Science + Health

Turns Out Nice Folks Don’t Finish Last After All

Turns out nice folks don’t finish last, after all. A UC Berkeley-led study published in August in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science found that “disagreeable individuals,” defined as those with combative, selfish, and manipulative traits, don’t achieve greater career success than their kinder counterparts. 

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

The Search for Unisex Contraceptive Drugs Gets a Major Boost

When Polina Lishko received a call in September informing her that she had won a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, she almost hung up. The physiologist had had so many grant applications turned down in recent years that several mentees had switched fields out of frustration. Now, she was being presented with $625,000 she hadn’t even applied for. “I initially, seriously, suspected it was a prank.” 

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

New Research Suggests Sleep Is Good Medicine for the Aging Brain

Sleep is good medicine.

As UC Berkeley neuroscientist Matthew Walker wrote in his 2017 book, Why We Sleep, “There does not seem to be one major organ within the body, or process within the brain, that isn’t optimally enhanced by sleep (and detrimentally impaired when we don’t get enough). That we receive such a bounty of health benefits each night should not be surprising.”

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

Deworming Reaps Long-Term Health and Economic Rewards For Young Kenyans

The findings of the 2004 study were startling: A campaign to treat thousands of children in western Kenya for parasitic worms yielded significant, long-term health and educational benefits. Across the 75 primary schools involved, rates of intestinal worms and student absenteeism decreased—the latter by around 25 percent compared to the control—suggesting, essentially, that healthier kids stayed in school.

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

Letter-Writers Call Confronting Racism in STEM an “Important First Step”

“The false dichotomy of ‘excellence or diversity’ must end,” four UC Berkeley alumni wrote in a letter published in the journal Science in September. “Diversity results in better, more impactful, and more innovative science,” the letter continued, “and it is essential to building novel solutions to challenges faced by marginalized and non-marginalized communities.” 

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

From the Galaxy to the Genome: Berkeley Scores Two More Nobel Prizes

Two new Nobel laureates will receive free lifetime parking spots on the UC Berkeley campus this year. And for the first time in Cal’s history, a woman will enjoy this perk. 

Reinhard Genzel and Jennifer Doudna received back-to-back Nobel Prizes on Oct. 6 and 7, respectively—Genzel in physics and Doudna in chemistry.

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

Artist, Activist, and Astrophysicist Nia Imara Keeps Her Eyes on the Sky

NIA IMARA ISN’T CONTENT TO JUST LOOK AT THE STARS, so she’s printing a 3-D replica of one she can hold in her hands. “We can’t actually touch these things,” says the astrophysicist and artist, but it’s about imagining the possibilities. “I’m a big believer in that; we can see things not as the way they are. We have the ability to project our vision of the world onto the world.” 

From the Winter 2020 issue of California.

Will This Pandemic Ever End?

UC Berkeley Public Health Clinical Professor Emeritus John Swartzberg is one of the nation’s leading authorities on infectious diseases and vaccinology—and an eloquent commentator on all things pathogenic, including the novel coronavirus. California caught up with him recently to get his views on the likely directions of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the prospects for a vaccine, and the American response to date.

On the Frontlines: Women Led the Fight Against the 1918 Pandemic

IT IS UNCLEAR WHEN AGNES EDWARDS slept. As a sophomore at Berkeley in the fall of 1918, she packed her schedule with social activities. In her letters home to her parents, movies, dances, and hikes with friends mingled with pep rallies and volunteer work at the newly opened Red Cross chapter on campus.

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

Shutdowns Hurt. They Also Save Lives.

What would have happened if large-scale policies like shelter-in-place orders, travel restrictions, and business closures were not implemented early in the COVID-19 pandemic?

From the Fall 2020 issue of California.

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