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.
UC Berkeley professor Scott Stephens lost 400 research sites in last year's Sierra Nevada Rim Fire, but the harm to the forest ecosystem is incalculable. Now fires are raging again in Yosemite. Stephens offered advice on how to reduce future catastrophes, in a NewsCenter story that first ran in October 2013; it is reposted here.
Johnson & Johnson will host a TweetChat featuring Jennifer Doudna (@UCBerkeleyNews) and Emmanuel Charpentier from noon to 1 p.m. Wed., Sept. 10, on the occasion of their receiving the 2014 Janssen Award in Biomedical Research. The chat will be moderated by former Scientific American Editor-in-Chief John Rennie. Follow @JNJInnovation and submit questions using the hashtag #DPJAward.
A UC Berkeley biologist is giving important guidance in the efforts to rescue a critically endangered fish found only in Devils Hole, about 60 miles east of Death Valley National Park. It is estimated that fewer than 100 Devils Hole pupfish remain. Considered the world's rarest fish, the wild pupfish faces a 28 to 32 percent risk of extinction over the next 20 years.
The origin of flight is a contentious issue: Some argue that dinosaurs climbed trees and learned to fly in order to avoid hard falls, others that birds ran along the ground and pumped their forelimbs to gain lift, eventually taking off. New evidence from UC Berkeley biologists favors the tree-dweller hypothesis.
UC Berkeley physicist Andrew Westphal led a team of scientists and citizen-scientists — through Stardust@home — in analyzing dust collected by the Stardust spacecraft in 2004, and reports finding seven dust particles that probably came from interstellar space. These may be the first confirmed visitors from another star.