self-paying patients had some type of patient-safety indicator, compared with 13.6 percent of patients with private insurance.

Stroke patients with private insurance may also have other advantages that improve their outcomes, such as better access to inpatient rehabilitation services once they leave the hospital, said Kyle Fargen, M.D., the study’s lead author, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of South Carolina. Fargen was a resident in the UF College of Medicine’s department of neurosurgery when the journal article was written.

“This really does suggest that patients without private insurance are not getting the quality of care that privately insured patients are getting,” Fargen said.

The findings can be put to use in several ways, including a better understanding of the factors that put some people at higher risk for poor outcomes after a stroke, the researchers said. Hospitals that treat higher-risk Medicaid patients with more complicated medical histories shouldn’t necessarily be graded the same way as hospitals with more privately insured patients, Rahman said. The study’s findings should also be useful to government officials who want to know that health care money is being spent effectively, she said. Fargen said it’s likely that health care quality measures will someday be tied very closely to the reimbursements that hospitals get for treating Medicaid and other patients with government-funded health care.

Science & Wellness

Get a shot, not the flu. And a free tank top, too.

September 14, 2015
Paul Bernard

UF students can reduce their chances of suffering from the flu and expand their wardrobe at the same time. Those who stop by the front lawn of the Student Health Care Center (Infirmary Building, 280 Fletcher Drive) on Friday, Sept. 18, will receive a no-cost flu shot, a free “SHOTS” tank top (limited to first 1,250 students) and other great giveaways.

Students must present their Gator1 card as well as an active insurance card in order to obtain a shot. Visit http://shcc.ufl.edu/flu for more information.

The Flu Shot Kickoff is the SHCC’s most successful event of the year. The center vaccinated 1,287 people at the 2014 event, and hopes to hit the 1,500-mark this year.

After Sept. 18, students can obtain no-cost flu shots at the SHCC Infirmary Building or the SHCC at Shands on a walk-in basis. Outreach clinics around campus will run throughout September and October.

For more information, please contact Catherine A. Seemann at cseemann@ufl.edu or call 352-273-4551. The SHCC provides health services to more than 22,000 students each year. To learn more, please visit http://shcc.ufl.edu

Campus Life

Study identifies Nigerian strain of anthrax

September 14, 2015
Evan Barton
anthrax, health, emerging pathogens

A new study has confirmed the presence of a unique, potentially vaccine-evasive strain of anthrax in central Nigeria.

The University of Florida study identified the Nigerian strain of the soil-borne Bacillus anthracis, the bacterium that causes anthrax, as part of a genetic group that had only been found in other West African countries, including Mali and neighboring Chad and Cameroon.

“This study helps describe how anthrax in Nigeria is related to B. anthracis in the surrounding region, which is notably one of the most interesting lineages worldwide,” said Jason Blackburn, an associate professor in the UF Department of Geography and the Emerging Pathogens Institute. Blackburn was the lead author in the study, which was published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases in August.

Anthrax is a zoonotic disease – meaning it can spill over from animal populations to humans. Its spores live naturally in the soil and are ingested by grazing animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and horses. Humans infected with the disease are not contagious, but infection can be serious, even fatal in some cases. In order to become infected, an individual has to come into direct contact with bacterial spores through a cut in the skin, inhalation, injection, or eating contaminated meat.

Although the incidence of the B. anthracis bacterium is low in the United States, infections occur annually across parts of the Midwest and Texas. The pathogen is more prevalent in agricultural regions of Central and South America, Southern and Eastern Europe, and sub-Saharan Africa. Most recently, the Caucasus region has seen some of the highest rates of human disease.

After recognizing that the strain of B. anthracis found in Nigeria was identical or nearly identical to strains found in several other West African countries, researchers used ecological niche modeling to estimate the geographic distribution of this strain group across the region. Their findings indicate potential high risk areas for the bacterium across central Nigeria and into Cameroon and Chad.

“Those maps can be used as a first pass at defining areas of greatest risk or highest importance for prioritizing anthrax surveillance,” Blackburn said.

This strain group, Blackburn added, poses particular risks to livestock. The study confirmed that the Nigerian strain of the bacterium shares two specific genetic traits with a strain in Mali that were identified as integral to the Mali strain’s ability infect animals that had been given the Sterne livestock vaccine. This vaccine is given to livestock around the globe to protect against anthrax.

As Africa’s most populated country, anthrax poses particular risks to Nigeria due to its ability to infect livestock and move from animal to human populations – especially given the possibility that standard vaccination efforts may not prove themselves effective.

“Efforts to distribute the Sterne vaccine to areas targeted by the niche models may not be effective at preventing livestock anthrax in Nigeria," Blackburn said.

Global Impact

Larger and private colleges and universities more likely to attract hookah establishments

September 14, 2015
Elizabeth Hillaker Downs

Larger and private colleges and universities seem to attract hookah cafes and lounges, but smoke-free policies decrease these odds, according to findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine this month.

That may bode well for the long-term health of college-age students.

Waterpipe smoking, more commonly known as hookah, boasts enticing flavors and a healthier reputation, increasing its popularity among college students. It is estimated that more than 10 percent of U.S. college students are current users.

However, recent evidence refutes claims that hookah is less harmful than cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hookah contains many of the same harmful toxins as cigarette smoke and has been associated with lung cancer, respiratory illness, low birth weight and periodontal disease.

“Waterpipe smoking establishments are almost entirely unregulated, and there is very little information available on the industry’s expansion,” said Ramzi Salloum, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of health outcomes and policy in the UF College of Medicine, who led the study. “Given the industry’s appeal for young adults and its efforts to target this age demographic, since many of them are under the legal drinking age, it is crucial to document hookah establishments’ proximity to colleges and universities and note the impact smoke-free campus policies can have.”

A greater density of hookah establishments may promote hookah smoking, as higher numbers of tobacco retailers have been associated with higher levels of cigarette smoking, according to the researchers.

The researchers identified 1,690 establishments nationwide that offered waterpipe smoking in the fall of 2014 using online directories, compared with an estimated 725 outlets in a study from 2010. This total likely underestimates the number of actual establishments, since not all of them are listed in online directories, which included Yelp, Hookah-Hookah, the Better Business Bureau and Hoover’s directories. Although the methods for calculating the numbers in these two studies differ, it appears the industry is rapidly expanding.

Among the 1,454 colleges and universities with residential student populations greater than 250 around the country, 554, or 38 percent, had at least one establishment that offered hookah within 3 miles, and 719, or 50 percent, had at least one within 9 miles. When examining differences by the size of the institution, 75 percent of institutions with more than 20,000 full-time students had at least one establishment within 3 miles, compared with 30 percent of institutions with fewer than 2,500 students. In addition, hookah establishments were almost twice as likely to be located near private institutions compared with public institutions.

“Economic factors may be at work here, with the stronger purchasing power of students attending private institutions accounting for the increased odds,” Salloum said.

However, both private and public institutions with smoke-free campus policies were almost half as likely to have a hookah establishment within 3 miles. These decreased odds could stem from the fact that institutions of higher education with smoke-free campus policies are located in a larger jurisdiction with stronger smoke-free laws or that hookah establishments are discouraged from locating in the immediate vicinity of the smoke-free campuses, according to the researchers.

“We hope that our findings will prompt state and local governments to consider targeted regulations that ban or limit these establishments near educational institutions and that waterpipe smoking regulations are included in campuswide tobacco-related policies,” said Wasim Maziak, M.D., Ph.D., a professor at Florida International University and one of the collaborators on the study, along with researchers from the University of Florida, the University of South Carolina and the University of Michigan. “Hookah smoking places our youth at a health risk and must be taken seriously as part of the larger fight against tobacco and the preventable diseases it causes.”

Science & Wellness

UF launches new online program for nursing students

September 14, 2015
Donna Winchester
online education

A new online program offered by the University of Florida will make it easier for registered nurses throughout Florida to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, advancing their careers with limited disruption to their personal and professional responsibilities.

A new online program offered by the University of Florida will make it easier for registered nurses throughout Florida to earn a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing, advancing their careers with limited disruption to their personal and professional responsibilities.

The newest addition to UF Online’s wide array of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, the “RN to BSN” program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and will accept students for the Spring 2016 term.

“The bachelor’s degree is the foundation of the professional nursing career and will open up many more opportunities for these nurses,” said Anna McDaniel, dean of the UF College of Nursing. “We are excited to offer this program to registered nurses so they can complete their bachelor’s degrees while maintaining a professional and personal balance in their lives.”

The new online program launches in the wake of an Institute of Medicine recommendation for an increase in the proportion of nurses with a baccalaureate degree from 50 to 80 percent by 2020. The institute argues that the heightened rigor is necessary to meet the growing needs of an aging population and an increase in the number of people with chronic diseases.   

The RN to BSN program is designed to offer experienced registered nurses in Florida who have earned an associate’s degree in nursing a flexible and affordable pathway to earn an accredited bachelor’s degree. It can be completed in as few as five semesters with no on-campus requirements.

For more information about the curriculum or admissions requirements for the online RN to BSN program, go to ufonline.ufl.edu/.

The University of Florida has been offering online bachelor’s degree programs since 2001-02. UF Online is ranked No. 13 in the country by U.S. News & World Report for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

Campus Life

How advertising research explains Donald Trump's profound appeal

September 14, 2015
Jon Morris and Taylor Wen
politics, donald trump, advertising

Advertising professor Jon D. Morris and communications doctoral student Taylor Wen reveal what advertising teaches us about the Trump effect.

Politics and advertising are closely intertwined. Like a good advertisement, a good politician needs to present a compelling case for why the voter should check his or her box on the ballot over all the other options.

Many good ads or politicians will make a direct appeal to viewers' emotions – and of all the candidates in recent memory, Donald Trump may be the best at doing this.

While some pundits and late-night comedians have eviscerated Trump’s campaign, calling it all flair and no substance, this might not matter to voters. Whether you’re trying to get someone to buy a product or vote for a candidate, studies have shown that appealing to emotion is nearly twice as effective as presenting facts or appearing believable.

As academics who study what makes advertisements successful and engaging, we believe Trump’s allure can be boiled down to three key factors, one of which – empowerment – encourages voters to actually work on his behalf.

Emotions influence behavior

But first, some background on the current understanding of emotional response in people.

Studies have shown that humans interpret what they hear and see through an emotional lens that is made up of three mechanisms: appeal, engagement and empowerment.

In a world where we’re bombarded with stimuli, from advertisements to buzzing phones, these mechanisms influence what we pay attention to, and how we react.

  • Appeal is simply the degree to which we judge something to be positive or negative.

  • Engagement is fairly self-explanatory: the extent to which an object or idea produces active or passive feelings – in other words, the level of emotional intensity it produces.

  • Lastly – and maybe most important – is empowerment, which is the amount of control someone feels in a given situation.

Until recently, researchers didn’t seem all too interested in empowerment. The lack of interest seems to have stemmed from a misunderstanding about this dimension, and insufficient empirical support of its effects.

And while appeal and engagement are pretty self-explanatory, empowerment is a bit more abstract. When we ask people how they feel, they can easily describe their current emotional state as either positive or negative and, to some extent, how intense that emotion feels.

In contrast, people can have a tough time delineating their feelings of empowerment, because being “in control” can’t exactly be expressed or felt in a direct or obvious way.

But this doesn’t mean that empowerment is irrelevant. Think about the emotions anger and fear. They’re both low in appeal (no one wants to feel angry or fearful) but have high levels of engagement.

So what makes these two emotions so distinctive from each other? Empowerment. When you’re scared, you feel like you’re not in control. But when you’re angry, you feel the irresistible urge to speak out and take action.

Empowerment’s potency

When it comes to the emotional appeal of an advertisement or politician, empowerment may be more important than we think.

We recently conducted a study on empowerment, and presented it at the Association in Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (AEJMC) conference this past August.

Analyzing an array visual ads and public service announcements, the research indicated that appeals to fear (like images of dead bodies on a battlefield) were associated with feelings of uncertainty and a lack of control.

People felt a sense of danger and became acutely aware of the cruelties of war, but didn’t feel like there was anything they could do about it. Therefore, they reported low empowerment.

In contrast, messages focusing on anger (like a PSA showing a healthy body being harmed by secondhand smoke) evoked appraisals of certainty and individual control among viewers, who felt a sense of responsibility to take action and help the victims. Therefore, people expressed high empowerment on the emotional response measure.

But perhaps most importantly, the study also showed that empowerment is in some situations a better predictor of behavioral intentions than appeal or engagement. In other words, high levels of empowerment trigger action, since people are motivated to seek solutions to the problems presented.

The findings revealed an important fact: feeling in control is highly related to people’s attitudes and behaviors on social, political and health-related issues.

In the case of communicating to the public – whether through television or social media – this study recommended that speakers and messengers attempt to tap into empowerment’s potency, using rhetoric and imagery that make audiences feel in control and able to enact change.

In most cases, that means appealing to or eliciting a sense of anger or indignation.

The Trump effect

It goes without saying that there’s a level of manipulation involved. The speaker must be adept at formulating a persona and message that resonates with audiences. Whether or not the message is grounded in reality – well, that’s almost beside the point.

Enter Donald Trump, who seems to have an innate mastery of this process. He is an ad-man’s dream, a political consultant’s perfect plaything.

Maybe he honed these skills during his years on network television; either way, he’s shown the ability to easily appeal to and engage with audiences, which he’ll do directly (“I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created”) or indirectly (“the other candidates are dull and weak”).

But it’s the third and key element – empowerment – where he shines.

He’s able to consistently evoke issues in a way that makes people feel anger, rather than fear. (Some of his opponents use fear; for example, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Ted Cruz told the crowd that the IRS “would start going after Christian schools, Christian charities, and…Christian churches.”)

And though Trump frequently raises issues that could elicit fear – terrorism, crime, economic collapse – he does so with indignation, which suggests that the audience should feel that way, too.

He’s angry, but not fearful.

That’s why he’s said that he favors soldiers that have been wounded over those that were captured: to Trump, surrendering under any circumstance connotes fear.

Then there’s Trump’s solution to the illegal immigrants who are supposedly overrunning the country: “throw the bums out, build a wall.”

As for China, he’ll argue that China is “stealing” jobs from the US (there’s the indignation) – and if he were in office, he wouldn’t let the nation “have its way with us.”

Furthermore, the feelings of anger he evokes lead to action on his behalf. Outraged voters are all too eager to post his videos on Facebook, retweet his tweets and promote his candidacy to friends and family.

Note what’s going on here: he simplifies complex issues, framing them in a way that’s intended to get a rise out of voters and infuriate them. But he presents solutions (often simplified, often unfeasible) in a way that comes across as clear – even obvious – and has the added benefit of making him appear in control.

In the end, it’s a calculated image that makes him an incredibly appealing candidate.

Look at what happens when you hold empowerment and engagement high for a person or product, while varying the level of appeal:

perceptual map

When moving a person’s appeal from “low” to “high,” a shift occurs in the way they’re described.

At the lower end, they’re called angry and defiant. But then, as their appeal rises, they become aggressive, daring and bold. Near the top, they’re described as masterful.

And when appeal’s at its highest?


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Society & Culture

Hundreds turn out to leave their mark on new chemistry building

September 13, 2015
Gigi Marino

Almost a year after the groundbreaking ceremony for the University of Florida's new chemistry/chemical biology building at the corner of University Avenue and Buckman Drive, hundreds gathered to leave their signature on a one-ton beam that will be placed on the tallest portion of the building.

Skanska, the development company building the facility, and UF sponsored a beam signing and topping-out ceremony on the construction site on Friday.

“Topping out is an interesting tradition in construction and generally relates to installing the last and highest beam in the building,” said UF’s Frank Javaheri, senior project manager for the building. “It is a mini goal within the major goal and a reminder that this portion of the milestone is completed.”

Guests, including workers, faculty and staff, students and alumni, also signed two columns on the ground floor.

Alumnus Jorge Quintana was among those who signed the beam and columns. “I hope my children will someday attend UF, and I’ll be able to say I’ve literally left my mark on the university,” he said.

When completed next June, the $67 million facility will provide 110,493 square feet of space for undergraduate and graduate education, including an entire floor devoted to chemical biology and chemical synthesis.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean David Richardson said he is having the best year of his 30-year career at UF, largely because of this new construction. Richardson, a chemistry professor, has long advocated for a state-of-the-art building to replace the outdated and outmoded facilities. He thanked the workers at the ceremony, saying, “Thousands of students will pass through these halls that you have worked so hard to build. Where you are sitting now will become a major hub for research, learning and innovation at the University of Florida.”

Campus Life

UF Health researchers find some evidence of link between stress, Alzheimer’s disease

September 16, 2015
Doug Bennett

University of Florida Health researchers have uncovered more evidence of a link between the brain’s stress response and a protein related to Alzheimer’s disease.

The research, conducted on a mouse model and in human cells, found that a stress-coping hormone released by the brain boosts the production of protein fragments. Those protein pieces, known as amyloid beta, clump together and trigger the brain degeneration that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

The findings were published recently in The EMBO Journal by a group that includes Todd Golde, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UF Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease and a professor in the UF College of Medicine’s department of neuroscience.

The research contributes to further understanding the potential relationship between stress and Alzheimer’s disease, a disorder believed to stem from a mix of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. The findings strengthen the idea of a link between stress and Alzheimer’s disease, Golde said.

“It adds detailed insight into the stress mechanisms that might promote at least one of the Alzheimer’s pathologies,” Golde said.

Figuring out the non-genetic factors that heighten the risk of Alzheimer’s disease is especially challenging, and the recent study is one step in a long process of looking at the effects of stress and other environmental factors, according to Golde. It could also point the way to a novel treatment approach in the future, he said.

Here is what researchers found: Stress causes the release of a hormone called corticotrophin releasing factor, or CRF, in the brain. That, in turn, increases production of amyloid beta. As amyloid beta collects in the brain, it initiates a complex degenerative cascade that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

During laboratory testing, mouse models that were exposed to acute stress had more of the Alzheimer’s-related protein in their brains than those in a control group, researchers found. The stressed mice also had more of a specific form of amyloid beta, one that has a particularly pernicious role in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

To better understand how CRF increases the amount of Alzheimer’s-related proteins, researchers then treated human neurons with CRF. That caused a significant increase in the amyloid proteins involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

Those and other complex experiments reveal more about the mechanics of a likely relationship between stress and Alzheimer’s disease. The stress hormone, CRF, causes an enzyme known as gamma secretase to increase its activity. That, in turn, causes more of the Alzheimer’s-related protein to be produced, Golde said.

Modifying environmental factors such as stress is yet another approach to warding off Alzheimer’s disease, and one that is easier than modifying the genes that cause the disorder, Golde said. One possible solution — blocking the CRF receptor that initiates the stress-induced process that generates Alzheimer’s-related proteins — didn’t work. Researchers are now looking at an antibody that could be used to block the stress hormone directly, Golde said.

“These softer, non-genetic factors that may confer risk of Alzheimer’s disease are much harder to address,” Golde said. “But we need more novel approaches in the pipeline than we have now.”

The idea of looking more closely at the mechanism linking stress and Alzheimer’s disease came from Seong-Hun Kim, M.D., Ph.D., a former assistant professor in the College of Medicine’s department of pharmacology and therapeutics and now a psychiatrist in Seattle. Much of the project’s experiments were done by Hyo-Jin Park, Ph.D., who was a postdoctoral associate during the project and is now an assistant scientist in the College of Medicine’s department of aging and geriatric research. Kevin Felsenstein, Ph.D., an associate professor of neuroscience in UF’s College of Medicine, also made major contributions to the work.

The research was supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Science & Wellness

Six facts that will change how you think (and talk) about pirates

September 19, 2015
Alisson Clark
talk like a pirate day, florida history

On Talk Like a Pirate Day, shiver your timbers with these surprising pirate facts from Kevin McCarthy, emeritus professor of English at the University of Florida and author of the book “Twenty Florida Pirates.”

1. You’ve been using arrrr all wrong


There’s little or no factual basis for what we think of as pirate diction. “I get a kick out of Talk Like a Pirate Day because I don't think pirates actually talked that way,” McCarthy says. When you talk like a pirate, you’re actually talking like a ’50s movie star, namely British actor Robert Newton, who starred in “Treasure Island” and popularized what we think of as pirate talk. The exception is “arrr,” which was used in southwest England, birthplace of pirates such as Blackbeard. It’s not just a nonsense word, though – it’s a way of saying “yes.” “Arrrr, at least, is not totally made up,” McCarthy says. “The fact that it existed in parts of southwest England gives a good factual basis.” 

2) Yo ho, YOLO


Why are pirates so appealing when, let’s face it, they were pretty horrible people? “There’s this idea that pirates are glamorous and to be emulated, which is crazy because they were really despicable creatures. We glamorize them because they were independent and they didn’t follow any of the rules that applied to land-based people. They were daring. They were willing to risk their lives. That type of derring-do and bravado has appealed to people for generations.” 

3. They did have some rules, though 


“In actuality, they might have been the first democratic society in the west. The crew voted who was going to be captain, and if the crew didn't like the way the captain was comporting himself, they could vote him out of office.”

4. Florida’s most famous pirate probably never existed

Gasparilla 2003 invasion of Tampa. Photo by Christopher Hollis

Jose Gaspar’s name has been invoked for many a legendary Gasparilla party in Tampa, but the infamous Florida pirate is probably just a legend, born from a promotional pamphlet that later authors took as fact. “They've never asked me down there to give a talk about this, I think because they know what I’d say,” McCarthy says. 

5. Buried treasure isn’t always where you’d think


If buried treasure calls to mind a Caribbean beach or a sunken shipwreck, you might be surprised to discover an active search for treasure on a riverbank 15 miles from Florida’s Gulf coast. “The story goes that a pirate had some loot from captured ships that he didn’t want to take with him to New Orleans. Everybody scoffed that he would row 15 miles upstream to bury treasure, but to this day, there’s an operation digging a really deep hole looking for it.”

6. Pirates didn’t go away – we just find them a lot less appealing now

On a trip through the Suez Canal, McCarthy noticed sharpshooters protecting cruise ships from modern-day pirates. “Today’s pirates are dangerous smugglers – they still exist, and they’re not to be laughed at.” Arrrrr. 

Society & Culture

NY Times ranks UF No. 6 nationally in helping low-income students

September 17, 2015
Steve Orlando

The University of Florida is one of the best schools in the country -- public or private -- at helping low-income students get a college education, according to the New York Times, which ranked UF No. 6 in its 2015 College Access Index.

The University of Florida is one of the best schools in the country -- public or private -- at helping low-income students get a college education, according to the New York Times, which ranked UF No. 6 in its 2015 College Access Index.

The rankings were presented Wednesday night during the New York Times Schools for Tomorrow conference hosted by David Leonhardt, editor of the Times venture “The Upshot.” They are based on the share of students who receive Pell grants, which typically go to families making less than $70,000; the graduation rate of those students; and the price that colleges charge both low- and middle-income students.

Of the top 10 schools on the list, six were University of California institutions. UC-Irvine took the top spot, and UC-Berkeley came in at No. 7 just behind UF. The only other Florida school on the list, the University of Miami, came in at 167th.

The complete rankings can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/09/17/upshot/top-colleges-doing-the-most-for-low-income-students.html?_r=0

UF President Kent Fuchs welcomed the news and credited his predecessor for helping to make UF more accessible to high-performing students of all economic backgrounds.

Former UF President Bernie Machen created the Florida Opportunity Scholars program in 2006 to provide financial support for Florida students who are the first generation in their families to go to college and whose family income is less than $40,000 a year. The program has helped nearly 3,600 students since its inception.

“President Emeritus Machen had remarkable vision when he created the Florida Opportunity Scholars program,” he said. “I’m proud that the University of Florida is recognized as a national leader.”

Zina Evans, UF’s vice president for enrollment management, said improving student access to higher education is one of her team’s top priorities.

“Making a college degree possible for all students, regardless of their financial means, represents the very best of what higher education is all about,” she said.

The rankings were created using the following:

Pell grad share for each college -- the average share of the freshman class that received a Pell grant in 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15, multiplied by the graduation rate for recent Pell recipients. Later years count more; not all colleges released 2014 data. Graduation rates for Pell students at some colleges are estimated.

Net price for middle-income students -- covers tuition, fees, room and board, after taking into account federal, state and institutional financial aid, and it applies to students who come from households earning between $48,000 and $75,000 a year and qualifying for federal aid. Loans and wages from work-study jobs are counted in the net price as part of the students’ cost.

The College Access Index -- a combination of a colleges’ Pell graduates and net price, compared with the average school. (The index is based on the net price for both the $48,000-to-$75,000 income range shown here and the $30,000-to-$48,000 income range.) A college with an average score on the two measures in combination will receive a one. Scores above one indicate the most effort.

Endowment per student -- for the year 2012-13 and includes graduate students.

Campus Life

UF Health researchers work to develop Type 1 diabetes vaccine

September 20, 2015
Morgan Sherburne
research, diabetes, UF Health

Vaccines exist to protect against many maladies — flu, chickenpox and polio, among others. University of Florida Health researchers hope to soon add Type 1 diabetes to that list.

The researchers recently published two papers that explore different methods of delivering a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes, both of which prevented 40 percent of the mice treated with the vaccine from developing the disease. The first paper was published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology and the second in August in the journal Scientific Reports, part of the Nature Publishing Group.

When a person develops Type 1 diabetes, their body’s immune system starts attacking insulin-producing cells, called islets, in the pancreas. Insulin breaks down glucose in food to produce energy for the body. Researchers think one way to help teach the body’s immune system to stop attacking insulin-producing cells is to deliver insulin, inactivated so that it does not affect blood sugar, in the body as a vaccine.

But they need to deliver the vaccine in a way that attracts the immune system, according toBenjamin Keselowsky, Ph.D., an associate professor in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family department of biomedical engineering. He and fellow UF Health researcher Clive Wasserfall, M.S., have developed two systems that use biodegradable biomaterials to deliver the vaccine.

Vaccines for Type 1 diabetes are slightly different than vaccines for diseases such as the flu. While a flu vaccine teaches the immune system to recognize and attack a virus, a Type 1 diabetes vaccine aims to teach the immune system to recognize and tolerate insulin.

“In our case, the immune system has already made the response, and we want to re-educate the system,” said Wasserfall, an assistant in pathology in the department of pathology, immunology and laboratory medicine and co-author of the papers. “It may seem paradoxical: Instead of inducing a response, with our vaccine, we’re trying to stop the immune response.”

The first study used two different sizes of microscopic particles, delivered together because their sizes cause them to be taken up in different ways by the immune system.

“The idea here is that we’re controlling the release and targeting key immune cells of the body,” Keselowsky said.

The smaller particle, which contains insulin, is eaten by phagocytes, cells that take up foreign particles and present them to the immune system. The larger particle is too large for phagocytes to eat, but small enough to be injected through a needle. These particles stay at the injection site, attracting immune cells. Once the immune cells arrive, the larger particles also release factors to condition those cells to be tolerant of insulin.

Groups of 10 mice were given vaccine injections at 4 and 5 weeks of age. Researchers monitored the mice’s blood glucose levels over 32 weeks. At the end of the 32 weeks, 40 percent of the mice were protected from Type 1 diabetes progression.

In the second approach the vaccine is delivered in a hydrogel. The hydrogel, made of more than 90 percent water, delivers an inflammatory signal that causes temporary inflammation. The inflammatory signal diffuses quickly into the body while the particles containing insulin remain at the injection site.

In the second study, the researchers gave mice the vaccine at 8 weeks of age, then booster injections at 10 and 12 weeks. While all mice became diabetic in the control group, 40 percent of the group receiving the vaccine remained diabetes-free.

“The two approaches are different when conceptualizing the immune response, but are complementary,” Keselowsky said. “Interestingly, their end effect can be the same.”

The researchers further studying these results and are determining to what extent the immune system is being educated by each vaccine as well as the safety of each vaccine for humans. In due course, they hope to move the vaccine to clinical trials.

“What we ultimately want to get to by having these multiple approaches is to find the safest vaccine as well as the vaccine that requires the lowest number of injections,” Wasserfall said. “We’re trying to reach this goal by approaching this through different fronts.”

The first study and related work was supported by grants R01DK098589 and R43 DK100132 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health. Co-authors on this manuscript include Jamal Lewis, Ph.D.Chang Qing Xia, M.D., Ph.D.Mark Atkinson, Ph.D., and Michael Clare-Salzler, M.D. Grant R01 DK091658 from the NIDDK supported the second study. Co-authors on this manuscript include Young Mee-Yoon, M.S.; Jamal Lewis; Matthew Carstens, Ph.D.; Martha Campbell-Thompson, D.V.M., Ph.D.; and Atkinson.

Science & Wellness

It's true. It matters when professors know their students' names

September 21, 2015
Carole Beal, professor of eduation
The Conversation

Education professor Carole Beal asks: What do professors owe their students?

The new academic year is off to a start, and thousands of students have entered college for the first time.

I’ve been teaching college students for a long time, but this year, two developments have led me to think hard about my role as a professor: what it is, or rather, what it should be, with regard to undergraduates.

One involves a tenured education professor who was fired from Louisiana State University ostensibly for using profanity in class with her students. The other is the emergence of “learning analytics,” the use of software to flag students who are not doing well in a class.

Although these seem quite different on the surface, both raise questions about what professors owe their students.

Replacing certainty with uncertainty

Students do not need professors to merely pass on facts.

Although it is true that today Google makes it easy to find information, even before the age of the internet, students could look up information at the library.

So, what professors really do is provide organizational filters by highlighting what facts are most important and weaving an informed narrative about how they fit together.

In the humanities, we point out how every narrative has an alternative. In the sciences, we show them what we know today is likely to change.

More generally, we help students question their beliefs and assumptions. In other words, we help them develop critical thinking skills – skills that employers are looking for.

James O Freedman, the 15th president of Dartmouth College, wrote that the professors he encountered in his first year of college changed him “utterly and forever.”

Inspiring confidence in students

This process can have moments that are confusing and painful for students. If students do not trust the professor who is suggesting new ideas, they are likely to resist.

So, how can instructors help?

If students believe that we really have their best interests at heart, they will have more confidence in our guidance through the world of intellectual discourse.

That is why I find the idea of a faculty member using profanity with students disturbing. I suspect that “salty” language, even if used to engage their attention, may make them uneasy, undermining their confidence in our intellectual leadership.

How we present ourselves matters as well. Recent studies have suggested that patients feel more confident in the treatment provided by doctors who wear white coats. It is the same within academic institutions.

During an advising session, I recommended that a student take a particular course with a colleague who, although brilliant in his field, clearly did not put much attention to his attire and personal grooming.

The student was reluctant, saying he felt that the professor did not take his job seriously. As the student put it, “the guy looks like someone who lives under a bridge.”

Fair or not, the student did not have confidence in the instruction provided by someone who did not present himself as a professional.

The human connection

Increasingly, universities are investing in learning analytics, meaning software that tracks students' interactions with online resources. Algorithms recommend what the student should review or study next, and can even predict success or failure in a course.

I find myself balking at the idea that software should alert me to students who are at risk.

There is considerable irony in this because my own research involves learning analytics. Using technology to capture detailed data about how long students take to read an online assignment or about how many struggle on a particular problem can be valuable in improving the online experience.

However, I think it’s my job to monitor student progress and not leave it to technology.

To do this, I don’t need a fancy algorithm. Even with a class of 300-plus students, it doesn’t take much time to scan the learning management system to see who has not logged in for a week or to find those who failed an exam.

A quick email asking how things are going, reminding the student about resources such as teaching assistants or urging the student to set up a meeting can go a long way.

If a student fails to respond after several emails, I would even call the dean of students to request a student check.

Maybe that’s an extreme step, but I would not want to hear that something tragic happened to a student, and no professor noticed.

Perhaps some might find the idea that professors are monitoring them intrusive. But my experience has been the opposite.

In one case, a first-year student who was having a hard time told me that the two-line email asking how she was doing kept her from dropping out of school.

As college classes get larger and more interaction occurs online, our efforts to make and sustain these connections with students will become even more important.

When I was at the University of Arizona, the Office of Instruction and Assessment surveyed first-year students to ask what they wanted most from their college experience. The top answer was:

I want at least one professor to know my name.

Professors have always had a responsibility to act professionally and, in the future, will have more technology to monitor their students. But the key will be to use the technology to build human connections.

We owe that much to our students.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Society & Culture

Ecuador and ambassador
to have their day at UF

September 21, 2015
Paul Bernard

The Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida is partnering with the Embassy of Ecuador in the United States to present the Día de Ecuador, or Day of Ecuador, on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

The daylong event will take place at Emerson Alumni Hall, beginning at 9:30 a.m. with an introduction by Francisco Borja Cevallos, Ecuador’s ambassador to the U.S.

“Agriculture, Development, and the Environment” will feature presentations by distinguished academics and policy-makers from Ecuador and UF.

Three panels will address the following topics:

  • Food Sovereignty and the Future of Smallholder Agriculture
  • Sustainable Development Initiatives
  • Challenges of Amazonian Development

The panel discussions will be followed by a closing cultural event and reception.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required by Oct. 5. To reserve your seat, please visit: http://goo.gl/forms/24nc7qSf95. You may also view a tentative program here.

For more information, please contact Nathalia Ochoa at nochoa@latam.ufl.edu or 352-273-4715.

Campus Life

UF researchers reveal first Tree of Life for all 2.3 million named species

September 21, 2015
Stephenie Livingston
Florida Museum, research

In the mid-90s, many of Doug Soltis’ colleagues told him that creating a tree of life – a map of Earth’s 2.3 million named species and the connections between them – couldn’t be done.

Two decades later, the University of Florida plant biologist and colleagues have proved their detractors wrong, publishing the first draft of a Tree of Life that covers every named organism on the planet.

Just as the sequencing of the human genome led to advances in medicine and healthcare, the Tree of Life will help researchers studying diverse disciplines related to biodiversity as they develop new drugs, study climate change and trace the origins of infectious diseases, said Soltis, a distinguished professor with appointments in the Florida Museum of Natural History and UF’s biology department and a member of the UF Genetics Institute.

UF biologist Doug Soltis uses the Tree of Life, a map of all named species.“There is nothing more foundational or important than knowing how organisms are related,” Soltis said. “For example, organisms respond in similar ways to climate change based on how they are related. So there is predictive power in the Tree of Life.”

Three years ago, the National Science Foundation awarded Soltis, UF biology department and Genetics Institute faculty member Gordon Burleigh, and a team of colleagues from across the country the opportunity to build the first Tree of Life, which includes animals, plants, fungi and microbes. Recent advances in algorithm development, computer technology and DNA sequencing made the project possible.

The study was published online Friday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study researchers pieced together nearly 500 smaller trees previously created for groups like birds and mammals that scientists have been working on for several decades.

In the end, Soltis said, the biggest discovery in the tree’s development was not only finding out what scientists know about biodiversity, but also the immense amount that is still unknown.

“This tree is just a starting point,” Soltis said. “Most trees of species relationships are based on DNA data, but less than 5 percent of all species on Earth actually have DNA data available. Plus there’s still so much diversity out there that we know nothing about.”

Soltis said the tree is far from perfect, with many organisms whose relationships are not well understood scientifically. But study researchers are hopeful the tree will be a stimulus that helps direct future efforts. To help fill in the gaps, the team is also developing software that will enable researchers to log on, update and revise the tree as new species are named or discovered.

“At a time when we’re facing a biodiversity crisis and many forms of life are disappearing, I think it is good for the public to be reminded that there is so much we don’t know about life on our planet,” Soltis said. “With tens of millions of species out there still undiscovered, I hope this first draft inspires more interest in biodiversity, because with that interest and further research, the tree will continue to grow.”

To browse the current Tree of Life online, visit www.etreeoflife.com or www.opentreeoflife.org

Global Impact

Cool class: Summer in the City

September 21, 2015
Sierra Sanchez

Sierra Sanchez gives us a look at Summer in the City, an honors class where lessons came in the form of challenges and the classroom was the whole city.

Summer in the City (IDH3931) was one of the first classes I took at UF, and I’m glad I did. Being a non-native to Gainesville I was lost when it first came to finding things to do. Back home in Orlando, I knew of so many different places to go and things to do. But when I first arrived in Gainesville I had no clue where anything was besides Archer Road.

A few weeks before Preview, Dr. Melissa Johnson, who is one of the associate directors of the Honors Program, sent out an email advertising the class to freshman. The class was designed to help students who were not from Gainesville learn and become involved in the Gainesville community. Instead of a quizzes and tests each week, we had challenges and missions to accomplish, each one having to do with civic engagement, and the class ended with a mock-grant proposal for a community organization each group choose. Some of the organizations included the Weekend Hunger program at Catholic Charities, the Early Learning Collation of Alachua County and the Children’s Home Society of Mid Florida. The focus of each grant proposal was solving a problem for each of the organizations, such as more books, better security, renovations and food. Each group had to devise a way to solve the problems if they were to win the hypothetical $5,000 for their organization.

The project really engaged the class, and made us more aware of the problems that the Gainesville community faces, like high food insecurity rates and high wealth disparity. Many of us have joined and will continue to work with the organizations even though the class has ended. Another one of the ongoing assignments for the class was a Google Map entitled #GainesvilleRocks, where each week we had to plot a point of a place we had never been before and take a picture of it. Here are some of our many adventures. 

Campus Life

How brain science can make you a better writer

September 22, 2015
UF News
research, business, communication

Good writing isn’t an art, a University of Florida researcher says — it’s a science.

A new book by Yellowlees Douglas, an associate professor of management communication at the University of Florida, overturns more than a century of thinking about writing. "The Reader’s Brain: How Neuroscience Can Make You a Better Writer" – published last week by Cambridge University Press – uses decades of insights into the reading brain to provide writers with clear-cut, science-based guidelines on how to write anything well, from an email to a multi-million dollar proposal.

Douglas wrote the book to satisfy her frustrated students’ needs for a guide to writing that “didn’t just tell my students to imitate Hemingway, as one of them put it,” Douglas says. “Here I was, teaching quantitative thinkers in the colleges of business and medicine, and every book I assigned had my students ready to tear their hair out.”

So Douglas wrote her own book, drawing off the data that had first snagged her interest decades earlier while investigating the impacts of multimedia documents on reading. The book uses data from eye-tracking, EEG brain scans and fMRI neuroimaging, some of which gives scientific backing to the usefulness of old standbys like thesis sentences and active voice. However, the book also dispels many well-worn myths, like avoiding beginning sentences with “and. The Reader’s Brain also provides insight into where to put information you want readers to remember—and where to stash disclosures you’d rather they forget. Even the cadence of your sentences, the book argues, subconsciously cues your readers to your skill as a writer.

“People who work with data think systematically,” Douglas says, “and, if you tell them to do something, they automatically want to know, ‘Where’s the data?’ Having published in the sciences, I know exactly how they feel.”

Her tips:

1. Prime your readers

“Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve told them.” Few of us realize this advice has its roots in cognitive psychology and neuroscience. In recent decades, researchers have discovered that priming is a form of implicit learning. By merely exposing experimental subjects to lists of random words, researchers discovered the earlier exposure triggered accurate recall a day later — even though the subjects were unaware they would be tested later on the list. When you tell readers your purpose in the first sentences of a memo, email, or proposal, you bolster their ease of comprehension and increase their recall of content later.

2. Recency packs a punch

The last item in the “Tell them” triad refers to what psychologists call recency effects, which influence our ability to remember the last items we read. Recency effects extend to both short-term and long-term memory. Readers remember final sentences in paragraphs, items in lists, and paragraphs in documents more clearly than anything else they read. Carefully compose that call to action paragraph in a proposal and concluding paragraph in your next report. And that final sentence in every opening paragraph in your emails? Dedicate that sentence to whatever action you need your readers to take — and when they should do it.

3. Deliver unwelcome news without destroying goodwill

You can benefit from the strength of priming and recency effects when you have to tell a client you’re unable to meet a deadline or inform an employee she’s not getting the position she applied for. How? Priming and recency effects create a “dead zone” in the middles of lists, sentences, paragraphs, and entire documents.

4. In delivering bad news, structure is everything

You can prime the reader with a neutral opening paragraph, one with content that’s neither misleadingly encouraging or straight-to-the-point bad news. Clinical studies attest to the impact of negative news in a first paragraph creating resistance and hostility to the rest of the message. Open your second paragraph with a rationale for the unwelcome part of your message — the cause for the effect you’re going to explore. Then embed the most lethal content in a minor clause in the dead center of the paragraph. Close that paragraph with a neutral sentence, mentioning whatever benefits you can conjure to offer your reader. Then craft a short, positive paragraph as your closing that’s forward-looking, maintaining your readers’ goodwill by using the document’s recency position. Your reader will get the message without getting hostile toward you.

5. We see cause and effect everywhere

From an evolutionary perspective, our tendency to see cause and effect everywhere is essential to our survival. When you place the rationale for a negative decision before you tell your reader the decision itself, you leverage the power of causation. In studies dating back to the 1940s, participants invariably described footage of simple, animated squares and triangles in terms of cause and effect. Your reader is also highly susceptible to seeing causation. When you turn sentences into micro-narratives of cause and effect, you make your writing easier to read and recall.

6. Put cause and effect on the page

You’ve probably already heard about the evils of passive construction: placing an outcome at the beginning of your sentence, in the grammatical subject, using a non-action verb, and generally burying the actor responsible. But English is a subject-verb-object language, and readers also expect language to obey what linguists call the iconicity assumption. In other words, we expect the order of items in a sentence to reflect the order in which they occurred in the world. When you use passive construction, readers’ brains show more activity — and reading speed slows down, no matter how simple your content.

Society & Culture

“The Long Reach of Early Childhood: Biological and Environmental Influences”

September 24, 2015
Paul Bernard

How do key social and biological transitions like schooling, family dynamics, puberty, sexual onset, pregnancy and parenthood shape an individual’s life? Dr. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn will address those issues Thursday, Oct. 8, in Gerson Hall, Room 126. Her speech is scheduled for 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Brooks-Gunn is the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education at Teachers College and College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.

Co-director of the National Center for Children and Family, she is a nationally renowned scholar whose research focuses on family and community influences on the development of children and youth.

Brooks-Gunn has also designed and evaluated interventions aimed at enhancing the well-being of children living in poverty and associated conditions. She has published more than 500 articles and chapters, written four books, edited 13 volumes and been the recipient of numerous major awards and honors.

The event, which is funded through a grant from the Rothman Endowment (Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere), is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Dr. Chris L. Gibson at clgibson@ufl.edu.

Campus Life

WWE® Superstar Titus O’Neil challenges fans to fight hunger for the Gator Good

September 24, 2015
Steve Orlando

University of Florida Hall of Famer Thaddeus Bullard and his alma mater are challenging fans to help the hungry in their communities.

Bullard, who is known across the globe as WWE Superstar Titus O'Neil®, played defensive end on the Gator football team that won the 1998 Citrus Bowl and 1999 Orange Bowl. During the Tennessee game Sept. 26, Bullard will challenge The Gator Nation to commit 3,000 hours of volunteer time. If Gator fans meet the challenge, Bullard will respond with his own pledge. Throughout the football season, he also will challenge other well-known Gators to get involved.

The challenge is part of the Gator Good, a University of Florida campaign that focuses on the university’s impact beyond campus. Fans can follow the campaign on social media through the hashtag #GatorGood and on GatorGood.com, where they can read and share stories that inspire them and pledge time to local charities. 

“Everything that I've had the opportunity to do for others started when people did things for me when they had nothing to gain in return,” Bullard said. “This Gator Good campaign will not only show how great The Gator Nation is, but also how great anyone can be when they give back to those that need it most.”

About Thaddeus Bullard:

After playing for the University of Florida and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Bullard joined WWE as Titus O’Neil and became a fixture on WWE's programming, including Raw and Smackdown.

Since his debut with WWE in 2012, Bullard has made an impact in and out of the ring as a business and family man, motivational speaker, youth counselor and coach. He often can be found speaking to children in schools, visiting the elderly in assisted-living facilities, and participating in charitable events in his community. In addition, he participates in WWE's numerous community-giving platforms, including Be a STAR, WWE’s anti-bullying campaign, and initiatives to support literacy, the U.S. military, Special Olympics and Susan G. Komen.

According to Bullard, the most important role in his life is as a father to his sons, T.J.,11, and Titus, 9. That commitment to fatherhood earned him a 2015 MEGA Dad Award, being named Celebrity Dad of the Year by everythingfordads.com. Bullard beat out actors Stephen Amell, Vin Diesel and Ashton Kutcher and soccer stars David Beckham and Kaká to claim the award. Last year, Bullard and his sons were featured in the Ad Council's "Take Time to Be a Dad" campaign, which was created to inspire a nationwide commitment to fatherhood. Bullard participated in WWE's promotion of the campaign via its television, live events, in-arena, digital and social media platforms, including an oversized billboard currently on display in Times Square.

At the University of Florida, Bullard was a standout defensive end, helping guide the Gators to victories in the 1998 Citrus Bowl and 1999 Orange Bowl. He received the Goodwill Gator award in 1998, 1999 and 2000 for community service and involvement and was inducted into the University of Florida Hall of Fame in spring 2000. That same year, Bullard was elected student body vice president and named to "Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges." Bullard was also part of Florida Blue Key, Florida's prestigious leadership and public service organization, and earned University Presidential Recognition. Another very personal accomplishment in 2014 for Bullard was being named "Humanitarian of the Year" by Rainbow Sports, the athletic arm of Rainbow/PUSH, by noted civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson.

Bullard and his sons reside in Tampa, where they are active members of Revealing Truth Ministries. He is also a proud brother of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Campus Life

New federal research funding makes Florida universities national hub for hurricane mitigation research

September 24, 2015
Steve Orlando

The National Science Foundation today announced grants to Florida International University and University of Florida totaling nearly $8 million that will position the state to become a national hub for research into making homes and businesses safer in hurricanes and tornadoes.

FIU’s Wall of Wind and UF’s Powell Family Structures and Materials Laboratory are now among seven labs in the nation with the designation of “Experimental Facilities” under the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure (NHERI) program, and the only two dedicated to studying extreme wind events. The facilities will attract NSF-funded researchers from throughout the nation who are working on wind engineering projects and are part of a network of scientists who study different aspects of natural hazards.
“These awards highlight the groundbreaking work supported by Florida’s public universities and underscore the value of multi-disciplinary collaboration and investment in research that leads to economic development in our state and across the nation,” said Chancellor for the Florida State University System Marshall Criser III. 
FIU’s Wall of Wind is the nation’s only full-scale simulator capable of producing Category 5 hurricane (157+ mph) winds. The 12-fan 8,400 horsepower system was inaugurated in 2012, on the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s devastating blow to South Florida. The Wall of Wind was developed with public and private funding over nearly 10 years, and capped by a $7.5 million State of Florida Center of Excellence award in 2008. Since then, the Center of Excellence has secured projects and awards totaling more than $9 million.
A team from FIU’s Extreme Events Institute (EEI) and International Hurricane Research Center (IHRC), led by principal investigator and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering Arindam Gan Chowdhury, was awarded a five-year NHERI grant for nearly $4.1 million.
“At FIU we are committed to solving problems for our community, our state and the nation,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg. “This NSF designation tells us we are on the right track and inspires us to push ahead with research-driven innovation to foster economic development and job creation.”
UF will receive $3.6 million to give top experts across the country access to a one-of-a-kind wind tunnel that tunes its wind field to test bridge and building models in terrains ranging from marine to terrestrial conditions. Civil, mechanical and electrical engineering students designed and built its ‘Terraformer’ system, which changes terrains on the fly. Researchers will also use dynamic pressure loading actuators—machines that ‘replay’ realistic wind loads to test buildings. The largest can replicate extreme wind loads from an EF5 tornado, the strongest wind event on the planet. The $4 million system was primarily funded by Henry Upjohn II through Michigan-based Special-Lite, Inc.
Forrest Masters and his colleagues in the Engineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure & Environment will use the grant to tackle an ambitious science plan that spans from promoting the use of robotics in construction to advancing computational methods to reduce the reliance on physical testing to understand how building products and systems respond to high wind loads.

With the grant, UF also will support military veterans returning to school, with emphasis on hiring those with service-connected disabilities.

Masters and Chowdhury will serve on the leadership team for the entire network, which includes the supercomputing center at UT Austin.

“The University of Florida is honored to be selected by the NSF to provide a national resource that will be used by researchers throughout the US,” said David Norton, UF’s vice president for research. “This speaks volumes to our prowess as a research university.”

Global Impact

3-D printing soft matter: UF discovery leads to new engineering discipline

September 25, 2015
Cindy Spence
3D printing, engineering, research

A University of Florida researcher exploring different techniques for 3-D printing has invented a method for manufacturing materials as soft as a cloud in a way never before possible.

The discovery by assistant professor Tommy Angelini turns traditional engineering on its head and opens the door to a brand-new discipline in mechanical engineering, said David Hahn, chair of UF’s department of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

For more than 100 years, mechanical engineers have studied how hard materials – concrete and metal, for instance – respond to stress and strain. In recent years, mechanical engineers have turned their attention to soft materials but were stumped because soft materials are too fragile to be manufactured in the same way as hard materials.

a soft 3d printer creates a slip knotAngelini came up with the idea to use microscopic hydrogel particles as a medium for 3-D printing of soft matter. These particles are 99.8 percent water and 20 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. He found that he could manufacture soft materials into shapes more fragile than anything found in nature, all with structural integrity. The discovery is reported today in a paper in the journal Science Advances.

Professor Greg Sawyer, a co-author with Angelini, said the discovery will require new tools, theory and modeling techniques in mechanical engineering. Hahn said much of that work will take place in the College of Engineering’s new Soft Matter Engineering Research Group, which already has attracted collaborators across several disciplines. The group’s work also has attracted financial support from two international companies intrigued by the prospects for soft matter manufacturing.

“In simple terms, a hundred-plus years that we’ve built a foundation on in traditional mechanics is largely off the table with soft matter,” Hahn said. “It really is a whole new frontier of engineering.”

‌Angelini said the printing medium is the key. Printing a soft object in three dimensions had been out of the question because, by its nature, 3-D printing requires an object to solidify layer by layer, with the printing tip depositing a material such as a plastic or metal, which hardens to provide its own support. A top-heavy object like a jellyfish, for instance, would be too soft to print using traditional 3-D methods because the thin tentacles on the bottom would not support the bulk at the top. Even if you printed the jellyfish upside down the thin, flexible legs could never stay still in a fluid or stand upright.

Angelini, however, decided to try 3-D printing in a medium of densely packed, microscopic hydrogel particles, or granular gel for short. The granular gel provides a stable, water-based environment that provides support for soft objects. As the printing tip injects a fluid into the granular gel, the gel traps the fluid in place, allowing for deposition of subsequent layers of fluid, without regard for support.

Angelini has used the new method to create numerous objects, including a jellyfish and a hollow, tubular knot, which could not be printed outside the granular gel environment.

a 3d printer creates nesting dolls“What if I could print you a structure that never solidified but it still held into place? That’s a new idea. It’s no longer about solidification, it’s more about placing things in space and leaving them where you put them. They aren’t going to move,” said Angelini, who conducted the work using his National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award, NSF’s most prestigious award for promising junior faculty. “This level of control is the foundation of all manufacturing.”

Sawyer, pointing to one of the laboratory jellyfish, adds, “Nobody in the world can make that jellyfish. We make them everyday. When we have soft matter manufacturing, we can make things, and then it is the realm of the engineer. It’s kind of like an industrial revolution.”

It’s a revolution that has attracted attention outside engineering. Neurosurgery professor Frank Bova said he is excited about using the technology for education, perhaps creating artificial brains and other phantom organs that medical students can use for hands-on experience.

“For years, we have made models of bone and cartilage, but we’ve never been able to print soft tissue models,” Bova said.

“With this process, we can take a brain scan with a tumor and make tissue that looks like that of a real patient, and that will help us better train surgeons,” Bova said. “One problem with teaching medical students and residents is having the right case at the right time. Complicated cases come in when you’d rather be teaching simple things, so this process allows us to create a library of appropriate cases that can provide practice at the appropriate time in a student’s medical education.”

Bova said he has faith in the process in part because he has seen it work. He sent Angelini a scan of his brain and got back a soft matter model.

The objects printed in the lab so far are orders of magnitude softer than any man-made object. Angelini says he doesn’t know of a lower limit to the mechanical integrity of the objects the lab can make, and Sawyer adds, “We can make a cloud.”

A tantalizing question, Sawyer says, is what will be the smartest thing to do with this technology. For their part, Sawyer and Angelini are developing ways to print living cells using the granular gel technique.

“In science, you’re either leading or you’re following, and you hope that if you do things right, every 10 years or so, you get a chance to lead for a while,” Hahn said. “With this new discipline we will be in the lead, and we are seizing the opportunity to make it a big strategic thrust for UF.”

Global Impact

UF Campaign for Charities kicks off

October 6, 2015
UF Community Relations

UF looks to beat last year's $1,015,350 in charitable donations from faculty and staff.

University of Florida employees are supporting 89 community agencies as part of UF's Campaign for Charities, and annual event that benefits organizations providing a variety of services to the Gainesville area. The 2014 campaign raised more than $1 million, a number the campaign leadership hopes to top this year. 

Donations can be made by payroll deduction, check, cash or stock contribution at ufcc.ufl.edu, where faculty and staff can also find a list of agencies to choose from, along with campaign FAQs and messages from the campaign leadership. The campaign continues until Oct. 23. 


Campus Life

Florida consumer sentiment down, reflecting lingering effects of stock market correction

September 25, 2015
Colleen Porter

Consumer sentiment among Floridians fell almost three points in September to 87.9, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey. Among the five components that make up the index, four declined and one increased.

Perceptions of personal finances now compared with a year ago fell 2.1 points to 80.5, while expectations of personal finances a year from now fell 3.5 points to 96.9. Views of U.S. economic conditions over the next year fell 5.9 points to 83, while anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next five years fell 6.1 points to 82.3. The only increase was in opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy big-ticket items like a car, which rose 3.5 points to 96.7.

“Given the correction in the stock market at the end of August, we expected our index to decline this month,” said Chris McCarty, director of UF’s Survey Research Center in the Bureau of Economic and Business Research. “The market is reacting to growing weakness in the Chinese economy, a significant driver of global economic growth. This indicates lower global demand and raises uncertainty over economic and political stability in a region that has become reliant on China as the anchor.”

The stock market shake-up is reflected in the breakdown of consumer sentiment components by demographics. The sharpest declines were among older respondents and those making more than $50,000 per year on the short- and long-run expectations of U.S. economic conditions.

“Both groups are likely concerned that further market corrections are coming,” McCarty said. “While U.S. stock markets have stabilized in the short run, we are down 5.4 percent for the year and at one point were down more than 10 percent.”

Other parts of the Florida economic picture are more positive. The unemployment rate declined again in August to 5.3 percent, only two-tenths of a percentage point higher than the U.S. rate of 5.1. Unlike previous reports, the primary job gains were in private education and health services. There was a modest decline in the labor force, which contributed to lower unemployment.

The labor force participation rate declined again and is now down to 58.4 percent. While the Florida labor force participation rate has historically been lower than the U.S. average given the higher proportion of seniors, Florida’s participation rate has declined sharply relative to the nation’s rate since the beginning of the year and is now 4.2 percentage points lower than the U.S. rate.

“This is a trend that must change for Florida’s economy to improve,” McCarty said.

Housing prices for August, while up over 11 percent from a year ago, flattened compared with July. Mortgage rates have been declining since June with the rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage at 3.79 percent, making it a good time to buy a home for those who can qualify and afford the down payment. 

Retail sales have been weak, in part due to falling energy prices. Gas prices will go below $2 a gallon in many parts of Florida by the end of the year.

“There was a lot of anticipation leading up to the Federal Reserve meeting in September, with about half of economists expecting a small rate increase and half expecting rates to stay the same,” McCarty said. “While the Fed decided to leave rates alone, they have signaled that there will be a modest increase either in October or December. Another factor that may affect confidence in October is the possible government shutdown over funding for Planned Parenthood.”

Conducted Sept. 1-20, the UF study reflects the responses of 426 individuals who were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida.

The index used by UF researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150.

Details of this month’s survey can be found at http://www.bebr.ufl.edu/csi-data

Society & Culture

UF celebrates 50 years of Gatorade

September 28, 2015
April Frawley Lacey

The research question posed to University of Florida professor J. Robert Cade, M.D., and his research fellows in 1965 was a simple one: Why were so many Gator football players getting sick in the unrelenting Florida heat?

“That question changed our lives,” Cade would later tell reporters, because the answer led him and his team to develop an innovative product that forever changed athletic performance, launched a new industry, helped people suffering from dehydration and sparked a legacy of innovation that persists at UF today -- Gatorade.

This year marks 50 years since Cade and his team -- Dana Shires, M.D.; Jim Free, M.D.; and Alejandro de Quesada, M.D. -- concocted the mixture of water, electrolytes and lemon juice that ultimately became UF’s most famous invention.

Numerous activities will be held Saturday, Oct. 3 at the UF vs. Ole Miss game to celebrate the anniversary. Prior to the game in the FanFest area outside the stadium, visitors can check out the Gatorade Fuel Truck or the UF Health booth for fun activities and T-shirts. During the game, the inventors of Gatorade and other UF leaders will be recognized during a pregame ceremony on the field.

At the time Gatorade was invented, the researchers’ goal was simply to develop something to help the Gator football team stay hydrated in the heat.

“Several football players were in the emergency room because of heat stroke,” said de Quesada, who noted that Gatorade was a side project for the team, which at the time was more focused on the bourgeoning use of hemodialysis and kidney transplantation. “The concept at the time was that if you were engaged in strenuous exercise, you could not drink water because it caused vomiting. The idea was if you create a solution and give it to the players, they would be hydrated much faster.

“We came up with a solution that could be absorbed quickly. It was very simple.”

With the permission of then-UF coach Ray Graves, the researchers tested the beverage on the Gators’ “B” team. Although the taste took some time to be perfected, the results of the fledgling sports drink were promising and seemed to help the team on the field. By 1966, the Gators had an 8-2 regular season record and had won the Orange Bowl for the first time, and many thought Gatorade played a role in that success. The Florida Times-Union famously wrote “One Lil’ Swig of That Kickapoo Juice and Biff, Bam, Sock -- It’s Gators, 8-2.”

Today, Gatorade, now owned by PepsiCo, is the official sports drink of the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and more. Within UF, the invention of Gatorade has cultivated another lasting legacy -- a culture of innovation. The example set by Gatorade’s inventors has influenced generations of Gator researchers to be persistent in their pursuit of discovery and to aim big.

“What Bob Cade did for the university was make everyone else realize that someone working quietly on something interesting and relevant to them could make a difference,” said Nikolaus Gravenstein, M.D., the Jerome H. Modell, M.D., professor of anesthesiology in the UF College of Medicine. “You could be in any discipline and make a difference.

“It is one of our reasons our UF Office of Technology and Licensing is the size it is, because there are so many people who say ‘I can do that, too.’”

Mark Segal, M.D., Ph.D., the J. Robert Cade professor of medicine and division chief of nephrology, hypertension and renal transplantation in the College of Medicine, said Cade’s work has influenced many in his division.

“I truly believe this division is innovative, and that innovation has its origins with Dr. Cade,” Segal said. “He never accepted the status quo. We shouldn’t accept the status quo, either.”

Royalties from Gatorade also have funded more than $250 million in research projects across the university and notably within the College of Medicine, where Cade was a faculty member in the department of medicine division of nephrology, hypertension and renal transplantation until his death in 2007.

In 2014, UF Health researcher Michael Lauzardo, M.D., received $200,000 from the Gatorade Trust to open a tuberculosis lab in Gressier, Haiti. Haiti has the worst rate of tuberculosis infection in the western hemisphere. At the lab, UF researchers are performing rapid diagnostic tests to more quickly diagnose patients, training Haitian lab technicians to perform these tests and conducting research to answer crucial questions related to the transmission of the disease and why some strains have become resistant to well-known treatments.

“We want to move research forward and address how to best provide drug-resistant TB therapy in a difficult environment, how to best get specimens to a lab, and how to get people who live in remote areas complicated lifesaving therapy. This is an area where Haiti can be a leader,” said Lauzardo, director of the Southeastern National Tuberculosis Center, chief of the UF division of infectious diseases and global medicine and a member of the Emerging Pathogens Institute. “Gatorade’s funding has helped us do something novel and unique and efficient that moves research forward.”

Gatorade royalties have funded many pilot projects throughout UF, helping researchers get their work off the ground or establish labs. One such project that has come to full fruition is the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience, which received a $30,000 grant from Gatorade to assist with its opening in 1974. Although the grant was small, the seed funding has paid off in big ways. Researchers at the Whitney Lab, located by the Atlantic Ocean in St. Augustine, Florida, specialize in understanding marine creatures to benefit human health.

For example, in 2014, Whitney researcher Leonid Moroz, Ph.D., became the first scientist to conduct genome sequencing of fragile marine creatures, such as rare comb jellies, in real time while aboard a ship. Because of their delicate bodies, these creatures cannot be safely shipped to the lab, so the researchers brought the lab to them. The research could lead to better understanding of the mechanisms at work in these creatures and could lead to new drug discoveries.

Gatorade’s influence also has spawned numerous discoveries at UF benefiting sports medicine. Gravenstein and his team developed air-cooled football pads to combat heat illness in athletes. The technology is now used in the NFL. Other UF researchers such as Jay Clugston, M.D., in the College of Medicine, are studying ways to prevent and reduce concussions in athletes.

“(Gatorade) infected people with the spirit of discovery,” Gravenstein said. “I am convinced the best is yet to come.”

For de Quesada, looking back on the invention he, Cade, Shires and Free devised five decades ago, what makes him the most proud is Gatorade’s use off the field, helping children recover from dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea.

“Babies, used to die because of severe diarrhea and vomiting. There was little they could do. With the use of Gatorade, that problem was solved,” he said. “We never claimed that Gatorade is a medication. But it can be used to hydrate people who need hydration for medical reasons. That is one of the great satisfactions I have, is how many lives it has saved.”

Global Impact

UF among diverse group of universities working to improve college admission process

September 28, 2015
UF News

A diverse coalition of public and private colleges and universities is coming together with the goal of improving the college admission application process for all students. The Coalition is developing a free platform of online tools to streamline the experience of planning for and applying to college. The initial iteration of the planning tools will be available to freshmen, sophomores and juniors in high school beginning in January 2016.

In creating this platform, these colleges and universities hope to recast the college admission process from something that is transactional and limited in time into a more engaged, ongoing and educationally reaffirming experience. They also hope to motivate a stronger college‐going mindset among students of all backgrounds, especially those from low­‐income families or underrepresented groups who have historically had less access to leading colleges and universities.

The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success currently includes more than 80 public and private universities and colleges across the United States that have made a commitment to make college affordable and accessible for students from diverse backgrounds, and for students to be successful in completing their education. The Coalition, which continues to add members, will be working over the next few months to develop tools and processes that are intended to address many of the barriers that prevent students from attending college or successfully earning a degree.

"The college admission process today can be stress-inducing and we know it can present barriers for all students, especially for those who are the first in their family to attend college," said Zina L. Evans, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Florida.

“The schools in the Coalition have individually tried many different and creative approaches to address these challenges,” said Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale University. “We have come to the conclusion that we can have a much bigger impact on student access and completion if we work together.”

Later this year, the Coalition will share details about new college planning and application tools that will streamline the admission and financial aid processes and allow students to begin planning for college much earlier in their high school years. The online tools—which will include a digital portfolio, a collaboration platform, and an application portal—seek to reshape the process of applying to college as the culmination of students’ development over the course of their high school careers, reducing the unfamiliarity of the application and leveling the playing field for all students. The application will add another option to all the ways that students currently apply for college. Many Coalition schools will accept applications through the portal in the summer of 2016, while others are still deciding when and how to use the application feature of the new system.

"Starting to think about college earlier reduces some of the pressure of the application process, but more importantly, it sets the expectation that students should aspire to attend college," said Seth Allen, vice president and dean of admissions at Pomona College. "There are so many talented students who should aim for a great school, but they often don't understand the path to get there."

For example, research has found that students from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not participate effectively in the college application process, struggle with applying for financial aid, and often do not get awarded all the financial aid they qualify for. As a result, even the most highly qualified students either do not attend college, attend a college that does not engage their full potential, or do not complete their degrees. Attending a high school with a college‐going culture greatly increases students’ college success.

The Coalition hopes to address these findings through its free online tools and increased transparency around admissions and financial aid.

“The fact that some highly motivated and well prepared students do not apply to and enroll in the college they are best suited for is a persistent problem,” said Barbara Gill, associate vice president for enrollment management at the University of Maryland. “This Coalition is working to mitigate this problem by empowering students from disadvantaged backgrounds to immediately identify a diverse set of schools that are likely to provide considerable financial support and will invest in their academic success.”

Members of the Coalition include a diverse group of public universities that have affordable tuition along with need­‐based financial aid for in-state residents, and private colleges and universities that provide sufficient financial aid to meet the full, demonstrated financial need of every domestic student they admit. Coalition schools graduate at least 70 percent of their students within six years, with many having much higher graduation rates.

"Coalition schools offer students incredible choice in location, size, selectivity, and mission, but we all share a commitment that the students we admit can afford to attend and will have a high likelihood of graduating," said James G. Nondorf, vice president for enrollment at the University of Chicago. "That should give students confidence that college is within their reach, and that they can be successful. We hope this effort will ultimately be successful in persuading many more students to aim for college and help ensure that they are prepared to do so."

The Coalition’s online portfolio of college planning tools will be open to high school students starting in January 2016. Additional details about the application process enabled by the platform will be announced before summer of 2016. More information can be found at coalitionforcollegeaccess.org.


Coalition Member Institutions

Amherst College

Bates College

Bowdoin College

Brown University

Bryn Mawr College

California Institute of Technology

Carleton College

Clemson University

Colby College

Colgate University

College of the Holy Cross

College of William & Mary

Colorado College

Columbia University

Connecticut College

Cornell University

Dartmouth College

Davidson College

Duke University

Emory University

Franklin and Marshall College

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

Georgia Institute of Technology

Grinnell College

Hamilton College

Harvard University

Haverford College

Illinois State University

Indiana University – Bloomington

James Madison University

Johns Hopkins University

Miami University – Ohio

Michigan State University

Middlebury College

Mount Holyoke College

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Northeastern University

Northwestern University

Oberlin College

Ohio State University

Penn State

Pomona College

Princeton University

Purdue University

Reed College

Rice University

Rutgers University – New Brunswick

Skidmore College

Smith College

St. Olaf College

Stanford University

State University of New York – College at Geneseo

State University of New York – University at Buffalo

Swarthmore College

Texas A&M University

Tufts University

Union College

University of Chicago

University of Connecticut

University of Florida

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Maryland – College Park

University of Michigan

University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

University of Missouri

University of New Hampshire

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of Notre Dame

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pittsburgh

University of Rochester

University of South Carolina

University of Vermont

University of Virginia

University of Washington

Vanderbilt University

Vassar College

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Washington University in St. Louis

Wellesley College

Wesleyan University

Williams College

Yale University

Campus Life

Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X, speaks at UF

September 29, 2015
Desirae Lee
campus events, Ilyasah Shabazz

Ilyasah Shabazz, the youngest daughter of social activist Malcolm X, addressed a full house at the University of Florida’s Pugh Hall on Monday.

“I’m really excited to hear what she has to say,” said Divya Jolly, a senior studying behavioral and cognitive neuroscience and anthropology. “I think her history of activism is so empowering.”

Shabazz’s speech, which was presented by UF’s African American Studies program, began with a series of questions including, “What are we teaching our children?” and “How are we going to create change?”

ilyasah shabazz signs her book.Her advocacy for education, self-empowerment, uplifting the younger generation, and equality for women became apparent as the underlying theme of her speech. Shabazz even paused to encourage the men in the crowd to give a round of applause to their “sisters” saying that “When you teach a woman, you empower a nation.”

Shabazz also discussed one of her newest books, “X: A Novel,” a fictional take on the her father’s life. Shabazz has written and edited several books that commemorate her father including “The Diary of Malcolm X: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz,” “Malcolm Little” and her critically acclaimed coming-of-age story “Growing up X.”

After her speech, Shabazz took questions from students, faculty, and activists, including Bruce Frendahl, a 1974 UF graduate who participated in the original “Black Thursday” Protest.

“There was a bunch of white students who organized a sleep-in at Tigert Hall in March of ‘72 in order to get more black students here, because there were virtually none,” he said.

When asked of his first encounters with Malcolm X’s work during the ‘70s, Frendahl recalled, “I really thought he was centuries ahead of his time. There were a lot of people, even within the black community, that did not understand him and there were a lot of people that did not support him because he was too radical.”

It was a point Shabazz addressed in her speech.

“Most people didn’t understand who X was. They thought he was angry. He was just having a profound reaction to what happened around him. He was a person of passion,” she said.

Frendahl said he was honored to personally encounter Malcolm X’s living legacy.

“I’m very impressed with her. She is incredible. She is a very good speaker and she’s a credit to her father. And she’s a credit to the movement to get true equality in this nation.”

Campus Life

UF receives $49 million USAID award to aid in global food security

September 29, 2015
Beverly James

The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences a $49 million, five-year grant to help feed the world and end hunger.

The grant, which will be used to establish the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, supports USAID’s agricultural research and capacity building work under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

“Through our Feed the Future Innovation Labs, the U.S. government is empowering the world’s finest universities to help improve nutrition and end widespread hunger around the world,” said acting USAID administrator Alfonse E. Lenhardt. “By creating and scaling cutting-edge solutions to our most pressing agricultural challenges, we can help the world’s most vulnerable people move from dependency to self-sufficiency -- and out of the tragic cycle of extreme poverty.”

“With this latest award to UF/IFAS, USAID is now investing over $75 million in the University of Florida’s ability to provide leadership to the global food systems research, teaching and extension efforts,” said Jack Payne, UF’s senior vice president of agriculture and natural resources.

This newest Feed the Future Innovation Lab will improve livestock productivity and the incomes and nutrition of livestock holders through appropriate improved technologies, capacity building and enabling policies, said Adegbola Adesogan, director of UF’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems and a professor of animal sciences.

“The program will help increase the resilience of vulnerable populations, reduce the environmental impact of livestock systems, and advance understanding of the rapidly evolving livestock systems and their roles in food safety and security, human nutrition, and human and animal health,” he said.

The Livestock Systems Innovation Lab will focus on six countries in West and East Africa and South Asia:  Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cambodia and Nepal.

“This grant provides a tremendous opportunity to contribute toward meeting the increasing global demand for livestock products specifically and food generally, “Adesogan said. “Our research and capacity building efforts will equip students, farmers and scientists in the focal countries with the knowledge and innovative technologies to significantly increase livestock productivity and improve the nutritional status of vulnerable families.” 

The award will strengthen global engagement at the University of Florida and allow the institution to better assist developing nations in addressing poverty and hunger, said Walter Bowen, director of UF/IFAS Global.

“By joining the ranks of the science-based Feed the Future Innovation Labs, the University of Florida continues a strong tradition of contributing to the research, education and extension needs of small holder farmers around the world,” he said.

Feed the Future is working to scale up proven technologies and activities, expand nutrition interventions and programs, and conduct research to create the next generation of innovations that can change the lives of food producers and their families. In 2014, Feed the Future reached nearly 7 million farmers and other food producers with new technologies and management practices, while reaching more than 12 million children with high-impact nutrition interventions that improve health and development.

About Feed the Future: Feed the Future is the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and undernutrition. For more information, visit www.feedthefuture.gov.

Global Impact

Should older Americans live in places segregated from the young?

September 29, 2015
Stephen Golant
aging, The Conversation

Geography professor Stephen Golant weighs the potential benefits of age-specific communities.

Demographers frequently remind us that the United States is a rapidly aging country. From 2010 to 2040, we expect that the age-65-and-over population will more than double in size, from about 40 to 82 million. More than one in five residents will be in their later years. Reflecting our higher life expectancy, over 55% of this older group will be at least in their mid-70s.

While these numbers result in lively debates on issues such as social security or health care spending, they less often provoke discussion on where our aging population should live and why their residential choices matter.

But this growing share of older Americans will contribute to the proliferation of buildings, neighborhoods and even entire communities occupied predominantly by seniors. It may be difficult to find older and younger populations living side by side together in the same places. Is this residential segregation by age a good or a bad thing?

As an environmental gerontologist and social geographer, I have long argued that it is easier, less costly, and more beneficial and enjoyable to grow old in some places than others. The happiness of our elders is at stake. In my recent book, Aging in the Right Place, I conclude that when older people live predominantly with others their own age, there are far more benefits than costs.

Why do seniors tend to live apart from other age groups?

My focus is on the 93% of Americans age 65 and older who live in ordinary homes and apartments, and not in highly age-segregated long-term care options, such as assisted living properties, board and care, continuing care retirement communities or nursing homes. They are predominantly homeowners (about 79%), and mostly occupy older single-family dwellings.

Older Americans don’t move as often as people in other age groups. Typically, only about 2% of older homeowners and 12% of older renters move annually. Strong residential inertia forces are in play. They are understandably reluctant to move from their familiar settings where they have strong emotional attachments and social ties. So they stay put. In the vernacular of academics, they opt to age in place.

Over time, these residential decisions result in what are referred to as “naturally occurring” age-homogeneous neighborhoods and communities. These residential enclaves of old are now found throughout our cities, suburbs and rural counties. In some locales with economies that have changed for the worse, these older concentrations are further explained by the wholesale exit of younger working populations looking for better job prospects elsewhere – leaving the senior population behind.

Even when older people decide to move, they often avoid locating near the young. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 allows certain housing providers to discriminate against families with children. Consequently, significant numbers of older people can move to these “age-qualified” places that purposely exclude younger residents. The best-known examples are those active adult communities offering golf, tennis and recreational activities catering to the hedonistic lifestyles of older Americans.

Others may opt to move to “age-targeted” subdivisions (many gated) and high-rise condominiums that developers predominantly market to aging consumers who prefer adult neighbors. Close to 25% of age-55-and-older households in the US occupy these types of planned residential settings.

Finally, another smaller group of relocating elders transition to low-rent senior apartment buildings made possible by various federally and state-funded housing programs. They move to seek relief from the intolerably high housing costs of their previous residences.

Is this a bad thing?

Those advocates who bemoan the inadequate social connections between our older and younger generations view these residential concentrations as landscapes of despair.

In their perhaps idyllic worlds, old and young generations should harmoniously live together in the same buildings and neighborhoods. Older people would care for the children and counsel the youth. The younger groups would feel safer, wiser and respectful of the old. The older group would feel fulfilled and useful in their roles of caregivers, confidants and volunteers. In question is whether these enriched social outcomes merely represent idealized visions of our pasts.

A less generous interpretation for why critics oppose these congregations of old is that they make the problems faced by an aging population more visible and thus harder to ignore.

A better social life

But why should we expect older people to live among younger generations? Over the course of our lives, we typically gravitate to others who are at similar stages in life as ourselves. Consider summer camps, university dormitories, rental buildings geared to millennials or neighborhoods with lots of young families. Yet we seldom hear cries to break up and integrate these age-homogeneous residential enclaves.

In fact, studies show that when older people reside with others their age, they have more fulfilled and enjoyable lives. They do not feel stigmatized when they practice retirement-oriented lifestyles. Even the most introverted or socially inactive older adults feel less alone and isolated when surrounded with friendly, sympathetic, and helpful neighbors with shared lifestyles, experiences, and values – and yes, who offer them opportunities for intimacy and an active sex life.

Moreover, tomorrow’s technology is especially on the side of these elders. Because of online social media communications, older people can engage with younger people – as family members, friends, or as mentors – but without having to live next to what they sometimes feel are noisy babies, obnoxious adolescents, indifferent younger adults or insensitive career professionals.

Age-specific enclaves prolong independent living

Could living in these age-homogeneous places help older people avoid a nursing home stay?

Studies say yes – because here they have more opportunities to cope with their chronic health problems and impairments. Now their greater visibility as vulnerable consumers becomes a plus because both private businesses and government administrators can more easily identify and respond to their unmet needs.

These elder concentrations spawn a different mindset. The emphasis shifts from serving troubled individual consumers to serving vulnerable communities or “critical masses” of consumers.

Consider how many more clients home-care workers can assist when they are spared the traveling time and costs of reaching addresses spread over multiple suburbs or rural counties. Or recognize how much easier it is for a building management or homeowners’ association to justify the purchasing of a van to serve the transportation needs of their older residents or to establish an on-site clinic to address their health needs.

Consider also the challenges confronted by older people seeking good information about where to get help and assistance. Even in our internet age, they still mostly rely on word of mouth communications from trusted individuals. It becomes more likely that these knowledgeable individuals will be living next to them.

These enclaves of old have also been the catalyst for highly regarded resident-organized neighborhoods known as elder villages.

Their concerned and motivated older leaders hire staff and coordinate a pool of their older residents to serve as volunteers. For an annual membership fee, the predominantly middle-income occupants in these neighborhoods receive help with their grocery shopping, meal delivery, transportation and preventive health needs. Residents also benefit from knowing which providers and vendors (like workers performing home repair) are the most reliable, and they often receive discounted prices for their goods and services. They also enjoy organized educational and recreational events enabling them to enjoy the company of other residents. Today, about such 170 villages are open and 160 are in planning stages.

A question of preference

Ageist values and practices are indeed deplorable. However, we should not view the residential separation of the old from the young as necessarily harmful and discriminatory but rather as celebrating the preferences of older Americans and nurturing their ability to live happy, dignified, healthy and autonomous lives. Living with their age-peers helps these older occupants compensate for other downsides in their places of residence and in particular presents opportunities for both private and public sector solutions.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Society & Culture

Dragon headed to Gator Country

September 30, 2015
UF News

The University of Florida School of Theatre + Dance is pleased to present “The Golden Dragon,” a play written by Roland Schimmelpfennig, translated by David Tushingham and directed by Professor Ralf Remshardt. The show runs Oct. 1-11 in the Black Box Theatre located in the Nadine McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion on UF’s campus.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1-2 and Oct. 6-10, and at 2 p.m. Oct. 4 and Oct. 11. Tickets are $13 for UF students, $15 for UF faculty/staff and senior citizens, and $18 for the general public.

The setting of “The Golden Dragon” includes the sweaty kitchen of a Pan Asian restaurant, the dining room within the restaurant and various apartments in the building where the restaurant is housed. The surrealistic play explores issues of globalization and the plight of undocumented immigrant workers. Five actors play various roles ranging from a young Chinese immigrant to flight attendants to a couple dealing with relationship problems. Remshardt has also created a new character, the Foley Artist, who will provide sound effects and serve as a commentator on the events of the play.

“Part of the ambition is to reverse the conventional expectation that students and patrons have about theatre,” says Remshardt. “I want to make people see that realistic theatre is actually over the full duration of theatrical history, an exception. The norm is an appeal to the imagination and the enfranchisement of the audience’s ability to participate and to get into the theatrical fiction, play with it and to be played with.”

Remshardt has directed past School of Theatre + Dance productions including “Never the Sinner,” “Big Love,” “The Bacchae” and “Clybourne Park” in a co-production with the Hippodrome Theatre. The cast of “The Golden Dragon” includes Grace Abele, Chris Alfonso, Ernest Briggs, Amanda Hayter, Jeremy Martinez and Mallory Steffes.

"The Golden Dragon" had its U.S. premiere during the 2011-2012 season at the Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., directed by Serge Seiden and with a cast of film and television actors such as Noah Galvin, Peter Kim, K.K. Moggie and Welker White, as well as stage actor Stephen Duff Webber.

A behind-the-scenes look at dress rehearsal can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/140848751.

Tickets are available through the University Box Officelocated at Gate 1 of the Stephen C. O'Connell Center, by calling 352-392-1653 or at ticketmaster.com. The University Box Office is open Tuesdays through Fridays 12-5:30 p.m. Tickets can also be purchased at the Constans Theatre Box Office starting 45 minutes prior to the performance.

The Nadine McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion is located at 687 McCarty Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611. On-campus parking is available at the Reitz Union garage and the Museum Road parking lot. Guests are strongly encouraged to pick up tickets early, as shows run the risk of being sold out.

For more information, please contact Leah Spellman at lspellman@arts.ufl.edu or 352-273-1489.

Campus Life

Film series continues with a French classic

September 30, 2015
UF News

The School of Arts + Arts History in the UF College of the Arts continues its “Films Under the Stars” with the presentation of Robert Bresson's 1945 film “Les dames du Bois de Boulogne” on Oct. 6 at 8 p.m.

The original script for this film was composed by Jean Cocteau. Complete with love triangles, back-stabbing and the anguish of contested relationships, Bresson's Les dames du Bois de Boulogne (Ladies of the Park) was based on a short novel by Diderot and Cocteau's dialogue. It has been hailed as “a landmark of 20th Century Cinema" for its "moving study of the power of revenge and the strength of true love." (Criterion Collection notes).

The screening will take place in the Fine Arts Plaza (rain/weather location: Fine Arts Building D, Room 329). Admission is free and open to all faculty, staff and students, as well as their families, friends and pets.

The remaining films in the Tuesday night series are:

  • October 20 – Diary of a Country Priest (Bresson, 1951)
  • October 27 –­ Pickpocket (Bresson, 1959)
  • November 3 ­– Repulsion (Polanski, 1965)
  • November 10 ­– The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Demy, 1964)

For more information, please contact Dr. Craig Smith  at c.smith@ufl.edu.

Campus Life

UF releases results of sexual assault and misconduct survey

September 21, 2015
UF News

The University of Florida today released the results of the Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct, a survey of the Association of American Universities, in which UF and 26 other universities participated.

The voluntary survey was distributed to 12,000 randomly selected UF students in April in an effort to learn their knowledge, attitudes and experiences regarding sexual violence.

With almost 17 percent of students responding, the survey results will be used to further develop programs and initiatives that educate the student community regarding inappropriate behavior, available resources, ways to report and resolution options. These universitywide efforts seek to ultimately curtail the incidences of sexual assault and sexual misconduct on campus.

“UF volunteered to participate in this survey because of the importance of this issue. The survey gives us the ability to learn about our students’ experiences and use that data to make our community a safer one for all students,” Dean of Students Jen Day Shaw said. “At UF, every Gator counts.”

UF’s findings generally mirror student responses from the other top-tier universities that participated in the study and align with similar recent national surveys of sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses. 

  • One in five UF female undergraduate students indicated they have experienced some type of sexual assault---ranging from sexual touching such as groping to unwanted penetration --- since entering UF.  Five percent of male undergraduates reported the same.
  • 17.6 percent of non-heterosexual UF students reported experiencing nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching involving physical force or incapacitation, compared with 10.6 percent for heterosexuals.
  • In responding to questions concerning sexual harassment, which includes offensive comments and jokes, the offender’s affiliation to the university was described nearly 92 percent of the time as another student; more than 70 percent of students who said they were harassed said the offender was a friend or acquaintance.

The survey also looked at whether female victims of sexual assault and sexual misconduct report it to either the university or another organization, such as law enforcement. Of female students who responded that they had been victims of penetration by physical force:

  • 58 percent said they did not report the behavior because they did not think it was serious enough to report;
  • 23 percent did not report the incident because they did not think anything would be done about it;
  • 18 percent did not report because they feared the information would not be kept confidential; and
  • 27 percent did not report because they felt embarrassed or ashamed.*

Finally, the survey revealed that more than two-thirds of UF students believe that a report of sexual assault or sexual misconduct would be taken seriously by campus officials. Sixty percent said it was very or extremely likely that the safety of those reporting incidents of sexual assault and sexual misconduct would be protected by university officials.

The benchmark data provided by the survey will help the university focus efforts on opportunities for improvement. The universitywide Title IX Committee will use the results to identify gaps and determine priorities.

Education and training is provided to students starting at orientation and continuing through their UF experience. Even before getting these results, UF implemented a mandatory sexual violence online educational training module for all students that are new to UF which began this summer.  Additionally, UF’s Director of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution Chris Loschiavo was one of a handful of conduct officers invited to the White House in 2014 to consult about sexual violence on the college campus.  The “It’s On Us” White House campaign against sexual violence was one of the initiatives. 

“We have been working hard to encourage students to report their experiences so that we can both provide support to the survivor and address the behavior,” Loschiavo said.

The full AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct aggregate report, including an executive summary, a description of the methodology, and extensive data and analysis, is available on the AAU website.

*Does not add up to 100 percent because students could choose more than one answer. 

Campus Life

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