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From the College of Natural Sciences
Success of Conservation Efforts for Important Caribbean Reef Fish Hinges on Climate Change

Success of Conservation Efforts for Important Caribbean Reef Fish Hinges on Climate Change

Photo credit: Alfredo Barroso

For more than 20 years, conservationists have been working to protect one of the most recognizable reef fish in the Caribbean, the endangered and iconic Nassau grouper, and thanks to those efforts, populations of this critical reef fish have stabilized in some areas. But in a new paper, published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, marine scientists said climate change might severely hinder those efforts by the end of this century.

McDonald Observatory, Oil and Gas Orgs Collaborate to Protect Night Skies

McDonald Observatory, Oil and Gas Orgs Collaborate to Protect Night Skies

Star trails swirl around Polaris, the North Star, above the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography

The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory has collaborated with the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) and the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) to reduce light shining into the sky from drilling rigs and related activities in West Texas. The excess light has the potential to drown out the light from stars and galaxies, and threatens to reduce the effectiveness of the observatory's research telescopes to study the mysteries of the universe.

Remembering Joanne Ravel, UT Austin Biochemistry Professor

Remembering Joanne Ravel, UT Austin Biochemistry Professor

Joanne Ravel (PhD '54), Ashbel Smith Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin, passed away on June 28, 2018 just shy of her 94th birthday. She was a lifelong resident of Austin, Texas.

In Science, Facility Plans Determine Staying Ahead of the Technological Curve

In Science, Facility Plans Determine Staying Ahead of the Technological Curve

It's an early morning in June, weeks after most students have left the University of Texas at Austin campus for the summer, but the heart of the Forty Acres is anything but quiet.

New Nerve Gas Detector Built with Legos and a Smartphone

New Nerve Gas Detector Built with Legos and a Smartphone

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have designed a way to sense dangerous chemicals using, in part, a simple rig consisting of a smartphone and a box made from Lego bricks, which could help first responders and scientists in the field identify deadly and difficult-to-detect nerve agents such as VX and sarin. The new methodology described in a paper published Wednesday in the open-access journal ACS Central Science combines a chemical sensor with photography to detect and identify different nerve agents — odorless, tasteless chemical weapons that can cause severe illness and death, sometimes within minutes.

Daniels Receives 2018 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award

Daniels Receives 2018 Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award

Mathematician Mark Daniels is one of 27 University of Texas faculty members chosen to receive prestigious 2018 Regents' Outstanding Teaching Awards. The awards recognize innovative teaching and commitment to student success. They each will receive $25,000 in recognition of their commitment to student success.

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.

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

This illustration shows the most common structure of DNA found in a cell, called B-DNA. Credit: Richard Wheeler (Zephyris). Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license.

In the same way that barcodes on your groceries help stores know what's in your cart, DNA barcodes help biologists attach genetic labels to biological molecules to do their own tracking during research, including of how a cancerous tumor evolves, how organs develop or which drug candidates actually work. Unfortunately with current methods, many DNA barcodes have a reliability problem much worse than your corner grocer's. They contain errors about 10 percent of the time, making interpreting data tricky and limiting the kinds of experiments that can be reliably done.

Physicists Catch Higgs Boson Interacting with Top Quarks

Physicists Catch Higgs Boson Interacting with Top Quarks

Artistic view of the Brout-Englert-Higgs Field. Image credit: Daniel Dominguez/CERN.

The ATLAS Collaboration, an international team of physicists including Peter Onyisi from the University of Texas at Austin, has announced the observation of Higgs bosons produced together with a top-quark pair. Observing this extremely rare process is a significant milestone for the field of high-energy physics.

A Change in Bacteria’s Genetic Code Holds Promise of Longer-Lasting Drugs

A Change in Bacteria’s Genetic Code Holds Promise of Longer-Lasting Drugs

An alteration in the genetic code of bacteria holds promise for protein therapeutics. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

By altering the genetic code in bacteria, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have demonstrated a method to make therapeutic proteins more stable, an advance that would improve the drugs' effectiveness and convenience, leading to smaller and less frequent doses of medicine, lower health care costs and fewer side effects for patients with cancer and other diseases.