News

October 17, 2019

California rolls out first statewide earthquake early warning system

California Gov. Gavin Newsom today (Thursday, Oct. 17) announced the debut of the nation’s first statewide earthquake early warning system that will deliver alerts to people’s cellphones through an app developed at the University of California, Berkeley. The mobile phone app, MyShake, can provide seconds of warning before the ground starts to shake from a nearby quake — enough time to drop, cover and hold on to prevent injury.
October 15, 2019

Border walls don’t make us safer or stronger, says political scientist

When President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, he vowed to build a “big, beautiful wall” between the United States and Mexico. But the more than 700 miles of barriers already in place at the border — mostly built in the 1990s and early 2000s — have already created more harm than good, says Wendy Brown, a professor of political science at UC Berkeley.
October 11, 2019

Our energy grid is vulnerable. Locally sourced power may be the answer.

This week, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company took the unprecedented step of cutting power to nearly 750,000 Northern California customers, including much of the UC Berkeley campus, in an effort to mitigate the risk that active transmission lines could spark a wildfire during dry and windy conditions. Berkeley News spoke with Alexandra “Sascha” von Meier, Director in the California Institute for Energy and Environment’s Electric Grid program area, about the risks posed by the current energy grid and possible solutions moving forward.
October 11, 2019

Berkeley Talks: Barbara Simons on election hacking and how to avoid it in 2020

“There are a number of myths about elections that we’ve been hearing, saying that they are secure. And I want to shoot down two of those key myths,” says Barbara Simons, board chair of Verified Voting, in a talk called “Can we recover from an attack on our election?” that she gave for the annual Minner Distinguished Lecture in Engineering Ethics on Sept. 18.
October 8, 2019

Teeter totters as activism: How the border wall became a playground

When UC Berkeley architect Ronald Rael took his bright pink teeter totters to the U.S.-Mexico border wall, he didn’t know what he and his team did next would go viral. He just wanted to create a moment where people on both sides of the wall felt connected to each other. “Women and children completely disempowered this wall for a moment, for 40 minutes,” says Rael. “There was a kind of sanctuary hovering over this event.”
October 4, 2019

Berkeley Talks: Nobel laureate Randy Schekman on new Parkinson’s research

On Sept. 17, UC Berkeley hosted the second annual Aging, Research and Technology Innovation Summit, a daylong event that brought together researchers, entrepreneurs, policymakers and health care workers to tackle some of the biggest questions in aging research. This year’s summit focused on the challenge of understanding and treating neurodegenerative diseases. Randy Schekman, a professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley, won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. He spoke at the summit about Parkinson’s disease, touching on what we already know about the disease and new research efforts that are underway.
October 3, 2019

Naturalist E.O. Wilson on the fight to save half the planet for wildlife

To save Earth’s stunning biodiversity, we need to set aside at least half the planet’s lands and oceans for conservation. That’s the argument made by naturalist and author E.O. Wilson in his 2016 book Half-Earth and also the inspiration behind the E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation’s Half-Earth Day, an annual event that explores how conservationists of all stripes can make progress toward this lofty, but attainable, goal.
October 2, 2019

CRISPRed flies mimic monarch butterfly — and could make you vomit

The fruit flies in Noah Whiteman’s lab may be hazardous to your health. Whiteman and his University of California, Berkeley, colleagues have turned perfectly palatable fruit flies — palatable, at least, to frogs and birds — into potentially poisonous prey that may cause anything that eats them to puke. In large enough quantities, the flies likely would make a human puke, too, much like the emetic effect of ipecac syrup.
October 1, 2019

UC now holds largest CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio

Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted a new CRISPR-Cas9 patent to the University of California, University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier covering new methods of gene editing in prokaryotic cells. The new patent covers methods of targeting and binding or methods of cleaving a target DNA in a prokaryotic cell using Cas9 protein and single molecule DNA targeting RNAs. This patent specifically covers these methods in bacterial cells.
September 30, 2019

Collapse of desert birds due to heat stress from climate change

As temperatures rise, desert birds need more water to cool off at the same time as deserts are becoming drier, setting some species up for a severe crash, if not extinction, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.
September 30, 2019

New poll: Vaccine rule widely supported by California voters

Just 16% of voters are opposed to a new California law requiring parents vaccinate their children, according to a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies. The poll, conducted online from Sept. 13 to 18, found support for the bill from the vast majority of Californians: rich or poor, conservative or liberal, educated or not. Roughly 83% of all voters said they favored the law, 61% said they favored it strongly.
September 30, 2019

Does being a ‘superwoman’ protect African American women’s health?

The stereotype of the “strong black woman” is more than just a cultural trope: Many black women in America report feeling pressured to act like superwomen, projecting themselves as strong, self-sacrificing, and free of emotion to cope with the stress of race- and gender-based discrimination in their daily lives.
September 25, 2019

A genius by design: Berkeley architecture professor named MacArthur Fellow

It’s not every day that Walter Hood gets to go by the name “genius.” But today (Wednesday, Sept. 25) is that day: Hood, a UC Berkeley professor of landscape architecture and of environmental planning and urban design, was just named a 2019 fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, which is awarding him what’s known colloquially as a “genius” grant.
September 24, 2019

First known cases of sudden oak death detected in Del Norte County

A team of collaborators including the citizen science project SOD Blitz have detected the first cases of the infectious tree-killing pathogen Phytophthora ramorum in California’s Del Norte county. The pathogen, a fungus-like water mold that causes sudden oak death, has ravaged millions of native oaks and tanoaks along California’s central and northern coasts since it was first introduced in the United States in the late-1980s.
September 24, 2019

University of California awarded 15th U.S. CRISPR-Cas9 patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today granted the University of California (UC) and its partners, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, a new CRISPR-Cas9 patent, bringing the team’s continually expanding patent portfolio to 15.
September 23, 2019

UC Berkeley, Jerry Brown launch new pan-Pacific climate institute

UC Berkeley, in partnership with former California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. and China’s top climate change official, Xie Zhenhua, today (Monday, Sept. 23) announced the launch of a new campus institute to bring together top researchers and policymakers from both sides of the Pacific to stop the rise of greenhouse gases.
September 23, 2019

Scientists track frog-killing fungus to help curb its spread

From habitat loss to climate change, amphibians around the world face immense threats to their survival. One emerging and sinister threat is the chytrid fungus, a mysterious pathogen that kills amphibians by disrupting the delicate moisture balance maintained by their skin, and that is decimating frog populations around the world.
September 19, 2019

In media coverage of climate change, where are the facts?

The New York Times makes a concerted effort to drive home the point that climate change is real, but it does a poor job of presenting the basic facts about climate change that could convince skeptics, according to a review of the paper’s coverage since 1980.
September 18, 2019

Coral reefs and squat lobsters flourished 150 million years ago

Coral reefs and the abundant life they support are increasingly threatened today, but a snapshot of a coral reef that flourished 150 million years ago shows that many animals were then at their peak of diversity, just offshore of the land ruled by dinosaurs.
September 17, 2019

Constitution’s biggest flaw? Protecting slavery

For many, Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky wrote the book on Constitutional Law. Named the most influential person in legal education in 2017 by National Jurist magazine, Chemerinsky agreed to share some insights about the Constitution’s tenets, history, and challenges.
September 17, 2019

CRISPR portfolio now at 14 and counting

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today awarded the University of California (UC), University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier a patent for CRISPR-Cas9 that, along with two others awarded this month, brings the team’s comprehensive portfolio of gene-editing patents to 14.
September 16, 2019

UC Berkeley, UCSF to tackle dyslexia with $20 million gift

UC Berkeley and UCSF to form the UCSF-UC Berkeley Schwab Dyslexia and Cognitive Diversity Center thanks for a $20 million gift to support research on dyslexia and similar neurodevelopmental language-processing disorders, or learning differences.
September 13, 2019

Who owns America’s schools? Professor Janelle Scott on ‘No Jargon’ podcast

With education in the U.S. becoming more privatized than ever before comes mounting inequality within the education system, says Janelle Scott, a professor in the Graduate School of Education and the Department of African American Studies at UC Berkeley. In an interview with No Jargon, a podcast by the Scholar’s Strategy Network, Scott discusses what charter schools and vouchers are, why they are so controversial and how they disproportionately lead to public school closures in urban areas.
September 13, 2019

Summit to tackle tricky problems of aging and dementia

Next week, UC Berkeley will host the second annual Aging, Research, and Technology Innovation Summit, a daylong event that will gather together researchers, entrepreneurs, policymakers and health care workers to tackle some of the biggest questions in aging research.
September 12, 2019

A Single Dose for Good Measure: How an Anti-Nuclear-Contamination Pill Could Also Help MRI Patients

When chemist Rebecca Abergel and her team at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) successfully developed an anti-radiation-poisoning pill in 2014, they hoped it would never have to be used. Designed to remove radioactive contaminants from the body in the event of something horrible, like a nuclear reactor meltdown or, even worse, a nuclear attack, the pill may also double as an anti-gadolinium-toxicity pill for MRI patients injected with commonly used contrast dye.
September 11, 2019

Students make neutrons dance beneath Berkeley campus

In an underground vault enclosed by six-foot concrete walls and accessed by a rolling, 25-ton concrete-and-steel door, University of California, Berkeley, students are making neutrons dance to a new tune: one better suited to producing isotopes required for geological dating, police forensics, hospital diagnosis and treatment.
September 5, 2019

Seven new Bakar Fellows already are making an impact

Seven University of California, Berkeley, faculty scientists with novel ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit have been named to the 2019-20 cohort of Bakar Fellows, an honor that gives the fellows the money and time to translate their laboratory breakthroughs into technologies ready for the marketplace.
August 27, 2019

Water harvester makes it easy to quench your thirst in the desert

With water scarcity a growing problem worldwide, University of California, Berkeley, researchers are close to producing a microwave-sized water harvester that will allow you to pull all the water you need directly from the air — even in the hot, dry desert.
August 27, 2019

Prenatal pesticide exposure linked to changes in teen’s brain activity

Organophosphates are among the most commonly used classes of pesticides in the United States, despite mounting evidence linking prenatal exposure to the chemicals to poorer cognition and behavior problems in children. A new study led by University of California, Berkeley, researchers is one of the first to use advanced brain imaging to reveal how exposure to these chemicals in the womb changes brain activity.
August 22, 2019

Storms on Jupiter are disturbing the planet’s colorful belts

Storm clouds rooted deep in Jupiter’s atmosphere are affecting the planet’s white zones and colorful belts, creating disturbances in their flow and even changing their color. Thanks to coordinated observations of the planet in January 2017 by six ground-based optical and radio telescopes and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a University of California, Berkeley, astronomer and her colleagues have been able to track the effects of these storms — visible as bright plumes above the planet’s ammonia ice clouds — on the belts in which they appear.
August 22, 2019

How red-eared invaders are hurting California’s native turtles

In the summer of 2011, visitors to the University of California, Davis, Arboretum may have witnessed an unusual sight: small teams of students wielding large nets, leaping into the arboretum’s waterway to snag basking turtles. The students weren’t in search of new pets — quite the opposite, in fact. The teams were part of a massive project to remove hundreds of invasive red-eared slider turtles from the arboretum in an effort to observe how California’s native western pond turtles fare in the absence of competitors.
August 22, 2019

Here’s how early humans evaded immunodeficiency viruses

For hundreds of thousands of years, monkeys and apes have been plagued by simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), which still devastates primate groups in Africa. Luckily, as humans evolved from these early primates, we picked up a mutation that made us immune from SIV — at least until the early 20th century, when the virus evolved to get around our defenses, giving rise to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and an AIDS pandemic that today affects an estimated 38 million people worldwide. University of California, Berkeley, researchers have now discovered how that long-ago human mutation interfered with SIV infection, a finding that could provide clues for the development of new therapies to thwart HIV and similar viral infections.
August 20, 2019

UC receives its 11th U.S. patent for CRISPR-Cas9

The University of California, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier received an 11th U.S. patent involving CRISPR-Cas9, further expanding the reach of UC’s patented technology relating to this revolutionary gene-editing tool.
August 19, 2019

A map of the brain can tell what you’re reading about

Too busy or lazy to read Melville’s Moby Dick or Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina? That’s OK. Whether you read the classics, or listen to them instead, the same cognitive and emotional parts of the brain are likely to be stimulated. And now, there’s a map to prove it. UC Berkeley neuroscientists have created interactive maps that can predict where different categories of words activate the brain. Their latest map is focused on what happens in the brain when you read stories.
August 16, 2019

New chip could lead to cheaper and better medical imaging devices and self-driving cars

Berkeley engineers have created the fastest silicon-based, programmable two-dimensional optical phased array, built on micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS). This chip could lead to cheaper and more efficient medical-imaging devices, optical communications and holographic televisions. It could also give rise to more robust light detection and ranging (LiDAR) sensors for self-driving cars.
August 16, 2019

Wearable sensors detect what’s in your sweat

Needle pricks not your thing? A team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, is developing wearable skin sensors that can detect what’s in your sweat. They hope that one day, monitoring perspiration could bypass the need for more invasive procedures like blood draws, and provide real-time updates on health problems such as dehydration or fatigue.
August 15, 2019

Women don beards to highlight gender bias in science

When you picture a geologist or paleontologist tramping through steep, eroded badlands in search of rocks or bones, does that scientist have a beard? For many people, including women, the answer is yes, which spurred dozens of paleontologists around the world – all of them women – to glue on beards for photos now being exhibited at the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley. The ironic message of the Bearded Lady Project is that, contrary to the persisting stereotype, you don’t have to be a man to love fieldwork and contribute to science; in fact: many field scientists are not.
August 13, 2019

Meet Berkeley’s new data science leader

As a Microsoft technical fellow, Jennifer Tour Chayes has made a name for herself as an expert in the field of network science and a leader of multidisciplinary labs that bring data science tools to bear on a wide range of problems. In January, she will leave her current position at Microsoft to become UC Berkeley’s first associate provost for the Division of Data Science and Information and Dean of the School of Information. 
August 13, 2019

“It’s no secret.” Prof. Zimring on How Weapons Fuel America’s Mass Shootings

Mental illness. Video games. The Internet. These are excuses offered by the U.S. President and his supporters for a scourge of mass killings. But five decades of empirical research by preeminent criminal law expert Professor Franklin Zimring tell a different story: The core of our country’s deadly violence is access to weaponry.
August 8, 2019

Jupiter’s annual portrait is a beaut

Just as families record the changing faces of their kids as they grow older, the Hubble Space Telescope each year captures the changing faces of the solar system’s four colorful gas-giant planets. The newest photo in that yearbook is a portrait of Jupiter taken June 27 that reveals clouds swirling in the planet’s turbulent atmosphere that are painted with a color palette more intense than seen in previous years.
August 2, 2019

Family influence key in spread of opioid use

Introducing an opioid painkiller into a home can double the chances someone else living in the home seeks out the addictive drugs on his or her own, according to a new paper from two UC Berkeley researchers.
July 31, 2019

You can’t squash this roach-inspired robot

If the sight of a skittering bug makes you squirm, you may want to look away — a new insect-sized robot created by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, can scurry across the floor at nearly the speed of a darting cockroach.
July 29, 2019

$47 million grant to explore how a healthy lifestyle changes the aging brain

UC Berkeley was awarded a five-year grant expected to total $47 million from the U.S. National Institute on Aging (NIA) to incorporate advanced brain imaging into an Alzheimer’s Association-led study to explore whether lifestyle changes can protect memory in those at risk of developing dementia.
July 23, 2019

Newly granted CRISPR patents boost UC’s U.S. portfolio to 10

The University of California has received two new patents for use of the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 technology, increasing its gene-editing patent portfolio to 10. Five more are expected to be issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the end of the summer.
July 22, 2019

How fat prawns can save lives

Before bite-sized crustaceans like crayfish, shrimp and prawns land on our dinner plates, they first have to get fat themselves — and it turns out they relish the freshwater snails that transmit the parasite that causes schistosomiasis, the second most devastating parasitic disease worldwide, after malaria.
July 22, 2019

Scientists map our underappreciated ‘little brain’

Scientists at UC Berkeley and Western University in Canada have used brain imaging to map the cerebellum, a formerly underappreciated neural region that contains the vast majority of the brain’s neurons, hence its Latin moniker “little brain.”
July 19, 2019

Berkeley Talks: Joel Moskowitz on the health risks of cell phone radiation

As of 2017, there were 273 million smartphones in use in the U.S and 5 billion subscriber connections worldwide, according to Joel Moskowitz, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health at the School of Public Health. Moskowitz, who has conducted research on disease prevention programs and policies for more than 30 years, says that with the influx of smartphones has come hundreds of thousands of cell towers, which may pose health risks.
July 16, 2019

Eighth CRISPR patent issued by U.S.; seven more soon to come

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has awarded a new patent to the University of California (UC), University of Vienna, and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier covering methods of producing a genetically modified cell through the introduction of the Cas9 protein, or a nucleic acid encoding the Cas9 protein, as well as a single molecule DNA-targeting RNA. This patent (U.S. 10,351,878) covers the use of this method in a cell.
July 16, 2019

What happens when you explode a chemical bond?

On bright summer days, the sunlight all around us is breaking bad by breaking bonds. Chemical bonds. Ultraviolet light shatters the links between atoms in the DNA of our skin cells, potentially causing cancer. UV light also breaks oxygen bonds, eventually creating ozone, and cleaves hydrogen off other molecules to leave behind free radicals that can damage tissue.
July 2, 2019

Is wildfire management ‘for the birds’?

Spotted owl populations are in decline all along the West Coast, and as climate change increases the risk of large and destructive wildfires in the region, these iconic animals face the real threat of losing even more of their forest habitat.
June 28, 2019

Berkeley moves to the forefront in California political polling

In just the last three years, the Berkeley IGS Poll has risen to the forefront of a new era in polling, tapping into information that Californians may choose to provide — their age, race, ethnicity, gender and political affiliation — when they register to vote. And while the poll, produced by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS), is focused only on California, its reputation as a leading poll has gained national prominence.
June 28, 2019

Why is America’s government broken, a new paper asks

America’s political system isn’t working and there’s one clear culprit, according to a new article from a Berkeley political scientist: the contemporary Republican Party. The Republican Party has “mutated” over the last 20 years from a traditionally conservative party that argued for limited government and traditional values into an “insurgent force that threatens the norms and institutions of American democracy.”
June 26, 2019

Disrupted sleep in one’s 50s, 60s raises risk of Alzheimer’s disease

People who report a declining quality of sleep as they age from their 50s to their 60s have more protein tangles in their brain, putting them at higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease later in life, according to a new study by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley.
June 25, 2019

Government funding increasingly fuels innovation

From the tiny electronics that power our smartphones to the new medicines that keep us well, a surprising number of the ideas and innovations that drive our economy were born not by corporations, but by federally-funded science, shows a new study led by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.
June 24, 2019

Does limited underground water storage make plants less susceptible to drought?

Some of the most successful plant communities in California — and probably in Mediterranean climates worldwide — that are characterized by wet winters and dry summers have taken a different approach. They’ve learned to thrive in areas with a below-ground water storage capacity barely large enough to hold the water that falls even in lean years.
June 24, 2019

Deportation worries fuel anxiety, poor sleep, among U.S.-born Latinx youth

The rise of anti-immigration rhetoric and policies in the United States following the 2016 presidential election may be taking its toll on the health of California’s Latinx youth, including those who are U.S. citizens, suggests a new study led by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.
June 21, 2019

Berkeley helps to push back against excessive California court fees and fines

In California, the Senate recently passed SB 144, the Families Over Fees Act. Some of the same issues about fines and fees that plagued Ferguson also are part of California’s legal landscape. The bill, introduced by Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, was chiefly written by the Debt Free Justice California coalition with technical support from the Policy Advocacy Clinic, both part of Berkeley Law’s East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC). The bill would end assessment and collection of administrative fees imposed against people in the criminal justice system. By doing so, it would reduce the economic hardships caused by court-ordered debt.
June 20, 2019

Randy Schekman: Don’t put science ‘behind a paywall’

“Scientific research shouldn’t sit behind a paywall,” writes UC Berkeley professor Randy Schekman in a new op-ed in Scientific American. Discovery and research shouldn’t be inaccessible to those that need it—doctors, university scientists, for example — especially when the taxpayers fund the research, which is often the case for major projects, said Schekman, a professor of cell and developmental biology who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2013.
June 20, 2019

Astronomers see “warm” glow of Uranus’s rings

The rings of Uranus are invisible to all but the largest telescopes — they weren’t even discovered until 1977 — but they’re surprisingly bright in new heat images of the planet taken by two large telescopes in the high deserts of Chile.
June 20, 2019

Bats’ brains sync when they socialize

The phrase “we’re on the same wavelength” may be more than just a friendly saying: A new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers shows that bats’ brain activity is literally in sync when bats engage in social behaviors like grooming, fighting or sniffing each other.
June 19, 2019

Scientists chart course toward a new world of synthetic biology

Genetically engineered trees that provide fire-resistant lumber for homes. Modified organs that won’t be rejected. Synthetic microbes that monitor your gut to detect invading disease organisms and kill them before you get sick. These are just some of the exciting advances likely to emerge from the 20-year-old field of engineering biology, or synthetic biology, which is now mature enough to provide solutions to a range of societal problems, according to a new roadmap released today (June 19) by the Engineering Biology Research Consortium, a public-private partnership partially funded by the National Science Foundation and centered at the University of California, Berkeley.
June 19, 2019

Crystal with a twist: scientists grow spiraling new material

With a simple twist of the fingers, one can create a beautiful spiral from a deck of cards. In the same way, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have created new inorganic crystals made of stacks of atomically thin sheets that unexpectedly spiral like a nanoscale card deck.
June 18, 2019

Researchers use facial quirks to unmask ‘deepfakes’

Shruti Agarwal, a computer science graduate student at UC Berkeley, and her thesis advisor Hany Farid, an incoming professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and in the School of Information at UC Berkeley, are racing to develop digital forensics tools that can unmask “deepfakes,” hyper-realistic AI-generated videos of people doing or saying things they never did or said.
June 18, 2019

When it comes to climate change, don’t forget the microbes

Scientists are rightly focused on anticipating and preventing the major impacts that climate change will have on humans, plants and animals. But they shouldn’t forget the effect on Earth’s microbes, on which everything else depends, warns a group of 33 biologists from around the globe.
June 14, 2019

What drives Yellowstone’s massive elk migrations?

Every spring, tens of thousands of elk follow a wave of green growth up onto the high plateaus in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, where they spend the summer calving and fattening on fresh grass. And every fall, the massive herds migrate back down into the surrounding valleys and plains, where lower elevations provide respite from harsh winters. These migratory elk rely primarily on environmental cues, including a retreating snowline and the greening grasses of spring, to decide when to make these yearly journeys, shows a new study led by University of California, Berkeley, researchers.
June 14, 2019

To help the bees, protect the prairie

California almond farmers who depend on commercial bee hives to pollinate their lucrative crops would benefit from increased efforts to protect essential bee foraging territory in northern prairie states, according a University of California, Berkeley, researcher.
June 13, 2019

GlaxoSmithKline taps UC’s CRISPR expertise to speed drug discovery

The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) today announced a five-year collaboration with UC Berkeley and UCSF to establish a laboratory where state-of-the-art CRISPR techniques will be used to explore how gene mutations cause disease, potentially yielding new technologies using CRISPR that would rapidly accelerate the discovery of new medicines.
June 5, 2019

Number of young people facing poverty has increased over last decade

The number of young adults who fall at or below the federal poverty line has risen in the last 10 years, according to a new issue brief from the Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans, a research center at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.
May 26, 2019

Berkeley links up with Facebook, but wants to see tech giant’s accountability

Facebook, weathering an onslaught of bad press, is concerned enough to have announced this week it is making a $7.5 million investment in a partnership with three universities — UC Berkeley, Cornell and Maryland — to develop new methods to improve detection of fake content, fake news and misinformation campaigns.
May 24, 2019

Where do new stars form in galaxies?

Spiral galaxies like our own Milky Way are studded with cold clouds of hydrogen gas and dust, like chocolate chips in a loaded Toll House cookie. Astronomers have long focused on these so-called molecular clouds, suspecting that they are hotspots for star formation. But are they?
May 23, 2019

What we think we know — but might not — pushes us to learn more

If you think you know the farm animal most closely related to T-Rex, or the American president who inspired the creation of blueberry jelly beans — but aren’t quite sure — you’re more likely to bone up on the chicken-dinosaur connection or Ronald Reagan’s predilection for glazed, gel-filled candies.
May 22, 2019

Historically redlined communities face higher asthma rates

The long-term effects of redlining, which for decades was used to justify discriminatory mortgage lending practices, may be impacting the current health of affected communities, suggests new research from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco.
May 21, 2019

With a hop, a skip and a jump, high-flying robot leaps over obstacles with ease

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, first unveiled Salto’s high-flying capabilities in 2016. Now, they’ve equipped the robot with a slew of new skills, giving it the ability to bounce in place like a pogo stick and jump through obstacle courses like an agility dog. Salto can even take short jaunts around campus, powered by a radio controller.
May 16, 2019

Prison time has little or no bearing on long-term public safety

Locking away people who have committed assault, robbery and similar felonies may keep them off the streets for a period of time, but it does not affect whether they will commit violent crimes after their release, according to new research from UC Berkeley.
May 7, 2019

New paper: State’s cap-and-trade program is falling short of goals

California regulators are overestimating the impact the state’s cap-and-trade system is having on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new policy brief from a researcher at UC Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Public Policy, part of the Goldman School of Public Policy.
May 6, 2019

Ayahuasca fixings found in 1,000-year-old Andean sacred bundle

Today’s hipster creatives and entrepreneurs are hardly the first generation to partake of ayahuasca, according to archaeologists who have discovered traces of the powerfully hallucinogenic potion in a 1,000-year-old leather bundle buried in a cave in the Bolivian Andes.
April 26, 2019

GOP’s 2017 tax plan came down hardest on California, researchers say

When the Republican Party rammed through tax changes in 2017, it wasn’t a surprise that the rich got richer. But in a just-published paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, UC Berkeley economist Alan Auerbach and seven co-authors have uncovered eye-opening results of that hurried blitz, namely: red state rich did better than blue state rich.
April 24, 2019

Squishy robots can drop from a helicopter and land safely

New soccer-ball-shaped robots, created by engineers at UC Berkeley and Squishy Robotics, have the remarkable ability to fall from a height of more than 600 feet and be no worse for wear. Built of a network of rods linked by contracting cables, they can also shapeshift in order to crawl from one point to another.
April 19, 2019

New device paves the way to 3D-printed organs, food

From prosthetics and implants to dental crowns and hearing aids, 3D printers are being used to manufacture a whole host of customized medical devices for patients in need. So, why not organs, too?
April 18, 2019

Anxiety ‘epidemic’ brewing on college campuses, researchers find

The number of 18- to 26-year-old students who report suffering from anxiety disorder has doubled since 2008, perhaps as a result of rising financial stress and increased time spent on digital devices, according to preliminary findings released Thursday by a team of UC Berkeley researchers.
April 17, 2019

Nine faculty elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Nine UC Berkeley faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a prestigious nonpartisan research center that convenes scholars and leaders in academic, business and government sectors, drawing expertise across disciplines, to address the most complex challenges of our time. Here are this year’s honorees:
April 12, 2019

Largest, fastest array of microscopic ‘traffic cops’ for optical communications

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers faster and more efficiently than ever. This optical “traffic cop” could one day revolutionize how information travels through data centers and high-performance supercomputers that are used for artificial intelligence and other data-intensive applications.
April 11, 2019

Ice Ages triggered when tropical islands and continents collide

University of California scientists think they know why Earth’s generally warm and balmy climate over the past billion years has occasionally been interrupted by cold snaps that enshroud the poles with ice and occasionally turn the planet into a snowball. The key trigger, they say, is mountain formation in the tropics as continental land masses collide with volcanic island arcs, such as the Aleutian Islands chain in Alaska.
April 9, 2019

Meet Blue, the low-cost, human-friendly robot designed for AI

Enter Blue, a new low-cost, human-friendly robot conceived and built by a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. Blue was designed to use recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep reinforcement learning to master intricate human tasks, all while remaining affordable and safe enough that every artificial intelligence researcher — and eventually every home — could have one.
April 4, 2019

Insulin Insights

Many aspects of insulin signaling remain unclear, particularly its long-term effects on cells, and there are currently no effective cures for the hundreds of millions of people around the world living with diabetes. Now, Professor Anders Näär and collaborators from Harvard Medical School (HMS) have made key new insights into the molecular behavior of insulin.
April 2, 2019

Berkeley’s soda tax election changed drinking habits months before prices went up

Sticker shock may not have been the only force driving the decline in soda consumption in Berkeley after residents voted to enact the nation’s first soda tax in November 2014. The election, and the vigorous campaigning around the tax that led up to the vote, also may have played a major role in changing habits, shows a new study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley.
March 29, 2019

66 million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor

A meteor impact 66 million years ago generated a tsunami-like wave in an inland sea that killed and buried fish, mammals, insects and a dinosaur, the first victims of Earth’s last mass extinction event. The death scene from within an hour of the impact has been excavated at an unprecedented fossil site in North Dakota.
March 28, 2019

Introducing a kinder, gentler way to blow holes in cells

A new technique developed by University of California, Berkeley uses inexpensive lab equipment to efficiently infuse large macromolecules into cells. Called nanopore-electroporation, or nanoEP, the technique gently creates fewer than a dozen tiny holes in each cell that are sufficient to let molecules into the cell without traumatizing it.
March 25, 2019

Fossil barnacles, the original GPS, help track ancient whale migrations

Barnacles that hitch rides on the backs of humpback and gray whales not only record details about the whales’ yearly travels, they also retain this information after they become fossilized, helping scientists reconstruct the migrations of whale populations millions of years in the past, according to a new University of California, Berkeley, study.
March 25, 2019

New CRISPR-powered device detects genetic mutations in minutes

A team of engineers at the UC Berkeley and the Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) of The Claremont Colleges combined CRISPR with electronic transistors made from graphene to create a new hand-held device that can detect specific genetic mutations in a matter of minutes.
March 15, 2019

With single gene insertion, blind mice regain sight

University of California, Berkeley, scientists inserted a gene for a green-light receptor into the eyes of blind mice and, a month later, they were navigating around obstacles as easily as mice with no vision problems. The researchers say that, within as little as three years, the gene therapy — delivered via an inactivated virus — could be tried in humans who’ve lost sight because of retinal degeneration, ideally giving them enough vision to move around and potentially restoring their ability to read or watch video.
March 14, 2019

What ancient poop reveals about the rise and fall of civilizations

The pre-Columbian city of Cahokia was once among the most populous and bustling settlements north of Mexico. But by 1400 A.D., Cahokia’s population had dwindled to virtually nothing. While theories abound about what happened to the indigenous people of Cahokia, AJ White, a Ph.D. student in anthropology at UC Berkeley, has studied ancient poop samples to connect the city’s 13th century population plunge – at least in part – to climate change.
March 13, 2019

When Semiconductors Stick Together, Materials Go Quantum

A team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a simple method that could turn ordinary semiconducting materials into quantum machines – superthin devices marked by extraordinary electronic behavior. Such an advancement could help to revolutionize a number of industries aiming for energy-efficient electronic systems – and provide a platform for exotic new physics.
March 12, 2019

UC awarded third CRISPR patent, expanding its gene-editing portfolio

The University of California announced today that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued U.S. Patent Number 10,227,611 covering use of single-molecule RNA guides and Cas9 protein in any cell, thus creating efficient and effective ways for scientists to target and edit genes.
March 11, 2019

Trade war cost $7.8 billion, new paper finds

The 2018 trade war cost the American economy $7.8 billion dollars in lost gross domestic product, according to a new paper authored by a team of economists at UC Berkeley, Columbia University, Yale University and UCLA.
March 11, 2019

This beetle’s gut may hide clues to making better biofuels

In a new study, researchers at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab describe how the architecture of the long-horned passalid beetle's gut — and the beneficial microbes that inhabit it — help the beetle carry out an amazing transformation. This knowledge could help scientists engineer more efficient systems for producing bioproducts in the lab.
March 11, 2019

Bringing public values into technical systems

In an exclusive New York Times story today, Berkeley and 20 other universities announced they are forming a new consortium, the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN), to support not only the development of new technologies, but also to exploring what policies and safeguards must be put into place to ensure that they will work for the benefit of society.
March 6, 2019

Can entangled qubits be used to probe black holes?

Physicists have used a seven-qubit quantum computer to simulate the scrambling of information inside a black hole, heralding a future in which entangled quantum bits might be used to probe the mysterious interiors of these bizarre objects.
March 4, 2019

Gene Therapy gets a Boost

With support from the Bakar Fellows Program, David Schaffer is working on one of the first gene therapies to be approved for clinical use. The therapy acts to restore vision in children with a rare and previously incurable disease called Leber's congenital amaurosis type 2.
February 28, 2019

Exiled planet linked to stellar flyby 3 million years ago

Some of the peculiar aspects of our solar system — an enveloping cloud of comets, dwarf planets in weird orbits and, if it truly exists, a possible Planet Nine far from the sun — have been linked to the close approach of another star in our system’s infancy that flung things helter-skelter.
February 27, 2019

Yeast produce low-cost, high-quality cannabinoids

UC Berkeley synthetic biologists have engineered brewer’s yeast to produce marijuana’s main ingredients—mind-altering THC and non-psychoactive CBD—as well as novel cannabinoids not found in the plant itself.
February 26, 2019

Face it. Our faces don’t always reveal our true emotions

A new study from UC Berkeley challenges decades of research positing that emotional intelligence and recognition are based largely on the ability to read micro-expressions signaling happiness, sadness, anger, fear, surprise, disgust, contempt and other positive and negative moods and sentiments.
February 25, 2019

With nanotubes, genetic engineering in plants is easy-peasy

Inserting or tweaking genes in plants is more art than science, but with a new technique developed by University of California, Berkeley, scientists could make genetically engineering any type of plant—in particular, gene editing with CRISPR-Cas9—simple and quick.
February 25, 2019

Highlighting Disease by Making the Body Transparent

It’s still some years off, but Steven Conolly aims to see disease in a totally new way. He leads research on an emerging Magnetic Particle Imaging (MPI) technology that already can peer past tissue or organs to detect disease deep within the body.
February 20, 2019

How coral bleaching threatens Caribbean communities

Climate change is fueling coral bleaching throughout the tropics, with potentially devastating consequences on coral reef ecosystems and on the people who depend on them for seafood, tourism and shoreline protection.
February 19, 2019

Beyond Hormonal Birth Control

Nearly 40 percent of women worldwide stop using birth control pills within a year – mainly due to side effects such as depression, weight gain, bleeding between periods and blood clots. Research by Polina Lishko on a non-hormonal contraceptive is showing promise as a new birth control alternative.
February 14, 2019

Greener Days Ahead for Carbon Fuels

Researchers discover copper has potential as a catalyst for turning carbon dioxide into sustainable chemicals and fuels without any wasteful byproducts, creating a green alternative to present-day chemical manufacturing
February 14, 2019

Writing slavery back into American business history

Caitlin Rosenthal, an assistant professor of history at UC Berkeley, has brought history into fresh focus with her new book, Accounting for Slavery: Masters and Management, which examines how white owners of enslaved black people were early innovators of many business practices and terms we use today.
February 11, 2019

U.S. patent office indicates it will issue third CRISPR patent to UC

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a notice of allowance for a University of California patent application covering systems and methods for using single molecule guide RNAs that, when combined with the Cas9 protein, create more efficient and effective ways for scientists to target and edit genes.
February 11, 2019

Literally Switching Strategies to Handle the Internet Data Flood

Cloud applications and the ever-increasing demand by large enterprises to transmit and analyze “big data” are stretching the capacity of even the largest data center servers as traditional switches become data flow bottlenecks. Ming Wu has invented a new optical, or photonic, switch capable of record-breaking speed that can be fabricated as integrated circuits so they can be mass-produced, keeping the cost per device low.
February 4, 2019

Scientists find new and smaller CRISPR gene editor: CasX

In a mere seven years, Cas9 has shown itself to be a formidable gene editor, employed in humans, plants, animals and bacteria to quickly and accurately cut and splice DNA, transforming biology and opening new avenues for treating disease. But a new kid on the block, CasX, may give Cas9 a run for its money.
January 30, 2019

Discovery could help improve cystic fibrosis treatment

Researchers exploring the effects of a long-standing treatment for cystic fibrosis have discovered a potential new target for drugs to treat the disease, which has no cure and typically cuts decades off the lives of patients.
January 29, 2019

Whopping big viruses prey on human gut bacteria

Viruses plague bacteria just as viruses like influenza plague humans. Some of the largest of these so-called bacteriophages have now been found in the human gut, where they periodically devastate bacteria just as seasonal outbreaks of flu lay humans low, according to a new study led by UC Berkeley scientists.
January 17, 2019

David Zilberman awarded Wolf Prize in Agriculture

David Zilberman, a professor of agricultural and resource economics at UC Berkeley, has been awarded the 2019 Wolf Prize in Agriculture in recognition of his work developing economic models for fundamental problems in agriculture, economics, and policy.
January 17, 2019

Thanks to rapid, 3D imaging, anyone can tour the fly brain

A new fly-through of the fly brain allows anyone to whizz past neurons and visit any of the 40 million synapses where neurons touch neuron. It’s a super-resolution view of the complex network connections in the insect’s brain that underlie behaviors ranging from feeding to mating.
January 17, 2019

Saturn hasn’t always had rings

One of the last acts of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft before its death plunge into Saturn’s hydrogen and helium atmosphere was to coast between the planet and its rings and let them tug it around, essentially acting as a gravity probe.
January 16, 2019

Professor John Hartwig awarded the 2019 Wolf Prize in Chemistry

John F. Hartwig from University of California at Berkeley and Stephen L. Buchwald from MIT, awarded the 2019 Wolf Prize for Chemistry for the development of efficient transition-metal catalysts that have revolutionized drug manufacturing, leading to a breakthrough in molecule and synthetics design. 
January 16, 2019

‘Ambidextrous’ robots can learn to pick up anything

From spoons to stuffed animals, humans learn early in life how to pick up objects that have a variety of shapes, textures and sizes. A new machine-learning algorithm developed by engineers at UC Berkeley can teach robots to grasp and carry items with similar dexterity.
January 10, 2019

Recorded sounds that plagued U.S. diplomats in Cuba just crickets hard at work

UC Berkeley integrative biology Ph.D. student Alexander Stubbs and colleague determined that a mysterious noise reported by U.S. diplomats stationed in Cuba plagued by resulting hearing loss and other medical symptoms was not from sonic attacks as feared, but was produced by the Indies short-tailed cricket (Anurogryllus celerinictus).
January 10, 2019

Oceans are warming even faster than previously thought

Heat trapped by greenhouse gases is raising ocean temperatures faster than previously thought; further evidence that earlier claims of a slowdown or “hiatus” in global warming over the past 15 years were unfounded.
January 9, 2019

Drug sponge could minimize side effects of cancer treatment

With the help of sponges inserted in the bloodstream to absorb excess drugs, doctors are hoping to prevent the dangerous side effects of toxic chemotherapy agents or even deliver higher doses to knock back tumors, like liver cancer, that don’t respond to more benign treatments.
January 9, 2019

Minority Ph.D. students in STEM fare better with clear expectations, acceptance

Women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields are more likely to advance professionally, publish more research and secure postdoctoral and faculty positions if their institutional culture is welcoming and sets clear expectations, according to a study of hundreds of Ph.D. students at four top-tier California research universities.
January 8, 2019

Teachers fare better with existing pensions than 401(k)s, study shows

For the vast majority of teachers, existing pensions provide a higher, more secure retirement income than a cost-equivalent 401(k)­-style plan. And pensions keep teachers in classrooms, according to a new study from UC Berkeley and the National Institute on Retirement Security.
January 2, 2019

New year brings accolades to history department

A “bumper crop” of prestigious awards, prizes and honors will be presented Wednesday, Jan. 3 in Chicago to UC Berkeley faculty members by the American Historical Association, the nation’s most important professional association for historians.