New biomarker discovery can help scientists ID sudden oak death-susceptible trees

Adapted from an article by Mauricio Espinoza, Ohio State University UC Berkeley and Ohio State University researchers have developed a way to predict the resistance or susceptibility of trees to sudden oak death disease, providing forest managers with the first effective method to manage trees in infested natural areas and in adjoining areas where the disease is expected in the future. Sudden oak death, a forest disease caused by the invasive fungus-like pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, was first detected in California in 1995. It has since killed millions of tanoaks and trees of several oak species on the West Coast. It is also a potential threat to the valuable Eastern oak species, some of which are known to be highly susceptible to the disease. liveoak305.jpg

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Ann Guy
posted 2014-04-15 13:17:53

Inspiring evolution through eco design? What does that mean?

Last week, we finally selected a phrase that describes our Company; Inspiring evolution through eco design. Knowing that this type of phrase has the ability to excite as well as turn-off, I thought I’d take a moment to help define what we mean.

Of course, any phrase like this needs to be rooted in a philosophy. We have one: people, product, planet, and we wrestled with how to convert the practices we utilize in operating our business, into a different statement that describes what that process means for the Brand and for the consumer.

Our Brand lives in a world of products that we think up, produce and sell. Through that process, we’ve created a certain set of “new” considerations as to what we are willing to create and what we are willing to produce. That process is what constitutes our whole people, product, planet philosophy. Adding this layer to our already long design consideration of what is possible, reasonable, realistic and sellable, makes the process somewhat more cumbersome. It also becomes more exhilarating, knowing we’re working harder to create even more deeply thoughtful products. This is the essence of eco design – design with an awareness of the eco consequences, both social and environmental, of the decisions inherent in the design.

We see this as the evolution of the process of design. This process is most vividly seen in LEED certifications of buildings. Take the concept of landscaped roofs as seen on the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Putting pots with plants on a roof is a wonderful idea and has been done for centuries. Integrating a full landscape on a roof for all the energy and other possible advantages is a very different story. Just accommodating the added weight, ongoing maintenance, overall roof access, is a significant change to standard considerations for a roof.

And if the design is strong, and the execution is done well, that building will serve to inspire people who visit or even see it. Not that they go home and re-think their roof, that’s extreme. But, maybe they come away with a greater appreciation of what is possible. Maybe a solar panel, maybe a rain barrel, maybe they think differently about storm drain runoff. Who knows, but, the point is, by stretching the boundaries of design, the building acts as a longstanding symbol of changing norms.

Changing norms are what evolution is all about. We do the same thing with our bags. Twenty years ago, who would have thought we could grind up plastic, make it into fabric and make great looking products? Twenty years ago, I bet there weren’t even enough plastic bottles to matter. Now, the volume of bottles staggers the mind, not just in the U.S. either.

Twenty years ago, who would have said Google (what started as a search engine only) would turn out to be part of an online evolution (and a verb, no less). They accomplished that task through design, not just what we see, but, the code they wrote to make it happen. GreenSmart is writing that same type of code, in the work that we do, for bags. We’re applying different thought processes to how we source and create, how we execute and manufacture and finally, how we tell our story. We sincerely hope our work inspires others. It inspires us, and maybe that’s all that matters.


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Tom Larsen
posted 2009-10-27 12:06:57

What I Gained from CNR

When I first came to UC Berkeley I had no idea what I was doing. I was an out of state student from a suburb in Georgia and I had only visited the campus once before. Like many freshmen, I was enrolled in the College of Letters and Science, intended MCB. I didn’t know much about what classes to take and I just chose some of the pre-med requisite courses somewhat blindly. I was pretty disillusioned throughout my first semester. Constantly going in and out of huge classes of 500+ students made me feel like I was just “going through the motions.”

After getting settled in, I gradually took some more initiative in figuring out what I wanted. Fortunately, I learned about the College of Natural Resources (CNR) from a friend in the Molecular Environmental Biology (MEB) major. After spending time in Mulford Hall and the CNR side of campus, I realized that it offered a lot of the benefits I was looking for. Some of the features of CNR that I found particularly appealing were the smaller size, a greater focus on crafting a personalized major, and opportunities for independent research through the CNR Honors Program. I quickly transferred to CNR to become an MEB major and found new enthusiasm for my college experience.

One additional obligation for me as an out–of-state student was the cost of tuition. My CNR advisor helped me plan my class schedule around my part-time employment and condense my workload such that I was able to complete my degree with an honors thesis in three years. When it came time to find a job, I made use of the resources at the CNR and received a lot of guidance from my thesis mentor. I immediately found that there were many opportunities within my interests that I never knew about. For example, I had always been under the false impression that if I was interested in science then my only options were to either become a doctor or a professor. However, the resources at CNR opened my eyes to opportunities ranging from science policy, administration, conservation, ecology, public health, and medicine.

After graduating I knew I was broadly interested in biomedical research and public health, but I felt I needed professional experience before deciding if I wanted to pursue a graduate or professional degree. I found the perfect post-baccalaureate job in biomedical research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, formally called the Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) Fellowship. I was a competitive applicant to the program primarily because of the independent research experience I gained in the CNR honors program. My project, "The Labellum of Costus (Zingiberales) and the ABC Model of Floral Development," was supported by a grant from CNR's Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) program, and I was able to work closely with a faculty mentor, Professor Chelsea Specht.

Over the past two years I have worked on a number of different projects, each of which contributes directly to global malaria control efforts. One of my projects entails the use of molecular epidemiology to track the prevalence and genetic history of drug resistant malaria-causing parasites in various parts of the world. As part of this project, I have had the privilege of learning powerful molecular techniques and have trained guest researchers from collaborating labs in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Tanzania, Ghana, Nicaragua, Peru, and Brazil.

Another one of my objectives in the lab is to improve low cost malaria diagnostics, since malaria tends to be a problem in economically distressed parts of the world. Last year, I helped develop an instrument for this purpose and traveled to a rural health clinic in India to personally work with local physicians and carry out its first field trial. The data gained from this trial and other techniques that I have optimized in the lab have lead to the development of a quality control system for malaria diagnostics, which we hope to implement throughout East Africa early next year.

Although I feel I have had many opportunities, the learning curve in a professional environment can be slow. It took me two years to really get off the ground and gain the sense of autonomy that I have always sought in my career. Looking back, I feel that my experience at CNR did not just help me get my foot in the door with my first post-baccalaureate job; it also helped me excel in a professional environment.

For example, CNR helped me cultivate principles of conservation and sustainability in whatever I do. In fact, one of the first major contributions that I made to my lab at the CDC was in optimizing a laboratory technique that I used during my honors thesis. That optimization cut the cost of the technique by over two-fold and will save our lab thousands of dollars in the long run that can go towards valuable research efforts.

Several CNR classes also helped me develop skills in written composition and oral presentation that I now find essential when conveying my work through lab meetings, grants, publications, and conferences. I recently helped write a grant proposal for a $20 million clinical trial in India using skills I first gained at CNR when I wrote a Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research (SPUR) grant proposal for my thesis project. On a more abstract level, the culturally and academically diverse environment at CNR prepared me to work with people from all around the world.

If you had asked me what I would have envisioned myself doing in 5 years, back when I started at CNR, I would have never guessed that this is where I would be. I also don’t think my experience at CNR necessarily dictated what I would be doing either. Rather, I feel that CNR gave me the fundamental skills to pursue my personal interests and appreciate the opportunities, instead of fearing the uncertainties, which come with a future that isn’t clearly written out. I look forward to continuing my career in research and my goal is to ultimately investigate host-pathogen interactions in infectious disease as a physician-scientist. I am currently applying to MD/PhD programs and I hope that my future professional training will be as formative as the experience I gained at CNR.

Sankar Sridaran
Research Technician
Genetics and Immunology Laboratory

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Sankar Sridaran
posted 2009-10-27 09:31:15

Vote Andaman Discoveries for the BBC World Challenge!

Hi CNR Students and Alums, I started a non-profit in Thailand back in 2005, and it has gone on to do great things. Recently, we were chosen as a finalist for the BBC World Challenge. If you can, please take 30 seconds to vote for us at their website, so we can keep up the good work! The website is The BBC World Challenge. Our connection to the villages comes from rebuilding our lives together, and our projects focus on the big picture, empowering people to define their own future. This means that, along with responsible tourism, we also support scholarships for 120 kids, reforestation, a community development network, and a lot more. Pardon the spiel if you've already heard it, but it's the real deal. Winning the World Challenge would mean a lot: the award will underwrite our projects, and the publicity will help us spread our message, which is always a challenge with a miniscule PR budget :) If you are excited by all this, feel free to post this message on your facebook account, blog, or email lists. With thousands of nominations annually, the World Challenge recognizes innovative business projects that increase investment into the local community and take a responsible approach to the environment in which they are operating. We were chosen by a jury of high-level executives from Shell, BBC World, the World Bank, IUCN, and Newsweek. So, if you could be so kind as to follow the link and vote for us, it would be of great service to our projects and the people they serve. Bodhi Garrett Director, Andaman Discoveries Coordinator, IUCN North Andaman Network Founder, North Andaman Tsunami Relief Link to Andaman Discoveries on the BBC World Challenge Press Release (PDF)

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Bodhi Garrett
posted 2009-10-14 08:27:19

69th day of Medical School

One of the greatest parts about medical school is having your questions answered. I remember all those times that I couldn't understand why a person was the way they were or what disability a person had.... It helps to finally have your questions answered. ---sometimes I wonder about how much is appropriate to write on this site. Patient confidentiality and such. Sorry about the vagueness. Anatomy lab is.. _______. We have our practical (where they tag stuff on the bodies and we look at it and name it) in 2 weeks so I've been spending more time in lab. The smell was alright at first. I'm getting more sensitive to it though. hum ho. It stays in my hair like crazy. I've been washing it as soon as I get home. I feel kinda sorry for the guy sitting next to me in class. (He doesn't have anatomy lab on the same day as me, and sometimes I go in the morning just for kicks). The other day,.... I said, "Man...anatomy... I want to nap [during 10 min break] but I can't because I smell. Maybe I should go change." He said, "Yeah, you do smell." heh.. whooppps... I should bring a change of clothes more often.

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K. Lee
posted 2009-10-10 23:15:15

Adventures in Microscopy

While I was an undergraduate in Genetics & Plant Biology, I took Plant and Animal Microtechnique, a course taught by Dr. Steve Ruzin and Dr. Denise Schichnes at CNR's Biological Imaging Facility.   With the microwave paraffin embedding techniques that I learned in that course, I was able to create images like this:

Bok Choi (Brassica rapa) flower cross-section stained with Sharman's

I've taken the skills that I learned with that solid introduction to microtechnique, and with my graduate work I have moved on to electron microscopy.

This semester I'm taking two courses through the Electron Microscopy Facility at Miami University. One is a lecture course on Electron Microscopy Theory, and the other is on Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) techniques.

Here's a picture of our instructor Matt Duley with the microscope I'm currently learning to use:

I'm learning the basics - everything from plant sample preparation to operating the microscope.  I'll even learn backscatter technique.

The best part about training with the EMF at Miami is that there are no expensive lab fees associated with their courses - and anyone who has a project in mind and a subject they'd like to image can sign up.  They're available not only to those in the biological sciences, but also to geologists, structural engineers, physicists, artists, and more.

Here are a few pictures I've taken with the JEOL 840A.

Tin Balls

Gear from a wristwatch

Trichomes of a geranium leaf

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posted 2009-10-09 08:31:33

Shoutout from Alaska!

Hello alumni from the past, and I mean some time ago. As I near 60 years old, I give myself a chance to see what has changed over the years in Forestry, Plant Pathology, and Entomology I am truly amazed. Many old buddies have retired or are thinking of it and others like me with a second family (X and Y generations) are still going strong, maybe not as strong as they used to. I still get out in the woods in Alaska. This year was busy with felling hazardous trees, doing bark beetle projects, and climbing over downfall. I pride myself in knowing how to put a rudimentary GIS layer together, make what I can out of communicating on facebook and twitter, and sending a letter now and again. Best wishes to the graduates of '72.

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Mark E. Schultz
posted 2009-10-01 20:46:32

Annual Alumni Association Meeting

Annual Meeting: October 3, 2009 Saturday, October 3, 2009 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Giannini Hall Foyer Agenda Items:

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Eva St. Clair
posted 2009-09-25 11:14:27

From CRS to Chocolate, and so much in between!

A lot has happened since graduating from Cal in 1999. I was one of those re-entry students when I arrived at Cal in 1997 and had been involved with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area’ s park restoration program and had also been deeply involved in City College of San Francisco’s biology and ecology departments. At one point I was the college liaison for the Park Service, conducting class presentations in order to entice students to volunteer for restoration activities in the Marin Headlands. It helped that some instructors offered extra credit for such noble activities. Not to mention that views of the city from the Headlands were amazing! After arriving at Cal, I immersed myself in classes and campus life, enjoying the fact that I did not have to work while going to school full-time-wow what a concept. My two years at Cal went very quickly and I often found myself wishing that I could have been there for the full four years - but I guess there is always graduate school. I was part of the well known CRS program (Conservation and Resource Studies) and was able to construct my own curriculum around my passion at the time, which was wetlands and wetland restoration. During my last semester, I took a class taught by some outside environmental consultants that focused on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). I liked the fact that the class focused on various aspects of the environmental world, including policy, permitting, planning, and various environmental resource areas. chocolates1.jpg Upon graduation, I hit the ground running trying to find an entry-level job in the environmental consulting field. I eventually landed a job with a small consulting firm in Oakland that was working closely with the Navy on clean-up activities at various Navy facilities in the Bay Area. I quickly learned that not all environmental consulting was created equal. This particular firm focused on health and risk management-which meant lots of number crunching, something I did not find very interesting. Several months later I left after taking a job with yet another firm, doing more of the type of work I was interested in - my first project included working with US Coast Guard. Fast forward several years and I found myself feeling unchallenged creatively; much of consulting work includes reviewing documents written by specialists in other fields (e.g. traffic specialists, geologists, hydrologists, etc) and incorporating that information into a document that will ultimately be used by lawmakers to approve or deny a project. I ultimately figured out that I needed to find something creative in order to balance out the more cerebral part of my life. I started baking, something I used to do when I was a kid, in the kitchen with my grandmother. I also started taking classes in baking thinking that I might want to become a pastry chef. Somewhere along the way, I also began incorporating chocolate into the recipes and was constantly asked by friends to provide the chocolate desserts for their special events.

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Dennis Kearney
posted 2009-09-23 22:15:50

Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences

I can't believe that I've been in medical school for more than a month now. Here at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, Kansas City, Missouri, I've been learning everything from anatomy, biochemistry, embryology, histology, immunology, microbiology, pathology, pharmacology, and physiology. With my Molecular Toxicology background, most of the subjects come to me quite easily. The hardest ones for me are Immunology and Anatomy. I've never been good at blatant memorization (Anatomy/Microbio). The end part of immunology is great for me because we learned alot about apoptosis and necrosis (yay death domains!) with NST 110. For anyone with a MolTox major, take an extra upper div class in Immuno. Microbio in medical school takes a semi-different perspective from the Microbio I had (the PH one~one of the two microbio major req fullfilling classes that we have as a MolTox) since that one was more about etiology and currently in med school we're going from the lab test perspective. I did my first Gram stain two days ago. The hardest part about being well prepared for med school is... LAZINESS. I had my buddy change my facebook account pswd because I was getting ... sidetracked. We have a final on Tuesday (and another on Thursday). ^^ hahah. yay..... ::cries in the corner:: I'm sure y'all at Berkeley don't have any exams until the end of this month right? Have fun meeting people still while I suffer here. Miss y'all. Pray for me!

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Kristin Lee
posted 2009-09-10 09:30:29