By Date

Device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 17:00
The key component is an extremely porous material called a metal-organic framework that absorbs 20 percent of its weight in water from low-humidity air
Categories: Science News

Capstone team takes a bite out of Shark Tank

Department of Bioengineering - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 16:01
The capstone team of Darya Fadavi, Jeffrey Feng, and Noreen Wauford was one of only three teams to win Accelerator Awards in the UCSF Surgical Innovations Shark Tank event. They will receive $25,000 in seed funding plus engineering and development support to advance their project, "Quantitative Assessment of Degree & Spatial Extent of Pain Nerve Block." They were the only winning team with student members, and co-presented with their UCSF mentors, Professors Matthew Haight and Merlin Larson.
Categories: Science News

Scientists join director at April 15 U.S. premiere of climate doc Tomorrow

UC Berkeley Science News - Wed, 04/12/2017 - 10:00
Climate tipping points inspired upbeat documentary about climate change and efforts to fight it
Categories: Science News

West Coast rollout of updated ‘ShakeAlert’ earthquake warning system

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/10/2017 - 17:00
California was the first to try ShakeAlert in 2016. Now Washington and Oregon will be able to test what will become a fully integrated West Coast early warning system.
Categories: Science News

M.Eng. Capstone Project Highlight: Prevention of Early Breastfeeding Cessation

Department of Bioengineering - Fri, 04/07/2017 - 12:37
Bioengineering Master of Engineering students are developing a revolutionary breast cream to help mothers continue breastfeeding their newborn children.
Categories: Science News

When human illness rises, the environment suffers, too

College of Natural Resources - Tue, 04/04/2017 - 13:35
Image of fishing boats

Fishermen on Lake Victoria. Image courtesy of Kathryn Fiorella.

A toxic environment is known to create health problems for people, but sick people can also create health problems for the environment. Around Kenya’s Lake Victoria, a fishing community where locals battle high rates of disease and a depleted fish stock, scientists found that human illness exacerbates unsustainable fishing practices.

The study challenges the long-held assumption in environmental research that human disease provides a natural check to environmental exploitation and demonstrates a new way that poor human health may harm the environment. The study suggests that quality healthcare could have benefits beyond human populations and help people manage their environment and the sustainability of those resources.

“Studies have suggested people will spend less time on their livelihoods when they are sick, but we didn’t see that trend in our study. Instead, we saw a shift toward more destructive fishing methods when people were ill,” said Kathryn Fiorella, the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral scholar at Cornell University. Fiorella was a doctoral student at Berkeley during the study, working in the lab of professor Justin Brashares.

The study will be published the week of April 3 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation and Rocca fellowships to Fiorella through the Center for African Studies at UC Berkeley.

Understanding the links between human and environmental health is critical for the millions who cope with recurrent illness and rely directly on natural resources for sustenance.

“Healthy people, it turns out, are better for the environment,” said Richard Yuretich, program officer for the National Science Foundation’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program, which funded the research. “When you feel well, you can plan the tasks you need to accomplish more carefully. But when you’re sick, you often just want to get things done fast, with the result that you may be more wasteful. This project illustrates the complex relationships we have with the world around us. Investigating these links is the principal aim of NSF’s Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program.”

Added Brashares: “We’re focused on identifying and illuminating these connections between a changing environment and its potential impacts on human economies, health and social systems,”

To study these connections, Fiorella spent three months of each year of her graduate studies at Lake Victoria, a place where health and the environment are intertwined in complex ways and have been for decades.

Lake Victoria transformed after British colonists introduced Nile perch, a predatory fish, to the lake in the 1960s to support commercial fishing. Nile perch quickly dominated the lake and caused the extinction of hundreds of native cichlid species. During the 1980s and 1990s, commercial fishing grew around the lake and Nile perch started to decline, so regulations were enacted to save the fishery. During the same time, the HIV epidemic was spreading throughout East Africa. As Lake Victoria’s fishing community grew sicker, the environmental exploitation of the fishery worsened.

To explore how illness was altering fishing practices, the researchers tracked 303 households living on Lake Victoria. The households were interviewed four different times over a year. The researchers collected data about household health and fishing habits and looked for trends during times of sickness and good health.

Among active fishers, the study found limited evidence that illness reduced fishing effort. Instead, ill fishers shifted the methods they used. When ill, fishers were more likely to use methods that were illegal, destructive and concentrated near the shoreline, but required less travel and energy, the study found. Ill fishers were also less likely to use legal methods that are physically demanding, require travel to deep waters and are considered more sustainable.

“When people are chronically ill, they have different outlooks on the future,” Brashares said. “That different outlook means that they increasingly rely on unsustainable methods because they’re focused on short-term gain.”

Read more on the UC Berkeley news site. 

Image:  Image of fishing boats Date:  Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 13:30 byline:  Brett Israel, UC Berkeley Media relations Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 13:30 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Yosemite documentary features Berkeley sequoia researchers

Department of Integrative Biology - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 13:25

BS Nature documentary that first aired March 29 and is now available for streaming explores the impact of climate change on Yosemite National Park, and features two UC Berkeley biologists who climb to the tops of giant sequoias to understand what the future holds for these ancient trees.

Categories: Science News

When human illness rises, the environment suffers, too

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 12:00
Sick people can also create health problems for the environment, as a new study of the fishing community around Kenya’s Lake Victoria shows.
Categories: Science News

Renewable energy has robust future in much of Africa

College of Natural Resources - Mon, 04/03/2017 - 08:53
Image:   recreation, energy generation and livestock grazing. (Grace Wu photo) Date:  Wednesday, March 29, 2017 - 08:30 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Monday, April 3, 2017 - 08:30 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

More than Meets the Eye...

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Thu, 03/30/2017 - 11:02

MCB graduate student Nicole Haloupek's lovely article in the Berkeley Review is featured front and center on the UC Berkeley home page today. Read the full article, "Color by Numbers," which highlights the fascinating work of the Patel Lab (including grad students Ryan Null and Rachel Thayer) and other researchers on campus examinig the science behind color.

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Presti Interviewed in CALIFORNIA Magazine

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Wed, 03/29/2017 - 15:24

MCB Teaching Professor of Neurobiology David Presti is interviewed about his popular UC course on Drugs and the Brain, and expanding public interest in psychopharmacology and consciousness in the Spring 2017 edition of CALIFORNIA magazine. 

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European Patent Office to grant UC a broad patent on CRISPR-Cas9

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Tue, 03/28/2017 - 14:40

"The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced its intention to grant a broad patent for the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to the University of California, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier."

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Renewable energy has robust future in much of Africa

UC Berkeley Science News - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 12:00
Strategic siting of wind and solar farms can reduce need for fossil fuel and hydropower
Categories: Science News

BioE startup mFluiDx publishes their detection chip in Science

Department of Bioengineering - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 11:55
mFluiDx, a startup founded by BioE PhD alum Charlie Yeh and currently in the CITRIS Foundry incubator, has published their development of a portable, self-powered, low-cost nucleic acid detection chip. This simple chip allows rapid quantitative digital nucleic acid detection directly from small human blood samples, an alternative to real-time PCR testing in remote or low-resource settings.
Categories: Science News

New American Academy of Microbiology Fellows

Department of Molecular and Cell Biology - Mon, 03/27/2017 - 11:04

MCB Professors Russell Vance and Matt Welch were among the 73 new ASM fellows. "Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology, an honorific leadership group within the ASM, are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology."

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Moorea course offers students transformative field research experience

College of Natural Resources - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 10:05
Image:  Photograph taken in the ocean with view of Moorea island mountains Date:  Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 10:00 Legacy:  section header item:  Date:  Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 10:00 headline_position:  Top Left headline_color_style:  Normal headline_width:  Long caption_color_style:  Normal caption_position:  Bottom Left

Seven months after Rio Olympics, Zika continues to plague babies in urban slums

UC Berkeley Science News - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 08:53
New research shows that risk to visitors to the Rio Olympics were low, but people who live there bear the brunt of the mosquito-borne virus
Categories: Science News

Herr Lab advances protein expression profiling of circulating tumor cells using microfluidic western blotting

Department of Bioengineering - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 08:00
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are detached primary cancer cells found in the circulatory system that are implicated in the metastasis of cancer. Herr and collaborators have developed a microfluidic western blot for an 8-plex protein panel for individual CTCs, derived from estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients, that advances the state of the art in CTC characterization with tiny sample sizes.
Categories: Science News

Feature story: Designing healthy futures

Department of Bioengineering - Mon, 03/20/2017 - 14:17
See how students in bioengineering and other fields are working at the intersection of design and health at the Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation.
Categories: Science News