These Butterflies Evolved to Eat Poison. How Could That Have Happened?

Monarch butterflies eat only milkweed, a poisonous plant that should kill them. The butterflies thrive on it, even storing milkweed toxins in their bodies as a defense against hungry birds. For decades, scientists have marveled at this adaptation. On Thursday, a team of researchers announced they had pinpointed the key evolutionary steps that led to it...

IB graduate students traverse the globe for summer research projects

20190826_Mattina.pngFor the graduate students of Integrative Biology, the summer months bring a wealth of opportunities to embark on critical research projects and present their findings all over the world. Forty-four graduate students were able to carry out their field and laboratory research, thanks in part to three competitive awards sponsored by the Integrative Biology department: Dissertation Completion Award, Summer Grant, and Research Award. A broad range of projects are funded by these awards, from understanding UV radiation tolerance in desert mosses to studying how the shapes of turtle beaks relate to their diet and habitat over evolutionary time.

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Women don beards to highlight gender bias in science

For many people, including women, the answer is yes, which spurred dozens of paleontologists around the world – all of them women – to glue on beards for photos now being exhibited at the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at the University of California, Berkeley. The ironic message of the Bearded Lady Project is that, contrary to the persisting stereotype, you don’t have to be a man to love fieldwork and contribute to science; in fact: many field scientists are not.

Full: You can’t squash this roach-inspired robot

New research from IB Professor Robert Full and scientists from the Department of Engineering and Tsinghua University in China have created a soft robot nearly as the cockroaches that inspired its design. At 20 to 65 milligrams, these robots are able to carry loads 6 times their weight and withstand the pressure of a 60-kilogram human step.

In the future, these robust, small-scale robots could be useful for search and rescue missions and for fitting into tight, dangerous spaces.

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Field Genomics course brings cutting-edge research techniques to UC Berkeley freshmen

20190605_FG_4_250x188.jpgWith recent advancements in portable, reliable, and low-cost scientific instruments, biological field research is flourishing. Now, a group of UC Berkeley undergraduates is newly equipped to investigate the natural world in real time with these new tools at their disposal.

From May 20-28, 2019, the Department of Integrative Biology’s inaugural Field Genomics summer course immersed first-year undergraduates in cutting-edge molecular biology techniques. The course provided thorough hands-on training in skills such as sample collection, nucleotide isolation, and portable nanopore DNA sequencing.

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Nielsen: CRISPR baby mutation significantly increases mortality

A genetic mutation to help fend off HIV infection is also associated with a 21% increase in mortality in later life, according to an analysis by IB Professor Rasmus Nielsen & postdoctoral scholar Xinzhu Wei.

“Beyond the many ethical issues involved with the CRISPR babies, the fact is that, right now, with current knowledge, it is still very dangerous to try to introduce mutations without knowing the full effect of what those mutations do,” said Nielsen. “In this case, it is probably not a mutation that most people would want to have. You are actually, on average, worse off having it.”

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