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This one goes on the resume

University of Central Florida students enrolled in the Comets, Asteroids and Meteorites class this semester will get a chance to observe a historic NASA mission, gaining an inside look at what it takes conduct research in space. In NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission, a probe will attempt to collect a sample from the asteroid Bennu. Students will hear about the mission in real time, analyze data collected by the spacecraft, discuss peer-reviewed papers and go on a virtual tour of mission control, which is not open to the public. “Because I can teach remotely [during the pandemic], it provided me a golden opportunity for my students to live a NASA mission with me,” said UCF physics professor Humberto Campins. Betsy Foresman has more.

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U. Arizona tracked COVID-19 with wastewater

Administrators at the University of Arizona last week announced that they successfully identified and isolated students who were infected with COVID-19 but not exhibiting symptoms by testing the wastewater of residence halls. University leaders said their ability to detect the virus prevented a potential outbreak on campus and that this episode lends credibility to the technique, which is not widely used. Researchers at the university have been collecting wastewater samples from sewer lines of university residence halls regularly since students returned to campus earlier this month. “We think this is going to be a very valuable tool to help us get out in front [of outbreaks],” UA President Robert Robbins said in a weekly briefing. Betsy has the details.

Ohio lends blind students a hand

In case you missed it: Ohio State University announced a new service last week to assist blind and low-vision students navigate campus more easily by connecting them with remotely located assistants who can read signs and describe visual surroundings. “Using the camera of your smartphone, the agent can read to you any signage that you’re going to encounter and, in these days of COVID-19, signage on campus is going to become pretty important. It’s a big deal,” said Nolan Crabb, a university ADA director. The technology follows similar initiatives at other universities, such as an app for blind students attending Butler University and new accessibility updates to websites and the learning management system used by students at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania. Read the full story.

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