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.
Scientists Unveil the Most Comprehensive Genomic Tree of Life

Scientists Unveil the Most Comprehensive Genomic Tree of Life

An international team of researchers, including Brett Baker from The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, has made the most comprehensive tree of life based on genomes, greatly expanding our view of the diversity of life on the planet. Using genetic data collected in recent years, the researchers found a group of bacteria that are so diverse genetically that they represent half of all the diversity of bacteria on the planet.

Mr. Sandman: Alum Dan Goldman Snakes Across Dunes of Research

Mr. Sandman: Alum Dan Goldman Snakes Across Dunes of Research

Dan Goldman (Ph.D. Physics '02), a physicist at Georgia Tech, is exploring how animals move on tricky surfaces like sand, bark, leaves and grass. The New York Times produced two videos on his research, which revealed how sidewinder snakes climb up sand dunes and how the sandfish lizard "swims" through sand. Tomorrow, he's delivering a talk to undergraduates at UT Austin titled "Robophysics: Physics Meets Robotics." We recently chatted about his work.

Drug Engineered at UT Austin to Treat Anthrax Gains FDA Approval

Drug Engineered at UT Austin to Treat Anthrax Gains FDA Approval

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin successfully culminated years of work when a drug they engineered for the treatment and prevention of inhalational anthrax — the anthrax antitoxin obiltoxaximab — received approval March 21 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

New Catalyst Enables Cheaper Production of Hydrogen Fuel

New Catalyst Enables Cheaper Production of Hydrogen Fuel

Imagine a world where cars run on fuel derived from water instead of gasoline. Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere are developing methods for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen that could someday power hydrogen fuel cells. One key challenge has been the high cost of catalysts, chemicals that shepherd the electrolytic reaction.

Podcast: Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria

Podcast: Jekyll and Hyde Bacteria

To study diseases, biologists often make models, for example, a rat with a disorder similar to Alzheimer's. With a good model, they can tinker with different variables and see if anything halts the disease, without the ethical limits of experimenting on actual humans. But scientists studying an especially nasty bacterium that tends to invade and breed out of control in the lungs of people with cystic fibrosis (CF) kept hitting dead ends in their search for a good model.

A.I. Expert Weighs in on Historic Computer vs. Human Contest

A.I. Expert Weighs in on Historic Computer vs. Human Contest

First the robots successfully challenged the chess masters, then the Jeopardy champions. Now comes a match-up for a new generation.

Bacteria Take "RNA Mug Shots" of Threatening Viruses

Bacteria Take "RNA Mug Shots" of Threatening Viruses

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, the Stanford University School of Medicine and two other institutions have discovered that bacteria have a system that can recognize and disrupt dangerous viruses using a newly identified mechanism involving ribonucleic acid (RNA). It is similar to the CRISPR/Cas system that captures foreign DNA. The discovery might lead to better ways to thwart viruses that kill agricultural crops and interfere with the production of dairy products such as cheese and yogurt.

Two Natural Sciences Professors Win Sloan Fellowships

Two Natural Sciences Professors Win Sloan Fellowships

Two trailblazing faculty members from the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, along with two others from the Cockrell School of Engineering, have been awarded Sloan Research Fellowships for 2016.

Audio: Saving the Bees, Two Perspectives

Audio: Saving the Bees, Two Perspectives

As bees sharply decline around the world, two researchers are taking very different approaches to understand -- and potentially reverse -- this troubling trend. One is studying the microbes that live inside bees and help protect them against infections. The other is studying the links between changing landscapes and bee health.

Scientists Decode Genomes to Infer Lifestyles of Subsurface Microbes

Scientists Decode Genomes to Infer Lifestyles of Subsurface Microbes

An international team led by microbiologists Brett Baker of The University of Texas at Austin and Thijs Ettema of Uppsala University in Sweden have discovered genetic evidence that a group of subsurface microbes consumes carbon monoxide, a weak greenhouse gas, to produce energy. These microbes, first discovered in a gold mine two miles below South Africa, live in environments devoid of oxygen and light. So far, no one has successfully grown them in the laboratory, so it wasn't clear how these microbes generate energy.