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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

Bacteria Help Scientists Discover Human Cancer-Causing Proteins

Bacteria Help Scientists Discover Human Cancer-Causing Proteins

Researchers genetically modified E coli bacteria to fluoresce red when DNA was damaged. Then, they overexpressed each of the bacteria’s 4,000 genes individually and determined which proteins made bacteria glow red. With these bacterial proteins as a guide, they identified more than 100 analogous human proteins that are now implicated in DNA damage and initiation of cancer. Image credit: Jun Xia.

A team led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Baylor College of Medicine has applied an unconventional approach involving bacteria to discover human proteins that can lead to DNA damage and promote cancer. This could lead to new tests to identify people who are likely to develop cancer. Reported in the journal Cell, the study also proposes biological mechanisms by which these proteins can damage DNA, opening possibilities for future cancer treatments.

Evolution Used Same Genetic Formula to Turn Animals Monogamous

Evolution Used Same Genetic Formula to Turn Animals Monogamous

In many non-monogamous species, females provide all or most of the offspring care. In monogamous species, parental care is often shared. In these frogs, parental care includes transporting tadpoles one by one after hatching to small pools of water. In the non-monogamous strawberry poison frog (Oophaga pumilio, left) moms perform this task; however, in the monogamous mimic poison frog (Ranitomeya imitator, right) this is dad's job. Credit: Yusan Yan and James Tumulty.

Why are some animals committed to their mates and others are not? According to a new study led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin that looked at 10 species of vertebrates, evolution used a kind of universal formula for turning non-monogamous species into monogamous species — turning up the activity of some genes and turning down others in the brain.

UT Austin Chemist Livia Eberlin Named a Moore Inventor Fellow

UT Austin Chemist Livia Eberlin Named a Moore Inventor Fellow

Livia Eberlin has been named a Moore Inventor Fellow. Photo courtesy of Moore Foundation.

A foundation that has set a goal this decade of identifying 50 inventors who will shape the next 50 years has added its second University of Texas at Austin faculty member to the list. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation announced Livia Eberlin, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry, is one of this year's five Moore Inventor fellows.

Mathematician Receives Max Planck-Humboldt Medal

Mathematician Receives Max Planck-Humboldt Medal

Mathematician Sam Payne has been awarded a Max Planck-Humboldt Medal. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Sam Payne, professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded one of this year's two Max Planck-Humboldt Medals. The medal is financed by the German government and awarded jointly by the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Giant Flightless Birds Were Nocturnal and Possibly Blind

Giant Flightless Birds Were Nocturnal and Possibly Blind

A new analysis of the skulls of extinct elephant birds show they were nocturnal and possibly blind. Credit: John Maisano/University of Texas at Austin.

If you encountered an elephant bird today, it would be hard to miss. Measuring in at over 10 feet tall, the extinct avian is the largest bird known to science. However, while you looked up in awe, it's likely that the big bird would not be looking back.

UT Austin Selected for New Nationwide High-Intensity Laser Network

UT Austin Selected for New Nationwide High-Intensity Laser Network

The Texas Petawatt Laser, among the most powerful in the U.S., will be part of a new national network funded by the Dept. of Energy, named LaserNetUS. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

The University of Texas at Austin will be a key player in LaserNetUS, a new national network of institutions operating high-intensity, ultrafast lasers. The overall project, funded over two years with $6.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, aims to help boost the country's global competitiveness in high-intensity laser research.

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‘Honey, I Shrunk the Cell Culture’: Scientists Use Shrink Ray for Biomedical Research

‘Honey, I Shrunk the Cell Culture’: Scientists Use Shrink Ray for Biomedical Research

From "Fantastic Voyage" to "Despicable Me," shrink rays have been a science-fiction staple on screen. Now chemists at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a real shrink ray that can change the size and shape of a block of gel-like material while human or bacterial cells grow on it. This new tool holds promise for biomedical researchers...
New Protein Sequencing Method Could Transform Biological Research

New Protein Sequencing Method Could Transform Biological Research

An ultra-sensitive new method for identifying the series of amino acids in individual proteins (a.k.a. protein sequencing) can accelerate research on biomarkers for cancer and other diseases. Credit: David Steadman/University of Texas at Austin.

A team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin has demonstrated a new way to sequence proteins that is much more sensitive than existing technology, identifying individual protein molecules rather than requiring millions of molecules at a time. The advance could have a major impact in biomedical research, making it easier to reveal new biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases, as well as enhance our understanding of how healthy cells function.

A Big Week in Science (Audio)

A Big Week in Science (Audio)

The first full week of October is like a science-lover's World Series: Each year, the spotlight falls on high-impact science, when day after day, a series of Nobel Prizes and other prestigious awards are announced one after another. [Update: In 2019, a UT Austin faculty member in the Cockrell School of Engineering, John Goodenough, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry during Science's Big Week.]

MacArthur Foundation Fellows Include UT Austin’s Inventor of ‘Cancer Pen’

MacArthur Foundation Fellows Include UT Austin’s Inventor of ‘Cancer Pen’

Livia S. Eberlin, chemistry professor at the University of Texas at Austin has won a MacArthur "genius award." Photo credit: Wyatt McSpadden/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

Livia Schiavinato Eberlin, an assistant professor of chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin, has won a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, sometimes called a "genius" award. The prestigious, no-strings-attached five-year fellowship awards $625,000 to each recipient.