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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

Three UT Austin Faculty Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Three UT Austin Faculty Elected to National Academy of Sciences

L to R: Mark Kirkpatrick, Katherine Freese and John Kormendy have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Astrophysicist Katherine Freese, astronomer John Kormendy and evolutionary biologist Mark Kirkpatrick of The University of Texas at Austin have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. They join 120 new members recognized by the academy this year for distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research.

Evolutionary Biologist Mark Kirkpatrick Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Evolutionary Biologist Mark Kirkpatrick Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Mark Kirkpatrick has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Photo by Marsha Miller.

Evolutionary biologist Mark Kirkpatrick of The University of Texas at Austin has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Among his many accomplishments, Kirkpatrick has helped explain how mating preferences drive the evolution of male traits and how sex chromosomes originate and evolve.

Genomes Assembled from Five Cotton Species Could Lead to Better Varieties

Genomes Assembled from Five Cotton Species Could Lead to Better Varieties

Researchers assembled the genomes of five cotton varieties, revealing their evolutionary history and new insights for breeding. Flower images by Atsumi Ando (UT Austin) and field of cotton by James Frelichowskin (USDA-ARS, College Station).

Cotton producers in Texas, elsewhere in the US and around the world are looking for new varieties that can better withstand droughts, pests and pathogens, yet yield higher-quality fibers for the textile industry.

Long-Living Tropical Trees Play Outsized Role in Carbon Storage

Long-Living Tropical Trees Play Outsized Role in Carbon Storage

Irene del Carmen Torres Dominguez measures the diameter of a tree on Barro Colorado Island in Panama. Since 1982, more than 200,000 trees are measured every five years. (Photo by Christian Ziegler)

A group of trees that grow fast, live long lives and reproduce slowly account for the bulk of the biomass—and carbon storage—in some tropical rainforests, a team of scientists says in a paper published this week in the journal Science. The finding that these trees, called long-lived pioneers, play a much larger role in carbon storage than previously thought may have implications in efforts to preserve forests as a strategy to fight climate change.

Science Amid the Social Distance (Audio)

Science Amid the Social Distance (Audio)

Daily life has changed for many of us due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this unusual time, when it's harder to connect physically with important people in our lives, it can be helpful to step back and spend a little time thinking about the things that still bind us together, like the wonder of the natural world and the hope that scientists offer us as we take on societal challenges.

Postdoc Receives Fellowship to Study Extrasolar Planets

Postdoc Receives Fellowship to Study Extrasolar Planets

Ben Tofflemire, a postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin, has received a 51 Pegasi b Fellowship.

Ben Tofflemire, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, has received a 51 Pegasi b Fellowship from the Heising-Simons Foundation.

New Partnership Aims to Demystify Artificial Intelligence “Black Boxes”

New Partnership Aims to Demystify Artificial Intelligence “Black Boxes”

Isil Dillig (left) and Swarat Chaudhuri are part of a new, multi-institution initiative aimed at better understanding what happens inside artificial intelligence "black boxes."

The promise of artificial intelligence to solve problems in drug design, discover how babies learn language, and make progress in many other areas has been stymied by the inability of humans to understand what's going on inside AI systems.

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

The drug candidate, called OxaliTEX, is made of two parts: a star-shaped molecule (blue) called texaphyrin that acts like a kind of delivery truck and a modified version of a platinum drug (red) that acts like a toxic package for cancer cells. Illustration credit: iQ Group Global.

​A drug candidate has been found in preclinical trials to stop tumor growth entirely, deliver more cancer-busting power than many commonly used chemotherapy drugs and do so with fewer toxic side effects and more ability to overcome resistance.

The Next 50 Years: An A.I. Designed to Make Life Better (Audio)

The Next 50 Years: An A.I. Designed to Make Life Better (Audio)

Artificial intelligence is becoming more and more a part of our daily lives. But will AI have mostly positive or negative impacts on society?

New Sandboxing Approach in Web Browser Increases Security

New Sandboxing Approach in Web Browser Increases Security

A powerful new approach to securing web browsers, using a tool called WebAssembly, is getting its first real-world application in the Firefox browser. Developed by a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, the University of California San Diego, Stanford University and Mozilla, the approach shifts some of the browser code into "secure sandboxes" that prevent malicious code from taking over the user's computer.