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The fact that most humans have five digits on each hand and foot is due in part to a complex developmental pathway called Hedgehog. If something goes wrong in this process during development, say a mutation in a critical gene that affects its expression, a person might be born with extra fingers or toes, a condition known as polydactyly. New research shows that for at least one part of the pathway, there is a sort of failsafe mechanism that seems to make it harder for mistakes to happen.

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Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have devised a new method for enriching a group of the world’s most expensive chemical commodities, stable isotopes, which are vital to medical imaging and nuclear power, as reported this week in the journal Nature Physics.

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New research demonstrates that the six electric fish lineages, all of which evolved independently, used essentially the same genes and developmental and cellular pathways to make an electricity-generating organ for defense, predation, navigation and communication.

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Focusing on education, self-image and aid, a new student organization is working to empower girls in Austin. GirlAdvocates! was started in fall 2013 by biology major Lauren Caton and is dedicated to bringing students and communities together to benefit young girls.

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That salad you had for lunch. Yeah, it had fungi in it.

That celery stick you barely nibbled that came with your basket of wings last night. It had fungi in it too.

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Take a trip out to Fort Davis, under some of the darkest skies in North America, and meet the telescopes that are making astronomical history. Learn more at McDonald Observatory's websiteVideo by Jeff Mertz.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded a $2.4 million grant to The University of Texas at Austin to expand its Freshman Research Initiative, a program that gives students the opportunity to take part in advanced research projects early in their academic careers.

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Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and five other institutions have discovered that the more diverse the diet of a fish, the less diverse are the microbes living in its gut. If the effect is confirmed in humans, it could mean that the combinations of foods people eat can influence the diversity of their gut microbes.

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Take a glimpse into two of UT's biggest and brightest (literally!) greenhouses. The BOT greenhouse holds a number of exotic plants for taxonomic study, while the Welch greenhouse hosts a variety of rich and important agricultural projects. As these horticulturalists make clear, no two greenhouses are ever the same!

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Erin Dolan has been appointed the first Executive Director of the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science (TIDES), a newly formed institute for education innovation in the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) at The University of Texas at Austin. The institute was proposed in the CNS 2013 Strategic Plan as a way to enhance the college’s leading role in STEM education.