July 15: UF in the News, 7/12/21-7/15/21

Why are Cubans protesting? Examining the nation’s disappointment with the Communist Party  — PBS, 7/12/21
Police are out in force in Havana, Cuba, after thousands of protesters rose up Sunday, taking to the streets across the country in the largest demonstrations against communist rule in a generation.

Lillian Guerra, a professor of Cuban history at UF, discusses the country's political developments.

Amid Florida COVID spike, Miami hospital’s virus patients are younger, unvaccinated — The Miami Herald, 7/12/21
Florida’s COVID epidemic is on the rise again, driven by outbreaks in the Miami area, Jacksonville and the Panhandle. Experts suspect most cases are among younger, unvaccinated people under the age of 50.

Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi, an associate professor of medicine and infectious disease doctor at UF, said that the challenge for public health officials at this stage in the pandemic is to convince skeptical people to get vaccinated.

Fact-checking Joe Biden on voter turnout in 2020 — PolitiFact, 7/13/21
During a high-profile address in Philadelphia on voting rights, President Joe Biden argued that Republican efforts to roll back voting access in some states was unjustified, adding the rules in effect in 2020 produced record voter turnout.

However, Biden’s claim leaves out an important caveat. UF political scientist Michael McDonald explains. 

Expert says no way to predict movement of red tide in Tampa Bay — WINK News, 7/14/21
A red tide bloom is causing devastation in the Tampa Bay area. Some parts of Tampa Bay tested 10 to 17 times higher than what are considered high levels of the organism in red tide.

“It doesn’t matter who you are, whether you’re a resident or visitor, scientist. It’s … devastating to see, even in Florida, when we’re used to red tide and events like this, it’s hard to see it happen,” said Lisa Krimsky, regional water resources extension agent with UF/IFAS.

WTSP Tampa Bay published a similar article.

Artists laid the foundation for Cuba’s protests. An economy in free fall and the pandemic ignited it. — VOX, 7/14/21
“Patria y vida!” (“homeland and life”) is the slogan of the rare and massive protests that erupted across Cuba over the weekend. It’s a riff on the “patria o muerte” (homeland or death) slogan of the Cuban Revolution — and the lyrics of a popular rap song compiled by Afro Cuban hip-hop artists in Cuba in collaboration with artists in the US.

Tanya Saunders, an associate professor at UF’s Center for Latin American Studies, explains how Black activism on the island, including in the underground hip-hop scene in the 1990s, influenced the activists who have pushed for greater freedom under the Cuban regime more recently.

Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin will bring science along on their joyrides— Popular Science, 7/15/21
On Sunday morning, Sirisha Bandla reached into a pouch strapped to her leg and pulled out a plastic tube containing a seedling in the mustard family and a chemical preservative. As she turned a knob on one end of the tube, the preservative surrounded the young plant, halting all biological activity. Over the next few minutes, at carefully selected moments, she repeated the action on two similar tubes. 

At the time, Bandla was floating dozens of miles above the surface of the Earth, pioneering a brand-new form of research.  

“We could be looking back at this in a year or two or ten and saying, ‘Geez, that was the first time somebody did an experiment in suborbital space? Holy cow, I can’t believe there was ever a time we didn’t do this,’’’ says Rob Ferl, a biologist at UF who helped design the experiment. 

The Tampa Bay Times published a similar article.