Today at Berkeley Lab

Once-a-Century Bloom on Display at UC Botanical Garden

Classes offered from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 to 4 p.m. in Perseverance Hall. More>

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Tobacco Gets a Makeover as New Source for Biofuel

KQED’s ‘QUEST’ highlights research program that includes Lab scientists. More>

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Lab’s Javey and Chang on Short List for Prestigeous Blavatnik Awards

Finalists were selected from a field of 300 nominees, all faculty-rank researchers aged 42 or younger from leading U.S. academic and research institutions. More>

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Gadgil Among Speakers at Talk on Encouraging Youngsters to Explore Science

Join Danielle Feinberg of Pixar, UC Berkeley biology professor Robert Full, and Berkeley Lab’s own Ashok Gadgil at the Lawrence Hall of Science as they discuss the importance of encouraging young people to explore, invent, and become scientifically literate. The event takes place Wednesday, May 28, from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free. More>

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Lab Physicist Bob Jacobsen Named Interim Dean of Undergrad Studies

Berkeley Lab physicist and campus professor Bob Jacobsen has been named interim dean of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Letters and Science at UC Berkeley. His primary focus will be on improving the undergraduate education experience for L&S students. His current research is focused on a dark matter search detector located in the former Homestake Mine in South Dakota. More>

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Retirement Center Hosts Conference on ‘Aging in America’

Lab employees are invited to attend a daylong conferences on “An Aging America: Challenges and Opportunities” on Thursday, May 15 at His Lordships restaurant in the Berkeley Marina. The keynote speaker will be former Michigan governor and current UC Berkeley professor Jennifer Granholm. Go here for more information. Cost for the event is $35. Payment and registration must be received by Tuesday, May 13. Mail the form and a check to Retirement Center, 1925 Walnut Street, Berkeley, 94720, or drop off at this location between 1 and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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Entrepreneurs Mixer With eBay’s Mark Carges at SkyDeck Tonight

The Berkeley Entrepreneurs Association, housed within the Haas School of Business, will host a mixer on Thursday, May 8, 6 to 8:30 p.m. at SkyDeck in downtown Berkeley. The guest speaker is Mark Carges, chief technology officer and a senior VP at eBay. Go here for more information and to register. Refreshment will be served.

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Artificial Forests Explored by UC Berkeley Grad Students

Peidong Yang and his work on artificial photosynthesis are profiled in the latest issue of Berkeley Science Review, the graduate student-run magazine at UC Berkeley. The article highlights Yang’s work at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) — the joint venture between Berkeley Lab and Caltech — in creating an “artificial forest” of devices called nanotrees. These tiny silicon and titanium oxide structures, inspired by the fractal shape of natural trees, use a method for producing energy that mimics the work of chloroplasts in green plants. More>

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Nobel Laureate Randy Schekman to Speak at UC Berkeley Faculty Club

UC Berkeley Professor Randy Schekman will deliver a lecture on Friday, May 2, about his pioneering work on the secretory processes found in single-celled organisms such as yeast. In cells with a nucleus, this process involves a conveyor belt-like mechanism involving the encapsulation of proteins into membrane carriers called vesicles. These processes are evolutionarily conserved all the way to mammals. Schekman shared with Thomas Sudhöf the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic. His laboratory discovered and mapped this pathway in Baker’s yeast, and the same process has been exploited by the biotechnology industry to manufacture large quantities of human proteins such as recombinant insulin. The event at the UC Berkeley Faculty Club begins with a wine and cheese reception at 4:30 pm ($15 public, $10 retirees) followed by the free lecture at 5 pm. For reservations, call Renee Rivera at 510-643-0834.

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Pollan’s Dilemma: Ronald’s Scuba Rice and G.M.O. Papayas

Pam Ronald, a UC Davis plant geneticist who directs the Grass Genetics program for the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), is featured in New Yorker magazine about her participation in a classroom debate with famed author and UC Berkeley journalism professor Michael Pollan about the use of G.M.O.s (genetically modified organisms) as food. Pollan, a highly vocal skeptic, invited Ronald to make the case for G.M.O.s in his Edible Education class. As examples of G.M.O. success, Ronald could point to her own development of “scuba rice” that can grow in the often flooded fields of Bangladesh and India, and a banana resistant to a disease that has decimated crops in East Africa. “I’ll give you the papaya,” Pollan conceded on a G.M.O. papaya that saved Hawaii’s industry. More>

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