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“Underground scholars” reverse school-to-prison pipeline (video)

Together Danny Murillo and Steven Czifra — current Berkeley students who have both spent time behind bars — have been instrumental in founding the Underground Scholars Initiative, an organization for students and prospective students who have been personally impacted by the U.S. criminal justice system. Two years on, the fledgling group has a small core membership, ASUC funding, and an office in Stiles Hall. In interviews and speaking engagements, formerly incarcerated students speak of struggles to “keep it real” in all aspects of their lives, to fend off “imposter syndrome” and stigma on campus, and cope with the trauma of incarceration. Watch a video of Steve Czifra talking about his personal story and the effects of solitary confinement.

Remembering Nobel laureate Charles Townes

Charles Hard Townes, a Berkeley professor emeritus who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday, January 27, in Oakland. He was 99. Until last year, Townes visited the campus daily, working either in his office in the physics department or at the Space Sciences Laboratory.

MacArthur Foundation awards $1 million to Human Rights Center (video)

The MacArthur Foundation has recognized the Human Rights Center at Berkeley Law for its investigations and research on war crimes and human rights abuses with a 2015 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. Alexa Koenig, the center’s executive director, told the Los Angeles Times that the new endowment will “provide a sense of stability and that makes this really important.”

Berkeley goes to Davos (video)

International leaders from the realms of business, government, academia and civil society gathered recently in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. Berkeley — the only public university to be invited — sent a contingent of luminaries who made the case for the global importance of public higher education. Led by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, the group represented a broad cross-section of academic disciplines, and included Jennifer Doudna (chemistry, molecular and cell biology); both Dirks and Doudna gave video interviews to the Huffington Post while at Davos.

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Nature, art, and religion: life's best anti-inflammatories

Taking in such spine-tingling wonders as the Grand Canyon, Sistine Chapel ceiling, or Schubert’s “Ave Maria” may give a boost to the body’s defense system, according to new research from Berkeley. Researchers have linked positive emotions — especially the awe we feel when touched by the beauty of nature, art, and spirituality — with lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are proteins that signal the immune system to work harder.

UC President Napolitano joins Goldman School faculty

Citing the critical role of faculty who have “made major impacts on public policy,” Dean Henry E. Brady announced the appointment of UC President Janet Napolitano to the faculty of the Goldman School of Public Policy. President Napolitano was twice elected as governor of Arizona and served on President Barack Obama’s cabinet as the Secretary of Homeland Security. This position will provide no compensation while she is serving as UC president.

 

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