Gator Nation News

20 More Reasons to be Proud to be a Gator

As many Americans hunker down in their homes, UF’s professors, researchers and others are part of the global effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and help those already affected.

Here are just 20 of the many ways the University of Florida is responding to this health crisis. Look for a more complete roundup in the summer issue of Gator magazine.

  1. When state officials put out an emergency call for help, 30 epidemiology professors and their students volunteered to deploy to clinics and hospitals throughout Florida. Working on the frontlines of the pandemic has been sobering, students say. “I have been witnessing the devastation this virus is capable of on a daily basis,” posted one. READ MORE
  2. The Infinity Fab Lab in UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning is building acrylic boxes that can be placed over patients’ heads and shoulders to limit aerosol exposure for doctors and nurses during COVID-19-related intubation procedures. The aerosol boxes are an interdisciplinary project between DCP, UF Health and the university’s Harn Museum of Art. READ MORE
  3. Natalie Dean and Ira Longini (BSIE ’71, MS ’73), biostatisticians in the College of Public Health and Health Professions, are part of an international team of infectious disease experts that will be testing treatments and vaccines. It’s not the first time the pair have stepped up during a health crisis; they played an integral role in the design and analysis of an Ebola vaccine. READ MORE
  4. Two dozen UF doctors and other volunteers answered Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s public health emergency call to test more than 2,000 at-risk seniors for COVID-19 at one of the nation’s largest retirement communities. The tests were one of the state’s first moves to combat the virus as it began to spread through communities nationwide. READ MORE
  5. When UF anesthesiologist Samsun Lampotang (ME ’84, Ph.D. ’92) heard of the desperate international plea for ventilators, he led a team that built an open-source prototype using plentiful, cheap components that can be purchased at hardware stores. Lampotang’s ventilator, constructed with items like water pipes and lawn-sprinkler valves, costs between $125 and $250 to make. READ MORE
  6. With K-12 students staying home during the health pandemic, UF’s College of Education pulled together an online resource guide to help parents new to the teaching role. Resources include subject-focused materials, homeschooling tips, ideas for virtual field trips and a listing of social media “read-alouds.” READ MORE
  7. To support the agriculture industry and provide vital information during the pandemic, scientists at UF/IFAS are working with limited staffing to test samples of soil, water, plants and manure sent to them from across the state. Staff at the university’s Plant Diagnostic Center are working in shifts, with only one person in the building at a time. READ MORE
  8. With parents and other caregivers looking for ways to discuss the pandemic with children and keep them active, UF’s Department of Pediatrics created the “COVID-19 and Kids” website. It includes a list of links to sites like illustrated cooking recipes for kids, a digital archive of history, music-based Spanish lessons, the NASA Kids Club and more. READ MORE
  9. In a time of questionable medications and unproven theories, UF’s College of Pharmacy offers a website to keep industry insiders and the public safe and informed. Some of the professor-narrated videos offer a much deeper dive into all things coronavirus than viewers will get watching television news. READ MORE
  10. The nationwide scramble for protective masks inspired UF anesthesiologists to come up with a fix to the shortage: two do-it-yourself prototypes, instructions included. The need for masks also inspired Gators to form groups for making homemade masks; alumni and university staff members to donate masks from their own companies and medical practices; campus health-related departments to share their extras with colleagues and patients; and collaborations between unlikely partners, such as UF Health and costume designers at the College of the Arts. READ MORE
  11. Computer simulations run by UF researcher David Ostrov have shown that three compounds appear to have potential to block cells from being infected by COVID-19. Ostrov and his UF colleagues at the Emerging Pathogens Institute are working practically around the clock to keep the virus under as much control as possible. READ MORE
  12. Too much free time can be a bad thing, especially for people with addictions. An online video featuring the College of Health and Human Performance’s Rob Leeman suggests ways to maintain mental health. His advice includes limiting stress by watching less news, which can trigger relapses, and sticking to routines as much as possible. READ MORE
  13. The spread of COVID-19 leaves many pregnant women worried about what the virus might mean to their babies, and UF obstetrics and gynecology department chair John Smulian sifted facts from fears. The good news? There’s no evidence that pregnant women are more likely to be infected than anyone else, and there are no reports about miscarriages or birth defects caused by the virus. READ MORE
  14. As schools transition to remote education, UF/IFAS is at the forefront of helping students learn from home with Streaming Science, an online program that brings science to students from elementary through high school. The series helps students learn about a variety of science-related topics, from mosquitos and bats to pine trees and water. READ MORE
  15. Do you have to disinfect your groceries? Soak fruits and veggies in soapy water for 20 seconds? These and other questions are answered by experts at UF/IFAS. (The answer to those two questions? No.) READ MORE
  16. As small businesses struggle to survive, the Warrington College of Business offers tips for owners on how to weather the storm. Tip 1: Federal and state governments are the first places small business owners can look to for help, says Jamie Kraft, director of the college’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Center. READ MORE
  17. UF veterinarians took a lead in providing guidance to 10,000 veterinary and shelter professionals from around the globe on how to care for pets during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Animal shelters and animal control officers are first responders to meeting societal needs,” UF’s Julie Levy told the audience. READ MORE
  18. UF startup Ology Bioservices, a biologics contract development and manufacturing company, is working with the U.S. Department of Defense to rapidly manufacture COVID-19 DNA vaccines that will be evaluated by the World Health Organization. They are partnering with a pharmaceutical company to soon deliver the vaccine for future clinical trials. READ MORE
  19. “Cabin fever” can quickly become a problem for self-quarantining Americans, and UF social psychologist Erin Westgate turned to social media to answer questions about boredom during the COVID-19 pandemic. Want to know if boredom causes women to want new hairdos, or why people feel there’s nothing to do even when there are a hundred TV channels and the world at their fingertips? Westgate can tell you. READ MORE
  20. The Gator Nation is truly everywhere. UF professors and researchers are being sought out for their expertise by media far and wide. Just some of the outlets where their names, quotes and stories have made an appearance: The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NPR, The New England Journal of Medicine and Reddit.