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, 19 February 2014

1. Next Generation: Photoswitch Chemical Restores Sight
The Scientist

Molecular and cell biology professor Richard Kramer has led the development of a new chemical capable of restoring light sensitivity in blind mice. The researchers say it could potentially be used to treat human patients suffering from otherwise incurable degenerative eye conditions such as age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa. The compound is called DENAQ, and it acts as a "photoswitch" that can turn on light-sensitive cells in retinas when injected into the eyes. Other stories on this topic appeared in the New Scientist, National Geographic Online, and The Conversation. Full Story

2. A New Strategy to Maintain America's Position of Global Preeminence
Carnegie Reporter (Vol. 7/No. 3)

Former Chancellor Robert Birgeneau proposes a new strategy to support the nation's research universities, which account for more than half of the research and development underpinning U.S. economic growth. He proposes a challenge grant initiative led by a high-level national commission to engage the public and lead the way. He concludes: "The solutions we seek must be pragmatic yet ambitious. We must look beyond mere sustainability so that our research and teaching universities – and our nation – will thrive for generations. Link to article currently unavailable online.

3. Spike in California students seeking financial aid
Contra Costa Times (*requires registration)

A record number of California students have been applying for financial aid over the last six years, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The percentage of UC and Cal State freshman receiving financial aid increased from 57 percent in 2006-07 to 72 percent in 2011-12. Among UC's efforts to boost financial aid awards, was a recent initiative at UC Berkeley to extend financial aid to middle-income families earning up to $140,000. "California did a better job than many states in having our state financial aid programs keep pace with the tuition increases," says Judy Heiman of the Legislative Analyst's Office. Full Story

4. Bachelor degrees from community colleges on California horizon
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

A new bill in the California Senate would authorize community colleges to offer four-year degrees to help students complete their bachelor's degrees quickly, without the trouble, expense, and delays involved in transferring to another school. "We don't need to stand still forever," says John Aubrey Douglass, of Berkeley's Center for Studies in Higher Education. "There's been very little innovation in our structure." Full Story

5. Offshoring and outsourcing a mixed bag for American jobs, wages

A new study co-authored by economics professor Clair Brown, director of Berkeley's Center for Work, Technology and Society, has found that the outsourcing and offshoring of jobs appears to have had both positive and negative effects on American jobs and wages. “While offshoring appears to be complementary to U.S. employment, in that it is associated with a relative increase in higher-paid jobs, it could be undermining lower-wage jobs,” Professor Brown says. "We would need to conduct a follow-up survey to understand how companies structure their businesses globally and domestically.” Full Story

6. Editorial: Minimum wage of $10.10
San Francisco Chronicle

An editorial endorsing a national minimum wage of $10.10 per hour cites a study co-authored by researchers at Berkeley's Labor Center. The researchers found that fast-food workers often make so little that they qualify for government assistance such as food stamps. The cost to taxpayers to supplement their wages is nearly $7 billion a year, while the top fast-food companies earn billions in profits. Full Story

7. All Things Considered: Drought Politics Grip California's Central Valley

Agricultural and resource economics professor Michael Hanemann joins a discussion of drought-related politics in the farming area of California's Central Valley. Regarding political grandstanding on the issue, he says: "Saying 'we should re-allocate water to my constituents' doesn't require a whole lot of courage and is really an act of opportunism." He adds that lawmakers haven't made the difficult, far-ranging decisions that are needed. "They have stayed away from it. And they have stayed away from it because it's a situation where there's going to be winners and losers. So they don't want to touch it." But sooner or later, he notes, they're going to have to. Full Story

8. Column: Health warnings on soda bottles
Contra Costa Times (*requires registration)

Adjunct public health professor Patricia Crawford, director of Berkeley's Center for Weight and Health, recently testified at a Senate Health Committee hearing on the public health risks of sugar-sweetened beverages. She cited data including the estimate that 20 percent of all Americans' excess pounds are directly attributable to the drinks, and noted that the U.S. rate of childhood diabetes is unprecedented in the world. "There are 23 percent of children with blood levels right on the edge of diabetes. ... How high does that number have to be before we take some very significant action?" A bill proposed last week by state Sen. Bill Monning would make California the first state requiring health warning labels on sugar-sweetened drinks. Full Story

9. Farm-Fresh Produce Options Expand at UC Berkeley
East Bay Express

The Berkeley Student Food Collective, a two-year-old nonprofit, student-run grocery store selling healthy yet inexpensive foods, has introduced two new initiatives to extend its reach. One is a weekly outdoor produce stand and the other is a campus version of a CSA produce box. Operations manager Gwen von Klan says that the collective's 169 student volunteers are considering adding other locations, and they hope to work with the university to develop resources to help undergraduates learn how to cook. Full Story

10. Obituary: James Cahill, Influential Authority on Chinese Art, Dies at 87
International New York Times (*requires registration)

Art History Professor Emeritus James Cahill, an influential expert on Chinese Art, has died at the age of 87. Professor Cahill taught at Berkeley from 1965 until his retirement in 1994. He was among a group of eminent art historians who researched and cataloged Chinese masterworks, building a canon on which to understand the development of Chinese painting over the centuries. In 2010, he received the Smithsonian Institution's Charles Lang Freer Medal for his lifetime contributions to the history of Asian and Near Eastern art. Full Story

11. UC Berkeley fined in deaths of lab animals
San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fined UC Berkeley $8,750 for accidentally allowing five voles to die of thirst in a lab in 2011. Roger Van Andel, director of Berkeley's Office of Laboratory Animal Care, says that this was the first such incident on campus, and his office has taken "very aggressive action to make sure this sort of thing could not occur again." A brief on this topic appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education Online. Full Story

12. L.A. County to physicians: Report measles cases immediately
Los Angeles Times

Measles cases are on the rise in California, and people who have not had a measles vaccination, or aren't sure of their vaccination status, should ask their physician about getting the shot. A Berkeley student recently rode a BART train while sick with the disease, potentially exposing thousands. Full Story

13. Berkeley startup MobileWorks revolutionizes outsourcing

A startup that began as a Berkeley graduate school project has raised $2.1 million for its revolutionary outsourcing concept, called MobileWorks. Co-founders Prayag Narula and Anand Kulkarni won a class contest and then worked with startup accelerator Y-Combinator to get the project going. The company hires mostly college graduates with skills like research, writing and editing photos, and then matches them with tasks of client companies. The work is done online, and the staff can be located anywhere. "The biggest secret sauce that we have is that we believe in paying people fair wages," Narula says. "We believe that if people are invested in the projects, they would do better work." Link to video. Another story on this topic appeared in the Venture Capital Post. Full Story

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