What are researchers at the nation’s most prominent universities up to these days?

One Ivy League college, Harvard University, held a ceremony Thursday awarding researchers for studying fertility of exotic dancers, plant dignity, enhanced potato chip crunch, flea jumping abilities and spermicidal uses for Coca-Cola.

The Annals of Public Research magazine honored Professor Deborah Anderson of Boston University’s School of Medicine with an Ig Nobel prize for proving the popular soda could be used for contraception, the Associated Press reported. The ceremony was held at Harvard.

Anderson, professor of obstetrics and gynecology, had her study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985. She told the AP she does not advise people to use the soda in place of birth control, but she said she is honored to receive the award for chemistry.

“We’re thrilled to win an Ig Nobel, because the study was somewhat of a parody in the first place,” she said.

Nobel laureates attended the event and honored Anderson and her lab colleagues for making the odd discovery. They also gave awards for other peculiar studies.

Geoffrey Miller, associate professor of pyschology at the University of New Mexico, a publicly funded college, earned an economics prize for leading a team of researchers to discover exotic dancers increase their earning potential when they are most fertile.

When he conducted an experiment using 18 exotic dancers, Miller said they regularly earned $250 for five hours of work. However, their income increased to $350 or $400 for the same shift with changes in fertility.

According to a Network World report, Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy, and Charles Spence of Oxford University were given the nutrition award for electronically enhancing the crunch of potato chips to trick people into believing they were not stale.

The peace prize went to the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology for discovering plants have dignity.

Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, were given the archeology award for showing that armadillos can change history by altering materials at dig sites.

Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France, received a biology prize for finding that a dog’s fleas can jump higher than ones living on a cat.

The reason? Apparently school officials wanted to make sure they didn’t “discriminate.”

“Every school and college, wherever located, is responsible for educating its learners who will live and work in a country which is diverse in terms of cultures, religions or beliefs, ethnicities and social backgrounds,” a spokeswoman for the college told the newspaper.


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