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Don DePaolo honored for research on Earth’s geochemical structure

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 07/01/2014 - 08:00
Don DePaolo, professor of earth and planetary sciences and LBNL researcher, received the Harry Hess Medal of the American Geophysical Union for groundbreaking research on the geochemical structure of Earth’s mantle, the isotopic and trace element chemistry of oceanic volcanoes, and the origin of granitic igneous rocks.

Ahoy! Student video blogs from the Cascadia earthquake zone

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:52
Richard Allen, professor of earth and planetary sciences and director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory, is taking 10 students on a research cruise to study the Cascadia subduction zone, a major source of Northwest coast earthquakes. The students hope to send daily video blogs about their experiences and the science of subduction quakes @BerkeleySeismo.

Puya powering up to flower

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:40
The Botanical Garden's Puya inches toward flowering, though just when is a puzzle.

Three young researchers named 2014 Pew Scholars

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 13:26
BERKELEY — Three young UC Berkeley researchers have been selected as 2014 Pew scholars, The Pew Charitable Trusts announced this week. The researchers are: Elçin Ünal, assistant professor of molecular and cell biology, who was selected as one of 22 2014 Pew Scholars in the Biomedical Sciences. The award supports promising early-career scientists in the health sciences, particularly young researchers […]

Berkeley physicists detect smallest force ever measured

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 06/26/2014 - 12:10
UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab physicists have detected what is believed to be the smallest force ever measured: approximately 42 yoctonewtons. A yoctonewton is one septillionth of a newton and there are approximately 3 x 10^23 yoctonewtons in one ounce of force. They employed a combination of lasers to push and probe a cloud of ultracold atoms.

Young researcher discovers source of disco clams’ light show

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 16:01
The disco clam was named for the rhythmic, pulsing light that ripples along the lips of its mantle. UC Berkeley graduate student Lindsey Dougherty now reports that the mirror is actually a highly reflective, densely packed layer of silica spheres a mere 340 nanometers across never before seen in animals.

Researcher calls report on economic impacts of U.S. climate change ‘like a flashlight at night’

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 14:00
Solomon Hsiang, a Berkeley researcher on a study of economic impacts of U.S. climate change, reports that the South, the Midwest and the Great Plains will bear the largest economic burden, while states like Oregon and Washington are likely to benefit economically. The study examines climate impacts on mortality, crime, energy, agriculture and labor productivity down to a county-by-county level.

Bruno Zumino, an architect of supersymmetry, dies at 91

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 13:43
Bruno Zumino, a professor emeritus of physics who was best known for developing supersymmetry, a theory now considered as a leading candidate for explaining the fundamental forces of nature, died Sunday, June 22, at his home in Berkeley. He was 91.

Jennifer Doudna shares Janssen Award for Biomedical Research

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 06/24/2014 - 10:46
Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and European colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier are the winners of the 2014 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, awarded by Johnson & Johnson. Their collaboration led to the discovery of a new method for precisely manipulating genetic information in ways that should produce new insights in health and disease and may lead to new drug targets.

Berkeley grad student wins top prize for early-career scientists

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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

UC Berkeley Science News - 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.