In shaky times, focus on past successes, if overly anxious, depressed

The more chaotic things get, the harder it is for people with clinical anxiety and/or depression to make sound decisions and to learn from their mistakes. On a positive note, overly anxious and depressed people’s judgment can improve if they focus on what they get right, instead of what they get wrong.

By Kara Manke| DECEMBER 21, 2020

Imagine typing on a computer without a keyboard, playing a video game without a controller or driving a car without a wheel. A new device developed by engineers at the UC Berkeley can recognize hand gestures based on electrical signals detected in the forearm. The system, which couples wearable biosensors with artificial intelligence (AI), could one day be used to control prosthetics or to interact with almost any type of electronic device.

Upcycling: Turning plastic bags into adhesives

While many cities and eight states have banned single-use plastics, bags and other polyethylene packaging still clog landfills and pollute rivers and oceans. One major problem with recycling polyethylene, which makes up one-third of all plastic production worldwide, is economic: Recycled bags end up in low-value products, such as decks and construction material, providing little incentive to reuse the waste.

Camera traps document wildlife’s return to Gorongosa National Park

Mozambique’s civil war, which raged from 1977 to 1992, took a devastating toll on wildlife in the country’s famed Gorongosa National Park, a 1,500-square-mile reserve at the southern tip of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. During the war, violence and food insecurity drove many people to hunt wild animals to feed themselves, resulting in the loss of more than 90% of the large mammals in the park.

Neuroscientists tap gamers to learn how people problem-solve

Fans of Candy Crush Saga, Flow Free or Minesweeper should check out a challenging new mobile game app, hexxed, that will stretch your brain as it helps brain researchers understand human strategic thinking and perhaps improve the reasoning of artificial intelligence.

High-powered, but supportive, environment draws students to Nobel winners’ labs

On the morning that University of California, Berkeley, professor Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, her first stop after a 7 a.m. press conference and subsequent media interviews was her campus lab in the Innovative Genomics Institute. When she exited the elevator with her family at 10:30 a.m., she was greeted by dozens of graduate students and lab staff, while several dozen current and former lab members joined in via Zoom.

Using CRISPR, new technique makes it easy to map genetic networks

CRISPR-Cas9 makes it easy to knock out or tweak a single gene to determine its effect on an organism or cell, or even another gene. But what if you could perform several thousand experiments at once, using CRISPR to tweak every gene in the genome individually and quickly see the impact of each?

This Anti-COVID Mask Design Breaks the Mold

In the early days of the pandemic, amidst all the uncertainty, one thing was for sure: N95 masks were in short supply. So when materials scientists Jeff Urban and Peter Hosemann heard that a local HMO needed advice on N95 alternatives, they immediately knew what to do: Design a better mask.

Nobel Prize ceremonies go virtual for Doudna, Genzel

For the first time since World War II, winners of this year’s Nobel Prizes will not be receiving their medals and diplomas from the King of Sweden in Stockholm. The pandemic has forced the Nobel Committees to deliver the medals to recipients at their homes, with just immediate family and consular or embassy officials in attendance.

Despite drift toward authoritarianism, Trump voters stay loyal. Why?

More than a month has passed since the fiercely contested U.S. presidential election, and the nation’s institutions are moving day-by-day toward acceptance of the outcome that made Democrat Joe Biden the winner over incumbent Republican Donald Trump. But Trump is neither conceding nor moving on — and, it appears, the same is true for millions of his supporters.

Psychologist Alison Gopnik wins lifetime achievement award

Alison Gopnik, a developmental psychologist and author of such acclaimed books as The Philosophical Baby, The Scientist in the Crib, and How Babies Think, is one of three recipients of the James McKeen Cattel Fellow Award. Recipients of the award, bestowed by the Association for Psychological Science (APS), represent the field of psychology’s most accomplished and respected scientists whose research addresses critical societal problems.

California farmworkers hit hard by COVID-19, study finds

Many farmworkers who plant and harvest our food are forced to live and work under conditions that are ripe for transmission of COVID-19. During the summer harvest season, coronavirus outbreaks popped up across the nation among farmworkers in agricultural communities, including many in California.

It’s not easy being green: The role of green light in light harvesting complexes in plants

What is color? The color of an object arises from which wavelengths of light are absorbed and which are reflected. For example, we would say a leaf is green because when sunlight—composed of different wavelengths of light like a rainbow—hits the leaf, the leaf absorbs red, orange, yellow, blue, and purple light, and is reflects green light back at us. Based on this description, we might conclude that green light has no effect on the plant as the very color tells us that the plant is rejecting that wavelength of light.

Five Berkeley top scholars named AAAS fellows

Five Berkeley scholars — four faculty members and one research scientist — have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the world’s largest scientific societies. The distinction was awarded this year to 489 scientists, engineers and innovators for their advancement of science and its applications.

Those darn property taxes! Insights from Texas tax protests

Everyone loves to complain that their taxes are too high. Yet few people actually take the time to formally protest them. A recent deep-dive into property tax appeals in Texas offers new insights on what motivates people to protest or accept their tax obligations.

Researchers receive grants from Bureau of Cannabis Control

On November 13th, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the lead state agency that regulates commercial licenses for both medical and adult-use cannabis, announced a wave of research grant funding at public universities. Researchers affiliated with the Berkeley Cannabis Research Center received $4.6 million in grants of the $30 million total that was awarded across the state. 

Zebra finches amazing at unmasking the bird behind the song

If songbirds could appear on “The Masked Singer” reality TV competition, zebra finches would likely steal the show. That’s because they can rapidly memorize the signature sounds of at least 50 different members of their flock, according to new research from UC Berkeley.

Deep learning helps robots grasp and move objects with ease

In the past year, lockdowns and other COVID-19 safety measures have made online shopping more popular than ever, but the skyrocketing demand is leaving many retailers struggling to fulfill orders while ensuring the safety of their warehouse employees.

American democracy — stressed out and ‘backsliding’?

More than two weeks have passed since Election Day in the United States, and though former Vice President Joe Biden emerged the winner after a few days of uncertainty, the controversies over legitimacy continue to provoke fury among President Donald Trump and his allies.

Is Trump right about Georgia vote?

As it has in many states, President Donald Trump’s campaign questioned the outcome of the election in Georgia, where Joe Biden has a lead of over 14,000 votes, too close for Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to call.

David Schaffer named Acrivos Professional Progress Award recipient

This fall, ChEnected is introducing readers to the recipients of AIChE’s 2020 Institute and Board of Directors’ Awards, which are AIChE’s highest honors. Recipients are nominated by the chemical engineering community and voted on by the members of AIChE’s volunteer-led Awards Committee. These awards recognize outstanding achievements and world-class contributions across a spectrum of chemical engineering endeavors. 

Computing Sciences’ Deb Agarwal and Kathy Yelick Receive Director’s Awards

Deb Agarwal, head of the Data Science and Technology Department in the Computational Research Division, and Kathy Yelick, former Associate Lab Director for Computing Sciences, will be presented with the Berkeley Lab Citation at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s 2020 Director’s Awards at 3 p.m. on Thursday, November 12.

Drop in pandemic CO2 emissions previews world of electric vehicles

In the six weeks after the San Francisco Bay Area instituted the nation’s first shelter-in-place mandate in response to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, regional carbon dioxide emissions dropped by 25%, almost all of it due to a nearly 50% drop in road traffic, according to new study from the University of California, Berkeley.

Why violence has re-emerged in Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict

Fierce battles continue in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict that has killed at least 1,000 people, and possibly many more. The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan threatens to destabilize the South Caucasus region, in what has been one of the world’s most protracted wars; three cease-fires have already collapsed since hostilities flared at the end of September.

America on edge: Berkeley scholars’ early election thoughts

UC Berkeley scholars awoke Wednesday, Nov. 4 to signs of a deeply divided U.S. electorate, and no blue wave on the horizon. Despite a surge in early voting, ballots were still being counted in several battleground states. As of noon that day, the race between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden remained too close to call. 

As demographics change, California GOP fades as a political force

Demographic change is transforming the California political landscape, with rising numbers of younger Latinx and Asian American voters identifying mostly as independents and Democrats, according to a new report from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS).

UC Berkeley launches pop-up lab to monitor Bay Area sewage for COVID-19

Since the discovery that people infected with COVID-19 often shed the virus in their feces, scientists around the world have scrambled to spot signs of the virus in the stuff that we flush. However, detecting tiny virus particles amid the wastewater that flows through our sewage pipes — which includes not only toilet water, but sink water, shower water and everything else that goes down a drain — is no easy feat.

Researchers break magnetic memory speed record

Spintronic devices are attractive alternatives to conventional computer chips, providing digital information storage that is highly energy efficient and also relatively easy to manufacture on a large scale. However, these devices, which rely on magnetic memory, are still hindered by their relatively slow speeds, compared to conventional electronic chips.

Researchers discover link between microRNA and metabolic disorders

In a study published today in the journal Cell,  UC Berkeley Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology professor Anders Näär led a group of researchers from 12 institutions in the United States and Europe, to better understand a region on the second human chromosome previously linked to both the digestion of milk and metabolic disorders. They discovered that a microRNA, which are tiny snippets of non-coding RNA that prevent genes from making proteins, is associated with energy storage and metabolic diseases such as obesity, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

Bustamante awarded Biophysical Society Honors

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Raymond and Beverly Sackler Chair and Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology Carlos Bustamante has been awarded the 2021 Biophysical Society (BPS) Kazuhiko Kinosita Award in Single-Molecule Biophysics.

Researchers discover link between microRNA and metabolic disorders

In a study published today in the journal Cell,  UC Berkeley Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology professor Anders Näär led a group of researchers from 12 institutions in the United States and Europe, to better understand a region on the second human chromosome previously linked to both the digestion of milk and metabolic disorders.

Is English the lingua franca of science? Not for everyone.

English has become the de facto language of science: International conferences are held in English, the world’s top scientific journals are in English and academics in non-English speaking countries get promoted based on their publications in English language journals. Even scientific jargon is in English — most non-English speakers use English terms and don’t bother inventing equivalent words in their native languages.

Race, the power of an Illusion: The house we live in

Generations of racism shaped the structures of the United States, working into the very DNA of our institutions and culture. Simply reforming the structures won’t do, a panel of experts said Friday, Oct. 9 at a UC Berkeley event. Instead, the experts urged, we must work to build a more just world. 

Why you should stay single: The scientific benefits of using a single photon

Like many other labs, Graham Fleming’s group is focusing on interdisciplinary techniques to make new discoveries and explore the mysteries of fundamental processes. Chemistry graduate student Kaydren Orcutt highlights how researchers can combine physics and biology, generating single photons in a bid to unentangle the mysteries of photosynthesis.

UC Berkeley campus reacts to this week’s two Nobel Prize wins

In just two days, UC Berkeley is two Nobel Prizes richer. Today (Wednesday, Oct. 7), biochemist Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, for the co-development of CRISPR-Cas9, a revolutionary gene-editing tool that allows scientists to rewrite DNA.

First Day in a Nobel Life: Jennifer Doudna

When UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna went to sleep last night, she didn’t give serious thought to her chance of winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Then, a phone call woke her up today, just before 3 a.m. It was a reporter, asking for a comment about winning the prize. Doudna said her initial response was, “Who won?”

Jill Banfield: How a curious Google search led me to Jennifer Doudna

Jill Banfield is a UC Berkeley professor who studies the structure, functioning and diversity of microbial communities in natural environments and the human microbiome. In this “On My Mind” feature, she describes how she first met Berkeley’s newest Nobel laureate, Jennifer Doudna, who gave thanks to Banfield at Wednesday’s press conference.

An expert on 'undruggable' targets tackles the coronavirus

Throughout the grim reality of a global pandemic that has disrupted normal life for months, one persistent bright spot has been the robust response of the biomedical research community. The battle to develop vaccines and drugs to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus and COVID-19, the disease which it causes, has highlighted the tremendous benefits of investing in science aimed at developing innovative research platforms and tools. When a new disease like COVID-19 arises, such platforms and tools developed for other purposes can be quickly pivoted to provide solutions to the emerging threat.

Poll finds Californians have one mission: Defeat President Trump

A new Berkeley IGS Poll revealed Californians’ opinions about a variety of political topics, including reforms to property taxes, climate change-fueled wildfires and the selection of California’s Sen. Kamala Harris as former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential running mate.

Metal wires of carbon complete toolbox for carbon-based computers

Transistors based on carbon rather than silicon could potentially boost computers’ speed and cut their power consumption more than a thousandfold — think of a mobile phone that holds its charge for months — but the set of tools needed to build working carbon circuits has remained incomplete until now.

$14 million boost for Parkinson’s disease research

Two new grants totaling nearly $14 million over three years will jump-start research at UC Berkeley into the molecular and genetic causes of Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that afflicts more than 1 million Americans, yet whose cause remains a mystery.

After Floyd’s killing, KIPs at protests led to 100-plus head injuries

“Shot in the Head,” a new report led by UC Berkeley researcher, adjunct professor and Oakland emergency room doctor Rohini Haar,  details the life-threatening injuries that can occur when law enforcement officers deploy kinetic impact projectiles (KIPs) — crowd-control weapons classified as “less lethal” that range from rubber and plastic bullets to bean bag, sponge and pellet rounds.

Stephen Hinshaw wins 2020 Sarnat Prize for mental health breakthroughs

UC Berkeley psychologist Stephen Hinshaw has won the National Academy of Medicine’s 2020 Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health for his contributions to the understanding and treatment of mental health conditions in childhood and adolescence and for his efforts to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

Race, the power of an illusion

Scientists in the United States spent centuries attempting to find biological differences among racial groups to justify an imagined hierarchy, but it’s past time to dismantle the systems created on those unfounded principles, a panel of experts explained on Friday at a UC Berkeley online event.

UC Berkeley launches new center for psychedelic science and education

Fifty years after political and cultural winds slammed shut the doors on psychedelic research, UC Berkeley is making up for lost time by launching the campus’s first center for psychedelic science and public education. With $1.25 million in seed funding from an anonymous donor, the new UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics will conduct research using psychedelics to investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain.

To recreate ancient recipes, check out the vestiges of clay pots

If you happen to dig up an ancient ceramic cooking pot, don’t clean it. Chances are, it contains the culinary secrets of the past. A research team led by UC Berkeley archaeologists has discovered that unglazed ceramic cookware can retain the residue of not just the last supper cooked, but, potentially, earlier dishes cooked across a pot’s lifetime, opening a window onto the past.

Berkeley Conversations: Race, law and education

Deeply-grooved roadblocks to racial equity in K-12 education — and ways to surmount them — were the focal point of a compelling, livestreamed Berkeley Conversations event with four experts on Monday.  Prudence Carter, dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education, used key historical moments to show where she said opportunities to recalibrate a “continual cycle of accumulated disadvantage” went awry.

For an effective COVID vaccine, look beyond antibodies to T-cells

More than 100 companies have rushed into vaccine development against COVID-19 as the U.S. government pushes for a vaccine rollout at “warp speed” — possibly by the end of the year — but the bar set for an effective, long-lasting vaccine is far too low and may prove dangerous, according to Marc Hellerstein of the University of California, Berkeley.

US COVID-19 Cases May Be Substantially Underestimated

The United States may have experienced more than 6.4 million cases of COVID-19 by April 18, 2020, according to a probability analysis conducted by UC Berkeley School of Public Health researchers and published in Nature Communications. That is nine time more than the number of confirmed cases in the same period, which was 721,245.

How we sleep today may forecast when Alzheimer’s disease begins

What would you do if you knew how long you had until Alzheimer’s disease set in? Don’t despair. New UC Berkeley research suggests one defense against this virulent form of dementia — for which no treatment currently exists — is deep, restorative sleep, and plenty of it.

Nano-sized sensors learn new biological tricks

Christopher Jackson, a graduate student in the Landry Lab at QB3-Berkeley, explores how a better understanding of nanotechnology interactions with biological systems can improve neuroimaging and COVID-19 testing.

Being a selfish jerk doesn’t get you ahead, research finds

The evidence is in: Nice guys and gals don’t finish last, and being a selfish jerk doesn’t get you ahead. That’s the clear conclusion from research that tracked disagreeable people—those with selfish, combative, manipulative personalities—from college or graduate school to where they landed in their careers about 14 years later.

Demographers put COVID-19 death toll into perspective

With over 170,000 COVID-19 deaths to date, and 1,000 more each day, America’s life expectancy may appear to be plummeting. But in estimating the magnitude of the pandemic, UC Berkeley demographers have found that COVID-19 is likely to shorten the average U.S. lifespan in 2020 by only about a year.

End of affirmative action at UC hurt Black, Latinx students, study finds

The end of affirmative action at California universities 22 years ago had a significant negative impact on Black and Latinx students, forcing many out of the University of California system and reducing their later earnings, according to a new study from the Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE) at UC Berkeley.

Student depression, anxiety soaring during pandemic, new survey finds

The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be driving dramatic increases in depression and anxiety among college students, with more than a third reporting significant mental health challenges, according to a new survey co-led by the University of California, Berkeley, Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE).

New center to focus on physics of ultra-dense neutron stars

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded UC Berkeley $10.9 million over five years to expand research on the exotic state of matter inside neutron stars — the dense remains of exploded stars — and what can be learned from the growing number of gravitational wave detectors now listening for the spacetime vibrations generated by the violent merger of two neutron stars.

Penguins are Aussies. Or are they Kiwis?

From the four-foot-tall emperor penguin to the aptly named foot-long little penguin, these unique flightless birds have invaded habitats from Antarctica to the equator, not to mention the hearts of the public.

Systemic racism hurts not just humans, but urban biodiversity

Racial and socioeconomic inequality is not only harmful to humans, but is also impacting the biodiversity and ecological health of plants and animals in our cities, according to a new review paperpublished online today (Thursday, August 13) in the journal Science.

With a nod to UC Berkeley, Google crowdsources earthquake data

A UC Berkeley idea to crowdsource every cellphone on the planet to create a global seismic network has been adapted by Google and incorporated into the Android operating system, kicking off an effort to build the world’s largest network of earthquake detectors.

Should we sequence newborns’ DNA? The answer is complicated, study finds

Many adults seek genetic counseling, or opt to send samples of their saliva to companies like 23andMe, to find out if the specific patterns in their DNA may put them at higher risk for developing disease. But many doctors and scientists — including National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins — have predicted that, one day, genetic screening will be a routine health check performed on all newborn babies.

Programmable synthetic materials

Artificial molecules could one day form the information unit of a new type of computer or be the basis for programmable substances. The information would be encoded in the spatial arrangement of the individual atoms – similar to how the sequence of base pairs determines the information content of DNA, or sequences of zeros and ones form the memory of computers.

Dwarf planet Ceres has reservoirs of salty water

The dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in our Solar System’s main asteroid belt, once harbored a global subsurface ocean that likely froze solid long ago. Today, if any liquid water — a key requisite for habitability — still exists on Ceres, a good place to look for it is beneath the youngest of its large impact craters.

Brain noise contains unique signature of dream sleep

When we dream, our brains are filled with noisy electrical activity that looks nearly identical to that of the awake brain. But UC Berkeley researchers have pulled a signal out of the noise that uniquely defines dreaming, or REM sleep, potentially making it easier to monitor people with sleep disorders, as well as unconscious coma patients or those under anesthesia.

Safe Bay Area school reopenings may be possible with stringent social-distancing measures and reductions in community transmission

As the fall school semester is nearly underway, discussions are intensifying on whether, and how, to reopen schools amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A new study, led by researchers at UC Berkeley, finds that in-person classes in the Bay Area may be possible for elementary schools, but only if schools can successfully limit contact between students from different classes. In contrast, remote learning may be the only safe option for middle and high schools until community transmission is dramatically lowered.

California Republicans are turning on Trump, poll finds

As the United States struggles with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread protests against racism, President Donald Trump’s support among California voters is eroding even in conservative areas of the state, according to a new poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies (IGS).

Treating children for worms yields long-term benefits, says new study

Children who receive sustained treatment against common parasitic infections grow up to achieve a higher standard of living, with long-lasting health and economic benefits extending to their communities, according to new findings from a research team led by a University of California, Berkeley, economist.

New understanding of CRISPR-Cas9 tool could improve gene editing

CRISPR-Cas9 has become the go-to genome editor for both basic research and gene therapy. But CRISPR-Cas9 also has spawned other potentially powerful DNA manipulation tools that could help fix genetic mutations responsible for hereditary diseases. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have now obtained the first 3D structure of one of the most promising of these tools: base editors, which bind to DNA and, instead of cutting, precisely replace one nucleotide with another.

Desert mosses use quartz rocks as sun shades

Living under a translucent rock can be quite comfortable — if you’re a moss in the Mojave Desert. Some mosses in the California desert seek protection from the relentless sun and heat by sheltering under translucent quartz pebbles, essentially using the rocks as sunshades.

Researchers create surface coating that can create false infrared images

Light can sometimes play tricks on our eyes. If you look at a shiny surface, what you see will largely depend on the surrounding environment and lighting conditions. Berkeley researchers have now taken ocular distortion a step further, finding a way to imbed visual “decoys” into surfaces of objects in a way that can fool people into thinking they detect a specific image in the infrared that actually isn’t there.

UC Berkeley to lead $25 million quantum computing center

As part of the federal government’s effort to speed the development of quantum computers, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the University of California, Berkeley, $25 million over five years to establish a multi-university institute focused on advancing quantum science and engineering and training a future workforce to build and use quantum computers.

Emirates launches first Mars probe with help from UC Berkeley

At 2:58 p.m. PDT today (Sunday, July 19), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) successfully launched an interplanetary probe — the first by any country in the Arab world — thanks, in part, to science collaboration, training and instrument components provided by the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL).

Pesticides speed the spread of deadly waterborne pathogens

Widespread use of pesticides and other agrochemicals can speed the transmission of the debilitating disease schistosomiasis, while also upsetting the ecological balances in aquatic environments that prevent infections, finds a new study led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

How plutocrats, populists are driving a precarious moment in U.S. history

For anyone who wants to understand the rise and reign of Donald Trump, one question may be paramount: Why have laid-off industrial workers, hardscrabble farmers and ranchers, and millions who lack health care embraced a conservative movement that expressly serves the economic interests of America’s wealthiest 1%?

Using physics to search for meaning in the chaos of gene regulation

By applying ideas from theoretical physics, researchers are starting to develop a unified understanding of how genes are regulated. Below, graduate student Jonathan Liu explores the interface between physics and biology and discusses the field of biophysics with two researchers.

From lung scarring to heart damage, COVID-19 may leave lingering marks

For some individuals with COVID-19, recovering from the acute phase of the infection is only the beginning. Worrying reports now indicate that the virus may be capable of inflicting long-lasting damage to the lungs, heart and nervous system, and researchers are closely watching to see if the kidneys, liver and gastrointestinal tract may be susceptible to persistent damage as well. 

COVID-19 shows fraying U.S. safety net, Berkeley scholars say

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented levels of unemployment and economic uncertainty, and despite strong government efforts to address human needs, continued support and bold policy are essential for the months ahead, top scholars said during a recent event at UC Berkeley.

Enrique Iglesia receives 2021 NACS award

The NACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Catalysis recognizes an individual who has advanced catalytic chemistry or engineering by significant service to the catalysis community in addition to technical accomplishments.

UC Berkeley launches trial of saliva test for COVID-19

Scientists from the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI), the same UC Berkeley group that rapidly popped up a state-of-the-art COVID-19 testing laboratory in March, are now trialing a quicker way to obtain patient samples: through saliva.

Berkeley awarded $20M to establish an NSF Center for Chemical Innovation

A team of institutions led by UC Berkeley has been awarded a $20 million research grant from the National Science Foundation to pursue breakthrough technologies towards new medicines and innovative materials. The effort brings together a team of chemists, biologists, engineers, and data scientists to tackle a “Holy Grail” problem in the chemical sciences: how to synthesize truly sequence-defined chemical polymers, oligomeric molecules possessing both a pre-determined, diverse sequence, and a defined length. 

‘Berkeley Changemaker’ course turns self-discovery into tool for change

The instructors of a new UC Berkeley course have set an ambitious goal: changing the world, one student at a time. “The Berkeley Changemaker: A Discovery Experience” is a three-week class offered this summer to first-year undergraduates to help them identify their passions and leverage their leadership traits to transform Berkeley and the world, for the better.

Light Shows the Way to Build “Smart” Infrastructure

Rather than close the New York City subway Canarsie Tunnel for repairs, a team including Kenichi Soga, Berkeley professor of civil engineering, developed a plan to strengthen the walls with fiber-reinforced polymer and install fiber optic sensors to remotely monitor the tunnel’s vulnerability to future damage. Soga explained his work to advance this technology and speed its implementation in major infrastructure projects. His work is supported by the Bakar Fellows program.

Remembering the history of polio can help in finding a coronavirus vaccine

On a spring morning in 1955, a pair of press officers greeted a mob of reporters in a stately hall on the University of Michigan campus. The officers had hot news: A clinical trial of the long-awaited polio vaccine had proved it to be safe and effective. The reporters nearly rioted in their scramble to spread the word. Once they did, church bells rang, and people ran into the streets to cheer.

Students’ expertise helps map 11 days, 125 acts of U.S. police violence

Five hundred videos in 10 days. That’s the job 10 students and alumni at UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Investigations Lab and students at Cambridge University recently tackled with researchers from Amnesty International’s Citizen Evidence Lab to map police violence across the U.S. in the wake of the May 25 killing of George Floyd in police custody. Together, they searched for, examined and verified digital content shot by citizens and posted on social media.

Race, law, and health policy

As the country moves toward reopening — and with it some sense of “normalcy” — UC Berkeley researchers said simply returning to normal isn’t enough. Rather, they said, dismantling structural racism must be part of any reopening strategy.

Want to persuade an opponent? Try listening, Berkeley scholar says

The nation is locked in a state of polarization unprecedented in the past half-century, with deep, volatile divisions around issues of politics, race, religion and the environment. These issues can split families, break friendships and create enormous stress in communities — and yet, having a constructive discussion about the disagreements often seems impossible.

COVID-19 has already cost California insurers $2.4 billion, new study estimates

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost California’s public and private insurers an estimated $2.4 billion dollars in testing and treatment — about six times the annual cost to treat seasonal influenza in the state, according to a new study by researchers at the Nicholas C. Petris Center at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health.

Record-breaking metalens could revolutionize optical technologies

Traditional lenses — like the ones found in eyeglasses — are bulky, heavy and only focus light across a limited number of wavelengths. A new, ultrathin metalens developed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, uses an array of tiny, connected waveguides that resembles a fishnet to focus light at wavelengths spanning from the visible to the infrared with record-breaking efficiencies.

Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grant awardees announced

If necessity is the mother of invention, more than a few winners of the campus’s first-ever Berkeley Changemaker Technology Innovation Grants found inspiration in the teaching and learning challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Other initiatives address the timely topics of racial justice and equality.

Rogue’s gallery of dusty star systems reveals exoplanet nurseries

Astronomers this month released the largest collection of sharp, detailed images of debris disks around young stars, showcasing the great variety of shapes and sizes of stellar systems during their prime planet-forming years. Surprisingly, nearly all showed evidence of planets.

Monitoring COVID-19 prevalence in municipal wastewater

Current efforts to track the spread of COVID-19 have largely relied on individual testing and hospital admission numbers. However, these data do not detect trends in the virus’s spread in the greater population, including those who are asymptomatic.

Berkeley Public Health Is on the Frontline of Research into How Racism Affects Public Health

Race- and ethnicity-based inequities in health outcomes for Americans are not news to public health specialists. Here at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, our faculty, researchers, and students have been working to illuminate the many ways in which racism affects who gets healthcare, how that healthcare is delivered, and possible solutions to entrenched problems like police brutality.

Four Berkeley engineers receive awards for COVID-19 research

The newly formed research consortium Digital Transformation Institute has made awards to 26 research projects led by top scientists and engineers to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Four of the recipients have faculty appointments at UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering.

Winner of campus’s new Bakar Prize hopes to harness sun’s power

A few years ago, Junqiao Wu, a UC Berkeley professor of material science and engineering, figured out how he could use thermal power to transform materials: roofs that adapt to temperatures and save energy, new types of sunglasses and even tools that could screen for cancer or monitor hidden defects in buildings.

A New Test Can See -- Almost Literally -- Infectious Bacteria

Up to 20 percent of UTIs are caused by a particularly resistant microbe known as ESBL-producing bacteria. These infections do not respond to the standard antibiotic treatment. With support as a 2019-2020 Bakar FellowNiren Murthy, professor of bioengineering, and colleagues have developed a 30-minute, low-tech test, called DETECT, to identify ESBL-producing bacteria on a patient’s first visit to the doctor.

Pandemic could decimate environmental, outdoor science education programs

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the survival of organizations nationwide that provide critical outdoor environmental and science education to K-12 students, with an alarming 63% of such groups uncertain about their ability to ever reopen their doors, according to a study released this week by the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Diluting blood plasma rejuvenates tissue, reverses aging in mice

In 2005, University of California, Berkeley, researchers made the surprising discovery that making conjoined twins out of young and old mice — such that they share blood and organs — can rejuvenate tissues and reverse the signs of aging in the old mice. The finding sparked a flurry of research into whether a youngster’s blood might contain special proteins or molecules that could serve as a “fountain of youth” for mice and humans alike.

Racial discrimination ingrained in jury selection, law school report finds

An eye-opening report from Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic finds that racial discrimination is a consistent aspect of jury selection in California. The exhaustive studyinvestigates the history, legacy, and ongoing practice of excluding people of color—especially African Americans—from state juries through prosecutors’ peremptory challenges. 

Of virulent viruses and reservoir hosts

As the public health community races to contain the current global pandemic, researchers are working diligently to understand the novel coronavirus. Such efforts cross many facets of scientific research — from virology to wildlife ecology to medicine — with the ultimate hope of containing the virus and developing a vaccine.

Miniature Sensors Can Detect Potential Dangers of CO2

CO2 concentration in fresh air is about 400 parts per million (ppm). But get a group of people packed in a closed indoor space, and CO2 concentration can rise quickly.  Recent studies suggest that as levels increase above 1,000 ppm, decision-making and other cognitive abilities decline. Roya Maboudian studies the properties of nano-materials, including how their surfaces affect their performance. As a 2019-2020 Bakar Fellow, she is developing small, inexpensive and sensitive CO2 sensors.

Corey Goodman awarded Gruber Neuroscience Prize

Neuroscientist Corey Goodman, a longtime researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, who went on to start numerous biotech companies and, most recently, co-founded a venture capital firm, has been awarded the 2020 Gruber Neuroscience Prize.

COVID-19 in the global south: Economic impacts and recovery

COVID-19 is threatening the health and economic security of communities around the world, with dire implications for those living in poverty. As the pandemic unfolds, the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) is committed to sharing practical insights that can support evidence-based responses in the Global South.

How reforms could target police racism and brutality — and build trust

In the turbulent days since the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, Jack Glaser has been following the storm of protests, including dozens of incidents in which police appeared to escalate conflicts, use excessive force and target journalists. Like millions of others in the United States and worldwide, he is alarmed by what he’s seen.

Emergency COVID-19 measures prevented more than 500 million infections, study finds

Emergency health measures implemented in six major countries have “significantly and substantially slowed” the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to research from a UC Berkeley team published today in the journal "Nature". The findings come as leaders worldwide struggle to balance the enormous and highly visible economic costs of emergency health measures against their public health benefits, which are difficult to see.

Are crowd-control weapons dangerous? Very, says UC Berkeley expert

Protests and demonstrations, like those erupting after the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed when a white police officer in Minneapolis pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, are a daily occurrence in our world. But what happens when police use crowd-control weapons, or CCWs, against those exercising their democratic rights?

Fitful nightly sleep linked to chronic inflammation, hardened arteries

Disrupted nightly sleep and clogged arteries tend to sneak up on us as we age. And while both disorders may seem unrelated, a new UC Berkeley study helps explain why they are, in fact, pathologically intertwined. UC Berkeley sleep scientists have begun to reveal what it is about fragmented nightly sleep that leads to the fatty arterial plaque buildup known as atherosclerosis that can result in fatal heart disease.

George Floyd’s death is a reminder that black voices are still ignored

The excruciating stretch of eight minutes when four Minneapolis police officers ignored George Floyd’s pleas for one of the officers to take his knee off Floyd’s neck is the most recent occurrence in a long history of black people’s urgent cries for help being ignored by America’s white power structure. A Q&A with Nikki Jones, UC Berkeley professor of African American studies who, for 10 years, has worked with research partners to collect and analyze hundreds of video recordings of police encounters with the public.

Mining with Microbe “Animal Magnetism”

They’re microscopic miners. Some species of aquatic bacteria draw in dissolved iron from their watery environment and store it in specialized compartments called magnetosomes. They use its magnetic properties to navigate, sort of like ancient mariners using a lodestone to keep their bearings. Arash Komeili, Professor of Plant and Microbial Biology and one of this year’s Bakar Fellows, aims to understand what controls and maintains the microbes’ novel traits.

Berkeley study: Protests in Minneapolis, country rooted in systemic racial issues

The upheaval in response to the killing of George Floyd comes as no surprise to Stephen Menendian, director of research at UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute, who last year released a report examining how, 50 years after the 1967 Kerner Commission first examined the causes of black unrest, little had changed in policing.  

A Nano Strategy Overcomes Barriers to Plant Genetic Engineering

It’s like a Trojan horse on an incredibly small scale, a vehicle designed to slip through the tough defensive wall of plant cells and deliver the potent gene editing system, CRISPR-Cas9. Once inside, CRISPR- Cas9 can snip out a targeted gene to boost crop yields. The delivery vehicles are nanotubes, developed by Markita Landry. With support as a Bakar Fellow, Landry is now refining the technique and working with experts in agricultural science, business and other fields needed to reach the marketplace.

Google search data reveal Americans’ concerns about abortion

Residents of states with limited access to contraceptives and high rates of unplanned pregnancies are more likely to turn to the internet for information about abortion. These are the findings of a new study of Google search data across all 50 states by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.

Saving livestock by thinking like a predator

New study describes how getting in the mind of predators — considering the ecology of how they hunt, how their prey behaves and how they interact with the landscape around them — will help farmers and wildlife managers target interventions to discourage wild carnivores from preying on valuable livestock.

Campus lab takes COVID-19 testing to utility workers, underserved

A month after opening, a COVID-19 testing lab at the University of California, Berkeley, has branched out from evaluating symptomatic students to assessing a broader range of people potentially exposed to the new coronavirus, including residents of local nursing homes, the East Bay’s homeless population, front-line firefighters and police officers and, now, utility workers around the state.

To climb like a gecko, robots need toes

Robots with toes? Experiments suggest that climbing robots could benefit from having flexible, hairy toes, like those of geckos, that can adjust quickly to accommodate shifting weight and slippery surfaces.

UC Berkeley team probes violent storms, lightning on Jupiter

Studying the turbulent weather of Jupiter, research reveals a special cloud structure near a massive cluster of lightning flashes: a three-way combination of deep clouds made of water, large convective towers, and clear regions with downwelling, drier air outside the convective towers.

COVID-19 and the media: The role of journalism in a global pandemic

To inform the public during these uncertain times, newsrooms across the country have made pandemic coverage a priority. But the ever-changing and sometimes unverified nature of COVID-19 data being released has left journalists and researchers with challenges in providing accurate information to the public.

New research shows hydrological limits in carbon capture and storage

Our energy and water systems are inextricably linked. Climate change necessitates that we transition to carbon-free energy and also that we conserve water resources as they become simultaneously more in demand and less available. Policymakers, business leaders, and scientists seeking to address the urgency of climate change are increasingly looking to Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) to help meet global climate goals.

Berkeley psychologist wins two prestigious awards

UC Berkeley psychologist Stephen Hinshaw has won two distinguished awards for his vast body of research, including his work on developmental psychopathology, the stigmatization of mental illness and longitudinal studies of girls and women with ADHD.

The lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our healthcare delivery system

As the COVID-19 pandemic rages across the country, it has brought unprecedented strain on hospitals and clinics, from a shortage of testing and medical supplies to issues in access among rural and underserved populations. The disease has put a spotlight on some of these inequities, while also revealing holes in the healthcare delivery system that can have lasting side effects on patients and providers.

Financial impacts of COVID-19 on higher education in California

In the last twenty years, California’s 10-campus University of California system and 23-campus state university system have seen significant declines in financial support from the state’s politicians, a trend that will only become more worrisome as California responds to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn.

Looking forward: How can we safely reopen the economy?

Pressure is mounting to reopen the economy, and some locales are rushing to do so. Deciding how and when it’s safe for people to return to work, school, and public life is a complex topic that involves implementing widespread testing; accurate assessment of exposure risks; ensuring health care system capacity; putting in place procedures and routines to protect workers; setting guidelines for mass behavior changes; and restoring public trust. How can we go about making these decisions and getting plans in place?

Election 2020: The pandemic changes everything

The streets are largely empty. People are secluded in their homes, forced to seek haven from a deadly virus. With shops, factories and offices closed, the economy is tottering. Voters arrive in protective masks to cast primary election ballots, while other primaries have been postponed or canceled. Protesters, meanwhile, gather at state capitols, demanding a return to normalcy — and some of them are armed.

National Academy, Royal Society elect new UC Berkeley members

Chemist Dean Toste, biochemist James Hurley and astrophysicist Eliot Quataert are the latest University of California, Berkeley, faculty members elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a group that has provided policy guidance to the U.S. government since 1863.

Students’ shoebox-sized satellite gets green light for launch

Most graduating seniors expect to write a final thesis, or perhaps co-author a paper or present a poster or talk at an academic conference. By the time Paul Kӧttering graduates from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2021, he and his team hope to have launched a satellite.

What COVID-19 antibody tests can tell us, and what they can’t

As the United States and much of the world move toward relaxing shelter-in-place restrictions to let people move about more freely, public health experts hope to rely on antibody tests to determine who has been infected with the COVID-19 virus and may be immune — at least temporarily — and who is still susceptible.

Calm amid COVID-19: Gratitude

In the third in a series of short videos, UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner talks about the benefits of practicing gratitude. Expressing appreciation is a key component of Keltner’s Science of Happiness course, which he has taught to inmates at San Quentin State Prison, among thousands of other students.

Urban slums are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19. Here’s how to help

Government-enforced social isolation may help relatively affluent populations limit the spread of COVID-19, but these measures can be devastating for the nearly 1 billion people around the globe currently dwelling in urban slums, where physical space is scarce, and many rely on daily wage labor for survival.

Climate change and COVID-19: Can this crisis shift the paradigm?

Ever so slowly, communities around the globe are cautiously easing shelter-in-place orders, and people are heading back to work — bringing with them damaging behaviors that hurt the environment and impact climate change, such as increased reliance on single-use plastic grocery bags.

Understanding and seeking equity amid COVID-19

In today’s Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19 event, Jennifer Chayes, associate provost of the Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society and dean of the School of Information, spoke with three UC Berkeley experts about how relying on data and algorithms to guide pandemic response may actually serve to perpetuate these inequities — and what researchers and data scientists can do to reverse the patterns.

Cal Students Launch Resource 19 to Connect Creators with Hospitals in Need

Healthcare workers across the globe are facing dire shortages of critical equipment needed to treat the coronavirus. Each day, news outlets show images of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals struggling with inadequate or non-existent PPE (personal protective equipment). The public is left at home wondering what can be done to help.

Health center expands testing for those with COVID-19 symptoms

With the University of California, Berkeley’s COVID-19 diagnostic lab up and running, University Health Services (UHS) is expanding its coronavirus testing for symptomatic students, aiming for a 24-hour turnaround that will allow medical staff to better manage patients and help them understand the extent of infection in the campus community.

Coronavirus: science and solutions

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate communities around the world, researchers at UC Berkeley are racing to find solutions that will both secure our health and help get the economy back on its feet.

Learning to learn

When children play with toys, they learn about the world around them — and today’s robots aren’t all that different. At UC Berkeley’s Robot Learning Lab, groups of robots are working to master the same kinds of tasks that kids do: placing wood blocks in the correct slot of a shape-sorting cube, connecting one plastic Lego brick to another, attaching stray parts to a toy airplane.

Calm amid COVID-19: Compassion

In the second in a series of short videos, UC Berkeley psychologist Dacher Keltner discusses the benefits of compassion for others and ourselves.

Looming nightmare in mortgage industry, experts warn

Berkeley Haas Professors Nancy Wallace and Richard Stanton were some of the few voices to forewarn of the massive risk posed by shoddy practices in the mortgage industry prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Unfortunately, history seems to be repeating itself.

Berkeley Talks: How the real estate industry undermined black homeownership

In 1968, following a wave of urban uprisings, politicians worked to end the practice of redlining by passing the Housing and Urban Development Act. While the act was meant to encourage mortgage lenders and the real estate industry to treat black homebuyers equally, the disaster that came after revealed that racist exclusion hadn’t been eradicated, but rather transformed into a new phenomenon of predatory inclusion.

COVID-19: Economic impact, human solutions

The COVID-19 pandemic is confronting every level of the U.S. economy with an unprecedented challenge, and the government must mount a sustained, ambitious economic response lasting months and perhaps years, UC Berkeley economists said in an online forum today.

COVID-19’s unequal toll on black Americans: A Q&A with Tina Sacks

The recently-released data are shocking: COVID-19 is infecting and killing black people at an alarmingly high rate. An Associated Press analysis — one of the first attempts to examine the racial disparities of COVID-19 cases and deaths nationwide — has found that, of nearly 3,300 of the 13,000 deaths so far, about 42% of the deceased were African American. Black Americans account for about 21% of the total population in the areas covered by the AP analysis.

Economic fix: Deliver aid to as many as possible — fast

Congress and President Donald Trump have approved a gargantuan $2 trillion stimulus package to protect businesses, workers and the economy, but UC Berkeley economist Hilary Hoynes says the next step may be more difficult: administering the relief programs so that government funds get to vulnerable Americans as fast as possible.

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.

Creating informed responses: Berkeley’s computing and data science in action

In a live webcast on Tuesday, April 7, an interdisciplinary cast of Berkeley faculty members joined Nobel laureate Saul Perlmutter, director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, and Michael Lu, dean of Berkeley’s School of Public Health, to discuss how data is guiding our society’s response to the pandemic and how more and better data is needed to help us emerge from the crisis.

SCET launches COVID-RX program to help companies adapt

The University of California, Berkeley, one of the world’s premier public universities and worldwide center for innovation, is taking a leading role in response to the COVID-19 health crisis and is convening industry and its vast internal expertise to launch real time initiatives to help firms accelerate and adapt to the new environment. With its new COVID-RX initiative, the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology (SCET) will be conducting targeted projects in partnership with leading companies to focus on adapting and innovating under adversity.

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.

CITRIS Invention Lab opens to produce COVID-19 supplies

While UC Berkeley observes California’s shelter-in-place order, with most research labs shuttered, the CITRIS Invention Lab has received a rare exemption to operate the makerspace to fabricate products and prototypes designed to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis, including Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), ventilator adaptors, and materials needed by campus researchers. 

Returning used N95 masks to duty quickly — and safely

Bioengineering professor Amy Herr is part of a multi-university research consortium, N95Decon, providing a scientific consensus on existing and emerging decontamination methods. The consortium is assessing existing research, designing new systems and — importantly — actively debunking misinformation, with the goal of providing healthcare staff with scientifically proven ways to more safely reuse the masks.

Getting the right equipment to the right people

Hospitals are suffering from an acute shortage of emergency medical supplies, including masks, gowns, gloves and ventilators. However, the medical industry is struggling to determine the places that need them the most. Bin Yu, a professor of statistics and of electrical engineering and computer sciences, is working with nonprofit organization Response4Life to connect suppliers with hospitals in need.

On Mars or Earth, biohybrid can turn CO2 into new products

University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers report a milestone in packing bacteria (Sporomusa ovata) into a “forest of nanowires” to achieve a record efficiency to convert and store solar energy.

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.

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.

Coronavirus skeptics, deniers: Why some of us stick to deadly beliefs

Many young adults are defying the 6-feet-apart social distancing rules. What causes certain people to stick to their beliefs and act with skepticism despite overwhelming contradictory evidence? Berkeley News asked Celeste Kidd, a UC Berkeley computational cognitive scientist who studies false beliefs, curiosity and learning.

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 to leverage the convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and the internet of things (IoT) to transform societal-scale systems.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

Graphene: A Talented 2D Material Gets a New Gig

A team of researchers led by Feng Wang, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and a professor of physics at UC Berkeley, have tapped into their graphene system’s talent for juggling not just two properties, but three: superconducting, insulating, and a type of magnetism called ferromagnetism.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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