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Lab & Field Notes

December 7, 2009

Quit smoking, gain weight. It’s a worse problem than previously thought, according to research from Brian C. Quinn of Berkeley’s Health Services and Policy Analysis Program. Quinn worked with the University of Michigan’s Daniel Eisenberg to review data on more than 5,800 smokers and nonsmokers. Quitters gained about 20 pounds, more than the 5 to 15 shown in earlier studies. But they found exercise and a healthy diet can improve these results.

Is your child left behind at school? A new report by the Policy Analysis for California Education Center of Berkeley, Davis, and Stanford says it’s still an impossible question to answer. Five years after the No Child Left Behind Act, the study, led by education professor Bruce Fuller, found that 12 monitored states (including California) use wildly varying student achievement benchmarks not comparable to the federal standard.

How do geckos crawl along ceilings and walls? With tiny adhesive hairs on their toes. A team of Berkeley electrical engineers, led by professor Ronald Fearing, has tried to replicate this “clingability” by creating microfibers that use high friction to support heavy loads on smooth surfaces. The technology could be applied in shoe soles, car tires, and athletic equipment.

A study led by maternal and child health professor Brenda Eskenazi shows for the first time that the transfer of DDT from pregnant mother to fetus leads to developmental motor and mental delays in children. Although DDT is cheap and effective for preventing mosquito-borne malaria, more than 100 countries aim to stop using the pesticide by 2025 due to its potential dangers.

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