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From the College of Natural Sciences
Update: Biologist Awarded Radcliffe and Guggenheim Fellowships

Update: Biologist Awarded Radcliffe and Guggenheim Fellowships

Steven Phelps, a professor of integrative biology and director of the Center for Brain, Behavior and Evolution at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded two prestigious fellowships in the same year related to his work on the biology of intimacy. He received both a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship and was named a 2021-2022 Radcliffe Fellow by the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

Climate-friendly Microbes Chomp Dead Plants Without Releasing Heat-trapping Methane

Climate-friendly Microbes Chomp Dead Plants Without Releasing Heat-trapping Methane

Tengchong Yunnan hot springs in China, where some of the newly described Brockarchaeota were collected. Photo credit: Jian-Yu Jiao from Sun Yat-Sen University.

The tree of life just got a little bigger: A team of scientists from the U.S. and China has identified an entirely new group of microbes quietly living in hot springs, geothermal systems and hydrothermal sediments around the world. The microbes appear to be playing an important role in the global carbon cycle by helping break down decaying plants without producing the greenhouse gas methane.

7 Emerging Scientific Leaders Among Recipients of Stengl-Wyer Research Support

7 Emerging Scientific Leaders Among Recipients of Stengl-Wyer Research Support

The College of Natural Sciences has recently recruited and supported top leaders among a new generation of scientists through the Stengl-Wyer Endowment – the largest endowment in the college's history. These postdoctoral scholars and graduate students are working on research projects that will promote a deeper understanding of climate change, protect natural habitats and maintain biodiversity in Texas and beyond.

Artificial Intelligence Revs Up Evolution’s Clock (Audio)

Artificial Intelligence Revs Up Evolution’s Clock (Audio)

Evolutionary biologists never have enough time. Some of the most mysterious behaviors in the animal kingdom—like parenting—evolved over thousands of years, if not longer. Human lifespans are just too short to sit and observe such complex behaviors evolve. But computer scientists are beginning to offer clues by using artificial intelligence to simulate the life and death of thousands of generations of animals in a matter of hours or days. It's called computational evolution.

New Initiative Aims to Reveal the Origins of Complex Life

New Initiative Aims to Reveal the Origins of Complex Life

A new research initiative will shed light on how the origin of complex life evolved through symbiosis. The project will be the latest from the Brett Baker laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute, which made recent discoveries of new organisms called Asgard archaea, named after Norse gods, and their metabolisms.

Three UT Austin Faculty Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Three UT Austin Faculty Elected to National Academy of Sciences

L to R: Mark Kirkpatrick, Katherine Freese and John Kormendy have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Astrophysicist Katherine Freese, astronomer John Kormendy and evolutionary biologist Mark Kirkpatrick of The University of Texas at Austin have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. They join 120 new members recognized by the academy this year for distinguished and continuing achievements in original scientific research.

Evolutionary Biologist Mark Kirkpatrick Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Evolutionary Biologist Mark Kirkpatrick Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Mark Kirkpatrick has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Photo by Marsha Miller.

Evolutionary biologist Mark Kirkpatrick of The University of Texas at Austin has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Among his many accomplishments, Kirkpatrick has helped explain how mating preferences drive the evolution of male traits and how sex chromosomes originate and evolve.

Genomes Assembled from Five Cotton Species Could Lead to Better Varieties

Genomes Assembled from Five Cotton Species Could Lead to Better Varieties

Researchers assembled the genomes of five cotton varieties, revealing their evolutionary history and new insights for breeding. Flower images by Atsumi Ando (UT Austin) and field of cotton by James Frelichowskin (USDA-ARS, College Station).

Cotton producers in Texas, elsewhere in the US and around the world are looking for new varieties that can better withstand droughts, pests and pathogens, yet yield higher-quality fibers for the textile industry.

Science Amid the Social Distance (Audio)

Science Amid the Social Distance (Audio)

Daily life has changed for many of us due to the coronavirus pandemic. During this unusual time, when it's harder to connect physically with important people in our lives, it can be helpful to step back and spend a little time thinking about the things that still bind us together, like the wonder of the natural world and the hope that scientists offer us as we take on societal challenges.

The Next 50 Years: A Global Census of Life (Audio)

The Next 50 Years: A Global Census of Life (Audio)

We know absolutely nothing about roughly 80 percent of the different types of life on Earth. Biologist David Hillis aims to discover all those missing species—by some estimates 5 to 10 million—possibly in the next few decades. Sound impossible? He shares his vision for how this would work in this first episode of our new miniseries, The Next 50 Years.