May 3: UF in the News 4/30/21-5/3/21

Reaching ‘herd immunity’ is unlikely in the U.S., experts now believe — The New York Times, 5/3/21 
Widely circulating coronavirus variants and persistent hesitancy about vaccines will keep the goal out of reach. The virus is here to stay, but vaccinating the most vulnerable may be enough to restore normalcy. Connectivity between countries, particularly as travel restrictions ease, emphasizes the urgency of protecting not just Americans but everyone in the world, said Natalie E. Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida. Any variants that arise in the world will eventually reach the United States, she noted.

U.S. coronavirus cases drop as spring wave of infections ebbs — The Washington Post, 4/30/21 
Multiple factors are driving the ebbing of the spring wave, said Natalie E. Dean, a University of Florida biostatistics expert.

“Things are all very encouraging, even despite the circulation of these variants, because so many people are vaccinated and because there had already been a fair amount of infection and because we’re moving into the spring,” she said. “There could be smaller, local flare-ups, but in general, things are looking really good as we move into the summer.”

UF's new AI supercomputer will change how students learn — The Tallahassee Democrat, 5/3/21 
Joe Glover, provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at UF, shares how the HiPerGator AI supercomputer will transform learning and innovation in higher education. This piece also ran in the Gainesville Sun.

Census Bureau: 70% of voters cast ballots early or by mail — The Associated Press, 4/30/21
More than two-thirds of all U.S. citizens of the voting age population participated in the 2020 presidential election, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report, and 69% of those cast ballots by mail or early in-person voting. “We knew it was a high-turnout election and the Census is finding something similar,” said Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who runs, which tracks turnout back to the 18th century.

Can you spot a deep fake? Latest technology makes it harder to catch — NBC-2, 5/2/21 
Simply put, deep fakes are using the latest technology to create pictures and videos that look like real life, but in reality, are far from it. 

“It is extremely easy now to create realistic fake visuals,” said Sylvia Chan-Olmsted, the director of Media Consumer Research at the University of Florida. “It’s able to really learn from looking at a lot of images and to recreate and kind of swap and mask.”

64-year-old woman bitten by shark while on her paddleboard in Florida — People, 4/30/21 
The incident marks the first shark bite of the 2021 season at New Smyrna Beach.

The beach — which is located south of Daytona Beach and is known as a surf hub — is often referred to as the "shark attack capital of the world," according to the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File.

Can a teacher fly a Black Lives Matter flag at school? A Florida court will consider — NPR, 4/30/21 
Amy Donofrio, an English teacher, hung a Black Lives Matter flag outside her classroom. Her attorney is building a case around whether this type of speech is protected. 

Rachel Arnow-Richman, a professor of labor and employment law at the University of Florida, said "We think of the First Amendment as a foundational principle of our democracy, and it is, but it's subject to many limitations."

Climate change could soon allow Florida farmers to grow coffee beans, UF scientists say — Fox 13 Tampa Bay, 5/3/21 
The Sunshine State has never grown commercial coffee trees before, but that may change sooner than later.

"We are in a climate where it is almost perfect to grow coffee," said University of Florida graduate assistant Emily Pappo.

She said it is only "almost" perfect because Florida winters can get cold enough to be harmful to coffee crops, but global warming is making scientists take a second look. 

Uncovering the Tulsa Race Massacre after 100 years — Axios, 4/30/21 
Phoebe R. Stubblefield, a University of Florida forensic anthropologist, is among the scholars excavating Tulsa's ground for evidence to document the massacre. Researchers recently found a mass grave at Oaklawn Cemetery that some believe are victims of the race riot.

"It corroborates the historical account of what occurred and the written account. We still have three other sites to investigate for our mass graves narrative," said Stubblefield, who had an aunt whose Tulsa home burned during the massacre.

Stop saying ‘good job!’ to your kids (and what to say instead) — Yahoo! Life, 4/30/21 
Saying ‘good job’ also tells children how to feel instead of letting them decide for themselves, something which ultimately causes children to lose interest in what they’re doing.

There’s plenty of research to back up this school of thought. One study from Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses (“the answer is five?”) and less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.