Read expert insights from leading UFL faculty and researchers on a wide variety of topics and current events.
Predicting the post-pandemic desires for the Latin music industry
Coachella, identified as a mega-festival universe, decided on a diverse 2023 roster with artists like Becky G, Kali Uchis, and Rosalía. Bad Bunny, last year’s most-streamed global artist, made history as the festival’s first Spanish-language headliner. It also marked the first year since Coachella’s founding in 1999 that none of the headliners were white. José Valentino Ruiz-Resto, an assistant professor in the School of Music at the University of Florida, co-authored a paper for the Journal of Arts Entrepreneurship Education, which focused on how the music industry would evolutionarily change after the pandemic and ultimately predicted the 2023 Coachella trend. “The rise of Latin artists/headliners at festivals like Coachella is really a reflection of what has been happening in the music industry for the past two decades,” said José Valentino Ruiz-Resto who is also the program coordinator of Music Business & Entrepreneurship at UF. Ruiz-Resto’s research showed that the post-Covid era music industry would encourage more people to stay home and listen to music digitally, but the traditional Latin music experience is an outlier to this. The world-renowned multi-instrumentalist explains, "In order for concerts and festivals to maintain success, they needed to branch out to other markets to bring in those people who were still very much passionate about experiencing music in a live context.” Although this shift was initiated by the pandemic, it has been patiently anticipated by Ruiz-Resto for over 23 years, starting with the founding of the Latin Grammys in 2000. “Because the amount of production within the Latin recording academy is almost equivocal to that of all of the other genres in the American market combined. Latin music is the No. 1 meta genre in the music industry in terms of sales and fan support,” Ruiz-Resto, now a four-time Latin Grammy Award winner, said. Ruiz-Resto's data predicted the need for a stronger focus on the Latin music enthusiasts who still actively go to concerts like Coachella, “In order for Coachella to ultimately succeed in the post-Covid era and attract people, they needed to bring in artists like Bad Bunny.” This historic Coachella moment followed an announcement from the Recording Industry Association of America, stating that Latin music revenues in the United States were at an all-time high, exceeding over $1 billion in 2022. All of this was no surprise to Ruiz-Resto, who observes, researches and directly participates in the Latin music industry. “Now bigger shows are catching up to what has been the largest-selling music market for years. It’s a testament to how positively Latin American cultures are inspiring listeners across the U.S.” By Halle Burton
July 06, 2023
The World Cup proved to be big for sports and Qatar's business future
The 2022 FIFA World Cup was one of the world’s most-watched sporting events, but it also provided an opportunity for exponential growth for business development in the Middle East. Qatar was selected as the first country from the Middle East to host the worldwide tournament over 12 years ago, allowing plenty of time to prepare for the competition and create everlasting business relationships. Kyriaki Kaplanidou, a UF professor and researcher, published a study in 2016 for the Journal of Business Research, working alongside her fellow colleagues. The study followed the industrial progress made in Qatar after its 2010 selection and demonstrated how their networking efforts improved the Persian Gulf region business infrastructure. “The country has invested a great deal of time and money to expand its physical and human resources. They’ve had to understand how business is done in other countries, learn innovative construction techniques and develop their human capital in areas of knowledge, skill and awareness of other cultures and business practices,” Kaplanidou said. Kaplanidou and her team interviewed 24 Qatar sports organizations stakeholders, both indirectly and directly involved with the 2022 World Cup. Her research found that almost all the interviewees highlighted Qatar’s characteristics that either impede or improve their current development status. The most highlighted criteria pertained to labor cases pertaining to hazardous working conditions and displayed racial discrimination, as the United Nations put Qatar on blast for their treatment of infrastructure workers. The government decided to implement changes and with the introduction of new, stricter labor laws, Qatar is now considered one of the most worker-friendly places in the Gulf Region. Despite all the controversy surrounding the FIFA World Cup host country, fans were still excited to cheer on their team of choice, and the tournament provided Middle East countries with something to be proud of. “It will be interesting to see if the country can reposition itself in the business world and establish its presence in other industries now that it has gained new experience and knowledge through the process of preparing for this mega event,” Kaplanidou said. By Halle Burton
July 05, 2023
Smartphones push consumers to prefer a customizable purchasing experience
In a world where purchasing is only a click away, studies have shown that smartphones complicate the most preferred items. Aner Sela, a professor in UF’s Warrington College of Business conducted a new study that discovered consumers who are captivated by their phones gravitate towards specialized, custom products. Compared to large computers or borrowing someone’s phone, an individual’s phone sparks privatized feelings that allow stronger self-expression and strengthens our unconscious preference for a customized consumer journey. Working alongside Camilla Song, an assistant professor at City University of Hong Kong, Sela published their findings in the Journal of Marketing Research in early August. “When you use your phone, your authentic self is being expressed to a greater extent. That affects the options you seek and the attitudes you express,” said Sela, one of the authors of the study. The researchers suspected that smartphones encourage people to reflect on their inner identity, calling on the psychological state of private self-focus that affects all kinds of behaviors. “People with high levels of private self-focus tend to be more independent in the attitudes that they express. They conform less,” the UF professor said. “When they make choices, they tend to choose based on privately or deeply held beliefs, preferences or tastes, and they’re less influenced by social contexts.” Sela and Song chose to test if smartphones have the capability to promote enough private self-focus that it changes behavioral patterns, so they performed five experiments with undergraduates and online respondents. The study found that smartphone users were more likely to choose unique, tailored products rather than large ones than if the user hopped on a large computer. These results vanished if the user was given another phone from the same brand, suggesting that companies should alter their consumer suggestions based on the device they are using. The professor and her former doctoral student found the self-expression mindset likely to cause behavioral changes can be activated by the use of a smartphone. “With a borrowed phone, it doesn’t feel like you’re in your own little bubble. What we find is the use of smartphones and its activation of private self-focus is really unique to a personal device,” Sela said. By Halle Burton
July 05, 2023
Why shoppers are paying more for a fake Amazon discount
By Halle Burton According to new research by Jinhong Xie, a Warrington College of Business professor at the University of Florida, more than a quarter of Amazon vacuum cleaners sold have increased their prices while pretending to offer discounts. Xie’s pricing phenomenon research is joined with Sungsik Park at the University of South Carolina and Man Xie at Arizona State University, publishing their analysis in the Marketing Science journal. A product’s price increase is paired with a previously unadvertised listing price, which encourages Amazon shoppers to receive a deceitful false discount. This faux discount drove higher sales despite the price increase, and shoppers end up paying 23% more on average. “When you see this list-price comparison, you naturally assume you are getting a discount. It’s not just that you didn’t get a discount. You actually paid a higher price than before the seller displayed the discount claim,” said Xie. Regulations currently prohibit deceptive pricing by requiring truthful price comparisons from the sellers, but a list price can still be misleading under these circumstances. Shoppers are misled by the timing of price comparisons where retailers advertise a price discount that actually only gives the impression of a deal. “Current regulations are all about the value of the list price, and they don’t say anything about misleading consumers by manipulating the timing of the list price’s introduction,” Xie said. Xie and her colleagues followed more than 1,700 vacuums on Amazon from 2016 to 2017 gathering observational data on their prices. “We found that by increasing the price by 23% on average, the seller achieves a 15% advantage in their sales rank among all products in the home and kitchen category,” Xie said. Xie encourages consumers to be aware, not make assumptions about discount claims and utilize multiple websites to compare prices. “We think that consumer organizations and regulators should evaluate this new marketing practice to determine whether and how to manage it.”
May 09, 2023
UF researcher proves underrepresented groups experience more workplace bias
By Halle Burton George Cunningham, a UF professor and researcher, conducted a study on workplace bias, finding managers are more likely to display an implicit bias towards minorities and underrepresented groups. Cunningham is chair of the UF Department of Sport Management, and his study was published in Frontiers in Psychology in November 2022. Working with his co-author, Cunningham analyzed self-identified managers and people in 22 other occupational designations to compare their implicit and explicit biases towards race, gender, disability and sexual orientation. “Once we saw that race, gender, disability and sexual orientation-based forms of mistreatment are all prevalent in the U.S. workforce, we determined this warranted examination of managers’ biases in these areas,” Cunningham said. The researchers found that managers held a moderate preference for majority groups. Additionally, the study shows these managers also expressed more bias than jobs working to better societal standards and environmental issues like educators and social scientists. Cunningham’s original question asked if managers convey biases that vary from other occupational codes and if this impacts the claims employees make. Not only did his study answer this with a resounding yes, but it further divides the focus of the bias on sectors of implicit and explicit attitudes. Cunningham said their study also showed a disconnect between managers’ explicit and implicit biases, especially with disabilities. Their responses indicated they explicitly didn’t believe they held biases against disabilities, but their implicit bias regarding disabled groups was the highest of all. “The more we’re aware of it, the more likely we are to take steps to help lessen the impact,” he said. “The bigger issue, though, is to change the way our society operates.”
May 09, 2023
UF astrobiologist partakes in her second NASA mission to Mars
By Halle Burton NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover mission is no easy task, yet its distinguished team has discovered signs of organic molecules, containing chemicals known for making life possible on Earth. One of these long-term planners is University of Florida astrobiologist, Amy Williams. “Organics make up life as we know it,” Williams said. “Seeing organic carbon on Mars sets us up to understand if the building blocks for life were present on the planet in the past through the lens of how life evolved on Earth.” Williams and the Perseverance team were published in November’s Science magazine for their organic molecules analysis, after finding numerous organic carbons on the Jerezo crater floor. Through NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Perseverance is studying the crater with collected rock samples planned to be sent to Earth during the Mars Sample Return mission. Upon further research and testing on Earth, these rocks could determine compelling evidence of past life on Mars. Several of the rock samples indicate altercations by water, making scientists propose that a water-infused Mars could have supported ancient life. The Jerezo crater itself serves as an intriguing site to study past life on the terrestrial planet. The creation of the crater implies Mars contained a primitive river streaming into a lake billions of years ago. Now, Williams is no stranger to working with the detection of organic molecules on Mars. In 2015, she worked with the Curiosity rover which also found organic carbon on the inner planet. With her work diversified on the Perseverance team, evidence is closer than ever to proving the omnipresence of organic carbon on Mars. “Seeing a consistent story is always reassuring as a scientist,” Williams said.
April 24, 2023
Sharing photos of your kids online? Here's what you should consider.
By Emma Richards Today’s parents are the first to raise children alongside social media and in this era of likes, comments and shares, they must also decide when to post images of their children online and when to hold off to protect their privacy. The practice of “sharenting” – parents posting images of their children on social media platforms — has drawn attention to the intersection between the rights of parents and the rights of their children in the online world. Stacey Steinberg, a professor in UF’s Levin College of Law, author and mother of three, says parents need to weigh the right to post their child’s milestones and accomplishments online against the right of a child to dictate their own digital footprint and maintain their privacy. Steinberg, like many parents, avidly posted photographs of her children online to document their childhoods. When she left her job as a child welfare attorney to become a professor, Steinberg also began writing about her motherhood experiences. She also began rethinking posting about her children online, realizing that it could be doing more harm than good. And yet, there was little guidance for parents on to consider when posting images and how to do so with their children’s safety in mind. Among the problematic issues: Machine learning and artificial intelligence allow for the collection of information about people from online posts but there is little control over or understanding of how that stored information is being used or how it will future impact on the next generation. According to Steinberg, a Barclays study found that by the year 2030, nearly two-thirds of all identity theft cases will be related to sharenting. There are also concerns pedophiles may collect and save photographs of children shared online. For example, one article she reviewed reported that 50% of pedophile image-sharing sites had originated on family blogs and on social media. Steinberg says parents should model appropriate social media behavior for their children, such as asking permission before taking and posting an image and staying present in the moment rather than living life through a lens or being fixated with what’s online. “I think it’s a danger that we’re not staying in the moment, that we’re escaping to our newsfeed or that we’re constantly posting and seeing who’s liked our images and liked what we’ve said instead of focusing on real connections with the people in front of us,” Steinberg said in an episode of the From Florida Podcast. While parents serve as the primary gatekeepers for children’s access to the online world, tech companies and policymakers also have roles to play in setting parameters and adopting law that protect children’s safety. Numerous European countries have already moved in this direction with such concepts as the “right to be forgotten,” which allows people to get information that is no longer relevant or is inaccurate removed to protect their name or reputation on platforms such as Google. “The United States really would have a hard time creating a right to be forgotten because we have really strong free speech protections and we really value parental autonomy Steinberg said. Google has, however, created a form that allows older kids to request that old photographs and content about them be removed from the internet, which Steinberg says is a promising step. Steinberg would love to see other mechanisms adopted to minimize the amount of data that is collected about children and ensure artificial intelligence is used responsibly and ethically when collecting online data. In the meantime, parents can proactively make online privacy issues a topic of discussion with their children and take proactive steps to limit their digital footprints, such as deleting old childhood photos. “One thing that I really want to encourage families to do is not to fear the technology, but to try to learn about it,” Steinberg said.
August 31, 2022
The University of Florida aims to bring a scientist to every Florida school
By Emma Richards It was the encouraging support of his 10th grade earth science teacher that led Bruce MacFadden to pursue his dream of becoming a scientist. Now an accomplished paleontologist, MacFadden is paying it forward as director of the UF Thompson Earth Systems Institute and its “Scientist in Every Florida School” program. The program connects more than 700 scientists to K-12 classrooms in 42 counties throughout the state, providing students and teachers alike with up-to-date science lessons that both inform and, hopefully, inspire future scientists. Teachers use the program’s online application portal to request a visit by a scientist to teach a specific concept. Teachers are then matched with a scientist with that expertise, who delivers the requested lesson in person or virtually. Participating scientists are vetted to ensure they can communicate clearly with audiences of varying education levels. The program benefits students, teachers and scientists, MacFadden said. Students get to see the amazing things scientists do. Teachers receive timely knowledge and professional development. And scientists get to give back to society and gain confidence in their ability to share research, even with the youngest students. “We want to let young people know that if they want to be a scientist and apply themselves, they can also be a scientist,” MacFadden said. “It’s a synergy between the scientists and the teacher,” he said in an interview on the From Florida podcast. “We do not have prescribed, off-the-shelf lesson plans, but instead we typically talk with the teacher and say, ‘What would you like to do?’” It is the only program that currently works throughout the state to deliver high-quality STEM instruction to teachers and students, particularly in public Title 1 schools. “We want to make sure that there’s a level playing field with the understanding and teaching about STEM in a larger context,” he said. “But for me, it’s more about earth system science so that all teachers and students can benefit from what we know about current research in this field.” Outreach conducted through the Thompson Earth Systems Institute focuses on those systems — the interaction of air, water, land and life, and human impacts. Another important aspect of the “Scientist in Every Florida School” program is showcasing what a 21-st century career in science can look like for people from a variety of different backgrounds and interests. MacFadden said graduate students serve as role models in their visits to schools. “We want to let young people know that if they want to be a scientist and apply themselves, they can also be a scientist,” MacFadden said. The program aims to get a scientist into every public school in Florida at least once. With more than 4,000 public schools in the state, the scientists have a lot of stops to make — though virtual visits have helped them reach distantly located schools. MacFadden said once the team accomplishes that feat, they’ll focus on expanding outreach to other states. “Right now, I’m totally focused on making a difference in Florida’s public education,” he said. To learn more about the Scientist in Every Florida School program, listen to the full episode on From Florida at this link. Listen to other episodes of the From Florida podcast here. To learn more about the Thompson Earth Systems Institute, visit this link.
July 18, 2022
There's a lot more to bats than their spooky reputation
By Emma Richards More than 50,000 students call the University of Florida home, and while that is a lot of Gators, the campus is home to even more bats. Hundreds of thousands of the misunderstood mammals live across from Lake Alice, where they dwell in the world’s largest occupied bat houses. The colony of bats was initially discovered at the UF track and tennis stadiums in 1991. In the spots where fans were cheering, bats were roosting – causing a mess and a notable stench. That same year, the UF Athletics Association built a house to rehome the bats from the stadiums. But the night after they were transported to their new home, all the bats left, and did not return for three years. Now, the houses are primarily occupied by around 400,000 to 500,000 Brazilian free-tailed bats that remain at UF year-round and do not hibernate or migrate. “They do all these great things for us and then we turn around and we're scared of them,” Mathis said. Verity Mathis, the mammal collections manager at the Florida Museum of Natural History says bats are the only mammals that can fly, and the Brazilian free-tailed species found at UF are tremendous at it. “They’ve actually been documented to go as fast as 100 miles an hour in like short bursts, which is just amazing to think about,” she said in an episode of the From Florida podcast. “This one species is just capable of so much.” Along with their fast flight, Brazilian free-tailed bats can go as high as 9,000 to 10,000 feet in the air and venture over 30 miles a night forging for insects like mosquitos, moths, beetles and flies. Despite being associated with blood-sucking vampires in popular culture, only three out of 1,400 bat species drink blood and they aren’t located in North America. Bats do not want to attack humans; in fact, they avoid people using their vision and echolocation skills. Bats can live for many decades and are more closely related to humans than they are to rodents. They also provide critical environmental services such as pest control, fertilization and pollination. Mathis says bats are misunderstood. “They do all these great things for us and then we turn around and we're scared of them,” she said. “We want to be respectful of them and of their lifestyle and we don't want to encroach upon them and bother them.” Mathis says if people do encounter an injured bat, they should not touch it with their bare hands because bats can carry rabies. It is best to put on thick gloves, place the bat into a container and call a local wildlife rehabilitation center. There are 13 bat species in Florida, and two of them are endangered. The Florida Wildlife Commission is actively monitoring those populations. In Alachua County, people and businesses, including Swamp House Brewery and Lubee Bat Conservancy, have bat houses on their properties. Mathis advises those interested in putting a bat house in their yard to do research to ensure that the right kind of house is purchased and that it is placed in the proper location to align with Florida’s specific requirements, which can be found here on the UF/IFAS website. For Mathis, these are all steps toward accepting a widely misunderstood mammal. “I think as long as we continue these conversations about telling people how cool bats are then maybe eventually pop culture will catch up to that,” she said. To hear more about bats, listen to the episode on From Florida at this link. Listen to other episodes in the From Florida podcast here. Watch a recent video featuring Verity Mathis here: https://youtu.be/vbFZfVwGwYE
June 14, 2022