person hiking snowy mountain

More honors for Chemistry’s high-climbing Arlene Blum

Biochemist and mountaineer Arlene Blum Ph.D. ’71, who won the $100,000 Purpose Prize late last year for mobilizing society to protect its members by reducing toxic chemicals, has received still more honors in 2009, and the year isn’t even half over.

Paula Argenteri

Two grad students are honored by the Chancellor for civic engagement

At the annual Chancellor’s Awards for Public Service ceremony, which took place April 24, two Ph.D. candidates were singled out for their extensive community work. Paula Agentieri of the School of Education’s social and cultural studies program was honored for her 14 semester of serving as the lead GSI and co-cordinator for Education 190, the core class for education minors, during which she has taught more than 1,000 students and has trained more than 70 undergraduate teaching assistants to teach and facilitate a class democratically and to serve the local community.


The NAS picks six from Berkeley in its crop of new members

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of America’s most prestigious societies of scholars engaged in science and engineering research, at the end of April announced its election of 72 members, six of whom are Berkeley researchers.

Sarlo and FMA Winners from 2009

Heaping honors on the highly helpful

The Graduate Division, which oversees graduate education at Berkeley, and the Graduate Assembly, the grad students’ government, are making up for lost time. For decades, the campus did little to reward the vital role many faculty members play as mentors to their students. Countering that non-trend, the two groups have joined forces for the third year in a row, presenting their own faculty honors in a combined ceremony.



Everything you need to know about the wonders of nanotechnology, as a musical, with puppets.

Larissa Kelly and Alex Trebek

Seven Days in May: Grad student Larissa Kelly asks the right questions and becomes the #3 winner in Jeopardy! history

The drama that actually took place in a much more compressed interval back in February of this year played out over seven separate days in the latter part of May.

That its star, Larissa Kelly, was no longer in California, or even the United States, didn’t matter. It was literally academic. (Kelly was, like the serious Ph.D. candidate she is, pursuing her dissertation research, which took her to Mexico.)

Post-Stem-Cell-Ban Era Begins

Post-stem-cell-ban era begins at Berkeley

MCB professor Ellen Robey (Berkeley Ph.D. ’86), two of her postdocs, and a grad student are in Nature’s coverage of their lab as the post-stem-cell ban era begins.

Steven Chu

Dr. Chu goes to Washington

His full name is Steven Chu. That he’s not a very formal guy is clear from the headline from the news released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which he currently heads — “Obama Picks Berkeley Lab Director Steve Chu for Energy Secretary.”

student waving Cal flag

Rewarding mentors, the academy’s unsung secret weapon

Five faculty members, accompanied by colleagues and students who nominated them and friends and fans, were given special awards for mentoring grad students, an activity that historically has received little fanfare but is seen as vital by its recipients, often leading to key intellectual breakthroughs and providing the motivation to persevere despite daunting obstacles.

Four mentoring award winners pose with plaque

What makes the wheel go around

When I was a graduate student, I was a teaching assistant (more than once) for a very inspiring mentor, a man named Manos Vakalo. His teams of teaching assistants had remarkable autonomy. He never questioned a grade we gave, and he always treated us as respected equals. In retrospect, we could be dumb at times; I remember bringing beer to a critique for our undergraduates, and Manos simply raising an eyebrow in reprimand. That, however, was enough. He had remarkable expressions, every one of which I think I could still imitate perfectly today, nearly 20 years later.

Executive Director of the Greater Good Science Center Christine Carter

Avoid the brat pack: Website makes raising joyous kids more practical

Reams of academic research abound across the country on how to raise happy children, but who has the time to read this myriad of findings, boil down the facts, and then turn them into practical parenting advice? The University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center is taking on the job with its new website on how to foster joy and avoid brattish behavior in children.

student waving Cal flag

Pulling all-nighters, buying pizza, dressing up as Darwin…

As a GSI for Finance (BA 103) and Managerial Accounting (BA 102B), William “Willy” Wong, MBA ’05, would offer “numerous review sessions and have 12-hour-long office-hour visits,” wrote one of the 37 student who nominated him for heroic status. Another singled out the “large packets of material [he prepared] to help us learn the subject matter, which must have taken him many hours each time” — packets that “if compiled fully, will rival the class textbooks,” said another admirer. When one student was having trouble obtaining internships, Wong gave him advice, then offered to look over his résumé, as he did for several others. And his 24/7 help was nondiscriminating: roughly half of the 37 survey respondents admitted that they were not even enrolled in one of his sections.

Charles Man Fong Tung awarded a lollipop.

Long Journey’s Sweet Ending

Charles Man Fong Tung was nervous and tired last December when he walked into the Graduate Degrees Office on the third floor of Sproul Hall to – at long last – file his dissertation.
He had made the required two copies, printed in the required font size on the specified archival paper, but was it perfect? What if it wasn’t? Would his years of labor be frustrated?
His worries were not uncommon among degree candidates submitting the fruits of their intellectual labor. But, like most, he did it right (even a few days before the deadline), and he could relax.