Berkeley in the News

Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

1. Berkeley in the News will take a break from Friday, September 4, through Monday, September 7. The campus will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day Holiday.

2. UC Berkeley seeks scholarship fund to attract black students
San Francisco Chronicle

Through a new UC Berkeley African American Initiative, the campus hopes to attract more black students, faculty and administrators, and raise $20 million for a scholarship fund. Since Proposition 209 banned scholarships that consider race, sex or ethnicity at publicly funded institutions, the fund will be privately administered by “our friends on the outside," says Gibor Basri, Berkeley’s outgoing vice chancellor of equity and inclusion. The limited presence of blacks on college campuses is a national problem, says Na’ilah Nasir, incoming vice chancellor of equity and inclusion.
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3. Laser Breakthrough Could Speed the Rise of Self-Driving Cars
Wired

A team of Berkeley researchers has developed a new kind of laser technology that could significantly reduce the size, weight, cost and energy consumption of LIDARs, the sensors that act as the eyes of a self-driving car. “This is important for unmanned vehicles on land and in the sky," says co-author Weijian Yang. The technology also has potential applications in other technologies, including medical imaging equipment and robotics. Another story on this topic appeared in Photonics.
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4. Geophysics: Mantle plumes seen rising from Earth's core
Science Magazine

A Berkeley study is offering new evidence that 28 of Earth’s hot spots -- volcanic regions that bulge upward -- are caused by mantle plumes, columns of hot rock that rise continuously, and vertically, from the Earth’s core. The study was co-authored by geophysicist Barbara Romanowicz, director of Berkeley’s Seismological Laboratory, and colleague Scott French, and it likely settles a longstanding debate about whether the plumes rose from the core or bubbled up from shallower reservoirs. The findings came with other surprises, and Professor Romanowicz says: “It's quite likely that people will need to rethink how the lower mantle is working."
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5. Low-flying helicopter researching Bay Area radiation
San Francisco Chronicle

Helicopters flying as low as 300 feet have been combing a grid over the Bay Area this week for a study of naturally occurring background radiation levels. The Aerial Radiological Survey, conducted by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security, will record baseline levels that would help identify any new sources of radiation in the future. “It’s important for our national safety to have better technology to detect even weak sources of radiation on the ground," says nuclear engineering professor Kai Vetter, a participating researcher. The flyovers should end by Friday. Stories on this topic appeared in more than a dozen sources, including the Contra Costa Times, Berkeleyside, KPIX TV (link to video), NBC Bay Area Online, and KRON Online. Another story quoting Professor Vetter, this time on monitoring of nuclear weapons development, appeared in the Economist.
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6. All Things Considered: Smell Mapping: Using Your Nose To Retrace Your Steps
NPR

People are able to create maps in their heads using different scents as location markers, a study led by psychologist Lucia Jacobs has found. Her experiments involved placing vials of fragrances around a room and then leading blindfolded subjects to a random point, from which they found their way along a route using only their sense of smell. She found that -- on average -- subjects were able to find their way from start to finish in less than 90 seconds. Link to audio.
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7. California data shows racial disparity in arrests, deaths
San Francisco Chronicle

The California Department of Justice has published online what they are calling a nationally unprecedented release of arrest data, and an analysis co-conducted with Berkeley professors highlights the racial disparity in arrests and in-custody deaths. The data, available on a searchable, state-run website, indicates that although just 6 percent of Californians are African American, they are involved in 17 percent of all arrests and a quarter of in-custody deaths. "It's very stark and we really have to have a dialogue about why so many African Americans are dying compared to the state population," says Justin Erlich, a special assistant attorney general who's overseeing the data collection and analysis. This story appeared in more than 200 sources.
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8. Sharp downturn in use of force at Oakland Police Department
San Francisco Chronicle

A San Francisco Chronicle analysis of Oakland Police Department data shows that incidents of excessive use of force have declined in the city. Criminologist Barry Krisberg says the falling numbers are a good indication that police-community relations are improving. “Oakland has been pretty quiet compared to the 600 bullets fired in Stockton, or some pretty horrendous lethal-force incidents in San Jose," he says. “Oakland needed fresh leadership and I think they got it. ... There’s no reason to think that police-community relations, which had deteriorated so badly, could have fixed themselves."
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9. Berkeley NAACP seeks city department to address race, equity
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

The Berkeley branch of the NAACP is calling for a new city of Berkeley department to address issues of institutional bias and inequality. The effort seeks to follow examples set by Seattle, Portland, Oakland and other cities. In the Oakland program, community and city staff are receiving training from the Local and Regional Alliance on Race and Equity, housed at UC Berkeley’s Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society. The alliance, led by professors Katie Nelson and John Powell, has conducted training nationwide.
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10. Forum with Michael Krasny: Innovating With Integrity: Ethics in Silicon Valley
KQED Radio

Business professor Kellie McElhaney, founding director of Berkeley’s Center for Responsible Business, joins a discussion of the “role of ethics in Silicon Valley's environment of disruption and innovation." Link to audio.
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11. Twitter CEO Search Gains Urgency as Stock Slips, Executives Exit
Bloomberg Business

Twitter Inc.’s board didn’t have a succession plan in place when former CEO Dick Costolo departed, not unexpectedly, and now -- with executives bailing and the company’s stock sinking -- pressure is mounting for them to pick a new CEO quickly. Jo-Ellen Pozner, a business professor who teaches corporate governance and organizational misconduct, notes that the lack of a succession plan means that they’re conducting the search under public scrutiny. “The board needs to take some action and communicate it to shareholders," she says. “There’s a huge amount of uncertainty, which creates a really uncomfortable feeling for shareholders and internal stakeholders." Another story on this topic appeared in the San Francisco Business Times.
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12. China should welcome its short sellers
Financial Times

In a story about China’s efforts to control the stock market, business professor Ethan Namvar comments on short-sale bans that can cause increased volatility, falling liquidity, and higher trading costs. “You end up with greater distrust of the market and a higher cost of capital," he says.
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13. Oakland hills FEMA project to thin trees discussed at meeting
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

A FEMA project to thin trees and vegetation from the Oakland and Berkeley hills was discussed at a meeting last week. The fire-mitigation project -- being undertaken by local entities including the Berkeley campus -- targets small, diseased and stressed trees, as well as other flammable growth in the “fuel ladder." UC Berkeley’s share of the FEMA funding will go toward Claremont Canyon and Strawberry Canyon. Some of the meeting’s attendees expressed concern about the health effects of the herbicide Garlon, which will be used to keep removed trees from coming back, and Carol Rice, a campus consultant, said: “The application of Garlon complies with 22 best practices, so there has been no drift, and there is a stream buffer. This is a highly regulated field."
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14. Schumpeter: The Trump in every leader
The Economist

A story about egomania, as expressed to varying degrees by Donald Trump and other powerful people, mentions a study by business professor Dana Carney. He found that having people adopt power postures -- like putting their hands on their hips or thrusting out their chests like gorillas -- primes them for power, making them feel more self-confident.
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15. Come to Uncharted Ideas Festival for just $86 a day
Berkeleyside

The third annual Uncharted Ideas Festival, scheduled for October 16-17, will feature Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and others in a program of conversations, live-music performances, interactive workshops and an opening night party. A “2 for the price of 1" ticket promotion has been extended until Sunday, September 20. The event is hosted by Berkeleyside and a number of partners, including UC Berkeley.
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