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From the College of Natural Sciences

Marc Airhart is the Communications Coordinator for the College of Natural Sciences. A long time member of the National Association of Science Writers, he has written for national publications including Scientific American, Mercury, The Earth Scientist, Environmental Engineer & Scientist, and StarDate Magazine. He also spent 11 years as a writer and producer for the Earth & Sky radio series. Contact me

Research on Language Learning Yields Mitchell Prize for UT Austin Statisticians

Research on Language Learning Yields Mitchell Prize for UT Austin Statisticians

A cross-disciplinary team including University of Texas at Austin statisticians Giorgio Paulon and Abhra Sarkar have received the Mitchell Prize, a top prize in the field, for their study modeling what happens in the brains of nonnative English speakers learning another language's tonal differences.

MasSpec Pen Shows Promise in Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

MasSpec Pen Shows Promise in Pancreatic Cancer Surgery

Jialing Zhang demonstrates using the MasSpec Pen on a human tissue sample. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

A diagnostic tool called the MasSpec Pen has been tested for the first time in pancreatic cancer patients during surgery. The device is shown to accurately identify tissues and surgical margins directly in patients and differentiate healthy and cancerous tissue from banked pancreas samples.

First Confirmed Detection of Neutron Stars Crashing into Black Holes

First Confirmed Detection of Neutron Stars Crashing into Black Holes

For the first time, researchers have confirmed the detection of a collision between a black hole and a neutron star.

Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

The three-year study focused on Coyote Ridge, a grassland near San Jose, California, which has several endemic plant species. Credit: Erika Zavaleta/University of California, Santa Cruz.

The loss of plant species that are especially vulnerable to climate change might lead to bigger problems than previous studies have suggested, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If confirmed, the findings can help inform conservation strategies and lead to more accurate predictions about what ecosystems will look like in the future.

New Insights Could Lead to Crops Adapted to a Warming World

New Insights Could Lead to Crops Adapted to a Warming World

Pairs of seedlings show the difference in growth patterns for plants living in 22°C (left one in each pair) versus 28°C (right). Pairs of seedlings are shown for each day, from 2 to 7 days.

When air temperatures rise, plants tend to grow differently: they grow taller, their roots grow deeper, they bloom earlier and pores in their leaves get fewer. By helping them stay cooler and retain more water, these changes might enable them to adapt to our rapidly warming world. But there's a big downside for us humans. When it's hotter, crop plants that we depend on tend to have a lower yield.

Changing the World, One Graduate at a Time

Changing the World, One Graduate at a Time

This month, hundreds of graduating College of Natural Sciences students will walk across a small outdoor stage, masked and socially distanced, and smile at the camera for friends and family mostly watching online.

The Case Against Spanking (Audio)

The Case Against Spanking (Audio)

Physical punishment, or spanking, is widely practiced in the U.S. and around the world, although it appears to be decreasing. Parents, caregivers and school administrators who use it say the goal is to prevent unwanted behaviors and teach children to make better choices. But does it actually work? And what long term effects does it have on the physical and mental health of people who are punished this way?

Honoring the Life of Marye Anne Fox, Former VP for Research at UT Austin

Honoring the Life of Marye Anne Fox, Former VP for Research at UT Austin

A member of the National Academy of Sciences and recipient of the National Medal of Science, Marye Anne Fox, former chemistry professor and Vice President for Research at The University of Texas at Austin, died at her home in Austin on Sunday, May 9 following a long illness.

'Last Resort' Antibiotic Pops Bacteria Like Balloons

'Last Resort' Antibiotic Pops Bacteria Like Balloons

A 70-year mystery has finally been solved and the solution could help in the fight against antibiotic resistant bacteria. A new study led by researchers at Imperial College London, and including UT Austin's Despoina Mavridou, reveals that colistin, a last resort antibiotic "punches holes in bacteria, causing them to pop like balloons." Published i...
Biologist Awarded Radcliffe and Guggenheim Fellowships

Biologist Awarded Radcliffe and Guggenheim Fellowships

Steven Phelps, a professor of integrative biology and director of the Center for Brain, Behavior and Evolution at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded two prestigious fellowships in the same year related to his work on the biology of intimacy. He received both a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship and was named a 2021-2022 Radcliffe Fellow by the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.