September 21: UF in the News, 9/17/21-9/20/21

Yes, we're calling it Hispanic Heritage Month and we know it makes some of you cringe — NPR, 9/17/21
What's the harm in lumping together roughly 62 million people with complex identities under a single umbrella? Is a blanket pan-ethnic term necessary to unite and reflect a shared culture? 

"That immediately erases all of the centuries of pre-Columbian history, culture and civilizations that existed before the European conquest and colonization of the Americas ... and that's understandably upsetting to people who are not white," said University of Florida history professor Paul Ortiz.

Orlando Fringe gets new ideas from unique UF class — The Orlando Sentinel, 9/17/21
How does a bar just for kids sound? Or an interactive walkway filled with engaging fun?

Both are ideas that came from the 20 students enrolled in the summer semester of UF’s Project Development Studio at the Gainesville-based university’s Orlando CityLab, an off-campus School of Architecture program that specializes in urban design and interdisciplinary collaboration. They contributed ideas to Fringe Festival, the annual celebration of creativity through two weeks of short plays, concerts, dance performances, art displays, children’s activities and more in Orlando’s Loch Haven Park.

How common are alligator attacks? — Fox News, 9/19/21
When Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast state of Louisiana two weeks ago, floodwaters from the storm brought another danger to residents: wildlife. 

A 12-foot-long alligator believed to have attacked a man in St. Tammany Parish was captured and killed on Monday and authorities found human remains in its stomach. UF research cited in the article shows that alligators are responsible for less than 6% of fatal attacks by crocodilians worldwide, with just 4% of attacks in the U.S. leading to death.

The university noted that there's no reason to suggest alligators actively hunt during hurricanes.

At the Tennessee state lab, genetic testing hunts for the next COVID-19 variant — The Nashville Tennesean, 9/19/21
Scientists in Nashville are sequencing COVID-19 samples, amounting to gigabytes of data on an incomprehensible number of flashes that is sent for analysis by UF's HiPerGator AI. The DNA that flows through a sequencing machine in the state lab for two days, then the data from the sequencer is sent to UF so it can lend a fraction of its immense processing power to reconsolidate millions of matches back into results for the original samples.

When can kids get the COVID-19 vaccine — and what should parents know now? — HuffPost, 9/20/21
Pfizer said on Monday that its two-dose COVID vaccine works for children ages 5 to 11 and that it plans to seek authorization from regulatory agencies as soon as possible.

“Pediatricians will be ready,” said Dr. Sonja Rasmussen, professor in the departments of pediatrics and epidemiology at the UF College of Medicine. “They’re already thinking about whether they can have drive-through clinics, how they can increase appointments, how they can have availability for kids to get vaccinated.”

South Florida’s loss could be Central Florida’s gain as redistricting process begins — The Miami Herald, 9/20/21
Florida legislators will formally launch their reapportionment efforts Monday, armed with the Census data that gives Florida one new congressional district and promises to upset legislative and congressional boundaries from Miami to St. Petersburg. Michael McDonald, a UF political science professor who has spent decades studying redistricting, said that Republicans will face pressure to be both aggressive and cautious.

Investors want change, but founders like Mark Zuckerberg hold them off — MarketWatch, 9/20/21
As some of the nation’s biggest and most influential companies face pressure to make changes amid the growing trend of socially responsible investing, their shareholders can only do so much when companies they invest in have tiered groups of shareholder priority. Compounding the issue is that stock IPOs with two tiers of voting groups have done better than those with a single class of stock recently, according to data compiled by Jay Ritter, a finance professor at UF. 

Daydreaming has so many emotional benefits—here's how to reclaim this childhood pastime — Martha Stewart Magazine, 9/20/21
Mentally drifting away to a better time or place can aid adults during times of stress, new research shows. But adults aren't very good at daydreaming.

"This is part of our cognitive toolkit that's underdeveloped, and it's kind of sad," said UF psychology professor Erin Westgate. She and her team noted that since daydreaming is associated with our emotions, people who do so can better tolerate pain and boost their overall wellness.