March 29: UF in the News 3/26/21 - 3/29/21

Scientists plan to track possible virus spread in vaccinated U.S. college students. —The New York Times, 3/26/21

Can people immunized against the coronavirus still spread it to others? A new study will attempt to answer the question by tracking infections in vaccinated college students and their close contacts, researchers announced on Friday. The University of Florida is one of those universities. 

Researchers use AI datasets to track feral pigs, minimize disease risk —, 3/29/21 

Feral pigs cost the agriculture industry at least $1.5 billion in damage, disease and control costs around the United States annually, running rampant on large swaths of grazing lands. The swine root in soil and eat most everything in sight.

Farmers and ranchers will benefit from research by University of Florida scientists who are using artificial intelligence to gather data on feral hog reproduction and movement.

"It would be nearly impossible to rid ourselves of a foreign animal disease if it became established in wild pigs," said Samantha Wisely, a UF/IFAS professor of wildlife ecology and conservation. "Wild pigs also cause millions of dollars a year to cattlemen in lost forage and degraded pastures."

Osceola Sheriff’s Office does away with gang unit after years of cuts, vacancies — The Orlando Sentinel, 3/29/21

After years of cuts and shifting missions, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office last month transferred the remainder of what used to be its gang unit to other areas of the agency, effectively ending a specialized squad created in the late 2000s to address gang crime.

The unit’s creation was part of a trend among law enforcement agencies in the 1990s and 2000s to fund gang units using federal grants to combat a perceived surge in gang violence, said Jodi Lane, a criminology professor at the University of Florida.

The unit’s absence, she added, shouldn’t necessarily be cause for alarm.

The U.S. is in a delicate position as Covid cases increase alongside vaccinations, experts warn — CNBC, 3/28/21

Daily Covid-19 cases are increasing once again after months of declines, a troubling sign as more Americans let down their guard, experts say. 

“There’s no doubt that there are lots of people who have come in from out of state. That happens every year for spring break,” said Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at the University of Florida. “And then the concern is what’s being brought back to their own state. Are they going to bring back the variant?”

Even WeWork is going public thanks to SPACs — Vox, 3/26/21

A year and a half after its failed IPO attempt, WeWork is finally going public. Instead of trying a traditional IPO again, the troubled coworking outfit is using a different financial maneuver: merging with a special purpose acquisition company, known as a SPAC.

The flurry of SPACs means there’s lots of money out there with which to merge with private companies — more perhaps than there are good companies to buy.

As University of Florida professor and IPO expert Jay Ritter told Recode recently, “There’s now so much money chasing deals, it’s going to be harder and harder to pull off attractive mergers.”