uc research

Advice from a College Senior at Berkeley

Long post! This is definitely based off of my personal experience but some might find it useful. I am not a super social person, but I managed straight As most semesters, was involved in clubs and a Cappella, had 2 part time jobs at one point, and did research for 2 years. See below the cut to find more academic, research, and Berkeley specific advice.

If anyone actually reads this, ask me if you have any questions about school, life, research, Berkeley, food, or nutrition!

Apartment Related~

Things you need for your apartment that you might not have considered:

  • can opener
  • wine corker (even if you don’t drink you might want one for cooking)
  • a second trash can for recyclables
  • good quality food storage, esp. ones that can be baked or microwaved in
  • quality mug, tea, coffeemaker, whatever will prevent you from buying overpriced coffee on or around campus
  • pepper spray
  • plunger
  • sink/bathroom declogging detergent
  • fan
  • something to kill wall/ceiling bugs, such as a vacuum with hose or a swiffer sweeper without the cloth
  • air fresheners
  • quarters
  • an extra laundry basket or bag for clean clothes, because no way will you fold everything right away and you need space as more dirties pile up
  • flashlights and candles for power outages
  • tool kit and first aid kit

Things I bought that I didn’t really use:

  • hair products– just had no time
  • Brita filter– tap ended up being just fine and I got too lazy to clean/replace filters

Food advice from a nutrition major~

  • don’t share food with your roommate, especially perishables
  • don’t buy more fresh food than you can reasonably eat in a few days/a week
  • use going out to eat as a social activity, not your primary source of meals. You will save SO MUCH money and eat SO MUCH healthier
  • Investing in quality caffeine and accessories at home saves you SO MUCH TIME AND MONEY

School, Work, and Research Related~

Keep reading

Age-Related Cognitive Decline Tied to Immune-System Molecule

A blood-borne molecule that increases in abundance as we age blocks regeneration of brain cells and promotes cognitive decline, suggests a new study by researchers at UC San Francisco and Stanford School of Medicine.

The molecule in question, known as beta-2 microglobulin, or B2M, is a component of a larger molecule called MHC I (major histocompatibility complex class I), which plays a major role in the adaptive immune system. A growing body of research indicates that the B2M-MHC I complex, which is present in all cells in the body except red blood cells and plasma cells, can act in the brain in ways not obviously related to immunity—guiding brain development, shaping nerve cell communication, and even affecting behavior.

“We are in the process of elucidating the exact mechanism by which B2M works,” said Saul A. Villeda, PhD, a UCSF Faculty Fellow and co-senior author of the new study. “Since B2M increases with age, both in the blood and in the brain, we want to know what is the ‘traditional’ immune contribution to effects on cognition, and what is the non-traditional neural contribution.”

In 2014, highly publicized work in the laboratories of Villeda and Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology at Stanford, showed that connecting the circulatory system of a young mouse to that of an old mouse could reverse the declines in learning ability that typically emerge as mice age.

Over the course of their long-term research on so-called young blood, however, the researchers had noted an opposite effect: blood from older animals appears to contain “pro-aging factors” that suppress neurogenesis—the sprouting of new brain cells in regions important for memory—which in turn can contribute to cognitive decline.

In the new research, published online on July 6, 2015 in Nature Medicine, Villeda and co-senior author Wyss-Coray again joined forces to follow up on these findings, as well as a range of studies correlating high B2M blood levels with cognitive dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease, HIV-associated dementia, and as a consequence of chronic dialysis for kidney disease.

Members of the Villeda and Wyss-Coray labs first showed that B2M levels steadily rise with age in mice, and are also higher in young mice in which the circulatory system is joined to that of an older mouse. These findings were confirmed in humans, in whom B2M levels rose with age in both blood and in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that bathes the brain.

When B2M was administered to young mice, either via the circulatory system or directly into the brain, the mice performed poorly on tests of learning and memory compared to untreated mice, and neurogenesis was also suppressed in these mice.

These experiments were complemented by genetic manipulations in which some mice were engineered to lack a gene known as Tap1, which is crucial for the MHC I complex to make its way to the cell surface. In these mice, administration of B2M in young mice had no significant effect, either in tests of learning or in assessments of neurogenesis.

The group also bred mice missing the gene for B2M itself. These mice performed better than their normal counterparts on learning tests well into old age, and their brains did not exhibit the decline in neurogenesis typically seen in aged mice.

Villeda emphasized that the effects on learning observed in the B2M-administration experiments were reversible: 30 days after the B2M injections, the treated mice performed as well on tests as untreated mice, indicating that B2M-induced cognitive decline in humans could potentially be treated with targeted drugs.

“From a translational perspective, we are interested in developing antibodies or small molecules to target this protein late in life,” said Villeda. “Since B2M goes up with age in blood, CSF, and also in the brain itself, this allows us multiple avenues in which to target this protein therapeutically.”

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Are some people genetically predisposed to stay happily married? Researchers at UC Berkeley have found a major clue in our DNA.

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How Captain America inspired new fuel efficient cars

Materials scientist Suveen Mathaudhu shows us how both our favorite superheroes and real-world scientists create materials to save the world every day.

Some of Mathaudhu’s own research at UC Riverside has been inspired by Captain America’s shield: is it possible to make a material that is both incredibly strong and super lightweight?

Advances in this area have already made a real impact, particularly in transportation. Lighter vehicles mean better fuel efficiency, making cars cheaper to run and better for the environment.

The Ford F-150, the top-selling pickup truck in the US, shifted from a steel frame to an aluminum frame, increasing the fuel economy of the vehicle by taking over seven hundred pounds out of the frame of the vehicle.

Making the frame weigh less is a big start, but there’s another less obvious source of weight: wiring. The average automobile has between 45 - 110 pounds (20 -50 kg) of electrical cabling.

“Most of it is thick copper cable, and copper cable is heavy – and now copper is very expensive,” said Mathaudhu. “If we could get a fraction of that conductivity in aluminum, it would not only be cheaper to implement, it would be lighter weight even though it will never have the conductivity that copper will inherently have.”

Mathaudhu’s research has shown how you can use nanostructured features in aluminum to maintain its conductivity, while simultaneously boosting the strength of the aluminum. Aluminum is both cheaper and lighter, so by moving toward aluminum cabling, car manufacturers can solve two problems at once.  

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