September 8: UF in the News, 9/2/21 - 9/7/21

Congressional district covering Sarasota/Manatee region among fastest growing in Florida — The Herald-Tribune, 9/3/21
Census data released last month revealed the three districts with the largest population growth all are in the Central Florida region, from Orlando to Tampa Bay.

UF political science professor Michael McDonald, an expert on redistricting, said a new Central Florida congressional district “seems to be the most likely outcome.”

Hurricane Ida turns spotlight on Louisiana power grid issues — The Associated Press, 9/4/21
The dismal state of power in Hurricane Ida's wake is a distressingly familiar scenario for Louisiana's largest electrical utility. 

Regulators could force the company to further toughen its grid, lessening future risks from the more frequent and severe storms wrought by climate change. But upgrades cost money — and money usually comes from customers.

“When you're looking at something like storm hardening, the important thing to remember is that ultimately it is going to be the people that are paying all of these costs,” said Ted Kury, director of energy studies at UF’s Public Utility Research Center.

Similar stories published in the Washington Post include: 
What it would take to put all our electric lines underground
Burying power lines isn’t the only way to weatherproof the grid

Military justice reforms are coming, but Congress is conflicted on what they should be —, 9/5/21
The House Armed Services Committee approved a bill this week that would take the decision to prosecute sex crimes away from commanders and hand it to attorneys — a proposal that matches the Defense Department's current reform plan but falls short of Senate legislation on the issue.

Diane Mazur, professor emeritus at UF’s Levin College of Law and vice president for legal research at the Palm Center, a public policy think tank, said the decision to remove sex crimes alone from the system “sends a message to military leaders that preventing sexual assault is not a core part of military discipline.”

“It tells leaders that ‘women's issues’ are uniquely outside their ability to manage, and that’s simply wrong,” Mazur said.

Surfer killed in shark attack on Australian father's day: 'incredibly devastating' — People, 9/6/21
UF’s International Shark Attack File was cited in a story surrounding the death of a man killed during by a shark while surfing in Australian waters on Sunday. Australia trails the U.S. in unprovoked shark bites with 18 cases in 2020. 

As Mu variant spreads in U.S., this is why some COVID mutations take hold and others don't — Newsweek, 9/6/21
The Mu variant of COVID has made numerous headlines since it was classified as a variant of interest by the World Health Organization last week, but it does not appear to be taking over the U.S. yet, data shows.

Dr. Stephen Kimmel, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at UF, said predicting which variants might end up spreading and which will not is difficult based solely on the structure of its mutations. He said that as long as COVID has the opportunity to spread — through unvaccinated populations — mutations will occur.

Hemp industry slow to take root in Florida — Bay News 9, 9/7/21
When proponents wanted to expand hemp agriculture in Florida, it was touted as a new mega cash crop for the Sunshine State. But, a new study shows it is taking longer than anticipated to take root.

Zack Brym, an agronomy assistant professor UF/IFAS, said hemp has the potential to be a viable crop in Florida. He added that while enthusiasm for the industry is palpable, an IFAS study ​concluded with advice for farmers should proceed with caution.