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, 5 February 2014

1. Arctic Mammoths May Have Munched on Mums, Sunflowers
NBC Online

An international team of researchers, including Berkeley evolutionary biologist Eline Lorenzen, has developed a new picture of the Arctic flora dating back 50,000 years. "It’s always been believed that the Arctic steppe was dominated by grasses and grass-like plants, and we find that’s not the case at all," Lorenzen says. The team sequenced data from a range of sources and concluded that the megafauna, such as mammoths, rhino and bison, that once lived in the region survived on nutritious flowering plants that included relatives of chrysanthemums, carnations, honeysuckles, legumes and sunflowers. Those species died out, along with the mammoths, when the ice sheets peaked, around 20,000 years ago. "When temperatures go back to what they were prior, it was a whole new community," Lorenzen says. Full Story

2. Bumblebees Can Fly Into Thin Air
Smithsonian Magazine

A new study co-authored by integrative biology professor Robert Dudley, of Berkeley's Animal Flight Laboratory and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, has found that bumblebees can fly much higher than previously believed. The researchers captured male bumblebees at an altitude of 10,660 feet and tested their ability to fly in a hypobaric chamber that simulated higher elevations. They found that the bees could still hover at about 26,000 simulated feet, and two bees flew higher than 29,527 simulated feel – about 500 fee higher than the top of Mount Everest. Other stories on this topic appeared in the French Tribune and National Geographic Online. Full Story

3. California drought: House water bill exposes deep partisan divide
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

Agricultural and resource economics professor Michael Hanemann weighs in on a water bill under consideration in the California House of Representatives. It would give more water to farmers at the expense of the environment, and Republican backers are saying it's a necessity for drought-stricken California, while Democrats are calling it a "water grab." Professor Hanemann says that insufficient Delta pumping isn't the problem: It's the lack of rain and snowpack that feeds the Delta to start with. "You could kill every fish in the Delta and you'd still have a real problem, so it's not as if this bill is well-targeted at solving our problems -- this is an act of opportunism." He adds that California has struggled for decades to balance the needs of agriculture, recreation and environmental protection. "If the Republicans want to ask if we've made that balance the right way, that's a fair question to debate, but it's really separate from the drought." Full Story

4. Why our country needs the NSA
Contra Costa Times Online (*requires registration)

Political science professor Sean Gailmard, an expert on executive branch reforms, analyzes President Obama's proposed changes to NSA procedures. He says that reforms will be modest, because they can only go so far without jeopardizing national security. Link to video. Full Story

5. Letters to the Editor: Giving Children an Early Boost
International New York Times (*requires registration)

Marcy Whitebook, director of Berkeley's Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, responds to the article “How Preschool Got Hot,” by Gail Collins (column, Jan. 30). She notes that while full-day preschool is an important way of helping low-income families out of poverty, early education jobs are very poorly paid. She concludes: "The services intended to ameliorate poverty should not generate it." Full Story

6. Teens having less sex, at least at one Bay Area school
San Francisco Chronicle

Public health professor Norman Constantine, director of the Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development, weighs in on a Marin County high school's finding that 10 percent fewer students today are having sexual intercourse today than in 1974. Professor Constantine says that while he knows of no study that goes as far back as 1974, the Bark's research is consistent with the national trend. "This isn't surprising. … It looks like this Marin school is right on track with the rest of the country." He also praised the county's excellent sex-education programs in schools and local clinics. "Marin's teen birth rate is the third lowest in the state," he said. Full Story

7. Bay Area homeowners add units for family, financial growth
San Francisco Chronicle

A growing number of Bay Area homeowners are constructing small secondary dwellings on their properties for a variety of purposes, including generating income as rental units. Jacob Wegman, a city and regional planning doctoral student at Berkeley, says: "They're the best solutions we have for realistic unsubsidized housing that people of modest means can afford, other than trailer parks, which are vanishing. ... Cottages give an opportunity for people to live in residential neighborhoods rather than multistory apartment buildings even if they can't afford a single-family house." Full Story

8. Rethinking the Retirement Bottleneck
Science Magazine Online

A story about elderly tenured faculty who are reluctant to retire quotes a 2009 survey in which 66% of UC Berkeley faculty agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "My main satisfaction in life comes from my work." In the U.S. workforce at large, only about 30% gave those answers. Full Story

9. College hiring: Helping students or padding payrolls?
USA Today

A new report by the conservative non-profit American Council of Trustees and Alumni indicates that colleges and universities over the last decade have hired "an explosion of new workers" to fill administrative jobs while relying increasingly on part-time faculty and graduate students to teach students. A database accompanying the story allows comparison of the changes between 2004 and 2012 in five staffing areas, per 1,000 students. UC Berkeley was one of a number of colleges that worked with Bain & Company, a management consulting firm, to decrease inefficiencies. Full Story

10. Following Student Veterans
Inside Higher Ed

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has released a GI Bill comparison tool for veterans and their families to use as they shop around for colleges negotiate their benefits. The site offers data on the price and student outcomes of more than 10,000 VA-approved education and training programs. In a sample chart, UC Berkeley is listed with 343 GI Bill beneficiaries enrolled. To use the tool, visit: http://department-of-veterans-affairs.github.io/gi-bill-comparison-tool/ Full Story

11. The Giant’s Shoulders: Suzanne Scotchmer
Digitopoly

Economics and law professor Suzanne Scotchmer is remembered for her contributions to applied economic theory and the economics of innovation. Another commentary appeared in Open Innovation Blog. Full Story

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