MCB Professor Daniel Portnoy has been selected to become a fellow of the prestigious National Academy of Inventors (NAI). The fellowship is in recognition of Portnoy's research in microbial pathogenesis and significant contributions to the improvement of cancer immunotherapies and vaccine development.
Professors Marla Feller and Britt Glaunsinger were both honored with 2018 Faculty Mentor Awards from the Graduate Assembly. Nominated by colleagues and current and former graduate students, they have demonstrated an outstanding committment to helping UC Berkeley graduate students to succeed academically, professionally, and personally. The Awards will be presented in a joint ceremony on April 12, 2018 from 4-6pm at Anna Head Alumnae Hall.
MCB Professor Susan Marqusee is the 2018 recipient of The Protein Society's Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award, which recognizes researchers in protein science whose contributions have significant impacts in the broader field of biology.
Marqusee is a world expert in the field of protein folding, and her influential research "has produced the most detailed view of the energy landscape of a protein."
Associate Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology Lin He was appointed to the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Distinguished Chair in Stem Cell Research for a period of five years. The honor recognizes her as "one of UC Berkeley's most distinguished faculty members in the area of stem cell biology, cancer and related research areas associated with the Siebel Stem Cell Institute."
About 2 to 3 million years ago, a group of spiders let out long silk threads into the wind and set sail, so to speak, across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. These spiders were parasites of other spiders, invading their webs, snipping threads to steal insects that had been caught. But there weren’t many webs to rob on Hawaii when they arrived. So they expanded their repertoire, looking for other ways to survive by trapping and eating other spiders. A new species evolved from those first spiders, after finding a way to live on rocks. And then another species evolved to live under leaves. And then another. And then 11 more species.
Charles Darwin first noted this phenomenon, called adaptive radiation, in the beaks of finches of the Galapagos Islands. His study of the finches’ diversity led to his theory of evolution by natural selection. Yet today, much remains unknown about how adaptive radiation, and thus evolution, actually work. Hawaii is even more of a hotbed for biological diversification than the Galapagos due to its isolation.
In Hawaiian Ariamnes stick spiders, adaptive radiation has resulted in 14 species now living across Hawaii. They share a generally similar body type, but each is a separate species with distinct physical traits. Remarkably, stick spiders with similar traits — yellow and red coloring, for example — live on different Hawaiian islands but aren’t each other’s closest relatives; they are a rare instance where a physical form has evolved separately on each island, according to a new study by scientists at the University of California, Berkeley. The study shows that evolution has led to a predictable and independently evolved set of similar forms in spiders on each island.
"This very predictable repeated evolution of the same forms is fascinating because it sheds light on how evolution actually happens," said Rosemary Gillespie, a professor in the department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM) and lead author of the paper. “Such outstanding predictability is rare and is only found in a few other organisms that similarly move around the vegetation.”Gold Oahu spider. Photo by George Roderick.
The study of Ariamnes stick spiders will be published March 7 in the journal Current Biology. It was funded by the National Science Foundation and the William M. and Esther G. Schlinger Foundation.
“This study provides insights into a fundamental question about the origins of biodiversity, but also presents a remarkable story that can call attention to the need for conserving nature in all of its forms,” said study co-author George Roderick, professor and chair of ESPM.
Hawaii is a chain of islands that formed chronologically, so the scientists were able to study the spiders' adaptive radiations over time as they moved from old to new islands. The oldest island, Kauai, was formed 5 million years ago, followed by Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and finally the big island of Hawaii, the youngest at less than 1 million years old.
The study found that stick spiders have evolved and differentiated from a single species on the same island. So, spider types on any one island were generally more closely related to very different looking spiders on the same island than to spiders that looked the same on other islands. For instance, a white spider on Oahu is a closer relative to the brown spider on the same island than it is to a white spider on Maui.
“You can find these spiders in pretty much every habitat on each island,” Gillespie said. “This really detailed and finely tuned repetition of evolution of the same form is really quite uncommon.”White Maui spider. Photo by George Roderick.
The spiders can be grouped into three distinct ecological types, called ecomorphs: A brown one that lives in rocks; a gold one that lives in under leaves, and a white one that’s a matte color and lives on lichen.
The analysis of stick spiders mirrors Gillespie’s previous discovery in Hawaiian Tetragnatha spiders, another group that shows remarkable adaptive radiation. This group of spiny-legged spiders does not spin a web and has repeatedly evolved similar ecomorphs since its ancestor arrived in Hawaii. That study was featured on the cover of the journal Science in 2004.Professor Rosemary Gillespie doing fieldwork in Hawaii. Photo by George Roderick.
The varied habitat types on the Hawaiian Islands, cold and wet areas closely juxtaposed with hot and dry, have provided a rich tapestry of species diversity. The flip side of such extraordinary diversity that evolved in isolation is its vulnerability to change and to invasive species that are now flooding in as a result of human traffic, Gillespie said.
“We need to be able to figure out this diversity and document it and describe what’s so special about it, so that people know about it,” Gillespie said. “It’s being lost and it’s a desperate situation.”Gold Molokai spider. Photo by George Roderick.
Rosemary Gillespie, professor, UC Berkeley Department of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, email@example.com
Read the article at the source, UC Berkeley News.Image: Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 11:00 byline: By Brett Israel, UC Berkeley Media Relations Legacy: section header item: Date: Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 11:00 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
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In this month’s Student Spotlight, senior Bradley Machado tells us about his path to CNR, his interest in combining photojournalism and environmental studies, and how being in the military prepared him for college.
4th year, Society and Environment, with a minor in Journalism
You're a US Army veteran and a former community outreach chair of the Cal Veterans Group. Could you tell us about your journey from being a flight paramedic to studying at Cal?
My experiences with Cal started nearly 30 years ago as a child. My father was a post-Vietnam era veteran who transferred to Cal to study landscape architecture. At 5 years old I got a taste of the Berkeley experience—I was hooked. My memories of Berkeley all left a deep impression: exploring open spaces in San Francisco on field trips with Professor Chip Sullivan, attending The Big Game, and watching the Grateful Dead at the Greek Theater from Cheapskate Hill. Unfortunately, my life would take a different and much longer route to reach Berkeley than my peers. After dropping out of high school and working odd jobs, I decided to serve in the military as a medic while I found my path in life. Little did I know that my experiences in the service would lead me full circle back to Berkeley.
How has serving in the military helped prepare to you for your studies?
After about a year in the military I transferred to DUSTOFF, the Army’s aviation medical evacuation unit. Our primary mission was to fly into combat to rescue wounded soldiers and local citizens. At the end of each day I laid my head on my pillow knowing that people who had no other option were alive because of our crew’s ability to help. I was proud of what I did, but the nagging feeling that I was simply picking up the pieces created by armed conflict was impossible to shake. I decided that I needed to prevent conflict from arising in the first place, and I knew that gaining an education would be the first step toward achieving that goal. Now, I hope to reduce global instability by helping others see links between our society and our environment.
A year after getting home from Afghanistan I was in my first semester at Modesto Junior College. Two years later, I was sitting in my first class at Cal trying to remember how I had gotten here, and now, nearly two years later, I’m still in that pinch-me phase and about to graduate from UC Berkeley.
A photo taken by Bradley during the fall 2017 semester for the course Advanced Documentary Photography and published in a collection from the class called "A Season." Photo by Bradley Machado.
As a journalism minor, you’ve focused on photojournalism. How did I become interested in photography?
Photography started out as an artistic escape from my classes, and has become an integral part of my coursework and my preferred journalistic medium. I bought my first camera at the beginning of my junior year and took several of the classes offered through the Berkeley Art Studio—they’re free for Pell Grant students, so check them out!
Why did you choose to combine studying society and environment and photojournalism?
I want to communicate environmental issues, but I don’t want to stay in an echo chamber of people or organizations who share the same views—I want to bridge ideological divides. I believe that studying journalism can be applicable to any field or major because it teaches you how to communicate effectively. The program develops both hard and soft skills such as basic coding, data analysis, writing, research, critical thinking and interview techniques, and these are also an important part of my society and environment studies.
Another photo published in the student collection, "A Season." Photo by Bradley Machado
How do these two fields of study connect to each other?
Our planet is not in danger for lack of strong science; the planet is in danger because we’re not communicating those issues to the individuals who matter most—those who make voting decisions that support the well-being of our planet. Science communication, just like the chemical pathways in our bodies, requires us to emit a signal and another party to receive that information. If either malfunctions, we have a disconnect which can result in serious problems. For true communication to occur, we must present information in a way that the other party understands. I believe the onus is truly on me to communicate the importance of protecting our planet in a way that which is relatable to others. This is why combining my passion for understanding our society and environment with journalism has been the perfect combination as a student in CNR.
What’s next for you, post-graduation?
For another photo project completed during his senior year at Berkeley, Bradley traveled to Yosemite National Park. Photo by Bradley Machado.
I have several options ahead of me after Cal. I am currently working on a documentary photography project which, if all goes according to plan, will have me back in Afghanistan by late summer. I have a publisher for the project and am currently awaiting permission from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force which controls journalistic access to Afghanistan.
I also have a permit to hike the Pacific Crest Trail for a separate project. I’m hoping to follow a female veteran hiking the 2,665-mile trail with the Warrior Expedition project. This project takes combat-deployed veterans and outfits them to go on long-term hikes as a way to “walk off the war.” The concept is that Armies used to march back home after a conflict, giving the soldier time to come to terms with their experiences. Now, for most soldiers, the difference between combat and home is measured in hours and they have no time to come to terms with the things they saw, or had to do, or what was done to them and their friends. In addition to these projects though, I’ll also be applying to communications positions in several nonprofit organizations.Image: Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 11:30 Legacy: section header item: Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2018 - 08:30 headline_position: Top Left headline_color_style: Normal headline_width: Long caption_color_style: Normal caption_position: Bottom Left News/Story tag(s): Student Spotlights