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, 2 July 2015

1. Advancing ways to grow human spinal disc tissue in the lab
Medical Xpress

After 20 years of research, Berkeley scientists are beginning clinical trials of engineered tissue that could repair or replace damaged or herniated spinal discs. Assistant mechanical engineering professor Grace O’Connell, director of Berkeley's Soft Tissue Biomechanics Lab, is leading the effort, aided by Berkeley’s Rose Hill Innovator Award. She hopes that “in the next three years we will be able to demonstrate that this technology can be used as a biological repair strategy for herniated discs, and gain NIH support to advance it."
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2. The Upshot: The Next Mark Zuckerberg Is Not Who You Might Think
New York Times (*requires registration)

The average start-up founder is 38, holds a master’s degree, and has 16 years of work experience, according to researchers at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. The finding belies the stereotype -- fostered by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates -- of a 20-something geek who dropped out of college to become a billionaire entrepreneur. The researchers -- entrepreneurship professor Toby Stuart and doctoral student Weiyi Ng -- studied founders of companies started since 2005 in the Bay Area and in New York, and developed an algorithm to predict future start-up founders in those areas.
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3. Indian student Shakthi Nataraj, gets US fellowship for LGBT research in Tamil Nadu
Economic Times (India)

Indian members of the LGBT community are "paradoxically hailed as both rights-bearing consumers and atavistic criminals," says doctoral anthropology student Shakthi Nataraj, who has just been awarded the Philip Brett LGBT Studies Fellowship to study evolving views of sexual identity in the state of Tamil Nadu. She says: "The movements taking place in Tamil Nadu right now draw on LGBT rights language, but they also draw on a lot of other histories." Another story on this topic appeared in Focus News.
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4. EPA Considers Ban on Hazardous Pesticide Widely Used in California
East Bay Express

The EPA announced this week that it is considering banning chlorpyrifos, an insecticide commonly used in agriculture that may pose health risks to children. Berkeley researchers and others have long linked pregnant women’s exposure to organophosphate pesticides -- a class of insecticides that includes chlorpyrifos -- to a range of child health concerns, including lower IQ, poorer cognitive functioning, increased risk of attention problems, and higher rates of autism.
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5. Amazon’s Wildlife Threatened By Hydropower Dams, Study Says
National Geographic

“There’s nothing surprising,” energy professor Daniel Kammen says, about a new study in Brazil warning that massive dams pose an extinction threat to wildlife in the Amazon. In a study of his own, to be published this month, the director of Berkeley’s Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory estimates that the large hydro dams being built in eastern Malaysia will threaten most of Borneo’s birds and mammals. He also co-authored a recent study proposing that small-scale hydro projects and biogas generators would be cheaper energy alternatives. “It’s all about attracting international investment,” he says.
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6. Fewer Californians got into UC, while offers to foreign students rose
Los Angeles Times

“The UC system appears to be maintaining the promise of President Janet Napolitano that the numbers of students from other states and countries would not increase at UC Berkeley and UCLA,” this article reports after the UC system released its admissions numbers for its fall freshman classes. The story also notes that Berkeley was the second toughest school in the system to get into, following UCLA. Other stories on this topic appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and KRON Online.
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7. Free Exchange: Credit where taxes are due
The Economist

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and a similar program in Britain aid poorly paid workers by giving them tax credits. While the programs have been shown to reduce poverty, they are seen by some as welfare for giant corporations in that they let them get away with paying lower wages. Recent studies in both countries, including one co-authored by associate public policy and economics professor Jesse Rothstein, show nuanced effects of the credits on employment, since the credits are gradually withdrawn beyond a certain level of income.
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8. Forum with Michael Krasny: Berkeley Professor Digs Deep into Links Between Cops and Crime Rates
KQED Radio

With the San Francisco Board of Supervisors having recently voted to hire more police officers, law professor Justin McCrary joins a discussion of research on the relationship between the number of police and crime reduction. McCrary directs Berkeley’s big data initiative, the D Lab. Link to audio.
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9. Seabirds Smell Their Way Home

Seabirds navigate by using their sense of smell, a new study has found, and according to psychology professor Lucia Jacobs, who was not involved in the research, the “fascinating” work provides “direct evidence that [these seabirds] have an olfactory map, which is what people have been saying for a long time.” Jacobs studies olfaction, and she says that smell is likely the guiding factor because "there's no evidence that any birds are migrating primarily by sound. ... This is over such long distances -- over open water, there really isn't anything else for them to use."
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