By Date

Chancellor Shares Campus Priorities

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 08:39

Chancellor Christ shares campus priorities, which tie directly into the mission of UC Berkeley: building community, undergraduate education, equity & inclusion, research in service to the public, and creating a new financial model. MCB is on board to do its part!

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Berkeley again is top U.S. public university in new ARWU rankings

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 11:44
Berkeley ranks first in the world in natural sciences, chemistry and electrical and electronic engineering
Categories: Science News

Heavily used pesticide linked to breathing problems in farmworkers’ children

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 11:24
New study finds that elemental sulfur is linked to reduced lung function, more asthma-related symptoms and higher asthma medication use in children living about a half-mile or less from farms that use the pesticide
Categories: Science News

MCB Undergraduate Research Spotlight

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 12:42

MCB celebrates some of its incredible undergrad researchers of 2017 -- see our Spring Newsletter feature. As the Fall Semester approaches, we look forward to seeing returning students and interacting with a new batch too!

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ERG student Valeri Vasquez receives computational and data science fellowship

College of Natural Resources - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 12:13
Image:  Date:  Friday, August 11, 2017 - 12:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Friday, August 11, 2017 - 12:15 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

ERG student Valeri Vasquez receives computational and data science fellowship

College of Natural Resources - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 12:13
Image:  Date:  Friday, August 11, 2017 - 12:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Friday, August 11, 2017 - 12:15 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

Capstone alumni featured in New York Times

Department of Bioengineering - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 17:21
Two startup companies spun out of BioE 192 Senior Capstone Design projects are taking the world of remote health monitoring by storm. Read how the heart and asthma monitoring devices by Eko Devices and Knox Medical Diagnostics are changing the landscape of medicine.
Categories: Science News

Capstone alumni featured in New York Times

Department of Bioengineering - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 10:12
Two startup companies spun out of BioE 192 Senior Capstone Design projects are taking the world of remote health monitoring by storm. Read how the heart and asthma monitoring devices by Eko Devices and Knox Medical Diagnostics are changing the landscape of medicine.
Categories: Science News

Megamovie app makes photographing total eclipse a snap

UC Berkeley Science News - Tue, 08/08/2017 - 08:00
The app, downloadable free from Google Play or the App Store, automatically snaps photos of the eclipse and helps users upload them for use by scientists
Categories: Science News

New collaboration between metabolic biology graduate program, UCSF

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 12:13
Image:  View of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge Date:  Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 12:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 12:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Research News

New collaboration between metabolic biology graduate program, UCSF

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 12:13
Image:  View of the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge Date:  Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 12:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, August 3, 2017 - 12:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Research News

Twilight observations reveal huge storm on Neptune

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 08/03/2017 - 11:38
Berkeley grad student spies unusually bright storm system while viewing the sky at a time other astronomers avoid: twilight
Categories: Science News

Evan Miller receives NeuroNex Innovation Award

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Wed, 08/02/2017 - 11:16

MCB Assistant Professor Evan Miller, who is also faculty in the College of Chemistry, is the recipient of the NeuroNex Innovation Award for research on Chemical and Genetic Methods to Measure and Manipulate Neurons with Light.

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India's rising suicide rate linked to failing crops, poverty

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:19

Climate change has already caused more than 59,000 suicides in India over the last 30 years, according to estimates in a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that suggests failing harvests that push farmers into poverty are likely the key culprits.

Map of India showing areas with highest rates of suicide from 1980 to 2013

Tamma Carleton, a PhD. candidate in the department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, discovered that warming a single day by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) during India’s agricultural growing season leads to roughly 65 suicides across the country, whenever that day’s temperature is above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Warming a day by 5 degrees Celsius has five times that effect.

Carleton projects that today’s suicide rate will only rise as temperatures continue to warm.

While high temperatures and low rainfall during the growing season substantially impact annual suicide rates, similar events have no effect on suicide rates during the off-season, when few crops are grown, implicating agriculture as the critical link.

This study helps explain India’s evolving suicide epidemic, where suicide rates have nearly doubled since 1980 and claim more than 130,000 lives each year. Carleton’s results indicate that 7 percent of this upward trend can be attributed to warming that has been linked to human activity.

Soaring temperatures, despair

More than 75 percent of the world’s suicides are believed to occur in developing countries, with one-fifth of those in India alone. But there has been little hard evidence to help explain why poor populations are so at risk.

“It was both shocking and heartbreaking to see that thousands of people face such bleak conditions that they are driven to harm themselves,” Carleton says. “But learning that the desperation is economic means that we can do something about this. The right policies could save thousands.”

The study demonstrates that warming — forecast to reach 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 — is already taking a toll on Indian society. Using methods that she developed in a previous paper published in the journal Science, Carleton projects that today’s suicide rate will only rise as temperatures continue to warm.

Optimists often suggest that society will adapt to warming. But Carleton searched for evidence that communities acclimatize to high temperatures, or become more resilient as they get richer, and found none in the data.

“Without interventions that help families adapt to a warmer climate, it’s likely we will see a rising number of lives lost to suicide as climate change worsens in India,” Carleton says.

Carleton says she hopes her work will help people better understand the human cost of climate change, as well as inform suicide prevention policy in India and other developing countries.

“The tragedy is unfolding today. This is not a problem for future generations. This is our problem, right now,” she says.

Which policies will help prevent suicide?

Debate about solutions to the country’s high and rising suicide rate is contentious and has centered around lowering economic risks for farmers. In response, the Indian government established a $1.3 billion crop insurance plan aimed at reducing the suicide rate but it is unknown if that will be sufficient or effective.

“Public dialogue has focused on a narrative in which crop failures increase farmer debt, and cause some farmers to commit suicide. Until now, there was no data to support this claim,” says Carleton.

More than half of India’s working population is employed in rain-dependent agriculture, long known to be sensitive to climate fluctuations such as unpredictable monsoon rains, scorching heat waves, and drought. A third of India’s workers already earn below the international poverty line.

This study’s findings indicate that protecting these workers from major economic shortfalls during these events, through policies like crop insurance or improvements in rural credit markets, may help to rein in a rising suicide rate.

Impacts beyond agriculture

Heat drives crop loss, Carleton contends, which can cause ripple effects throughout the Indian economy as poor harvests drive up food prices, shrink agricultural jobs and draw on household savings. During these times, it appears that a staggering number of people, often male heads of household, turn to suicide.

The Indian government established a $1.3 billion crop insurance plan aimed at reducing the suicide rate, but it is unknown if that will be sufficient or effective.

Carleton tested the links between climate change, crop yields and suicide by pairing the numbers for India’s reported suicides in each of its 32 states between 1967 and 2013, using a dataset prepared by the Indian National Crime Records Bureau, along with statistics on India’s crop yields, and high-resolution climate data.

To isolate the types of climate shocks that damage crops, Carleton focused on temperature and rainfall during June through September, a critical period for crop productivity that is based on the average arrival and departure dates of India’s summer monsoon.

She cautions that her estimates of temperature-linked suicides are probably too low, because deaths in general are underreported in India and because until 2014, national law held that attempted suicide was a criminal offense, further discouraging reporting.

Carleton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and is a recipient of the Science to Achieve Results Fellowship awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Read the story at its source, UC Berkeley News. 

Image:  Indian farmer in a field Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 13:45 byline:  By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley Media relations Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 13:45 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Research News

India's rising suicide rate linked to failing crops, poverty

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 14:19

Climate change has already caused more than 59,000 suicides in India over the last 30 years, according to estimates in a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that suggests failing harvests that push farmers into poverty are likely the key culprits.

Map of India showing areas with highest rates of suicide from 1980 to 2013

Tamma Carleton, a PhD. candidate in the department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, discovered that warming a single day by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) during India’s agricultural growing season leads to roughly 65 suicides across the country, whenever that day’s temperature is above 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). Warming a day by 5 degrees Celsius has five times that effect.

Carleton projects that today’s suicide rate will only rise as temperatures continue to warm.

While high temperatures and low rainfall during the growing season substantially impact annual suicide rates, similar events have no effect on suicide rates during the off-season, when few crops are grown, implicating agriculture as the critical link.

This study helps explain India’s evolving suicide epidemic, where suicide rates have nearly doubled since 1980 and claim more than 130,000 lives each year. Carleton’s results indicate that 7 percent of this upward trend can be attributed to warming that has been linked to human activity.

Soaring temperatures, despair

More than 75 percent of the world’s suicides are believed to occur in developing countries, with one-fifth of those in India alone. But there has been little hard evidence to help explain why poor populations are so at risk.

“It was both shocking and heartbreaking to see that thousands of people face such bleak conditions that they are driven to harm themselves,” Carleton says. “But learning that the desperation is economic means that we can do something about this. The right policies could save thousands.”

The study demonstrates that warming — forecast to reach 3 degrees Celsius by 2050 — is already taking a toll on Indian society. Using methods that she developed in a previous paper published in the journal Science, Carleton projects that today’s suicide rate will only rise as temperatures continue to warm.

Optimists often suggest that society will adapt to warming. But Carleton searched for evidence that communities acclimatize to high temperatures, or become more resilient as they get richer, and found none in the data.

“Without interventions that help families adapt to a warmer climate, it’s likely we will see a rising number of lives lost to suicide as climate change worsens in India,” Carleton says.

Carleton says she hopes her work will help people better understand the human cost of climate change, as well as inform suicide prevention policy in India and other developing countries.

“The tragedy is unfolding today. This is not a problem for future generations. This is our problem, right now,” she says.

Which policies will help prevent suicide?

Debate about solutions to the country’s high and rising suicide rate is contentious and has centered around lowering economic risks for farmers. In response, the Indian government established a $1.3 billion crop insurance plan aimed at reducing the suicide rate but it is unknown if that will be sufficient or effective.

“Public dialogue has focused on a narrative in which crop failures increase farmer debt, and cause some farmers to commit suicide. Until now, there was no data to support this claim,” says Carleton.

More than half of India’s working population is employed in rain-dependent agriculture, long known to be sensitive to climate fluctuations such as unpredictable monsoon rains, scorching heat waves, and drought. A third of India’s workers already earn below the international poverty line.

This study’s findings indicate that protecting these workers from major economic shortfalls during these events, through policies like crop insurance or improvements in rural credit markets, may help to rein in a rising suicide rate.

Impacts beyond agriculture

Heat drives crop loss, Carleton contends, which can cause ripple effects throughout the Indian economy as poor harvests drive up food prices, shrink agricultural jobs and draw on household savings. During these times, it appears that a staggering number of people, often male heads of household, turn to suicide.

The Indian government established a $1.3 billion crop insurance plan aimed at reducing the suicide rate, but it is unknown if that will be sufficient or effective.

Carleton tested the links between climate change, crop yields and suicide by pairing the numbers for India’s reported suicides in each of its 32 states between 1967 and 2013, using a dataset prepared by the Indian National Crime Records Bureau, along with statistics on India’s crop yields, and high-resolution climate data.

To isolate the types of climate shocks that damage crops, Carleton focused on temperature and rainfall during June through September, a critical period for crop productivity that is based on the average arrival and departure dates of India’s summer monsoon.

She cautions that her estimates of temperature-linked suicides are probably too low, because deaths in general are underreported in India and because until 2014, national law held that attempted suicide was a criminal offense, further discouraging reporting.

Carleton was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University and is a recipient of the Science to Achieve Results Fellowship awarded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Read the story at its source, UC Berkeley News. 

Image:  Indian farmer in a field Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 13:45 byline:  By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley Media relations Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 13:45 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left News/Story tag(s):  Research News

Gordon Rausser and co-authors receive communication award

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 09:33
Image:  Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 14:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 14:30 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

Gordon Rausser and co-authors receive communication award

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 08/01/2017 - 09:33
Image:  Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 14:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 14:30 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

Study: Climate change already causing suicides in India as crops fail

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 07/31/2017 - 12:00
Most of the world's suicides happen in developing countries, and until now, there's been little hard evidence to help understand why.
Categories: Science News

Study analyzes innovations in lithium-​​ion bat­tery costs

College of Natural Resources - Mon, 07/31/2017 - 00:00

Stor­age prices are falling faster than solar PV or wind tech­nolo­gies, accord­ing to a new study by pub­lished in Nature Energy  by Energy & Resources Group graduate student Noah Kittner and professor Dan Kammen. The fall in prices is allow­ing new com­bi­na­tions of solar, wind, and energy stor­age to out­com­pete coal and nat­ural gas plants on cost alone.

The study found that R&D invest­ments for energy stor­age projects have been remark­ably effec­tive in bring­ing the cost per kWh of a lithium-​​ion bat­tery down from $10,000/kWh in the early 1990’s to a tra­jec­tory that could reach $100/​kWh next year. The pace of inno­va­tion is staggering.

Ordi­nar­ily, pub­lic research invest­ment and pri­vate ven­ture cap­i­tal money undergo tough scrutiny before money can be spent on research and the results from years of work are not imme­di­ately vis­i­ble. How­ever, this study shows that long-​​term R&D spend­ing played a crit­i­cal fac­tor in achiev­ing cost reduc­tions, and a recent lack of invest­ment for basic and applied research may miss the $100/​kWh tar­get for cost effec­tive renew­able energy projects. Mod­est future research invest­ment from pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors could go a long way to unlock extremely low-​​cost, and low-​​carbon elec­tric­ity from solar, wind, and storage.

Read the full story at its source, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory.

Image:  Solar panels Date:  Monday, July 31, 2017 - 14:15 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, August 1, 2017 - 14:15 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left