College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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December 19, 2008

Three CNR faculty members named AAAS Fellows

Three faculty members at the UC Berkeley College of Natural Resources have been named 2008 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society.

The researchers, along with eight others from UC Berkeley are among 486 new AAAS fellows to be named tomorrow in the Dec. 19 issue of the organization's journal, Science. The honor, bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers, recognizes distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

With this announcement, UC Berkeley now boasts 216 AAAS fellows among its faculty.

The new fellows and their citations are:

Steven E. Brenner, associate professor of plant and microbial biology, for computational biology research in the area of protein and structure classification, service to professional societies, co-founding of PLoS Computational Biology, teaching and committee work.

Louise P. Fortmann, professor of society and environment, for distinguished contributions to research on agro-forestry and ecological systems through the field of rural sociology, including research improving successful collaboration between professional scientists and public communities.

Elizabeth C. Theil, adjunct professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology, for pioneering contributions to bioinorganic and nucleic acid chemistry that changed accepted views, particularly for iron and oxygen in ferritin protein nanocages and mRNA regulation.

The AAAS will present the new fellows with a gold and blue rosette pin and an official certificate on Feb. 14, 2009, at the society's annual meeting in Chicago.

The society was founded in 1848, and includes some 262 affiliated societies and academies of science serving 10 million individuals. The tradition of AAAS fellows, who are chosen by their peers, began in 1874.

December 12, 2008

Study Underscores Impact of Court Imposed Water Pumping Restrictions

A study prepared by Berkeley Economic Consulting, under the direction of David Sunding, professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics, outlines the statewide economic and water supply implications of ongoing water pumping restrictions imposed by federal courts in California to protect the Delta smelt. In early December, 2008, environmental and sport-fishing groups filed suit to force the complete and total shutdown of delta water pumping operations.

According to the study, statewide economic impacts can exceed $1 billion per year during drought years such as those currently facing the state, and may well exceed $3 billion should the state enter a prolonged dry period. Additionally, the report documents the severe water supply implications of the Court's orders. Even during average and wet periods the Court imposed restrictions exacerbate ongoing drought conditions by limiting the ability of water managers to replenish water storage facilities and groundwater reserves. The net result is a significant additional blow to the state economy and a greatly reduced ability to respond to severe drought and other emergencies.

"The export restrictions imposed in a effort to conserve the Delta smelt clearly add significant new risks to California's water supply system," said Sunding. "The water pumping restrictions not only worsen the current drought, they also ensure that water rationing, fallowed farm land and economic dislocation will be the norm. The study highlights the unsustainable nature of the state's current water system. Rather than a series of court-imposed restrictions aimed at individual species, California would benefit from a more comprehensive fix for the delta."

Sustaining the Harvest: Creating Fine Wines on a Warming Planet

On Dec. 11, CNR hosted "Creating Fine Wines on a Warming Planet," a panel discussion on the future of the wine industry in the face of global warming. The panel featured College faculty Miguel Altieri, professor of agroecology, and Kent Daane, CE specialist in insect biology, as well as industry experts David Graves, co-founder of Saintsbury Vineyard, and Caleb Mosley, viticulturist at Ridge Vineyards. The panel discussion was followed by a special wine-tasting event.

Panel Miguel Altieri Wine Tasting

Panelists discussed current practices in and research on traditional, organic and biodynamic agriculture. They also assessed vineyard responses to scarce water, fluctuating fuel costs, pests and changing weather patterns, all of which will have enormous impacts on California's wine industry as the climate warms.

Continue reading "Sustaining the Harvest: Creating Fine Wines on a Warming Planet" »

December 3, 2008

Broccoli compound targets key enzyme in late-stage cancer

An anti-cancer compound found in broccoli and cabbage works by lowering the activity of an enzyme associated with rapidly advancing breast cancer, according to a study released in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Indole-3-carbinol, or I3C, is a chemical compound found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables and which is known to stop the growth of breast cancer cells. UC Berkeley researchers' discovery of how I3C works will help them modify the compound to improve its anti-cancer effects.

The new findings are the first to explain how indole-3-carbinol (I3C) stops cell growth, and thus provides the basis for designing improved versions of the chemical that would be more effective as a drug and could work against a broader range of breast as well as prostate tumors.

"This is a major breakthrough in trying to understand what the specific targets of these natural products are," said coauthor Leonard Bjeldanes, UC Berkeley professor of toxicology. "The field is awash with different results in various cells, but no real identification of a specific molecular target for these substances. The beauty of identifying the target like this is that it suggests further studies that could augment the activity of this type of molecule and really specify uses for specific cancers."

Continue reading "Broccoli compound targets key enzyme in late-stage cancer" »

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Three CNR faculty members named AAAS Fellows
Study Underscores Impact of Court Imposed Water Pumping Restrictions
Sustaining the Harvest: Creating Fine Wines on a Warming Planet
Broccoli compound targets key enzyme in late-stage cancer

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