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From the College of Natural Sciences

Cool Class: Field Ecology

In some classes, students are assigned readings from a big textbook; others are assigned computer problems or chemistry formulas. But there’s probably only one course at the university in which students are assigned an entire acre of land filled with trees, wildflowers, buzzing insects and birds: Dr. Larry Gilbert’s field ecology class at the Brack...BFL3
Ant Has Given Up Sex Completely

Ant Has Given Up Sex Completely

The complete asexuality of a widespread fungus-gardening ant, the only ant species in the world known to have dispensed with males entirely, has been confirmed by a team of Texas and Brazilian researchers.

Science High

Devan Fay Gartman, Crockett High School Class of 2009, amongst the fish tanks of Hans Hofmann's laboratory. When Hans Hofmann, an assistant professor of integrative biology, agreed to take on some interns from a local Austin high school, he imagined that he was doing them a favor. What he didn’t imagine was that both of the students from Crocke...Devan Fay Gartman, Crockett High School Class of 2009, amongst the fish tanks of Hans Hofmann's laboratory.

Learning to Hear

Neurobiologist Nace Golding studies the development of auditory neurons (one of which is pictured below) after the onset of hearing. The human ability to know roughly where in space a sound is coming from is so integral to our experience of the world that it’s basically invisible. A friend calls out our name, and we turn to the left, or turn to ...Neurobiologist Nace Golding studies the development of auditory neurons (one of which is pictured below) after the onset of hearing.

Salvaging Savanna

Ecologists at The University of Texas at Austin and its Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center have observed, studied and used prescribed fires on local savanna. In the process, the research scientists documented a New England-sized region in the heart of Texas that is losing the biodiversity battle. Now the team is examining what needs to be done to ...Hill-Country-open-savanna-i

Predicting intervention strategies for swine flu

Lauren Ancel Meyers, associate professor of integrative biology, is using the Texas Advanced Computng Center’s (TACC) Lonestar supercomputer to predict how the new strain of H1N1 flu is spreading throughout North America and to determine the best intervention strategies. “Our goal is to develop powerful and flexible software so that public health ...lauren ancel meyers

Grad student wins $10,000 Granof award

Christian Rabeling, a doctoral student in the ecology, evolution and behavior program, has won the $10,000 Michael H. Granof Outstanding Graduate Student Award at the University Co-op/Graduate School Awards for Excellence in Graduate Education. The Excellence in Graduate Education awards recognize and reward outstanding graduate students for dist...Christian Rabeling
Most Extensive Genetic Resource For Reef-Building Coral Created

Most Extensive Genetic Resource For Reef-Building Coral Created

AUSTIN, Texas — A nearly complete collection of genes for a species of reef-building coral has been assembled by a team led by biologists from The University of Texas at Austin. The scientists will use the genetic data to understand natural variations in corals from around the world and how they respond, at the genetic level, to rising water tempe...

Sex Isn't Everything

The ants, Mycocepurus smithii, amongst their fungus garden. Photo: Alex Wild. In the end, sex might not be everything. At least, that’s the story for a fungus-farming ant that seems to be doing just fine without it. In fact, they’ve done away with males entirely, a “first ever” for the ant world. Most social insects—the wasps, ants and bees—are...The ants, Mycocepurus smithii, amongst their fungus garden. Photo: Alex Wild.

Live-in Domestics: Mites as Maids

Mites not only inhabit the dust bunnies under the bed, they also occupy the nests of tropical sweat bees where they keep fungi in check. Bees and their young are healthier when mites live-in, report researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama and The University of Texas at Austin. Mutually beneficial cleaning relat...Stingless bee

Worthingtons Support Education in Biodiversity

Professor Larry Gilbert and Roger Worthington (B.A. ’83, J.D. ’86) Alums Roger Worthington (B.A. ’83, J.D. ’86) and Ann Worthington (B.A. ’88, J.D. ’91) have donated $500,000 to establish the Lawrence E. Gilbert, Jr. Excellence Endowment, an endowment for the benefit of Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) and research and education in ecology an...Roger Worthington (B.A. ’83, J.D. ’86) and professor Larry Gilbert
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Cool Class: Bug Boot Camp

Katy Kenny decided to take John Abbott’s Field Entomology class in the summer of 2007 for two reasons. One was that she’d heard from friends that the three week “mini-mester” course, which Abbott teaches just after the spring semester ends, was interesting. The other was that she wanted to overcome her fear of bugs. “It helped,” says Kenny, a biol...katy kenny

Dry Times

Images from a thermal camera show that the German Arabidopsis plants transpire less and are hotter (bottom three). This contrasts with the German plants that have a key section of chromosome from Cape Verdean plants. They transpire more and are much cooler (top three). Any farmer or gardener worth their salt understands the power of water to giv...Images from a thermal camera show that the German Arabidopsis plants transpire less and are hotter (bottom three). This contrasts with the German plants that have a key section of chromosome from Cape Verdean plants. They transpire more and are much cooler (top three).

Troubled Waters: A rare desert spring ecosystem considered one of Mexico's 13 natural wonders is threatened

Sprawling across a cactus-studded valley in México's Chihuahuan Desert is a place like no other on the planet.

The Endangered Aquatic Box Turtle

The Coahuilan aquatic box turtle is found in a unique valley in Mexico called Cuatrociénegas and no where else on the planet. It's the only aquatic box turtle in the world. Scientists estimate that only about 2000 exist in the wild and their habitat is quickly shrinking due to over use of water in agriculture, climate change and invasive species. U...