Tag Archives: university of florida

UF Robotics team looking to launch robot into space

12 Dec
My name is Lawrence Chan I'm a journalism junior at the University of Florida. I enjoy writing writing about advances in technology and computers. I also cover student organizations on campus who focus on technological developments.  I like to write about how new technology is being implemented into society and how consumers should react to recent developments in computers or gaming. My eventual goal is to become a writer for a technology publication such as CNET news, GameInformer magazine or Wired. I profess that much of my interest in technology stems from the everyday use of technology for entertainment through video games and heavy use of my own 10 lb. computer. Currently, I am attempting to better establish myself as a writer and gain a better insight into the industry I love.

My name is Lawrence Chan and I’m a journalism junior at the University of Florida. I enjoy writing about advances in technology and computers. I also cover student organizations on campus who focus on technological developments.
I like to write about how new technology is being implemented into society and how consumers should react to recent developments in computers or gaming.
My eventual goal is to become a writer for a technology publication such as CNET news, GameInformer magazine or Wired. I profess that much of my interest in technology stems from the everyday use of technology for entertainment through video games and heavy use of my own 10 lb. computer.
Currently, I am attempting to better establish myself as a writer and gain a better insight into the industry I love.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By Lawrence Chan

GAINESVILLE—The University of Florida’s Gator Robotics team is aiming high and working to launch their new robot into space.

After an ill-timed mechanical failure at last year’s NASA Robotic Mining Competition, UF’s team, NASAbotics, is once again preparing for an interplanetary mission.

During last year’s competition the team’s robot failed to function entirely due to a problem with the communication array failing to register the signals from the command team. As a result, the robot failed to function during judgment.

Evan Brady, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering junior and mechanical project head for NASAbotics, said he isn’t letting last year’s mishaps get him down. His team is starting from scratch to produce a new-and-improved robot.

“Plainly, our robot worked last year but did absolutely nothing,” Brady said.

“Our goal this year is to fix him up and upgrade him better than before.”

Next year’s competition runs from May 19 to  May 23 and will invite university teams across the nation to build and design mining robots for possible application into a NASA lunar walker.

The goal is for teams create a robot that can collect at least 10 kilograms of very fine, potentially hazardous sand that simulates what would be found on another planet in 10 minutes, said Brady who has been UF’s team leader for two years.

The winning team receives the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence and a $5,000 team scholarship. Startup funding granted by institutions like the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium and student governments has amounted to about $7,000 so far.

“We’re already finished designing the new robot,” said Kevin French, electrical head of the NASAbotics team

French said all that is left is to order the parts and test their stability before they can start manufacturing the new robot.

“Our goal this year is to have him operational by the end of the fall semester,” French said. “At the moment we’re still waiting on some of the parts we ordered to arrive, but once they’re here we can start putting it together and be ready by the competition.”

Video by: Lawrence Chan

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UF research group played role in discovery of Higgs boson

15 Nov
Brooke Baitinger is a junior studying journalism at the University of Florida. Writing is her passion, but she has always appreciated science, so she was excited to combine the two interests for Layman's Terms Media. In her spare time, she likes to ride horses and explore what the world around her has to offer.

Brooke Baitinger is a junior studying journalism at the University of Florida. Writing is her passion, but she has always appreciated science, so she was excited to combine the two interests for Layman’s Terms Media. In her spare time, she likes to ride horses and explore what the world around her has to offer.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

 By: Brooke Baitinger

If you have ever taken a science class, you were probably frustrated with the concept of mass when your professor told you that particles have it, but could not tell you why.

The same question puzzled scientists everywhere until physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert proved the existence of the Higgs boson particle, a particle that gives mass to other particles when they pass through its field.

Without the mysterious Higgs field spreading across the universe, particles would simply wander about in space, instead of joining together to make atoms, which are the building blocks of life. Because of this, the news media gave it the controversial name of “The God particle.” Although Higgs was not the first scientist to theorize about the field, he was the first to suggest the mechanism to detect it: the Higgs boson particle.

Higgs and Englert first theorized the existence of the Higgs boson nearly 50 years ago, and began conducting experiments to prove it shortly after. In October, they received official recognition for their work in the form of this year’s 2013 Nobel science prize win.

But Higgs and Englert were not the only scientists who celebrated their win.

A team of UF researchers called the High-Energy Experimental group played a significant role in the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, or CMS, an international experiment conducted to discover the elusive Higgs boson particle.

It was one of the largest American teams on the experiment, consisting of about 40 people, including professors, post docs, research scientists and graduate students.

The CMS experiment was conducted at the Large Hadron Collider facility in Geneva, Switzerland, and involved accelerating particles to near light speeds, essentially recreating the Big Bang, in which the Universe began expanding rapidly and energy was converted into various subatomic particles such as protons, neutrons and electrons that would eventually form our galaxy, our solar system and our planet.

By recreating the Big Bang, scientists were able to produce different particles, one of which was the Higgs boson.

“It is very rare to produce a Higgs Boson. Much less than one in one trillion collisions gives you a Higgs particle,” said Darin Acosta, the deputy physics coordinator of the collaboration and a UF physics professor.

Guenakh Mitselmakher, another UF physics professor, led the international group. He said that they are pleased about the discovery because it justifies what the team has been working on for the last 20 years.

“This is one of the biggest scientific events of the last 50 years,” he said. “The theory not only tells us which particles exist but also how they interact. The universe would not exist as it is now without the Higgs boson,” he said.

Acosta said that the discovery provides insight into something the scientific community was previously unable to explain.

“We had theories for how the forces in particles work but we couldn’t calculate the mass. The Higgs field explains why particles have mass, so it means we understand something new about the universe,” he said.

UF contributed to the construction of the experiment by building detectors, electronics and overseeing machine operation.

“It’s not something you just order at Walmart and turn on,” Acosta said. “It’s called commissioning. You have to make sure things are working properly.”

Graduate students were heavily involved with commissioning the machine. They produced the electronics for the muon detector and also dealt with data analysis once the detector had been operating long enough to produce results.

Matthew Snowball will be the first of three graduate students to defend his dissertation on the Higgs boson in the spring of next year.

“I was lucky enough to be the first person to see the Higgs mass peak, as well as make several of the plots used in the Higgs discovery paper from CMS, published in July 2012,” he said. “It was extremely gratifying as it was the culmination of several years of little sleep and lots of hard work.”

CMS is the most expensive experiment ever built. The Higgs particle quickly became one of the most significant theories in the physics community when it first emerged on the scientific scene nearly 50 years ago, Mitselmakher said.

“I’m not sure there was a typical day during research,” Acosta said. “It was lots of graduate students submitting computer jobs to thousands of computers, making plots and presenting them at a working meeting. Eventually certain meetings became very exciting when you would start to see a signal coming out of your plots where there wasn’t one before.”

As for the team’s next step, it hopes to find a needle in a haystack.

“We didn’t stop,” Mitselmakher said. “We are upgrading the detector now. This accelerator allows us to produce every particle, but the problem is to find it [a new particle] among zillions of other particles.”

The machine was turned off for refurbishing in February 2013, and is scheduled to turn back on in 2015 so scientists can further their research.

“We found one particle and that is what was predicted by the theory,” Acosta said. “We hope there is more to find because we have many more questions. We need to see if this is the only Higgs boson, or are there others at different masses?”

 

Hypnosis and therapy help school-related stress, experts say

8 Nov
Craig Kissoon is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida. He is an avid writer and has blogged for the Independent Florida Alligator. After taking two psychology courses in high school, he became fascinated by physiological psychology and how peoples’ thoughts and attitudes can affect their physical wellbeing. He believes working with the mind and the body is the key to achieving optimal health. He plans to pursue an outside concentration in psychology. He hopes to become a writer or to work in advertising or public relations after graduation. He would like to combine his passions for communications and psychology by writing about mental healthcare and treatments.

Craig Kissoon is a sophomore majoring in journalism at the University of Florida who has blogged for the Independent Florida Alligator. After taking two psychology courses in high school, he became fascinated by physiological psychology and how peoples’ thoughts and attitudes can affect their physical wellbeing. He believes working with the mind and the body is the key to achieving optimal health. With an outside concentration in psychology, he hopes to combine his passions for communications and psychology by writing about mental healthcare and treatments.

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

By Craig Kissoon

Imagine retreating into a moment of pure relaxation where work and classes were nothing more than distant concerns.

With stress levels and responsibilities rising for college students in Gainesville and across the country, experts are recommending mind-body therapies for students suffering from stress-related problems.

A University of  Florida study, recently published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, found that hypnosis and therapy may benefit patients suffering from functional bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

The lead authors of the study Oliver Grundmann, a clinical assistant professor at the UF College of Pharmacy, and Saunjoo Yoon, an associate professor at the UF College of Nursing, reviewed 19 clinical trials to examine the benefits of yoga, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and biofeedback in treating these disorders.

Functional bowel disorders occur when the stomach and bowels are not working properly and include symptoms such as stomach pain and bloating.

Yoon said the results of the study, while promising are not conclusive. More studies are needed to better show the advantages of this kind of therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy where a therapist challenges their patients’ negative thoughts, helps patients feel more positive about their condition while hypnotherapy aims to reduce pain. The results of the study showed hypnotherapy had an immediate effect on abdominal pain while cognitive behavioral therapy was able to lighten mood and change bowel symptoms.

Amanda Lawson-Ross, a counselor at the UF Counseling and Wellness Center, said she was not surprised by the results of the study.

“The whole premise is there is a mind-body connection,” Lawson-Ross said. “Stress can agitate abdominal problems.”

Lawson-Ross said when people are stressed, they enter flight-or-fight mode and blood flows from their abdomen to larger muscles. Their bodies release hormones, and their digestion shuts down, she added.

Keeping calm regulates the body when people are stressed, Lawson-Ross said. She said she has helped people with irritable bowel syndrome reduce migraines, muscle tension and nausea.

“Hypnosis is a great way to alleviate stress,” Lawson-Ross said.

During hypnotherapy, patients listen to practitioners who help them focus inwardly on a calm or positive moment or setting. Lawson-Ross compared hypnosis to meditation in its ability to help people achieve deep relaxation.

“Anxiety is the most common concern,” Lawson-Ross said. “You have great, bright students who want to do well.”

Lawson-Ross said she notices a lot of students come to the CWC during exams and drop/add period. People might be dismissive of mind-body therapies and alternative medicines because they do not pay attention to mind-body connections, often for the sake of convenience.

Anxiety is the most common concern, said Amanda Lawson-Ross who is a therapist at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. She said she sees a lot of students, usually around exams and drop/add period. She listed a few of the services the center offers to UF students. An online anxiety program Biofeedback Individual therapy Group therapy Couples therapy Information about these programs and how to join them are available at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center’s website.

Anxiety is the most common concern, said Amanda Lawson-Ross who is a therapist at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center. She said she sees a lot of students, usually around exams and drop/add period. She listed a few of the services the center offers to UF students.
An online anxiety program
Biofeedback
Individual therapy
Group therapy
Couples therapy
Information about these programs and how to join them are available at the University of Florida Counseling and Wellness Center’s website.

“People want a quick fix,” she said.

Kathryn Broker, a senior geology major at UF, said she would never use hypnosis as a therapy treatment.

“I’m a very scientifically minded person. If I had any type of physical condition, I would rather use Western medicine,” Broker said.

Broker said she was hypnotized before.

“You become eager to please whoever is giving commands,” she said of her experience.

Kyle Burns, a junior international studies major at UF, said he was surprised by the results of the study but felt it made sense.

“I’m too stubborn,” Burns joked when discussing whether or not he would be receptive to hypnotherapy.

Some students said they are open to the idea of mind-body therapy.

“I don’t find [the study’s results] surprising,” said Sara Ladwig, a junior telecommunication major at UF. “If you feel like something can help you, it can.”

Ladwig added she is a perfectionist who tends to get nervous about a bunch of different things. “I do better if I can relax.”

Freshman Amanda Beauchamp said hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy is worth a try.

“I think it’d be interesting to see if it would work for me. I’d look forward to doing it,” she said.

Could dust bring the next pandemic as quickly as birds?

5 Nov
Calli Breil is a master's student in the science and health communications program at the University of Florida, and is planning to graduate  in 2014.  Calli is particularly interested in writing about pathogens.  You can find her at callibreil.com, on LinkedInhttp://www.linkedin.com/in/callibreil and https://twitter.com/CalliBreil.

Calli Breil is a master’s student in the science and health communications program at the University of Florida, and is planning to graduate in 2014.  Calli is particularly interested in writing about pathogens and disease.

By Calli Breil/Contributing blogger 

(blog, Twitter, LinkedIn)

Dust and dirt can travel thousands of miles, across oceans, land and just about anywhere the wind can carry them.  In fact,  50 million metric tons of dust travel from Africa to Florida every August and September.  The common equivalent to 50 million metric tons is 100 empire state buildings!

So, we get a lot of dust from Africa, who cares?

Well, if we aren’t going to worry about the potentially toxic dust, perhaps we should worry about the microorganisms that cling on to dust particles for a free trip.

People have known for many years that microorganisms can travel the world through dust plumes. But, the real question is, “What is the risk?”

Although not equivocally proven, there have been theories that the foot-and-mouth outbreak in England in 2001 could have been caused from these dust plumes.

Why could it have been the dust plumes? 

Well, that year there happened to be an extraordinary amount of dust (that could potentially carry disease) traveling to northern England.

Why couldn’t it just have been a normal outbreak of the disease? 

England hadn’t seen the disease for years.  The outbreak also happened to break out ten days after the dust plumes hit – the exact incubation period for the infection.

If you doubt how troublesome the outbreak was, just know that it cost $1 billion dollars to slaughter the animals that were (or could have been) infected, as well as the massive amounts of revenue lost.

The risk is no laughing matter.

Topsoil across the globe can carry millions of bacteria, hundreds of thousands of fungi, and millions of viruses per gram of soil.

Once this soil is tossed into the air, it is like a salad of potential harm.  After all, about 50 percent of childhood diseases are respiratory (Griffin, 2007).

Some argue (and they would be right) that we don’t actually know if these dust plumes cause disease.

It is highly speculative, because there is no concrete evidence that ties the dust plumes to a disease outbreak – just very strong correlations.  But others have been much more… direct… about their conclusions.

For example, the Guardian reported that dust storms and plumes are “thought to  be responsible for spreading lethal meningitis spores through semi-arid central-arid Africa, where up to 250,000 people, particularly children, contract the disease each year.”

The same article brings up the fair point that scientists are now believing there is a link between dust and influenza, Sars, foot-and-mouth (as I have mentioned above) and other respiratory diseases.

Fortunately, new research is trying to find what other diseases could be transmitted through dust plumes.

For example, Andrew Schuerger’s DART (Dust at Altitude Recovery Technology) has helped find that pathogens responsible for problems in wheat, cacao beans, elm, flower and fruit rots and nail infections diseases are all found in these dust plumes.  In fact, some pathogens that are seen in pulmonary infections are also found in dust.

The real question is, “Do these pathogens get us sick?”

After all, there are tons of pathogens all around us. But not all of them are dangerous.

The point is that these dust plumes could be responsible for many outbreaks that we haven’t discovered the cause of, such as the foot-and-mouth outbreak in England.  And we won’t know until scientists, like Schuerger at the University of Florida, find out what the real risk is to us, our communities and our industries.

References:

Vidal, J. (2009).  Dust storms spread deadly diseases worldwide.  The Guardian.  Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/sep/27/dust-storms-diseases-sydney

Griffin, D.W. (2007).  Atmospheric movement and microorganisms in clouds of desert dust and implications for human health.  Clinical microbiology reviews.  P. 459-477.  Doi: 10.1128/CMR.00039-06

Special thanks to Andrew Schuerger, who works in the plant pathogens department at the University of Florida, for sparing time to talk at the Science Writers Conference 2013. 

Breast cancer vaccines are nothing new

4 Nov
Dorothy Hagmajer is a sophomore studying public relations at the University of Florida. This story confirmed her interest in health sciences and sparked an interest in health reporting. Hagmajer considers herself a novice writer, but expert dog-petter.

Dorothy Hagmajer is a sophomore studying public relations at the University of Florida. This story confirmed her interest in health sciences and sparked an interest in health reporting. Hagmajer considers herself a novice writer, but expert dog-petter.

 

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

 

By Dorothy Hagmajer 

“Am I going to die?”

That was Susan Foster’s first question when her doctor told her she had breast cancer.

Thirty-nine radiation treatments and nine chemotherapy treatments later, Foster had her answer.

In 2013, an estimated 232,000 American women are asking themselves that same question, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, surpassed only by lung cancer.

It’s facts like these that have spurred the search for a breast cancer vaccine.

Recently, a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio set 2015 as a tentative year for the beginning of clinical trials on a vaccine they developed, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

The vaccine is intended to create an immune response triggered by certain proteins expressed only in breast tumors – specifically, alpha-lactalbumin, according to research published in 2010 in Nature Medicine.

The protein is typically expressed during late pregnancy and lactation, and appears in high amounts in the majority of breast cancer tumors.

Following a series of trials with mice that were genetically predisposed to grow mouse breast tumors, the vaccine appears to be ready for its first steps to becoming a reality.

Sort of. Continue reading

Warning: One all-nighter can throw off circadian rhythms

30 Oct
Kayla Hunt is junior at the University of Florida majoring in Public Relations. Wanting to experiment writing on science and health and environmental topics, she decided Layman's Terms Media would be the perfect outlet. In her free time, she keeps  an informal blog titled Bloggish Gibberish that chronicles her life experiences as a college student.

Kayla Hunt is junior at the University of Florida majoring in Public Relations. Wanting to experiment writing on science and health and environmental topics, she decided Layman’s Terms Media would be the perfect outlet. In her free time, she keeps an informal blog titled Bloggish Gibberish that chronicles her life experiences as a college student.

 

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

UF physician gives tips on how to reverse insomnia

By Kayla Hunt

With the pressure of balancing academics, a social life and health, many students find it hard to make time to sleep. Experts warn that one all-nighter can throw off one’s sleep cycle, which can result in insomnia.

Dr. Mary Wagner, a physician at the University of Florida’s Sleep Center, said circadian rhythms – which serve as the internal clock that tells us when to wake up and when to fall asleep – are to blame for this.

There is a way to move circadian rhythms to a time where it agrees with a person’s daily schedule, but it takes a couple of weeks depending on the amount of change in one’s schedule, Wagner said.

“When you try to change your sleep schedule, it could be done by going to sleep and waking up roughly 15 minutes before your usual time,” Wagner said.

When accustomed to the original 15-minute change, add another 15 minutes and repeat until the desired time is achieved, Wagner said.

She also said no weekend exceptions should be given because your body will naturally want to stick to the later time again.

Circadian rhythms are a biological process that occurs in roughly 24-hour intervals, but our bodies naturally push these rhythms back over time.

“This makes it easier to push bed time later rather than sooner,” Wagner said.

Insomnia, which results from your daily schedule disagreeing with your rhythms, is the most common sleep complaint among Americans, according to the International Sleep Foundation.

“When insomnia goes untreated, it causes the person to have an increased risk of obesity, depression and ADHD – attention deficit hyperactivity disorder,” Wagner said.

Wagner said the reason people find it so easy to stay awake for a long time is because of how accessible distractions are made.

“The top causes for difficulty sleeping are artificial light exposure, social interactions and eating,” Wagner said, “but the internet and worrying are also major culprits.” Continue reading

Fossil fortune tellers: UF researcher uses fossil record to predict crustacean decline

28 Oct
Victoria Messina is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Florida. Though she typically enjoys writing about fashion and events happening around the UF campus, she decided to try something new by writing a science-based article for Layman’s Terms Media. “I decided to take the plunge into this science world that’s so foreign to me just to change things up a bit. It was really interesting and fun to talk to my sources and hear how passionate they are about this interesting and crucial subject.”

Victoria Messina is a sophomore journalism student at the University of Florida. Though she typically enjoys writing about fashion and events happening around the UF campus, she decided to try something new by writing a science-based article for Layman’s Terms Media. “I decided to take the plunge into this science world that’s so foreign to me just to change things up a bit. It was really interesting and fun to talk to my sources and hear how passionate they are about this interesting and crucial subject.”

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of contributing bloggers beginning their careers as journalists/public relations professionals at the University of Florida. Please see my earlier post about getting journalists excited about science writing early on.

 By Victoria Messina

By studying fossils from the Mesozoic Era,  a period 251-66 million years ago when reptiles shared the land with dinosaurs, researchers at the University of Florida now have a better understanding of the relationship between coral reefs and crustacean diversity.

The study showed that as coral reefs increased over the course of history, so did the biodiversity of decapod crustaceans such as lobsters, shrimp and crabs. But during a historical decline of reefs 150 million years ago, the biodiversity of crustaceans plummeted due to their  reliance on reefs for shelter and food.

Adiël Klompmaker, postdoctoral fellow at the Florida Museum of Natural History at UF and lead author of the study, said this is the first comprehensive investigation of the rise of decapods in the fossil record.

Postdoctoral researcher Adiel Klompmaker is lead author of a new study suggesting a direct correlation between the abundance of coral reefs and the diversity of many crustaceans. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

Postdoctoral researcher Adiel Klompmaker is lead author of a new study suggesting a direct correlation between the abundance of coral reefs and the diversity of many crustaceans.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

Klompmaker said data showing the correlation between coral reefs and crustacean biodiversity had been previously lacking from the fossil record perspective.

His study, now available online and published  in November’s print issue of Geology, is also the first to quantitatively show that decapod diversity increased from four to over 1,300 species between the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras in a time period referred to as the “Mesozoic Decapod Revolution.”

Klompmaker said this historical study gives scientists a clue as to what’s in store for the future of crustaceans.

“If reefs continue to decline at the current rate during this century, then a few thousand species of decapods are in real danger,” Klompmaker said.

Some scientists have predicted that nearly 20 percent of the world’s reefs may collapse within 40 years. Though complete extinction of all decapods is not likely, Klompmaker said adaptation to coral reef collapse would be very difficult for crustaceans that live in reefs and depend on them for food. The overall decline in coral reefs and decapod diversity poses major impacts, such as less availability of crustaceans like shrimp and crabs that are a major food and money source for many.

A small squat lobsters from the Late Jurassic of the Czech Republic. Photo by Adiël Klompmaker, University of Florida

A small squat lobsters from the Late Jurassic of the Czech Republic. Photo by Adiël Klompmaker, University of Florida

To most experts in the field, Klompmaker’s findings did not come as a surprise.

“After diving in reefs all around the Caribbean over the past 20 years, I have experienced their decline firsthand,” said Donald Behringer, assistant professor of Marine Ecological Processes and Field Ecology of Aquatic Organisms at UF.

Most research shows that the recent decline of reefs is due to both natural and human-induced causes.

Although storms and diseases have played a natural role in the deterioration, humans play a much larger role. One major human-influenced impact is ocean acidification, or the decrease in the pH of oceans due to excess carbon dioxide emissions. As the water becomes more acidic, the calcium carbonate base of the corals starts to corrode.

Andrew Zimmerman, associate professor of oceanography and geobiology at UF, said fossil fuel pollution is the root of all the human-influenced impact.

Klompmaker examines fossils of ancient crustaceans at the Florida Museum that may hold answers about the future of modern species. Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

Klompmaker examines fossils of ancient crustaceans at the Florida Museum that may hold answers about the future of modern species.
Florida Museum of Natural History photo by Jeff Gage

“There’s much concern about major loss of species due to global warming on land, but the risk of mass extinction in ocean life is far greater due to combined effects of ocean acidification and global warming,” Zimmerman said.

Slowing the pace of climate change by reducing the release of greenhouse gases is the single most important change that needs to occur, though the positive effects of this change would not be evident for a long time, Behringer said.

However, there are more immediate steps that can be taken to lessen the brunt of direct human impacts on reefs. People who go boating, diving or fishing can take steps to make sure they are treating reefs in a sustainable manner, Behringer said.

For example, overfishing and coral injuries from boat anchors are two problems that can be easily fixed with proper management. Stricter fishing limits and enforcement are needed to ensure that certain areas don’t get overfished, Behringer said.  He also said simply implementing objects like buoys to protect reefs and alter human use patterns can possibly help reduce anchor impact. Behringer is currently working on a study to figure out the best way to tackle the boat anchor problem.

Some students around the UF campus are starting to realize the economic impact of at-risk reefs.

“So many people can be negatively affected by the decline of reefs, whether it’s someone whose job revolves around reefs or just a tourist who wants to enjoy the coral reefs,” said Evan Hill, UF sophomore studying marine sciences.

A quarry with Late Jurassic rocks representing a fossil coral reef in which many crustaceans were found in the Czech Republic. Photo by: Adiël Klompmaker, University of Florida

A quarry with Late Jurassic rocks representing a fossil coral reef in which many crustaceans were found in the Czech Republic. Photo by: Adiël Klompmaker, University of Florida

Klompmaker’s research showing the indisputable correlation between coral reefs and decapod presence has shown how reef deterioration negatively impacts the future seafood supply and the need for direct action. After all, history repeats itself.

“Everyone needs to be aware of it because everyone’s responsible for it,” Zimmerman said.