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From the College of Natural Sciences

What A Wonderful World

Dear Students,

In early January 2020, Dr. Nianshuang Wang, who was then a UT Austin postdoctoral scientist in the lab of Professor Jason McLellan, did some fast thinking that may well have saved lives. He had been working on coronavirus research for years and knew the importance of a protein called spike, and he learned how to work with it to make really effective vaccines against these viruses. As the virus that causes COVID-19 was just starting to spread, Dr. Wang jumped into action and worked around the clock for weeks to prepare the spike protein that vaccine researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna used. You probably know the rest of the story: vaccines were developed in record time, and now all of the U.S. COVID-19 vaccines use the spike protein technology that came from here on the Forty Acres. When someone asks you how we got the COVID-19 vaccines so fast, you can tell them about UT scientists' hard work over a lot of years – and also that it took a few all-nighters!

Next week is International Education Week, where UT and other universities celebrate the benefits of international exchange. IEW is also a great time to celebrate the international nature of science. Our researchers and students come from countries around the world, and great advances happen in the natural sciences because of members of this community like Nianshuang Wang. You can join the excitement next week at these events:

  • Our rescheduled Vaccination Celebration (which got rained out during Natural Sciences Week) will be a great Texas Science bash, complete with vaccine scientists from many countries, giveaways, snacks, interactives and live music from the Austin band Nané. The stage show begins at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 17 on the Main Mall, with a vaccine pop-up starting at 4 p.m.
  • Thinking of studying abroad? Join Adventures Abroad: A CNS Student Panel to hear from your peers who have firsthand experience and get your questions answered. The panel will be on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 4 p.m. You are also invited Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. to learn about an opportunity to study evolution in Spain.

By the way, before next week's IEW, we get to close out First-Generation College Celebration Week happening now. It's been great celebrating all of our first-gen community, including world-changing scientists like Dr. Wang and Professor McLellan, both of whom were once first-gen college students pursuing undergraduate degrees at public universities themselves. 
Best,
Dr. Drew
Joke: (For the public health majors) Why did the student dress up for Halloween as half-horse, half-virologist? To be the Centaur for Disease Control.
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Monday, 17 January 2022

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