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From the College of Natural Sciences
Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Fish’s Use of Electricity Might Shed Light on Human Illnesses

Brienomyrus brachyistius, commonly known as the baby whale.

Deep in the night in muddy African rivers, a fish uses electrical charges to sense the world around it and communicate with other members of its species. Signaling in electrical spurts that last only a few tenths of a thousandth of a second allows the fish to navigate without letting predators know it is there. Now scientists have found that the evolutionary trick these fish use to make such brief discharges could provide new insights, with a bearing on treatments for diseases such as epilepsy.

Could a Digital Version of this Part of the Brain Be Coming Soon?

Could a Digital Version of this Part of the Brain Be Coming Soon?

The cerebellum (red) directs many of the movements we make often, yet don’t have to think about. Photo credit: Database Center for Life Science. Used via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.1 Japan license.

For decades, Michael Mauk, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, has been developing a computer simulation of the part of our brains called the cerebellum that directs many of the movements we make often, yet don't have to think about, like walking or picking up a glass of water.

Mostly Science or Mostly Fiction? We Put these 2018 Summer Movies to the Test

Mostly Science or Mostly Fiction? We Put these 2018 Summer Movies to the Test

Summer blockbuster season is here, and an impressive crop of films feature science concepts. We sat down with scientists at the University of Texas at Austin to find out how close to reality the movie magic really is. So, grab some popcorn as we dust off our Science Truth Detector and see which 2018 films offer up sound science this summer.

Meet Lawrence Garvin, II, Class of 2018

Meet Lawrence Garvin, II, Class of 2018

Lawrence Garvin, II

As a kid, Lawrence Garvin, II loved football. His dream was to be like Vince Young and play for the Longhorns. But in high school, Garvin became fascinated by neuroscience and decided his path was to be a doctor. Garvin kept his sights on The University of Texas at Austin as his top school. He was drawn to its pre-med track and partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Anti-Alcoholism Drug Shows Promise in Animal Models

Anti-Alcoholism Drug Shows Promise in Animal Models

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully tested in animals a drug that, they say, may one day help block the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that incessantly coax people with alcoholism to drink. Photo credit: iStock

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have successfully tested in animals a drug that, they say, may one day help block the withdrawal symptoms and cravings that incessantly coax people with alcoholism to drink. If eventually brought to market, it could help the more than 15 million Americans, and many more around the world who suffer from alcoholism stay sober.

Paul Goldbart Appointed Dean of UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences

Paul Goldbart Appointed Dean of UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences

Paul Goldbart

The University of Texas at Austin has named Paul Goldbart the next dean of the College of Natural Sciences. His appointment will begin Aug. 1, and he will hold the Robert E. Boyer Chair in Natural Sciences.

Manipulating Neurons

Manipulating Neurons

Illustrations: Jenna Luecke

With a flash of light, neuroscientists can now turn individual brain cells on or off. They do so using a set of tools, pioneered in part by UT Austin neuroscientist Boris Zemelman, called optogenetics.

Learning Expands the Brain’s Capacity to Store Information

Learning Expands the Brain’s Capacity to Store Information

Kristen Harris and her team used an electron microscope to make 3D images of brain structures like this one to understand how learning alters the structures. They discovered that learning causes some synapses (red) to grow and others to shrink, leading to an increase in their capacity to store information. In this image, axons (green) carrying signals from multiple brain cells connect via synapses to the shaft-like input of a single brain cell, called a dendrite (yellow). Credit: Univ. of Texas at Austin.

The act of learning causes connections between brain cells, called synapses, to expand their capacity to store information, according to a new discovery from neuroscientists at The University of Texas at Austin, the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences and The University of Otago in New Zealand.

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

​Four faculty members from the University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences have received 2018 Sloan Research Fellowships, which honor outstanding early-career scientists in eight fields.

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

​Four faculty members from the University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences have received 2018 Sloan Research Fellowships, which honor outstanding early-career scientists in eight fields.