UF launches digital book series to tell its best research stories

April 15, 2015

Tomatoes, viruses and voting.

The common theme? They’re all subjects of a series of digital books the University of Florida is launching today to tell the most compelling stories behind its best research.

Gatorbytes, as the series is called, is project is a combined effort of the UF Office of the Provost and the University Press of Florida, the official publisher for the State University System. The books, which range from 25 to 150 pages, are available worldwide anywhere digital publications are sold. No subscription is required, so buyers can choose and download only the stories that interest them.

Prices will range from $2.99 to $6.99. However, for a limited time, all three initial titles are available as pdfs to download free of charge at http://www.aa.ufl.edu/gatorbytes.

UF Provost Joe Glover said the goal is to get those stories in front of a wide audience, but the prime target is the intellectually curious.

“We want to reach people who simply want to know more about the world around them, and we want them to know the University of Florida is doing significant research that we feel certain will interest them,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have some of the best minds working on finding solutions to some of our most pressing challenges.”

Meredith Babb, director of the University Press of Florida, said while a handful of other universities have produced similar digital books, Gatorbytes is unique because of its authors.

“They’re professional journalists -- some of the very best in the business -- so they know how to take complex material, break it down into manageable chunks and tell a story,” Babb said. “These will be some excellent reads.”

The first three titles are:

  • “Building a Better Tomato: The Quest to Perfect the Scandalous Fruit” – By Jeff Klinkenberg. In the search for a superior alternative to bland and mealy grocery store tomatoes, horticultural scientist Harry Klee and renowned taste researcher Linda Bartoshuk teamed up and are hot on the trail of a specimen that will have you thinking you just picked it in your own backyard.
  • “The Disease Detectives: Unraveling How Viruses Go Viral” By Kris Hundley. The experts at UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute make it their mission to answer baffling questions such as how a pig-borne disease is transmitted in a Muslim country, what kinds of parasites Florida ticks carry and how a cholera strain from Nepal evolved in Haiti.
  • “The Democracy Machine: How One Engineer Made Voting Possible for All” By Jon Silman. Driven to enable people with disabilities to vote like everyone else, engineer Juan Gilbert, a specialist in human-centered computing, spent 10 years perfecting Prime III, software that does just that. His creation has already been tested in the real world and is earning rave reviews from elections supervisors around the country.

Other Gatorbytes titles are in the works and will be released over the course of the next year. Topics will include hurricanes, online education and diabetes.