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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

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.

Breakthrough in Coronavirus Research Results in New Map to Support Vaccine Design

Breakthrough in Coronavirus Research Results in New Map to Support Vaccine Design

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of Health have made a critical breakthrough toward developing a vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus by creating the first 3D atomic scale map of the part of the virus that attaches to and infects human cells.

The Next 50 Years: Your Perfect Meal and Exercise Plan (Audio)

The Next 50 Years: Your Perfect Meal and Exercise Plan (Audio)

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be able to follow a specific diet or exercise plan and others fail? The answer might have to do with factors unique to each person, like their microbiomes and genetics.

Two UT Austin Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

Two UT Austin Faculty Receive Sloan Research Fellowships

Sean Roberts (left) and David Soloveichik have received Sloan Research Fellowships.

Two faculty members from the University of Texas at Austin have received 2020 Sloan Research Fellowships, which honor outstanding early-career scientists in eight fields.