UC Berkeley Science News
News from the University of California, Berkeley
Updated: 46 min ago
UC Berkeley geophysicist Paul Renne, grad student Courtney Sprain and their Italian and French colleagues found that Earth's last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years – roughly a human lifetime. The rapid flip is much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought.
UC Berkeley scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a "smart" material that is extremely sensitive to its environment. This marriage of materials science and biology could lead to new types of biological sensors, flow valves and controlled drug release systems, the researchers said.
Andy Dillin of UC Berkeley & Nobelist Stan Prusiner of UCSF will lead a new integrated center for research on neurodegenerative diseases, focusing on the ways proteins can malfunction within cells. Funded by $3 million from the Glenn Foundation for Medical Research, the center will pave the way for novel treatments for diseases linked to misfolded proteins and/or prions.
Joseph Orenstein, professor of physics, was one of 19 researchers named Moore Experimental Investigators in Quantum Materials. Investigators receive five-year grants to pursue ambitious, high-risk research, including the development of new experimental techniques that could transform our understanding of quantum materials.
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has upped its support of data-driven science at UC Berkeley by awarding three professors $1.5 million each over five years to pursue big-data projects in ecology, astronomy and microscopy. The faculty members - Laura Waller, Joshua Bloom and Laurel Larsen - were named Moore Investigators in Data-Driven Discovery.
Johnny Depp has an unforgettable face. Tony Angelotti, his stunt double in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” does not. So why is it that when they’re swashbuckling on screen, audiences worldwide see them both as the same person? UC Berkeley scientists have pinpointed the brain mechanism by which we latch on to a particular face even when it changes.
The National Institutes of Health announced its first research grants through President Barack Obama's BRAIN Initiative, including 3 awards to UC Berkeley totaling nearly $7.2 million over 3 years. The White House also announced a $5.6 million private-public partnership between UC Berkeley and Carl Zeiss Microscopy to improve neural microscopy.
As scientists rally around President Barack Obama's BRAIN Initiative, three Bay Area research institutions - UC Berkeley, UCSF and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab - have decided to invest in high-risk, high-gain projects that could jump-start our understanding of the brain. Six new interdisciplinary projects take advantage of new technology, in particular nanotech and optogenetics.
Yosemite National Park would be something quite different were it not for UC Berkeley and its visionary scientists, alumni and leaders. That's the blue-and-gold current flowing through Yosemite: A Storied Landscape, a just-published e-book that brings to vivid life the first national park in celebration of its 150th birthday.
Blodgett Research Forest, a key UC Berkeley research station, is under threat from the King Fire in El Dorado County. The 4,270-acre forest, located 56 miles east of Sacramento, is a critical site for a wide variety of research projects, including wildfire-management techniques. Nobody is watching developments with more interest than Berkeley's forest experts.
Threespine sticklebacks undergo rapid evolutionary change when they move from the ocean into freshwater, losing their armor and gaining more teeth in as little as 10 years. UC Berkeley biologist Craig Miller now shows that this rapid change results not from mutations in functional genes, but changes in regulatory DNA. He pinpoints a gene that could be responsible for jaw deformities in humans.
Why are human faces so variable compared to other animals? Berkeley biologists Michael Nachman & Michael Sheehan analyzed human faces and the genes that code for them and found a variability that could only be explained by selection for uniqueness, probably because of the importance of social interactions in human relationships and the need for all of us to be recognizable.
Sheila Kennedy, an internationally recognized architect, innovator and educator, is the 2014 recipient of the Berkeley-Rupp Prize. The award is given by UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design to a design practitioner or academic who has made a significant contribution to advance gender equity in the field of architecture, and whose work emphasizes a commitment to sustainability and community.