Berkeley in the News Archive

The links to the stories summarized on this page are time sensitive, so stories might no longer be online at that URL. We also include links to the original source publication itself.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

1. UC Berkeley engineer proposes underwater 'carpet' for wave energy
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Assistant mechanical engineering professor Reza Alam and postdoctoral researcher Marcus Lehmann are working on a novel seafloor "carpet" that could someday generate power to run desalination plants off the coast of drought-ridden California. The researchers had noticed how muddy seabeds dampen the effect of incoming waves, and aimed to capture the effect with a thin sheet of rubber over piston-like cylinders that absorb wave energy and harness it. The key advantage of the system is its power source, since the two most commonly used methods of desalination are prohibitively energy-intensive. Link to video. Full Story

2. Turkey Skin Sensor
Science Update (AAAS)

A team led by associate bioengineering professor Seung-Wuk Lee has employed the same principles that make male turkey skin change color to develop a sensor capable of detecting the presence of certain chemicals, including explosives or the chemical markers of cancer. The researchers say the system could be modified to detect "a variety of harmful toxicants and pathogens to protect human health and national security." Link to podcast. A brief on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Full Story

3. Research Brief: Neonatal Intensive Care: Microbes found in preemie ICU
San Francisco Chronicle

This research roundup includes a brief about a Berkeley study that found neonatal intensive care units contain microbes that could be harmful to premature babies. Comparing microbes on the most touched areas of the neonatal ICU with microbes found in the babies' guts, they found similarities between the two groups. Since premature infants often have weakened immune systems and are given broad-spectrum antibiotics that kill many of the microbes they acquire in the delivery process, they are more vulnerable to hospital-acquired infections. Scroll to bottom of the first page for relevant brief. Full Story

4. Op-Ed: San Francisco's raise-the-pay experiment
San Francisco Chronicle

Ken Jacobs, chair of Berkeley's Labor Center, and economics professor Michael Reich, director of Berkeley's Institute for Research and Employment, write about the minimum wage experiment in San Francisco and its proof that "local policy can make a difference in the lives of low-wage workers -- without hurting employment or economic growth." Another story on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. Full Story

5. Obama Income-Gap Message Frames Race for Control of Senate
San Francisco Chronicle

President Obama spoke about income inequality in his State of the Union address Tuesday, calling for increases in the minimum wage to help resolve the problem. In this article, research by economics professor Emmanuel Saez is cited to illustrate the divide. He had found that the top 10 percent of earners -- those with household income above $114,000 -- collected more than half the nation’s total income in 2012, the largest proportion since the government started gathering such data in 1917. The study also found that the earnings of the top 1 percent grew 31.4 percent from 2009, when the recession ended, to 2012. The bottom 99 percent saw growth of just 0.4 percent. Another citation of Professor Saez's research appeared in USA Today. Full Story

6. Presidential voters’ myopia on the U.S. economy

A study co-authored by associate political science professor Gabriel Lenz looked at voters' responses to the perennial election question of whether or not they are better off today than they were four years earlier. The researchers found that respondents only tended to consider the past six months when they answered. "The way we elect presidents in this country is bizarre, when you think about it," Professor Lenz says. "Even if voters are better off than they were four years ago, they will throw out the president if the country experiences a slowdown just before Election Day. Likewise, voters can be worse off than they were four years ago and yet still reelect a president if the economy happens to pick up just in time.” They suggest a possible solution would be to have government agencies report cumulative economic information when they issue recent data reports. Full Story

7. In the Loop Blog: Robert Reich: For ‘fast track’ before he was against it?
Washington Post Online

Public policy professor Robert Reich called on his Facebook fans Sunday to "raise a ruckus" about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which Congress is set to fast-track through both houses without amendment. Recalling his support of NAFTA when he was President Clinton's labor secretary, he said: "I still regret not doing more to strengthen the North American Free Trade Act’s labor and environmental side-agreements. ... The TPP is NAFTA on steroids.” Another story on this topic appeared in the Washington Post. Full Story

8. Mirkarimi wants to sign up inmates for health coverage
San Francisco Chronicle

Jeanne Woodford, a senior fellow at Berkeley's Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy, as well as a former San Quentin State Prison warden, supports legislation introduced Tuesday to provide free and low-cost medical care to former inmates upon release from jail. Viewing it as a public safety issue, she says: "I think one only has to look at when AIDS became an issue. There were people leaving prison HIV-positive or with full-blown AIDS and there was no treatment in the community, so they would violate their parole on purpose to get medical care." Recidivism among those populations declined once cities started offering more treatment, she says. "Having access to medical care, mental health care and drug treatment ... is so important for this population. I think this is going to improve public safety." Full Story

9. Cal's Costas Spanos becomes new director of CITRIS
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

Electrical engineering professor Costas Spanos has been named the new director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, or CITRIS. Headquartered on the Berkeley campus, the center has 300 researchers working on several UC campuses. Professor Spanos, an expert on integrated circuit fabrication, will replace mechanical engineering professor Paul Wright, who has directed the center for seven years. Full Story

10. Gavin Newsom, UC Berkeley team up on 'California report card'
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

California's Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom has been working with the Berkeley-headquartered Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, or CITRIS, to create the "California Report Card," a mobile app that lets Californians "grade their state on timely issues." Newsom says: "Technology is our present and future. The California Report Card explores how technology can enhance communication between the public and government leaders." Newsom and robotics and new media professor Ken Goldberg will discuss the app at a public forum March 20. Full Story

11. Athletes' union movement at Northwestern could have huge implications
Los Angeles Times

Labor professor Harley Shaiken comments on the news that Northwestern University football players are seeking union representation with the United Steelworkers. "We've been there, done that, and it works," he says, referring not to other college athletes – the move is unprecedented for them -- but to student instructors at UC who have been unionized for more than a decade. The instructors are like the athletes in that they both attend school and work for the university in a job that produces revenue. As union members, they receive bargained salaries, benefits and set working conditions. "What the Northwestern athletes are doing is an innovative, long-overdue move," Professor Shaiken says. "It's not only smart, but possible." Full Story

12. East Palo Alto to consider contracting for police service
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

A 2010 study by the law school's Center for Criminal Justice is cited for finding that crime rates have significantly dropped in East Palo Alto over the past couple of decades, in spite of the city's growth. In 1986, statistics showed there were 922 crimes per 10,000 people; in 2008, that ratio had dropped to 355 crimes per 10,000 residents. Full Story

13. Neanderthal, human mixing had gene benefits, drawbacks
USA Today

Integrative biology professor Montgomery Slatkin was surprised by the results of two studies showing that some of the Neanderthal DNA that entered the human genome as a result of interbreeding appears to have led to less vigorous offspring. Professor Slatkin, a population geneticist who has also studied Neanderthal-human interbreeding, said: "I honestly thought (Neanderthals and modern humans) could interbreed freely, in the same way that different groups of modern humans can interbreed freely. ... And that is evidently not the case." A similar story appeared in the Los Angeles Times. Full Story

14. Assault, Robbery Near UC Berkeley
Berkeley Patch

An 18-year-old male suffered minor injuries in an assault and robbery near the dorms south of campus Sunday morning, according to campus police. The suspect escaped, and police are requesting that anyone with information about the case contact Berkeley police at their 24-hour number, (510) 981-5900. Full Story

15. Forum with Michael Krasny: Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman on Environmental Activism and Poetry
KQED Radio

English professor Robert Hass, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former U.S. poet laureate, and his wife, poet Brenda Hillman, are interviewed about their poetry and environmental activism. Link to audio. Full Story

Today's Edition of UC Berkeley in the News