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September 20, 2018

Research Florida

Research across Florida 2017

Mike Vogel | 9/11/2017

Florida Museum
Fossil Find

Earlier this year, Florida Museum of Natural History paleontologists and community volunteers raced to empty a Levy County site southwest of Gainesville of fossil bones. The 5-million-year-old bone site was uncovered in 2015 on private property by workers digging up clay for roadwork. It proved quite a site, with complete skeletons in some cases. The landowner was willing to give paleontologists until the spring 2017 to collect what they could before putting it into agricultural use. Bones from 55 different vertebrate species were found, including rodents and river-dwelling creatures like alligators, and turtles but also extinct rhinos, llamas, horses and an elephant-like creature called a gomphothere. “No other fossil site of this age in the southeastern United States produces such a rich abundance of freshwater vertebrates,” said Florida Museum curator of vertebrate paleontology Jonathan Bloch.


Knowledge in the Ruins

University of Central Florida archaeologist Scott Branting’s summer took him to central Turkey to research a short-lived Iron Age city that’s the subject of the long-running UCF-based Kerkenes Project to uncover its secrets. The city lasted about 60 years until the mid-500s BC, when it was burned and abandoned during a war between the Persian and Lydian empires. The Kerkenes Project, under Branting’s direction, brings together an international scientific team to excavate and use new technology to study the city. This year, the project won a new National Science Foundation grant to study the city’s social organization. The grant says the analysis could help modern cities plan better for change.


Mayo & Sanford Burnham
Parkinson’s Progress

Working with a grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation, scientists from the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville and Sanford Burnham Prebys in Orlando spent two years searching through 800,000 chemical compounds for substances that might stop or reverse the accumulation of proteins in the brain that causes Parkinson’s. They found eight that were promising. Now, with further support from the foundation, Mayo’s Pamela McLean and Sanford Burnham’s Layton Smith will work to understand how the molecules affect the protein buildup and how to improve them to safely combat the disease. Animal trials will follow the initial research.


In the Red

Avoid this story at your peril.

The field of color psychology teaches that people associate red with danger. University of Miami finance professor Henrik Cronqvist and colleagues set out to study how color affects people’s investing choices. The takeaway: Avoid red in your presentations — unless you’re in China — if you want people to buy. If you want to scuttle an investment, present it in red.

Cronqvist found investors grew pessimistic when presented data in red. When shown a stock decline in red ink, investors predicted more declines and invested nearly 24% less in the stock. They were less likely to invest when potential losses were shown in red.

In China, where red is associated with good luck, the national flag, the Communist Party and important festivals, rather than as in the U.S. where we have red ink, red alerts and red herrings, investing behavior didn’t change based on color.

Cronqvist’s conclusion: “It would be smart for IR (investor relations) professionals to steer clear of red in their next financial reports, for instance, and instead use only black for negative numbers. It is a small change that could make a big impact.”

Tags: Research & Development, Technology/Innovation, Research Florida

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