College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

News & Events

April 26, 2007

Video: Sudden Oak Death expert on KQED Quest

Devastating over 1 million oak trees across Northern California in the past 10 years, Sudden Oak Death is a killer with no cure. But biologists including CNR's Matteo Garbelotto are looking to the trees' genetics for a solution.

April 11, 2007

Bees keep her busy as a, well, a bee

Public curiosity about bees kept UC Berkeley graduate student Alex Harmon-Threatt on her toes at an annual wildflower festival at the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness, south of Livermore, on April 7. Kids and adults alike peered through her magnifying glass at a collection of native wild bee species on display: bumblebees, mining bees, sunflower bees, leaf-cutter bees, yellow-faced bees — even bees that "land on you lightly and drink your sweat," she told incredulous young visitors.

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April 9, 2007

Forestry Student’s Senior Project Applies New Technology to Old Data

John Dingman’s three-ring binder for his senior honors project overflows with data ranging from topographic maps to digital elevation models to tree cores. Dingman, a senior forestry major at CNR, spent the summer of 2006 trekking through Mount Diablo State Park to collect firsthand data for his project on vegetation type mapping using GIS.

John DingmanAlthough hiking from sunup to sundown through ticks and scrub was often exhausting, Dingman talks about his research with a familiarity and enthusiasm that stems from a sense of personal accomplishment. He says, “I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed working on this project. I appreciated the time I spent outside collecting the data and analyzing the data to develop my own algorithms to reduce GIS spatial error.”His project is part of a unique CNR program called Sponsored Projects for Undergraduate Research, or SPUR Dingman says SPUR was a positive experience because, “it allowed me as an undergraduate to design a research project, and apply my knowledge to study vegetation change.” Through SPUR, Dingman worked with Professor Maggi Kelly of the Kelly Research and Outreach Lab to develop his plan and research methods.

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Kyle Dukart and Matt Fratus Receive CNR’s Staff Recognition Award

This year’s recipients of the CNR Staff Recognition Award are Matt Fratus and Kyle Dukart. The annual award was created to honor outstanding service by CNR staff.

“In an office where everyone has a full workload and many deadlines, Matt is always available to help others,” says Aimee Kelley. Fratus, the director of the Annual Fund, “is always able to assist anybody with the help they need no matter how little or big the task, or how unrelated to his job it is.” His coworkers also applaud his "great ideas on improving our current systems and procedures; we would not be where we are today without Matt.”

“'Kyle is the best!' is an often-heard statement when our students, both undergrads and grads, mention Kyle and the effect he has on their lives,” write his nominators Susan Jenkins and Marjorie Ensor. Dukart, a undergraduate and graduate student advisor has served on committees such as the Biology Major Consortium and the CNR Undergraduate Taskforce. His nominators say, “Kyle is a valuable asset to our faculty. They have come to rely and depend on Kyle for just about everything. His motto is ‘We’ll get it done!’ and this is the case despite the numerous requests he and his office handle."

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Professor Bob Buchanan Receives Career Achievement Award

Professor Bob Buchanan began his career at Berkeley in 1963, and has been an invaluable faculty member ever since. His distinguished teaching record in the department of plant and microbial biology as well as his scholarly achievements and service to CNR have earned him the inaugural Career Achievement Award.

Buchanan is described by his nominator Peggy Lemaux as “a UC Berkeley professor, through and through. Throughout his long and distinguished career, Professor Buchanan has excelled in research and teaching, contributing impressively to both areas. He has served the campus in an unparalleled fashion.” Buchanan has taught a demanding upper division biology course in biochemistry with approximately six hundred students and has served on a number of committees including the UC Systemwide Committee on Academic Personnel.

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Professor David Zilberman and Board Member Jim Lugg Honored with CNR Citation

The College of Natural Resources Citation is CNR’s highest award and was created to honor groups or individuals who have made exceptional contributions to CNR. This year’s recipients are advisory board member Jim Lugg and Professor David Zilberman.

Jim Lugg, president of FreshExpress and an alum of CNR, has been a major supporter of the college. “Jim Lugg is one of the advisory board’s most active members, continuing on the executive committee following his chairmanship, as co-chair of the development committee,” writes nominator Kass Green. “He is always willing to participate in student events and lend his professionalism and expertise to the student experience. His love and enthusiasm for his profession are infectious.”

David Zilberman, professor of agriculture and resource economics, has been affiliated with CNR for the last 34 years dating from when he enrolled in the ARE Ph.D. program. He has served as the director of the Giannini Foudation of Agriculture and Resource Economics and established the Center for Sustainable Resource Development, among other achievements. Professor Anthony Fisher writes of Zilberman: “David has, over the many years of his association with the College, made an extraordinary series of contributions, that are in substantial measure responsible for the quality, the visibility and the reputation of the college today.”

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Assistant Professor Auffhammer Receives CNR Young Faculty/CE Specialist Award

Assistant Professor Max Auffhammer may be a relative newcomer on the Berkeley campus, but he has already made a big difference. Auffhammer, who has taught at Berkeley since 2003, is the recipient of this year’s CNR Young Faculty/CE Specialist Award. He has a joint appointment in the department of Agriculture and Resource Economics and International Area Studies. Auffhammer has developed two new courses as well as a seminar for students completing their dissertation. His students say “Amazing Max is one of the best professors I’ve had at Berkeley; he’s down to earth, accessible, friendly, and funny.”

In addition, Auffhammer has made significant contributions in research. “He has at least seven publications and many other papers under review or in progress. He has received at least ten grants to support his research, and his reputation is increasing yearly,” writes ARE department chair Jeff Perloff. “He is off to a good start on a research career, extremely hard working, an outstanding teacher, a spectacularly cooperative member of the faculty, and generous in his public service.”

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Turning back the demographic hands of time for an endangered species

In the News & Views blog of the Ecological Society of America, Professor Steve Beissinger discusses his and Zachariah Peery’s Feb 07article Reconstructing the historic demography of an endangered seabird.

He writes:

It’s a simple question that I often get asked about an endangered species: “What caused it to decline?” but I find it to be one of the hardest to answer without giving a hand-waiving response. Determining causes of decline for a species based on data-driven conclusions rather than informed opinion is challenging because it first requires figuring out which demographic rate is depressed and then requires evidence linking it to one or more causes. Yet, to provide clear recommendations for recovering a threatened species, is there any more meaningful question to answer than what is causing it to decline?

Read Beissinger's blog full entry here.

April 6, 2007

Increased production of biofuels might help farmers & address climate change, but it could inflate food prices

From the Associated Press:

Increased production of biofuels such as ethanol might help farmers' bottom lines and address climate-change concerns, but it could inflate food prices worldwide, warns a former White House economist.

"Worldwide, especially in developing countries ... food price increases are definitely something we're going to have to come to grips with," said David Sunding, who served on former President Bill Clinton's Council of Economic Advisers.

Sunding, an [agricultural resources and economics] professor at the University of California, Berkeley, spoke on March 26 to water experts at a conference at the University of Nebraska.

The combination of rising energy prices and the demand for corn, which is used to produce ethanol, will continue to drive up commodity prices, he said.

Corn prices have already begun to soar. A rush to turn more land into corn production could decrease supplies of other commodities, driving up prices of them as well.

The resulting higher market prices could then dampen the public's support for government subsidies that are designed to help farmers reap profits when markets are down.

Sunding envisioned a scenario in which price supports for farmers are replaced by another government program — one to purchase food to keep prices affordable and prevent hunger.

Energy costs will also be a factor, said Sunding, who predicted that "ag policy will ... become energy policy."

"The ag sector," he added, "is so vulnerable to energy price changes."

Higher fuel costs affect farm operations that depend on irrigation and make it more expensive for farmers to transport their crops.

A study released last month by the Energy Information Administration, an arm of the federal government that provides energy statistics, forecasts that world oil prices might decrease over the next five or six years, then steadily increase over the next two decades.

Original article (IHT)

April 3, 2007

Editorial: Unabomber has no place on list of alumni who "excelled"

The College of Natural Resources finds it deeply regrettable that Ted Kazcynski, widely known as the Unabomber, was recently included in a California magazine list of Berkeley alumni who have "excelled in every field."

Kazcynski, who was not a Cal alumnus but an assistant math professor for two years in the late 60s, mailed 16 bombs over more than a decade, killing three and injuring 29. In 1995, one of his bombs killed Gil Murray, Forestry '75.

Note (4/6/07): California magazine's online edition now lists an Editor's note, which is much appreciated:

A regrettable inclusion: Due to an editing error in the Centennial issue, Ted Kazcynski, the infamous Unabomber, was inadvertently included in the roll of exemplary Berkeley alums. While Kazcynski was an assistant Berkeley professor for two years, he did not attend Cal. Moreover, we regret the error and sincerely apologize to anyone we offended, particularly the family, friends and colleagues of his victims.

In tribute to Murray, who was much loved by fellow alumni and the forestry community, we reprint two obituaries here:

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Recent Posts

Video: Sudden Oak Death expert on KQED Quest
Bees keep her busy as a, well, a bee
Forestry Student’s Senior Project Applies New Technology to Old Data
Kyle Dukart and Matt Fratus Receive CNR’s Staff Recognition Award
Professor Bob Buchanan Receives Career Achievement Award
Professor David Zilberman and Board Member Jim Lugg Honored with CNR Citation
Assistant Professor Auffhammer Receives CNR Young Faculty/CE Specialist Award
Turning back the demographic hands of time for an endangered species
Increased production of biofuels might help farmers & address climate change, but it could inflate food prices
Editorial: Unabomber has no place on list of alumni who "excelled"

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