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Texas Science Stories that Wowed Us in 2021

Texas Science Stories that Wowed Us in 2021

While for many 2021 may have felt like it lasted a few years, it was in fact just 12 months—and University of Texas at Austin scientists and researchers managed to pack a ton of new discoveries into that time. From the furthest reaches of the cosmos to the depths of the ocean and from the tiniest microbes to the most massive black holes, research in Texas Science covered a lot of ground, as researchers pushed boundaries, answered big questions and offered solutions to the world's problems. Here are 16 examples of how UT Austin scientists, mathematicians and technologists used 2021 to usher in new knowledge and innovations to help change the world.

Astronomers Talk James Webb Telescope Ahead of Historic Launch

Astronomers Talk James Webb Telescope Ahead of Historic Launch

University of Texas at Austin astronomers have recently been featured in several prominent publications in advance of the launch of NASA's largest-ever space telescope, the JWST, which is currently slated for Dec. 24, 2021. Caitlin Casey, associate professor of astronomy, is one of the principal investigators on the COSMOS-Web survey, the largest project scheduled to make use of the JWST. Steve Finkelstein, a professor of astronomy, is also leading projects on the telescope.

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Longhorns Make the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in Science

Longhorns Make the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in Science

An astrophysicist writer, a new assistant professor and an entrepreneur seeking to address the challenges of aging are among the latest additions to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list with University of Texas at Austin ties.

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

The dark silhouette of the 2.1-meter Otto Struve Telescope is backed by a colorful sunrise. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography

In the course of research for his Ph.D., Zach Vanderbosch spent nearly 300 nights studying the heavens from telescopes at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory. Later this month, he will receive his doctorate for his research into the dead stars known as white dwarfs, and the orbiting disks of debris made up of these stars' former planets.

Eleven Faculty Members Honored with College Teaching Excellence Award

Eleven Faculty Members Honored with College Teaching Excellence Award

CNS teaching excellence award winners Aaron Zimmerman, Ann Thijs, Ariel Taylor, Ladia Hernandez, Shinko Harper, Keith Hawkins, Soo Hyun Yang, Sarah Abraham, Kathryn Dabbs, KyongJoo Hong and Fatima Varner

​The Teaching Excellence Award in the College of Natural Sciences seeks to promote and recognize outstanding teaching in the College of Natural Sciences by honoring faculty members who have had a positive influence on the educational experience of our students. In a year marked by having to adapt to teaching during a pandemic, each award winner went above and beyond to deliver their best in the classroom.

Astronomers Discover Strangely Massive Black Hole in Milky Way Satellite Galaxy

Astronomers Discover Strangely Massive Black Hole in Milky Way Satellite Galaxy

McDonald Observatory astronomers have found that Leo I (inset), a tiny satellite galaxy of the Milky Way (main image), has a black hole nearly as massive as the Milky Way's. Leo I is 30 times smaller than the Milky Way. The result could signal changes in astronomers' understanding of galaxy evolution. Credit: ESA/Gaia/DPAC; SDSS (inset)

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory have discovered an unusually massive black hole at the heart of one of the Milky Way's dwarf satellite galaxies, called Leo I. Almost as massive as the black hole in our own galaxy, the finding could redefine our understanding of how all galaxies — the building blocks of the universe — evolve. The work is published in a recent issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

National Academy Ranks Giant Magellan Telescope Among Top Astronomy Priorities

National Academy Ranks Giant Magellan Telescope Among Top Astronomy Priorities

A new report out from the National Academy of Sciences, the highly anticipated decadal survey called Pathways to Discovery in Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2020s, or "Astro2020," has presented recommendations for making federal investments critical to achieving advances in US astronomy over the next decade.

Weizmann Institute of Science Joins Giant Magellan Telescope Project

Weizmann Institute of Science Joins Giant Magellan Telescope Project

Giant Magellan Telescope primary mirror segment with people in silhouette. Credit: Damien Jemison, Giant Magellan Telescope - GMTO Corporation.

The University of Texas at Austin and other co-founders of the Giant Magellan Telescope project welcomed the Weizmann Institute of Science into their international consortium on September 14.

UT Austin Mourns Death of World-Renowned Physicist Steven Weinberg

UT Austin Mourns Death of World-Renowned Physicist Steven Weinberg

Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, has died. He was 88. One of the most celebrated scientists of his generation, Weinberg was best known for helping to develop a critical part of the Standard Model of particle physics, which significantly advanced humanity's understanding of how everything in the universe — its various particles and the forces that govern them — relate.

Astronomy Educator Receives Dads’ Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship

Astronomy Educator Receives Dads’ Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship

Keely Finkelstein of the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin has been chosen to hold an endowed Dads' Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship for 2021-2022. The fellowships recognize faculty members who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and made significant contributions to undergraduate education at UT Austin.