August 1, 2014

Business & technology: Making advances in Florida

Advances are being made in the fields of business, engineering, computer science, agriculture, physical education, astronomy, history, psychology, politics, marine science and music.

Amy Keller | 6/1/2012

BUSINESS

» Socialized
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A study of 200 online shoppers indicates that Facebook-like buttons, the Twitter symbol or other social media icons on a website influence buyers’ decisions. The study by the University of Miami School of Business Administration, Empirica Research and StyleCaster Media Group found that consumers were 25% more likely to buy status-reinforcing goods like sportswear or a fragrance if the icons were present. With products viewed as more intimate — Spanx or Clearasil, for example — consumers were 25% less likely to buy with icons on the site. Other research by UM’s business school:

Sale
Retailers can make more money by bumping up sale prices gradually.
» Sticker Shock
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Retailers can substantially increase sales and profits if they raise the price of a sale item back to its original cost gradually rather than in one move.

» Color Barriers
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Investors think firms with colorful annual reports have revenue at least 1% higher than those that put out drab reports.

» Short Leash
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CEOs with fewer than five years on the job are five to six times more likely to be fired for poor performance than longer-tenured CEOs. Additionally, each negative quarterly report increases the likelihood of being fired by 34% to 43% for shorter-tenured CEOs but by only 4% to 11% for CEOs who’ve been around longer.

Engineering

Daniel Yeh
USF professor Daniel Yeh is working on a system to harvest nutrients, energy and water from human waste.

» Poop Power
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Daniel Yeh, an associate professor of engineering at the University of South Florida, received $100,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of a generator that harvests nutrients, energy and water from human waste using microorganisms and filters to turn sewage into products like carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and water suitable for crop irrigation or other household uses, such as in cooling systems or for flushing toilets. The process also creates methane gas, which can be captured and used as a clean-energy source.

» Solar Roll
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Solar Cell
Prototype rolled solar cell
A University of Florida team of researchers including chemistry professor John Reynolds and Franky So, a professor in the department of materials science and engineering, has developed a prototype solar cell that could be manufactured using a roll-to-roll process, much like printing a newspaper. In theory, the photovoltaic sheets could be incorporated into the exteriors of buildings, automobiles and even personal accessories such as clothing and purses.

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