News

April 9, 2020

Racist harassment of Asian health care workers won’t cure coronavirus

Violent hate crimes against Asian Americans have surged across the United States recently due to xenophobic perceptions that all Asian people are carriers of COVID-19. But some forms of harassment have been directed specifically at the Asian physicians and nurses risking their own health and safety to battle the spread of the virus in hospitals across the country.
April 6, 2020

COVID-19 stimulus is a good start, but more is needed, says Berkeley economist

Lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have taken strong first steps to provide economic support to businesses and their workers suffering from COVID-19-related shutdowns and unemployment, said Jesse Rothstein, UC Berkeley professor of public policy and economics. But Rothstein advised that more will be needed to protect vulnerable small businesses and employees from the impact of the pandemic.
March 30, 2020

UC Berkeley scientists spin up a robotic COVID-19 testing lab

As doctors around the country scramble to diagnose cases of COVID-19, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley’s Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) are creating from scratch a diagnostic lab with the capability to process more than 1,000 patient samples per day.
March 27, 2020

International group of researchers race to find treatment for COVID-19

The international team of researchers is testing an unusual new approach to identify potential antiviral drugs with proven efficacy to treat SARS-Cov-2 infections. Given the world crisis, the strategy of testing known/approved drugs could help reduce the numbers of deaths in the near term while the world health community battles the epidemic.
March 26, 2020

COVID-19 first target of new AI research consortium

The University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) are the headquarters of a bold new research consortium established by enterprise AI software company C3.ai to leverage the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the internet of things (IoT) to transform societal-scale systems.
March 20, 2020

What use is worry? Psychologist explains anxiety’s pros and cons

Excessive worry about COVID-19 is becoming a mental health pandemic unto itself. But when is anxiety useful, and when is it destructive? At UC Berkeley, Sonia Bishop, associate professor of psychology and cognitive neuroscience, has studied anxiety and how it affects decision-making. 
March 19, 2020

High-speed microscope captures fleeting brain signals

Electrical and chemical signals flash through our brains constantly as we move through the world, but it would take a high-speed camera and a window into the brain to capture their fleeting paths. University of California, Berkeley, investigators have now built such a camera: a microscope that can image the brain of an alert mouse 1,000 times a second, recording for the first time the passage of millisecond electrical pulses through neurons.
March 18, 2020

Reanalysis of global amphibian crisis study finds important flaws

Though biodiversity is in crisis globally, amphibians in particular face a variety of threats. One such threat comes from pathogens like the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Bd causes chytridiomycosis, a disease that research indicates contributes to the decline of some amphibians. New research, however, now calls into question some prior evidence that links the widespread pathogen to hundreds of amphibian declines.
March 18, 2020

New technique ‘prints’ cells to create diverse biological environments

Like humans, cells are easily influenced by peer pressure. Take a neural stem cell in the brain: Whether this cell remains a stem cell or differentiates into a fully formed brain cell is ultimately determined by a complex set of molecular messages the cell receives from countless neighbors. Understanding these messages is key for scientists hoping to harness these stem cells to treat neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.
March 18, 2020

New Netflix docuseries based on work by UC Berkeley investigative reporter

As a reporter with the Los Angeles Times, Garrett Therolf discovered that Los Angeles County’s system to protect abused children was failing: Case workers did not remove children from homes with histories of violence, and children were dying at the hands of their own parents every single year.
March 17, 2020

How to cope when school closures keep kids at home

A legitimate abundance of coronavirus caution has sent tens of millions of schoolchildren home for the foreseeable future, leaving families scrambling to navigate daily life without the help of an established routine. So, how to cope with household cabin fever that could last weeks, and even months?
March 17, 2020

With testing still limited, coronavirus remains a ‘moving target’

In a new interview, Swartzberg underscores the fact that — in part due to poor leadership by the executive branch of our government, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which failed to deliver adequate testing on time — we still don’t have enough data on the virus to really know how widespread the disease will ultimately become, or how long these drastic social distancing measures will last. But, he says, preventing transmission through hygiene and limited social contact remain crucial to avoid overloading our hospital system.
March 16, 2020

Clean hands save lives, so wash up, Berkeley expert says

You don’t have to remind David Levine, UC Berkeley professor of business administration, to carry hand sanitizer and wash his hands thoroughly with soap. But why do many of us — from children to adults — lack these habits, even in a pandemic?
March 12, 2020

A graphene innovation that’s music to the ears

For lovers of high-fidelity audio, or for those who just want the coolest new thing, revolutionary, distortion-free earphones based on high-tech graphene will soon be coming your way, courtesy of basic research at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab.
March 12, 2020

New funding lifts L.A. schools, but disadvantaged students still lag

High schools in Los Angeles that have received new funding under California’s ambitious 2013 education reform achieved positive results, with clear improvement in student achievement and teacher working conditions. But after five years and $5 billion in fresh funding, educators failed to narrow wide racial disparities in learning, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
March 10, 2020

America’s health insurance gaps could speed spread of coronavirus

While public health officials and policymakers race to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in the United States, they must also grapple with a daunting reality: Approximately 27 million Americans, or about 9% of the population, live without any form of health insurance. In the state of California, those without insurance number about 3 million and about 7.5% of the population.
March 4, 2020

Why are American public schools still segregated?

As a child growing up in Los Angeles, Elise Boddie remembers being bused to a public school outside of her local school district. It was the late 1970s, more than two decades after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed segregated schools, and the busing was part of a statewide effort to integrate those schools that were still segregated.
March 2, 2020

New telescope to look for laser pulses from life around other planets

Are advanced civilizations in our galaxy trying to communicate with us by means of laser blasts? A team of University of California, San Diego, UC Berkeley, Harvard University and California Institute of Technology astronomers are building a pair of fly’s-eye observatories to find out.
February 26, 2020

Women firefighters face high exposure to toxic ‘forever chemicals’

San Francisco’s women firefighters are exposed to higher levels of certain toxic PFAS chemicals than women working in downtown San Francisco offices, shows a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of California, San Francisco, and Silent Spring Institute.
February 25, 2020

Rucker Johnson elected to National Academy of Education

Rucker Johnson, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, has been elected to the National Academy of Education.  Professor Johnson is a labor economist who specializes in the economics of education, with an emphasis on the role of poverty and inequality in affecting life chances.
February 25, 2020

David Card: Debunking myths about the value of education

In an era of financial insecurity and cultural tension, a dystopian vision of university education has gained traction in the United States: The cost of public higher education is too high, critics say, and when student debt and job insecurity are factored in, the benefits are too few. But for UC Berkeley economist David Card, that critique ignores a mass of positive data. While profound challenges confront American higher education, he says, universities still bring enormous economic benefits to individual students and to the nation.
February 21, 2020

Brain cells protect muscles from wasting away

While many of us worry about proteins aggregating in our brains as we age and potentially causing Alzheimer’s disease or other types of neurodegeneration, we may not realize that some of the same proteins are aggregating in our muscles, setting us up for muscle atrophy in old age. UC Berkeley scientists have now found brain cells that help clean up these tangles and prolong life in worms and possibly mice. This could lead to drugs that improve muscle health or extend a healthy human lifespan.
February 21, 2020

Mighty California, the Super Tuesday kingmaker? Don’t bet on it.

The Democratic presidential field is divided and public opinion is fragmented and in flux. For California primary election voters, it’s an opportunity to step up on Super Tuesday to cast a vote that could propel one candidate into the frontrunner’s position.
February 20, 2020

How the monkeyflower gets its spots

The intricate spotted patterns dappling the bright blooms of the monkeyflower plant may be a delight to humans, but they also serve a key function for the plant. These patterns act as “bee landing pads,” attracting nearby pollinators to the flower and signaling the best approach to access the sweet nectar inside.
February 19, 2020

Professor pushes for diversity in teacher workforce

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 1994, two-thirds of public school students were white. More than 20 years later, fewer than half were. In contrast, today, male teachers of color make up less than 10% of the workforce, and black males represent 1.9% of all public school teachers in the country, but have one of the highest rates of turnover. Through his research with black male teachers of color in Boston public schools, Travis Bristol found that black male teachers were leaving at higher rates because of poor working conditions and a lack of resources from school administrators.
February 14, 2020

Breakthrough Listen scans Milky Way Galaxy for beacons of civilization

The Breakthrough Listen Initiative today (Friday, Feb. 14) released data from the most comprehensive survey yet of radio emissions from the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy and the region around its central black hole, and it is inviting the public to search the data for signals from intelligent civilizations.
February 14, 2020

Algorithms are better than people in predicting recidivism, study says

In a study with potentially far-reaching implications for criminal justice in the United States, a team of California researchers has found that algorithms are significantly more accurate than humans in predicting which defendants will later be arrested for a new crime.
February 12, 2020

Nine young faculty named 2020 Sloan Fellows

Nine young faculty members at UC Berkeley have been awarded a Sloan Research Fellowship, an honor given yearly to the brightest up-and-coming scientists in the United States and Canada.
February 10, 2020

5 Berkeley SkyDeck startups that might change the way we live

UC Berkeley is not just one of the best research universities in the world, but also a unique place for entrepreneurs, students and alumni to grow and build their own innovative startups. Many of the ideas are based on issues young entrepreneurs first encountered in Berkeley classes or labs. Examples of which were presented at Berkeley SkyDeck’s annual Demo Day, where entrepreneurs pitched new devices, apps or inventions that, they hope, will provide big, bold fixes to the world’s problems, from climate change to disease.
February 10, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak raises question: Why are bat viruses so deadly?

It’s no coincidence that some of the worst viral disease outbreaks in recent years — SARS, MERS, Ebola, Marburg and likely the newly arrived 2019-nCoV virus — originated in bats. A new University of California, Berkeley, study finds that bats’ fierce immune response to viruses could drive viruses to replicate faster, so that when they jump to mammals with average immune systems, such as humans, the viruses wreak deadly havoc.
February 6, 2020

Molecular ‘switch’ reverses chronic inflammation and aging

Chronic inflammation, which results when old age, stress or environmental toxins keep the body’s immune system in overdrive, can contribute to a variety of devastating diseases, from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to diabetes and cancer.
January 30, 2020

Impeachment defenses risk our constitutional order, says Berkeley Law dean

As the impeachment of President Donald Trump moved through the U.S. House of Representatives, and now moves through the Senate, his defenders frequently cast it as a political process seeking to cause political damage. Some outspoken partisans have sought to discredit the entire process as “political theater” and a “political circus.”
January 29, 2020

Neuroscientist John Ngai named director of NIH BRAIN Initiative

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has picked long-time UC Berkeley neuroscientist John Ngai to head its BRAIN Initiative, a multibillion-dollar federal research push to develop new tools that will help scientists understand how the brain works and lead to new treatments for brain dysfunction.
January 23, 2020

For families of Oakland murder victims, police practices add to trauma, study says

An epidemic of murders in Oakland, California, has claimed hundreds of lives in the past decade, and the victims’ families often face discriminatory treatment by police, devastating financial burdens and psychological trauma with inadequate government support, says a report from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law (Berkeley Law).
January 13, 2020

New helmet design can deal with sports’ twists and turns

As a neurologist, Robert Knight has seen what happens when the brain crashes around violently inside the skull. And he’s aware of the often tragic consequences. So, Knight invented a better helmet — one with more effective padding to dampen the effects of a direct hit, but more importantly, an innovative outer shell that rotates to absorb twisting forces that today’s helmets don’t protect against.
January 9, 2020

Lab-made proteins mimic cellular gatekeepers

In a new study published in the journal Nature, engineers at UC Berkeley and their collaborators describe the first lab-made versions of gatekeeper proteins that filter good from bad just as well as the real thing.
January 6, 2020

Ooh là là! Music evokes at least 13 emotions. Scientists have mapped them

UC Berkeley scientists have surveyed more than 2,500 people in the United States and China about their emotional responses to thousands of other songs from genres including rock, folk, jazz, classical, marching band, experimental and heavy metal. The upshot? The subjective experience of music across cultures can be mapped within at least 13 overarching feelings: Amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and feeling pumped up.
January 3, 2020

Brain scans could flag children’s future mental health problems

It can take years to diagnose children with psychiatric or attention deficit disorders, forcing them to endure a lot of frustration and suffering. But a new study has found evidence that brain scans, if conducted early, can predict whether a youngster is susceptible to mental health or attention problems down the road.
January 1, 2020

New library project explores Mark Twain’s famous friendships

Throughout his life, American writer and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name, Mark Twain, formed friendships with many notable figures in history that shaped his work and the way he saw the world. A new multimedia project published by the UC Berkeley Library, “Six degrees of Mark Twain,” has pulled from a vast collection of the library’s Mark Twain Papers and Project — the largest collection of Twain’s private writings and manuscripts — to explore how Twain’s life intersected with six people: P.T. Barnum, Nikola Tesla, Helen Keller, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Ulysses S. Grant