March 25: UF in the News 3/22/21-3/25/21

The Next Trick: Pulling Coronavirus Out of Thin Air — The New York Times, 3/24/21

Thermo Fisher Scientific, a Massachusetts company that makes laboratory equipment and materials, built an air sampler that could help detect airborne coronavirus particles. And in November, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency began soliciting proposals for research to develop a coronavirus-detecting air sensor.

“There’s a tremendous amount of interest,” said John Lednicky, a virologist at the University of Florida.
 

More than 40 states say they will meet or beat Biden’s May 1 deadline for vaccine eligibility for all adults. — The New York Times, 3/23/21

The push to get Americans vaccinated has picked up momentum in recent days. Governors and public health officials in more than 40 states have said they will meet or beat President Biden’s goal of making every adult eligible for a vaccine by May 1. "My thought is that we're going to see a continued decrease in transmission as we open vaccine eligibility," Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida, said.
 

Merck’s Little Brown Pill Could Transform the Fight Against Covid — Bloomberg, 3/25/21

The antiviral drug molnupiravir, still in clinical trials, would give doctors an important new treatment and a weapon against coronaviruses and future pandemics. If the drug proves safe and effective, Merck says it’s ready to go, with the capacity to make as many as 100 million molnupiravir pills, enough to treat 10 million people, by the end of the year. Down the road, the drug could even be an asset beyond the fight against Covid. “You never know what the next one is going to be,” says Ashley Brown, an associate professor at the Institute for Therapeutic Innovation. 
 

Why Robinhood is keeping its IPO filing confidential — Quartz, 3/24/21

UF IPO expert Jay Ritters is quoted in this explainer on Robinhood, the brokerage that has become a byword for the boom in retail trading. It is planning to go public.
 

Why the credibility of AstraZeneca's vaccine data matters — Axios, 3/24/21

The world desperately needs to be able to believe in AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, and the never-ending confusion over its clinical data isn’t helping. If AstraZeneca oversold its findings, it'll create a perception that it needed to juice the numbers. If outside experts overreacted to a minor statistical issue, it'll keep a cloud hanging over an effective vaccine. 

“[AstraZeneca] not doing anyone any favors,” said Natalie Dean, a University of Florida biostatistician and an expert on vaccine clinical trials.

How video games can help LGBTQ+ players feel like themselves — The Washington Post, 3/23/21

UF PhD English student Laken Brooks, who studies digital humanities and LGBT history, wrote how LGBTQ+ depictions in popular video games have helped many LGBTQ+ players feel seen for the first time.
 

1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: Exhumation of Oaklawn mass grave expected to begin in June — Tulsa World, 3/24/21

Researchers expect to begin exhumation of remains believed to be those of people killed in Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre in early June — perhaps a century to the day after they were interred. Those remains are expected to be skeletal, but University of Florida forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, a member of the research team, said she is fairly optimistic that DNA can be recovered.
 

North American deserts are a biodiversity hotspot for butterflies — Phys.org, 3/23/21

By comparing the genetic diversity of butterflies in North America, researchers reporting in the journal iScience on March 23 found that the array of different evolutionary distinct groups of butterflies is particularly high in the deserts of Mexico and the southwestern United States. "When you think of desert, you don't automatically jump to butterflies, but our results showed that this area is actually a really important hotspot for butterflies, even if it isn't for plants," says co-first author Chandra Earl, who recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. 
 

Why you can't let your COVID-19 guard down during summer months — The Palm Beach Post, 3/23/21

A seasonal shift to higher temperatures and sunnier skies should not be considered a trigger to relax COVID-19 safeguards as the link between climate and the pandemic remains unclear, according to a new report by the World Meteorological Organization. “When you talk about the impact of climate on Covid, probably the key is not so much the climate itself but the impact the climate has on people and their individual behavior,” said Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida.
 

Paper straws may contain chemicals linked to cancer, other ailments, study finds  — The Week, 3/22/21 

There may be more reason to avoid paper drinking straws than general distaste for them, a new study from the University of Florida, published last week in ScienceDirect, suggests.

The researchers found per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which in layman's terms are potentially harmful chemicals, in paper and other plant-based straws, which have become more common amid a global push to cut back on the use of plastics. In fact, the PFASs may provide the straws with their water-resistant properties.

Also picked up by Yahoo! News