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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

Ancient Enzyme Could Boost Power of Liquid Biopsies to Detect and Profile Cancers

Ancient Enzyme Could Boost Power of Liquid Biopsies to Detect and Profile Cancers

Scientists are developing a set of medical tests called liquid biopsies that can rapidly detect the presence of cancers, infectious diseases and other conditions from only a small blood sample. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin are developing a new tool for liquid biopsy that could soon provide doctors with a more complete picture of an individual's disease, improving their chances of finding the best treatment, while also sparing patients the pain, inconvenience and long wait times associated with surgical biopsies.

Stone Named Emerging Inventor of the Year

Stone Named Emerging Inventor of the Year

Everett Stone, a research assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named the 2017 Emerging Inventor of the Year by the university's Office of Technology Commercialization. The award is given to recognize faculty members who excel in their fields and whose work produces practicable innovations and life-changing discoveries.

Scientists on the Trail of Central Texas’ Elusive Satan Fish

Scientists on the Trail of Central Texas’ Elusive Satan Fish

X-ray images of a preserved Widemouth Blindcat, a.k.a. Satan fish (Satan eurystomus). Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

As Halloween approaches, scientists are pondering a mysterious creature that may be lurking in underwater caves deep beneath a major U.S. city. It's eyeless, has see-through skin and spends its life in the total darkness of the Edwards Aquifer, thousands of feet below the bustle of San Antonio. Meet the Widemouth Blindcat, a.k.a. Satan fish. The fish were collected from deep-water wells for decades, but biologists have not seen one alive since 1984.

Cracking the Code: Why Flu Pandemics Come At the End of Flu Season

Cracking the Code: Why Flu Pandemics Come At the End of Flu Season

You might expect that the risk of a new flu pandemic — or worldwide disease outbreak — is greatest at the peak of the flu season in winter, when viruses are most abundant and most likely to spread. Instead, all six flu pandemics that have occurred since 1889 emerged in spring and summer months. And that got some University of Texas at Austin scientists wondering, why is that?

Eyewitness to a Cosmic Car Wreck (Audio)

Eyewitness to a Cosmic Car Wreck (Audio)

Astronomers have long been able to watch the universe's blockbuster special effects unfold in dazzling 3D Technicolor. But until now, it's been like watching a silent movie. Today that all changes. Scientists announced this morning that they have for the first time ever detected both light and gravitational waves from a massive explosion in space caused by the collision of two super-dense neutron stars. On today's show, we talk to astrophysicist Pawan Kumar about what this breakthrough means for his field.

Chemists Receive $2 Million to Develop Inexpensive Home Test for Heart Failure

Chemists Receive $2 Million to Develop Inexpensive Home Test for Heart Failure

With the prick of a finger, the new sensor could indicate whether a person has elevated levels of a biomarker associated with heart failure. Credit: iStock.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded a team led by Richard M. Crooks, a chemistry professor at The University of Texas at Austin, a $2 million grant to develop an inexpensive, at-home test for people diagnosed with heart failure.

How UT Scientists Contributed to Nobel-Winning Gravitational Wave Discovery

How UT Scientists Contributed to Nobel-Winning Gravitational Wave Discovery

In the same week that the scientific community celebrated news that University of Texas at Austin alumnus Michael Young was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on circadian rhythms, three scientists won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of gravitational waves, work that also was heavily influenced by UT Austin scientists and alumni.

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

UT Austin and Texas A&M Scientists Seek to Turn Plant Pests into Plant Doctors

Oleander aphid. Credit: Alex Wild

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University are investigating an innovative new way to protect crops from pathogens, thanks to a four-year cooperative agreement worth up to $5 million awarded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Insect Allies Program.

UT Marine Science Institute Awarded Grant to Complete Gulf Oil Spill Research

UT Marine Science Institute Awarded Grant to Complete Gulf Oil Spill Research

DROPPS scientists use lasers to investigate how plumes of oil and dispersant move through a water column. That movement changes when other animals, such as this marine invertebrate called a ctenophore, are present. Photo by Jeffery Cordero.

A consortium led by The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) is receiving $4.5 million in the third multi-million-dollar grant since 2012 supporting research on the impact of oil spills and dispersants on the Gulf of Mexico. Coming less than a month after Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage on the UTMSI campus, the announcement was made by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, a $500 million research program funded by British Petroleum in the wake of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Why Poison Frogs Don’t Poison Themselves

Why Poison Frogs Don’t Poison Themselves

The phantasmal poison frog, Epipedobates anthonyi, is the original source of epibatidine, discovered by John Daly in 1974. Epibatidine has not been found in any animal outside of Ecuador, and its ultimate source, proposed to be an arthropod, remains unknown. This frog was captured at a banana plantation in the Azuay province in southern Ecuador in August 2017. Credit: Rebecca Tarvin/University of Texas at Austin.

Don't let their appearance fool you: Thimble-sized, dappled in cheerful colors and squishy, poison frogs in fact harbor some of the most potent neurotoxins we know. With a new paper published in the journal Science, scientists are a step closer to resolving a related head-scratcher — how do these frogs keep from poisoning themselves? And the answer has potential consequences for the fight against pain and addiction.