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From the College of Natural Sciences
Faculty Elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Faculty Elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Three College of Natural Sciences faculty members members have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society. In total, six faculty members from The University of Texas at Austin were elected this year.

Frog Pandemic (Audio)

Frog Pandemic (Audio)

Until COVID-19, few people alive today had experienced the chaos and destruction of a really bad pandemic, one that has at times ground businesses, schools and social lives to a near standstill and killed millions globally. But did you know that we aren't alone in being battered by a global infectious disease? Frogs are also struggling through their own pandemic that, according to biologist Kelly Zamudio, has several eerie parallels with COVID-19. Perhaps our own encounters with a pandemic will give us new sympathy for our slimy, bug-eyed friends.

Switchgrass Genes Offer Advantages as Climate Change Tool

Switchgrass Genes Offer Advantages as Climate Change Tool

While switchgrass has been seen as useful as a clean-burning source of renewable fuel, it also has the ability to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it underground in its substantial root system. Atmospheric carbon is a major contributor to climate change and finding ways to sequester it underground could have impacts on efforts to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Receives Field Station Designation

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Receives Field Station Designation

At the intersection of life sciences research, teaching and public engagement rests a growing network of University of Texas at Austin field stations—all of which have a role in discovering strategies for environmental resilience and insights about the natural world. The latest addition is one of Austin's most treasured outdoor destinations and the official state Botanical Garden and Arboretum of Texas: the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Like Their Domestic Cousins, Native Bees are Hurt by Pesticides

Like Their Domestic Cousins, Native Bees are Hurt by Pesticides

Image of a Mason Bee or Blueberry Bee (Megachilidae, Osmia sp.) by Alejandro Santillana, Insects Unlocked

Because they are critical in maintaining our food supply, a lot of research and public attention has been focused (rightly) on the health of domesticated honey bees. On the other hand, native bees also play critical roles in their environments, including pollinating flowers and agricultural crops. Unfortunately, hundreds of North American native bee species are in decline, due to a variety of factors including loss of habitat, nutritional stress, climate change and exposure to pathogens and agrochemicals.

Announcing the 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholars, Fellows and Grant Awardees

Announcing the 2021 Stengl-Wyer Scholars, Fellows and Grant Awardees

Funded by the Stengl-Wyer Endowment, the Stengl Wyer Postdoctoral Scholars Program provides up to three years of independent support for talented postdoctoral researchers in the broad area of the diversity of life and/or organisms in their natural environments. The endowment also supports year-long fellowships for doctoral candidates pursuing dissertation research in the same area.

Technological Leaps Help Biologists Study Quickly Changing Landscapes

Technological Leaps Help Biologists Study Quickly Changing Landscapes

Biologists, naturalists and ecologists are typically known for conducting boots-on-the-ground field research, whether it is hiking through the jungles of Costa Rica to study rare frogs, paddling along Arctic coastlines to study sources of carbon or studying endangered birds in South Texas. But increasingly, technology is expanding the work these scientists can do beyond where their feet alone can take them.

Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

The three-year study focused on Coyote Ridge, a grassland near San Jose, California, which has several endemic plant species. Credit: Erika Zavaleta/University of California, Santa Cruz.

The loss of plant species that are especially vulnerable to climate change might lead to bigger problems than previous studies have suggested, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If confirmed, the findings can help inform conservation strategies and lead to more accurate predictions about what ecosystems will look like in the future.

Integrative Biology Professor Wins Early Career Award for Contributions to Ecology

Integrative Biology Professor Wins Early Career Award for Contributions to Ecology

Caroline Farrior, an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, was elected as one of 10 Early Career Fellows for 2021 by the Ecological Society of America, an organization of professional ecologists.

Power Plants: Professor Billie Lee Turner supports his passion for botanical research

Power Plants: Professor Billie Lee Turner supports his passion for botanical research

Beloved professor Billie Turner helped UT become a prominent center for botanical research. Photo: Amalia Diaz

In 1953, Billie Lee Turner began his career at The University of Texas at Austin with a dream to make significant contributions to the study of plant life. He was eager to elevate UT's botany program to world-class stature, and his heart was set on further developing UT's herbarium, a scientific library of dried plant specimens used in research. Throughout Billie's lifelong career at UT, he supported this passion and ultimately established generous gifts through his estate to ensure it would thrive for future generations.