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Harnessing the Power of Science and Community

Harnessing the Power of Science and Community

Science, once cloistered away in distant labs and rarefied academic journals, these days is connecting with the masses. One important way is through new crowdfunding initiatives that allow UT Austin community members to invest in facilities and research in new ways.

Today, the College of Natural Sciences launched its first—and largest—building-focused crowdfunding campaign: The New Welch Hall. Welch hosts 10,000+ UT students every day for classes, seminars and labs, and is in need of significant renovations. The new campaign is looking for more than 1,300 backers who will support the transformation of Welch, making the heart of UT a world-class hub for discovery and hands-on learning.

Earlier this year, UT Austin launched, HornRaiser, its own official crowdfunding platform similar to KickStarter, but specifically for campus projects. 

In the spring, College of Natural Sciences supporters helped finance cutting-edge scientific research projects into Alzheimer's Disease; monarch-migration habits; and the study of Texas insects. Scientists received overwhelming support from the community for each of the three campaigns.

This month, three new HornRaiser projects in the College launched:

Caribbean Reefs Through the Ages

Integrative Biology Associate Professor Mikhail Matz's lab studies genomic mechanisms that help reef-building corals adapt to their local reef environment and to the threats posed by climate change. Reef-building worldwide is severely threatened by climate change. Saving coral will require their adapting to new climate conditions

The team's idea is to look into the past: using state-of-the-art genomics to reconstruct the rise and fall of Caribbean reefs in response to past climate change over the last 100,000 years.

Supermouse! The Mutant Mouse that Cannot Get Drunk

Associate Professor of Neuroscience John Pierce-Shimomura is raising funds to generate a mutant mouse that may unlock the hidden mechanism behind getting drunk, revealing a new way to treat alcohol addiction. It turns out that all animals become intoxicated and experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms at the same dose of alcohol, because alcohol acts in the same way on the same molecules in the nervous system. of worm, mouse and humans. Their lab studied how alcohol binds to a target in the nervous system called the BK potassium channel and discovered that mutating one portion of the BK channel prevents alcohol activation in worms. The group needs help to provide funding to generate the mutant supermouse that carries this mutation in the BK channel and to test whether the mutation relieves withdrawal symptoms as predicted.

Assessing Retention in Sand Crab Populations

Ecologists have long observed that organisms are restricted to live only in certain regions of our planet. Despite more than a century of documenting biodiversity, scientists still do not understand the mechanisms defining these range limits. A clear understanding of the phenomena will lead to important advances in controlling the spread of emerging diseases, non-native species invasions and the effective prediction of global climate change effects in the welfare of species. Timothy Keitt, Professor of Integrative Biology, and a team will use funds raised to create genetic tools to determine whether sand crab larvae typically stay within their sites of origin or drift to other sites along the coast.

Finally, Benefunder, launched in 2014, facilitates connections with today's top researchers who are working on breakthrough discoveries that are impacting our world. Research projects on Benefunder include exploring brain rhythms and their effect on psychiatric disorders and memory; finding ways to fight infections by studying the structural composition of bacteria and super-bugs; predicting emerging human viruses; and much more. CNS researchers looking for support include: Dan Bolnick , Laura Colgin, Vernita Gordon, Tanya Paull, Lili Qiu, Pardeep Ravikumar, and Claus Wilke.

Investors can learn more about HornRaiser projects looking for support here. More about The New Welch Hall campaign is at the community campaign website that launched today.

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Tuesday, 31 January 2023

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