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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

UT Austin Selected as Home of National AI Institute Focused on Machine Learning

UT Austin Selected as Home of National AI Institute Focused on Machine Learning

The NSF AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning and the Machine Learning Laboratory will be administratively housed in the Gates-Dell Complex at The University of Texas at Austin. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu/University of Texas at Austin.

The National Science Foundation has selected The University of Texas at Austin to lead the NSF AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning, bolstering the university's existing strengths in this emerging field. Machine learning is the technology that drives AI systems, enabling them to acquire knowledge and make predictions in complex environments. This technology has the potential to transform everything from transportation to entertainment to health care.

Ask the COVID-19 Experts (Audio)

Ask the COVID-19 Experts (Audio)

We asked you, dear listeners, to send us your most burning questions about COVID-19. And you didn't disappoint. You asked: When will it be safe for my 12-week-old baby to meet her grandparents? Can you catch it twice? Is the virus mutating and will that make it harder to develop vaccines? In today's episode, our three experts get to the bottom of these questions, and more.

Locking Down Shape-Shifting Spike Protein Aids Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

Locking Down Shape-Shifting Spike Protein Aids Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

An engineered protein developed by UT Austin researchers and their colleagues is a key element of COVID-19 vaccines currently in human trials by Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

The experimental vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that was the first to enter human trials in the United States has been shown to elicit neutralizing antibodies and a helpful T-cell response with the aid of a carefully engineered spike protein that mimics the infection-spreading part of the virus.

COVID-19 Vaccine Innovation Could Dramatically Speed Up Worldwide Production

COVID-19 Vaccine Innovation Could Dramatically Speed Up Worldwide Production

Jason S. McLellan, associate professor of molecular biosciences, left, and graduate student Daniel Wrapp, right, work in the McLellan Lab at The University of Texas at Austin Monday Feb. 17, 2020.

Responding to a need to quickly develop billions of doses of lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines, a scientific team at The University of Texas at Austin has successfully redesigned a key protein from the coronavirus, and the modification could enable much faster and more stable production of vaccines worldwide.

UT Austin to Partner in New NSF Quantum Computing Institute

UT Austin to Partner in New NSF Quantum Computing Institute

Illustration credit: Nicolle R. Fuller/National Science Foundation

The University of Texas at Austin's Scott Aaronson is an initial member of a new multi-institution collaboration called the NSF Quantum Leap Challenge Institute for Present and Future Quantum Computation. The institute will work to overcome scientific challenges to achieving quantum computing and will design advanced, large-scale quantum computers that employ state-of-the-art scientific algorithms developed by the researchers.

Dominant Individuals are the Least Influential, Study Finds

Dominant Individuals are the Least Influential, Study Finds

A new study of cichlid fish behavior shows that dominant individuals can influence a group through force, but passive individuals are far better at bringing a group to consensus. Photo credit: The Jordan Lab, Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior.

Being the strongest, biggest and most aggressive individual in a group might make you dominant, but it doesn't mean you make all the decisions.

COVID-19 Vaccines with UT Ties Arrived Quickly After Years in the Making

COVID-19 Vaccines with UT Ties Arrived Quickly After Years in the Making

When the first COVID-19 vaccine trial in the U.S. began on March 16, history was being made. Never before had a potential vaccine been developed and produced for human trials so quickly—just 66 days since scientists published the genome sequence of the virus that causes the disease. This blindingly fast effort was only possible because a group of scientists and their partners in industry had already invested years in laying the groundwork.

Antibodies from a SARS Patient Could Help Fight Coronaviruses Now and in the Future

Antibodies from a SARS Patient Could Help Fight Coronaviruses Now and in the Future

Scientists from UT Austin and elsewhere found many human antibodies that bind to the spike protein of SARS-like viruses. On the left, two copies of an antibody dubbed ADI-55689 (orange) bind two different sites on the spike protein (white). On the right, a different antibody dubbed ADI-56046 (purple) binds another site on the spike protein. These antibody binding sites are close to sites where the spike protein binds to receptors on the surface of human cells (red) and to another monoclonal antibody dubbed CR3022 (light blue).

As terrifying as the current pandemic is, scientists believe some of the hundreds of other known coronaviruses in bats might also have the potential to make the cross-species leap into humans, as this one probably did. Scientists are already thinking about ways to prevent another coronavirus from spiraling out of control. Basic research published in the journal Science provides evidence that an antibody therapy that's effective against all SARS-like coronaviruses is possible.

Meet Melissa Kemp, Time Traveler

Meet Melissa Kemp, Time Traveler

Melissa Kemp studies how environmental changes impact biodiversity in tropical regions. In May, she published a study tracking human-driven species introductions in the Caribbean through 7,000 years of human habitation."I'm interested in these past instances of change that we can see through the fossil record, because it's the key to really unders...
The Next 50 Years: Anybody Out There? (Audio)

The Next 50 Years: Anybody Out There? (Audio)

In these next few decades, will humans finally find life in space? We asked University of Texas at Austin astronomer Caroline Morley and her answer just might surprise you. Morley shares her vision for the future in this latest episode of our miniseries, The Next 50 Years.