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Susan Hubbard elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

College of Natural Resources - 9 hours 59 min ago

Susan Hubbard, an adjunct professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a prestigious, 239-year-old honorary society that recognizes accomplished scholars, scientists, and artists in academia, the humanities, arts, business, and government.

Hubbard is a leading expert in quantifying the hydrological and biogeochemical behavior of environmental systems. She is being recognized for her research in developing new geophysical approaches that have provided new insights about processes relevant to contaminant remediation, carbon cycling and water resources—insights that are helping us tackle some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Hubbard is also the Associate Laboratory Director of the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area and a senior scientist at Berkeley Lab

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Image:  Susan Hubbard Date:  Monday, April 22, 2019 - 13:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Monday, April 22, 2019 - 13:30 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Honors and Awards

Meredith Fowlie joins new External Environmental Economics Advisory Committee

College of Natural Resources - 13 hours 27 min ago
Meredith Fowlie stands in front of Giannini Hall

Meredith Fowlie. Photo: Julie Gipple.

Policies on air pollution, climate change, and water have far-reaching effects on millions of Americans and businesses. Is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the federal agency whose mission is to protect public health and the environment—using the best available economic science when designing and proposing such policy?

The newly created External Environmental Economics Advisory Committee (E-EEAC) will convene nationally-recognized environmental economists to ensure that it does.

“There are some major regulatory changes currently under consideration at the EPA, with important implications for air quality, water quality, and climate change,” noted Meredith Fowlie, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and an E-EEAC member. “The goal of this external committee is to provide independent economic advice with regard to the benefits, costs, and design of proposed changes."

The E-EEAC formed following the dissolution in 2018 of the original Environmental Economics Advisory Committee, which had operated for over 25 years within the EPA's science advisory board structure. Like its predecessor, the E-EEAC consists of economists who apply their expertise to analyze the benefits, costs, and design of environmental policies. 

"The members believe that, despite the retirement of the internal committee, advances in economic research remain crucial to achieving welfare-enhancing environmental policies," said Mary Evans, professor at Claremont McKenna College and E-EEAC co-chair. "The E-EEAC is especially needed now given the large number of regulatory modifications that EPA has, and will shortly, propose. These relate to signature elements of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and the Energy Independence and Security Act," continued JR DeShazo of UCLA and E-EEAC co-chair.

These policy changes will impact millions of Americans, businesses, and our ecosystems. The E-EEAC’s intent is to operate until the EPA reconstitutes an internal environmental economics advisory committee composed of independent economists. 

EPA needs economic expertise when complying with statutes and executive orders that explicitly require EPA to assess the costs, benefits, or distributional impacts of regulations. Economic analysis also enhances the quality of public debate about new regulations.

The E-EEAC is structured to facilitate the provision of independent advice from experts in the field of environmental economics. Functioning as a non-partisan research organization, the E-EEAC strives to make all of its deliberations and findings easily accessible to the EPA and the public. The Sloan Foundation and UCLA's Luskin Center for Innovation have contributed funding to support this endeavor.   

Image:  Meredith Fowlie stands in front of Giannini Hall Date:  Monday, April 22, 2019 - 10:00 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Monday, April 22, 2019 - 10:00 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Honors and Awards

California and the West prepare to get by on less water from the Colorado River

UC Berkeley Science News - Fri, 04/19/2019 - 11:32
A deal has been struck so that each state take less from the West's biggest water source
Categories: Science News

Scott elected Fellow of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 14:25

Scott

Congratulations to MCB Professor Kristin Scott for being elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences! Scott studies the taste system in fruit flies to understand how sensory information is processed by the brain and linked to behavior.

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Harland elected Fellow of The Royal Society

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 14:21

Harland

Congratulations to MCB Professor & Senior Associate Dean of Biological Sciences Richard Harland, who is a newly elected Fellow of The Royal Society of London! Harland is a pioneer in the field of developmental biology whose major contributions to the field include understanding dorsal ventral patterning of the early embryo and the induction and patterning of the neural plate.

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London’s Royal Society elects two from CNR

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 08:12
Side-by-side headshot of Inez Fung and Brian Staskawicz

Inez Fung and Brian Staskawicz. Photos: Elena Zhukova.

The Royal Society of London, the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence, announced their newest fellows and foreign members this week, among them two College of Natural Resources faculty.

The newly-elected CNR foreign members are climate scientist Inez Fung and plant biologist Brian Staskawicz. Fung and Staskawicz are among 51 new fellows, 10 new foreign members and one new honorary member.

“Over the course of the Royal Society’s vast history, it is our fellowship that has remained a constant thread and the substance from which our purpose has been realized: to use science for the benefit of humanity,” said society president Venki Ramakrishnan. “This year’s newly elected Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society embody this, being drawn from diverse fields of enquiry – epidemiology, geometry, climatology — at once disparate, but also aligned in their pursuit and contributions of knowledge about the world in which we live. It is with great honor that I welcome them as Fellows of the Royal Society.”

The learned society dates from 1660 and today is the U.K.’s national science academy and a fellowship of some 1,600 of the world’s most eminent scientists.

Fung, a professor of earth and planetary science and of environmental science, policy and management, models the processes that maintain and alter the composition of the atmosphere and, hence, the climate.

Staskawicz, a professor of plant and microbial biology and a codirector of the Innovative Genomics Institute, studies plants’ innate immunity with the goal of engineering disease resistance in agricultural crops.

More information Image:  Side-by-side headshot of Inez Fung and Brian Staskawicz Date:  Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 08:00 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, April 18, 2019 - 08:00 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Honors and Awards

India could meet air quality standards by cutting household fuel use

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 04/18/2019 - 06:00
Nearly half of the country’s population relies on dirty fuels such as wood, dung, coal and kerosene for cooking and heating
Categories: Science News

MCB hosts successful Spring 2019 IAP Symposium

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Wed, 04/17/2019 - 15:29

IAP Spring 2019 representatives

On April 11, the MCB Industrial Affiliates Program (IAP) Spring 2019 Symposium brought together industry and academia to offer UC Berkeley scientists at all career stages an opportunity to build direct connections with nine innovative biotechnology companies. The event was a great success, drawing students and postdoctoral scholars from several departments on campus including MCB, IB, Bioengineering, Biophysics, and Comparative Biochemistry. Continue reading >

Recognizing IB's Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors

Department of Integrative Biology - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 13:50

Congratulations to the 10 IB graduate students who have been named Outstanding Graduate Student Instructors! The OGSI Award recognizes GSIs from each department on campus for excellent work in the teaching of undergraduates.

Categories: Science News

Dean Ackerly leads meeting to discuss Oxford Tract development

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 04/16/2019 - 09:31
Image:  A person stands before a room full of people and gestures while speaking Date:  Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 09:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, April 16, 2019 - 09:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Garcia: New Rules for Cellular Decision-Making

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 16:10

Dorsal protein gradient in Drosophila embryo

New research from Assistant Professor of MCB & Physics Hernan Garcia and scientists at New York University characterizes how the pioneer factor Zelda affects a gene's transcriptional output by enriching Dorsal protein activity at enhancer regions of Drosophila DNA during gene activation.

This finding "uncovers the physical parameters that affect gene activation, thus pushing forward our understanding of how genes are regulated in time and space,” according to NYU Biology Professor Christine Rushlow.

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Early warning for wildland fires? There could be an app for that

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/15/2019 - 15:00
Berkeley geographer says images from West Coast weather satellite could be used to spot fires
Categories: Science News

Join MCB for Cal Day 2019!

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Fri, 04/12/2019 - 05:55

Cal Day 2019 flyer

Cal Day 2019 is this Saturday, April 13, from 10 AM – 3 PM! Come by VLSB to learn about the MCB major, meet some of our distinguished researchers, tour the laboratory classrooms, and more.

Click here for our full Cal Day event schedule

CNR seeks graduate student Science Communications Intern

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 15:26

The College of Natural Resources Office of Communications seeks a motivated CNR graduate student to join our team as the Science Communications Intern for summer 2019. The Science Communications Intern will produce various communications pieces that further the strategic communications goals for the College and help increase awareness of CNR research, teaching, and outreach.

Projects may include:

  • Draft press releases or other written pieces that communicate scientific research to a general audience
  • Research and pitch story ideas
  • Assist with monitoring media coverage of CNR’s work, compile research publication lists
  • Research and respond to information requests from the general public
  • Assist with social media content creation and special campaigns
  • Produce multimedia content
  • Undertake other projects as needed to further assist the communication team’s work

This is is an excellent opportunity to gain experience in communicating complex science to a broad variety of audiences.

Pay & Hours

The Science Communications Intern will work ~10 hrs/week at a rate of $22.00/hour and must be available to work on site in University Hall for at least some portion of their hours each week throughout summer 2019.

Requirements & Qualifications

Must be a graduate student in the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley and must be available to work ~10 hrs/week throughout summer 2019.

Required:

  • Interest in and/or experience in science communications, journalism, and media relations
  • Strong command of the English language with excellent written and oral communication skills

Preferred:

  • Experience with social media
  • Video and photography skills
  • Experience with Adobe creative suite or graphic design
How to Apply

First review date: April 24, 2019

Email julie_gipple@berkeley.edu using subject line SCIENCE COMMUNICATIONS INTERN and include your cover letter, CV or resume, availability dates this summer, and two writing samples (such as press releases, blog posts, journalistic publications, commentaries or op-eds; non-academic pieces are preferred)

Image:  Illustration of a DNA strand Date:  Thursday, April 11, 2019 - 15:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, April 9, 2019 - 15:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Ice Ages triggered when tropical islands and continents collide

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 04/11/2019 - 11:00
Collisions expose rocks that take up carbon dioxide, causing atmospheric levels to drop and the Earth to cool, scientists argue
Categories: Science News

Berkeley Talks: Jennifer Douda on the future of gene editing

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 21:00
Doudna, a professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology, spoke on Feb. 21, 2019, about the revolutionary gene-editing tool she co-invented, CRISPR-Cas9
Categories: Science News

Heald wins Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 17:46

Heald

Congratulations to MCB Professor Rebecca Heald, recipient of the 2018–19 Leon A. Henkin Citation for Distinguished Service! This award recognizes faculty with “exceptional commitment to the educational development of students from groups who are underrepresented in the academy.”

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Pete Oboyski, caretaker of five million bugs

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 16:34
You can get a rare glimpse of this stunning collection of insects on Cal Day
Categories: Science News

Falling levels of air pollution drove decline in California’s tule fog

College of Natural Resources - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 09:14

The Central Valley’s heavy wintertime tule fog – known for snarling traffic and closing schools — has been on the decline over the past 30 years, and falling levels of air pollution are the cause, says a new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

Tule fog, named for a sedge grass that populates California’s wetlands, is a thick ground fog that periodically blankets the Central Valley during the winter months.

To find out why the fog is fading, the researchers analyzed meteorological and air pollution data from the Central Valley reaching back to 1930. They found that while yearly fluctuations in fog frequency could be explained by changes in annual weather patterns, the long-term trends matched those of pollutants in the air.

Photo of fog.

Cranes glide through the tule fog at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Steve Corey via Flickr)

The results help explain the puzzling decades-long rise and fall in the number of “fog days” affecting the region, which increased 85 percent between 1930 to 1970 and then decreased 76 percent between 1980 to 2016. This up-and-down pattern follows trends in air pollution in the valley, which rose during the first half of the century, when the region was increasingly farmed and industrialized, and then dropped off after the enactment of air pollution regulations in the 1970s.

“That increase and then decrease in fog frequency can’t be explained by the rising temperatures due to climate change that we’ve seen in recent decades, and that’s what really motivated our interest in looking at trends in air pollution,” said Ellyn Gray, a graduate student in environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley and first author on the paper, which appears online in The Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres. “When we looked at the long-term trends, we found a strong correlation between the trend in fog frequency and the trend in air pollutant emissions.”

The link between air pollution and fog also explains why southern parts of the valley — where higher temperatures should suppress the formation of fog — actually have a higher occurrence of fog than northern parts of the valley.

“We have a lot more fog in the southern part of the valley, which is also where we have the highest air pollution concentrations,” Gray said.

NASA satellite photo.

NASA’s Terra – MODIS satellite captures a thick blanket of fog covering California’s Central Valley. (NASA photo by Jeff Schmaltz)

And it makes sense, given what we know about how clouds and fog form, Gray says. Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react with ammonia to form ammonium nitrate particles, which help trigger water vapor to condense into small fog droplets. Emissions of NOx have declined dramatically since the 1980s, resulting in a decrease in ammonium nitrate aerosols and fog.

“In order to get fog to form, not only do you need the temperature to go down, but there has to be some sort of seed for water to condense around, similar to how you would have a cloud seed in the atmosphere,” Gray said. “Ammonium nitrate happens to make very good fog seeds — water is very attracted to it.”

As a next step, the team plans to take a close look at the association between air pollution, tule fog and traffic safety in the valley.

“When I was growing up in California in the 1970s and early 1980s, tule fog was a major story that we would hear about on the nightly news,” said Allen Goldstein, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, and in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UC Berkeley and senior author on the paper. “These tule fogs were associated with very damaging multi-vehicle accidents on freeways in the Central Valley resulting from the low visibility. Today, those kind of fog events and associated major accidents are comparatively rare.”

Co-authors of the paper include S. Gilardoni and Maria Cristina Facchini of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate in Italy; Dennis Baldocchi of UC Berkeley, and Brian C. McDonald of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder.

This research was supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Fellowship, the California Agricultural Experiment Station and McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Research Council of Italy.

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Image:  Photo of fog. Date:  Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 09:15 byline:  Kara Manke Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 09:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Falling levels of air pollution drove decline in California’s tule fog

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 04/10/2019 - 05:00
Less fog may help improve traffic safety in the valley
Categories: Science News