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From the College of Natural Sciences
Is Coronavirus Mutating Amid its Rapid U.S. Spread?

Is Coronavirus Mutating Amid its Rapid U.S. Spread?

A new study, currently awaiting peer review and involving more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Houston, finds that the virus that causes the disease is accumulating genetic mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. According to the paper posted this week to the preprint server medRxiv, that mutation, called D614G, was also implicated in an earlier study in the UK in possibly making the virus easier to spread. The Washington Post was among several outlets reporting the findings this week.

New Grant Enables Creation of Polymer-Based Data Storage System

New Grant Enables Creation of Polymer-Based Data Storage System

Imagine a new type of security system that, rather than storing data or an encryption key on a USB drive, encodes information into a small piece of plastic that can be unlocked only via a chemical reaction using a specific type of substance. And the devices that can read this information think like human brains and have the ability to communicate seamlessly with today's electronics.

3D Printing with Visible Light Gets a Speed Boost

3D Printing with Visible Light Gets a Speed Boost

3D printed objects made (from left) with blue, green and red light. Photo courtesy Lynn Stevens.

A team of University of Texas at Austin researchers led by chemistry assistant professor Zachariah Page demonstrated a fast and precise way to 3D print using visible light.

UT Center Paves the Way on ‘Future of Aging’ Research

UT Center Paves the Way on ‘Future of Aging’ Research

The Center on Aging and Population Sciences is now accepting proposals for 2021 pilot studies. Deadline to submit is January 22.
As populations age, they carry their weight of experiences, both good and bad — but collectively powerful in setting the pace of aging.
Why Some Cancers May Respond Poorly to Key Drugs Discovered

Why Some Cancers May Respond Poorly to Key Drugs Discovered

Patients with BRCA1/2 mutations are at higher risk for breast, ovarian and prostate cancers that can be aggressive when they develop – and, in many cases, resistant to lifesaving drugs. Now scientists at The University of Texas at Austin and Ajou University in South Korea have identified a driver of the drug resistance that can make a life or death difference for patients with these cancers.

Planet Hugging a White Dwarf May Be a Survivor of Star’s Death Throes

Planet Hugging a White Dwarf May Be a Survivor of Star’s Death Throes

In this illustration, WD 1856 b, a potential Jupiter-size planet, orbits its dim white dwarf star every day and a half. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

An international team of astronomers has used NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and retired Spitzer Space Telescope to discover what may be the first intact planet found closely orbiting a white dwarf, the dense leftover of a sun-like star only 40% larger than Earth. The work, led by Andrew Vanderburg of The University of Texas at Austin, included follow-up observations with the 10-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the university's McDonald Observatory.

New Dashboards Launched to Track COVID-19 Across Texas Communities

New Dashboards Launched to Track COVID-19 Across Texas Communities

The University of Texas at Austin's COVID-19 Modeling Consortium has launched a new online dashboard to track the spread and impact of the virus, including in hospitals across Texas, with detailed information for 22 areas.

Antibody Test Developed for COVID-19 That is Sensitive, Specific and Scalable

Antibody Test Developed for COVID-19 That is Sensitive, Specific and Scalable

An antibody test for the virus that causes COVID-19, developed by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin in collaboration with Houston Methodist and other institutions, is more accurate and can handle a much larger number of donor samples at lower overall cost than standard antibody tests currently in use. In the near term, the test can be used to accurately identify the best donors for convalescent plasma therapy and measure how well candidate vaccines and other therapies elicit an immune response.

Celebrating Eon, a New Art Installation in Welch Hall

Celebrating Eon, a New Art Installation in Welch Hall

Landmarks today unveiled its newest commission in the recently renovated Welch Hall, a 37.7 x 8.93 foot video installation by Los Angeles-based artist Jennifer Steinkamp, titled Eon, which takes its inspiration from the symbiosis. At a celebration with the artist and curatorial contributor Rudolf Frieling of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Dean Goldbart spoke about the digital work and its significance for the scientific community. 

Breakthrough Prize Awarded to UT Physicist Steven Weinberg

Breakthrough Prize Awarded to UT Physicist Steven Weinberg

An elite prize among scientists worldwide is being given to Steven Weinberg, a professor of physics at The University of Texas at Austin, for his "continuous leadership in fundamental physics, with broad impact across particle physics, gravity and cosmology, and for communicating science to a wider audience."