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.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

1. Making the Grade: For these college students, the most difficult test may be basic survival
PBS NewsHour

Visiting the Berkeley campus for its weekly education series, PBS NewsHour interviews students and staff about the special experiences and needs of first-generation college students, and some of the campus programs that help them succeed. Fabrizio Mejia, assistant vice chancellor for student equity and success, discusses some of the fundamental questions involved: "If we are a public institution, what does it mean to educate the public? What does it mean to educate Californians? And what does it mean that education is an engine for social change? ... What it means for our institution, in particular, and the U.C. system is that we have to invest in the programs that are going to welcome the students in, that are going to get them through, that are going to get them to succeed at the level that we say is required for everybody across the board." Link to video.
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2. 'Alien Megastructure' Star Targeted by $100 Million SETI Search

As part of a $100-million, 10-year SETI project to hunt for signals from alien civilizations, UC Berkeley's Breakthrough Listen initiative is set to begin studying the mysterious Tabby's star using a 330-foot-wide telescope in West Virginia. "The Green Bank Telescope is the largest fully steerable radio telescope on the planet, and it's the largest, most sensitive telescope that's capable of looking at Tabby's star given its position in the sky," says Breakthrough Listen co-director Andrew Siemion, who also directs the Berkeley SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research Center. Tabby's star is roughly 1,500 light-years from Earth, and it has intrigued SETI scientists because of NASA observations of its dramatic dimmings over the past decade. Siemion says a "fantastic new SETI instrument" connected to the telescope can examine "many gigahertz of bandwidth simultaneously and many, many billions of different radio channels all at the same time so we can explore the radio spectrum very, very quickly." Link to video. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Other stories on this topic appeared in BBC Online, Popular Mechanics, EarthSky, Daily Mail, Gizmodo India, ScienceBlog, and Fox News Online.
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3. Study Looks at Wildfire Management vs. Fire Suppression
Fire Engineering

A landmark 40-year wildfire management study led by environmental science, policy, and management professor Scott Stephens concludes that managing fire, instead of suppressing it, is the best strategy for preserving wilderness areas by making them more fire-resilient, diverse in vegetation, and better able to store water in times of drought. The study culminated with a three-year assessment of a 40,000-acre area of Yosemite National Park's Illilouette Creek basin. According to Gabrielle Boisramé, a graduate civil and environmental engineering student and first author of the study, when fire is not suppressed, the results are "increased stream flow; downstream water availability; increased soil moisture, which improves habitat for the plants within the watershed; drought resistance of the remaining trees; and fire resilience because you have created these natural firebreaks." For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News.
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4. Political Science Group's Report Examines Inequality
Inside Higher Ed

A new report led by political science professor Rodney Hero, president of the American Political Science Association, addresses the previously under-investigated relationship between inequality and political representation. A key finding of the study, called "The Double Bind: The Politics of Racial and Class Inequalities in the Americas," is that low socioeconomic status and political party incentives have meant that ethnic minorities struggle to harness their demographic potential and political activity in order to better their socioeconomic status.
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5. Tech venture capitalist pioneers way for Latinos
USA Today

Karen Rodriguez-Ponciano, a 21-year-old Berkeley student who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was in high school, was one of dozens of prospective entrepreneurs drawn to a special startup event for Latinos, called Startup Weekend Oakland: Latinx Tech Edition. She says technology is "a very powerful tool if you know how to use it or leverage it," and the program offered a unique opportunity for Latinos to "create solutions for our community and empower each other. ... Tech offers just so much opportunity but I feel like not a lot of us have the chance to experience that."
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6. Animalia: How to keep your cat from losing its mind
Washington Post (*requires registration)

While keeping pet cats indoors is often recommended to protect their health and that of wildlife, the boredom they suffer can lead to problematic behaviors. Graduate psychology student Mikel Delgado studies cat behavior. She says: "We've just been like, 'Oh, you're cute and cuddly. Come inside,' and we've kind of forgotten about what cats are built to do, which is hunt. ... We're not recognizing who cats really are and what they need." She recently co-authored a paper listing several types of behavior that she and her colleagues had helped alleviate with food puzzles that make the cats work for their supper. She also co-hosts a website exploring the benefits of the products, some of which can be homemade. Link to video.
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