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From the College of Natural Sciences
International Project to Provide Detailed View of New Complexities Linked to Synapses

International Project to Provide Detailed View of New Complexities Linked to Synapses

Synapses are the tiny structures that form trillions of intersections between nerve cells in the brain, allowing us to think, sense, learn, act and remember. Because new research has found these nanostructures to be far more varied and nuanced than neuroscientists believed even five years ago, a new project will examine what is known as synaptic weight or strength, which has significant implications for understanding human brain health.

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin will lead an ambitious new project with 10 other U.S. institutions and global partners that has significant implications for understanding human brain health.

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Brain’s Immune Cells are a Central Driver of Alcohol Use Disorder

Brain’s Immune Cells are a Central Driver of Alcohol Use Disorder

The brain's primary immune cells play a fundamental role in alcohol use disorder, according to a new study from Scripps Research and The University of Texas at Austin. The scientists are the first to link these cells—known as microglia—to the molecular, cellular and behavioral changes that promote the increased drinking that's associated with alcohol dependence.

Meet the 30 Dean's Honored Graduates for this Year

Meet the 30 Dean's Honored Graduates for this Year

Each year, the College of Natural Sciences bestows its highest honors for graduating seniors on a select group of students. These students, known as Dean's Honored Graduates demonstrate excellence across multiple domains, achieving not only academically but in scientific research, independent intellectual pursuits, leadership, service, entrepreneurship and community building. Below are biographies of the 30 outstanding students selected by a committee of College of Natural Sciences faculty for this distinction in 2020.

Texas Science Students Serve the Community During the Pandemic

Texas Science Students Serve the Community During the Pandemic

Undergraduates in public health, neuroscience and computer science found ways to help out their communities and fellow classmates, amid and in spite of COVID-19.

Students at UT Austin already had plenty on their plates. When COVID-19 hit, the usual return from spring break and settling back into campus life turned instead into a mass migration—students scattering to shelter in place wherever they call home, in many cases moving back in with their families. Some became ill or began caring for sick family members. Classes moved online. Jobs ended. Everything was topsy turvy (it still is). But that hasn't stopped College of Natural Sciences undergraduates in public health, neuroscience and computer science from finding ways to help out their communities and fellow classmates.

Scientists Discover Molecular Culprits Linked to Alcohol Use Disorders

Scientists Discover Molecular Culprits Linked to Alcohol Use Disorders

An unanswered question in alcoholism research has been what drives the transition from moderate alcohol consumption to alcohol dependence. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin set out to discover if a molecule that regulates gene expression in the brain called Lim-only 4 (Lmo4) could facilitate this transition. In doing so, they discovered a molecular mechanism in the brain that is critical to the development of alcoholism, providing potential new targets for treatment.

Mathematician and Neuroscientist Chosen for Texas Ten Recognition

Mathematician and Neuroscientist Chosen for Texas Ten Recognition

Every year, the Alcalde by the Texas Exes flips the script and gives alumni the chance to give their favorite professors an A+. Through nominations from former students, the Texas Ten honors professors who have made a difference in the lives of Longhorns.​ This year, two of the Texas Ten were chosen from the College of Natural Sciences.
As Remote School for Texas Kids Continues, Try These STEM Learning Resources

As Remote School for Texas Kids Continues, Try These STEM Learning Resources

With Texas' governor among those declaring that K-12 schools will remain closed through the end of the school year, many families and teachers are looking for resources to support learning from home. Several outreach programs in the College of Natural Sciences and at UT Austin support STEM learning from afar. Here are a few to check out.

Social Support Aids Recovery from Drug Addiction, Study Suggests

Social Support Aids Recovery from Drug Addiction, Study Suggests

Having an option to receive social support rather than use drugs is better at reducing relapse than cutting out drugs completely, and this behavior has its own control circuit in the brain, according to research co-authored by University of Texas neuroscientist Robert Messing. The research, done in partnership with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides evidence supporting existing recovery offerings and has implications for developing new drug-addiction treatments.

Public Outreach Programs Suspended in Response to COVID-19

Public Outreach Programs Suspended in Response to COVID-19

​The University of Texas at Austin's public-facing programs on campus and at museums, schools and science centers are currently suspended to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the agent causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Awards

Four Natural Sciences Faculty Receive President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Awards

2020 President's Associates Teaching Award winners Michael Drew, Janice Fischer, Marci Gleason and Vernita Gordon.

College of Natural Sciences faculty members Michael Drew, Janice Fischer, Marci Gleason and Vernita Gordon each received a 2020 President's Associate Teaching Excellence Award, among seven total recipients.