ScienceMatters@Berkeley Volume 7, Issue 54 June 2010

Find out how Berkeley professors and researchers are in the forefront of cutting-edge research and promising new discoveries. In ScienceMatters@Berkeley, we showcase scientific research taking place in the College of Letters & Science and the College of Chemistry.  This issue includes:

  • Pulling a Voice out of a Crowd
  • A Taste of Andean Culture
  • The Jekyll and Hyde Act of Oncogenes

Pulling a Voice out of a Crowd
You’re walking down a city street, and the din is deafening. Car engines roar, bus brakes shriek, and pedestrians are shouting just to be heard. Then, amid the racket, you hear it: someone speaking your name. Berkeley professor of physics Michael DeWeese is studying this remarkable ability to pay attention to certain sounds. His findings promise to improve both hearing aids and hands-free device interfaces in the future.

A Taste of Andean Culture
Of all of the advances people have developed over the millennia, food plants may be the most important. Humans domesticated wheat, rice, and potatoes; learned to cook and store them; and shipped these staples far and wide to enrich themselves and extend cultural influence. By examining the plant remains on early settlements, Berkeley professor of anthropology Christine Hastorf pieces together how ancient peoples worked, ate, traded and worshiped.

The Jekyll and Hyde Act of Oncogenes
Pull one strand of a spider’s web, and the rest of the silken construction will flex and shake with the strain. The same effect can be seen in the network of genes involved with cancer, says Kunxin Luo, a Berkeley professor of cell and developmental biology. Her work with the protein TGF-beta is laying bare pathways to some of cancer’s biggest culprits.

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