Eureka!: beaker briefs

Research highlights from the desk, lab and field

Powerful Portabellos

Good news for diabetics and those trying to lose weight: A preliminary study discovered that mushrooms can aid in regulating glucose levels, reducing rebound hypoglycemia and lowering rapid insulin decreases. The effects are especially pronounced in women. Magic mushrooms, indeed.

Who’s Leading It: Nutrition researcher Peter Horvath

Banking on Social

When it comes to fundraising, the number of Facebook friends a charity has matters more than its size or efficiency. Researchers found that donors on social media and crowdfunding sites are often swayed by the social network effect. In other words, if their friends like it, so do they.

Who’s Leading It: Communications researcher Gregory Saxton

The Wi-Fi Express

Unused radio waves are the key to making wireless 10 times faster. The explosion of smartphones, tablets and other gizmos has created an Internet traffic jam. However, cognitive radio could undo the gridlock. The system would identify untapped radio channels and maximize the transfer of information while minimizing cross-interference.

Who’s Leading It: Electrical engineering researcher Dimitrios Pados

Timing Disasters

It once took researchers days to predict satellite collisions and natural disasters. It now takes minutes, thanks to Conjugate Unscented Transform (CUT), a method conceived by a student while, ironically, completing a time-consuming homework assignment. CUT maintains the accuracy of conventional methods, but uses structured points to save time.

Who’s Leading It: Engineering doctoral candidate Nagavenkat Adurthi, together with his adviser, aerospace and mechanical engineering researcher Puneet Singla