Button to scroll to the top of the page.

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. Contact me

All in the (Scientific) Family

All in the (Scientific) Family

Scientists often talk about the people who mentored them, and the students and postdocs they supervise, in ways that sound like a family.

New Material Holds Promise for More Secure Computing

New Material Holds Promise for More Secure Computing

When the two atomically-thin sheets of this new material are rotated slightly with respect to each other, an interference pattern known as a moiré pattern appears. This feature appears to enable Li’s new material to act as a series of single photon emitters. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

As computers advance, encryption methods currently used to keep everything from financial transactions to military secrets secure might soon be useless, technology experts warn. Reporting today in the journal Nature, a team of physicists and engineers led by University of Texas at Austin physics professor Xiaoqin Elaine Li report they have created a material with light-emitting properties that might enable hack-proof communications, guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics.

Scientists Synthesize a New Type of DNA with Extra Building Blocks

Scientists Synthesize a New Type of DNA with Extra Building Blocks

A DNA double helix built from eight hachimoji building blocks: G (green), A (red), C (dark blue), T (yellow), B (cyan), S (pink), P (purple) and Z (orange). The first four building blocks are found in human DNA; the last four are synthetic. Each strand of the double helix has the sequence CTTAPCBTASGZTAAG. Image credit: Millie Georgiadis/ Indiana University School of Medicine.

A team of synthetic biologists led by Steven Benner at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution—and including Andy Ellington at The University of Texas at Austin—have synthesized a new kind of DNA that uses eight building blocks instead of the four found in all earthly life. Reporting today in the journal Science, the researchers suggest the new eight-letter DNA could find applications in medicine and biological computing. The finding also has implications for how scientists think about life elsewhere in the universe.

Beauty, Bonding and Rethinking Evolution

Beauty, Bonding and Rethinking Evolution

Across the animal kingdom, males and females of the same species are often locked in a battle of the sexes. The instigator is evolution itself. It drives them to develop weapons, tactical tricks and defensive maneuvers that aid in an animal's fight to pass its genes on to a new generation.

Alumnus Eric Berger Reflects on the Joys of Science Communication

Alumnus Eric Berger Reflects on the Joys of Science Communication

Meet Eric Berger (B.S. Astronomy, '95), Senior Space Editor at Ars Technica and Editor at Space City Weather.

New Drug Has Potential to Protect Brain Cells from Traumatic Injuries

New Drug Has Potential to Protect Brain Cells from Traumatic Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), caused by everything from falls to being hit by moving objects to car crashes, cause nearly a third of all injury-related deaths in the U.S. Millions of survivors struggle with impaired thinking and movement, personality changes or depression.

Chemist Receives Novartis Early Career Award

Chemist Receives Novartis Early Career Award

Kami Hull. Credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Kami Hull, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded the 2018 Novartis Early Career Award in Chemistry. The award, presented to outstanding early‐career researchers who are within 10 years of establishing an independent research career, comes with an unrestricted, two-year grant of $100,000.

Bringing Real Science to the Big Screen (Audio)

Bringing Real Science to the Big Screen (Audio)

What's it like for a scientist to work as an advisor on a major Hollywood film? In this first of a two-part conversation, Kip Thorne talks with his former graduate student Bill Press about the impact that a film like Interstellar can have on the public, balancing scientific accuracy and entertainment and what winning the Nobel Prize really says about a scientists' worth. (BTW, Interstellar star Matthew McConaughey is also a UT Austin alum and [update as of August 2019] member of the faculty.)

New Material Might Lead to Higher Capacity Hard Drives

New Material Might Lead to Higher Capacity Hard Drives

Over the past few decades, the cost of storing data on hard disk drives (HDDs) has fallen dramatically, enabling revolutions in personal, scientific and cloud computing and allowing for storage of ever-greater amounts of data. But even as data collection continues to skyrocket, the cost-per-bit trend has been flattening out, leading to calls for new innovations in technology.

Central Texas Salamanders, Including Newly Identified Species, At Risk of Extinction

Central Texas Salamanders, Including Newly Identified Species, At Risk of Extinction

This newly identified, unnamed salamander lives near the Pedernales river west of Austin, Texas. Photo credit: Tom Devitt.

Biologists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered three new species of groundwater salamander in Central Texas, including one living west of Austin that they say is critically endangered. They also determined that an already known salamander species near Georgetown is much more endangered than previously thought.