Excellence in Research

July 27, 2018

Five innovators join the ranks of the Bakar Fellows

Five UC Berkeley faculty innovators have been selected for the Bakar Fellows Program, which supports faculty working to apply scientific discoveries to real-world issues in the fields of engineering, computer science, chemistry and biological and physical sciences.
May 21, 2018

Urban Resilience: Hiding in Plain Sight

More than 1,500 abandoned parcels of land lie scattered throughout San Francisco, from unused alleys to vacant parking lots and public easements. The combined

February 7, 2017

Physiological Changes Tracked Moment to Moment

Imbedded in a sweatband, a network of sensors devised by Ali Javey can monitor moment-by-moment changes in electrolytes and metabolites, a potential boon to weekend athletes, diabetics and people exposed to heavy metal concentrations.
January 31, 2017

Trading in the Scalpel for a Sharper Blade

Bakar Fellow Kathy Collins develops techniques to capture genetic information embedded in cancer cells’ RNA — a new tool to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.
January 17, 2017

Aiding Cells’ Strategy to Survive

The Bakar Fellows Program supports James Hurley’s research to develop a drug that can help neurons and other cells clear out debris – a process essential for cell survival.
May 26, 2016

Translating Genes’ Instructions

Sackler Sabbatical Exchange recipient Hiten Madhani studies how genome cutting machines in cells, called spliceosomes, are able to pluck genes away from other sequences of “letters” in strands of RNA.

May 17, 2016

Copper: A new player in health and disease

Chris Chang, who is part of the Sackler Sabbatical Exchange Program, carries out experiments to find proteins that bind to copper and may influence the storage and burning of fat.

May 9, 2016

An Energy Strategy that Can Take the Heat

Water and energy are tightly linked in the 21st century. Per Peterson’s research seeks to develop water-saving ways of cooling energy plants, both nuclear and solar.  

February 22, 2016

“Deep Learning”: A Giant Step for Robots

Bakar Fellow Pieter Abbeel studies deep learning in robots. The robot BRETT (Berkeley Robot for Elimination of Tedious Tasks) has mastered a range of skills, including folding laundry, knot-tying, and basic assembly.

February 16, 2016

A New Recipe for Construction

Bakar Fellow Ronald Rael is advancing a type of 3-D printing that could add more beauty, variety and sustainability to building designs.

February 8, 2016

How Many Lasers can You Fit into a Shoebox?

Bakar Fellow Holger Müller is redesigning an instrument known as an atom interferometer, capable of making extremely precise measurements of distance and gravity.

February 1, 2016

Savvy Software Lightens MRI Burden

The Bakar Fellows Program supports Michael Lustig’s collaborations with clinicians and industry to speed adoption of the new MRI imaging strategies.

January 19, 2016

Big Thinking About Big Data

To Michael Jordan, the smart way to extract and analyze key information embedded in mountains of “Big Data” is to ignore most of it. Instead, zero in on collections of small amounts of data.

December 14, 2015

Seeing Through the Big Data Fog

Joe Hellerstein and his students developed a new programming model for distributed computing which MIT Technology Review named one of the 10 technologies “most likely to change our world”.

November 30, 2015

The AMP Lab Stands Up to Big Data

The AMP Lab, launched in 2011 by Michael Franklin and colleagues in computer science, has already had an outsized impact on industry. 

November 17, 2015

Seeking Data Wisdom

Bin Yu’s statistical strategies work hand in hand with intense computation to penetrate storms of data.

October 5, 2015

Urban Infrastructure - Making Cities Smarter

Alexei Pozdnoukhov, a Signatures Innovation Fellow, leads research to use cellular data to aid traffic planning and operations. Fully developed, the technology could aid both traffic control and planning to keep pace with changes in transportation habits.

July 7, 2015

Small Salmon, Big Threat

Drought and the growing water demands of agriculture and a changing climate are creating a “knife edge” of survival for young salmon and steelhead, says UC Berkeley fish ecologist Stephanie Carlson. She is working to determine minimum water levels needed to sustain the fish.

June 30, 2015

How To Grow Back The Back - Engineered Cartilage Surfaces

Researcher Grace O’Connell, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, is advancing ways to grow human disc tissue — the spongy, protective material between vertebrae — and other engineered cartilage surfaces in a lab.

June 24, 2015

Putting Energy Savings Programs to the Test

Philomathia Innovation Seed Fund recipients Catherine Wolfram and Meredith Fowlie carried out a rigorous study that found surprisingly low savings relative to costs in part of a nationwide effort to improve home energy-efficiency.

May 29, 2015

Power to the People

Philomathia Innovation Seed Fund recipient Eric Brewer works with tech savvy students in electrical engineering and computer science, urban planning, business, and economics to help developing countries gain access to affordable energy.

May 15, 2015

The Economics of Change

Philomathia Innovation Seed Fund recipient Edward Miguel applies the tools of economics to such social issues as access to affordable energy and the possible links between climate and conflict.

May 8, 2015

The Adolescent Brain Grows Up

Neuroscientist Linda Wilbrecht can observe “rewiring” in the living brain using an imaging instrument called a twophoton laser scanning microscope, which has a resolution better than 1/10,000 of an inch.

May 8, 2015

Forecasting Change, Welcome or Not

Plant ecologist David Ackerly has calculated that some animals and plants would need to migrate as much as four miles a year to track their preferred temperature in a rapidly warming climate. 

May 1, 2015

Seeing Through Alzheimer’s Disease

If early intervention is key, then so is the ability to detect even the slightest sign of neurological damage. The William Jagust Lab is using statistical and computational approaches to refine PET scan sensitivity to identify a possible Alzheimer precursor. 

April 24, 2015

“Intelligent Design” Can It Deliver?

Rather than trying to quiet the body’s defenses against viruses, David Schaffer has favored a kind of intelligent design approach to modify the virus. Known as directed evolution, the strategy uses genetic engineering to find variations in the virus that will allow it to effectively deliver drugs to target cells.

February 16, 2015

The Invisible Comes to Light

Laura Waller is working on computational imaging methods for quantitative phase microscopy, which enables one to map the shape and/or density of invisible samples in a non-invasive way.  Her group is developing simple experimental architectures and efficient post-processing algorithms for phase recovery, applied in a variety of scientific and industrial settings.

February 9, 2015

Cancer’s Disposal System: Target for a Cure?

Andreas Martin has developed novel systems and strategies to screen for compounds that selectively inhibit protein turnover in the cell and may lead to new drugs against cancer.  

February 2, 2015

Greener Blue Jeans

John Dueber is working to employ metabolite protecting groups for a sustainable indigo dyeing process.  The new technology has the potential to transform the Jeans (and related textile) dyeing industry into a "green business" using dye processes that would comply with modern regulations ensuring environmental safeguards.

January 20, 2015

Researcher Seeks to Starve Cancer of Nutrients

Roberto Zoncu investigates cellular energy flux.  In researching how cells sense their own nutrients, Zoncu has found that a particular enzyme plays a vital role in making sure that a cell has the proper balance of nutrients and energy.

January 13, 2015

Tracking Cancer’s Advance in 3D

Sanjay Kumar adapts bioengineering strategies for studies in 3D cell environments to reveal how and why cancer cells invade the way they do.

January 6, 2015

Fishing For A Cure

Scott Baraban is collaborating with Berkeley researchers to find cures for childhood epilepsies. 

April 14, 2014

Can New Understanding Avert Tragedy?

Solomon Hsiang's research provides a “ground–level” view of climate’s current and likely future role in such social stresses as child mortality, crime and social upheaval.

April 8, 2014

On Memory’s Trail

Ehud Isacoff and his colleagues explore the brain at several levels critical to ultimately understand how memories form and what can threaten their demise. He is the Director of Berkeley’s Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.

March 18, 2014

Crispr Goes Global

Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues showed that CRISPR/Cas9, can be used with great precision to selectively disable or add several genes at once in human cells, offering a potent new tool to understand and treat complex genetic diseases.

March 11, 2014

Making Sense of Big Data

Ben Recht was recently honored by the White House with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, recognizing some of the most promising young researchers.

March 4, 2014

Using Carbon to Control the Light

Feng Wang is studying how electrical fields modulate the optical properties of a number of materials. The flip of a light switch – a nano-scale light switch – may some day dramatically boost the speed of data transmission, from streaming movies to accelerating the most data-intense computation. 

February 25, 2014

How to Starve Out the Enemy

Mary Wildermuth is developing plant breeding strategies that can weaken the effects of powdery mildew. If not controlled, powdery mildew is a fast spreading fungus that can cause billions of dollars of crop damage in California.

February 18, 2014

Seizing Control of Brain Seizures

Daniela Kaufer made a startling discovery about the effect of psychological stress on the brain a few years after serving in the Israeli army during the first Gulf War. 

February 6, 2014

Pinning down malevolent cancer cells

Lydia Sohn is developing a new technique based on microtechnology to distinguish between different types of circulating tumor cells also known as CTC’s . She hopes this more sensitive approach will help clinicians learn which CTC’s are most prone to lead to metastasis.

May 6, 2013

Scrutinizing Space Storms for a Calmer Life on Earth

Thomas Immel and his team at the Space Sciences Lab will design, build and operate two instruments and oversee development of two others to be loaded on a solar-powered satellite for a two-year science mission tentatively set to launch in 2017.

April 22, 2013

Packing Power

Tanja Cuk is testing how to optimize new devices for both power delivery and energy storage. Her focus is an alternative to conventional batteries, called a “supercapacitor,” which could deliver more power than current batteries.

April 15, 2013

Creating a New Trail to Solve an Old Problem

Ants normally distinguish friend from foe by detecting colony-specific molecules called pheromones that coat their bodies. Neil Tsutsui has identified the recognition pheromones and other chemical signals, and has shown in experiments that the ants’ behavior can be tweaked by exposing them to identical, environmentally harmless synthetic pheromones.

April 8, 2013

The Cell’s “Everywhere” Molecule

Michael Rape studies ubiqutins that form chains, “like pearls on a string,” he says. In 2008, his lab discovered a new member of this chain configuration and determined how an enzyme called Ube2S is able to assemble it inside cells. Without the Ube2S enzyme and the ubiquitin chain, he found, cells cannot divide. But with too much Ube2S – and too many ubiquitin chains – cell division runs out of control.

April 1, 2013

Beyond Genomics - Mining the Proteome

Lab tests that detect prostate cancer can’t reveal if the cancer poses a real risk. It looks for elevated levels of a protein called PSA, but about 80 percent of cancers that generate high PSA levels grow so slowly and may never need treatment. New research by Amy Herr points the way to a much more refined assessment of proteins and the promise of better diagnosis and treatment of a range of diseases. 

March 25, 2013

Mind Over Matter

It still sounds futuristic, but the time is approaching when people paralyzed by stroke or spinal cord injury will be able to regain the experience of movement. Neuroengineer Jose Carmena and bioengineer Michel Maharbiz have joined forces in a project supported by the Bakar Fellows Program to move this technology from the laboratory to the real world.