Posts byBSR Web Team

Staff Listing-Fall 2020

Editor in Chief Hayley McCausland Editors Erin Akins Katie Deets Maya Emmons-Bell Sierra Lear Nanticha Lutt Emma Regan Andrew Saintsing Copy Editors April Myers Julianne Pelaez Managing Editor Andrew Saintsing Art Director Santiago Yori Restrepo Designers Brittany Daws Natalie Goh Emily Gonthier Gautam Gunjala Allison Hung Johan Jaenisch Emily Meschke Shannon O’Brien Julia Torvi Meghan
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No birds and bees with the EDCs

Plastic products are everywhere, and we’re constantly exposed to the chemicals that make plastic so useful. Many plastics contain endocrine-, or hormone-, disrupting chemicals (EDCs), such as bisphenol A (BPA), which commonly lines food and drink containers. EDCs can alter fertility with chronic exposure, but acute effects are not well studied. Polina Lishko’s lab in
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From the field

Last winter, I drove from my home in Oakland to Bishop, California to meet up with a back-country cowboy ecologist who would accompany me in my search for snoozing bats. Along the border between California and Nevada, a large population of Townsend’s big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii) use the cool, humid mine shafts within the White-Inyo
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Faculty profile: Rediet Abebe

“What we do here as computer scientists affects real people. Our work comes with a huge responsibility,” explains Rediet Abebe, an incoming assistant professor of computer science at UC Berkeley. Abebe tackles problems of social segregation and disparate access to health information—issues typically studied by sociologists, not computer scientists. Her work is interdisciplinary, and even
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Faculty profile: Zak Al Balushi

Zak Al Balushi, Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley, has been coaxing atoms into nanoscale patterns, called crystal structures, since he was an undergraduate student. Materials made from the same elements can have dramatically different properties based on how the atoms are arranged. Consider carbon: if the atoms are organized in
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Faculty profile: Samantha Lewis

As a first-year undergraduate student at Oregon State University, Samantha Lewis discovered a passion for life sciences after enrolling in a developmental biology course to fulfill a requirement for her chemical engineering major. Lewis recalls, “It was so interesting that I wanted to know everything. It completely changed my world view.” Soon after, Lewis transferred
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From the editor

Dear Readers, This is my ninth issue with the Berkeley Science Review over the course of more than four years. With every issue, I am more impressed by the talent and diverse skill set of our team. None of us are professional writers or graphic artists. We are all scientists. But we want to make
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Toolbox: Putting corona on ice

The 2011 film Contagion became a popular streaming choice in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was lauded as a realistic depiction of the deadly fallout from a new virus that spreads through respiratory droplets. But David Kern, a postdoc in Steve Brohawn’s lab in the molecular and cell biology department at UC
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Build-a-Brain

To tackle questions about the influence of nature versus nurture, some neuroscientists ask why our perceptions of the world are so similar. Is it due to how our brains are wired? Or is it contingent upon having similar visual experiences? At UC Berkeley, the Cognitive Neuroanatomy Lab (CNL), led by Dr. Kevin Weiner, links genetics,
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Measuring gravity goes mobile

Professor Holger Müller’s research group in UC Berkeley’s Department of Physics uses atom interferometry to precisely measure the Earth’s gravitational pull, quantified by the acceleration of objects falling to the ground. For rocket scientists, using 9.8 meters per second squared as the value of gravity might be good enough, but the exact value depends on
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PPE to the PPEople

To handle surges of COVID-19 patients, hospitals must have enough medical supplies. But anticipating which hospitals will need more supplies is like trying to predict the future. Professor Bin Yu’s research group in the Departments of Statistics and Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences is designing effective ways to predict which counties are going to have
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From the field

It’s a baking-hot day in June 2019, and I’m crouched on the floor of a boat, rocking gently with the waves of the San Francisco Bay. I watch as USGS Geologist Dave Schoellhamer rubs mud between his fingers. “This has been my whole career,” he says of the wet slurry. I’m here to learn from
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Social synchrony

There may be some scientific truth behind the feeling of being in sync with someone. Human studies suggest that brain activity between two people becomes synchronized as they interact. But collecting data from humans is difficult because scientists cannot easily measure their individual neurons and rarely observe human subjects interacting in a natural environment. To
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What our ancient neighbors were eating

Species evolve in response to changes in their environment, and human beings are no exception. To better understand the changing environment that our ancestors inhabited, a team of researchers from the Human Evolutionary Research Center (HERC) at UC Berkeley is currently analyzing fossils of animals that lived in close proximity to ancestral humans between 100,000
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Toolbox: A drop in the chaotic soup

Phase separation sounds complicated but is a familiar idea. Think of oil and vinegar. When a dissolved substance has stronger interactions with itself than with its environment, nature favors a separation of the two into different phases, producing the familiar droplets we enjoy on our greens. The same thing happens within a cell: when certain molecules
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Historical DNA is bound to repeat itself

Let’s dive into our genomes. Each of us carries 2 meters of DNA in every cell, which in turn carries the information that makes us all unique. However, some regions in the genome are extremely tricky to navigate and decipher. These regions contain many genetic repeats, which confuse current DNA sequence analysis technologies, making them
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Coculturing color

Antibiotics are potent drugs used to combat bacterial infections, saving countless lives and revolutionizing modern medicine. Most people are surprised to hear that nearly all antimicrobials—a broader term that encompasses antibiotics, antifungals, antiparasitics, and antivirals—were discovered in plants, fungi, and bacteria. One major source of naturally occurring antimicrobials is a genus of soil-dwelling bacteria called
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Bomb-sniffing viruses

If you hang around the Berkeley campus long enough, you’re destined to go head-to-head with a wild turkey. You might see the turkey’s head change color—from blue to white to red. When a turkey gets stressed, its heart rate increases and blood vessels dilate, which pushes apart collagen fibers in the skin. This response changes
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From the field: A song of ice and fungus

Warping the reflected sky like an antique window, brimming waters spilled generously over mounds of emerald green cushion plants. My field team navigated the wetland, 5,400 meters above sea level in Peru’s Cordillera Vilcanota, with careful tread. Misstep, and we could plunge meters deep into the ice-cold chasms between the giant cushions. The blinding white
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From the editor

Dear Readers, People occasionally ask me: why does the Berkeley Science Review still print magazines instead of relying on its online presence? After taking on the role of Editor in Chief last December, I started to really think about that question. Why do we cherish our printed magazine, and is it actually better than only
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Staff Listing, Spring 2019

Editor in Chief Katie Deets Editors Maya Emmons-Bell Tim Jeffers Ankit Kumar Nanticha Lutt Dat Mai Hayley McCausland Anna Waldo Copy Editors April Myers Emma Regan Managing Editor Hayley McCausland Art Director Nicole Repina Designers Mohini Bariya Emily Gonthier Dana Goodacre Gautam Gunjala Tim Jeffers Mackenzie Kirchner-Smith Liz Lawler Alexandra Ramsey Nicole Repina Matthew Stefely
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Toolbox: #Scicomm

Want to stay up with the latest science? Try Twitter. Twitter is social media’s scientific hub, where scientists share findings, explore controversy, and have fun. Professors, graduate students, heads of major funding sources, biotech companies, and more are all on Twitter. Even if you aren’t a scientist, Twitter is a great place for anyone to
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Book review – How to Change Your Mind

Meditation, prayer, and even yoga have been hailed by practitioners as stimuli for spiritual awakenings. Michael Pollan, however, tackles a more controversial spiritual catalyst in his most recent book How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. By recounting the history, neuroscience, and
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From the field

I stepped out of the airport in Entebbe, Uganda, and a wave of the most humid air I’ve ever felt swept over me. My legs were still wobbly from 24 hours of travel, and I was dragging a large suitcase packed full of pipette tips, sterile filters, conical tubes, and lab manuals. With a team
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