New Smart-Roof Coating Enables Year-Round Energy Savings

Scientists have developed an all-season smart-roof coating that keeps homes warm during the winter and cool during the summer without consuming natural gas or electricity. Research findings reported in the journal Science point to a groundbreaking technology that outperforms commercial cool-roof systems in energy savings.

California Domestic Migration Has Plunged During Pandemic, Study Finds

Research published today by the California Policy Lab reports a decline of 38% in the number of people migrating to the Golden State from elsewhere in the U.S. At the same time, the number of people leaving the state for other U.S. locations has increased by 12% since the start of the pandemic.

UC Berkeley Partners With New Arc Institute to Tackle Complex Diseases

UC Berkeley is partnering with UC San Francisco and Stanford University as founding scientific members of a new institute that aims to accelerate breakthroughs in complex diseases. The Arc Institute launched Dec. 15, 2021, with the goal of developing a new model for collaborative research that brings together world-class research with unconstrained funding to enable new discoveries that improve human health.

Decades After Its Demise, World Communism Still Casts a Long, Strange Shadow

Today, there are just five communist states left — though China, with nearly one-fifth of the world’s population, is clearly a global power. But in his new book,  The Rise and Demise of World Communism" eminent UC Berkeley political scientist George W. Breslauer says that if Karl Marx were alive today, he would not recognize the species of communism that survives there, or in Cuba, Laos, North Korea or Vietnam.

Parker Solar Probe Touches the Sun — a First for Any Spacecraft

or the first time in history, a spacecraft has touched the sun. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, which carries instruments built at UC Berkeley, flew through the sun’s upper atmosphere — the corona — for a few hours on April 28, 2021, sampling particles and magnetic fields for the first time from one of the hottest places in the solar system.

Overcooling of Offices Reveals Gender Inequity in Thermal Comfort

In our latest study, we found that part of this energy demand is wasted on excessive cooling of offices. This is known as overcooling, where office temperatures are cooled beyond the comfort requirements of occupants. Our results also show that office temperatures are generally less comfortable for women largely due to this overcooling.

New Kavli Center at UC Berkeley to Foster Ethics, Engagement in Science

UC Berkeley announced that the campus will be home to a new Kavli Center for Ethics, Science, and the Public, which, alongside a second center at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, will connect scientists, ethicists, social scientists, science communicators and the public in necessary and intentional discussions about the potential impacts of scientific discoveries.

A First Look Inside UC Berkeley’s Bakar BioEnginuity Hub

After two years of construction, the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub (BBH) is scheduled to open in February 2022. The world-class facility pairs the Bakar Labs incubator with fellowships and programming for Berkeley students and researchers, equipping current and aspiring entrepreneurs in the STEM world with labs, offices, equipment and shared community spaces that aim to encourage collaboration.

Significant Socio-Economic and Racial Stratification Caused by Public University Policies, Study Shows

In a new CSHE research paper College Major Restrictions and Student Stratification(link is external), CSHE Research Associate Zachary Bleemer and Aashish Mehta show that underrepresented minority (URM) college students have been steadily earning degrees in relatively less-lucrative fields of study since the mid-1990s. Their paper reveals that this widening gap is principally explained by rising stratification at public research universities, many of which increasingly enforce GPA restriction policies that prohibit students with poor introductory grades from declaring popular majors.

Fleshing Out the Bones of Quetzalcoatlus, Earth’s Largest Flier Ever

Look around any wetland today and you’re likely to see 3-foot-tall egrets or 4-foot-tall herons wading in the shallows in stealthy search of fish, insects or crustaceans. But 70 million years ago, along the Rio Grande River in Texas, a more impressive and scarier creature stalked the marshes: the 12-foot-tall pterosaur known as Quetzalcoatlus. With a 37- to 40-foot wingspan, it was the largest flying animal that ever lived on Earth.

CRISPRing the Microbiome is Just Around the Corner

To date, CRISPR enzymes have been used to edit the genomes of one type of cell at a time: They cut, delete or add genes to a specific kind of cell within a tissue or organ, for example, or to one kind of microbe growing in a test tube. Now, the University of California, Berkeley, group that invented the CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology nearly 10 years ago has found a way to add or modify genes within a community of many different species simultaneously, opening the door to what could be called “community editing.”

$17 Million Will Launch Trial of CRISPR Cure for Sickle Cell Disease

A small clinical trial of a CRISPR cure for sickle cell disease, approved earlier this year by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has received $17 million to enroll about nine patients, the first of which may be selected before the end of the year. The funds — $8.4 million from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) and $8.6 million from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) — were awarded to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, which will coordinate the four-year clinical study in collaboration with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, and UCLA.

Research Suggests More Than 400 Hazardous Sites in California Face Flooding

In addition to the threat to residential neighborhoods, new research from UC Berkeley School of Public Health and UCLA Fielding School of Public Health suggests sea level rise will expose over 400 industrial facilities and contaminated sites in California, including power plants, refineries, and hazardous waste sites, to increased risk of flooding. Increased flooding can come with risks of contamination releases into nearby communities.

Summer Rains in American Southwest Are Not Your Typical Monsoon

The months-long rainy season, or monsoon, that drenches northwestern Mexico each summer, reaching into Arizona and New Mexico and often as far north as Colorado and Northern California, is unlike any monsoon in the world, according to a new analysis by an earth scientist from the University of California, Berkeley.

The Superfoods That Fueled Ancient Andeans Through 2,500 Years of Turmoil

What if Indigenous diets could save our politically and ecologically strained planet? UC Berkeley archaeologists reconstructed the diets of ancient Andeans living around Lake Titicaca, which straddles Bolivia and Peru 12,500 feet above sea level. They found that quinoa, potatoes and llama meat helped fuel the Tiwanaku civilization through 2,500 years of political and climate upheaval.

Microbes Provide Sustainable Hydrocarbons for Petrochemical Industry

A team of chemists from the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Minnesota has now engineered microbes to make hydrocarbon chains that can be deoxygenated more easily and using less energy — basically just the sugar glucose that the bacteria eat, plus a little heat.

What It Takes to Eat a Poisonous Butterfly

In a study appearing this week in the journal Current Biology, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and UC Riverside report monarch-like genetic mutations in the genomes of four organisms that are known to eat monarchs: the black-headed grosbeak, a migratory bird that snacks on the butterflies at their overwintering home in Mexico; the eastern deer mouse, a close relative of the Mexican black-eared deer mouse that feeds on butterflies that fall to the ground; a tiny wasp that parasitizes monarch eggs; and a nematode that parasitizes insect larvae that feed on milkweed.

Racism Isn’t Rocket Science — It’s More Complicated

As opponents of critical race theory continue to gather at school boards across the country protesting its use in classrooms, it has become evident that the study of racism in America continues to be seen, by some, as trivial. But UC Berkeley ethnic studies lecturer Victoria Robinson said that understanding the history of America’s structurally racist roots can be just as nuanced as research done in a science lab. And more importantly, it should be celebrated as education that can help bridge communities in a country currently divided along politically racialized lines.

Could Liposomes Be the Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic?

Liposomes may be the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the protection of these microscopic vesicles, the delicate strands of messenger RNA (mRNA) that lie at the heart of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines would be quickly destroyed by enzymes in the body, making it nearly impossible for their genetic instructions to reach the insides of human cells. But vaccine delivery isn’t the only way that these particles can be used in the battle against COVID-19. In a new study, a team of engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, attached SARS-CoV-2 “spike” proteins to the surface of liposomes, creating lab-made mimics of the deadly virus which the researchers call “spike-liposomes.”

How CRISPR Is Changing the Role of Researchers

A new paper in the journal Ethics and Human Research co-authored by Berkeley Public Health Professor of Bioethics and Medical Humanities Jodi Halpern and Lecturer Sharon E. O’Hara, among others, explores how scientists perceive the potential of CRISPR technology and how the transition of many researchers from bench science (making new discoveries in the lab) to translational science (using these new discoveries to create novel medical treatments) may affect the treatment of those with genetic conditions.

Pacific Rockfish and the Trade-Offs of a Longer Life

In a study appearing this week in the journal Science, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, compare the genomes of nearly two-thirds of the known species of rockfish that inhabit coastal waters around the Pacific Ocean and uncover some of the genetic differences that underlie their widely varying lifespans.

Time Crystals in the Limelight

UC Berkeley physicist Norman Yao first described five years ago how to make a time crystal — a new form of matter whose patterns repeat in time instead of space. Unlike crystals of emerald or ruby, however, those time crystals existed for only a fraction of a second.

A Wellness Check for Tilden Park’s Turtles

Former UC Berkeley postdoctoral scholar Max Lambert is part of a team of wildlife experts who spent much of the pandemic checking in on the health of the Bay Area’s Western pond turtles, including a population living right next door in Tilden Regional Park.

Using Berkeley Technology, Glasgow Debuts New GHG Monitoring Network

UC Berkeley’s Ronald Cohen was beaming behind his mask as he joined governmental officials from Scotland and California today (Nov. 3) at the 2021 Climate Summit (COP26) in Glasgow to demonstrate a sensor network he pioneered to provide realtime monitoring of greenhouse gas emissions in cities.

Order Silencing Florida Faculty Reflects Rising Neo-Nationalism, Scholar Says

It is the sort of activity that U.S. university professors engage in every day: testifying in court about a law or policy that falls within their area of expertise. But when three faculty members at the University of Florida planned critical testimony about a controversial, Republican-backed bill to restrict voting, university leaders barred them from speaking. The order, disclosed late last week, is a clear violation of academic freedom, and it reflects a troubling rise of the neo-nationalism that threatens independent scholarship worldwide, says UC Berkeley scholar John Aubrey Douglass. Such actions send a “chilling message” to scholars, Douglass said in an interview, reflecting a broader trend in which right-wing U.S. political leaders attempt to impose political controls on perceived academic opposition.

After California’s 3rd-Largest Wildfire, Deer Returned Home While Trees Were ‘Still Smoldering’

When a massive wildfire tears through a landscape, what happens to the animals? In a rare stroke of luck, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley and other universities were able to track a group of black-tailed deer during and after California’s third-largest wildfire, the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire. The results were published Oct. 28 in the journal Ecology and Evolution.

Engineering a Hungry Bacterium to Protect Public Health

Microbiologist Cecilia Martinez-Gomez studies a widespread specie of bacteria that thrives on rare earth elements, also known as rare earth metals or lanthanides. She has engineered one strain of the bacteria to efficiently accumulate a rare earth element known as neodymium from electronics waste and recycle it back to the industry for making batteries, speakers, even jet turbines.

Simplifying Financial Aid Letters Pays Big Dividends, Says Berkeley Study

A new policy brief released today by the California Policy Lab (CPL) and the People Lab at UC Berkeley shows that making simple changes to Cal Grant financial aid award letters significantly increased the number of California high school students who registered for an online account, a key first step for receiving the grant.

Bat Study Reveals Secrets of the Social Brain

Whether chatting with friends at a dinner party or managing a high-stakes meeting at work, communicating with others in a group requires a complex set of mental tasks. Our brains must track who is speaking and what is being said, as well as what our relationship to that person may be — because, after all, we probably give the opinion of our best friend more weight than that of a complete stranger. A study published today in the journal Science provides the first glimpse into how the brains of social mammals process these types of complex group interactions.

Removing a Potential MRI Risk - Literally

More than 40 million MRI scans are carried out every year in the U.S.  In about one out of three, patients get an infusion containing the metal gadolinium as a contrast agent to improve imaging. Because contrast MRIs sometimes lead to potentially life-threatening complications, the FDA issued a warning against contrast MRIs for patients with kidney disease. Rebecca Abergel studies the chemical biology of metals, with a research focuses on organic molecules that can sequester and eliminate metals in the body, a chemical process known as chelation. She is using her Bakar Fellow support to evaluate the effectiveness of a chelating drug she has developed.

So-Called Junk DNA Plays Critical Role in Mammalian Development

A new study led by researchers at University of California, Berkeley, and Washington University explored the function of one component of this junk DNA, transposons, which are selfish DNA sequences able to invade their host genome. The study shows that at least one family of transposons — ancient viruses that have invaded our genome by the millions — plays a critical role in viability in the mouse, and perhaps in all mammals.

Synthetic biology moves into the realm of the unnatural

A collaboration between synthetic chemists and synthetic biologists at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has now overcome that hurdle, engineering bacteria that can make a molecule that, until now, could only be synthesized in a laboratory.

Air conditioning in a changing climate: a growing rich-poor divide

As the earth’s climate warms, residents of affluent nations will find some relief with air conditioning, but people in lower-income countries may have to pay vastly more for electricity or do without cooling, says a new study co-authored at the University of California, Berkeley.

Putting a new roof over our heads

More than a billion people around the world – hundreds of millions of families – can’t afford secure housing. Researchers project the housing gap will nearly double within a decade. Simon Schleicher is part of a new generation of architects and engineers developing novel designs and construction technologies to ramp up production of affordable homes.  The Bakar Fellows program supports his research to advance the use of 3D printing in home construction.

UC Berkeley’s David Card wins 2021 Nobel Prize in economics

David Card, a labor economist and professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, has won the 2021 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for work that challenged orthodoxy and dramatically shifted understanding of inequality and the social and economic forces that impact low-wage workers.

Getting the Lead Out of Drinking Water

The United States is facing a serious public health problem from lead contamination of drinking water, especially in rural areas and large cities where efforts to replace aging water service lines has lagged. Bakar Fellow Baoxia Mi believes she and her research group have found a solution. An expert on advanced membrane processes and nanotechnology, Mi has focused her research on addressing the challenges to maintaining a healthy and sustainable water supply, including in addition to drinking water quality, desalination, wastewater reuse, renewable energy production, and public health protection.

Neuroscientists roll out first comprehensive atlas of brain cells

When you clicked to read this story, a band of cells across the top of your brain sent signals down your spine and out to your hand to tell the muscles in your index finger to press down with just the right amount of pressure to activate your mouse or track pad. A slew of new studies now shows that the area of the brain responsible for initiating this action — the primary motor cortex, which controls movement — has as many as 116 different types of cells that work together to make this happen.

A “living treatment” may ease a severe skin disease

Netherton Syndrome is a rare, genetic skin disease that can be fatal to neonatal patients. It's caused by a mutation in a gene for an enzyme known as LEKTI. There is no cure. With support from the Bakar Fellows Program, bioengineer Jay Keasling aims to employ a harmless bacterium to deliver the LEKTI enzyme that Netherton children lack, restoring the natural cycle that assures healthy skin and giving them a chance for a normal life.

Physicists snap first image of an ‘electron ice’

More than 90 years ago, physicist Eugene Wigner predicted that at low densities and cold temperatures, electrons that usually zip through materials would freeze into place, forming an electron ice, or what has been dubbed a Wigner crystal. While physicists have obtained indirect evidence that Wigner crystals exist, no one has been able to snap a picture of one — until now. UC Berkeley physicists published last week in the journal Nature an image of just such an electron ice sandwiched between two semiconductor layers. The image is proof positive that these crystals exist.

Making lasers more efficient, versatile and compact

Their inner workings reside in the realm of physics, but lasers make everyday life possible. With support from the Bakar Fellows Program, Boubacar Kante is preparing to fabricate a prototype and demonstrate the potential of the Bound State in Continuum Surface Emitting Laser (BICSEL) for a range of applications.

A Different Spin on Data Processing

In 1965, Gordon Moore of Intel predicted that microprocessors would double in speed and capacity every couple of years. This prediction, now known as “Moore’s Law,” has with some modification in 1975 been reliably prophetic until now. We’re fast approaching the limits of Moore’s Law at the same time as demands on microprocessor performances are continuing to grow at an ever more rapid pace. The solution may be in a burgeoning technology whose name reads like a character in the Marvel Universe – magnonics. Bakar Fellow James Analytis believes magnons can be harnessed to meet future needs for high-speed, high-fidelity and energy-efficient data-processing that surpasses the limits of Moore’s Law.

Reinventing the Wheel

Fruit bats aren’t the first words that comes to mind when you think of driverless cars.  But in their nightly forays for fruit and nectar, they routinely solve many of the engineering challenges that have stalled efforts to develop safe, reliable and efficient autonomous vehicles. Michael Yartsev describes the neurobiological principles his lab has uncovered and how the insights may provide a roadmap to the future.

Michael Omi: How asking questions can lead to empowering others

As a child growing up in San Francisco’s Fillmore District, Michael Omi had a knack for chemistry. The way molecular structures are used to design new medicines fascinated him so much he wanted to be a pharmacist. But coming to UC Berkeley as an undergraduate student in 1969, Omi was thrust into a tumultuous time in American history, where street conflicts between student organizers and police were a daily occurrence, and blockades of National Guardsmen were commonplace on a campus rife with protests against the Vietnam War.

Poorly Circulated Room Air Raises Potential Exposure to Contaminants by up to 6 Times

Having good room ventilation to dilute and disperse indoor air pollutants has long been recognized, and with the COVID-19 pandemic its importance has become all the more heightened. But new experiments by indoor air researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) show that certain circumstances will result in poor mixing of room air, meaning airborne contaminants may not be effectively dispersed and removed by building level ventilation.

When extreme events are no longer rare: Lessons from Hurricane Ida

To learn more about the impact of Hurricane Ida — and how it compares to the impact of Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago — Berkeley News spoke with civil and environmental engineering professor Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, who traveled to Louisiana last week as part of a team of engineers organized by the National Science Foundation’s Geotechnical Extreme Events Reconnaissance (GEER) Association.

Breaking the cycle of shame about mental struggles in athletics

Long before sports superstars Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles braved the spotlight to defend their mental health, Graig Chow, a certified mental performance consultant at UC Berkeley, studied the culture that pushes elite athletes like NBA players Chamique Holdsclaw, Kevin Love and DeMar DeRozan to their breaking points.

Can fruit fly research help improve survival of cancer patients?

The experience of a fruit fly dying from cancer may seem worlds away from that of a human with a life-threatening tumor, yet University of California, Berkeley, researchers are finding commonalities between the two that could lead to ways to prolong the lives of cancer patients.

Psychedelics research and public education elevated by multiple gifts

The University of California, Berkeley’s Center for the Science of Psychedelics (BCSP) is benefitting from five philanthropic gifts announced today that provide a total of $7 million to initiate a robust national conversation about psychedelics and society, to commence novel research studies on how psychedelic compounds alter our brain and behavior, and to launch a unique training curriculum for facilitators of the psychedelic experience.

Planet maven Shannon Curry takes over MAVEN mission to Mars

“I never imagined I would lead a mission to Mars,” said Curry, who is deputy associate director for planetary science and astrobiology at SSL. “My focus is to continue executing our mission and achieving our science goals. We have a killer team, so I am looking forward to the next chapter of MAVEN.”

Shock, insecurity and endless war: How 9/11 changed America and the world

For tens of millions of Americans alive on Sept. 11, 2001, the images are indelible: Flames exploding from a tower of the World Trade Center against a brilliant blue sky. In the shock that followed those terror attacks, it was common to imagine that the world had changed forever. Just how, exactly, no one could know. Twenty years later, after so many other turns of history, the ragged withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan is a reminder of how the nation has struggled to answer the attacks.

Wertheim Foundation pledges $50 million to UC Berkeley Optometry

The University of California, Berkeley, today announced that the Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Family Foundation has pledged a historic $50 million to the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, the largest gift ever to be received by a school of optometry in the country.

New study shows how air pollution varies block by block

The amount of air pollution in a community depends greatly on its proximity to emission sources, such as automobiles, factories and power plants. Now, a group of researchers — led by Joshua Apte, UC Berkeley assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and in the School of Public Health — has shown that levels of air pollution vary not only by region, such as between urban and rural areas, but by city block.

Largest study of its kind finds face masks reduce COVID-19

Wearing face masks, particularly surgical masks, is truly effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 in community settings, finds a new study led by researchers from Yale University, Stanford Medical School, the University of California, Berkeley, and the nonprofit Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA).

Salinas Valley teens find green cleaning is worth the hype

Jessica Cabrera knows the recipe for homemade window cleaner by heart — and is more than happy to share it. “All you have to do is mix vinegar, water and dish soap, and there you have it,” Cabrera said. Cabrera, who grew up in California’s Salinas Valley, just started her first year as an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. And while it may seem unusual for a new college student to have a passion for window cleaner, Cabrera has good reason for knowing the ins and outs of DIY cleaning products.

How much wildfire smoke is infiltrating our homes?

In a new study, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley, used data from 1,400 indoor air sensors and even more outdoor air sensors included on the crowdsourced PurpleAir network to find out how well residents of the San Francisco and Los Angeles metropolitan areas were able to protect the air inside their homes on days when the air outside was hazardous.

Berkeley Lab, UC Berkeley, Caltech to Build Quantum Network Testbed

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) will be home to a cutting-edge quantum network testbed, thanks to a new five-year, $12.5 million funding award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Led by personnel from Berkeley Lab’s Scientific Networking Division/ESnet, UC Berkeley, and Caltech, the R&D collaboration will also leverage quantum development efforts at Berkeley Lab and beyond.

VIDEO: How to make plastic truly biodegradable

UC Berkeley’s Ting Xu and her students have come up with one solution for the global problem of single-use plastics: embed enzymes in the plastic, so that once the bag or cup is no longer wanted, it will self-destruct with a little heat and water.

LED Material Shines Under Strain

Smartphones, laptops, and lighting applications rely on light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to shine bright. But the brighter these LED technologies shine, the more inefficient they become, releasing more energy as heat instead of light. Now, as reported in the journal Science, a team led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley has demonstrated an approach for achieving near 100% light-emission efficiency at all brightness levels.

Campus funding for sponsored research tops $1 billion for first time

Despite the ongoing pandemic, it has been a banner year for University of California, Berkeley, research. The campus’s budget for sponsored projects rose by 30% in the fiscal year ending June 30 — an increase of $240 million from the previous year. This was due primarily to a nearly 50% increase in funding from the federal government and robust growth in support from private foundations.

How wildfire restored a Yosemite watershed

Scott Stephens is the senior author of a new study that gathers together decades of research documenting how the return of wildfire has shaped the ecology of Yosemite National Park’s Illilouette Creek Basin and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks’ Sugarloaf Creek Basin since the parks adopted policies for the basins to allow lightning-ignited fires to burn.

The Transformation of Africa’s Energy Sector

To meet the development needs of a growing population, Africa’s electricity sector requires a major transformation. New research, co-authored at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, identifies five sets of complementary actions to put Africa’s electricity sector on track to sharply increase electrification rates and secure long-term access to affordable and cleaner energy.

Leaping squirrels! Parkour is one of their many feats of agility

Videos of squirrels leaping from bendy branches across impossibly large gaps, parkouring off walls, scrambling to recover from tricky landings are not just more YouTube content documenting the antics of squirrels. Researchers at UC Berkeley are capturing video of squirrels as part of their research to understand the split-second decisions squirrels make to elude deadly predators, research that could help with development of robots with better agility and control.

Using two CRISPR enzymes, a COVID diagnostic in only 20 minutes

Frequent, rapid testing for COVID-19 is critical to controlling the spread of outbreaks, especially as new, more transmissible variants emerge. A research team at the UC, Berkeley is aiming to develop a diagnostic test that is much faster and easier to deploy than the gold standard qRT-PCR diagnostic test. The team has now combined two different types of CRISPR enzymes to create an assay that can detect small amounts of viral RNA in less than an hour.

National Science Foundation awards $10M to alliance of Native American institutions, UC Berkeley, and UArizona to increase Indigenous participation in higher ed

The UC Berkeley Blum Center for Developing Economies announced today that a wide range of academic programing around food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) designed by and for Native Americans and other underrepresented student groups will expand substantially as a result of a new $10 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Arizona, in collaboration with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and more than 20 additional partners.

Overcoming pandemic cave syndrome: Why is it so complicated?

For U.S. workers and students who have toiled remotely in isolation or in pods for the past year and a half, reentering offices, classrooms and other old stomping grounds, starting this fall, is likely to range from exhilarating to downright nerve-wracking.

NSF awards $2 million to the FLUXNET Coordination Project

A project led by Trevor Keenan has received $2 million in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue essential research in understanding ecosystem-atmosphere interactions, and the response of these to environmental change. Named the FLUXNET Coordination Project, it will link over ten existing national and international networks focused on continuous observations of ecosystem-atmosphere interactions at over 1,000 locations around the world. The project will fill fundamental knowledge gaps in science, engineering, and societal issues associated with ongoing changes in ecosystem function and the related cycling of carbon and water. 

Evolutionary arms race

Graduate student Kristen LeGault and assistant professor Kimberley Seed, both in the Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, specialize in the evolution of human pathogens and the viruses that infect bacteria, known as phages. Their recent study led to a key discovery about antibiotic and antiviral defense in cholera, as well as phage adaptation.

UC Berkeley, Georgia Tech and USC launch new National AI Research Institute

The National Science Foundation has awarded $20 million over five years to the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Southern California to establish the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Institute for Advances in Optimization. The award is among 11 new National AI Research Institutes announced today by NSF.

Berkeley Lab Optical Innovation Could Calm the Jitters of High-Power Lasers

The Berkeley Lab Laser Accelerator (BELLA) Center at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed and tested an innovative optical system to precisely measure and control the position and pointing angle of high-power laser beams with unprecedented accuracy – without interrupting or disturbing the beams. The new system will help users throughout the sciences get the most out of high-power lasers.

New leadership in CLAS and CMES

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Global, International, and Area Studies, are pleased to announce the appointments of Natalia Brizuela as Chair of the Center for Latin American Studies, and Asad Q. Ahmed, Chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Berkeley startup aims to be a game changer in autoimmune disease therapy

Berkley startup, Catena Biosciences, is valued at over $10 million and stands as an example of Berkeley’s change-making spirt: Put entrepreneurial scientists, mission-driven business experts and accomplished faculty in the same space — focused on solving the world’s problems — and innovation will flourish.

A machine learning breakthrough uses satellite images to improve lives

More than 700 imaging satellites are orbiting the earth, and every day they beam vast oceans of information to databases on the ground. There’s just one problem: Only those with considerable wealth and expertise can access it. Now, a UC Berkeley team has devised a machine learning system to tap the problem-solving potential of satellite imaging that could bring access and analytical power to researchers and governments worldwide.

Four UC Berkeley units will take on key California public policy problems

Four UC Berkeley research entities have received research awards from California 100, an ambitious statewide initiative to envision and shape the long-term success of the state. The awards, along with technical assistance from the Institute For The Future, will enable the Berkeley Institute for Young Americans, the Center for Environmental Public Policy, the Graduate School of Education and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation to evaluate current facts, origins and future trends in issues critical to California’s next century.

Word gap: When money’s tight, parents talk less to kids

Three decades ago, child development researchers found that low-income children heard tens of millions fewer words in their homes than their more affluent peers by the time they reached kindergarten. This “word gap” was and continues to be linked to a socioeconomic disparity in academic achievement.

Computing and Data Sciences Improve What We Know About Wildfires and How to Fight Them

Our understanding, planning, and response to wildfires benefit from connections with data and computing sciences. Recent developments in machine learning and simulations can help first responders detect fires earlier, predict fires’ paths and limit blazes quickly. Through collaborations with practitioners in other fields like microbiology and forest management, these tools are answering previously intractable questions about fires that can inform policy and practice. 

Galactic gamma ray bursts predicted last year show up on schedule

Magnetars are bizarre objects — massive, spinning neutron stars with magnetic fields among the most powerful known, capable of shooting off brief bursts of radio waves so bright they’re visible across the universe. A team of astrophysicists has now found another peculiarity of magnetars: They can emit bursts of low energy gamma rays in a pattern never before seen in any other astronomical object.

Rats prefer to help their own kind. Humans may be similarly wired

A decade after scientists discovered that lab rats will rescue a fellow rat in distress, but not a rat they consider an outsider, new UC Berkeley research pinpoints the brain regions that drive rats to prioritize their nearest and dearest in times of crisis. It also suggests humans may share the same neural bias.

Khiara M. Bridges: The hidden agenda in GOP attacks on critical race theory

Late last year, after the police murder of George Floyd, the right-wing mediasphere began to turn its attention to a scholarly field little known outside of law schools and other academic outposts: critical race theory. Following the victory of Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the blast furnaces of conservative strategic communication have transformed critical race theory into something law professor Khiara M. Bridges doesn’t recognize.

New AI strategy enables robots to rapidly adapt to real world environments

Delivery services may be able to overcome snow, rain, heat and the gloom of night, but a new class of legged robots is not far behind. Artificial intelligence algorithms developed by a team of researchers from UC Berkeley, Facebook and Carnegie Mellon University are equipping legged robots with an enhanced ability to adapt to and navigate unfamiliar terrain in real time.

A peek inside a flying bat’s brain uncovers clues to mammalian navigation

When driving up to a busy intersection, you probably pay more attention to where you will be in the near future than where you are at that moment. After all, knowing when you will arrive at the intersection — and whether you need to stop or slow down to avoid a collision with a passing car, pedestrian or cyclist — is usually much more important than knowing your current location. This ability to focus on where we will be in the near future — rather than where we are in the present — may be a key characteristic of the mammalian brain’s built-in navigation system, suggests a new study appearing online Thursday, July 8, in the journal Science.

Microbatteries that Make Sense

Kristofer Pister leads research to embed microbatteries directly into sensor circuitry, providing a built-in power source instead of an external one. The technology could shrink circuit boards to make the sensor, microprocessor and battery all one unit that can speak to the internet.

Insect-sized robot navigates mazes with the agility of a cheetah

Many insects and spiders get their uncanny ability to scurry up walls and walk upside down on ceilings with the help of specialized sticky footpads that allow them to adhere to surfaces in places where no human would dare to go. Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have used the principle behind these some of these footpads, called electrostatic adhesion, to create an insect-scale robot that can swerve and pivot with the agility of a cheetah, giving it the ability to traverse complex terrain and quickly avoid unexpected obstacles.

Biowalls to Spare the Air

Maria Paz Gutierrez has begun to explore the potential of using lichens rather than plants as living air purifiers, and installing them along interior walls, rather than exterior walls.  With support from the Bakar Fellowship Program, Dr. Gutierrez aims to fabricate small-scale “lichen building blocks” and test their capacity to purify indoor air. She describes her unorthodox approach and what drew her to it.

Very big changes are coming very fast to the American workplace

Going to work used to be so simple. Across a span of decades, in organizations large and small, American white-collar workers by the millions would wake up in the morning and get to the office by 8 or 9. They would leave at 5 or 6, perhaps later if they were on deadline with an important project. It was like clockwork. Suddenly, however, that model seems outdated, if not archaic. In a series of interviews, Berkeley scholars who study work and management say that as the COVID-19 pandemic eases, American executives and office workers are emerging into a new and unfamiliar world that may have broad benefits for both.

Moskowitz: Cellphone radiation is harmful, but few want to believe it

For more than a decade, Joel Moskowitz, a researcher in the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley and director of Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health, has been on a quest to prove that radiation from cellphones is unsafe. But, he said, most people don’t want to hear it.

Big Squeeze: Highly sensitive NV-DAC sensor stands up to enormous pressure

Bakar Fellow Norman Yao, Assistant Professor of Physics, has overcome conventional limitations with the invention of the NV-DAC, which directly integrates a thin layer of NV center sensors into a diamond anvil tip. With this invention, Yao and his group have been able to obtain highly sensitive and localized DAC measurements of a sample material’s properties under enormous pressure over a wide range of temperatures.

Silencing the Silencer: a new strategy to fight cancer

Russell Vance, PhD, Professor of Immunology and Pathogenesis in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, studies the immune system’s production of Interferons, a type of protein that normally helps trigger the immune response to viruses. With support from the Bakar Fellowship Program, he is developing a way to disable cancer’s ability to block interferon production.

Oscillator Ising Machines Take Quantum Computation for a Classical Spin

Bakar Fellow Jaijeet Roychowdhury led a breakthrough that enables combinatorial optimization problems involving millions of possible outcomes to be solved with quantum computer-type speed and efficiency using conventional Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuitry.

Time more important than increased funding when it comes to SNAP benefits

A new paper in JAMA Network Open, written by Berkeley Public Health Professor of Community Health Sciences Barbara Laraia, PhD, MPH, RD, Anil Aswani, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering and operations research at UC Berkeley, and Matt Olfat, PhD, of Citadel LLC, finds that SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps) recipients who had more available time were able to prepare higher quality meals, which reduced sodium consumption for them and their families.

Why is anti-trans violence on the rise in America?

While the American public may have a broader understanding of the experiences of people who are transgender, non-binary and gender-nonconforming, violence against these communities — in the form of killings and prejudiced American policy — has continued to rise.

EarEEG – Earbuds that read your mind

Rikky Muller, Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has refined the physical comfort of EEG earbuds and has demonstrated their ability to detect and record brain activity. With support from the Bakar Fellowship Program, she is building out several applications to establish Ear EEG as a new platform technology to support consumer and health monitoring apps. 

Stickleback fish provide genetic road map for rapid evolution

What happens when you dump an ocean fish into a freshwater lake? That experiment has been performed naturally tens of thousands of times over millions of years as sea-faring threespine sticklebacks — which, like salmon, travel up rivers to spawn — have gotten stranded in lakes and had to evolve as permanent denizens of fresh water. Michael Bell, currently a research associate in the University of California Museum of Paleontology at UC Berkeley, stumbled across one such natural experiment in 1990 in Alaska, and ever since has been studying the physical changes these fish undergo as they evolve and the genetic basis for these changes.

How American racism is rooted in residential segregation

The disproportionate use of police brutality against people of color in America. Higher COVID-19 death rates of Black and Latinx people in the health care system. Lower percentages of homeownership and loans approved in Black communities. Society often labels these disparities as racism or prejudice against individuals with specific racial identities. But new research from UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute shows that these inequities are symptoms of a much more racially systemic problem — residential segregation.

Faculty Members Share Research Findings and Insights Leading Into World Refugee Day

With an estimated 80 million refugees and displaced people facing increased uncertainty and growing crises, this year’s World Refugee Day on June 20 carries added significance. That urgency is evident at Berkeley Law. Faculty lead seminal research and often coordinate their efforts through the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative, clinics provide vital legal assistance, centers and institutes offer robust programming, and student groups such as the International Refugee Assistance Project advocate for rights and protections.

The filibuster: A tool for compromise, or a weapon against democracy?

While the insurrection posed an existential threat to American democracy, Berkeley political and legal scholars say the arcane workings of the filibuster pose a threat, too, because it increasingly is being used to block majority rule. Most often, Republicans are using it to freeze movement on popular issues related to economic fairness or racial justice.

Can we replace human empathy in healthcare?

In a May 2021 paper published in the journal AI & Society, clinical empathy expert and Berkeley Public Health bioethics professor Jodi Halpern, MD, PhD, posits that artificial intelligence (AI) cannot replace human empathy in the healthcare setting and that empathy is key to the successful treatment of patients.

Prices are spiking for homes, cars and gas. Don’t be alarmed, economists say

The U.S. Department of Labor reported yesterday that the Consumer Price Index rose 5% in May, following a 4.2% jump in April. But at UC Berkeley, high-level economists are offering some calming advice: A measure of inflation is inevitable as the U.S. economy comes back online, but it will likely be modest. And it will almost certainly blow over as the economy stabilizes.

Are heavy metals toxic? Scientists find surprising clues in yeast

Lanthanides are rare-earth heavy metals with useful magnetic properties and a knack for emitting light. Researchers had long assumed that lanthanides’ toxicity risk was low and therefore safe to implement in a number of high-tech breakthroughs we now take for granted: from OLEDs (organic light-emitting displays) to medical MRIs and even hybrid vehicles. In recent years, however, some scientists have questioned lanthanides’ safety. Now, a team of researchers led by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley has compiled the most complete library yet of lanthanides and their potential toxicity – by exposing baker’s yeast, aka Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to lanthanide metals. Their findings were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Analysis reveals global ‘hot spots’ where new coronaviruses may emerge

Global land-use changes are creating “hot spots” favorable for bats that carry coronaviruses and where conditions are ripe for the diseases to jump from bats to humans, finds an analysis published this week by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, the Politecnico di Milano (Polytechnic University of Milan) and Massey University of New Zealand.

‘Eye in the sky’ sensors reduce stress of in-home dementia care

People caring around the clock for a parent, spouse or other loved one with dementia are at a high risk for clinical anxiety, depression, social isolation and even suicidal ideation, according to longitudinal research from UC Berkeley. But thanks to a blend of artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioral science, relief may be on the horizon.

Berkeley researchers demonstrate new technique for surface-sensitive second harmonic generation utilizing non-linear optics with a table-top laser

Interfaces and surfaces are of central importance to many open scientific questions. For example, in order to design more energy-efficient all solid-state batteries to fuel next-generation electric cars, we need to better understand the charge transfer processes through the battery’s individual layers. Also, devising solutions for climate change requires an enhanced knowledge of pollutant uptake at the air-liquid interface of clouds. Scientific questions like these, that address the nature of chemical interfaces and surfaces, are notoriously challenging to address because of the difficulty in studying systems with boundary specificity. An international effort led by UC Berkeley Assistant Professor of Chemistry Michael Zuerch has demonstrated a novel experimental method to address questions like these utilizing nonlinear optics as discussed in a recent article published today in Science Advances(link is external).

Diamonds engage both optical microscopy and MRI for better imaging

A University of California, Berkeley, researcher has now shown that microscopic diamond tracers can provide information via MRI and optical fluorescence simultaneously, potentially allowing scientists to get high-quality images up to a centimeter below the surface of tissue, 10 times deeper than light alone.

Markita Landry receives Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars award

Markita Landry, Asst. Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been named a 2021 Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar. This award recognizes faculty within the first five years of their academic careers, who have created an outstanding independent body of scholarship, and are deeply committed to education.

Bakar BioEnginuity Hub: Berkeley’s bold new home for innovation, entrepreneurship

In the face of daunting global challenges, such as climate change and a catastrophic pandemic, it is evident that the world urgently needs science-based solutions to tackle society’s greatest problems. At the University of California, Berkeley, the next generation of emerging scholars and entrepreneurs will work to confront those challenges in the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub (BBH), a new campus initiative that aims to launch the world-changing startups of today, while cultivating the innovative leaders of tomorrow.

As global climate shifts, forests’ futures may be caught in the wind

Forests’ ability to survive and adapt to the disruptions wrought by climate change may depend, in part, on the eddies and swirls of global wind currents, suggests a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The findings are the first to show that wind may not only influence the spread of an individual tree or species’ genes, but can also help shape genetic diversity and direct the flow of gene variants across entire forests and landscapes.

Are renters — and the U.S. economy — hurtling toward an ‘eviction cliff’?

Schools and businesses are reopening, diners are returning to restaurants, and fans are returning to sports stadiums, but a new crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic may be just weeks away: the possible eviction of millions of Americans who have fallen behind in their rent. When massive job losses and other pandemic-driven economic pressures left many renters unable to pay and accumulating debt to their landlords, the federal government and some states set moratoria that blocked evictions. Now the U.S. ban is set to expire on June 30, and UC Berkeley housing experts are warning of a potential surge of evictions and homelessness, along with damaging economic shock waves.

EECS professor Michael Jordan named to Royal Society

Michael Jordan, UC Berkeley’s Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and of Statistics, is among 10 foreign members elected today to the Royal Society, a prestigious honor accorded to researchers who have made “exceptional contributions to science.”

Discarded ostrich shells provide timeline for our African ancestors

In a paper published this month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, former UC Berkeley doctoral student Elizabeth Niespolo and geochronologist and BGC and associate director Warren Sharp reported using uranium-thorium dating of ostrich eggshells to establish that a midden outside Cape Town, South Africa, was deposited between 119,900 and 113,100 years ago.

Eastern and Western house mice took parallel evolutionary paths

The European house mouse has invaded nearly every corner of the Americas since it was introduced by colonizers a few hundred years ago, and now lives practically everywhere humans store their food. Yet in that relatively short time span — 400 to 600 mouse generations — populations on the East and West Coasts have changed their body size and nest building behavior in nearly identical ways to adapt to similar environmental conditions, according to a new study by biologists at the University of California, Berkeley.

Measuring Your Ingredients: Topological Phases for Quantum Computing

Topological quantum computing relies on qubits encoded in quantum states that are exponentially protected from local perturbations. One method for realizing such protected states is a practical recipe for topological superconductivity: hybrid superconductor-semiconductor nanowires in finite magnetic fields. In this talk I will describe experimental methods for identifying and manipulating the topological phase and associated Majorana quasiparticles in these devices.

Gabriel Zucman, L&S Economics Professor, Named 2021 Carnegie Fellow

Gabriel Zucman, associate professor of economics at the UC Berkeley College of Letters & Science, associate professor of public policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, and director of the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Center on Wealth and Income Inequality, has been selected as one of 26 recipients of the 2021 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship Award.

After a blitz of police killings, reformers focus on the power of their unions

Across the nation, unions and their leaders have strongly defended officers against accusations of excessive violence, often directed against people of color. Cities are dangerous places, they say, and that justifies a warrior-like approach to policing. But in a series of interviews, Berkeley scholars said police unions have successfully used a range of tools, from the fine print in labor contracts to millions of dollars in political donations, to shield officers from accountability and promote hardline policing practices. While discipline is often secret and officers rarely lose their jobs, they say, cities have paid tens of millions of dollars in settlements with recent victims.

Where have all the vultures gone? Ph.D. student investigates

They feast on dead, rotting animals, urinate on their own feet to keep cool, and projectile vomit in self-defense. But UC Berkeley Ph.D. student Mackenzie Kirchner-Smith is passionate about vultures, and in California that means the turkey vulture and the largest land bird in North America — the California condor.

Going Beyond Qubits

A team led by physicists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley has successfully observed the scrambling of quantum information, which is thought to underlie the behavior of black holes, using qutrits: information-storing quantum units that can represent three separate states at the same time. Their efforts also pave the way for building a quantum information processor based upon qutrits.

Spin-TOF: A One-of-a-Kind Tool for Studying Spin-Dependent Electronic Properties

Bakar Fellow Alessandra Lanzara has been at the forefront of expanding the capabilities of ARPES (Angle-Resolved Photo-Emission Spectroscopy) to directly detect electron spin. She and her team have now developed a detection system, which they call “spin-TOF,” that enables a material’s spin-dependent electronic and magnetic properties to be studied with a thousand times more sensitivity than any previous technology.

Sharing Sensitive Data without Showing it

Raluca Ada Popa, assistant professor of computer science, designs computer systems to protect confidentiality by computing over encrypted data, while at the same time allowing joint access to the results of data analysis. With the support of the Bakar Fellows program her lab plans to build and test a new encryption system.

Six faculty elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Six UC Berkeley faculty members and top scholars have been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS), a 241-year-old organization honoring the country’s most accomplished artists, scholars, scientists and leaders who help solve the world’s most urgent challenges.

In calculating the social cost of methane, equity matters

What is the cost of one ton of a greenhouse gas? When a climate-warming gas such as carbon dioxide or methane is emitted into the atmosphere, its impacts may be felt years and even decades into the future – in the form of rising sea levels, changes in agricultural productivity, or more extreme weather events, such as droughts, floods, and heat waves. Those impacts are quantified in a metric called the “social cost of carbon,” considered a vital tool for making sound and efficient climate policies. Now a new study by a team including researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and UC Berkeley reports that the social cost of methane – a greenhouse gas that is 30 times as potent as carbon dioxide in its ability to trap heat – varies by as much as an order of magnitude between industrialized and developing regions of the world.

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.

Dean Emeritus Stephen Shortell named to Modern Healthcare’s Hall of Fame

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health is very pleased to announce that Stephen Shortell, PhD, MPH, MBA, UC Berkeley School of Public Health Dean Emeritus and Blue Cross of California Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management Emeritus, has been named to Modern Healthcare’s Hall of Fame for his visionary leadership, relentless dedication to timely and relevant research, and extraordinary contributions to the healthcare field.

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. 

Four ways to reduce inequity in heart failure rates

In the United States, the rate of heart failure is expected to increase by 46 percent between 2012 and 2030, with Black patients disproportionately affected, experiencing higher rates of hospital readmissions and higher mortality rates. A new study from researchers at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health assessed quality improvement initiatives that could potentially reduce hospital readmissions for Black patients with heart failure.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.  

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.

New Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program grant will serve underrepresented undergrads at Berkeley Public Health

To boost the number of students from underrepresented backgrounds in the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) field and improve conduits to the MCH workforce, UC Berkeley’s Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health (MCAH) Program at the School of Public Health has been awarded the MCH Leadership, Education, and Advancement in Undergraduate Pathways (LEAP) Training Program grant through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau within the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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).

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).

Building the Next Ubiquitous Computing Platform Drawing on Condensed Matter Physics

Computing is at a momentous point today. AI, big data and decentralized work are driving a surging demand for computing power. At the same time, an ending of Moore’s Law and Dennard’s scaling are making it increasingly difficult (and expensive) to improve processor performance. The energy consumed by computing is therefore growing exponentially, doubling every 3 years, and could go on to consume as much as 25% of the world’s primary energy production in the next few decades if action is not taken to significantly improve computing energy efficiency [1].

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.