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From the College of Natural Sciences

Posts highlighting some of the many articles mentioning College of Natural Sciences faculty and students in the media.

New Tool Can Identify Meat and Fish Fraud in Seconds

New Tool Can Identify Meat and Fish Fraud in Seconds

The MasSpec Pen, which was originally invented by a team of scientists and engineers at UT Austin to identify cancerous tissue in people, can also now be used to determine the identity of meat and fish products in around 15 seconds. The research is described in the March 24 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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How to Retrain for Social Interactions

How to Retrain for Social Interactions

As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 increases, the prospect of once again socializing in person is growing more and more likely. However, after months of wearing masks and avoiding face-to-face interactions, many people may have a hard time readjusting. In a recent article, The New York Times reached out to several experts, including The University of Texas at Austin's Marci Gleason, for advice on how best to cope with these impending changes.

New Model Can Help Improve COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

New Model Can Help Improve COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Illustration by Jenna Luecke.

Richard Taylor, clinical assistant professor in the School of Human Ecology, co-authored a study published in Frontiers in Public Health which estimated that 1.7 million vaccine doses are needed to reach herd immunity for COVID-19 in Travis County. A new model could help public health officials in Central Texas better manage what amounts to a much larger vaccination campaign than was carried out during the last pandemic.

Longhorn Students, Researchers in the Pandemic Fight

Longhorn Students, Researchers in the Pandemic Fight

​College of Natural Sciences undergraduate and graduate students are working alongside faculty scientists to unlock the secrets of the current coronavirus and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Science Faculty Featured in Newspaper’s Black in Academia Series

Science Faculty Featured in Newspaper’s Black in Academia Series

Over the summer, five faculty members in the College of Natural Sciences were spotlighted in a series by the Austin American-Statesman called Black in Academia. The purpose of the series was to explore the scientific research done by Black scientists at The University of Texas at Austin, as well as highlight the challenges they face in the academic world.

Is Coronavirus Mutating Amid its Rapid U.S. Spread?

Is Coronavirus Mutating Amid its Rapid U.S. Spread?

A new study, currently awaiting peer review and involving more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients in Houston, finds that the virus that causes the disease is accumulating genetic mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious. According to the paper posted this week to the preprint server medRxiv, that mutation, called D614G, was also implicated in an earlier study in the UK in possibly making the virus easier to spread. The Washington Post was among several outlets reporting the findings this week.

Alumna Lisa Piccirillo Solves Famous 50-year-old Math Problem

Alumna Lisa Piccirillo Solves Famous 50-year-old Math Problem

Image courtesy of Ian MacLellan.

During her graduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin, Lisa Piccirillo solved a problem that had bedeviled mathematicians for five decades. Her discovery, published in the Annals of Mathematics, excited the math world and drew coverage from The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Quanta, Popular Mechanics and more.

Students Help Build App to Aid UT Community As They Return to Campus

Students Help Build App to Aid UT Community As They Return to Campus

As students, faculty, and staff prepare to return to campus for the fall semester, a key concern is making the university as safe as possible and properly tracking health data to prevent outbreaks. An interdisciplinary team of researchers and students, including Texas Computer Science undergraduate students Rohit Neppali, Anshul Modh, Viren Velacheri, and Ph.D. student Anibal Heinsfeld, developed the Protect Texas Together app to help track and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on the Forty Acres.

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...
Texas Science Students Serve the Community During the Pandemic

Texas Science Students Serve the Community During the Pandemic

Undergraduates in public health, neuroscience and computer science found ways to help out their communities and fellow classmates, amid and in spite of COVID-19.

Students at UT Austin already had plenty on their plates. When COVID-19 hit, the usual return from spring break and settling back into campus life turned instead into a mass migration—students scattering to shelter in place wherever they call home, in many cases moving back in with their families. Some became ill or began caring for sick family members. Classes moved online. Jobs ended. Everything was topsy turvy (it still is). But that hasn't stopped College of Natural Sciences undergraduates in public health, neuroscience and computer science from finding ways to help out their communities and fellow classmates.

UT Researchers Leading Charge Against Invasive Moth

UT Researchers Leading Charge Against Invasive Moth

Efforts by University of Texas at Austin researchers to learn more about an invasive species of moth that destroys prickly pear cactus have received media coverage this year.

Cactoblastis cactorum moth. Image courtesy of the US Department of Agriculture.
Film Tells Incredible Story of Alum Jim Allison

Film Tells Incredible Story of Alum Jim Allison


How does a poor kid from tiny Alice, Texas grow up, go to a top research university, patiently pursue a new treatment for cancer that all the experts call crazy, and end up leading a revolution in cancer therapeutics that has already saved countless lives? Oh, and somehow manage to play harmonica with Willie Nelson and win a Nobel Prize too?

The Joy of Bug-Microbe Partnerships

The Joy of Bug-Microbe Partnerships

Nancy Moran keeps honey bees on a rooftop on the University of Texas at Austin campus so she can study their microbiomes. Photo credit: Julia Robinson

Nancy Moran, an evolutionary biologist at UT Austin, has built a career on groundbreaking findings about symbiotic relationships between insects and their internal bacteria. Among her many honors and awards, she is a National Academy of Sciences member, an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow and a MacArthur "Genius" fellow. She was recently profiled in the journal Science.

How Do Computers Learn? Sometimes by Driving Cars and Spinning Tunes

How Do Computers Learn? Sometimes by Driving Cars and Spinning Tunes

​Members of The University of Texas at Austin's Learning Agents Research Group have been a resource for members of the media about how to teach artificial intelligence systems to learn.

Computer Scientist Weighs in on Quantum Supremacy

Computer Scientist Weighs in on Quantum Supremacy

Google’s quantum computer. Credit: Google

Google announced earlier this week that a team of researchers made a milestone achievement: "quantum supremacy," or the creation of a quantum computer capable of calculations beyond the capacity of a traditional supercomputer. To put this in perspective, a number of media outlets, including New York Times, Scientific American, Nature, Quanta Magazine, BBC and NPR, relied on the expertise of Scott Aaronson, a professor of computer science at the University of Texas at Austin.