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, 2 July 2014

1. UC Berkeley's Chancellor on the Career Paths of Elite Collegians
The Atlantic

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas Festival, an event co-sponsored by The Atlantic and The Aspen Institute, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks discussed a trend at Berkeley in which students are maintaining their interest in the humanities while gaining practical job skills. He mentioned that Berkeley is actively introducing data science and data analytics into core arts and sciences curriculum, and now 70 percent of students are taking some computer science. Regarding the stability of the humanities on campus, he said: "Students are staying with it, they are staying with their passion, they're constantly doing what their passion leads them to do. A lot of Berkeley students will graduate from college and go into public service. More teach for America volunteers than any campus in the US. There's a very strong ethos of public service or following your dream. … But you know, they want to get jobs and they need to get jobs. So I think what we see increasingly are reflected in the numbers. There's going to be growing pressure for students to think about a double major. In fact, there is an explosion of double majors. You'll see a lot of students who will major in philosophy and economics. There are a lot of students who would love to be able to major in computer science or engineering and something in the humanities." Full Story

2. Ancient gene aids Tibetans with high altitude
San Francisco Chronicle

A study led by integrative biology professor Rasmus Nielsen has found that a gene that helps Tibetans live at high altitudes can be traced back to Denisovans, a human relative more closely related to Neanderthals than modern people. The finding suggests that Denisovans or close relatives of theirs introduced the gene variant into the modern human species, but it remained rare until people began moving into the Tibetan plateau, when its survival advantage led to its spread through the Tibetan population. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including National Geographic, LifeScience, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, New Scientist, and NPR Online. Full Story

3. Forum with Michael Krasny: Young African Leaders Study in U.S. to Hone Leadership Skills
KQED Radio

Four African students who are studying public policy at Berkeley this summer as part of President Obama's Young African Leaders Washington Fellowship program are interviewed. The program was designed to "give thousands of promising young Africans...the opportunity to come to the United States and develop [their] skills at some of our best colleges and universities," and these students were among the 500 who won fellowships from a pool of 50,000 applicants. The Berkeley fellows are Chief Sbonelo Mkhize, chair of the uThukela House of Traditional Leaders; Chundung Ashley Dauda, peace builder with the Women Without Walls Initiative in Northern Nigeria; Elaine Muntongwizo Vere, attorney with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum; and Zana Ouattara, co-director of the Bouake Caravan of Non-Violence, which brings campaigns of non-violence to public schools in Cote D'Ivoire. Link to audio. Full Story

4. UC launches Global Food Initiative
Imperial Valley News

UC President Janet Napolitano announced a University of California Global Food Initiative at a ceremony in the Edible Schoolyard of the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley on Tuesday. The initiative will involve all ten of the UC system's campuses, its large agricultural programs, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. According to a statement, the initiative will work "toward putting the world on a path to sustainability and nutritiously feed itself." Public Policy Dean Henry Brady, a member of the Berkeley Food Institute on the Berkeley campus, and Ann Thrupp, the institute's director, were at the ceremony. "We at the Berkeley Food Institute are trying to see how we can transform the food system to be more sustainable and we want to do it through good science, good policy, good thinking," Dean Brady said. Natural Resources Dean Keith Gilless, also present, said: "The time is right to mobilize the university's resources both to advance science and practices and to raise public consciousness about food issues broadly." Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including the Contra Costa Times, Berkeleyside, Reuters, CBS Los Angeles Online, KEYT TV (Santa Barbara – link to video), and KESQ TV (Palm Springs -- includes remarks by Public Policy Dean Henry Brady, but a link to the story is unavailable online). Full Story

5. Monkey Cage Blog: Invited military interventions meet some limited success
Washington Post Online

Assistant political science professor Aila Matanock writes about invited military interventions in places such as Northern Mali and Libya, saying they can be useful but we should be cautious in our expectations of their results. "Research I conducted recently in regions close to engaged external powers, Melanesia and Central America, shows that requested interventions can achieve some success in the short term," she says. "But the findings also remind us that this kind of assistance can only succeed at tasks the host state is willing to cede authority on — complex tasks like developing a security sector or defeating an insurgency require greater authority. In the long term, we know little about what effect these missions will have, as most are recent." Full Story

6. We’re not as polarized as we think we are
Washington Post

A new study by doctoral political science student Doug Ahler has found that registered voters in California who classify themselves as either liberal or conservative thought they were more polarized than they actually were when asked their opinions on certain issues. Full Story

7. Intermittent fasting shows promise, raises concerns
San Francisco Chronicle

Nutritional sciences and toxicology professor Marc Hellerstein is quoted extensively in a story about the popularity of intermittent fasting as a weight-loss strategy. Many credit fasting with other benefits, such as reduced diabetes and heart disease risk. He says that with the weight loss, "people are looking for an alternative solution. Being healthy and being active makes none of this necessary, but that's not exactly working." Commenting on evidence in studies with mice that cell division slows with fasting, cutting cancer risk, he says: "I still like it, but to me there's a big problem. And that is that mice and rats have a metabolism rate that is faster than people." Full Story

8. Don't Worry, Facebook Still Has No Clue How You Feel

Information professor Marti Hearst, an early pioneer in text analytics in the late 1990s, weighs in on "sentiment analysis" -- algorithms that are used to analyze text and identify the emotions contained in it. This is something that Facebook has experimented with recently, and Professor Hearst says that even in the most stripped-down scenario, when you assume everyone is being honest and unironic, it still has a long way to go. For basic binary choices -- what Facebook used -- the most advanced techniques have been shown to be between 70 and 80 percent accurate, she says, indicating that may sound pretty good until you consider that 50 percent accuracy is the equivalent of flipping a coin. “That’s a really simple algorithm, and that’s going to have a lot of error. … But when you do a study like this with hundreds of thousands of data points, you typically say: ‘The error is going to come out in the wash.’” Full Story

9. Venture Capital Dispatch Blog: Lured By The Promise Of Big Data, Investors Pile $33M Into Databricks
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

The company Databricks Inc. has raised another $33 million in funding to commercialize its big-data software, Apache Spark, developed at UC Berkeley and now connected with the university's AMPLab. The new funds bring the company's total to $47 million. Databricks CEO is Berkeley computer science professor Ion Stoica. Full Story

10. Lillian B. Rubin, 90, Is Dead; Wrote of Crippling Effects of Gender and Class Norms
New York Times (*requires registration)

Alum and former faculty member Lillian Rubin, a sociologist and psychotherapist who wrote popular books about the deleterious effects of gender and class norms, has died at the age of 90. She had earned both her BA and Ph.D. in sociology at Berkeley, and then worked for many years as a senior research associate at Berkeley's Institute for the Study of Social Change. Full Story

Today's Edition of UC Berkeley in the News