Tag Archives: UC Berkeley


Sydney Kustu: Eminent scholar, generous mentor

Sydney Kustu
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By Ann Brody Guy

Professor Emerita Sydney Kustu, a distinguished faculty member in UC Berkeley’s Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, died in Berkeley, Calif., on March 18. She was 71 years old. She was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was instrumental in the revitalization of the field of microbiology on the Berkeley campus.

“Kustu has made major contributions to our understanding of the regulation of gene expression,” a statement read during her induction into the … Continue reading »

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Potentially hazardous chemical suicide in Berkeley called for collaborative response, cautious approach

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The death by chemical suicide earlier this week of a former UC Berkeley professor left many in the community reeling with disbelief.

Berkeleyside’s revelation that the person found dead in a room at the Berkeley City Club was Sydney Kustu, who killed herself on her 71st birthday using a potentially deadly chemical called sodium azide, was shocking to those who had known her, including neighbors and friends who remembered her as “friendly,” “kind” and “generous.” The nature of the death was also so unusual that it prompted many who had not known her to take pause. … Continue reading »

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It’s Cal versus Stanford in first ever birding Big Game

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“Go Bears! Spot that warbler!”

That’s a chant you’re unlikely to hear from the packed bleachers of Memorial Stadium during a Cal-Stanford football game.

But it’s a chant a certain group of enthusiasts will be mouthing silently to themselves on April 13, when Golden Gate Audubon Society faces off against Santa Clara Valley Audubon in Birding’s Big Game — the first-ever Cal vs Stanford birding competition.

As part of Golden Gate Audubon’s annual Birdathon fundraising month, a team of Cal faculty, staff, students, and community members will spend four hours combing the UC Berkeley campus to find as many bird species as possible. Their rivals in Santa Clara Valley Audubon will be doing the same thing on the Stanford campus. … Continue reading »

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Op-ed: Ted Agu found his place at UC Berkeley, against the odds

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O what is like the awful breach of death,
Whose fatal stroke invades the creature’s breath!
It bids the voice of desolation roll,
And strikes the deepest awe within the bravest soul.

–George Moses Horton (1797-1883)

By Cecil Brown

The recent death of Ted Agu at UC Berkeley shocked the college community. On the morning of Feb. 7, he collapsed while training with the football team, where he was a defensive lineman. He was only 21, and nobody knew why he died suddenly.

I was crushed by the news, because he had been one of my students. If you teach at Berkeley, you often run into your former students, as I often did with Ted and his other teammate, Kenan Allen.

A few weeks ago, driving up Durant Avenue to the campus, I saw somebody at the bus stop who looked like Ted, and yes, it was he. He jumped in the car, filled up the whole passenger side, and said, “Hey, Professor Brown! Thanks!” … Continue reading »

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Remembering Ben Yerger, educational servant, pioneer

Ben Yerger
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Benjamin James Yerger (December 8, 1930 -February 5, 2014) lived in Berkeley for 38 years and was a dean at what is now known as Berkeley City College. He was the first African American admitted to the University of Arkansas’ School of Medicine, studied at UC Berkeley, and was involved in making Merritt College the site of the country’s first organized department of Black Studies.

Ben died peacefully after being ill for several years. He was born in Hope, Arkansas to his parents Chester H. Yerger Sr. and Naomi L. Reddix Yerger. Ben graduated from Henry Clay Yerger High School, named after his grandfather who was the first teacher (in 1886).

Ben’s grandmother, Ella J. Yerger, left her home on a Choctaw reservation to teach in the school, and later married Henry Clay. Together they inspired Ben’s lifelong devotion to educating others. Ben’s mother and aunts all taught at the school which was the center of his educational and cultural life.

After graduating from high school with high honors in 1948, Ben entered Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, on a music scholarship. He was also an avid football player in college. Ben graduated from Philander Smith in 1951 with majors in biology and chemistry. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley building set for Northside comes under fire

Felled trees at Ridge Road. Photo- Ted Friedman
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UPDATE, APRIL 23, 2014: Several trees were cut down early today, Wednesday April 23, on the site of the proposed new building. Reports suggest crews were working on the trees at 7 a.m. Ted Friedman filed this photograph showing a cleared area next to the volleyball court:

ORIGINAL STORY: Neighbors to a proposed new UC Berkeley building say its modern design, and the need to remove several trees in the area in order to build it, are threats to the aesthetic and value of the historic Northside neighborhood. And the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) agrees. … Continue reading »

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UC Berkeley

Photos: Cal community remembers footballer Ted Agu

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UC Berkeley held a vigil Wednesday night outside Memorial Stadium, close to where Cal junior Ted Agu died after a football team training session on Feb. 7. Ted Friedman captured the event. … Continue reading »

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Candlelit vigil tonight will honor Cal footballer Ted Agu

Cal junior Ted Agu, who died after collapsing in a workout this morning. Photo: Cal Athletics
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A candlelight service honoring Ted Agu, the Cal footballer who collapsed and died after a training session on Friday last week, will be held today from 7-8 p.m.

The vigil, which is open to the greater Cal community, will take place on Lisa and Douglas Goldman Plaza adjacent to the UC Berkeley Memorial Stadium. The ceremony will be led by Ted’s Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers and Golden Bear student-athletes.

According to an announcement put out by UC Berkeley, Gates 3 and 5 at the stadium will open at 6 p.m., and candles and special wristbands will be available to the first 1,000 participants.

Agu, a defensive lineman from Bakersfield was a junior majoring in public health at Cal. He died after a supervised training run near Memorial Stadium.  … Continue reading »

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Magician Dynamo shoots TV show on UC Berkeley campus

Magician Dynamo (aka Steven Frayne) pulls a magic trick on a UC Berkeley student on campus yesterday. Photo: Ted Friedman
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A BBC television crew were on the UC Berkeley campus yesterday shooting an episode of Dynamo: Magician Impossible starring magician Steven Frayne.

Contributing photographer Ted Friedman checked out the action and spoke with Frayne’s manager, Dan Albion.

Cal students were invited to participate in the show when Frayne, who goes by the name Dynamo, dazzled them with his magic powers. One student, for example, pictured above, was asked to select from her three textbooks. She picked a thick biology textbook. Frayne then had her select a random page and he quoted a line correctly from the book, according to Albion.

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Berkeley staff aims to grow city’s ‘innovation ecosystem’

Polly Armstrong presents the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce's first Visionary Awards at the Skydeck. Photo: Mark Coplan/BUSD
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The city of Berkeley has, in recent years, been working to make the community a better place for technological innovation via efforts to fight “brain drain,” make it easier to find office space, and create connections among its more than 300 startups to strengthen the “fabric of the innovation ecosystem,” city staff told council members during a special session last week.

The city is among the top technological and intellectual centers in the country, due to its proximity to institutions such as the University of California at Berkeley and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. But it has struggled to keep creatives based within the city limits due to the pull of Silicon Valley, limited room for businesses to grow, an antiquated business permitting process and a lack of connections among startups, said city staff last Tuesday night. Some have even described the atmosphere, previously, as “toxic.” … Continue reading »

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The It List: Five things to do in Berkeley this weekend

Nobel laureate Saul Perlmutter with an image of supernova 1987a in the background. Photo: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
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OUR SHINING STARS Astrophysics, climate change, technology, and education are all on the table at tonight’s conversation with three local and renowned scholars. Yes, this one’s in El Cerrito — 960 Avis Drive — but one of the scholars, Saul Perlmutter, is a physicist at both Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley. He’s also the recipient of a Nobel Prize, for his discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. Amy Luers is the director of climate at the Skoll Global Threats Fund and previously headed Google’s environment program. Phillip Alvelda has founded several media and technology companies as well as an education non-profit. Plus, he’s won an Emmy. Catch all of these phenomenal speakers for free tonight from 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16, Prospect Sierra School, 960 Avis Dr., El Cerrito. … Continue reading »

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Julia Morgan building to be moved across Berkeley

Girton Hall
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On Saturday and Sunday a beautiful, landmarked UC Berkeley-owned building will move across town, inching its way slowly from campus on a flat-bed rig up Centennial Drive to its new home at the UC Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon.

One part of Girton Hall, designed by famed architect and Cal alumna Julia Morgan and built in 1911, has already made the carefully executed journey. (See video footage and photos of that move.)

The complex relocation will conclude this weekend, with one large oversized section of the structure being transported on Saturday, and the other starting at around 6:00 a.m. on Sunday Jan. 12. The final piece, currently resting on Maxwell Field, will be moved around noon on Sunday.  … Continue reading »

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Improving Telegraph Ave. on new UC official’s ‘to-do’ list

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You know UC Berkeley’s newly appointed vice chancellor for real estate has an open-minded attitude when he says tackling the issues at People’s Park might be a “fun challenge” and looks forward to “getting some things done” to help revitalize Telegraph Avenue.

Robert J. Lalanne, a UC Berkeley alumnus and trustee of the university’s foundation, brings 25 years of real estate and development experience to the new position, which was formally announced Tuesday.

As founder of The Lalanne Group, he has spearheaded commercial, residential and mixed-use projects in San Francisco and other Bay Area counties. He will oversee all of Cal’s construction projects, seek “innovative financing” for new buildings, be the point man for facilities and manage 500 employees.

All for nothing a year.

Lalanne will donate his salary back to the university, according to a university press release. … Continue reading »

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