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Thursday, 10 July 2014
1. Colleges Work to Engage Women, Minorities in STEM Fields
U.S. News & World Report
Sheila Humphreys, Berkeley's director of diversity for electrical engineering and computer science, talks about efforts in her department to encourage minorities and women breaking into the field. She says women can find community through groups such as the Association of Women in EECS, and freshmen can participate in a program called CS KickStart. "It’s a one-week free summer program for incoming freshman girls who are interested in CS,” she says. She recommends that students inquire about different kinds of curriculum and learning environments that could fit their needs. They could ask, "Is the lower division curriculum meant to bring me in or is it, you know, a weed out?" For example, one class Berkeley offers, called "The Beauty and Joy of Computing," focuses on how computing has changed the world and other topics that draw students in. "It's meant to be an attractor course," she says. Full Story
2. Bay Area Bites Blog: Is Dorm Food the Bay Area’s Best Dining-Out Deal?
A food blog about new and improved university residence-hall buffets as great open-to-the-public, affordable dining options highlights UC Berkeley's Crossroads. Its executive chef is Marcos Hernandez, a young California Culinary Institute/Greystone alumnus who previously worked at Postino and Cliff House, and the dining hall's offerings include trendy dishes with organic, vegetarian and vegan options. Ida Shen, culinary and catering director for Cal Dining, the self-supporting, independent nonprofit that operates Crossroads and other open-to-the-public student-dining facilities such as Café 3, says: “A lot of people are prejudiced against buffets. And there’s a general stigma against eating in a student dining hall. ... Some people didn’t have good dining-hall experiences in their own college days. ... They remember gray mystery meat. They don’t realize how much things have changed.” Full Story
3. MoneyWatch: Is it time to get rid of the tipped minimum wage?
A new study led by economist Sylvia Allegretto, co-director of Berkeley's Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, has found that tipped workers are more likely to live in poverty and rely on government aid. Tipped workers earn a baseline wage of $2.13 an hour, a rate that hasn't changed since 1991, and although tips are supposed to raise their actual wages, they often don't. By law, employers are supposed to make up the difference, but Allegretto says about 84 percent of restaurants had some type of violation. Allegretto also points out that the problem is one that inordinately affects women, who comprise two-thirds of all tipped workers. Full Story
4. The Organ Detective
Anthropology professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes is profiled for her long-term work tracking and fighting the illegal trade of human organs. She first heard about organ thieves while doing fieldwork in northeastern Brazil in 1987. Since then, she has documented the global black market for organs, and has come to understand that human organs and tissue tend to move from south to north, from poor to rich, and from brown-skinned to lighter-skinned people. Her work has raised questions about what the role of anthropologists should be in such situations, and she's inclined to drop the traditional academic cloak in favor of joining the fights of the powerless. She has written: "The new cadre of ‘barefoot anthropologists’ that I envision ... must become alarmists and shock troopers—the producers of politically complicated and morally demanding texts and images capable of sinking through the layers of acceptance, complicity, and bad faith that allow the suffering and the deaths to continue.” Full Story
5. Business climate is ever-changing
Business and economics professor John Morgan spoke on the topic of “Platform Competition” at an international corporate competitiveness symposium in Tokyo recently. Platforms are the structures that dominate the Internet, he said, noting that dominant market shares have made Google the search engine platform, Microsoft Corp.’s Windows the operating system platform, eBay the auction platform in the U.S., and Facebook the social networking platform. He explained why platform competitions end up in monopolies, citing the cost effect, network effect and big data effect, among others. He concluded that what makes an ultimate winner is surplus, although different segments have different dominance patterns. Full Story
6. City Bike-Sharing Programs Hit Speed Bumps
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)
Adjunct engineering research professor Susan Shaheen comments on the relative chaos of city bike-sharing programs: "The business model is still under development. Some of it is trial and error." Full Story
7. Motherlode Blog: We Tell Kids to ‘Go to Sleep!’ We Need to Teach Them Why.
New York Times Online (*requires registration)
A blog calling on parents to explain to their children why sleep is so important to their health offers up an analogy of psychology professor Matthew Walker, director of Berkeley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory. He has likened the function of sleep to emptying an email inbox so that it can receive new messages. Full Story
8. What's the Nordic diet?
KOMO News Online
Clinical Public Health Professor Emeritus John Swartzberg, chair of the Berkeley Wellness Letter's editorial board, comments on the Nordic diet. "It appears to be a pretty good diet,” he says. “We don't know as much about it as the more famous Mediterranean diet, but the data early on now is that the Nordic diet may be as good. ... It's predominantly a plant-based diet with very little meat and the meat that you eat tends to be very lean. ... The only real difference is the Nordic diet tends to use canola oil, which is rape seed oil, instead of olive oil, but otherwise it's pretty similar." Its key benefit, he says, is that it's plant-based with whole grain foods. "Also, regional foods are used as opposed to foods that are shipped in from around the world, so it's probably healthier for the planet, too.” Full Story
9. A cure for the plague of frogs?
Science Magazine Online
Assistant environmental science, policy and management professor Erica Bree Rosenblum comments on new research that promises a potential route to inoculating amphibians against a deadly fungus that is killing them. She says there are logistical challenges of trying to use the discovery, such as through widespread treatment of endangered populations. “I tend to be skeptical about whether it will be easy to translate results from lab studies into direct conservation application.” Full Story
10. Bay Area BizTalk Blog: University of California picks UCSF chancellor
San Francisco Business Times Online (*requires registration)
Sam Hawgood, dean of the UC San Francisco Medical School has been nominated to become the next UCSF chancellor, succeeding Susan Desmond-Hellmann. If confirmed, this article points out he will lead "one of the city's largest employers as well as an economic and academic engine that helps drive the Bay Area economy, along with UC Berkeley and Stanford University." Full Story
11. If US Colleges are Stocks, 'Buy' Science and Engineering
A commentator looks at colleges and universities as if they were stocks, dismissing liberal arts institutions. "Make no mistake," he writes. "The expensive liberal arts colleges in America are going down—fast and hard. Schools like Haverford and Smith are extremely vulnerable. The return on a four-year $250,000 investment will be poor. Their brands have become laughing stocks. Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley and Princeton are protected because they are true universities. Their engineering departments and graduate schools for medicine and business are (for the most part) isolated from the ideological nonsense found in liberal arts schools. Caltech and MIT are pure plays in science and engineering and thus are protected." Full Story
12. What the 1960s Were Really Like–For Normal People
A two-page photo from the May 30, 1969 issue of Life shows National Guardsmen holding back People's Park protesters at Sather Gate. It is accompanied by an excerpt from an interview with Linda Gottfredson, who attended Berkeley at the time and is in the picture's foreground. Full Story
13. Cal Bears Blog: Joe Roth documentary stirs emotions in Berkeley premiere
San Francisco Chronicle Online (*requires registration)
A new documentary about the life of former Cal football player Joe Roth, called Don't Quit: The Joe Roth Story, had a moving Berkeley premiere in a clubroom at Memorial Stadium Wednesday night. Roth was a standout quarterback at Cal in 1975 and '76 who died in 1977 from melanoma. He had kept his condition quiet and continued to play after his second diagnosis two games into the '76 season. “It’s a timeless story,” the film's co-director Phil Schaaf says, "It’s about human elegance in the face of unfathomable adversity." Roth's former coach Mike White said, "I’m happy we were able to bring this to Cal. ... There are great coaching lessons in this documentary. ... The dignity Joe showed was remarkable.” Full Story