Senator Simitian

What UC Berkeley is worth to California

In the course of a March discussion in the State Capitol about the Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry, which is exploring the development and use of safe chemicals as well as ways to impact public policy, State Senator Joe Simitian had some specific things to say about UC Berkeley’s immense value to California’s economy.

Cal Day is April 16

Since it’s an open house, Cal Day is a chance to see parts of the campus you haven’t wandered into before, many with guides, demonstrations, exhibits, and more. Got kids? There are activities for all ages.

Travel warning: Japan

Please be advised that the University of California Education Abroad Programs (UCEAP) in Japan have been suspended and travel assistance providers are assisting students with arrangements to return to the U.S. Please also be aware that the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning last night.

Rankings: Berkeley’s not only super, it’s the greenest

UC Berkeley is a member of a totally informal yet stratospherically exclusive club, an elite “supergroup” of six universities worldwide that are regarded head and shoulders above the rest of the throng. (The others are Harvard, MIT, Cambridge, Stanford, and Oxford.)

Most life on Earth to perish — again?

Is Earth heading into a sixth mass extinction? A team of UC Berkeley professors and graduate students think it may well be. But it may be possible to stop short of the tipping point.

How’s your emotional intelligence?

[slidepress gallery=’emotional_intelligence’] You’re smart. You can read text in high volume and analytically. But: Can you read people? Can you tell, from what’s written on someone’s face, whether they’re showing anger or fear? If they’re sad or embarrassed? Happy? Lusty?  Disdainful? … Continued


Newts are cavorting in the Botanical Garden

It’s what they do in spring: two species of western newt — the California and rough-skin varieties — flock to the UC Botanical Garden’s scenic Japanese Pool (where they probably were born) to swim, socialize, have amphibious sex, and watch the people who pause to observe them.

Andrew Szeri began serving as Dean of the Graduate Division on July 1st, 2007.

A look behind the curtain at the GRE

The Graduate Record Examinations General Test has been a milestone for many of us in the graduate community. A revised test will debut this coming August. How will it look to your college-bound younger siblings?

Graduate Funding Opportunities – February/March

Featured: a selection of fellowships and grants with application deadlines approaching in the next few months — among them, the Fernström Fellowship, the Jim Fahey Safe Homes for Women Fellowship, the Brookings Predoctoral Research Fellowship, the Rotary Scholarship Grant for Graduate Studies, and the CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Fellowship.

A quick guide to fellowships

A distillation of facts and advice from the Graduate Fellowships Office staff, tips that might save you time as you embark on your quest for funding.

Ken Thompson

Impatience helped produce Unix — and, eventually, some big honors

It only took 40-some years, but Unix pioneers Ken Thompson (a Berkeley alum) and Dennis Ritchie have waited — and continued to breathe — long enough to receive a major international honor for their creation. They were announced in January as 2011 recipients of the Japan Prize.

Berkeley at Night

Cal’s night safety program gets an upgrade

This spring, the campus has relaunched BearWALK, the night safety service, “reinvigorated with interactive and automated technology.”  The enhancements are automated dispatch and a “live map” with shuttle tracking by GPS.

Empowering Women of Color for 26 years

Clearly not a flash in the pan, the Empowering Women of Color Conference will hold its 26th iteration on Saturday, February 19, in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. Keynote speakers are Angela Davis, Ericka Huggins, and Dylcia Pagán. Includes workshops, panels, plus vendors, food, performances, and music a-plenty. Admission: free to UC Berkeley students with IDs.

InfoCamp Logo

Coming in March: an information ‘unconference’

On March 5 and 6, the School of Information is hosting an egalitarian, community-driven gathering called InfoCamp Berkeley, which it’s billing as an “unconference” on information issues and opportunities.

BIO Workshop

A new workshop series for international students

All members of the Berkeley community are welcome to attend a new series of workshops presented by the Berkeley International Office this spring. It’s called The International Student Experience at Berkeley: Pathways to Personal and Academic Success. Workshop titles include “Popular Culture: Why is Everything Super-sized?”, “History of Berkeley”, “Do You Speak American?”, and more.

A new summer institute on energy in Livermore

Sandia’s Summer Institute: Technology and Policy Tools for Energy in an Uncertain World is a new cross-discipline week-long research program for top graduate students from the nation’s premier universities. Twenty select graduate students will collaborate in small teams, working side-by-side with leading scientists from Sandia. Participants will develop new career skills by solving challenging problems in a fast-paced, collegial work environment.

Call for papers: USAID competition on reducing urban poverty

Abstracts are due February 20, 2011, for a paper competition the U.S. Agency for International Development is co-hosting with the World Bank, the Cities Alliance, the International Housing Coalition, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. The contest is targeted at advanced … Continued

Through the rough times

I welcome you heartily, if somberly, to the Spring 2011 semester at UC Berkeley.

As no doubt you’re aware from media reports, the Berkeley campus and the UC system as a whole foresee a period ahead of continued austerity. It’s realistic, if small comfort, to view our situation as part of the challenge our nation, and California, face in a time that has been labeled accurately the Great Recession.

Reminder: to honor your mentors, nominate them now!

Every year, the Graduate Division and the Graduate Assembly team up to call public attention to the exemplary and caring assistance individual faculty members have provided, above and beyond the call of duty, to their students. As the culmination of … Continued


Graduate Funding Opportunities – January/February

The opportunities listed by name only were announced previously. (Links to applications and other details are available in an earlier post.)  Recently received listings are posted below. SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowships – 1/29 deadline RWTH Aachen University Summer Research Fellowships … Continued

A springful of workshops on teaching

Here is the the GSI Teaching & Resource Center’s spring schedule of Workshops on Teaching, a professional development series for GSIs. These workshops cover a wide variety of topics related to university teaching and the GSI experience. The purpose of … Continued

Chemistry, 1980 or thereabouts

The trip back to 1980 (or so) in this photo is fascinating enough. It takes us right into the clothing and hair styles of the era, and the equipment, and the scientists’ oneness with with the … Continued

Optometry’s cheerful greeter

This jolly bronze of optometry pioneer Meredith Morgan, seasonally attired at the end of last year, is normally capless — but equally genial — as it stands at eye level, day in and day out, in the lobby/reception area of the School of Optometry’s Minor Hall clinic.

Berkeley graduate students have many outlets to showcase their work

Connecting with Energy For the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC), the word “collaborative” is key. The graduate-student-led organization brings together people across campus — in the sciences, business, law, and policy — to address pressing energy and natural resource … Continued

Safeguarding your academic integrity

In conversation with some graduate students recently, they encouraged me to address an important if unpleasant subject: academic misconduct — cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, facilitation of academic dishonesty, misrepresentation in records, etc. (Some categories and examples are discussed online.) My hope is … Continued

AIF Fellowship

Upcoming Graduate Funding Opportunities

Find out more about the Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship, SRC Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowships, NRC Research Associate Awards, Founder Region Fellowship, EbenTisdale Fellowship and Dell Thurmond Woodard Fellowship, and the Phi Beta Kappa Graduate Fellowships.


Stay Safe and Prevent Campus Theft: UCPD’s Winter Break Tips

The change in campus activity during the curtailment period affects how you need to think about safety. If you see something suspicious, call the police immediately using the non-emergency number, 510-642-6760. For emergency situations—any imminent threat to life or property—make an emergency call from campus, by dialing 9-1-1 from any landline phone, or 510-642-3333 from a cell phone.

Una Fellowship

A duo of recipients for Una’s Fellowship

At the Faculty Club in November, two quiet ceremonies took place on different evenings, virtually out of the campus eye, but united by history and an unusual item of neckware. Each marked the presentation of the Una Fellowship, given to an outstanding woman graduate student in the field of history to “foster the spirit of inquiry and individuality” so characteristic of the woman for whom the fellowship is named, Una Smith Ross.

Sather Gate with Cal Colors

And Lo, there was light

The ostensible reason was to help boost spirit during Big Game Week, but given the outcome in the stadium we’ll maintain the illusion that the special lighting on the Campanile, the University Library, and Sather Gate was there to foreshadow holiday cheer.

Susan Desmond-Hellmann

The head of UCSF, a Cal alum, is named in a fierce Top Ten list

The chancellor of UC-San Francisco since mid-2009, Susan Desmond-Hellmann, a Berkeley alumna (M.P.H.’88) who already has a passel of distinctions, has been named by the daily industry newsletter Fierce Biotech as one of the Top Ten Women in Biotech.

Michael P. Wilson, (M.P.H. ’98, Ph.D. ’03) Wins Coveted Switzer Prize

Michael P. Wilson has been a member of the Switzer Network since receiving a Switzer Foundation fellowship in 2002. He is on the cutting edge of the emerging field of green chemistry. A product of the environmental health sciences program at the School of Public Health (M.P.H. ’98, Ph.D. ’03), he has been a research scientist at the school’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Health since receiving his doctorate.


Inside the evolution of Jazzee

A sea change will take place over the next year in the way the Berkeley campus deals with the thousands of graduate student applications it receives.

The process of taking in the annual avalanche of “apps” and then reviewing and making decisions on them is complex, and has been that way for a long, long time.

Berkeley-Taiwan Partnership

Berkeley and Taiwan form an educational partnership

The China Post, a major English-language daily newspaper published in Taiwan, led the news this way: “The No. 1 public research university in the United States recently sealed an unprecedented cooperative partnership with 15 academic institutions in Taiwan to increase the international experience and exposure of talented local humanities and social sciences scholars through government-sponsored graduate studies.”

Emmanuel Saez, Economist

Two more “geniuses” for Berkeley

Thanks to two young faculty members — and, of course, the MacArthur Foundation — the already-sizeable total of active Berkeley campus MacArthur “genius” Fellows grew to 32 at the end of September.

Engaging Graduate Alumni

Graduate alumni are pursuing the most astonishing array of careers, and it’s a pleasure for Dean of the Graduate Division Andrew Szeri to interact with them, especially given their warm feelings for their alma mater—UC Berkeley.


Threesomes get noticed

Two trios of grad students made the news recently, not for their trinity but for the interesting work they’ve been doing in very different fields. Three journalism students each made 26-minute documentaries as their master’s theses, and all three were … Continued

UC Berkeley among top of recently released NRC rankings

The National Research Council’s Data Based Assessment of Research Doctorate Programs has been released. Berkeley did very well in the assessment, with illustrative rankings that put many of our programs at or near the top.

Steven Chu

Berkeley tops the list of new DOE Graduate Fellowships recipients

With 19 out of 150 fellowships awarded — over an eighth of the total, more than any other university — UC Berkeley welcomes the lion’s share of students in energy studies across its college and departments who will be studying here for up to three years, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy.

GSAOs — A Resource For Your Success

If you are a student who is new to campus — welcome! If you are filing a thesis or dissertation this month — congratulations!

Progress report: two down, one nearly up, and one to go

On its journey to a new building, the School of Public Health has vacated its ancestral headquarters (Warren Hall) and watched (from temporary space in University Hall and elsewhere on campus) as that timeworn structure was obliterated (in 2007) and … Continued

Steven Chu

Energy Secretary advances nano science in spare time

Apparently the most-Berkeley person in the Obama cabinet, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu (former director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley Ph.D. ’76), makes scientific contributions, and news, even while he takes it easy. “In his down time, often while flying somewhere,” reported AP science writer Seth Borenstein, Chu “relaxes by tackling a scientific conundrum and stretching the limits of technology.”

Karl Brown

Energy-efficiency expert (and grad alum) Karl Brown is a champ

An instrument box mounted in the depths of a campus classroom and office building is hardly a headline-grabbing weapon against climate change. But because buildings are estimated to be responsible for nearly half of all greenhouse-gas emissions, cutting-edge monitoring systems … Continued

Graduate students drive UC research and help keep top faculty

Julie Kang, a psychology graduate student at UC Riverside, stated the case more baldly than most: “Without graduate students, (the university) quite honestly would come to a screeching halt.” A troupe of graduate division deans and graduate students from each … Continued

Rube Goldberg Machine

The Berkeley underpinnings of Google’s July 4th salute

The world’s best-known search engine varies its logo playfully on its homepage on holidays and whenever it feels like it. This Fourth of July, it featured the basic DNA of a Rube Goldberg device. One of the country’s most popular cartoonists, Goldberg started here, in the first issues of Cal’s best-known and longest-lasting humor magazine, the California Pelican, which was founded in 1903 and survived, amusing and outraging people for eight decades, give or take.

More than 270 GSIs are singled out for the quality of their teaching

276 GSIs from 61 graduate programs were granted this recognition, which is now just over a decade old. The award recognizes the excellence of their teaching. Selections are made according to detailed guidelines, following criteria which may include skills in presenting course materials, capacity to promote critical thinking, and skills in developing course materials that promote learning, as well as evidence such as evaluations by students, letters of nomination by faculty or students, and classroom observation by faculty.

Creative—and effective—solutions win honors for 11 GSIs

The Graduate Division’s Teaching Effectiveness Awards were presented May 13 in the Women’s Faculty Club. The winners identified a teaching/learning problem in their own classes, laboratories, and sections, then came up with a method, strategy, or idea to address the problem, implemented it, measured its effectiveness, and described the process in an essay. Their essays become part of a permanent archive.

Love among the technically-inclined

Juliet Holwill had clearly come to trust her fellow UC Berkeley engineering grad student and fellow Aussie Ben Rubinstein, because one sunny September day in 2006 she let him pick her up in a car, blindfold her, and drive her … Continued

Graduation season — A cause for celebration

Graduation season, like a compass, is marked with a series of degrees. But the word “graduation” seems too, well, gradual for what actually happens when the campus blossoms with academic regalia, floral (and currency!) leis, and smiling relatives from all over the planet.

Grad apps increase

Top quality graduate students flock to UC Berkeley despite budget woes

Despite a budget shortfall, hiring freeze and higher fees, the University of California, Berkeley, continues to attract more and higher quality graduate students, according to new data from the campus’s Graduate Division.

By far, students say their top reasons to come to UC Berkeley include the chance to work with distinguished faculty and to earn their degrees from world-class graduate programs.

Photo of Ellie Schindelman

Ellie Schindelman

Earlier, the “prize patrol” had (also with GSI connivance) snuck into a computer-lab setting on the third floor of Haviland Hall, where public health lecturer Ellie Schindelman was team-teaching a class on using video for public health leadership and advocacy.

Three grad alumni are among 2010′s Cal Alumni Association honorees

Each spring the Cal Alumni Association celebrates the University of California birthday — the anniversary of its founding — with a traditional banquet known as the Charter Gala. This year’s event took place April 24 in San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building. The 2010 award recipients include three alumni with Cal graduate degrees.

Walter Wood

A Berkeley prof will use the sun to power student housing in Buffalo, N.Y.

Walter Hood recently won a public art competition to design a planned solar energy array at the North Campus of the University of Buffalo in New York. Hood, a 20-year member of Berkeley’s landscape architecture faculty, earned two graduate degrees here (M.L.A. ’89, and M. Arch. ’89).

Richard A. Muller, Ph.D.

Three of the world’s most popular online course lectures are by UC Berkeley professors

Three of the world’s most popular online course lectures — as measured by view-counts of the videos thereof, posted on the video giant YouTube on April 1 of this year — are by UC Berkeley professors, and all three of those have Berkeley degrees. In fact, they have seven Berkeley degrees among the trio, five at the graduate level.

Research and educational opportunities outside California

Summer is here! Maybe you’re planning to leave campus over the summer for research or other educational pursuits? If so, then my never-too-frequent admonition about travel insurance is called for. Many of you will be traveling over the summer, while … Continued

Gary Sposito “ambushed” with honors

Environmental Science, Policy and Management professor Gary Sposito is not fond of having his picture taken. When a friendly deputation (including his GSIs and departmental chair, colleagues, and staff and, oh, God, a photographer) invaded his Wheeler Hall classroom earlier this month to surprise him with an honor, his first impulse was to cross his arms in front of his face, not like a perp-walked mob boss, but more reminiscent of an exhausted exorcist facing the ultimate evil.

2009 Sarlo Award

Two Superb Mentors Get Their Due at Berkeley

For the last three years, there’s been a new way to honor faculty mentors at Berkeley. Called the Sarlo Distinguished Graduate Student Mentoring Award, it honors faculty for all the ways they help graduate students — not only in research, … Continued

Student Profile: Rachel Preminger

Rachel Preminger fell in love with classics during a required humanities course as a first-year student at Reed College. “The lessons you learn are so portable,” she says. “It’s not about memorizing facts but learning how to think.”

Dan Fahey

Student Profile: Dan Fahey

An environmental and health crisis ravaging the Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been overlooked, says Dan Fahey. Despite years of bloody conflict, the region “wasn’t on the radar of the international community,” says Dan, a Ph.D. candidate in Berkeley’s Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management.

Student Profile: Amie Gordon

What makes some romances sizzle and others go down in flames? That’s a question that fascinates Amie Gordon, a psychology doctoral student who specializes in the well-being of relationships. “If you want to understand what makes society work and brings fulfillment to lives, understanding romantic relationships is vital,” she says.

Student Profile: Cindy Huang

Long after a visit to the Pakistan-China border in 1999, Cindy Huang yearned to know more about Central Asia and its extraordinary people. While a Berkeley doctoral candidate in anthropology, Cindy got that opportunity.

Alumni Profiles: Ken Lee always looks ahead and figures out the best way to get there

Dr. Yong-Kyung Lee, better known in the western world as Ken Lee, is a person of many facets. One of Berkeley’s most illustrious alumni from Korea, he’s been a professor, a research scientist in the private sector in the U.S., CEO of a giant telecom corporation in Korea, and he’s now, as a member of South Korea’s National Assembly, a political leader.

Donor Profile: Eric Stern

Eric Stern’s job takes him globetrotting. But when he isn’t away, the Cal alumnus has a standing dinner date. You’ll find him around the family table, savoring a meal and catching up with his wife, Rachel Kaganoff Stern, and their school-aged sons, Henri and Jonah.

Berkeley engineers invent a cell-phone microscope

What the world needs now — besides love, of course — is a new technology for diagnosing infectious disease that’s inexpensive and portable yet highly effective. The World Health 
Organization estimates that there were about 247 million cases of malaria … Continued

Berkeley Trio turns Algae into Fuel and Money

At least once or twice a year, you can happen upon David Charron’s “Case Studies in Entrepreneurship” course in the Haas School of Business. In this class, students are confronted with a case study of the early days of a … Continued

A Greener Future: Bringing the U.S. & China Together

China and the United States — the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases — should be at the forefront of clean energy solutions for an ailing planet. That’s the bold vision of the U.S.-China Green Tech Summit, a gathering that drew more than 400 green technology executives, venture capitalists, academics and others to Beijing last fall.

Carol Grieder at Nobel ceremony

Graduate Work at Cal Pays Off with a Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine

What she could not know for sure, back then as a 25-year-old grad student, was that this discovery would win her — and her mentor, Elizabeth Blackburn, now at UCSF — a Nobel Prize. … When Greider was in the market for a graduate program, after earning her B.A. at UC Santa Barbara, Berkeley was in her final two choices, narrowed not for the usual reasons, but because those were the ones that would have her.

Ann Veneman

UNICEF’s Ann Veneman shares her perspective on health policy

Among the many well-known figures, experts, and leaders who visit this campus in any given month, a significant proportion were here before, as students. One such, in March, was Ann Veneman, the executive director of UNICEF, who gave the Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Lecture in Health Policy.

The Importance of Mentoring

Following the adoption of this ‘best practices’ document by the Academic Senate in 2006, Graduate Division sought external support to establish a mentoring award — and that effort has been successful!