July 19: UF in the News, 7/16/21-7/19/21

Boredom’s link to mental illnesses, brain injuries and dysfunctional behaviors — The Washington Post, 7/17/21

What's behind the universal feeling of boredom? Researchers in 2014 set out to see what happens when the mind is allowed to wander, theorizing humans would relax and experience pleasure. Instead, some opted to give themselves an electric shock rather than sit with their thoughts. 

“People aren’t just more willing to hurt themselves when they’re bored. More recent work has shown that they’re more willing to hurt ­others and behave sadistically by docking other participants’ pay or grinding up bugs in a coffee grinder, if given the choice,” said Erin Westgate, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Florida. “It’s terrible.”

Delta variant takes hold in U.S. as coronavirus cases rise nearly 70 percent — The Washington Post, 7/17/21

As COVID-19 cases increase at faster rates, health officials warn the combination of the Delta variant and unvaccinated populations can cause an unnecessarily dire outbreak. Cindy Prins, an epidemiologist at UF, noted that people are acting as if they are done with the pandemic. “There is a feeling of being open,” Prins said, particularly following the Fourth of July.

“It doesn’t have to be,” Prins said of the new surge. “If people would get vaccinated, we wouldn’t be seeing these numbers.”

How deforestation helps deadly viruses jump from animals to humans — Yahoo! News, 7/17/21

COVID-19 prompted a frank discussion of animal to human virus transmission, and researchers around the world found deforestation to be a common theme in the increase of these viruses. UF assistant professor of medicine Amy Y. Vittor authored this piece for The Conversation that outlines how as forests are torn down, animals still living in isolated fragments of natural vegetation struggle to exist. When human settlements encroach on these forests, human-wildlife contact can increase. 

There's more to the 'unprecedented' Cuba protests than just food shortages — NPR, 7/18/21

NPR's Michel Martin speaks with Lillian Guerra, a UF professor of Cuban history, about this week's protests in Cuba and the role of U.S. foreign policy in the nation's struggles.

Post-Covid, office wear and other clothing get a rethink as we all try to remember how to dress — NBC, 7/18/21

As people return to the outside world after more than a year of COVID-19 and isolation, how they choose to express themselves and dress will change, experts say. 

“Conforming to a style of dress and beauty standards will be a choice instead of expectation,” Jennifer Dasher, assistant professor of costume design at the University of Florida, said of post-pandemic fashion. “Self-expression, cultural expression and a continued desire to be comfortable will be central.”

5 stock option mistakes to avoid when your company goes public — Forbes, 7/19/21

Forbes details the top five mistakes employees of private companies often make when their employer is going public via IPO, SPAC, or direct listing. UF finance professor Jay Ritter's IPO research is cited, demonstrating that while IPOs can be wildly successful, newly public companies are notoriously volatile.

Who owns the beach? It depends on state law and tide lines — Yahoo! News, 7/19/21
Thomas Ankersen, legal skills professor and the director of the UF Levin College of Law's Conservation Clinic, contributed this piece to The Conversation commenting on beach ownership. In it, he examines how as climate change raises sea levels, property owners are trying to harden their shorelines with sea walls and other types of armoring, squeezing the sandy beach and the public into a shrinking and diminished space.