UCF research stories were everywhere in 2021 from Smithsonian magazine to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.

The most popular research stories of 2021 focused on threats to our survival and opportunities to advance our species — from the impact of sea rise to technology that promises to propel our exploration of the solar system. Stories about COVID-19 and workplace behavior also made the top 10.

UCF shares its stories to demonstrate the impact UCF research is having on the world. The stories showcase faculty and students who are making a difference. In 2021, UCF research stories had a combined, total potential reach of more than 8.2 billion possible views worldwide via newspapers, magazines, news websites and select television news placements. The number does not include all TV placements nor a total number for December. The number is based on the number of visitors to a media outlet from both desktop and mobile devices who could have seen the stories from that source. That’s compared to a combined, total reach of more than 7.3 billion potential views in 2020.

The top 10 list is based on the number of media placements and the reach they earned. The number of views the stories received on UCF Today is also considered. The stories were generated from UCF’s Office of Research and colleges.

UCF research appeared in places such as the New York Times, the Smithsonian magazine, Discover magazine, CBS This Morning and CNN. The Daily Mail in the UK is among a group of international publications that shared UCF research content. All local newspapers and television stations shared at least one research story in 2021. Consistently sharing stories on certain topics also help media identify some of UCF’s faculty and students as experts, whom they call upon time after time. Some of our space experts are now featured regularly on WMFE and several television stations, and they provide commentary for almost every space launch. One of UCF’s advances in artificial intelligence was even the subject of Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon’s monologue in May.

The top 10 research stories of 2021 are:

  1. Flying at Speeds up to Mach 17 Could Become Reality with UCF’s Developing Propulsion System
  2. UCF Study Shows Masks, Ventilation Stop COVID Spread Better than Social Distancing
  3. UCF Team Develops Artificial Intelligence that can Detect Sarcasm in Social Media
  4. Virgin Orbit Launches Rocket off a 747, puts 9 Satellites in Space
  5. Coastal Changes Worsen Nuisance Flooding on Many U.S. Shorelines, Study Finds
  6. Clues Emerge: How Harmless Bacteria Go Rogue Turning into Deadly Flesh-eating Variants
  7. UCF Scientist’s Unique Camera Will Investigate the Moon’s South Pole
  8. Legendary Sargasso Sea May be ‘Sea Turtles’ Destination during Mysterious ‘Lost Years’
  9. Rude Behavior at Work Not an Epidemic UCF Study Shows
  10. New UCF Study Examines Leeches for Role in Major Disease of Sea Turtles in Florida

Some research is so impactful that the stories keep getting attention even years later. UCF had three stories published before 2021 that generated significant online and/or placements in media this year. They are:

ADHD Kids Can Be Still – If They’re Not Straining Their Brains (2017)

UCF Researchers Develop Groundbreaking New Rocket-Propulsion System (2020)

Study Shows Keeping Gratitude Journal Reduces Gossip, Incivility in Workplace (2020)