University Updates

by Yvette Delahoussaye

New Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Christina Maslach, professor of psychology and an internationally known expert in the field of job burnout, has been appointed UC Berkeley's vice provost for undergraduate education.

Maslach will work to assure excellence in teaching and learning across school, college and division boundaries and, working with the faculty's Academic Senate, will promote curricular reform and innovation. She will also oversee advances in educational technology and its implementation on campus.

Maslach's appointment is the latest in the continuing reorganization of the campus's senior management that began last spring. Earlier, Professor Jan de Vries was appointed to oversee academic affairs and faculty welfare, and Professor William Webster was named vice provost of academic planning and facilities. Chancellor Berdahl said that such changes would address the needs of the university, including the "growing expectations concerning the education of undergraduates, increased competition for graduate students...and the increasing opportunities and challenges brought about by digital technology."

California Institutes for Science and Innovation Announced

Three new California Institutes for Science and Innovation (CISI) were selected by Gov. Gray Davis to help maintain California's leadership in science and technology. One of the centers, the Berkeley-affiliated California Institute for Bioengineering, Biotechnology and Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3), will focus on using interdisciplinary approaches to solving key problems in medicine today. Each institute will be awarded $100 million in state funds to spark the technology development that will be key to launching new industries in California.

The CISI project from Berkeley includes such projects as better ways of engineering tissues and using the vast amounts of data from the Human Genome Project to decode genes that cause disease when faulty or absent.

Gov. Davis will also seek special funding from the legislature this year for a fourth institute: UC Berkeley's proposed Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).

UC Professor wins Nobel Prize in Economics

Daniel L. McFadden, the E. Morris Cox Professor of Economics and director of the Econometrics Laboratory, received the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for the year 2000. McFadden shared the award with James Heckman of the University of Chicago and is the 17th Berkeley professor to bring home one of the world's most prestigious honors (see here for a complete list).

McFadden was honored for his "development of theory and methods for analyzing discrete choice," according to the Nobel announcement. "In the field of microeconometrics, each of the laureates has developed theory and methods that are widely used in the statistical analysis of individual and household behavior, within economics as well as other social sciences."

Berkeley Engineers Develop "Smart Dust"

UC Berkeley scientists are engineering tiny sensors light enough to float in air and acquire information about the surrounding environment, including light conditions, sound, temperature and chemical composition. Each particle of "smart dust" is composed of microelectromechanical systems (MEMs) wired together to form a minuscule computer. Each sensor contains a solar cell for generating power, a computer to store information gathered and a communicator that allows it to send back its information to a base computer. While much of the technology used for generating smart dust already exists, UC Berkeley researchers are breaking new ground by integrating these systems into remarkably tiny, self-powered devices.
So far the smallest device produced has measured.

62 cubic millimeters-about the size of a pea-but researchers expect to reduce the devices to a nearly microscopic cubic millimeter by summer 2001. At that size, the devices would be similar to dust particles, able to remain suspended in air gathering data about their surroundings for hours.

The researchers expect smart dust to have many uses in society, from detecting fires and chemical spills to monitoring product quality from factory to consumer.

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