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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

'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...
Update: Biologist Awarded Radcliffe and Guggenheim Fellowships

Update: 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.

You Can Help Decode the Universe!

You Can Help Decode the Universe!

Would you like to help astronomers understand more about the universe? McDonald Observatory astronomers are trying to learn more about dark energy — the mysterious force causing the universe to expand faster and faster over time. And now there is a fun and easy way anyone can help with their research, using a smartphone or computer.

Our Immune Systems Blanket the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Antibodies

Our Immune Systems Blanket the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Antibodies

An analysis of blood plasma samples from people who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infections shows that most of the antibodies circulating in the blood -- on average, about 84% -- target areas of the viral spike protein outside the receptor binding domain (RBD, green), including the N-terminal Domain (NTD, blue) and the S2 subunit (red, yellow). Illustration credit: University of Texas at Austin.

The most complete picture yet is coming into focus of how antibodies produced in people who effectively fight off SARS-CoV-2 work to neutralize the part of the virus responsible for causing infection. In the journal Science, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin describe the finding, which represents good news for designing the next generation of vaccines to protect against variants of the virus or future emerging coronaviruses.

Two CNS Faculty Receive President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Awards

Two CNS Faculty Receive President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Awards

Laura Lashinger (left) and Sally Ragsdale are recipients of the annual President's Associates Teaching Excellence Awards.

Laura Lashinger and Sally Ragsdale, two College of Natural Sciences faculty members, have been named recipients of the annual President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award for the 2020-2021 academic year. The award recognizes the university's educational innovators who demonstrate exceptional undergraduate teaching in the core curriculum, including signature courses, and engage with curriculum reform and educational innovation.

Hepatitis C Drugs Boost Remdesivir’s Antiviral Activity Against COVID-19

Hepatitis C Drugs Boost Remdesivir’s Antiviral Activity Against COVID-19

Drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures, according to new study. Illustration credit: Jenna Luecke/University of Texas at Austin.

Remdesivir is currently the only antiviral drug approved in the U.S. for treating COVID-19 patients. In a paper published this week in Cell Reports, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai showed that four drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures.

Mathematician Receives Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching

Mathematician Receives Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching

Amanda Hager, an associate professor of instruction in the Department of Mathematics, has been awarded the 2021 Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching, in recognition of her dedication to students. The student body is entirely responsible for the nomination, selection and award processes for the annual award, given exclusively to faculty in the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Liberal Arts.

Climate-friendly Microbes Chomp Dead Plants Without Releasing Heat-trapping Methane

Climate-friendly Microbes Chomp Dead Plants Without Releasing Heat-trapping Methane

Tengchong Yunnan hot springs in China, where some of the newly described Brockarchaeota were collected. Photo credit: Jian-Yu Jiao from Sun Yat-Sen University.

The tree of life just got a little bigger: A team of scientists from the U.S. and China has identified an entirely new group of microbes quietly living in hot springs, geothermal systems and hydrothermal sediments around the world. The microbes appear to be playing an important role in the global carbon cycle by helping break down decaying plants without producing the greenhouse gas methane.

Aaronson Receives ACM Prize in Computing

Aaronson Receives ACM Prize in Computing

The Association for Computing Machinery has awarded Scott Aaronson the 2020 ACM Prize in Computing for groundbreaking contributions to quantum computing. Aaronson is the David J. Bruton Jr. Centennial Professor of Computer Science at The University of Texas at Austin.

Cosmic Rumbles: New Faculty Probe Universe for Gravitational Waves

Cosmic Rumbles: New Faculty Probe Universe for Gravitational Waves

Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Pablo Laguna (Ph.D., '87) and Deirdre Shoemaker (Ph.D., '99) study some of the most violent events in the universe, when cosmic heavyweights—black holes and neutron stars—collide, shaking the very fabric of space and time. These gravitational waves were first discovered in 2015. It was also the start of a new era in astronomy. The couple joined the Department of Physics in 2020.

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