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.

Friday, 8 August 2014

1. Morning Edition: Employers Forced To Judge Job Candidates' Career Trajectory

Assistant business professor Ming Leung has concluded from an analysis of how jobs get filled that the narrative of one's career may matter more than the actual work a person has done. He explains that for people who have done a lot of different things, the employer will try to determine if that candidate is more of a renaissance man or woman, or just a dilettante. If there are connections and incremental movements between jobs, then the candidate is more likely to be hired as a renaissance type, but if there does not seem to be a clear path from job to job, they may be overlooked as a dilettante. The take-away is that employers show bias against people who have done many different things, and this tendency could be a mistake. Examining the job performance of renaissance men and women versus dilettantes, Professor Leung saw no difference. The research suggests that both employers and candidates need to think about how they can overcome this bias, with candidates providing more of a narrative to connect previous jobs, and employers making lists of specific requirements for the job. Link to audio. Full Story

2. The Social Security Earnings Test Is Not A Tax
Forbes Online

This article explores misunderstandings about the Social Security "Earnings Test." The test calculates the earnings of individuals claiming their benefit before their normal retirement age, and if that income is above a certain threshold --$15,480 in 2014 -- the benefit check is reduced by 50 cents for every excess dollar. Many people view this as a sizeable tax and may withdraw from the workforce in order to avoid the tax. What they don't understand is that the subtraction is not a tax -- the amount is credited back to the individual, with interest, thereby boosting future benefits. This matters because the misunderstanding leads to a reduction in labor supply that has notable economic impact. A study co-authored by Berkeley researchers found evidence of this and concluded that if the earnings test were eliminated for ages 62-64, “the fraction working at age 63 would increase by several percentage points.” Full Story

3. Tips Don't Add Up for Most Waiters and Waitresses
Wall Street Journal (*requires registration)

A report co-authored by economist Sylvia Allegretto, co-director of Berkeley's Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment provides a strong rationale for raising the tipped minimum wage. Nearly 15 percent of the nation's 2.4 million waiters and waitresses live in poverty, compared with roughly 7 percent of all works, and the tipped workers are more likely to need public assistance and less likely to receive paid sick leave or health benefits. Their ranks are also growing, up 13 percent since the start of the recovery in 2009 until June of this year. "Close to one in 10 workers is employed in the restaurant industry, more than manufacturing at this point," Allegretto says. "It's one of the fastest-growing industries in the country." Full Story

4. Loss of mid-wage jobs hampers state's growth
Los Angeles Times

A story about California's job recovery bypassing middle-wage workers cites data from a Berkeley report. For the bottom half of the workforce, real hourly wages are 6.7% lower than they were 35 years ago, and since 2003, median wages for workers shrank 7.2%. Only workers in in the top fifth of all earners enjoyed real wage gains during that period. Full Story

5. Letters: ‘A Troublesome Inheritance’
New York Times (*requires registration)

A group of scientists, including Berkeley biologists Michael Eisen and Rasmus Nielson, write to thank David Dobbs for his review of Nicholas Wade's A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History (July 13). The reviewer recognized Wade's "misappropriation" of research on human genetic differences and his juxtaposition of "incomplete and inaccurate account of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in I.Q. test results, political institutions and economic development." The scientists conclude: "We reject Wade’s implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not. ... We are in full agreement that there is no support from the field of population genetics for Wade’s conjectures." The letter was submitted on behalf of more than 100 faculty members in population genetics and evolutionary biology. Another story on this topic appeared in Science Magazine Online. Full Story

6. UC Berkeley's 25 largest contributors
San Francisco Business Times

UC Berkeley raised $347 million in fiscal year 2013, and a San Francisco Business Times chart ranks the 25 largest contributors for 2012-13. The top three are the Paul and Stacy Jacobs Foundation, the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Full Story

7. Nurix, Imprint Energy top UC Berkeley and UCSF spinoff companies list
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

The San Francisco Business Times ranks the largest spinoff companies from UC Berkeley and UCSF by amount of funding received. The top three were all from Berkeley -- Nurix Inc, Imprint Energy Inc., and CellScope Inc. Full Story

8. Teaching UC to be a smarter investor as it becomes a bigger one
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

An 18-member UC Innovation Council has been established to help guide the UC system as it begins allowing companies to offer equity to campuses in exchange for university resources, such as incubator space. The council includes venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, executives and attorneys, and it will advise UC President Janaet Napolitano on how to tap potential entrepreneurs and innovation from the UC system's 10 campuses, including UC Berkeley. Full Story

9. It's not brain surgery — well it is for Accurexa and Dr. Daniel Lim
San Francisco Business Times (*requires registration)

A team of Berkeley engineering students created a prototype of a surgical device that could offer potentially life-changing treatments to patients who require cell transplants. Dr. Daniel Lim, a UCSF neurosurgeon, came up with the idea and then turned it over to the students to realize. He then won a $1.8 million grant in 2010 from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine to push it through preclinical testing. Now Dr. Lim and Accurexa Inc., the San Francisco company that hopes to sell the device, are set to request marketing clearance from the Food and Drug Administration. Full Story

10. 'Origami Robot' Folds to Life
Voice of America Online

Electrical engineering and computer science professor Ronald Fearing, director of Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab, has been following the work of some MIT and Harvard researchers who have created an "origami robot." Their robot looks like a piece of cardboard with batteries on top, but it can fold itself into an insect-like robot and walk. “This is the first time where they’ve self-folded such a complicated robotic structure,” he says. “Because they build it with the electronics on first, you can now choose which folds occur when. If you don’t have the electronics, then you’re limited to patterns where you heat up the whole thing and everything folds at once. So being able to do the timed sequence is a nice capability.” He adds that origami robots could pave the way to smaller, very powerful robots, something he says would be akin to insects that are able to carry many times their weight. Full Story

11. A new breed of homes provides 'pet suites' for owners' furry friends
Los Angeles Times

Jennifer Wolch, dean of Berkeley's College of Environmental Design, comments on the gaining popularity of pet-friendly residential design, attributing the trend to pet owners' heightened sensitive to their pets' needs. "Such inclusive designs range from apartment complexes with dog-washing facilities, cat-friendly interior design, dog runs, trails and parks, and entire communities oriented toward living with companion and other animals," she says. Full Story

12. Local Muslims look to the sky -- and their smartphones -- to know when to fast
KALW Local Public Radio

This past Sunday, about 20 Muslim families gathered after sunset at the hilltop site of Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science to watch for the new crescent moon signifying the end of the fast month of Ramadan. The moonsighting is an annual tradition, fulfilling a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, who said, "Fast when you see it [the new moon], and break your fast when you see it." However, a debate has arisen about whether it's more efficient to determine when to start and end the fast through scientific calculation or by visual confirmation. Islamic history professor Asad Ahmed says, "Not so fast," if you are thinking, "okay, this sounds like another clash between science and religion." He notes that Islamic history “has a rich scientific tradition,” with astronomers like Galileo and Copernicus having built upon the works of 8th century Muslim astronomers. “Historically,” he says, “Muslim scholars would generally be trained in a curriculum including many disciplines including astronomy and logic, theology, and mathematics.” Full Story

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