News

April 21, 2021

New process makes ‘biodegradable’ plastics truly compostable

University of California, Berkeley, scientists have now invented a way to make these compostable plastics break down more easily, with just heat and water, within a few weeks, solving a problem that has flummoxed the plastics industry and environmentalists.
April 21, 2021

First-of-its-kind study links wildfire smoke to skin disease

Wildfire smoke can trigger a host of respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms, ranging from a runny nose and cough to a potentially life-threatening heart attack or stroke. A new study suggests that the dangers posed by wildfire smoke may also extend to the largest organ in the human body and our first line of defense against outside threat: the skin.
April 20, 2021

Evan Miller awarded 2021 Donald S. Noyce Undergraduate Teaching Prize

The College of Chemistry is pleased to announce that Evan Miller, (Ph.D. ’09, Chem) Associate Professor of Chemistry and Molecular & Cell Biology and of Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology, has been awarded the 2021 Donald Sterling Noyce Prize for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. 
April 15, 2021

How many T. rexes were there? Billions.

How many Tyrannosaurus rexes roamed North America during the Cretaceous period? That’s a question Charles Marshall pestered his paleontologist colleagues with for years until he finally teamed up with his students to find an answer.
April 14, 2021

Tiny wireless implant detects oxygen deep within the body

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have created a tiny wireless implant that can provide real-time measurements of tissue oxygen levels deep underneath the skin. The device, which is smaller than the average ladybug and powered by ultrasound waves, could help doctors monitor the health of transplanted organs or tissue and provide an early warning of potential transplant failure.
April 9, 2021

Guggenheim fellowships awarded to four UC Berkeley faculty

Four UC Berkeley faculty are among this year’s 184 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellows. The prestigious awards recognize scholars with impressive achievements in fields ranging from the natural sciences to the creative arts.
April 7, 2021

SETI pioneer Dan Werthimer to receive Drake Award

Dan Werthimer, a co-founder of the popular screen saver SETI@home and a UC Berkeley astronomer who developed ever-more-sensitive radio receivers to aid the search for extraterrestrial intelligence on other planets, will share the 2021 Drake Award, named after the father of SETI, astronomer Frank Drake.
March 31, 2021

Wildfire’s devastation can linger long after the smoke has cleared

In a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Hastings describe some of these long-term and often overlooked effects of wildfires, which can range from housing shortages and unemployment to mental health conditions that don’t surface until months or years after the final flames are extinguished.
March 29, 2021

When parole, probation officers choose empathy, returns to jail decline

Heavy caseloads, job stress and biases can strain relations between parole and probation officers and their clients, upping offenders’ likelihood of landing back behind bars. On a more hopeful note, a new UC Berkeley study suggests that nonjudgmental empathy training helps court-appointed supervision officers feel more emotionally connected to their clients and, arguably, better able to deter them from criminal backsliding.
March 19, 2021

Tropical species are moving northward as winters warm

Notwithstanding last month’s cold snap in Texas and Louisiana, climate change is leading to warmer winter weather throughout the southern U.S., creating a golden opportunity for many tropical plants and animals to move north, according to a new study appearing this week in the journal Global Change Biology.
March 18, 2021

A $15 minimum wage would cost jobs, right? Probably not, economists say

Extensive research led by UC Berkeley economists and alumni has found that significant increases in the minimum wage have little, if any, impact on employers’ hiring decisions. In fact, the researchers say, a higher minimum wage can produce benefits not just for workers, but for their employers, their communities and the entire economy.
March 10, 2021

UC Berkeley education economist honored by academic academy

In recognition of “contributions that advance science and deepen public understanding of human behavior and social dynamics,” Rucker Johnson, the Chancellor’s Professor at the Goldman School of Public Policy, has been named a fellow in the 2021 class of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS).
March 9, 2021

After COVID-19, work will never be ‘normal’ again

A year ago, just after Bay Area governments imposed a shelter-in-place order to check the spread of a mysterious new coronavirus, Cristina Banks worried about how she would work from home. She would miss her office at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. She would miss interacting with colleagues and students. She would miss her books and her papers. Banks directs the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces, a global research center at Berkeley, and even in the ¬surpassing strangeness of the past year, she has continued to observe and analyze how the pandemic is changing our work — and changing us.
March 8, 2021

How fast is the universe expanding? Galaxies provide one answer.

Determining how rapidly the universe is expanding is key to understanding our cosmic fate, but with more precise data has come a conundrum: Estimates based on measurements within our local universe don’t agree with extrapolations from the era shortly after the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. A new estimate of the local expansion rate — the Hubble constant, or H0 (H-naught) — reinforces that discrepancy.
March 8, 2021

A tomb with a view: Egyptologist recreates after-death experience

If playing the video game Assassin’s Creed Origins is as close as you’re likely to get to a pharaoh’s tomb — especially in this time of pandemic-thwarted travel — look no further than UC Berkeley for an expedition into an Egyptian burial chamber that won’t expose you to a mummy’s curse.
March 4, 2021

A mass exodus from California? Not exactly, says new Berkeley study

New research released today by the UC Berkeley California Policy Lab finds that, contrary to some news media reports suggesting a mass exodus from California, most moves in 2020 happened within the state. Exits from California in 2020 largely mirrored historical patterns, while the biggest change was a decrease in people moving into the state.  
March 2, 2021

What crocodile mummies can tell us about everyday life in ancient Egypt

More than 100 years after their discovery, 19 mummified crocodiles are part of the Egyptian collection at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley. These mummies, along with a collection of papyri held by the Center for the Tebtunis Papyri at the Bancroft Library, give us clues about how everyday ancient Egyptians lived and how far they went to appease crocodiles, hoping their devotion would win them some good will toward humankind.
February 25, 2021

Prioritizing oldest for COVID-19 vaccines saves more lives, years of life

Challenging the idea that older people with shorter life expectancies should rank lower in coronavirus immunization efforts, new UC Berkeley research shows that giving vaccine priority to those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 will save the maximum number of lives, and their potential or future years of life.
February 25, 2021

Light unbound: Data limits could vanish with new optical antennas

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found a new way to harness properties of light waves that can radically increase the amount of data they carry. They demonstrated the emission of discrete twisting laser beams from antennas made up of concentric rings roughly equal to the diameter of a human hair, small enough to be placed on computer chips.
February 25, 2021

Weill Neurohub joins with Genentech, Roche to advance neuroscience research

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and UC Berkeley today announced a long-term research partnership with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, and its parent company, Roche Holding AG, to speed the development of new therapeutics for debilitating brain diseases and disorders of the central nervous system (CNS), such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism. UCSF and UC Berkeley will receive up to $53 million from Genentech over the course of the 10-year collaboration.
February 24, 2021

Our earliest primate ancestors rapidly spread after dinosaur extinction

The small, furry ancestors of all primates — a group that includes humans and other apes — were already taking to the trees a mere 100,000 years after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs and most other terrestrial animals, according to a new analysis of fossil teeth in the collections of the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP).
February 23, 2021

Latinx, Native Americans carry heavier pandemic burden, new poll reports

Voters of color in California — especially Latinx and Native American people — face disproportionate risks during the coronavirus pandemic and are far more worried than white voters about job and income loss and access to medical care, according to a new poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS).
February 23, 2021

COVID-19 is ravaging U.S. early childhood education, new report finds

The U.S. child care system is collapsing under the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, with tens of thousands of low-paid workers losing their jobs and hundreds of centers forced to close or scale back operations, according to new report from the UC Berkeley Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE).
February 19, 2021

Researchers provide "social cost of carbon" roadmap

The Biden administration is revising the social cost of carbon (SCC), a decade-old cost-benefit metric used to inform climate policy by placing a monetary value on the impact of climate change. In a newly published analysis in the journal Nature, a team of researchers lists a series of measures the administration should consider in recalculating the SCC.
February 18, 2021

California Republicans less likely to seek COVID vaccine, poll reports

As California struggles to bring the deadly COVID-19 pandemic under control, the state’s Republican voters are far less likely to seek a vaccine and express less support for small businesses, health care workers and other at-risk workers, according to a new poll by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS).
February 16, 2021

Five young scholars named Sloan Research Fellows

Five UC Berkeley assistant professors have been awarded 2021 Sloan Research Fellowships, which are one of the most competitive and prestigious awards available to early career researchers.
February 16, 2021

Berkeley-led consortium awarded $25 million to advance nuclear security

A five-year, $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Science Administration (NNSA) will keep UC Berkeley at the helm of a multi-institution consortium dedicated to advancing research in nuclear science and security and training the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers.
February 10, 2021

Researchers harness quantum weirdness to speed the search for dark matter

For more than a century, cosmologists have noted mysterious anomalies in the swirls of stars and galaxies in our universe: The motions of these celestial objects, which should be governed solely by the gravity of the other objects around them, instead seem to be dictated by the gravitational pull of matter that simply isn’t there — or, at least, cannot yet be observed.
February 9, 2021

Buyer beware: Massive experiment shows why ticket sellers hit you with last-second fees

A massive field experiment by Berkeley Haas Prof. Steven Tadelis with the online ticket marketplace StubHub concluded that so-called “drip pricing”—whereby additional fees are only disclosed when customers are ready to confirm their purchases—resulted in people spending about 21% more. It’s a particularly effective strategy for online sales, which in the past two years has overtaken brick-and-mortar shopping.
February 8, 2021

Emirates Mars Mission, partnering with UC Berkeley, to reach Mars Feb. 9

The Emirates Mars Mission, the first interplanetary exploration undertaken by an Arab nation, is scheduled to reach Mars’ orbit this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, at 7:41 a.m. PST. The Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at the University of California, Berkeley, is a partner in the collaboration, having contributed science team members, mission systems engineering support, and the detector and associated electronics for one of the three scientific instruments on board: the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrograph (EMUS).
February 8, 2021

How can local governments achieve equity in their communities?

With a new fiscal year approaching, local governments around the country will begin having discussions and debates about how to allocate their budgets. For counties and municipalities seeking to achieve equity for their residents, questions about what programs to cut or fund cannot be answered thoroughly without identifying the real racial disparities present within their communities. A new study by the Othering and Belonging Institute looks at one county's embrace of the Institute's Targeted Universalism to approach their policies.
February 5, 2021

Can hepatitis C drugs help remdesivir fight COVID-19?

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, only one antiviral drug, remdesivir, has been approved in the United States for treatment of COVID-19, but it barely works and is toxic to the liver. Researchers at UC Berkeley have found 20 compounds that, in combination with remdesivir, are much better than remdesivir alone in protecting human lung cells from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
February 4, 2021

More infectious COVID variant detected in Berkeley

A more transmissible variant of the coronavirus, first detected in the United Kingdom, has shown up in two UC Berkeley students, as the state announced at least 133 new cases of the variant statewide. The appearance of the new variant, which appears to be about 50% more infectious than earlier variants, reinforces the need to take very seriously public health precautions to prevent spread: wear a mask when around other people, keep at least six feet apart and wash your hands frequently.
February 4, 2021

Indigenous archaeology plows forward, despite anthropology’s checkered past

Kent Lightfoot trained in archaeology when backhoes and front-end loaders tore through Native American sites. At the time, it didn’t occur to him that the land could actually feel pain — not until Kashaya Pomo tribal elders at Northern California’s Fort Ross Historic State Park set him straight.
February 4, 2021

In a desert seared by climate change, burrowers fare better than birds

In the arid Mojave Desert, small burrowing mammals like the cactus mouse, the kangaroo rat and the white-tailed antelope squirrel are weathering the hotter, drier conditions triggered by climate change much better than their winged counterparts, finds a new study published today in Science.
January 28, 2021

New Berkeley center will explore bipartisan security solutions

Social media disinformation, climate change debates, foreign interference in elections — some of the defining themes of recent American politics seem only loosely connected. But underlying the headlines is a single, troubling theme: The nation’s political process is suffering a historic level of instability. A new initiative headed by Janet Napolitano will bring Berkeley faculty, researchers and students from across disciplines into the new Center for Security in Politics.
January 28, 2021

New fellows program supports taking risks in science

To support research that has the potential to forge new paths in the physical sciences, UC Berkeley launched the Heising-Simons Faculty Fellows program. Through a generous gift from the Heising-Simons Family Fund, early- and mid-career faculty members working in geology and geophysics, materials sciences and materials chemistry, astronomy and physics will have the opportunity to apply for five-year $1 million fellowships to pursue basic science research that could lead to paradigm-shifting discoveries.
January 18, 2021

Where do our minds wander? Brain waves can point the way

Anyone who has tried and failed to meditate knows that our minds are rarely still. But where do they roam? New research led by UC Berkeley has come up with a way to track the flow of our internal thought processes and signal whether our minds are focused, fixated or wandering.
January 14, 2021

Vice chancellor for research Randy Katz to step down

Randy Katz, a computer scientist and Wi-Fi pioneer who served as the University of California, Berkeley’s vice chancellor for research for three years, during which time he shepherded the campus through a year-long phased reopening after a pandemic shutdown, will step down on June 30.
January 14, 2021

Glass frogs living near roaring waterfalls wave hello to attract mates

Most frogs emit a characteristic croak to attract the attention of a potential mate. But a few frog species add to their calls by visually showing off with the flap of a hand, a wave of a foot or a bob of the head. Conservation ecologist Rebecca Brunner has discovered that the glass frog Sachatamia orejuela can be added to the list of species that make use of visual cues in response to their acoustic environments. This is the first time a member of the glass frog family (Centrolenidae) has been observed using visual communication in this manner.
January 13, 2021

Astronomers find signature of magnetar outbursts in nearby galaxies

Apart from black holes, magnetars may be the most extreme stars in the universe. With a diameter less than the length of Manhattan, they pack more mass than that of our sun, wield the largest magnetic field of any known object — more than 10 trillion times stronger than a refrigerator magnet — and spin on their axes every few seconds.
January 12, 2021

New study reveals how fences hinder migratory wildlife in the West

Each year, thousands of migratory mule deer and pronghorn antelope journey northwest from their winter homes to their summer homes in the mountainous landscape near Grand Teton National Park. But to reach their destination, these ungulates must successfully navigate the more than 6,000 kilometers (3,728 miles) of fencing that crisscrosses the region. That’s enough distance to span nearly twice the length of the U.S.-Mexico border.
January 7, 2021

Biden must mount campaign against right-wing extremists, says Berkeley expert

Americans, and people across the world, watched in shock and alarm yesterday as hundreds of right-wing extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress was certifying the Electoral College votes that produced a victory for Democrat Joe Biden and a defeat for President Donald Trump. But no one should have been surprised, says Lawrence Rosenthal, head of the Center for Right-Wing Studies at UC Berkeley.
January 4, 2021

Reawakened geyser does not foretell Yellowstone volcanic eruptions

When Yellowstone National Park’s Steamboat Geyser reawakened in 2018 after three and a half years of dormancy, some speculated that it was a harbinger of possible explosive volcanic eruptions within the surrounding geyser basin. A new study by geoscientists who study geysers throws cold water on that idea, finding few indications of underground magma movement that would be a prerequisite to an eruption. The geysers sit just outside the nation’s largest and most dynamic volcanic caldera, but no major eruptions have occurred in the past 70,000 years.