Top research findings from the past month.

cartoon of two ants talking on tin can phones

This month, NYU researchers found that "mutant ants" genetically engineered to lack a sense of smell were unable to communicate with one another. 

Courant professor Lakshminarayanan Subramanian was part of a team that developed a machine learning tool that can help distinguish counterfeit luxury handbags from the real thing. A team of NYU chemists used a new method to create a series of synthetic three-dimensional structures that take a step closer to resembling the enzymes, proteins, and DNA found in nature—a process that could enhance our understanding of a range of diseases caused by the "misfolding" of proteins. Steinhardt higher education professor Liang Zhang found that the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which took effect in August 2009, has boosted college enrollment rates among veterans by 3 percentage points compared with the earlier G.I. Bill.

Tandon engineers designed an app to thwart "shoulder surfing"—the practice of trying to glimpse a smartphone or ATM pin from over someone's shoulder—that uses a hybrid-image keyboard that looks different depending on whether you're standing right in front of it or more than three feet away. NYU Abu Dhabi researchers developed a computer chip that can't be hacked or copied.

A study tracking children from birth through fifth grade found that children whose parents provide them with educational toys and books and engage them in meaningful conversations were more likely to be successful in school. An "unbiased survey of all of the 19,000 genes in the cancer’s genome" revealed genes that could be involved in preventing the immune system from killing tumor cells. Research from the departments of psychology and linguistics found that when two bilingual speakers are chatting with each other, switching between languages does not require any more mental effort than continuing to speak the same language.

Biologists in Abu Dhabi identified a unique green algae with genetic properties that could make it an environmentally friendly alternative to palm oil.

Medical researchers found that Vitamin C may "tell" faulty stem cells in the bone marrow to mature and die rather than multiplying to cause blood cancers, and demonstrated how a new type of antibody might target a feature of proteins thought to cause the most damage associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Tandon chemical and biomolecular engineers created a new biomaterial that fights cancer by delivering both a chemotherapuetic agent and RNA interfering technology that silences drug resistance. 

Global distinguished professor Philippe Schlenker took inspiration from sign language for his outline of the "semantics" of music.

NYU Abu Dhabi researchers examined the genetics of a coral that grows in the high temperatures of the Arabian Sea, concluding that corals threatened by climate change elsewhere may adapt. They concluded that corals in the Gulf of Oman or Indian Ocean are unlikely to acquire the necessary "super genes" for thermal tolerance.