University Updates

by Gregory J. Butera

New Vice Chancellor for University Relations

Professor Donald McQuade, a 13-year member of the UC Berkeley English faculty, was recently selected vice chancellor for University Relations, following a nationwide search. The office is responsible for fund raising and public affairs operations at UC Berkeley. McQuade, 57, an accomplished scholar and former acting vice provost and dean of Undergraduate and Interdisciplinary Studies in the College of Letters & Sciences, will oversee a staff of 180 employees and an operating budget of $12.3 million.

Among his immediate responsibilities is to successfully conclude the campus's Campaign for the New Century. The private fund-raising campaign, among the most ambitious of any public university, is on target to reach its goal of raising $1.1 billion by 2001.

The vice chancellor also serves as president of the University of California Berkeley Foundation, which raises, invests and administers donations to the campus. In addition, he oversees the Office of Public Affairs, which is responsible for campus publications and communications, media relations and government affairs. McQuade succeeds C. D. Mote, Jr., who left in August to become president of the University of Maryland at College Park.

New Head of Public Affairs Joins Berkeley

Matthew M. Lyon, the new assistant vice chancellor of public affairs, brings a wealth of experience to the Berkeley community. A professor's son, Lyon grew up on college campuses and has spent his career in journalism, politics, and corporate and university public relations. He is co-author with Katie Hafner, his wife, of Where Wizards Stay Up Late: the Origins of the Internet.

After graduating from Hampshire College in 1980, Lyon worked as an associate editor for The Texas Observer, but quickly moved into the political world, becoming chief speech writer for then-Texas governor Mark White, and then national issues director for U.S. Rep. Richard Gephardt's presidential bid. He later returned to Texas to head the communications department of high-tech engineering firm Parker Kinetic Designs Inc., which had links to the University of Texas at Austin. Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl, who was then president of UT Austin, eventually brought Lyon on board to work for him, as a speechwriter and in other aspects of public affairs.

"I want to make sure that we are communicating intensely with the campus constituencies so that we can reflect our best moments, deepest concerns and greatest achievements," said Lyon. "We have the potential to enthrall and inspire the rest of the world."

1998 Science Breakthrough of the Year

Science magazine chose a Berkeley discovery as the top research advance of 1998. Separate and independent teams of astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley, and physicists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory uncovered direct evidence that the universe is expanding, and at an accelerating rate. The conclusion was based on research measuring the light from a "standard candle," in this case a class 1a supernova, which has a known magnitude and lifetime.

Both teams search the night sky for these candles by comparing two photos taken weeks apart. Computers digitally subtract information, leaving any bright supernovae standing out. The light from the decaying supernova is then measured to determine its distance from us. Light from receding stars is pushed toward the red-end of the color spectrum because of the Doppler effect. This red-shift has allowed the researchers to determine that the universe is in a constant state of expansion.

Aliens on Your Computer?

Two new initiatives by UC Berkeley researchers are designed to improve the search for extraterrestrial life. The SERENDIP IV project, launched in October 1998, uses the world's largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, to collect data during regular observing runs of other astronomers. The piggybacking SERENDIP IV equipment analyzes 168 million radio channels simultaneously. The dish typically scans the entire visible sky once every six months, providing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program with a thorough survey.

Originally begun in 1976, this new phase of Project SERENDIP will enable the collection of a whole new range of radio signals. To analyze this enormous amount of data, scientists at UC Berkeley developed software to link thousands of computers together. Thus was born the SETI@home project Ņa special kind of screensaver that will be sent out to 100,000 computer users around the world. Like other screensavers, it starts up when you leave your computer unattended, and shuts down when you return to work. But when your computer is idle, it will be analyzing data from the Arecibo telescope. With the thousands of computers linked together, SETI@home may indeed detect a signal that would otherwise be missed.

Testing of the screensaver has been successful. The full project will begin in April. To follow along with the research, you can go to the website http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/.