Berkeley in the News

Berkeley in the News is a daily selection of articles and commentaries in the news media that mention UC Berkeley. The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

1. UC Berkeley announces 5-part plan to boost diversity as numbers lag
Education Dive

Chancellor Carol Christ has announced a new five-part plan to increase diversity on campus. Called the Undergraduate Student Diversity Project, it aims to enroll more underrepresented students by improving the K-12 pipeline and outreach; ensure that admissions policies are fair; and remove financial barriers so that more students can attend. "I know that some members of our community feel we talk a good game about improving diversity, but haven't backed up our words with appropriate actions," Chancellor Christ said in a statement. "I agree that we have work to do, and that time is relatively short." For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News.
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2. The rise of the architect-developer

The new Real Estate Development and Design master's program at Berkeley's College of Environmental Design is featured in a story about increasing collaboration between architects and developers leading to more creative buildings, as well as solutions to affordability and sustainability issues. "The culture of architecture is that of a high art and being careful not to get too sullied and dirty with reality," says associate architecture professor Chris Calott, the new program's chair. "Particularly in architecture school, it's a mindset and tradition that's hard-fought. I always say you can ignore [the realities of development] but you do so at your own peril." The program launched this fall with an inaugural class of 16 students. The students include designers, house flippers, and people working in affordable housing and policy. The architecture-oriented students are learning how to better understand development, while the real-estate and real-estate-oriented students are being encouraged to appreciate architectural design more. "The best development companies are doing the best projects by working with very good architects and solving problems together," Professor Calott says.
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3. Geckos Can Run on Water
New York Times (*requires registration)

Geckos use four separate strategies -- including swimming and running motions -- to skitter over water at speeds "virtually indistinguishable from their land running speed," says new alum Jasmine Nirody about the findings of a study she and fellow graduate student Judy Jinn conducted in the lab of integrative biology professor Robert Full. In their study, they found that the lizards harness surface tension; slap and paddle the water to create air pockets that help keep them afloat; use their smooth, water-repellent skin to plane; and swish their tails like alligators, which not only propels them, but lifts and stabilizes them as well. Link to video. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Stories on this topic have appeared in dozens of sources around the world.
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4. Your smartphone apps are tracking your every move -- 4 essential reads
San Francisco Chronicle Online (*requires registration)

Several recent studies in the U.S. highlight privacy issues raised by smartphone apps that are tracking and sharing our location data. At Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute, a recent study co-authored by research scientist Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez and postdoctoral fellow Srikanth Sundaresan found that 7 in 10 apps share personal data -- including locations and the apps a person uses -- with companies that track users both online and in the physical world. Furthermore, 15 percent of the studied apps shared that data with five or more tracking websites. The researchers also reported finding that 1 in 4 trackers received "at least one unique device identifier, such as the phone number ... [which is] crucial for online tracking services because they can connect different types of personal data provided by different apps to a single person or device."
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5. Google's CEO could face tough questions on Capitol Hill about the company's data practices

Google CEO Sundar Pichai appears before a congressional panel Tuesday to answer questions about the company's lack of transparency with consumers regarding their data and search practices, potential biases, and consumer privacy observances. Weighing in on what to expect, information professor Steven Weber, director of Berkeley's Center for Long Term Cybersecurity, says, "I think they're walking into what will be a moderately hostile environment." Link to audio.
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6. Airbnb Cracked Down On Listings Before Because Of Politics, But Its West Bank Decision Was Different -- And It's Creating A Headache

After Airbnb decided to remove 200 listings from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, several states are investigating whether the travel company's move broke state laws, some cities are calling for a boycott, and a number of lawsuits have been filed, alleging discrimination. "They picked a strange dispute, a very small dispute and a very contentious dispute" to address, says associate political science professor Ron Hassner, an expert in international conflict and religion. From Taiwan to Western Sahara and Northern Cyprus, he says, there are more than 200 territorial disputes, and Airbnb has continued to host listings for those destinations. "If you're proposing a cautious framework, it would make sense that your first cases would be either very important or very easy. And you haven't done any of that," he says.
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7. Feeling unappreciated by automakers, UAW heads into wage talks with $760 million strike fund
Dallas Morning News

With General Motors' threat to close factories and lay off workers, the UAW union is set to fight back, possibly with a strike. The union has amassed a $760 million strike fund, and that gives its members confidence. "A strong strike fund, the UAW has found through the years, is the best deterrent to a strike," says labor professor Harley Shaiken. "The choice is not some jobs or no jobs. It's about a fair share of a rebuilt and highly successful company right now. The competitive challenges for GM are very real. But their workers have gotten GM through the roughest times. They want to share in the better times."
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