UC Berkeley Science News

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News from the University of California, Berkeley
Updated: 22 min 49 sec ago

Berkeley grad student wins top prize for early-career scientists

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 11:17
Kelly Clancy, a graduate student in biophysics, has won the Regeneron Prize for Creative Innovation, which comes with a $50,000 cash award. UC Berkeley will also receive an award to support a seminar series.

Mutually assured destruction key to plant signaling

Fri, 06/20/2014 - 12:08
When a plant needs to slow down its light gathering after a burst of activity, it adopts a drastic tactic: its photoreceptors, called phytochrome, destroy their regulating molecules, in turn assuring their own destruction. The discovery by Peter Quail of plant & microbial biology could have broad implications for agriculture and cancer research.

Information School team app for West African fishermen snags sustainable=fishing prize

Wed, 06/18/2014 - 14:41
Trolling for real-world solutions to support ocean fisheries, the U.S. State Department sponsored a "Fishackathon" at five sites across the country over the June 14-15 weekend. A team from UC Berkeley's School of Information, working out of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, took home the national grand prize for a mobile app designed to help West African fishermen.

Study suggests bees more important to crops than fertilizers

Tue, 06/17/2014 - 09:41
Not only do pollinators help increase crop yields, they may be even more important than fertilizers and sufficient water, according to a recent study out of UC Berkeley.

Your genes affect your betting behavior

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 12:00
People playing betting games engage two main areas of the brain: the medial prefrontal cortex and the striatum. Ming Hsu of UC Berkeley and Eric Set of the University of Illinois scanned 12 genes involved in dopamine regulation in these areas and found that people's genetic variants affected how they dealt with trial-and-error learning and belief learning.

The games genes play: Algorithm helps explain sex in evolution

Mon, 06/16/2014 - 12:00
UC Berkeley computer theorists have identified an algorithm to describe the strategy used by genes during sexual recombination. In doing so, they address the dueling evolutionary forces of survival of the fittest and of diversity.

Five early-career faculty named Rose Hills innovators

Fri, 06/13/2014 - 14:26
Five faculty researchers have been selected as the first recipients of support from the new Rose Hills Innovator Program at UC Berkeley. The program assists early-career faculty in developing innovative research programs in the STEM fields.

Chemical engineer Jay Keasling wins renewable energy prize

Mon, 06/09/2014 - 15:37
Jay Keasling, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and CEO of JBEI, has won the 2014 Renewable Energy Prize portion of the prestigious Eni Awards for his achievements in “the microbial production of hydrocarbon fuels.” The award is sponsored by Eni, a global multibillion dollar energy company headquartered in Rome.

A soil scientist’s suggestions for water-wise gardening

Mon, 06/09/2014 - 15:24
As California faces the realities of drought, UC Berkeley soil scientist Stephen Andrews (a.k.a. the Dirt Dude) answers questions on how homeowners can have an attractive garden while keeping water bills in check.

Black hole tug-of-war between gravity and strong magnetic fields

Wed, 06/04/2014 - 10:00
Alexander Tchekhovskoy, a UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab postdoctoral fellow, has probed the strong magnetic fields around black holes and discovered that they can exert a force equal to the gravity pulling material into the black hole. This could cause some matter to levitate just above the object, pulled in two directions at once.

Tobacco gets a makeover as new source for biofuel

Tue, 06/03/2014 - 14:52
Peggy Lemaux, UC Berkeley cooperative extension specialist, is working with Berkeley Lab and the University of Kentucky to develop a genetically engineered tobacco plant that will produce oil that can be used as a biofuel. KQED Science wrote this story about the research effort.

New grant to help science, tech majors stay the course

Thu, 05/29/2014 - 11:40
A new five-year, $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute will help UC Berkeley's Biology Scholars Program share its successful strategies for supporting and retaining undergraduate biology majors throughout the Berkeley campus, in areas ranging from chemical biology to environmental science.

Five early-career faculty named 2014-15 Bakar Fellows

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 11:42
Five UC Berkeley faculty members have been selected as 2014-15 Bakar Fellows. Launched in 2012, the Bakar program supports innovative research by early-career campus faculty pursuing projects that hold commercial promise. (Read background on the program here.)

Mimicking nature’s enzymes to design better catalysts

Tue, 05/27/2014 - 10:32
Chemists Alexander Katz of UC Berkeley and David Dixon of the University of Alabama have taken a hint from nature's enzymes to redesign a metal catalyst so that certain binding sites can switched on or off. The feat could led to better catalysts that use less energy and produce valuable products with less wasteful by-products.

Pain killers may improve health of diabetics and the obese

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 12:26
UC Berkeley and Salk researchers have found that mice lacking the capsaicin pain receptor live around 14 percent longer than other mice, and they retain a more youthful metabolism as well. Receptor blockers could not only relieve pain, but increase lifespan, improve metabolic health and help diabetics and the obese.

Berkeley trio shortlisted for prestigious early-career Blavatnik Awards

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 11:17
Campus researchers Christopher Chang, Ali Javey and Michael Rape are among 30 national finalists for the 2014 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists. A national jury selected them from a field of 300 nominees.

Major milestone for Richmond Bay Campus

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 11:07
The promise of a gleaming waterfront Richmond Bay Campus grew brighter last week, as the UC regents signed off on an ambitious proposal to expand research collaborations between UC Berkeley, LBNL and private industry — and bring sorely needed employment opportunities to surrounding communities.

Discovery of how Taxol works could lead to better anticancer drugs

Thu, 05/22/2014 - 08:54
A team led by biophysicist Eva Nogales has discovered how Taxol, one of the most widely used anticancer drugs, works. The finding could lead to better drugs to attack a variety of fast-growing cancers.

Search for extraterrestrial intelligence gets hearing on Hill

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 15:51
Dan Werthimer, who directs Berkeley's new SETI Research Center, summarized current efforts to search for extraterrestrial intelligence at a May 21 hearing of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Observations confirm link between massive stars and weird supernovas

Wed, 05/21/2014 - 12:54
Nearly three decades ago, UC Berkeley astronomer Alex Filippenko observed a weird supernova that puzzled him and his colleagues. Some theorized that it was caused by the explosion of an aged but massive star called a Wolf-Rayet star. A supernova observed last year confirms this suspicion.