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.

Friday, 21 November 2014

1. Bay Area researchers and innovators win top science, technology medals
San Jose Mercury News (*requires registration)

Chemistry professor Judith Klinman, mathematics professor Alexandre Chorin, and the late mathematics and statistics professor emeritus David Blackwell were among the honorees at a White House ceremony on Thursday, during which the National Medal of Science, and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation were presented by President Obama. Professor Klinman received her award for her "discoveries of fundamental chemical and physical principles underlying enzyme catalysis and her leadership in the community of scientists." Professor Chorin was honored for his work on the "development of revolutionary methods for realistic fluid-flow simulation, now ubiquitous in the modeling and design of engines, aircraft wings, and heart valves, and in the analysis of natural flows." Professor Blackwell's posthumous award was presented to family members for his "fundamental contributions to probability theory, mathematical statistics, information theory, mathematical logic and Blackwell games, which have had a lasting impact on critical endeavors such as drug testing, computer communications, and manufacturing." Link to slideshow. Stories on this topic appeared in dozens of sources, including the Washington Post (AP) and CBS News (link to video).
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2. Biotech SF Blog: Innovation, entrepreneurship evangelist Reg Kelly to spread gospel throughout UC system
San Francisco Business Times Online (*requires registration)

Regis Kelly, director of the Berkeley-affiliated Institute for Quantitative BioSciences, or QB3, is joining the University of California's Office of the President as senior advisor on innovation and entrepreneurship, effective Dec. 1. He will focus on helping each of the system's 10 campuses identify ways of more efficiently transitioning lab research into the marketplace, and he will develop a venture fund of up to $250 million.
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3. University of California to Raise Tuition Despite Protests
New York Times (*requires registration)

At the UC regents' meeting on Thursday, the board voted 14-7 to approve 5 percent annual tuition increases for the next five years. The proposal was led by UC President Janet Napolitano, and the opposition was led by Gov. Jerry Brown, with groups of students protesting systemwide. The article reports: "The regents who favor the tuition increases and the state lawmakers who oppose them have cast blame on each other, each side insisting that it is defending the quality and affordability of one of the world’s great public universities. Ms. Napolitano and her supporters, pointing to significant budget cuts in recent years, say that reduced state support for the university forced the tuition increases, while Mr. Brown and his allies contend that the university needs to find more savings through profound changes in the way it operates." Stories on this topic have appeared in hundreds of sources, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, KQED Radio Online, Marketplace (link to audio), Christian Science Monitor, UPI, KTVU Online, and KGO TV (link to video).
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4. Where to go to college to make the most money -- for each major
Washington Post Online (*requires registration)

"Where should you go to college if all you care about is making the most money?" That's the question asked by this columnist and then answered with several mentions of UC Berkeley. Referring to his charts, he says: "The dark blue bars show the schools [including Berkeley] that have top 10 programs, based on future earnings, for more than one of the most lucrative majors. After all, it's hard enough for a 22-year old to have an inkling of what they want to do with their lives, let alone an 18-year old. That's why, unless you're precociously self-assured, you want to go to a school that keeps your options open -- which is where the Harvard, Stanfords, and Berkeleys of the world distinguish themselves. ... Here, for example, are the best-paid computer science programs. And there's Berkeley again. (These, remember, show median salaries, so the Mark Zuckerbergs and Kevin Systroms don't pull their schools' numbers up)."
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5. California Lawmakers Welcome Immigration Action
Capital Public Radio

Sociology professor Irene Bloemraad comments on the executive action President Obama announced Thursday to let some undocumented immigrants legally stay in the country temporarily. With California's nearly 3 million undocumented immigrants, she says: "California’s definitely a state with a significant undocumented population. ... And it’s throughout the state from the southern border all the way up into Napa and Sonoma valleys." Link to audio.
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6. Obama’s immigration plan doesn’t grant tech world’s wishes
San Francisco Chronicle

President Obama's immigration plan, announced on Thursday, didn't satisfy many Silicon Valley leaders who have lobbied for more high-skilled foreigners to be given work visas, but business and public policy professor Steve Tadelis says it's doubtful to have an effect on tech companies' support of Democratic political campaigns. He also says it will be difficult to rally public support around this aspect of the immigration issue “because it’s not something most Americans care about.”
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7. Immigration order’s economic impact probably minimal, possibly negative
Dallas Morning News

Following President Obama's Thursday announcement of an immigration reform plan, some experts are saying that many workers may not seek permits -- and employers may choose not to hire workers -- because the work permits could be undone by presidential action when a new administration takes office. Economics professor David Card, an immigration expert, says: “The reality is they’re not going to be able to come to their employer and say, ‘Mr. Obama said I can do this.'"
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8. What’s the Secret Sauce for an Effective Head Start Program?
New America EdCentral

A recent report by economics professor Christopher Walters sheds light on why there are disparities in the effectiveness of different Head Start programs around the country. Analyzing various inputs, child characteristics, and center practices, he found that center directors maintain discretion over many of them, and that might explain why some children experience sustained gains while others do not. He also found that Head Start had the greatest impact on the children of less educated mothers, suggesting that disadvantaged children benefit more from program participation.
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9. nprEd Blog: Why Working With Young Children Is (Still) A Dead-End Job

Berkeley's Center for the Study of Child Care Employment has released a report documenting the disconnect between rising child care costs and the stagnant wages of child-care teachers and staff.
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10. Glitch Sends Latest NASA Mars Orbiter into Safe Mode
Space News

NASA has announced that a processing glitch on the new NASA Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) orbiter forced the craft to shut down all of its science instruments less than a week after full science operations began. The craft is in safehold mode now while controllers work on a solution. Among the instruments affected is a Particle and Fields package built by Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory. The package includes six of MAVEN's eight science sensors.
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11. Image Search, Analysis Emerge as Powerful Tools, Privacy Threat

Research projects at a number of universities, including Berkeley, are making strides in image search and recognition technology that could give businesses, governments, and individuals powerful new tools for analytics but could also have privacy implications as well. All the researchers are using neural net artificial intelligence to enable computers to understand what's happening in a picture, although their methods vary.
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12. Wonkblog: Americans could save a fortune this winter -- if they only understood their thermostats
Washington Post (*requires registration)

Therese Peffer, program director of enabling technologies at the Berkeley-affiliated California Institute for Energy and Environment, comments on the problem that thermostats are often difficult to understand and therefore not used efficiently. An ergonomic study she co-authored found that for the toughest-to-use programmable thermostat sampled, more than half of people could not figure out how to even put it in "heat" mode, and programming the devices set an even higher bar. Jargon is a big issue, and according to the report: "In general, subjects were confused regarding the terms/functions temporary override, timed hold, permanent hold, permanent override, away and vacation." Peffer says: "I’ve been studying thermostats for 10 years, or more, and there are still thermostats that floor me. ... It still takes me time to figure out 'What the heck does that mean?'"
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13. The Saturday Essay: Automation Makes Us Dumb
Wall Street Journal Online (*requires registration)

A story about the ways helpful technology can impede a user's intellect quotes philosophy professor Hubert Dreyfus, who wrote in 2002 that human expertise develops through “experience in a variety of situations, all seen from the same perspective but requiring different tactical decisions.”
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14. Suprisingly Few UC Berkeley Students Voted In Midterm Election
CBS San Francisco Online

The Daily Californian has reported that only 14 percent of the city of Berkeley's District 7 residents (including the bulk of UC Berkeley students) voted in the recent midterm election. The district was redrawn last year in order to give students more power as a single voting bloc. The turnout is also disappointing because two city measures had the potential to affect student life. Measure S, which passed, proposed redrawing district lines to give students a stronger voice on City Council, and Measure D, which also passed, made Berkeley the first city in the U.S. to pass a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
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15. Q and A: Beautiful woman likes him, maybe
USA Today

In a tech Q & A, a person asks: "I would love to have Photoshop but I don't have that kind of money. I see it for free online but I know those are pirated files. Is there any other way to get Photoshop?" The columnist answers: "The latest version of Photoshop costs anywhere from $10-$50 a month. There is an alternative and free program called GIMP. It began in 1995 as a project at UC Berkeley, but it's come a long way since then! In fact, it has many of the same capabilities as Photoshop.
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16. Bowl eligibility at stake for Stanford, Cal
Washington Post

A story about the upcoming 117th Big Game this Saturday begins: "California has returned to relevance and respectability in Sonny Dykes’ second season as coach. Stanford has slipped back to mediocrity under David Shaw this year. ... The surprising developments on both sides of San Francisco Bay give the 117th Big Game quite the twist." Both teams have a lot at stake, since the victors will become bowl-eligible. Coach Dykes says, "We’ve talked a lot about steps this year. It’s kind of the next step for us." Stories on this topic appeared in more than 100 sources, including the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, ESPN, and Contra Costa Times.
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17. The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

A roundup of weekend highlights in the Berkeley area says about the Big Game and Bonfire: "You either know it as the biggest event in Bay Area college football — or the day to avoid driving anywhere near campus. It’s the Cal-Stanford “Big Game” and it starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22 at Memorial Stadium. Make a weekend of it by joining the annual Big Game Bonfire Rally the night before at the Greek Theater. Along with a giant fire, there will be a marching-band performance and stories told by nostalgic alumni. The bonfire is free and doors open at 6 p.m. Get tickets for the game."
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UC Berkeley in the News Archives