College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

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April 30, 2012

VIDEO: Farm Bill Panel Packs Wheeler Auditorium

Pollan165.jpgThe United States farm bill is up for renewal this year, and what goes into the $400 billion, 5,000-plus page piece of legislation will affect what tens of millions of Americans eat — and don’t eat — in the coming years.

On April 5, UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources fired off an enlightening salvo in the public discourse, with a panel of heavy hitters calling on the public to let their voices be heard in the quest to, as panelist Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, put it, “move farmers and eaters closer together.”

Read the summary, which includes video of the presentations and Q&A.

Watch the video.

April 23, 2012

Ned Birdsall, ERG Co-Founder, Dies at 86

From The New York Times Classifieds Marketplace

birdsall.sm.jpgCharles K. (Ned) Birdsall, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, died March 6, 2012. He was 86. Born in 1925 in Manhattan, Ned Birdsall graduated from the University of Michigan with bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering, and received his PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1951. His early work on microwave tubes led to 27 patents and election to Fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) at the age of 36.

In 1959 Ned joined the Electrical Engineering Department at UC Berkeley. During his long academic career Ned became known as a pioneering inventor and educator whose contributions to plasma science have made lasting impacts on communications and other technologies. Among numerous awards, Ned was selected as the inaugural recipient for the IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award in 2011. At UC Berkeley Ned helped create two groups: the Plasma Theory and Simulation Group, and the Energy and Resources Group. Ned was awarded the Berkeley Citation in 1991.

Outside his professional life, Ned was known for his love of hiking, skiing and long-distance running. Ned is survived by Ginger, his wife of 30 years, daughter Barbara Hagen of Bend, OR, son Tom Birdsall of San Francisco, son John Birdsall of Yountville, CA; Ginger's daughter Michele Proffitt of Modesto, CA; son Andrew Pletcher of Capitola, CA and daughter Sandra Glendinning of Alameda, CA; along with eight grandchildren and one great- grandchild. He was preceded in death by daughters Anne and Beth.

Continue reading "Ned Birdsall, ERG Co-Founder, Dies at 86" »

April 20, 2012

ESPM Faculty and Students Receive Notable Campus Awards

ESPM faculty and students were included in major campus honors this spring in addition to recently announced Sarlo and Graduate Assembly mentoring honors.

The Chancellor’s Awards for Public Service

Each year, the Chancellor recognizes students, staff, faculty and community partnerships that embody UC Berkeley’s proud tradition of public service and commitment to improving our local and global community.

Two recipients of this year’s Chancellor’s Awards for Public Service are members of the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management: Associate Professor Rachel Morello-Frosch for Research in the Public Interest, and PhD Candidate Lara Roman for the Graduate Student Award for Civic Engagement.

The Awards Ceremony will take place on April 30, 2012, 3-5:30pm in the Sibley Auditorium. More information can be found here.

Jenna Cavelle, CRS Major, Receives the Judith Lee Stronach Baccalaureate Prize

Conservation and Resource Studies major Jenna Cavelle was named a recipient of the 2012 Judith Lee Stronach Prize. The prize supports intellectual and creative pursuits that heighten awareness of issues of social consciousness and the public good. The award gives bright, ambitious students the opportunity to extend and reflect upon their undergraduate work at Berkeley by undertaking a special project after their graduation. Winning projects are creative in the broadest sense, explore themes of significant interest to holders of the prize, and strive to further understanding of what constitutes humane and effective participation in our worldwide community.

Ten ESPM Graduate Students Receive Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award

The Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award gives campus-wide recognition to those GSIs who have demonstrated excellence in teaching. In addition to certificates of distinction and a celebratory ceremony in the spring, award recipients will receive a $250 stipend, sponsored by the Dean of the Graduate Division to applaud outstanding GSIs.

Congratulations to ESPM’s Outstanding GSIs:
Laura Dane
Virginia Emery
Shasta Ferranto (Discovery Course Program)
Ted Grudin
Matt Hughes
Alice Kelly
Ellen Kersten
Misha Leong
Albie Miles
Seth Shonkoff

The awards ceremony and reception will take place on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at the International House, Chevron Auditorium, 3:30- 5:00 pm.

Read it at the source.

April 18, 2012

History is Key Factor in Plant Disease, Study Finds

By Ann Brody Guy

The virulence of plant-borne diseases depends on not just the particular strain of a pathogen, but on where the pathogen has been before landing in its host, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA ARS).

SOD_2_305pix.jpg
The sudden oak death pathogen infects a bay leaf tree. Photo: Doug Schmidt, Garbelotto Lab, UC Berkeley.

The study demonstrates that the pattern of gene regulation—how a cell determines which genes it will express and how it will express them—rather than gene make-up alone affects how aggressively a microbe will behave in a plant host. The pattern of gene regulation is formed by past environments, or by an original host plant from which the pathogen is transmitted.

“If confirmed, this finding could add a key new dimension to how we look at microbes because their history is going to matter and their history may be hard to reconstruct,” said Matteo Garbelotto, an adjunct professor of environmental science, policy and management at UC Berkeley and corresponding author of the study.

Continue reading "History is Key Factor in Plant Disease, Study Finds" »

April 13, 2012

Nomura Named Searle Scholar

Nomura_crop_200pix_PaulKirchnerStudios.jpg
Daniel Nomura, an assistant professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, is one of only 15 United States researchers in the chemical and biological sciences to be named a 2012 Searle Scholar. Each will be awarded $300,000 to support his or her work during the next three years.

Nomura's research focuses on understanding how influencing metabolic pathways can treat disease; he has already published results in treating brain inflammation and cancer.

This year, 186 applications were considered from recently appointed assistant professors, nominated by 125 universities and research institutions. The final selection of scholars was based on recommendations made by the program’s Scientific Advisory Board consisting of 12 scientists distinguished for their research and leadership across a wide range of fields.

In selecting the Scholars, the Scientific Advisory Board looked for scientists who have already demonstrated innovative research with the potential for making significant contributions to chemical and biological research over an extended period of time.

Read the Searle Scholars Program press release.

Photo: Paul Kirchner Studios

April 12, 2012

California Advocates For Healthy Food in U.S. Farm Bill

Katrina Schwartz, KQED State of Health blog

The U.S. Farm Bill is up for reauthorization in Congress this year and California food and health advocates are eager to use the opportunity to shift national policy towards healthier eating, which would also benefit California farmers.

A panel of food experts that included Michael Pollan, author of bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma, and Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture packed an auditorium at U.C. Berkeley Thursday evening.

Budget cuts in Washington D.C. emerged as a big theme. Every panelist recognized the need to play defense in order to keep money in the bill for important programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps. Currently, 77 percent of the money in the Farm Bill goes to support food and nutrition programs like SNAP. “One in five of our citizens find themselves food insecure in a month or a year,” said Karen Ross referring to California specifically. “And it’s ironic that we have that need in a state that’s the number one producer of so many of those crops,” she continued.

Continue reading "California Advocates For Healthy Food in U.S. Farm Bill" »

April 5, 2012

Peluso and Iles Honored for Mentoring

Nancy Peluso, a professor in the Department of Environment Science, Policy, and Management (ESPM), has won the Graduate Division’s 2012 Sarlo Graduate Student Mentoring Award for Senior Faculty.

Alastair Iles, also of ESPM, has won the Graduate Assembly’s Distinguished Faculty Mentor Award.

“Nominated by inspired colleagues and graduate students, the award recipients have excelled both at encouraging UC Berkeley graduate students to pursue new ideas creatively and at helping them to succeed academically and professionally,” said an email signed by 
faculty vice provost Janet Broughton,
 Graduate Division dean Andrew Szeri, and Graduate Assembly president Bahar Navab.

A full list of the winners can be found here. They will be honored at a public awards ceremony from 4 to 6 p.m. April 18 in Tan Hall.

The Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Awards recognize UC Berkeley faculty for their vital role in mentoring graduate students and training future faculty. The awards are sponsored by a grant from The Sarlo Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

The UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly Faculty Mentor Award, now in its eighth year, honors members of the Berkeley faculty and teaching staff who have shown an outstanding commitment to mentoring, advising, and generally supporting graduate students.

-Ann Brody Guy

Outbreak, the Game

Sarah C.P. Williams, Science Now

You're sitting at lunch when your friend hands you a note with some bad news: You've been infected with Muizenberg Mathematical Fever (MMF). Are you going to get sick? Will you die? To find out, you visit a website that reveals the severity of your infection and how many people you'll infect. As the outbreak spreads among your colleagues, some report to the health clinic. Others go untreated. Fortunately for you, this is all a simulation. It's part of a new game designed to teach students the complexity of data generated by outbreaks.

MMF is the brainchild of Steve Bellan, an ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in the epidemiology of wildlife diseases like anthrax, and Juliet Pulliam of the University of Florida, Gainesville. The pair teaches at the annual Clinic on the Meaningful Modeling of Epidemiological Data (MMED) in South Africa, a 2-week program designed to provide mathematicians—mostly from around Africa—with broad lessons about epidemiology.

The mathematicians, Bellan says, are topnotch, but often don't have a lot of training in study design and infectious disease data analysis. Mathematical models of infectious diseases play an important role in informing public health policy. But modelers should consider questions like "How are patients who report symptoms different from those who hide them?" or "Were some people more likely to be included in the study than others?" Ignoring these aspects of the data can lead to major biases and misleading models. The program aims to teach these concepts along with mathematical modeling and, most importantly, how they both fit into the big picture of epidemiological research, Bellan says. The clinic has been going on for 4 years, and last year he and Pulliam developed the MMF simulation as a teaching tool.

Continue reading "Outbreak, the Game" »

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VIDEO: Farm Bill Panel Packs Wheeler Auditorium
Ned Birdsall, ERG Co-Founder, Dies at 86
ESPM Faculty and Students Receive Notable Campus Awards
History is Key Factor in Plant Disease, Study Finds
Nomura Named Searle Scholar
California Advocates For Healthy Food in U.S. Farm Bill
Peluso and Iles Honored for Mentoring
Outbreak, the Game

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