Humility over hubris

May 1, 2017
UF News

UF President Kent Fuchs addressed graduates over the weekend during spring commencement ceremonies. His speech is below:

Graduates, I want to begin by telling you how immensely proud I am of each and every one of you.

I am proud of the many academic and personal achievements that have earned you a seat here today.

I am proud of the exceptional education your University of Florida diploma represents.

Family members, friends and faculty, I know you are proud of all that you have contributed to these graduates, and to the future they inherit.

Graduates, you, too, deserve to be proud of what you have learned at UF and to have pride in your knowledge.

That’s what commencements are all about: Celebrating all that you know.

But today I’m going to switch things up a bit.

I want to celebrate the importance of what you don’t know.

I trust that many of you share my frustration at the intellectual hubris we sometimes see, here at universities, in our culture, and in our politics.

I bet that you, too, have been frustrated by the inability to get past this hubris and to change someone else’s mind – or simply get them to see your point of view. 

So as I send you off, I want to speak to the underrated value of

Humility over hubris …

Inquiry over insistence …

And listening over lecturing …

But wait a minute … it feels hypocritical to say this in my full presidential commencement regalia, which after all is designed to convey that I’m a very important person saying very erudite things. 

Please excuse me while I remove my tam … that’s the official name for this hat here.

President Fuchs puts on Gator cap.

I’ve got one more thing. I’m going to get rid of my chain here. This is my presidential bling. Could you come up here?

President Fuchs hands chain to student.

Now, I need that back in about 10 minutes!

So now I’m ready!

Graduates, the knowledge and expertise you have honed here will serve you so well.

It will give you the answers to tough questions. 

I know your answers will be right, and I know they will be just. 

When the questions involve conflicting interests, I am confident your answers will, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “give the greatest good to the greatest number.”

But I want to stress that even though it will be important for you to have the answers, it will be equally important for you to understand when you do not have the answers.

It will be important for you to recognize, and even to embrace, the moments when you have more to learn – or when you understand that your answers may be wrong or incomplete.

We benefit from knowing what we do not know.

That is my simple message, one that arises from my own personal experience.

I have been fortunate in my 26 months as UF’s president to celebrate many amazing public milestones achieved for this university by our faculty, staff and students.

But some of my strongest memories are tied to private moments, when I have been reminded how little I know … how few my talents are … and how much I can learn from others.

Let me illustrate.

I’ll show you a brief video of beautiful dancing by our students in the School of Theatre and Dance …

Now let me show you my own not-so-beautiful dancing over the last two years at the University of Florida …

Instead of “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Justin Timberlake would sing, “Please, stop the feeling!” if he saw my moves.

My attempts at dancing on camera have renewed my appreciation of real dancers’ genius and beauty.

I had a similar humbling but enlightening experience when I dropped in on a sign language class taught by UF faculty member Stephen Hardy last fall.

It was intimidating to try my hand at a new language, but it was also refreshing.

I loved learning and laughing with the students while working on my name sign, “Fuchs.”

President Fuchs performs name sign.

Sign language helps with a name like mine, that is spelled strangely, and is often pronounced in embarrassing ways!

We’re fortunate at UF to have an excellent Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences.

One of my most powerful experiences of learning from others occurred last summer, when I met with African-American faculty and staff following several national violent incidents, and heard their personal experiences of discrimination and racism.

It was far more important for me as a leader to listen at that moment, rather than to talk.

By the end of that two-hour conversation everyone was crying, including me, though of course those experiences are completely outside my own.

Listening is what is needed when you are on the side of the angels.

That was the side of beloved UF Professor and Historian Michael Gannon, who died earlier this month at age 89, after a rich life that included being ordained as a Roman Catholic priest … authoring seminal books about Spanish Florida and World War II …

and being one of the most revered teachers in the history of the University of Florida. 

Professor Gannon taught over 16,000 students during his career here.

At a time of unrest on this campus in the 1960s during the Vietnam War, he was supportive of student protestors in their tangles with local police and the university administration.

Yet because he listened to all, he was trusted by all.

He was known to students as “the movement priest.”

He was known to the police as “our mediator.”

He was known to the administration as “a trusted go-between.”

And in that role, more than anyone else, Father Gannon was able to help UF and Gainesville mend divisions and achieve greater justice.

Someone who can only shout in angry righteousness – even when they are right – cannot have that same effect.

Dante wrote, “I love to doubt, as well as know.”

And indeed, the arc to Father Gannon’s star begins with questioning ourselves.

For when we know that we know very little, it’s easy to believe that others may add to our storehouse.

When we’re aware that we don’t have it all worked out, it’s easy to believe that they may have a point.

This leads to conversation, learning, understanding and actual progress.

From my experience, the simple act of conversation also tends to produce

some personal warmth and understanding, even when strong disagreements continue.

We saw a public example in the close personal friendship between liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the late conservative Justice Anton Scalia. 

May daring to converse produce more such friendships among our leaders – and among ourselves.

The French philosopher Montaigne wrote, “I prefer to be quiet rather than clever.”

This gets to me my final point, which is that striving for cerebral humility over hubris also opens us to insight, and even to revelation.

To me, Sting is a great songwriter, but like many great artists he doesn’t point to his incredible talent when explaining his creative process. 

“A melody,” Sting wrote, “is always a gift from somewhere else.

You just have to learn to be grateful and pray that you will be blessed again some other time.”

Graduates, you are poised to compose your own melodies.

Whatever your plans, wherever your destination, you will soon begin the next stage of your life anew.

For many of you, as you start this next stage, you are going to feel like you know very little, perhaps the way you did your very first day at UF.

Since you are Gators, I have every faith that you will quickly get your bearings and realize you are prepared to overcome any challenge.

But as you rocket forward, remember to carry with you what it felt like to know very little.

For if you remain willing to embrace your intellectual humility, you will always continue to learn.

You will always stay open to other ideas and perspectives – ready to pursue the truths and the triumphs that are only achievable when human beings choose

Humility over hubris …

Inquiry over insistence …

And listening over lecturing.

Before I put back on my tam and retrieve my presidential bling, let me leave you with an old Irish blessing that expresses my personal affection for each one of you.

May the sun shine gently on your face.

May the rain fall soft upon your fields.

May the wind be at your back.

May the road rise to meet you.

And may the Lord hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Until we meet again.

Graduates, congratulations!

It is great to be a Florida Gator!

Campus Life

UF launches Gators Volunteer for faculty, staff as part of ongoing community partnership

May 1, 2017
Steve Orlando

As part of its Strategic Development Plan and its ongoing partnership with the Gainesville community, the University of Florida is launching a new way for UF faculty and staff to offer their time and talents to those in need.

Gators Volunteer connects UF employees with area charities. More than 50 organizations are listed as participating agencies and cover a host of areas ranging from crisis support and disaster relief to arts and culture and veterans.

“UF has literally thousands of people with amazing skills, and this new program gives them a simple way to find the right fit for using those skills to help others,” said Susan Crowley, assistant vice president for community relations.

In order for agencies to be listed on the Gators Volunteer site, groups must be approved agencies through the UF Campaign for Charities.  To be part of the UFCC agencies must be nonprofit and must address health, social service, diversity, relief, development or environmental issues of local importance. UFCC agencies must apply each year for the campaign and be approved by meeting all the requirements of the application.

Anyone interested in volunteering may contact UF’s Office of Community Relations at 352-392-4657 or gators-volunteer@ufl.edu.

More information is available at www.gatorsvolunteer.ufl.edu.

Campus Life

Florida consumer sentiment in April drops from record high

May 2, 2017
Colleen Porter

Consumer sentiment among Floridians in April dropped 3.5 points to 95.7 from a record-high reading of 99.2 in March, according to the latest University of Florida consumer survey.

Despite the ups and downs in the index during the first four months of 2017, consumers are overall more optimistic compared with those same months in 2016.

Among the five components that make up the index, one increased and four decreased.

Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago rose 2.2 points, from 88.7 to 90.9. This is the highest reading for this component since February 2005.

Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item such as an appliance dropped 1.9 points, from 103.4 to 101.5.

Taken together, these two components represent Floridians’ perceptions about current economic conditions.

“Despite the decrease in one of the two components that address present conditions, current perceptions have remained stable in recent months, reflecting the favorable economic conditions that have prevailed in the state,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research.

The three components that measure expectations of future economic conditions all shifted downward between March and April.

Expectations of personal finances a year from now declined 2.3 points, from 107.5 to 105.2. Anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next year decreased 6.8 points, from 99.3 to 92.5. Finally, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years showed the greatest decline, from 96.8 to 88.2, an 8.6 points change.

“Most of the pessimism in this month’s index figure comes from the unfavorable expectations about the future state of the economy. Notably, these perceptions are shared by all Floridians with the sole exception of those with an income level over $50,000,” Sandoval said.

“It is worth noting that those with incomes of $50,000 and over display favorable perceptions in all five components of the index. In particular, they have a very strong positive expectation about their personal financial situation one year from now. This might be a result of the proposed tax reform announced by the federal government, which is expected to slash the tax rates on corporations and high-income individuals,” Sandoval said.

Economic data in Florida continue to be generally positive. In particular, Florida’s labor market continued to expand in March. Over the last year, 246,100 jobs have been added in Florida, a 3 percent increase. The industry sector gaining most jobs was education and health services, followed by professional and business services. There were also increases in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, as well as the construction industry.

A particular bright spot: Florida’s unemployment rate in March dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 4.8 percent, which is the lowest rate since December 2007, right at the beginning of the Great Recession.

Conducted April 1-27, the UF study reflects the responses of 568 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

Two UF faculty members elected to National Academy of Sciences

May 2, 2017
Steve Orlando

Two University of Florida faculty members have been named to the National Academy of Sciences, bringing the total number of current and retired National Academies members at UF to 29.

Art Hebard, a distinguished professor of physics, and Doug Soltis, a distinguished professor of biology at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF, are among the 84 new members and 21 foreign associates announced this morning.

Soltis’s honor comes a year after his wife, Pam, also a plant biologist and distinguished professor and curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History, was named to the National Academy of Sciences and just three weeks after the couple were named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

“To have not one but two of our faculty members recognized with such a significant honor at the same time is remarkable. I am so pleased for UF and proud for them,” UF President Kent Fuchs said.

Hebard is known for his research on magnetism, superconductivity, and capacitance in a wide variety of new materials including thin films, graphene, fullerenes, and dilute magnetic semiconductors. He joined UF from AT&T Bell Labs in 1995 and became distinguished professor in 2007. In recent years, he has received two major awards from the American Physical Society: the 2008 James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials (for the discovery of superconductivity in potassium-doped C60) and the 2015 Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Physics Prize (for discovery of the superconductor-insulator transition in thin films).

Soltis studies plant evolution using modern DNA approaches, including next generation sequencing methods and the use of big data sets that require challenging computational analyses. His specific interests include plant phylogeny, genome doubling (polyploidy), floral evolution, angiosperm diversification and phylogeography.

Those elected today bring the total number of active members to 2,290 and the total number of foreign associates to 475. Foreign associates are nonvoting members of the Academy, with citizenship outside the United States.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It recognizes achievement in science by election to membership, and — with the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Medicine — provides science, engineering, and health policy advice to the federal government and other organizations.

Campus Life

Tackling a tough tropical treat

May 4, 2017
UF News

For generations, people have used machetes, knives, hammers, screwdrivers – pretty much anything handy to get at the delicious and nutritious water inside coconuts. Difficult, messy, time-consuming and dangerous. Then along came Sheldon Barrett, a UF engineering senior whose better idea led to a product he’ll soon be selling worldwide and a first-place spot in the 2017 Governor’s Cup Florida business plan competition: a tool that opens coconuts in 10 seconds flat.

Campus Life

Abusing power hurts leaders, too

May 8, 2017
Alisson Clark
Warrington College of Business, management, University of Maryland

We know that power can corrupt, making people act in ways that harm others. But new research from the University of Florida shows that when the powerful misbehave, they hurt themselves, too. 

“We always think those who have power are better off, but having power is not universally or exclusively good for the power holder,” said Trevor Foulk, who led the research as a doctoral student at UF’s Warrington College of Business and will start as an assistant professor in the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business in June.

Foulk and fellow Warrington researchers Klodiana Lanaj, Min-Hsuan Tu, Amir Erez and Lindy Archambeau found that leaders who acted abusively to colleagues had trouble relaxing after work and were less likely to feel competent, respected and autonomous in the workplace. The findings, published in the Academy of Management Journal, stemmed from surveys of 116 leaders in fields including engineering, medicine, education and banking over a three-week span.

Rather than structural power – a leader’s position in the hierarchy – the study looked at psychological power, or how powerful a leader feels, which changes as they move through the workday. When leaders felt powerful, they were more likely to act abusively and perceive more incivility from their coworkers, which in turn harmed their own well-being.

A dinosaur boss berates and unseen employee

“This flips the script on abusive leadership,” Foulk said. “We tend to assume that powerful people just go around and abuse and they’re totally fine with it, but the effect of power on the power holder is more complex than that.”

Side-stepping the negative effects of power might require us to rethink the qualities we look for in a leader. Foulk’s study suggests that agreeable leaders – those who value social closeness, positive relationships and workplace harmony – may be less susceptible to the misbehavior brought on by psychological power.

It’s also possible that, over time, the consequences of psychological power are self-correcting. If a leader acts abusively, then goes home and feels bad about it, he or she might come back to work the next day feeling less powerful and behave better – a phenomenon Foulk is studying for a future paper.

Although a boss who yells, curses or belittles might not seem to deserve our sympathy, “they’re suffering, too,” Foulk says. “Even though your boss may seem like a jerk, they’re reacting to a situation in a way many of us would if we were in power. It’s not necessarily that they’re monsters.

Society & Culture

Throwing injuries in young baseball players: Is there something we are not considering?

May 9, 2017
Jason Zaremski

UF assistant professor of medicine Jason Zaremski observes that while injuries to the throwing arms of young baseball players have been increasing for years, there are actions parents can coaches can take to mitigate them.

Baseball marks the end of winter and the start of spring, and we as a nation delight in watching not only the pros but also our kids play this great game. The Conversation

Unfortunately, we sports medicine doctors are seeing an increase in injuries to the throwing arm in youngsters, and many of these require surgery. Most worrisome is that the risk for developing a throwing injury was shown to increase by 36 times in adolescent pitchers who continued playing with a fatigued arm.

As a sports medicine physician and a former collegiate baseball player, I am concerned about this rise in injuries. They not only take a youngster out of commission for a game or season, but they also can have lasting effects. My team of researchers at the University of Florida is looking for ways to prevent arm injuries.

Too many pitches during games a possible factor

The majority of injuries in overhead throwers occur in the throwing arm. When including pitcher and position players, anywhere from 51 to 69 percent of all reported injuries occurred in the throwing arm.

Increased awareness about the injuries could be a factor in the projected slowdown of surgeries. Greater awareness could lead to increased reporting of the injuries from the pre-internet era until now.

In addition, attention to the reporting of Major League Baseball injuries creates consciousness by young players, coaches and parents of the growing concern of these overuse throwing injuries.

There is more to the increase than just more reporting, however. A more serious reason in higher usage of the throwing arm.

For example, during the Koshien Baseball Tournament in Japan, a study of Japanese high school-aged pitchers showed pitch counts greater than 150 pitches in multiple pitchers, with a high of 187 pitches – for one pitcher – in 2016.

And in Kansas a high school pitcher attracted national media attention in 2016 by pitching 157 pitches in one game.

Surgeries to reconstruct a frequent injury to a ligament in the elbow of the throwing arm – also known as Tommy John surgery – have been increasing in baseball players at all levels of play for the past 20 years. One study showed about a 9.5 percent increase per year from 2007 to 2011.

Unfortunately, data suggest that this trend toward more Tommy John surgeries, which reconstruct the ulnar collateral ligament(UCL) in the elbow, is not likely to decrease until at least 2025.

Baseball Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who was known to keep his pitch count low, is shown in this August 2015 file photo. Brett Jones/AP

And maybe too many pitches before games?

It is important for parents, players and coaches to be aware of simple methods to prevent these overuse injuries. Some approaches include not playing on multiple teams at the same time and throwing restrictions, such as taking a day of rest based on the number of pitches thrown. Also, players should keep their rotator cuff strong and never pitch if an arm is in pain.

However, these actions have not reduced the number of overuse throwing injuries given the growing number of injuries.

Thus, there has been an increased emphasis on pitch restrictions, particularly at the youth and high school levels. Originally, Little League Baseball and the USA Baseball Medical Advisory Committee (USAB-MAC) developed pitch count restriction recommendations based upon age.

A baseball en route from a pitcher’s hand. From www.shutterstock.com

More recently, Major League Baseball developed PitchSmart, a website that provides information to players, coaches and parents to prevent overuse injuries in youth and adolescent pitchers. As of 2016, the National Federation of State High School Associations began requiring a pitching restriction policy in each state based on the number of pitches thrown in a game, not based upon innings (which was previously used).

One interesting aspect of the pitch restriction recommendations is that there is no consideration for number of pitches thrown in the bullpen or during before-inning warm-ups. Players may therefore be considered in the “safe” zone of pitches thrown when compared to state guidelines – when in reality, the pitching volume and unaccounted workload including the bullpen and before-inning warm-up pitches would be significantly higher than recommended.

With that in mind, our team at the University of Florida began considering the actual number of pitches a pitcher throws in each high school game. Our theory is that there is an unaccounted workload factor right in front of us.

While our study’s data are ongoing, initially we have found it is very typical to have a pitcher throw 70-80 pitches in a game but actually “pitch” more than 120-130 pitches if we include the bullpen and between-inning warm-ups. We should note we are not looking at injuries at this time, as this is an observational study only.

It should also be stated that while there is significant variation in bullpen warm-up volume, it is our opinion that it would not be appropriate to “regulate” how a pitcher warms up as every pitcher has his or her own style to feel comfortable prior to entering live game competition.

However, our study thus far shows that there is significant variability in the number of bullpen pitches thrown, varying from less than 20 pitches to more than 50 pitches.

One unanswered question is that if there are now pitch limitations but there is a certain percentage of pitches unaccounted for, do we need to train our pitchers differently? Given that an increase of early season throwing injuries is potentially due to not training appropriately in the off-season, our study reinforces the importance of a preseason pitching program to ready the arm and body for the coming season.

The ultimate goal of our study is to is prevent throwing injuries before they happen in our adolescent pitchers. Our hope is that years from now, the number of overuse throwing injuries will decrease, allowing our youth and adolescent overhead throwing athletes every opportunity to enjoy America’s pastime on the field of play, not in the doctor’s office.

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

Science & Wellness

Pet dogs help kids feel less stressed, study finds

May 9, 2017
UF News
psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, dogs, kids, pets

Pet dogs provide valuable social support for kids when they’re stressed, according to a study by researchers from the University of Florida, who were among the first to document stress-buffering effects of pets for children.

Darlene Kertes and colleagues tested the commonly held belief that pet dogs provide social support for kids using a randomized controlled study – the gold standard in research.

“Many people think pet dogs are great for kids but scientists aren’t sure if that’s true or how it happens,” Kertes said. Kertes reasoned that one way this might occur is by helping children cope with stress. “How we learn to deal with stress as children has lifelong consequences for how we cope with stress as adults.” 

For their study, recently published in the journal Social Development, the researchers recruited approximately 100 pet-owning families, who came to their university laboratory with their dogs. To tap children’s stress, the children completed a public speaking task and mental arithmetic task, which are known to evoke feelings of stress and raise the stress hormone cortisol, and simulates real-life stress in children’s lives. The children were randomly assigned to experience the stressor with their dog present for social support, with their parent present, or with no social support.

“Our research shows that having a pet dog present when a child is undergoing a stressful experience lowers how much children feel stressed out,” Kertes said . “Children who had their pet dog with them reported feeling less stressed compared to having a parent for social support or having no social support.”

Samples of saliva was also collected before and after the stressor to check children’s cortisol levels, a biological marker of the body’s stress response. Results showed that for kids who underwent the stressful experience with their pet dogs, children’s cortisol level varied depending on the nature of the interaction of children and their pets.

“Children who actively solicited their dogs to come and be pet or stroked had lower cortisol levels compared to children who engaged their dogs less,” said Kertes, an assistant professor in the psychology department of UF’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “When dogs hovered around or approached children on their own, however, children’s cortisol tended to be higher.”

The children in the study were between 7 to 12 years old.

“Middle childhood is a time when children’s social support figures are expanding beyond their parents, but their emotional and biological capacities to deal with stress are still maturing,” Kertes explained. “Because we know that learning to deal with stress in childhood has lifelong consequences for emotional health and well-being, we need to better understand what works to buffer those stress responses early in life.”

Science & Wellness

New 3D printing method promises vastly superior medical implants for millions

May 10, 2017
Steve Orlando

For the millions of people every year who have or need medical devices implanted, a new advancement in 3D printing technology developed at the University of Florida promises significantly quicker implantation of devices that are stronger, less expensive, more flexible and more comfortable than anything currently available.

Silicone 3D image 2

In a paper published today in the journal Science Advances, researchers lay out the process they developed for using 3D printing and soft silicone to manufacture items that millions of patients use: ports for draining bodily fluids, implantable bands, balloons, soft catheters, slings and meshes.

Silicone is 3D printed into the micro-organogel support material. The printing nozzle follows a predefined trajectory, depositing liquid silicone in its wake. The liquid silicone is supported by the micro-organgel material during this printing process.

Currently, such devices are molded, which could take days or weeks to create customized parts designed to fit an individual patient. The 3D printing method cuts that time to hours, potentially saving lives. What’s more, extremely small and complex devices, such as drainage tubes containing pressure-sensitive valves, simply cannot be molded in one step.

With the UF team’s new method, however, they can be printed.

“Our new material provides support for the liquid silicone as it is 3D printing, allowing us create very complex structures and even encapsulated parts out of silicone elastomer,” said  lead author Christopher O’Bryan, a mechanical and aerospace engineering doctoral student in UF’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and lead author on the paper.

It also could pave the way for new therapeutic devices that encapsulate and control the release of drugs or small molecules for guiding tissue regeneration or assisting diseased organs such as the pancreas or prostate.

The cost savings could be significant as well.

“The public is more sensitive to the high costs of medical care than ever before. Almost monthly we see major media and public outcry against high health care costs, wasteful spending in hospitals, exorbitant pharmaceutical costs,” said team member Tommy Angelini, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace. “Everybody agrees on the need to reduce costs in medicine.”

The new method was born out of a project Angelini and his team have been working on for several years: printable organs and tissues. To that end, the team made a significant discovery two years ago when it created a revolutionary way to manufacture soft materials using 3D printing and microscopic hydrogel particles as a medium.

The problem was, the previous granular gel materials were water-based, so they were incompatible with oily “inks” like silicone. It was literally a case of trying to mix oil and water.

To solve that problem, the team came up with an oily version of the microgels.

“Once we started printing oily silicone inks into the oily microgel materials, the printed parts held their shapes,” Angelini said. “We were able to achieve really excellent 3D printed silicone parts – the best I’ve seen.”

Water is pumped from one reservoir to another using a 3D printed silicone valve. The silicone valve contains two encapsulated ball valves that allow water to be pumped through the valve by squeezing the lower chamber. The silicone valve demonstrates the ability of our 3D printing method to create multiple encapsulated components in a single part -- something that cannot be done with a traditional 3D printing approach.

Manufacturing organs and tissues remains a primary goal, but one that likely is many years away from reality.

Not so with the medical implants.

“The reality is that we are probably decades away from the widespread implanting of 3D printed tissues and organs into patients,” Angelini said. “By contrast, inanimate medical devices are already in widespread use for implantation. Unlike the long wait we have ahead of us for other 3D bioprinting technolgies to be developed, silicone devices can be put into widespread use without technologically limited delay.”

Other members of the UF team are Tapomoy Bhattacharjee, Samuel Hart, Christopher P. Kabb, Kyle D. Schulze, Indrasena Chilakala, Brent S. Sumerlin, and Greg Sawyer.

Science & Wellness

Migratory birds bumped off schedule as climate change shifts spring

May 15, 2017
Natalie van Hoose
Climate change, Birds

Climate change is altering the delicate seasonal clock that North American migratory songbirds rely on to successfully mate and raise healthy offspring, setting in motion a domino effect that could threaten the survival of many familiar backyard bird species, new research shows.

A growing shift in the onset of spring has left nine of 48 species of songbirds studied unable to reach their northern breeding grounds at the calendar marks critical for producing the next generation of fledglings, according to a paper published today in Scientific Reports.

That’s because in many regions, warming temperatures are triggering plants to begin their growth earlier or later than normal, skewing biological cycles that have long been in sync.

Infographics by Elecia Crumpton

The result, researchers say, could be a future much like the one Rachel Carson hinted at more than 50 years ago.

“It’s like ‘Silent Spring,’ but with a more elusive culprit,” said Stephen Mayor, a postdoctoral researcher with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida and first author of the study. “We’re seeing spring-like conditions well before birds arrive. The growing mismatch means fewer birds are likely to survive, reproduce and return the following year. These are birds people are used to seeing and hearing in their backyards. They’re part of the American landscape, part of our psyche. To imagine a future where they’re much less common would be a real loss.”

A multi-institutional team led by Mayor used data from satellites and citizen scientists to study how quickly the interval between spring plant growth and the arrival of 48 songbird species across North America changed from 2001 to 2012. The researchers found the gap lengthened by over half a day per year across all species on average, a rate of five days per decade—but for some species, the mismatch is growing at double or triple that rate.

Nine species were clearly unable to keep up with the shift: great crested flycatchers, indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, eastern wood pewees, yellow-billed cuckoos, northern parulas, blue-winged warblers and Townsend’s warblers.

While the majority of species studied adjusted their arrival dates, the study suggests the rate of change could be outpacing their efforts.

The study is the first to investigate the increasing mismatch between songbirds’ springtime arrival and plant growth at the continental scale and across dozens of species, said Mayor, who led the project chiefly at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Previous studies have predicted climate change will drive hundreds of bird species to extinction and greatly reduce the ranges of others. But some are shifting the timing of their major life events, such as reproduction and laying eggs, in an attempt to keep up with the changes.

The key question, Mayor said, is whether this strategy will work long term.

“If anything could adapt to climate change, you’d think that birds that migrate thousands of miles could,” he said. “It’s much easier for them to move in response to climate conditions than salamanders, for example, or trees. But because every species relates to another, one of our fears is that climate change can disrupt these relationships between organisms such that their critical life events are not timed optimally, putting them at risk.”

Birds leave their winter homes in Central and South America for the north based on the seasonal shift in hours of daylight, a cue unaltered by climate change. To produce healthy young, they must arrive at their breeding grounds to take advantage of the early-season boom in insects that emerge with springtime plant growth.

But as climate change shifts the timing of when plants put out new leaves – a temperature-driven process known as green-up – migrating birds become more likely to reach breeding grounds when temperatures are still frigid and food is scarce or after insect numbers have begun to dwindle.

The researchers found green-up is beginning earlier in eastern North America and – surprisingly – later in the West. Birds that breed primarily in eastern temperate forests tended to lag behind green-up while species that breed in western forests reached breeding grounds too early.

The rate of change is concerning, given predicted accelerating climatic changes, which could mean timing will be more out of sync in the future, said study co-author Rob Guralnick, associate curator of bioinformatics at the Florida Museum.

“That’s the future many of us will see,” he said. “Not every year will plot exactly along that line, but the trend is clear.”

The increased variability in weather conditions that comes with climate change could also compound birds’ difficulties in tracking year-to-year changes.

The team is examining why some species of birds seem to adjust to the shifts better than others, Mayor said.

A resource that enabled the study’s broad scale investigation of nearly 50 bird species across North America are the tens of thousands of data points contributed by citizen scientists, the researchers said.

“As more and more birders record their observations, they are creating a density of data that allows us to start from a continental level and zoom down further and further to the ground,” Guralnick said. “It’s powerful. Whether they know it or not, birders are helping scientists do their work, and they could end up helping birds in the process.”

The researchers emphasized the complexity of their findings, which vary by species, region and rate of change. Determining conservation risks and the potential for extinction will require looking at the impacts on each species individually, they said.

Diving deeper into the data to determine whether population numbers of bird species that are not adapting to the shift in green-up are falling is one of the next steps in the project.

“The natural world is very complex,” Mayor said. “When you kick it with a big change by altering the climate, different parts of that natural world respond in different ways. We’re just beginning to understand the consequences of this grand unnatural experiment.”

Funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada helped support the research.

Researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Colorado, the University of Connecticut, Florida International University, Murdoch University and the Illinois Natural History Survey also contributed to the study.

Science & Wellness

The surprising way self-control shapes how we feel about our choices

May 15, 2017
Cody Jones
Warrington College of Business

People say that our choices define us and reveal our true inner preferences.

That may not always be the case, according to new research authored by University of Florida Marketing Professor Aner Sela, UF Graduate Research Assistant Joshua Kim and University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor of Marketing Jonah Berger.

The new research suggests that self-control shapes how we define choice and how much we see our choices as reflecting our true preferences. Simply thinking of self-control makes us see our choices as less reflective of our real desires.

“We argue that self-control’s inhibitory effect on our behavior changes how we think about the relationship between our choices and our preferences: when self-control is salient in our minds, we think of our choices as less reflective of our true inner preferences,” Sela said.

business professor aner sela

Buying a car can be an important example of this. Purchasing a Toyota over a Honda can lead people to feel they like the Toyota brand more, even if the initial decision wasn’t based on strong brand preference but rather on something more random like a convenient financing option. But it turns out that merely thinking of self-control, which we do quite often, can reduce the extent to which we like and prefer what we previously chose.

The researchers started with a study that asked people in three groups to recall a choice they had made. The first group recalled a choice that involved self-control. The second group recalled an impulsive choice. The third group simply recalled a choice without special instructions. Participants were then asked to what extent the choice they had made reflected their inner preferences. The participants in the first group felt that their choice was less reflective of their preferences.

In the next study, Sela, Berger, and Kim went even further, and examined whether thinking of self-control in one context could reduce the tendency to see choice as reflecting preference in unrelated contexts. They first showed participants five mainstream sedans and asked them to choose their preferred option. Next, participants made a few unrelated choices, such as choosing food items and gifts. For half of the participants, these choices involved self-control – choosing between rich Alfredo pasta and a healthier salad, for example – while the other half made choices unrelated to self-control – choosing between an apple and a pear.

Finally, participants were asked to recall the car they had chosen and to indicate how much that choice reflected their personal preferences and taste in cars. As the researchers predicted, making self-control important in the mind of the participant by having them think about self-control in an unrelated decision reduced their feeling that the car they had previously chosen reflected their preferences.  It also reduced their evaluation of the chosen car’s brand more generally.

“Merely thinking of self-control, even in a random context, appears to evoke the notion that our choices may not be reflective of our true inner preferences,” Sela said. “This makes us see choices in even unrelated domains as less reflective of our true preferences, and may even decrease our evaluation of previously chosen brands.”

The article was published in the December 2017 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

Society & Culture

UF team wins $5,000 in first annual MuniMod civic tech competition

May 18, 2017
Margot Winick

A team of four University of Florida students took second place in the first annual MuniMod statewide hackathon competition May 13 in Orlando.

The 24-hourlong event, which presents civic problems challenging our cities, is sponsored by Florida League of Cities and Domi Station. Each team competes for a grand prize of $10,000 to continue the work on their project. This time around, however, an on-the-spot second place prize – written out on a napkin -- was handed out by judges to reflect a one-point difference.

The UF team included three students enrolled in the Innovation Academy, an undergraduate experience that serves as a training ground for students to better prepare themselves for their career goals. They are Pablo Casilimas, a senior majoring in advertising; Hallie Zimmerman, a senior majoring in sustainability and built environment and president of Innovation Academy Ambassadors; and Ben Anderson, a junior majoring in public relations. Jeff Streitmatter, a senior majoring in industrial engineering, rounded out the team.

The foursome presented IdenCity, a mobile platform that allows for two-way communication between citizens and city government as a means to increase civic engagement. “It’s like a digital town hall, where officials post agenda items and policy updates and citizens can offer suggestions and input via upvoting on items,” said Pablo Casilimas. “Florida is ranked 50 out of 50 for civic engagement, and Gainesville, for example, only had an 11 percent voter turnout [in the most recent election], so our state especially needs to increase engagement.”

The group worked for months on a prototype of IdenCity, creating wireframes using an app called AppCooker, and getting input from city officials and students.   

After an intense round of questions and answers with a judging panel of civic tech experts and municipal leaders, the FSU team captured the grand prize of $10,000. However, the competition was so intense that the Florida League of Cities made a surprise decision to award the UF team second place and a $5,000 prize.

“Winning at the MuniMod competition the way we did plays into our strengths as a program,” said Jeff Citty, Director of UF’s Innovation Academy. “We teach our students to seek out opportunities, apply the design process, provide a creative solution, work hard to meet the challenge and do an amazing job presenting. That is exactly what our team did this year and it paid off. We are hopeful to continue the standard we have set and be a part of this great program in future years.”   

According to Casilimas, the work is far from over. The team will meet with more officials and citizens to make sure IdenCity is a user-friendly solution that is tailored for its users. Members of the group will attend the Florida Venture Forum this week to seek funding sources to get a fully functioning mobile app developed. To learn more, visit idencity.me.

Society & Culture

NY Times: UF No. 6 among colleges doing the most for the American Dream

May 25, 2017
Steve Orlando

The University of Florida is once again 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 third annual College Access Index released today.

UF ranked No. 6 – the same spot it held in 2015 -- and is the only public university in Florida to make the list. The University of Miami was ranked 162nd. The top five schools are University of California institutions with UC-Irvine taking the top spot and UCLA listed at fifth.

The ranking of colleges — those with a five-year graduation rate of at least 75 percent — is based on their commitment to economic diversity and on a combination of the number of low- and middle-income students that a college enrolls and the price it charges these students, according to the Times.

The complete rankings can be found here.

The annual rankings are created using the following:

Pell grad share for each college is the average share of the freshman class that received a Pell grant in 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16, multiplied by the graduation rate for recent Pell recipients.  Later years count more; not all colleges released 2015-16 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 is 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 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 is for the year 2012-13 and includes graduate students.

Campus Life

Zika transmission in U.S. linked to travel from Caribbean

May 26, 2017
Evan Barton
Zika, health, travel

Travel between the continental U.S. and the Caribbean led to locally acquired Zika virus infections in Florida, according to new research published this week.

By sequencing the virus’s genome at different points in the outbreak, scientists from institutions that include the University of Florida created a family tree showing where cases originated and how quickly they spread. They discovered that transmission of Zika virus began in Florida at least four -- and potentially up to 42 -- times last year. The researchers also traced most of the Zika lineages back to strains of the virus in the Caribbean.

The researchers noted that most of the local Zika transmission in Florida occurred in Miami-Dade County. Other counties had A. aegypti mosquitoes, but Miami received more travelers from regions with Zika transmission than any other city in the country. In fact, 72 percent of the traffic from regions with Zika transmission to Florida arrived in either Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.

The researchers found a correlation between Zika virus transmission and mosquito populations, showing that periods with high numbers of A. aegypti mosquitoes – which scientists have shown are capable of transmitting Zika virus and several related viruses – resulted in an increase in local transmission in humans.

The paper was published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Zika transmission in the Caribbean and other parts of the Americas remains the key indicator for both locally acquired and travel-associated Zika infections in the United States.

“If the large outbreaks that have occurred throughout the Caribbean and Central and South America have created enough immunity to Zika that it can’t effectively spread in those regions, then introductions to Florida will be minimal,” said Derek Cummings, a professor of biology at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute..

Cummings developed mathematical models that analyzed the transmission of Zika virus in Florida for the manuscript.

The tendency for cases to decline sharply after big increases, Cummings said, is typical in outbreaks where a new pathogen causes an epidemic in a region and gives people infected in the initial outbreak immunity to subsequent infection.

Most people who came to Florida last year with a Zika virus infection did not transmit the virus to others, Cummings said. But some introductions resulted in sustained chains of transmission of tens of people.  An increase in “mosquito abundances” was associated with these local Zika cases.

“When mosquito abundances went down, local cases went down,” Cummings said. “This isn’t surprising for a mosquito-transmitted infection, but it suggests that control measures to reduce mosquitoes worked last year, and we should keep those up when additional cases are seen.”

The study was a collaboration of more than 60 researchers from nearly 20 institutions, including the Scripps Research Institute, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Florida Gulf Coast University, the University of Oxford, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Florida Department of Health, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Science & Wellness

University of Florida awards prestigious scholarships to 11 Florida high school students

May 26, 2017
Mark Law

The University of Florida has named eight Florida high school seniors to the Lombardi Scholars Program and three to the Stamps Scholars Program.

Each year, students who exemplify former UF President John V. Lombardi’s commitment to academic excellence, community service, leadership and public responsibility are selected as recipients of this prestigious award program.

Stamps Scholarships (www.stampsfoundation.org) are made possible by generous funding from the Stamps Family Charitable Foundation. The Stamps Foundation seeks to reward exceptional students who exemplify leadership, perseverance, scholarship, service, and innovation. Stamps Scholars participate in biennial national conferences with a network of scholars from nearly 40 schools across the country.

Florida high schools were invited to nominate two students, and scholars for both programs were selected from 272 nominees and 22 finalists.

The Lombardi program is in its 16th year, and this is the eighth year of the Stamps Program at UF. Both programs choose students from the same applicant pool who receive the same financial package and participate in the same enrichment activities. All scholars spend five weeks participating in a study program in Merida, the capital of the Yucatan, Mexico, during the summer before they begin at UF, and receive support for overseas leadership experiences for the following three summers. Scholars are members of UF’s Honors Program.

The 11 students who have accepted the Lombardi and Stamps scholarships beginning with the 2017-2018 academic year are:


Maya Barrett: Barrett, a National Hispanic Scholar and AP Scholar, is a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at T.R. Robinson High School in Tampa, Florida where she serves as president of the school orchestra and mentors young women as president of the Ophelia Club. Barrett is active in her community, playing cello in the Tampa Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and serving as the youngest member on the board of directors for Community Tampa Bay, a nonprofit dedicated to fighting

Phebe Brocke: Brocke is an AP Scholar with Honor and a senior at Paul J. Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Florida where she is an officer in several honor societies, the Key Club, and the school yearbook. She volunteers at Winter Park Memorial Hospital and plans to major in Health Sciences and earn a certificate in Medical Anthropology at UF in preparation for a career as Chief Medical Officer at a nonprofit health

Rachel Cathey: Cathey is a senior at Niceville High School where she has served as class vice president since her freshman year and is the captain of the track & field team. Cathey is a leader in her school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her commitment to community service. She plans to follow a pre-medical track in order to become a procedural dermatologist.

Chase Cleveland: Cleveland is a senior at Fort Walton Beach High School where he has been recognized as a scholar-athlete. He is captain of the football and wrestling teams and is a two-time All American cheerleader. Off the field, Cleveland has competed in science fairs at the state, regional, and national level for the past seven years and was named a finalist in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. He plans to major in chemical engineering with a goal of improving water purification for people around the world.

Belle LaMontagne: LaMontagne, a National Hispanic Scholar, is a senior at J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs, Florida. A servant-leader in her community, she has earned over 800 service hours, served on the city’s steering committee as a member of Teen Political Forum, and interned with a city commissioner. At Taravella, LaMontagne is captain of the Public Forum Debate Squad and vice president of the nationally ranked Debate Team. LaMontagne plans on majoring in political science and minoring in nonprofit organizational leadership before earning a law degree and becoming a local government official.

Logan Locascio: A National Merit Finalist and AP Scholar, Locascio is a senior in the Cambridge program at Gainesville High School where he leads the March of Dimes Club and serves as captain of the cross country and track teams. A four-time state qualifier in cross country, he was named 2016 Alachua County Runner of the Year. A research assistant at the Florida Museum of Natural History, Locascio published an article in Florida Entomologist and presented a poster at the Lepidopterists’ Society’s international conference. He plans to pursue a pre-medical track at UF where he will continue research in biology, nutrition, and genetics.

Zach Savitsky: Savitsky is a senior at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg, Florida where he is International Student Ambassador and a member of the Honor Council. He leads social media communications for his school’s Relay for Life team, helping to raise thousands of dollars in support of the American Cancer Society. Savitsky is interested in science and communications and plans an interdisciplinary approach to his studies at UF.

Kate Welz: Welz is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida where she is active in several honor societies and is captain of the varsity lacrosse team. As a member of the Model United Nations club, Welz has competed in conferences at UF and the University of Central Florida where she was awarded ‘Best Position Paper’ in 2016. She plans to plans to major in biology before earning a law degree in order to practice international environmental law.


Nathan Barkdull: Barkdull is a senior and International Baccalaureate diploma candidate at Winter Park High School. He is an active member of the FIRST Robotics Competition team and his school and county Quiz Bowl teams, winning first place at Lockheed Martin’s STEM Bowl. Barkdull has completed laser induced breakdown spectroscopy research at the University of Central Florida, applying the technique to environmental monitoring efforts in order to detect heavy metal contamination in soil samples. He plans on majoring in materials science engineering to pursue research in biomaterials.

Stephen Chapman: Chapman is a high school senior at Paul J. Hagerty High school in Oviedo, Florida where he served as captain of the Debate Team and president of the National Honor Society. Active in his community, Chapman served as a student volunteer on the Seminole County Public School District Board and has volunteered hundreds of hours in the audio-visual department of his church. He developed an interest in technology and business as an intern with the University of Central Florida’s Business Incubator Program, and plans to major in computer engineering.

Gabriela Sullivan: Sullivan is a senior in the International Baccalaureate Program at Vanguard High School in Ocala, Florida where she is captain of the varsity tennis team and co-founder of the Art Club. She has been active with the Florida 4-H State Council since middle school and serves as the state president this year. She is frequent science fair competitor, earning second place at the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair and qualifying for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the UF JSEHS STEM Research Speaker Competition. Sullivan plans to major in environmental science.

Campus Life

Florida consumer sentiment continues downward slide

May 30, 2017
Colleen Porter

Consumer sentiment among Floridians dropped in May for the second month in a row, falling 2.4 points to 93.3 from a revised April reading of 95.7.

Among the five components that make up the index, one increased and four decreased.

“Most of the pessimism in May stems from perceptions about the current economic conditions,” said Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research. 

Perceptions of one’s personal financial situation now compared with a year ago showed the biggest drop, falling 5.9 points from 91 to 85.1. May’s less-positive outlook was shared by all Floridians across age, gender and income groups.

Opinions as to whether now is a good time to buy a major household item such as an appliance declined two points, from 101.7 to 99.7. However, there were increases among those 60 and older and those with income under $50,000.

Expectations of personal finances a year from now dropped 5.2 points from 105.1 to 99.9. Expectations for the U.S. economy were mixed: Anticipated conditions over the next year decreased one-tenth of a point, from 92.8 to 92.7 while expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years increased nine-tenths of a point, from 88.1 to 89.

These three components represent expectations about what lies ahead economically speaking. 

“Readings about future economic conditions have shown important signs of deterioration for the past two months. However, in contrast to April, this month’s unfavorable expectations are accompanied by a significant decline in perceptions of present conditions. It seems unlikely that consumers are delaying the purchase of big household items, as they hold unfavorable future expectations as well,” Sandoval said.

According to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Florida’s gross domestic product growth rate ranked fifth of all states in 2016, with an annual growth rate of 3 percent. The sector contributing the most to the Florida economy in 2016 was the professional, scientific and technical services sector, followed by the construction and information sectors.

Florida’s unemployment rate declined again in April by three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.5 percent. Compared with April of last year, the number of jobs added statewide was 215,400, a 2.6 percent increase. The industries gaining the most jobs were professional and business services, followed by trade, transportation and utilities.

“Florida’s economy keeps growing, and the labor market conditions continue to be favorable in general, with more jobs added every month for the past six years. However, consumer sentiment seems to be slowly decreasing after surging in March to its highest level in the last 15 years. If this pessimism persists in the following months, this might indicate a significant change in the trend of consumer sentiment,” Sandoval said.  

Conducted May 1-24, the UF study reflects the responses of 415 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

Why you can’t think of that word on the tip of your tongue – and how to fix it

May 31, 2017
Alisson Clark
psychology, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, language, neuroscience

You know the feeling when you’re searching for a word and just can’t call it to mind?

It happens more and more as we age, often causing anxiety that the forgetfulness is a sign of oncoming dementia. That’s unlikely, says University of Florida researcher Lise Abrams. Tip-of-the-tongue states, as they’re known in psychology, are common and natural.

Abrams holds up a pen.

“If you forget what this is called, that’s a problem. But if you can’t come up with words like ‘abacus’ or ‘marsupial’ that’s completely normal,” she says.

Infrequently used words are often the culprits, as are proper names, says Abrams, who has been studying the phenomenon for 20 years. When words aren’t used often, connections to their sounds become weakened and make retrieval more difficult. Luckily, we can strengthen weakened connections to a word’s sounds. To prevent spacing out on a co-worker’s name in a meeting, Abrams suggests using names more often.

“We don’t often call people we know by their names when we are talking to them, but it strengthens the connections to their sounds when we do.” That applies to acquaintances, neighbors, even family members, Abrams says.

Video: Lise Abrams explains what should you do when you can’t think of a word

To study tip-of-the-tongue states, Abrams and her colleagues have developed a bank of hundreds of questions whose answers are well known, but not heard every day. A question Abrams used for years asked participants to name the casino magnate who starred in a reality television show. When Donald Trump began dominating the news, however, that question had to be retired.

Abrams also studies our ability to retrieve words when naming pictures. When the word ‘lion’ is written on a picture of a tiger, it slows a person’s retrieval of “tiger,” but a word sharing the same first syllable, such as ‘title,’ speeds retrieval. What about a picture of a tiger with the F-bomb on it? Taboo words not only slowed participants in coming up with the right word, but continued to hamper their performance in naming the next picture.

Here’s where it gets weird, though: Bad language isn’t always bad for word retrieval. When study participants spoke taboo words into a microphone and then answered a trivia question, they were less likely to have a tip-of-the-tongue moment relative to saying a neutral word.

Abrams wants to continue investigating how emotions, such as anxiety or frustration, impact speech production. She’s also interested in how having access to multiple languages, that is being bilingual, affects tip-of-the-tongue states and the ability to resolve them.

“Gaining a better understanding of how to resolve these word-finding problems when they happen, and how to prevent them, impacts people’s daily lives,” Abrams says. So if you can’t think of the word for a word that’s the same forward and backward, like radar, mom or racecar, don’t panic. It’s probably not dementia. (And it’s “palindrome.”)

Society & Culture

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