March 1: UF in the News 2/21/21-3/1/21

She came to the U.S. with only $300 and worked housekeeping jobs to pay for school. Now she's a flight director for NASA's Mars Perseverance. — CBS News, 2/27/21 
UF alumna Diana Trujillo, who is part of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab and worked on the team that created the robotic arm that will collect rock samples on Mars, was featured by CBS News for her story of overcoming hardships, going to the University of Florida, and joining the NASA team. 

Israel reveals Pfizer vaccine has stopped 94% of recipients getting symptoms in huge peer-reviewed study of 1.2m people – as restrictions are relaxed to allow 500 'green pass' holders to attend concerts — The Daily Mail (UK), 2/25/21
UF biostatistician Natalie Dean provides context to research from Israel on the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine. She explained the testing mechanism used in the study needs to be more frequent to draw conclusions about the efficacy of the vaccine, but added she was certain there was a strong protective benefit.
  
The link between delirium and dementia — Scientific American, 2/25/21
Delirium keeps popping up in COVID-19 patients, and researchers are hoping to learn from these patients if there is a link between delirium and a later dementia diagnosis. Catherine Price, a neuropsychologist, is quoted in the piece saying the spread of COVID-19 “has highlighted the blurring of the lines between delirium and dementia, especially with more older adults in our populace.”
  
Paleontologists use fossilized teeth to flesh out ancient tale of earliest primates — Yahoo! News, 2/24/21
In a study published by Royal Society Open Science, a team of researchers including UF professor of geological sciences Courtney Sprain, lays out evidence that an ancient group of primates known as plesiadapiforms must have emerged before the mass-extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs.

SeaWorld, Pacific Marine Mammal Center, and University of Florida collaborate on bottlenose dolphin research — The Tech Times, 2/25/21
SeaWorld, in partnership with the Pacific Marine Mammal Center and the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, released data that will help establish basic markers of health for the bottlenose dolphin. Nicole Stacy, clinical assistant professor of aquatic, amphibian, and reptile pathology at UF's College of Veterinary Medicine, said the dataset, "provides many applications for the results to benefit cetacean research and conservation."

Why we love our smartphones so much — Lifewire, 2/24/21
A new survey finds that Americans think phones are the biggest necessity in their lives. Some experts say our love of phones is hurting us by affecting our sleep and mental health. Andrew Selepak, a social media professor at UF, told Lifewire people are addicted to their phones. "Our phones are the first thing we look at in the morning and the last thing we look at before falling asleep," he said.
  
The tedium of the pandemic is shaping what people buy and how productive they are — The New York Times, 2/24/21
Boredom’s impact on the economy is under-researched, experts say, possibly because there has been no modern situation like this one. Erin Westgate, a UF professor who studies boredom, told the Times that feeling bored may result in different kinds of behaviors, like increasing novelty seeking and increasing reward sensitivity.
  
A geomagnetic curveball 42,000 years ago changed our planet forever — Popular Science, 2/23/21
Researchers looked at the rings of some of these ancient trees and found a snapshot of time where radioactive carbon spiked in the atmosphere during the Laschamp excursion, when the magnetic field weakened 42,000 years ago thanks to the Earth’s magnetic poles taking a wander. Joseph Meert, a geochronologist at UF, explained to Popular Science how magnetic fields work to give context to the research cited. 
  
How a low-cost electricity market left Texas in the cold — HowStuffWorks, 2/23/21
Theodore Kury, the director of energy studies at UF's Public Utility Research Center, wrote an explainer detailing the history of utilities markets in Texas giving context to the blackouts the state experienced this month.
 
A year since the spills: Fort Lauderdale sewage problems a sign of infrastructure woes for other coastal cities  — WLRN, 2/25/21
A year ago, the biggest sewage spill in Florida's history happened in Fort Lauderdale. More than 211 million gallons spilled from 1970s-era pipes. Thomas Ruppert, a lawyer and coastal planning specialist at the Sea Grant program, said spending billions upgrading and repairing these systems is unavoidable, but a better plan would involve growth management so systems don't become overwhelmed again.