News

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.
Eyewitness to a Cosmic Car Wreck (Audio)

Eyewitness to a Cosmic Car Wreck (Audio)

Astronomers have long been able to watch the universe's blockbuster special effects unfold in dazzling 3D Technicolor. But until now, it's been like watching a silent movie. Today that all changes. Scientists announced this morning that they have for the first time ever detected both light and gravitational waves from a massive explosion in space caused by the collision of two super-dense neutron stars. On today's show, we talk to astrophysicist Pawan Kumar about what this breakthrough means for his field.

Chemists Receive $2 Million to Develop Inexpensive Home Test for Heart Failure

Chemists Receive $2 Million to Develop Inexpensive Home Test for Heart Failure

With the prick of a finger, the new sensor could indicate whether a person has elevated levels of a biomarker associated with heart failure. Credit: iStock.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a team led by Richard M. Crooks, a chemistry professor at The University of Texas at Austin, a $2 million grant to develop an inexpensive, at-home test for people diagnosed with heart failure.

How UT Scientists Contributed to Nobel-Winning Gravitational Wave Discovery

How UT Scientists Contributed to Nobel-Winning Gravitational Wave Discovery

​A day after celebrating the news that University of Texas at Austin alumnus Michael Young was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on circadian rhythms, we were thrilled to wake up this morning to the news that three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of gravitational waves, work that was heavily in...
UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

Oleander aphid. Credit: Alex Wild

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are investigating an innovative new way to protect crops from pathogens, thanks to a four-year cooperative agreement worth up to $5 million awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Insect Allies Program.

UT Marine Science Institute Awarded Grant to Complete Gulf Oil Spill Research

UT Marine Science Institute Awarded Grant to Complete Gulf Oil Spill Research

DROPPS scientists use lasers to investigate how plumes of oil and dispersant move through a water column. That movement changes when other animals, such as this marine invertebrate called a ctenophore, are present. Photo by Jeffery Cordero.

A consortium led by The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) is receiving $4.5 million in the third multi-million-dollar grant since 2012 supporting research on the impact of oil spills and dispersants on the Gulf of Mexico. Coming less than a month after Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage on the UTMSI campus, the announcement was made by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, a $500 million research program funded by British Petroleum in the wake of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Why Poison Frogs Don’t Poison Themselves

Why Poison Frogs Don’t Poison Themselves

The phantasmal poison frog, Epipedobates anthonyi, is the original source of epibatidine, discovered by John Daly in 1974. Epibatidine has not been found in any animal outside of Ecuador, and its ultimate source, proposed to be an arthropod, remains unknown. This frog was captured at a banana plantation in the Azuay province in southern Ecuador in August 2017. Credit: Rebecca Tarvin/University of Texas at Austin.

Don't let their appearance fool you: Thimble-sized, dappled in cheerful colors and squishy, poison frogs in fact harbor some of the most potent neurotoxins we know. With a new paper published in the journal Science, scientists are a step closer to resolving a related head-scratcher — how do these frogs keep from poisoning themselves? And the answer has potential consequences for the fight against pain and addiction.

Scientists: New Device Accurately Identifies Cancer in Seconds (Updated)

Scientists: New Device Accurately Identifies Cancer in Seconds (Updated)

A team of scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a powerful tool that rapidly and accurately identifies cancerous tissue during surgery, delivering results in about 10 seconds—more than 150 times as fast as existing technology. The MasSpec Pen is an innovative handheld instrument that gives surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence.

Scientists Discover Powerful Potential Pain Reliever

Scientists Discover Powerful Potential Pain Reliever

Stephen Martin (left) and James Sahn have discovered a new pain reliever that acts on a previously unknown pain pathway. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Stephen Martin.

A team of scientists led by chemists Stephen Martin and James Sahn at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered what they say is a powerful pain reliever that acts on a previously unknown pain pathway. The synthetic compound, known as UKH-1114, is as effective at relieving neuropathic pain in injured mice as a drug widely used for pain relief called gabapentin, but it works at a much lower dose, with longer duration of action.

Ancient Microbes Folded their DNA Similarly to Modern Life Forms

Ancient Microbes Folded their DNA Similarly to Modern Life Forms

Archaea wrap their DNA (yellow) around proteins called histones (blue). The wrapped structure bears an uncanny resemblance to the eukaryotic nucleosome, a bundle of eight histone proteins with DNA spooled around it. But unlike eukaryotes, archaea wind their DNA around just one histone protein, and form a long, twisting structure called a superhelix. Credit: Francesca Mattiroli

As life evolved on Earth, from simple one-celled microbes to complex plants, animals and humans, their DNA grew. And that created a problem: how do you pack more and more DNA into roughly the same-sized cellular compartment? Life's solution: fold it up into a ball. Reporting in the August 10 edition of the journal Science, researchers have discovered that microbes called archaea started folding their DNA in a way very similar to that of modern plants and animals, long before complex life evolved.

Quantum Computer Scientist Named Simons Foundation Investigator

Quantum Computer Scientist Named Simons Foundation Investigator

Scott Aaronson

Computer scientist Scott Aaronson of The University of Texas at Austin has been selected as a 2017 Simons Investigator in Theoretical Computer Science by the Simons Foundation for his work in quantum computation.