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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

Film Tells Incredible Story of Alum Jim Allison

Film Tells Incredible Story of Alum Jim Allison


How does a poor kid from tiny Alice, Texas grow up, go to a top research university, patiently pursue a new treatment for cancer that all the experts call crazy, and end up leading a revolution in cancer therapeutics that has already saved countless lives? Oh, and somehow manage to play harmonica with Willie Nelson and win a Nobel Prize too?

The Next 50 Years: A Global Census of Life (Audio)

The Next 50 Years: A Global Census of Life (Audio)

We know absolutely nothing about roughly 80 percent of the different types of life on Earth. Biologist David Hillis aims to discover all those missing species—by some estimates 5 to 10 million—possibly in the next few decades. Sound impossible? He shares his vision for how this would work in this first episode of our new miniseries, The Next 50 Years.

Coming Soon: A New Podcast Miniseries (Audio)

Coming Soon: A New Podcast Miniseries (Audio)

In this episode, producer and host Marc Airhart chats with senior editor Christine Sinatra about how the podcast has changed over the last few years (we're now in our fifth year of production – yay!) and where we're going in the future. We also share some exciting news: we're kicking off a new miniseries called The Next 50 Years. The first episode drops in January 2020. Stay tuned!

The Joy of Bug-Microbe Partnerships

The Joy of Bug-Microbe Partnerships

Nancy Moran keeps honey bees on a rooftop on the University of Texas at Austin campus so she can study their microbiomes. Photo credit: Julia Robinson

Nancy Moran, an evolutionary biologist at UT Austin, has built a career on groundbreaking findings about symbiotic relationships between insects and their internal bacteria. Among her many honors and awards, she is a National Academy of Sciences member, an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow and a MacArthur "Genius" fellow. She was recently profiled in the journal Science.

Building Industry Bridges: Computer Scientist Tackles New Role for Sony, While Leading at UT

Building Industry Bridges: Computer Scientist Tackles New Role for Sony, While Leading at UT

Peter Stone has been tapped by Sony Corp. to head up the U.S. branch of its new global artificial intelligence research division, called Sony AI. Photo credit: University of Texas at Austin.

In a sign of the highly competitive environment for top talent in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), the Sony Corporation this week tapped Peter Stone, a faculty member in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, to lead the newly established Sony AI in the United States.

An Experimental Anti-Cancer Drug Has an Unexpected Method of Attacking Cancer

An Experimental Anti-Cancer Drug Has an Unexpected Method of Attacking Cancer

Researchers were surprised to find that BET inhibitors have a second mechanism of attacking cancer cells, namely damaging the cell's DNA. Credit: iStock.

A widely used class of chemotherapy drugs, called topoisomerase inhibitors, come with some serious downsides: bone marrow damage, reduced blood cell production, diarrhea and heart damage. And some cancers can quickly develop resistance. A new discovery about a second class of drugs might lead to combination therapies that are just as effective, but with fewer downsides.

Chen Selected as an AMS Fellow

Chen Selected as an AMS Fellow

The American Mathematical Society has named Thomas Chen, chair of the Department of Mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin, as one of 52 Fellows of the AMS for 2020. The Fellows of the AMS designation recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics.

UT Austin Chemical Sensor Startup Secures Major Investment

UT Austin Chemical Sensor Startup Secures Major Investment

Lantha’s sensors can quickly and cheaply identify a wide range of chemicals in an uncharacterized sample. Each chemical produces a unique eight-factor signature of color and brightness that can be used to identify it and quantify concentrations. Credit: Sam Dunning and David Steadman.

A tech startup that spun out of The University of Texas at Austin, Lantha Inc., has successfully completed its first round of venture capital investments, securing $2.6 million from the GOOSE Society of Texas and other investors. The company is commercializing a novel chemical sensor invented at UT Austin that holds promise to dramatically lower costs and return faster results compared with other analytical tools. The innovation could have applications as diverse as the detection of chemical isotopes, quality control testing of feedstocks in manufacturing computer chips and pharmaceuticals, and detecting contamination in drinking water.

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New Test for Thyroid Cancer Could Prevent Unnecessary Surgery

New Test for Thyroid Cancer Could Prevent Unnecessary Surgery

A new preoperative test for thyroid cancer that’s faster and more accurate than the diagnostic test that doctors use today could prevent thousands of unnecessary thyroid removals each year. Credit: iStock.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Baylor College of Medicine have developed a new preoperative test for thyroid cancer that is faster and about two-thirds more accurate than the diagnostic tests doctors use today. Although more validation will be necessary before it can be used clinically, the new metabolic thyroid test shows promise for preventing thousands of unnecessary thyroid removals each year, such as the partial removal UT Austin grad student Amanda Helms had due to an inconclusive test.

A UT Austin Spin-Out Beats the Odds, Turning Data into Knowledge

A UT Austin Spin-Out Beats the Odds, Turning Data into Knowledge

Juan Sequeda and Daniel Miranker launched Capsenta, a start-up based on their research at the University of Texas at Austin which was recently acquired by data.world. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

It was 2006 when Juan Sequeda (BS '08, PhD '15), then a new UT Austin computer science transfer student, saw a fellow undergraduate drop a bunch of papers on the floor. When he bent over to help pick up the papers, he was surprised to see that they were research articles about an obscure subfield in computer science that Sequeda himself had recently become obsessed with: the Semantic Web.