By Date

CRISPR research institute expands into agriculture, microbiology

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 01/26/2017 - 13:45
Image: Illustration showing people, beakers, and cropsDate: Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 13:45Legacy: section header item:  Date: Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 13:45headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left

A chain reaction to spare the air

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/26/2017 - 12:12
Bakar Fellow Jeffrey Long, professor of chemistry and of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has devised a new material that can capture and release CO2 at a lower temperature and in a much greater volume than present-day technologies
Categories: Science News

Healy Lab featured on Futurism

Department of Bioengineering - Thu, 01/26/2017 - 12:06
Healy Lab's heart-on-a-chip technology is the subject of a video feature at Futurism.
Categories: Science News

Scientists unveil new form of matter: time crystals

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/26/2017 - 08:30
By repeatedly tweaking a group of ions, physicists make first example of a non-equilibrium material: a system that repeats in time, rather than space
Categories: Science News

Center for Built Environment, turning 20, helps shape building industry

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 01/25/2017 - 11:58
Its research offers building operators, managers and designers new tools to enhance energy efficiency, environmental quality and livability for residents and workers — from the open-office plan and the cubicle to multifamily structures
Categories: Science News

CRISPR research institute expands into agriculture, microbiology

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 01/24/2017 - 08:15
Five year, $125 million investment in Innovative Genomics Institute will help improve global food security and the environment
Categories: Science News

Sharing Discoveries for Treating Cancer and Infectious Disease

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 14:33

Researchers studying cancer and infectious disease are joining forces in an attempt to maniupulate the immune response for both invaders through immunotherapy. The recently formed IVRI, Immunotherapeutics and Vaccine Research Institute, is at the forefront of this collaborative work.

Read more...

UC Research Forest Lands Expand with Donation

College of Natural Resources - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 09:11

BERKELEY - The first of three large land donations from Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to the University of California has been officially transferred, expanding UC’s research forest lands by 1,459 acres.

Named the “Grouse Ridge Forest” after the dominant feature of the property, the land is located on three parcels in the headwaters of the Yuba River in Nevada County. In conjunction with the land donation to UC, a conservation easement was conveyed to the Bear Yuba Land Trust (BYLT), ensuring the permanent protection of the forest land and important wildlife habitat there.

“As California’s forests experience increased stresses from droughts, beetles, fires, and climate change, we need more “living laboratories” to learn how we can increase the resiliency of these critical watersheds over the next century,” said Bill Stewart, forestry specialist and co-director of the UC Berkeley Center for Forestry (CFF). “This new addition of  research forest land is valuable as another site along a north-south transect of the Sierra Nevada that ensures that research results are broadly applicable and not just valid in one specific location.”   

The University of California now has 6,452 acres of research forests, which are managed by the Center for Forestry. Through research, education and public service, the CFF continues to improve scientific understanding of the interconnected role of California’s forests and state watersheds, renewable wood products, fish and wildlife habitat, scenic and recreational opportunities, and climate benefits. 

These new lands will allow for increased research on the effects of climate change on forest ecosystems, expanded experimentation of forest-management techniques, and broadened outreach efforts to students of all levels, researchers, and the interested public. 

“The importance of research forests as a space for studies on both mitigation of and adaptation to climate change was highlighted again this week with the announcement that we had just had the hottest year on record, for the third year in a row,” said J. Keith Gilless, CNR dean and professor of forest economics.

This is the first time UC has owned a forest property while another entity holds the conservation easement. “The Land Trust is excited for the opportunity to be a partner with the University of California in this endeavor,” said BYLT Executive Director Marty Coleman Hunt in an announcement made by the organization in December. “The forest has been a habitat for wildlife like mountain lion, deer and coyote and will remain so for as long as the forest can support them. As the forest changes over time, the University of California will study how nature adapts, and how the impact of humans can harm or benefit the natural processes.”

The land donation became official with the close of escrow in December 2016. It was originally approved by the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council in 2004 as part of PG&E’s bankruptcy settlement, with the goal of ensuring that over 140,000 acres of California's lakes and watershed lands are conserved for the public good and to serve California's young people.

Two more forests have also been pledged to UC by PG&E and are expected to be officially transferred over the next few years: one along Marble Creek in eastern Shasta County and another near along the Bear River that is the dividing line between Placer County and Nevada County. 

Once complete, these three donations will more than double the number of acres of UC research forest lands.  

More information about the Grouse Ridge Forest Conservation Easement can be found on the Bear Yuba Land Trust Website.

Image: Image of a forestDate: Friday, January 20, 2017 - 09:15byline: Julie Van Scoy, College of Natural ResourcesLegacy: section header item:  Date: Friday, January 20, 2017 - 09:15headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left

Why the lights don’t dim when we blink

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 09:00
Study finds that blinking prompts eye muscles to keep our vision in line
Categories: Science News

Amy Herr is first Faculty Director of Bakar Fellows

Department of Bioengineering - Wed, 01/18/2017 - 08:43
Professor Amy Herr has been named the the inaugural faculty director of the Bakar Fellows Program at UC Berkeley. The program fosters faculty entrepreneurship in the STEM+ fields including Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Architecture, to help professors translate their ground-breaking discoveries into practical solutions and contribute to Berkeley's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Herr was a member of the first class of Bakar Fellows in 2012.
Categories: Science News

Climate change could kill off parasites, destabilizing ecosystems

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 14:48
Mass parasite extinction could create more virulent disease or alter the food web
Categories: Science News

Climate change could kill off parasites, destabilizing ecosystems

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 01/12/2017 - 12:46

Photogenic animals, from polar bears to people, aren’t the only creatures under threat from global climate change. A new review led by UC Berkeley suggests the phenomenon threatens parasites with extinction, which could have big consequences for ecosystems.

The vast majority of research into parasites and environment change focuses on how hosts, particularly humans, will be harmed. Few studies have addressed how the loss of parasite biodiversity may affect other aspects of host health, ecosystem connectedness and health  and biodiversity as a whole. Previous research suggests that parasites are up to 10 times more vulnerable to extinction than are their hosts.

In the new study, the researchers suggest that parasites are as prone to extinction due to climate change as any other taxonomic group. The study predicts that losing parasites could destabilize ecosystems in many ways, such as by increasing more virulent disease or by altering the food web or changing host physiology. The study found that parasites in hosts with variable internal temperatures, parasites of large-bodied hosts, host-specific parasites and parasites with complex life cycles will likely be the most vulnerable to extinction due to climate change.

“This is the first comprehensive review of how climate change may affect parasite biodiversity, from the point of view of parasite conservation,” said Carrie Cizauskas, who led the research as a postdoctoral affiliate in the lab of Wayne Getz, a professor of wildlife ecology in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Colin Carlson, a graduate student in the same department, is co-lead author of the review.

The research was published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Previous work from this group has called for further research into parasite vulnerability from parasites’ perspectives, rather than primarily focusing on hosts, and also outlined ways to potentially conserve parasites. In the new study, the authors outline actionable items for researching the vulnerability of parasites. A forthcoming review from Cizauskas and Carlson attempts to quantify these parasite extinction risks using existing data and modeling.

The team outlines a protocol for identifying vulnerable parasites by a set of key risk factors, including host specificity, parasite life cycle complexity and climatic tolerance. The next step involves identifying important unanswered questions in parasite ecology, such as how host phylogeny predicts parasite extinction, or whether parasite extinctions will be clustered in particular ecosystems. Finally, they suggest proposing how ecological disciplines may be used to identify gaps in parasite research data.

“Ultimately, our goal is for this review to act as a catalyst for further research efforts and discussions regarding the important and little-addressed topic of parasite vulnerability in the face of climate change,” Cizauskas said.

Read the story at the source.

 

Image: A parasite by the name of Schistorchis stenosomaDate: Thursday, January 12, 2017 - 12:45byline: By Brett Israel, UC Berkeley Media relations Legacy: section header item:  Date: Friday, January 20, 2017 - 12:45headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left

BioE students featured in MEng newsletter

Department of Bioengineering - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 16:50
Bioengineering MEng students Sneha Balan and Nick Engel are featured on page 4 of the Winter MEng newsletter, for their Early Cancer Detection project and Alumni Innovation Award. Nick is also on the cover.
Categories: Science News

Snails travel far and wide, spreading disease along the way

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 12:52
UC Berkeley-led study is the first to find genetic evidence for long-distance dispersal of disease-carrying snails.
Categories: Science News

Learning to live without plastic

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 01/09/2017 - 10:00
More than a dozen professors across a range of departments, from gender and women's studies to nuclear engineering, are working to incorporate content related to carbon neutrality, climate change and sustainability into their undergraduate course material.
Categories: Science News

Global warming hiatus disproved — again

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 01/05/2017 - 16:08
Melting ice bergs

A controversial paper published two years ago that concluded there was no detectable slowdown in ocean warming over the previous 15 years — widely known as the “global warming hiatus” — has now been confirmed using independent data in research led by researchers from UC Berkeley and Berkeley Earth, a non-profit research institute focused on climate change.

The 2015 analysis showed that the modern buoys now used to measure ocean temperatures tend to report slightly cooler temperatures than older ship-based systems, even when measuring the same part of the ocean at the same time. As buoy measurements have replaced ship measurements, this had hidden some of the real-world warming.

After correcting for this “cold bias,” researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded in the journal Science that the oceans have actually warmed 0.12 degrees Celsius (0.22 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade since 2000, nearly twice as fast as earlier estimates of 0.07 degrees Celsius per decade. This brought the rate of ocean temperature rise in line with estimates for the previous 30 years, between 1970 and 1999.

This eliminated much of the global warming hiatus, an apparent slowdown in rising surface temperatures between 1998 and 2012. Many scientists, including the International Panel on Climate Change, acknowledged the puzzling hiatus, while those dubious about global warming pointed to it as evidence that climate change is a hoax.

Climate change skeptics attacked the NOAA researchers and a House of Representatives committee subpoenaed the scientists’ emails. NOAA agreed to provide data and respond to any scientific questions but refused to comply with the subpoena, a decision supported by scientists who feared the “chilling effect” of political inquisitions.

The new study, which uses independent data from satellites and robotic floats as well as buoys, concludes that the NOAA results were correct. The paper was published Jan. 4 in the online, open-access journal Science Advances.

“Our results mean that essentially NOAA got it right, that they were not cooking the books,” said lead author Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group.

Long-term climate records

Hausfather said that years ago, mariners measured the ocean temperature by scooping up a bucket of water from the ocean and sticking a thermometer in it. In the 1950s, however, ships began to automatically measure water piped through the engine room, which typically is warm. Nowadays, buoys cover much of the ocean and that data is beginning to supplant ship data. But the buoys report slightly cooler temperatures because they measure water directly from the ocean instead of after a trip through a warm engine room...

Read the complete story at the UC Berkeley News site.

Image: Melting ice bergsDate: Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 16:00byline: Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media RelationsLegacy: section header item:  Date: Thursday, January 5, 2017 - 16:00headline_position: Top Leftheadline_color_style: Normalheadline_width: Longcaption_color_style: Normalcaption_position: Bottom Left

Arkin lab method may save lives during blood transfusion

Department of Bioengineering - Wed, 01/04/2017 - 16:42
After severe trauma, some patients in shock develop impaired coagulation. This is difficult to diagnose in crisis and makes blood transfusions dangerously challenging to manage. Professor Adam Arkin and collaborators have used dynamic modeling to demonstrate a method for calculating each patient’s transfusion requirements using only laboratory values that can be easily and quickly obtained in the emergency setting. This personalized information could help hospitals save lives at risk from acute traumatic coagulopathy and massive transfusion mortality.
Categories: Science News

Global warming hiatus disproved — again

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 01/04/2017 - 11:00
Study confirms steady warming of oceans for past 45 years
Categories: Science News

Fast radio burst tied to distant dwarf galaxy and, perhaps, magnetar

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 01/04/2017 - 10:00
First localization of mysterious bursts pinpoints galaxy 3 billion light years away
Categories: Science News