Study Hall Research Briefs

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Walk it off People with desk jobs can significantly increase their life expectancy by getting up and walking around at least once every half hour, according to a new study by Keith Diaz, a Columbia assistant professor of behavioral medicine.

ALS breakthrough A team of researchers led by Columbia biochemist Tom Maniatis has found that one of the body’s natural defenses against the neurodegenerative disorder ALS can exacerbate the condition in its later stages. The scientists say that further study of the defense mechanism, which involves the disposal of old and worn-out components of brain cells, could lead to new therapies.

Beetles on the move Forest-munching pine beetles native to the southern United States have been moving northward as a result of rising temperatures, say Columbia climate scientists Corey Lesk and Radley Horton ’07GSAS. They warn that the beetles could destroy huge tracts of woodland across the northern US and Canada over the next few decades.

Digital dividend The introduction of high-speed Internet to many African cities over the past decade has boosted employment by as much as 10 percent and reduced income inequality, finds a new study by Jonas Hjort, an economist at Columbia Business School.

Depression on the rise Rates of depression are surging in the United States, according to research by Renee Goodwin, an epidemiologist at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Goodwin’s team analyzed mental-health surveys of more than 600,000 people and found that from 2005 to 2015 depression rose significantly among Americans age twelve and older, with the most rapid increases seen in young people.

For richer or poorer New research by Columbia economists Pierre-André Chiappori and Bernard Salanié, and Yoram Weiss of Tel Aviv University, shows that over the past fifty years Americans have become more likely to marry someone from their own economic class — a trend that the authors say is exacerbating income inequality.

Suspect behavior Columbia statistics PhD student Jonathan Auerbach says that he has found evidence that suggests New York City police supervisors may be holding their officers to ticket quotas, despite the practice being illegal. In analyzing all traffic tickets issued by NYPD officers between 2013 and 2015, he discovered that the number of tickets issued daily increases steadily over the course of each month, with 25 percent more tickets issued on the last day than on the first.

 

— Julia Joy



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