College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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December 18, 2000

Alumni gift of $1 million to benefit College environmental management fund

NEWS RELEASE, 12/18/00
Contact: Jose L. Rodriguez (510) 643 7123

BERKELEY -- Two Connecticut-based alumni of the University of California, Berkeley have established a $1-million fund to improve environmental management around the world. The gift by Carolyn and Dick Beahrs will help address a wide range of inter-related issues affecting development and the environment, including global warming, water management, population, and poverty. The Richard and Carolyn Beahrs International Environmental Leadership Program will encompass an intensive summer certificate course in sustainable environmental management. Leaders and policy makers from around the world will come to Berkeley each summer to attend courses that will combine theory and methods with case studies from California and the world.

The new program will strengthen UC Berkeley's already significant expertise in the College of Natural Resources and the Center for Sustainable Resource Development. "Carolyn and Dick Beahrs have a passion for environmental management and developing countries," said Richard Malkin, dean of the College of Natural Resources. "They understand that an institution like UC Berkeley can effectively bring together some of the best and most creative minds from around the world to solve real-world problems, using sound science. The unique insights of farmers and practitioners can provide extraordinary perspective when they are matched with Berkeley's world-class faculty."

In explaining their motivation for the gift, Dick Beahrs said that he and his wife have had an "abiding concern for, and interest in, international development for decades." "We traveled throughout Africa in 1971 with our friend, Terry Myers, a former Cal classmate," he added. "Terry was working in Bangladesh at the time, and we saw, first hand, some acute development challenges. Ever since that trip, we have been involved with a number of initiatives and organizations that attempt to develop and implement sound policy and management in developing countries, in collaboration with local farmers."

Dick Beahrs often cites a Chinese proverb about walking on two legs, when he describes the need for a long-term, inclusive, and responsive program to address complex environmental problems, said David Zilberman, program director and professor of agricultural and resource economics. "Dick and Carolyn see the value of bringing together both the modern and traditional perspectives-the two legs to identify real-world problems and then to focus on the collaborative process of addressing those problems," Zilberman said. "All of us believe that real progress will follow when common ground can be found between environmental leaders in developing and developed countries. The Beahrs program will be an incubator for this exciting work."

After meeting at UC Berkeley during their undergraduate years in the mid-1960s, Dick and Carolyn moved to New York City and then to Darien, Conn., where they have raised their family. "We are deeply committed to the university," said Dick Beahrs. "It has enhanced our lives and the lives of many of our family members. Four generations of our family have been educated at Cal, including our son, Andy, Class of '95, and two of our daughters, Jenny and Suzanne, who are current students. We fully appreciate that Berkeley is a great place." Carolyn Beahrs is a former elementary schoolteacher who volunteers in numerous community organizations, including their church, children's schools, and the Literacy Volunteers of America. Dick Beahrs has been with Time Warner for more than 30 years, developing new businesses, and is currently president of Court TV. He also sits on the boards of the Near East Foundation, the International Center for Research in Agroforestry, and the Center for Sustainable Resource Development at UC Berkeley.

Planning for the first Beahrs Environmental Leadership Program summer course is under way. More information about the program, as well as an online application, is available at http://cnr.berkeley.edu/BeahrsELP or by contacting program co-director Robin Marsh at (510) 643-4200, e-mail at rmarsh@nature.berkeley.edu. Both Dick and Carolyn Beahrs have been active members of UC Berkeley's New Century Campaign Committee in the metropolitan New York City area. The New Century Campaign was launched publicly in 1996 and is designed to help continue attracting, supporting, and retaining the best faculty and students at UC Berkeley. Since funds were first raised in 1993, the number of alumni who give to UC Berkeley has doubled.

December 13, 2000

CNR professor shares success of sequencing first plant genome

arabidopsis_thalania.jpg


By Catherine Zandonella, Media Relations

In a major step for plant biology and agricultural science, scientists have completed the sequencing of the first plant genome, that of a mustard weed known as Arabidopsis thalania. The announcement, published Thursday, Dec. 14, in the journal Nature, marks the completion of a five-year effort that included key contributions from plant molecular biologist Athanasios Theologis, an adjunct professor in the Department of Plant & Microbial Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scientist at the UC Berkeley/USDA Agricultural Research Service Plant Gene Expression Center in Albany, Calif.

Commonly known as mouse-ear cress or thale cress, Arabidopsis thaliana serves as a model genetic organism for research aimed at producing healthier food that is easier to grow. Arabidopsis thaliana is favored by researchers because it has a relatively small genome with only five chromosomes and roughly 25,000 genes - a third the amount of DNA found in rice. Completion of the genome will give scientists a road map to the genes involved in a plant's ability to live through drought, fight off disease and avoid predators.

Together with three collaborating institutes, Theologis and his team of 15 researchers deciphered the genetic sequence of the largest of the five chromosomes, Chromosome 1, which represents a quarter of the entire genome. Other members of the consortium to sequence Chromosome 1 include the Stanford Genome Technology Center led by Ronald Davis, the Arabidopsis thaliana Genome Center at the University of Pennsylvania led by Joseph Ecker (now at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.) and The Institute for Genomic Research in Rockville, Md., led by Claire Fraser. The four groups were part of an international Arabidopsis genome sequencing effort known as the Arabidopsis Genome Initiative (AGI), composed of laboratories from the United States, the European Union and Japan. The U.S. portion of the project was funded by the National Science Foundation.

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