2006 Department News


Graduate student Danica Harbaugh receives prestigious George R. Cooley Award at Botany 2006

Graduate student Danica Harbaugh won the highly prestigious George R. Cooley Award at Botany 2006.  One award is given each year for the best paper in systematics presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Plant Taxonomists (ASPT) and Botanical Society of America (BSA), held this year in Chico, California. 

The Cooley Award is open to graduate students and to Ph.D.s who have completed their degrees within the past five years and whose papers are judged to be "substantially complete, synthetic, and original."  Danica's paper was on her dissertation research on evolution and biogeography of the sandalwoods (Santalum).  Her talk was entitled "Unraveling the complex history of sandalwoods (Santalum, Santalaceae)." 


Jane Gray Research Greenhouse carries on legacy of Jane Gray with interesting experiments

If you've been to the Botanical Garden in the last six months, you may have noticed the new greenhouse located across from the garden's main entrance. This new facility, the Jane Gray Research Greenhouse (JGRG) officially opened its doors to researchers in November 2005.

The JGRG boasts some fairly impressive high-tech equipment, including a climate control system that can sense changes in temperature, humidity, light energy, and wind speed and direction. The system's responses can also be controlled centrally or remotely. Each of the bays in the greenhouse is equipped with its own "fertigation" system, and can be customized for individual researchers with an automatic irrigation system.

Construction of the greenhouse was made possible through funds from the Jane Gray Endowment for Research. Jane Gray was a paleobotanist, graduating in 1958 with a PhD in paleontology from Cal. She was known and well respected by Berkeley's faculty, making many contributions to the field of paleobotany. Today, the greenhouse that bears her name houses the botanical experiments of Cal's active researchers, appropriately carrying on her legacy.

One of those researchers is IB graduate student and member of the Dawson Lab, Kevin Simonin. Kevin had been conducting his experiment on redwood saplings since March. He's investigating the influence of fog as a major water source for redwoods, especially in times of drought. By creating a fog chamber into which to place the saplings, Kevin was able to measure the foliar uptake of moisture by the saplings.

Kevin was thrilled with being able to work in the JGRG:

"The environmental conditions are easy to control, particularly for specific goals. Data can be downloaded easily, and the moving bays made it simple to handle the saplings."

Though this particular experiment ended in April, Kevin and his colleagues already have plans for other research in the Jane Gray Research Greenhouse. Emily Limm, also a member of the Dawson Lab, hopes to determine the effects of fungi on fog and leaves.

Other researchers are welcome to conduct experiments. Just contact the Nursery Technician, to request research space.

For more information on the Jane Gray Research Greenhouse, visit the JGRG webpage.


Marvalee and David Wake receive the Berkeley Citation

Marvalee and David Wake have had distinguished careers as scientists and professors. In addition to their scholarly accomplishments, the Wakes have contributed significantly to the University and the biological sciences at Berkeley.

In a reception attended by faculty, students, and staff to honor the Wakes for their service to the University, Chancellor Birgeneau presented Marvalee and David with the Berkeley Citation. In his presentation, Chancellor Birgeneau noted:

"David and Marvalee combine scientific work that places them at the top of their fields world-wide, remarkable teaching and mentoring records, and truly extraordinary service to the University and to biological sciences at Berkeley."

Marvalee, as the founding chair of Integrative Biology, was instrumental in creating a coherent department with faculty from different departments. David, in addition to his long-time leadership of the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, provided the vision that informed the reorganization of biological sciences on the Berkeley campus.

These contributions are responsible for the ability of the department and the Museums to respond to the enormous opportunities now evident in biological science. 

Congratulations to the Wakes!


Integrating Evolution, Development, and Genomics Symposia: faculty, post-docs, and students are invited to participate in and contribute to

The first international UC Berkeley evolutionary developmental biology conference will begin May 31, 2006. The meeting is being organized by graduate students of Integrative Biology and Molecular & Cell Biology.

Inspired by the integration of evolution and development research programs within these departments, the meeting will highlight Berkeley's new Center for Integrative Genomics and include multiple non-concurrent symposia covering a wide range of evolutionary developmental biology topics.

Faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and students are invited to participate in and contribute to the symposia.

Full symposia details, including registration and abstract guidelines can be found at http://evodevo.org.

Registration deadline is April 14.

Lawsuit targeting evolution website is dismissed

A lawsuit claiming that a UC Berkeley evolution website was promoting religion was dismissed in San Francisco federal court on March 13. In addition to a National Science Foundation (NSF) administrator, the lawsuit named IB professors Roy Caldwell and David Lindberg, who were principal investigators on the "Understanding Evolution" web project. The website, partially funded by the NSF, was created by the UC Museum of Paleontology as a resource for teaching and understanding evolution.


Professor Robert Full bestowed the title of National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences named 20 Education Mentors in the Life Sciences based on service to the National Academies Summer Institute on Undergraduate Education in Biology. Professor Full lectures on the research-based teaching and the value of interdisciplinary education. The summer institute focuses on how to improve biology courses by developing teachable units, assessing learning outcomes and encouraging colleagues and graduate teaching assistants to adopt new teaching practices.

IB Professors Diamond, Barnosky, and Simms cited as "Everyday Heroes" in campus wide survey of undergraduates

Professors Marian Diamond, Anthony Barnosky, and Ellen Simms received letters from the Chancellor citing them as an "Everyday Hero". These citations were awarded to 200 of 4000 nominees from the 2005 UC Undergraduate Experience Survey. The survey included the names of any Cal affiliate (faculty, staff, researchers, and graduate student instructors) who went "above and beyond" the call of duty. Congratulations!


IB undergraduate students assist in restoration of Grinnell Natural Area of Strawberry Creek

Planting has begun in an ongoing project to restore native biodiversity in the Grinnell Natural Area of Strawberry Creek. This project is the result of a partnership between campus staff, graduate students, undergraduate students in Dr. Jeffrey Corbin's IB 154L course (Plant Ecology Lab), and Berkeley High School students.

In Spring 2005, exotic species were removed from two large areas between the Valley Life Sciences Building and Oxford Street. This week, Berkeley High School students began planting native grasses, forbs, and shrubs along Schlessinger Drive across from Edwards Stadium. Planting will continue through the winter to restore native species to this unique habitat and to provide hands-on experience to the next generation of environmental scientists.

This project was made possible by a Chancellor's Green Grant Fund award to Dr. Corbin and matching funds from Environmental Health and Safety, the Berkeley Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Natural History Museum's Exploring Biodiversity Project (GK-12).