ARTICLES

And this years’ Big Ideas Grand Prize Award Goes To…

In its annual Grand Prize Pitch Day and Awards Celebration on May 4, judges of the UC-wide Rudd Family Foundation Big Ideas Contest awarded the 2022 Grand Prize to the “SMART Cookies” project from UC Irvine, a community-based solution to iron-deficiency anemia. The Grand Prize award winner takes home $10,000 on top of any earlier awards earned in the past year.

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Dan Fletcher named Blum Center Faculty Director

Daniel Fletcher, Blum Center Associate Director of Research, CellScope inventor, and Berkeley bioengineering faculty since 2002, has been named the new Faculty Director for the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. The position will start on July 1.

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Pickering Lab to Increase Clean Water Access with $1.9M Award

Development Engineering Prof. Amy Pickering, Blum Center Distinguished Chair in Global Poverty and Practice at UC Berkeley, and Dr. Katya Cherukumilli, a postdoctoral scholar in Pickering’s lab, have won a $1.9 million award to increase access to clean and safe water in low-income urban communities around the world. The Open Philanthropy grant will go toward scaling up and deploying the Venturi, the in-line (passive) chlorinator device that was originally designed by local engineers in Bangladesh, Kenya, and the U.S.

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Join Health Tech CoLab at Speaker Series

Makesh Ramalingam of HCL Technologies explains the process of bringing devices to market and the unique challenges posed by individual countries’ regulatory standards at the latest talk in the Health Tech CoLab spring speaker series. The event will be held in person in Blum Hall 120 and streamed live online. Click for more details.

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63rd Readiness Division hosts first NSIN Bootcamp

The 63rd Readiness Division kicked off the unit’s first National Security Innovation Network (NSIN) Bootcamp, hosted virtually in February 2022, to discuss improving services pertaining to Personnel, Readiness, Sustainment and Training. The workshop was led by two instructors from UC Berkeley in partnership with the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit.

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How Indigenous burning shaped the Klamath’s forests for a millennia

Combining scientific data with Indigenous oral histories and ecological knowledge, research by Blum Center Associate Director for Sustainable Development Matthew Potts shows how cultural burning practices of Native people of the Klamath Mountains helped shape the region’s forests for at least a millennia prior to European colonization.

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Berkeley Alumnae Tackle Language Gaps in Wildfire Emergency Communication

In the Fall of 2019, Abby Yue Gao’s first semester in UC Berkeley’s Master of Architecture program, her classes had to repeatedly pause due to another severe California wildfire season. Berkeley was spared the flames, but still suffered power shut offs and dreadful air quality thanks to that year’s worst blaze, Sonoma County’s Kincade Fire. Tens of thousands had to flee their homes; hundreds of thousands faced blackouts. A quarter of the county’s population speaks a language other than English at home — a major hurdle during disasters, when critical information from first responders goes out primarily in English.

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Richard Blum, Blum Center founder, benefactor, and friend of the university, passes away

The University of California, Berkeley, mourns the loss of Richard C. Blum, alumnus, business leader, philanthropist, UC Board of Regents President Emeritus, Berkeley Medal recipient, and founder of the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley. As a UC Berkeley alum, Richard Blum combined a fierce love for his alma mater with an equally fierce passion for addressing global poverty with the establishment of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, a multidisciplinary research center addressing urgent global challenges of poverty and inequity through education and technology. The Center was built on and continues to live out this vision and dedication.

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2022 Rudd Family Foundation Big Ideas Finalists Announced!

Of the nearly 200 pre-proposal applications that were received in November from students across every campus of the UC system, sixteen projects were selected from a diverse portfolio of innovations spanning a variety of social impact tracks, including global health, food and agriculture, financial inclusion, energy and resources, education and literacy, cities and communities, data and AI, and art and social change. UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC Merced, UC San Diego, and UC San Francisco all have projects in the finals. Half of the team leads for the finalist projects identify as female. A quarter of the projects are led by undergrads.

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Message to Friends of the Blum Center

S. Shankar Sastry has announced that he will step down as faculty director of the Blum Center at the end of the academic year. In his message, he expresses his thanks and reflects on the many successes of his tenure as director from 2007 to the current academic year.

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New Cal Students Tackle Social Entrepreneurship in Berkeley Changemaker Big Ideas Class

UGBA 96-2: Berkeley Changemaker™: Big Ideas, a social entrepreneurship course and the foundational curricular component of the Big Ideas Program, is offered in partnership with the Center for Social Sector Leadership at Berkeley Haas School of Business. It is an integral part of the Berkeley Changemaker™ initiative, a key campus-wide initiative designed to activate undergraduates’ passions for social change and help them develop a sharper sense of who they want to be and how to make that happen.

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Professor Dan Kammen to Serve in Biden Administration

Blum affiliated faculty member Dan Kammen has been selected to serve as senior adviser for energy, climate, and innovation for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Kammen, a leading expert in renewable energy science, technology, and policy, will primarily work with the agency’s PowerAfrica team to develop partnerships with African nations, with the goal of expanding access to sustainable power.

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Blackbook U wins Big Ideas Grand Prize

The UC-wide Big Ideas Contest, based at the Blum Center, awarded the 2021 Grand Prize to Blackbook University, a team of Berkeley undergraduate students led by Ibrahim Balde that designed a platform to equip Black students with communities, resources, and opportunities to help overcome institutional inequities in higher education and employment.

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Berkeley X-Force Fellows Team Up with Military Sponsors to Solve Real-World Problems

In South Dakota, Ellsworth Air Force Base has some 1,500 maintenance personnel, who are essential to maintaining the base’s aircraft and overall readiness. Every month, a small team of airmen must spend an entire week analyzing the efficiency and effectiveness of the 1,500 airmen’s training, certifications, and workflow. Much like the base’s aircraft, the team wants to ensure they have the right tools and resources to meet any challenge, but this burdensome process takes up a fourth of their time each month.

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A New ‘Pipeline for Social Innovation’: HealthTech CoLab opens in Blum Hall

The Health Technologies Collaborative Laboratory, a brand-new collaboration space to advance the development of medical devices to facilitate better healthcare and close the data and information gaps between innovators and industry, opened its doors last month in Blum Hall’s historic Naval Architecture Building with a launch event on Sept. 23 for a masked-up group of supporters, industry representatives, and campus VIPs.

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Kris Kohler Joins Dev Eng, GPP Programs

Kris Kohler, a sociologist who has taught at universities across California and beyond, joined the Blum Center this fall to teach two courses: Development Engineering 202: Critical Systems of Development, and Global Poverty and Practice 115: Global Poverty: Challenges and Hopes.

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Meet the Inaugural M.DevEng Cohort

Students from around the U.S. and the world — coming from the fields of finance, electrical engineering, nursing, and beyond — make up the inaugural cohort of the three-semester professional master’s program in development engineering, a transdisciplinary field founded at UC Berkeley that creates technology interventions in accordance with and for individuals living in low-resource settings.

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National Science Foundation awards $10M to alliance of Native American institutions, UC Berkeley, and UArizona to increase Indigenous participation in higher ed

A wide range of academic programing around food, energy, and water systems (FEWS) designed by and for Native Americans and other underrepresented student groups will expand substantially as a result of a new $10 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Arizona, in collaboration with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and more than 20 additional partners.

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As Wildfires Worsen, Berkeley Students and Alumni Team Up with First Responders to Solve Information Challenges

At the beginning of summer, the University of California brought together scientists and faculty from across the UC system for a symposium series to tackle one of the biggest threats to the state: wildfires. With expertise in forest ecology, climate change, and drought, panelists shared how innovations in understanding and modeling fire behavior and other risk factors affect our ability to prepare for, battle, and recover from ever-more-destructive blazes.

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Ph.D. Student Paige Balcom Turns Awards into Innovation and Social Change in Uganda

Paige Balcom was in Uganda when COVID hit. The country quickly instituted a strict lockdown—all borders and airports closed, transport stopped, a strict curfew and other restrictions were enforced by the military, misinformation spread, and many people couldn’t get food. In the fall, the UC Berkeley Ph.D. student’s classes went remote, and she dealt with the 10-hour time difference.

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