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From the College of Natural Sciences
The Next 50 Years: Thinking Outside the Brain

The Next 50 Years: Thinking Outside the Brain

This semester, the College of Natural Sciences is checking in with faculty experts about developments related to their fields of study that may well affect how we live, work and interact with one another and the world around us over the next 50 years. For this installment, we hear from Professor Adron Harris, M. June and J. Virgil Waggoner Chair in Molecular Biology, a professor of neuroscience, pharmacology and psychiatry, and the associate director of the Waggoner Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research.

Breakthrough in Coronavirus Research Results in New Map to Support Vaccine Design

Breakthrough in Coronavirus Research Results in New Map to Support Vaccine Design

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and the National Institutes of Health have made a critical breakthrough toward developing a vaccine for the 2019 novel coronavirus by creating the first 3D atomic scale map of the part of the virus that attaches to and infects human cells.

How Chromosomes Organize and Genes Interact Needs Rethinking, Study Finds

How Chromosomes Organize and Genes Interact Needs Rethinking, Study Finds

The organization of genetic information in most bacteria – long thought to occur in a single ordered, segmented ring – turns out to more closely mimic a spaghetti noodle: shifting, balling up and twisting in ways scientists previously had not grasped. The finding by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, appears today in Cell, with implications for cancer and bacterial infectious disease research, as well as our most basic understanding about the structure of all living cells.

Bacteria Engineered to Protect Bees from Pests and Pathogens

Bacteria Engineered to Protect Bees from Pests and Pathogens

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin report in the journal Science that they have developed a new strategy to protect honey bees from a deadly trend known as colony collapse: genetically engineered strains of bacteria. An increasing number of honey bee colonies in the U.S. have seen the dwindling of their adult bees. According to a na...
The Joy of Bug-Microbe Partnerships

The Joy of Bug-Microbe Partnerships

Nancy Moran keeps honey bees on a rooftop on the University of Texas at Austin campus so she can study their microbiomes. Photo credit: Julia Robinson

Nancy Moran, an evolutionary biologist at UT Austin, has built a career on groundbreaking findings about symbiotic relationships between insects and their internal bacteria. Among her many honors and awards, she is a National Academy of Sciences member, an American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow and a MacArthur "Genius" fellow. She was recently profiled in the journal Science.

Researchers Solve Decades-Old DNA Mystery

Researchers Solve Decades-Old DNA Mystery

A team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have solved a decades-old mystery about how DNA organizes itself in the cell. In doing so, the researchers have potentially unlocked clues about a set of rare genetic conditions.

Microbe Research Team Awarded Gold Medal at 2019 iGEM Competition

Microbe Research Team Awarded Gold Medal at 2019 iGEM Competition

​A team of undergraduate researchers involved with the Department of Molecular Biosciences received awards in two categories at the 2019 International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) Jamboree, the largest showcase of synthetic biology innovations in the world.

HIV Hidden in Patients’ Cells Can Now Be Accurately Measured

HIV Hidden in Patients’ Cells Can Now Be Accurately Measured

Until now, researchers haven't been able to accurately quantify a latent form of HIV that persists in patients' immune cells. This hampers doctors' ability to assess the effectiveness of a particular treatment and select better alternatives. The new method was developed by a team from Johns Hopkins University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, ...
Newly Discovered Deep-Sea Microbes Gobble Greenhouse Gases and Perhaps Oil Spills, Too

Newly Discovered Deep-Sea Microbes Gobble Greenhouse Gases and Perhaps Oil Spills, Too

Researchers have documented extensive diversity in the microbial communities living in the extremely hot, deep-sea sediments located in the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California. This view of the Guaymas Basin seafloor was taken through the window of the Alvin submersible by Brett Baker in November 2018.

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute have discovered nearly two dozen new types of microbes, many of which use hydrocarbons such as methane and butane as energy sources to survive and grow—meaning the newly identified bacteria might be helping to limit the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and might one day be useful for cleaning up oil spills.

Scientists Discover Why Some Bacteria Turn Bad

Scientists Discover Why Some Bacteria Turn Bad

Every year, millions of people have vacations and business trips ruined when they succumb to "traveler's diarrhea" during their journeys. A major cause of traveler's diarrhea is bacteria called Enterotoxigenic E. coli, or ETEC. A joint effort between scientists at the University of Georgia and the University of Texas at Austin has discovered w...