May 6: UF in the News 5/3/21-5/6/21

Bird brawlers love spectators—other avian species are welcome at ringside — Scientific American, 5/6/21 

Serious athletes and brawling schoolyard children are familiar with the audience effect: people compete harder in front of a crowd. This phenomenon is not unique to humans. Other mammals, birds, fish and even insects fight more vigorously when they know they are being watched by members of their own species. The audience effect can kick in even when the onlookers belong to a different species from the fighters.

“When the audience builds up, and predation risk lessens, the birds trash-talk more loudly and clearly,” says senior study author Katie Sieving, an avian behavioral ecologist at the University of Florida. 

The logic of Biden’s new July 4 vaccination goal — Vox, 5/4/21

President Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled a new Covid-19 vaccine goal: 70 percent of US adults getting at least one shot by July 4. University of Florida biostatistician Natalie Dean said looking at Israel’s data “bodes well for what we can do in the US. Maybe we can get really far, off of 60 percent of people being vaccinated.”

In the CIA's 1st plot against the Castros, Fidel wasn't the target — NPR, 5/4/21 

New details from the CIA's operations in Cuba reveal poorly planned plots during this period of American anti-Communism push. "It's like a combination of extreme American paternalism, combined with racism and disdain and contempt for Latin Americans. And so that drives their inability to see things," said professor Lillian Guerra, the head of Cuban and Caribbean studies at the University of Florida.

"The United States constantly discredited anybody who was an opponent of U.S. foreign policy," she added.

Researchers combed through over 1,600 teachers of the year since 1988. Here’s what they learned about the winners — The 74 Million, 5/4/21 

The National Teacher of the Year program is a unique fixture in America’s education landscape — an annual, highly publicized recognition of excellence in the art of teaching, complete with a national tour and a trip to the Rose Garden. Christopher Redding, a professor of educational leadership at the University of Florida, told The 74 in an interview that little previous research focused on the selection process for Teacher of the Year. "It seems like we should be asking who is going to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of the teaching profession.”

U.S. COVID-19 cases drop as spring wave slows — WebMD, 5/4/21 

COVID-19 cases continue to decline in the U.S. as the spring surge that began in March subsides. More than 40 states are reporting lower cases, and hospitals in Michigan and the Midwest aren’t seeing the same rush of patients as in mid-April. “There could be smaller, local flare-ups, but in general, things are looking really good as we move into the summer,” said Natalie Dean, a biostatistician at the University of Florida.

As Palm Beach County faces affordable housing shortage, officials work toward solutions — WLRN, 5/4/21

People are having a hard time finding affordable rent and homeownership options. It’s an issue that isn’t going away any time soon and a range of people are affected by it, from young workers to homeless single mothers with children. Anne Ray is a researcher and manager of the Florida Housing Data Clearinghouse at the University of Florida's Shimberg Center for Housing Studies.

Ray says the county has a lot of low-wage jobs, which exacerbates the gap between wage and housing costs. There is barely any room for disposable income.

Disney World at 50: What would Orlando be like if The Mouse had gone somewhere else? — The Orlando Sentinel, 5/5/21 

Without Disney “Orlando would not have become a tourist town in the way that it did. And that’s because Orlando is too far away from the coast,” said Richard Foglesong, author of “Married to the Mouse,” a book that explores Disney World’s early history.

So what would Orlando have become in a theme park-free alternate reality?

Hector Sandoval, a University of Florida economics assistant professor said there would have been a major trade-off if Orlando had never developed its mega tourism economy.

Tech jobs would pay better but there would likely be fewer of them compared with tourism, he said. Walt Disney World Resort alone employed about 75,000 people before the pandemic.

Most top U.S. surgeons are white and that's not changing — US. News, 5/5/21 

White people continue to dominate top surgery positions at U.S. universities, while the number of Black and Hispanic surgeons remains flat, a new study finds. Study co-author Dr. Andrea Riner, a surgical resident at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said, "I don't think it's a matter that they don't aspire to these positions. And I think many of them are truly qualified to lead."

‘Our Kids Don’t Matter’: decision to close tribe’s school sparks outcry — Vice News, 5/5/21 

In Pointe-Aux-Chênes, Louisiana, a small town with a majority Native American and Cajun French population, the local elementary school is one of the only majority Indigenous schools in the state. Or, it was, until authorities voted to shut the school down despite a massive outcry from parents and Indigenous advocates. 

Richard S. Conley, the director of the Native American Studies Program at the University of Florida, drove 500 miles to attend the board vote.

“If you dig into the data as I have, you find that achievement gaps are significantly more overcome by this type of schooling, which is designed to match the environment and culture that is unique in this part of the world,” Conley said before the board. 

A Pinellas protester was in jail for months. A fight against cash bail got him out — The Tampa Bay Times, 5/6/21 

In courtrooms across America, judges with large caseloads move through initial bail hearings with conveyor-belt speed. Their decisions, often based on a bond schedule and made in a matter of minutes, affect whether someone gets released or stays locked up while fighting to prove their innocence.

“People who have money will get released, and people who don’t have money don’t get released — and there’s no other distinction between their cases,” said Kenneth Nunn, a University of Florida law professor.