Eureka!: beaker briefs

Research highlights from the desk, lab and field

polar bear

Polar Bear Genomics

Scientists who sequenced the polar bear genome are combing it for clues as to how the animal survives those harsh Arctic winters. One early discovery: The bears have genetic adaptations related to the production of nitric oxide, which could affect how much heat the body produces.

Who’s Leading It: Biologist Charlotte Lindqvist

Teeny Tiny Gadgets

To boost semiconductors’ performance without upping their size, researchers are developing “optical nanocavities”—arrangements of mirrors that let beams of light circulate in a closed path. The nanocavities could enable ultrathin semiconductors to absorb more light and create more energy, leading to smaller, thinner and more powerful electronic gadgets.

Who’s Leading It: UB engineering researcher Qiaoqiang Gan, with Fudan University colleague Suhua Jiang

Rust Belt Housing

Think gentrification is limited to the likes of San Francisco and New York? Not so. Even in poorer areas, many residents are priced out of desirable neighborhoods. That’s why researchers have launched a project to identify where affordable housing should go in 10 fast-shrinking American cities, including Buffalo.

Who’s Leading It: Urban and regional planning researchers Robert Silverman and Li Yin, and social work researcher Kelly Patterson

Surprisingly Perky Germs

Scientists have long thought that two common strep bacteria die quickly once they leave the body. Unfortunately, they were wrong. In a daycare center, biofilms of Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes—which cause ear infections and strep throat, respectively—survived for hours on books, cribs and toys.

Who’s Leading It: Microbiology researcher Anders Hakansson