2018 Winners of the Ig® Nobel Prize Announced!!

…For achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK

MEDICINE PRIZE [USA] — Marc Mitchell and David Wartinger, for using roller coaster rides to try to hasten the passage of kidney stones.
REFERENCE: “Validation of a Functional Pyelocalyceal Renal Model for the Evaluation of Renal Calculi Passage While Riding a Roller Coaster,” Marc A. Mitchell, David D. Wartinger, The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, vol. 116, October 2016, pp. 647-652.

ANTHROPOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, ROMANIA, DENMARK, THE NETHERLANDS, GERMANY, UK, INDONESIA, ITALY] — Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, for collecting evidence, in a zoo, that chimpanzees imitate humans about as often, and about as well, as humans imitate chimpanzees.
REFERENCE: “Spontaneous Cross-Species Imitation in Interaction Between Chimpanzees and Zoo Visitors,” Tomas Persson, Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, and Elainie Madsen, Primates, vol. 59, no. 1, January 2018, pp 19–29.

BIOLOGY PRIZE [SWEDEN, COLOMBIA, GERMANY, FRANCE, SWITZERLAND] — Paul Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, for demonstrating that wine experts can reliably identify, by smell, the presence of a single fly in a glass of wine.
REFERENCE: “The Scent of the Fly,” Paul G. Becher, Sebastien Lebreton, Erika A. Wallin, Erik Hedenstrom, Felipe Borrero-Echeverry, Marie Bengtsson, Volker Jorger, and Peter Witzgall, bioRxiv, no. 20637, 2017.

CHEMISTRY PRIZE [PORTUGAL] — Paula Romão, Adília Alarcão and the late César Viana, for measuring the degree to which human saliva is a good cleaning agent for dirty surfaces.
REFERENCE: “Human Saliva as a Cleaning Agent for Dirty Surfaces,” by Paula M. S. Romão, Adília M. Alarcão and César A.N. Viana, Studies in Conservation, vol. 35, 1990, pp. 153-155.

MEDICAL EDUCATION PRIZE [JAPAN] — Akira Horiuchi, for the medical report “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy.”
REFERENCE: “Colonoscopy in the Sitting Position: Lessons Learned From Self-Colonoscopy by Using a Small-Caliber, Variable-Stiffness Colonoscope,” Akira Horiuchi and Yoshiko Nakayama, Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, vol. 63, No. 1, 2006, pp. 119-20.

LITERATURE PRIZE [AUSTRALIA, EL SALVADOR, UK] — Thea Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, for documenting that most people who use complicated products do not read the instruction manual.
REFERENCE: “Life Is Too Short to RTFM: How Users Relate to Documentation and Excess Features in Consumer Products,” Alethea L. Blackler, Rafael Gomez, Vesna Popovic and M. Helen Thompson, Interacting With Computers, vol. 28, no. 1, 2014, pp. 27-46.

NUTRITION PRIZE [ZIMBABWE, TANZANIA, UK] — James Cole, for calculating that the caloric intake from a human-cannibalism diet is significantly lower than the caloric intake from most other traditional meat diets.
REFERENCE: “Assessing the Calorific Significance of Episodes of Human Cannibalism in the Paleolithic,” James Cole, Scientific Reports, vol. 7, no. 44707, April 7, 2017.

PEACE PRIZE [SPAIN, COLOMBIA] — Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge, Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Jaime Sanmartín, Constanza Calatayud, and Beatriz Alamar, for measuring the frequency, motivation, and effects of shouting and cursing while driving an automobile.
REFERENCE: “Shouting and Cursing While Driving: Frequency, Reasons, Perceived Risk and Punishment,” Francisco Alonso, Cristina Esteban, Andrea Serge and Maria-Luisa Ballestar, Journal of Sociology and Anthropology, vol. 1, no. 12017, pp. 1-7.
REFERENCE: “La Justicia en el Tráfico: Conocimiento y Valoración de la Población Española” [“Justice in Traffic: Knowledge and Valuation of the Spanish Population”)], F. Alonso, J. Sanmartín, C. Calatayud, C. Esteban, B. Alamar, and M. L. Ballestar, Cuadernos de Reflexión Attitudes, 2005.

REPRODUCTIVE MEDICINE PRIZE [USA, JAPAN, SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT, INDIA, BANGLADESH] — John Barry, Bruce Blank, and Michel Boileau, for using postage stamps to test whether the male sexual organ is functioning properly—as described in their study “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps.”
REFERENCE: “Nocturnal Penile Tumescence Monitoring With Stamps,” John M. Barry, Bruce Blank, Michael Boileau, Urology, vol. 15, 1980, pp. 171-172.

ECONOMICS PRIZE [CANADA, CHINA, SINGAPORE, USA] — Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa Keeping, for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.
REFERENCE: “Righting a Wrong: Retaliation on a Voodoo Doll Symbolizing an Abusive Supervisor Restores Justice,” Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping, The Leadership Quarterly, February 2018.

As always, winners from previous years, as well as all kinds of stuff, may be found on the Improbable Research website.


Public Health Library merges with Bioscience & Natural Resources Library

Bioscience Library
The collections of the Public Health Library will be moved to the Biosciences, Natural Resources & Public Health Library in the Valley Life Sciences Building, shown above. (Photo by J. Pierre Carrillo for the UC Berkeley Library)

On June 4, two important libraries in the Life & Health Sciences Division will come together under one roof as the Marian Koshland Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library. The Sheldon Margen Public Health Library — located in 1 University Hall, at Oxford Street and University Avenue — will close June 1.

For more details, read the story at Library News.

 


Cal Day 2018 at the Bioscience Library: Bears, bugs, dinosaurs, and more!

Come by the Bioscience and Natural Resources Library on Cal Day, Saturday, April 21, 10am – 3pm. Marvel at the dinosaurs in the Valley Life Sciences Building and peruse the library’s collection of dinosaur books for all ages. View research posters by Integrative Biology honors undergraduate students. Watch the documentary about renowned scientist Marian Diamond, My Love Affair with the Brain. See reproductions of engravings from the Banks’ Florilegium, a collection that documents plants collected by Sir Joseph Banks and Dr. Daniel Solander during Captain James Cook’s first voyage to the south Pacific Ocean. Other unusual and rare items from the Life and Health Science libraries will also be on display. 

Date: April 21, 2018
Time: 10 am – 3 pm
Location: Look for the table display near the Bioscience Library (2101 VLSB)

A cast of the smallest Triceratops skull ever found


Announcing the reconfiguration of two important libraries

The Valley Life Sciences Building is part of the classical core of the campus. (Photo by Cade Johnson for the University Library)
The Valley Life Sciences Building is part of the classical core of the campus. (Photo by Cade Johnson for the University Library)

After consultation with students, faculty, and staff from across campus, the University Library confirms the decision to merge the Sheldon Margen Public Health Library and the Marian Koshland Bioscience & Natural Resources Library at UC Berkeley. The reconfiguration of these two important libraries in the Life & Health Sciences Division of the University Library will better address current campus and research needs.

The Library staff and the collection from the Public Health Library will be relocated to the Valley Life Sciences Building and integrated with the vision and operations of the campus library there. The Library will continue to memorialize Sheldon Margen’s contributions to the school, the university, and the field.

To reach this decision, the Library received feedback from individuals from a number of departments and key campus stakeholders after a call for comment was issued in September.

Read the complete announcement for details on services and the timeline ahead.

 

 


Life, gene editing, and rock ’n’ roll: 5 things we learned from Jennifer Doudna’s talk

Jennifer Doudna, left, professor and co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, speaks with Susan Koskinen, head of the Life and Health Sciences Library Division, at the Bioscience & Natural Resources Library on Nov. 14, 2017. (Photo by J. Pierre Carrillo for the University Library)
Jennifer Doudna, left, professor and co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, speaks with Susan Koskinen, head of the Life and Health Sciences Library Division, at the Bioscience & Natural Resources Library on Nov. 14, 2017. (Photo by J. Pierre Carrillo for the University Library)

When Jennifer Doudna was in high school, a guidance counselor called her into his office to talk to her about her career.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Doudna recalls him asking.

“I want to be a scientist,” Doudna said.

“Girls don’t do science,” she remembers him saying.

She has been proving him wrong ever since.

For one, the UC Berkeley professor co-invented CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, hailed as the biggest biological breakthrough since the discovery of DNA’s molecular structure in the 1950s. The technology comes with the possibility of curing devastating diseases and improving lives but also raises ethical questions.

“If you have a tool that allowed precision changes to DNA to be made,” she said, “that provides a way that, in principle, one could alter human evolution by making changes that could become inherited by future generations.”

In the years that followed, Doudna has become instrumental in raising awareness and broadening understanding — within the scientific community and beyond — about the technology. It’s a duty Doudna doesn’t take lightly. “It’s something I feel deeply passionate about,” she said.

Doudna sat down in front of an audience Tuesday in the Bioscience & Natural Resources Library for a chat about her book (“A Crack in Creation” is out this year), her life, and her scientific breakthrough.

Here are five things we learned.

1. Her upbringing in Hawaii influenced her career path.

Growing up, Doudna lived in Hilo, a “small, rural town,” on the big island of Hawaii. It was living in Hawaii, surrounded by diverse wildlife (“blind cave spiders and all kinds of interesting plants,” she said) that sparked her lifelong love of science.

“When I think back on how I got interested in science and biology and chemistry,” she said, “it really, I think, stems from growing up in that island environment and wondering about how organisms can evolve to live in a setting like that.”

And in 10th grade, Doudna’s interest in science deepend, thanks to a chemistry teacher, Miss Wong, who “taught us kids that science was about solving puzzles — it was about asking questions and figuring out how to answer them.”

“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “It was fun, and I started imagining that it would be really great to grow up and have someone pay me to do what I thought was just kind of fun — playing around in a lab.”

2. Even bioscientists get the blues.

In her 40s — and well into her second decade of running her lab — she started to question whether her work was going to have an impact.

“I really almost had sort of a midlife crisis,” she said.

She took a leave of absence at Berkeley for an opportunity at a company — which, in retrospect, was the wrong move.

Although it was a great company, she began to realize, “It was just the wrong fit for me,” she said. “I felt it in my gut. This is not where I’m meant to be.”

“I realized that I just loved working with students. I loved being at a public university,” she said. “I really believed in that mission of having education available to anyone who can come and wants to learn and wants to work at this wonderful place that we have here.”

She asked her former colleagues at UC Berkeley if she could return.

“They took me back,” she said.

3. She didn’t like the name of her book at first.

Neither Doudna nor co-author Samuel Sternberg liked the title “A Crack in Creation,” which their editor suggested.

“It sounded very ominous, somehow,” she said.

Neither could think of a better title, and they were eventually won over.

“It does sort of convey this idea that … we’re sort of at a fork in the road, in a way, and it really does feel kind of profound at times to me,” she said. “We’re at a point where now we as a species have a tool that will allow us to control … who we are.”

4. She has a complicated relationship with the spotlight.

“People have called me the public face of CRISPR, and I’m sort of shocked by it,” she said.

But with glare of the spotlight comes the opportunity to raise awareness and educate the public.

“I feel sort of a sense of honor that I’ve been sort of thrust into this position of being a spokesperson for science, and it’s something that I feel deeply passionate about,” she said.

5. She had a brush with rock royalty.

With her profile having reached new heights come opportunities that she had never previously imagined.

“I was at a thing in London not long ago, and I turned around, and behind me was (rock guitarist) Jimmy Page,” she said. “We just struck up a conversation. We started talking about science, and about guitars, and Led Zeppelin.

“And I said to him, ‘I’m such a fangirl. I mean, I listened to your music growing up. Would you mind if I took a picture with you?’

“And (now) I have a picture with Jimmy Page.”


Author Event with Dr. Jennifer Doudna

Tuesday, November 14, 2017. 4:30-6:00pm.
Bioscience & Natural Resources Library, 2101 VLSB.
A Crack in Creation

Dr. Jennifer A. Doudna, Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry, UC Berkeley and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, will discuss her new book, A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution, a fascinating chronicle of the discovery of CRISPR and the ethical questions to come.

Sponsored by: University Library, Life & Health Sciences Division.

The Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact the event sponsor, Susan Koskinen, skoskine@berkeley.edu, as soon as possible.


Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) workshop

Ingenuity Pathway Analysis

A representative from Qiagen will offer a hands-on training workshop on using IPA to interpret expression data (including RNA-seq).

Date: Thursday, Nov. 9
Time: 1:30-4:30 pm
Location: Bioscience Library Training Room, 2101 Valley Life Sciences Building

You are invited to participate in this free training, and are encouraged to bring your own laptop or use the computer workstations in our training room.

Please register if you are interested in attending.

The workshop will cover how to:

  • Format, upload your data, and launch an analysis
  • Identify likely pathways that are expressed
  • Find causal regulators and their directional effect on gene functions and diseases
  • Build pathways, make connections between entities, and overlay multiple datasets on a pathway or network
  • Understand the affected biological processes
  • Perform a comparison analysis: utilize a heat map to easily visualize trends across multiple time points or samples

Questions? Please contact Elliott Smith (esmith@library.berkeley.edu)


Call for Comment: Marian Koshland Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library

Bioscience Library
The creation of a more inclusive Marian Koshland Bioscience, Natural Resources, & Public Health Library builds on research and teaching trends with access to emerging technologies in these disciplines, and aligns with the vision identified in the University Library Strategic Plan. (Photo by Cade Johnson for the University Library)

A Call for Comment, issued by the School of Public Health Dean Stefano Bertozzi, College of Natural Resources Dean J. Keith Gilless, College of Letters & Science’s Division of Biological Sciences Dean Michael Botchan, and University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, encourages all interested parties to carefully read the proposed plan for the Sheldon Margen Public Health Library and the Marian Koshland Bioscience & Natural Resources Library at UC Berkeley and to share comments and recommendations.

The comment period is open through Friday October 6, 2017. We invite you to submit comments via email to libraryforum@lists.berkeley.edu.

We are sharing the proposed reconfiguration of these two important libraries in the Life & Health Sciences Division of the University Library to better address current campus and research needs. Part of the classical core of the campus, the Valley Life Sciences Building is home to the Marian Koshland Bioscience & Natural Resources Library, and the future home of the “Marian Koshland Bioscience, Natural Resources & Public Health Library”.

Read the proposed plan.