By Date

CNR Students Work with Cal Dining Chefs to Revamp Recipes

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 15:54
Image:  Healthy dishes being served in a cafeteria Date:  Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 15:45 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, May 25, 2017 - 15:45 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Gibbons Awarded Shaw Prize

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 12:49

Longtime MCB visiting scholar, Dr. Ian Gibbons, has received the prestigious Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, awarded each year by the Shaw Prize Foundation of Hong Kong.


How X-rays helped to solve mystery of floating rocks

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 05/25/2017 - 09:00
Michael Manga teams with Berkeley Lab scientists to understand why pumice floats (or sinks)
Categories: Science News

Expert on rip currents warns of dangers at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 05/24/2017 - 12:28
Coastal oceanographer Francis Smith takes to the waves to demonstrate the dangers at California beaches
Categories: Science News

Birds, bees and other critters have scruples, and for good reason

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 05/23/2017 - 12:23
Psychologists find examples of conscientiousness, such as working hard, paying attention to detail and striving to do the right thing, throughout the animal kingdom
Categories: Science News

Botanical Garden hosts giant bird’s nest built with natural fiber, digital tools

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 05/22/2017 - 17:00
Graduate students in architecture work with associate professor M. Paz Gutierrez aim big as they begin to unravel the elaborate construction secrets of the weaver bird
Categories: Science News

Sequencing of Green Alga Genome Provides Blueprint to Advance Clean Energy, Bioproducts

College of Natural Resources - Fri, 05/19/2017 - 14:59

Plant biologists have sequenced the genome of a particularly promising species of green alga, providing a blueprint for new discoveries in producing sustainable biofuels, antioxidants, and other valuable bioproducts.

The researchers targeted Chromochloris zofingiensis, a single-celled green alga that has drawn commercial interest as one of the highest producers of the best lipids for biofuel production.

Rotating view of a cryo-soft X-ray tomography reconstructed cell of the green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis dividing into 16 daughter cells with segmented nucleus (purple), chloroplast (green), mitochondria (red), and lipids (yellow). (Credit: Melissa Roth/HHMI and Andreas Walters/Berkeley Lab)

The team of scientists, led by researchers in the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology (PMB) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles, recently published their work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The work was conceived of and developed at Berkeley Lab by Krishna Niyogi, chair of PMB and faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab.

“This genome will be an important resource to develop renewable and sustainable microalgal biofuels to facilitate clean energy and a cleaner environment,” said study lead author Melissa Roth, a postdoctoral researcher in Niyogi’s lab. “Algae absorb carbon dioxide and are intrinsically solar-powered by photosynthesis, but C. zofingiensis has an added benefit in that it can be cultivated on non-arable land and in wastewater.”

Niyogi also pointed out that C. zofingiensis is a natural source for astaxanthin, an antioxidant derived from dietary algae that gives salmon its pinkish hue. In algae, astaxanthin is thought to provide protection from oxidative stress.

“This alga has potential as a nutraceutical,” said Niyogi, who is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. “Studies are already underway to determine whether astaxanthin’s anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial in treatments for cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, diabetes, and other human health problems.”

To get an inside look at the cells, the researchers relied upon the National Center for X-ray Tomography (NCXT), a joint Berkeley Lab-UCSF program located at the Lab’s Advanced Light Source. Using soft X-ray tomography, a technique comparable to a computerized tomography scan, scientists imaged and then reconstructed sections of the algal genome to generate a 3-D view. Cells were captured dividing into two, four, and even sixteen daughter cells.

“Combining multiple sequencing techniques, we were able to generate a chromosome-level assembly of the genome, which is an uncommonly high level of architecture for an alga and similar to that of a model organism. In fact, the quality of the C. zofingiensis genome rivals the model green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which was first sequenced about a decade ago,” said Roth.

The alga contains approximately 15,000 genes.

Other senior authors on the paper include Sabeeha Merchant, UCLA professor of biochemistry; Matteo Pellegrini, UCLA professor of molecular, cell, and developmental biology; and Carolyn Larabell, NCXT director and professor of anatomy at UCSF.

This research was supported by DOE’s Office of Science, the US Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The Advanced Light Source is a DOE Office of Science User Facility. NCXT is jointly funded by DOE and the National Institutes of Health.

Read this article at the source. 

Image:  Date:  Friday, May 19, 2017 - 14:45 byline:  By Sarah Yang, Lawrence Berkeley Lab Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Friday, May 19, 2017 - 14:45 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Ngai's Team Tracks Olfactory Stem Cell Transformation

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 11:30

MCB Professor John Ngai's lab, in conjunction with other UC Berkeley statisticians and computer scientists, was able to trace which stem cells in the nose become specialized based on their RNA profiles. The research could possibly lead to an eventual cure for anosmia.


Dan Kammen Featured in Climate Lab Video from UCOP, VOX

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 10:43
Dan Kammen during an interview with Vox

Climate Lab is a six-part series produced by the University of California in partnership with Vox, exploring global climate change and UC’s groundbreaking work to mitigate its effects. The fifth episode of the series—an investigation of how and whether we can rethink and reinvent nuclear power—features comments from professor Dan Kammen of the Energy & Resources Group on developing technologies in the field.

Kammen describes new small, modular reactors that can be applied at different scales than traditional power plants. “The whole nuclear power plant comes on the back of a flatbed truck or arrives on a barge, gets parked, plugged in—and when the fuel is used up, it simply gets taken away as a unit to be reprocessed,” he says.

The episode also highlights Per Peterson, a UC Berkley professor of nuclear engineering who is working on a next-generation reactor design that uses a new form of fuel that can withstand higher temperatures than conventional fuel rods and is much safer to use.

In a related article published on the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative website, Kammen cites issues of time and cost as reasons why, even though new technologies are promising, nuclear energy may not be the most immediately important source of energy in the fight against climate change. “We're seeing solar plants installed for under three cents a kilowatt hour, while the comparative price for nuclear in the best situation is well over ten cents a kilowatt hour—more than three times as expensive as a no-risk alternative,” he explained.

About Climate Lab

Featuring conversations with experts, scientists, thought leaders and activists, the Climate Lab series takes what can seem like an overwhelming problem and breaks it down into manageable parts: from clean energy to food waste, religion to smartphones. Each video is hosted by Emmy-nominated conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan, an alum of UC Santa Cruz and a visiting researcher at UCLA.  Visit the Climate Lab website for more information and other videos in the series. 

Image:  Screenshot of a Vox video on nuclear energy Date:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 10:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 10:30 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Alum Dick Beahrs recalls MLK’s visit to Berkeley 50 years ago

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 05/18/2017 - 09:33
Image:  Dick Beahrs and Martin Luther King JR Date:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 09:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 09:30 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Yartsev named McKnight Scholar

Department of Bioengineering - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 15:26
Professor Michael Yartsev has been selected to receive a 2017 McKnight Scholar Award, which is granted to young scientists who are in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience. Only six awards were granted to a nationwide pool of over 65 applicants. The […]
Categories: Science News

Brohawn Receives McKnight Scholar Award

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Wed, 05/17/2017 - 12:39

MCB Assistant Professor of Neurobiology Stephen Brohawn was chosen for a 2017 McKnight Scholar Award, for his resarch on "Mechanisms of biological force sensation." The McNight Scholar is one of the most prestigious honors that a young early-career neurobiologist can receive. 


Lishko Discovers Anti-fertility Properties in Two Chemicals

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 11:07

MCB Assistant Professor Polina Lishko is in the news again for her work involving contraceptives research. "Two chemicals found in anti-fertility folk medicines block a key step in fertilization – the meeting of egg and sperm – and may make effective alternatives to today’s hormone-based contraceptives, which sometimes cause side effects."


Student Spotlight: Rosalind Bump

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 11:07

Senior Rosalind Bump shares fond memories of her years at Cal, ideas for incoming freshmen, and the story of one class that helped her understand the relationship between nature and poetry.

Rosalind Bump 4th Year, Molecular Environmental Biology, emphasis on Human & Environmental Health


Rosalind Bump

Best study spot on campus?

I enjoy studying outside, so you’ll often find me on the patio of the Free Speech Movement Cafe. If it’s serious studying though, I quite like the Hargrove Music Library, with its glass windows overlooking the surrounding trees. If there are a few minutes between classes, I love getting work done at the CNR Student Resource Center, where there’s always a familiar face and good company.

Best Cal memory?

There are so many! Carefree afternoons on the glade, as the laughter of friends and frisbees filled the air and the Campanile marked the hours; the moments in classes where concepts finally clicked; mornings of espresso, musings, and people-watching at Strada; adventures up the fire trails and down to the marina; the intense concentration of dead week and the feeling of triumph and relief after finals end, alongside peers who have become an irreplaceable support system throughout the years.

What is your favorite CNR class or professor and why?

I have very fond memories of ESPMC12 (English C77) “Introduction to Environmental Studies” from my freshman year. The course was one of my very first at Berkeley, and it asked us to reflect upon really essential questions, like “What is ‘the environment’? What does it mean to be ‘environmental’? Are those different, or the same, and why does it matter?” Coming into college without a direct path ahead of me, I had often found myself at the crossroads of my love of both nature and poetry. The course validated for me that the two not only intersect, but are in fact intertwined, and it was the first of many classes at Cal that redefined how I interpret and engage with the world. Plus, the professors, Bob Hass and Gary Sposito, are so incredibly welcoming, intelligent, and personable. 

Rosalind catching a sunset on North Stradbroke Island in Australia, where she conducted marine biology research

Rosalind and her friend catching a sunset on North Stradbroke Island in Australia, where they conducted marine biology research

What advice do you have for an incoming CNR student?

There are so many opportunities and communities at your fingertips! Don’t be afraid to jump in—whether that be a research lab, one of the museums on campus, or a volunteer group—if even you don’t feel like you have “enough” experience, because the experience will come with time. Invest yourself thoroughly in the classes and activities that you join, but know that at the end of the day, it is just as important to invest in the people around you (for they will be the friends to pick you up on the rough days). Lean in to the uncomfortable challenges and moments of adversity that will inevitably come your way, because they will likely be the moments in which you grow most deeply.

What is your plan for after graduation?

I plan to work in a research lab for one to two years before applying to grad school, ideally to a program that allows me to pursue questions of public health and environmental health through the lens of molecular biology.

Muir Woods, because Rosalind loves that being in Berkeley means having access to so many places of natural grandeur nearby.

Rosalind says that being in Berkeley means having access to so many places of natural grandeur nearby, such as Muir Woods.

What have been the most meaningful activities you’ve been involved with while at Berkeley?

The past few semesters I’ve been able to explore my love of science communication and outreach through BEAM (Berkeley Engineers and Mentors). BEAM mentors are so wonderfully enthusiastic and committed to hands-on, scientific discovery for elementary and middle school students in Berkeley, and we hope to inspire the next generation of budding scientists. I have also been quite involved with a variety of projects on campus: from the Specimen Prep Lab at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, to STeam (ASUC Sustainability Team), to plant research with the Lemaux Lab and my current research on tissue regeneration with the Hariharan Lab. Additionally, studying abroad in Australia (while not at Berkeley, per se) is one of my most cherished experiences; I am so thankful to have been able to immerse myself in marine biology and terrestrial ecology for a semester, alongside truly brilliant professors and peers. 

Image:  Rosalind Bump Date:  Tuesday, May 16, 2017 - 11:00 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 11:00 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Botchan Named Dean of Biological Sciences

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Tue, 05/16/2017 - 10:12

MCB Professor Michael Botchan, interim dean of the Division of Biological Sciences since July, 2016, was named permanent Dean of the division and will join the Council of Deans on campus. Congratulations Dean Botchan!


Penhoet Honored with Fiat Lux Faculty Award

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 11:57

MCB Professor Emeritus Edward Penhoet is the recipient of the 2017 Fiat Lux Faculty Award from UC Berkeley and the Cal Alumni Association. The award recognizes a faculty member whose extraordinary contributions go above and beyond the call fo duty.


Student Spotlight: Blair Conklin

College of Natural Resources - Mon, 05/15/2017 - 10:44

Graduating senior Blair Conklin tells of some incredible moments he's had at Cal, his professional skimboarding career, and his plans for the future.

Blair Conklin

Photo courtesy of Blair Conklin.

Blair Conklin 4th Year, Environmental Science

Best study spot on campus?

My favorite study spot is the patio of the Free Speech Movement Café on a calm sunny day.  Be wary of the hungry squirrels.  

Best Cal memory?

One of my favorite Cal memories was generated from a Tropical Island Biology and Geomorphology class (ESPMC107) I took in the fall of my junior year at Berkeley’s Gump Station in Moorea. On a day with exceptionally calm seas and not a single cloud in the sky, our class took out two aluminum boats on the hunt for humpback whales outside the barrier reefs of Moorea. After seeing spouts from a group of humpbacks in the distance, our captain moved us closer. A whale surfaced for air about 20 feet off the bow of our boat. After we were told it was safe to enter the water, our entire class of 20 dove right in. With 100 feet of visibility, watching these graceful giants beneath the ocean’s surface will be a scene engrained in my memory for life.

What is your favorite CNR class or professor and why?

A course on communicating ocean sciences to informal audiences (IB C100) was one of my favorite classes while at Cal. I found this class was invaluable in helping me to understand the processes by which we learn. This class and its three fantastic professors were very effective at reinforcing my understanding of the scientific process and teaching me the skills to effectively communicate and teach others about science.  Teaching students at the Lawrence Hall of Science provided me with the hands-on experience to become a better communicator and sparked my interest in the field of science education.

What advice do you have for an incoming CNR student?

My advice to an incoming CNR student would be to get involved in groups or activities on campus that align with your interests and passions. It is a great way to meet people and make friends that may open many different doors for you while at Cal.

Blair Conklin

Image courtesy of Blair Conklin.


What have been the most meaningful activities you’ve been involved with while at Berkeley?

  • Senior Thesis project:  For my thesis I studied intertidal boulder fields in the Point Reyes National Sea Shore.  I was interested in looking at the seasonal cycles of sedimentation that occurred in this area; the boulder fields would be buried by sand in the summer and exposed for intertidal organisms to inhabit during the winter. I was also curious about how the increase in basin wide wave energy that occurred in the winter of the 2015-2016 El Niño events would impact these intertidal boulder fields and the amount of sediments within them.
  • Cal Surf Team: This past year I joined Berkeley's first-ever surf team, which began competing on the college NSSA—the National Surfing Scholastic Association. Before this group was organized, I never would have thought that there were so many good surfers who go to Berkeley. I have always appreciated the strong friendships that arise from meeting people who enjoy ocean sports as much as I do. If a group of surfers can organize meetings and get together at Berkeley, I am confident that anyone can come to Cal and find their niche community or interest group.    

Tell us a little more about your skimboarding career.

For those who have never heard of skimboarding, it is a small but growing sport that is similar to surfing. Unlike surfing, you start from the beach where you run, drop your board, and slide on the sand and surface of the water to catch waves that are breaking close to shore.  

I started skimboarding at the age of 4 in Laguna Beach and began competing at 7 years old. I have skimboarding to thank for taking me to some amazing places around the world. I have travelled to countries such as Angola, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Portugal, Indonesia, Japan, and Taiwan.  A major milestone for me took place during the fall semester of my senior year when I walked away with the United Skim Tour World Championship title. 

What is your plan for after graduation?

After graduation, I will travel and compete on the world tour for skimboarding during the summer months.  I plan on applying for a position as an environmental science educator for weeklong science camps, which take place in the Channel Islands and Santa Monica Mountains. In the more distant future, I will prepare for grad school and would like do research in a location that takes me a little closer to the ocean or back to the warm waters and coral reefs of Moorea.  

Image:  Blair Conklin Date:  Monday, May 15, 2017 - 10:45 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - 10:45 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Garcia and Lammel Receive Hellman Fellows Fund Awards

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Fri, 05/12/2017 - 13:30

MCB Assistant Professors Hernan Garcia and Stephan Lammel were named Hellman Fellows Fund recipients. The award supports the research of promising assistant professors who show capacity for great distinction in their research. Garcia's proposal is "The Dynamical Embryo: Technology for a Movie-Based View of Developmental Biology," and Lammel's is "An Ethological Approach Towards Understanding the Effects of Chronic Stress in the Brain."


Baiting the Bug

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 10:50

The labs of Qiang Zhou and Jim Hurley, professors in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, have been leading the efforts to investigate a new approach to treating HIV. MCB graduate student Zichong Li profiles their work in this Berkeley Science Review article.


MTM team pitches success

Department of Bioengineering - Thu, 05/11/2017 - 10:09
This Master of Translational Medicine team is shining at startup pitch competitions! Maria Artunduaga, Siobhan Rigby, and Stephanie Nemec are developing – outside of their normal MTM project curriculum – a tech-enabled service that helps COPD patients continuously monitor their blood oxygen levels. In partnership with Ana Arias’ lab at UC Berkeley, they aim to mine […]
Categories: Science News