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From the College of Natural Sciences
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.

Blaming the Pandemic for Stress Leaves Couples Happier

Blaming the Pandemic for Stress Leaves Couples Happier

Illustrations by Jenna Luecke

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit during the winter of 2020, locking down entire countries and leaving people isolated in their homes without outside contact for weeks at a time, many relationship experts wondered what that kind of stress would do to romantic couples. What they found was that when couples blamed the pandemic for their stress, they were happier in their relationships.

Jason McLellan Named Texas Inventor of the Year

Jason McLellan Named Texas Inventor of the Year

Jason McLellan, a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, has been selected as the Texas Inventor of the Year for his role in biomedical research linked to the development of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. The award is given annually by the State Bar of Texas's Intellectual Property Section in recognition of an individual whose invention "has significantly impacted the Texas economy."

System Linked to Operational Hospitals, Shorter Lockdowns, Lives Saved

System Linked to Operational Hospitals, Shorter Lockdowns, Lives Saved

COVID-19: Risk-Based Guidelines with 7 Day Moving Averages for New Admissions were made available for the Austin metropolitan area as part of a staged alert system. Shown is the City of Austin dashboard for June 16. Credit: City of Austin

A staged alert system, designed by scientists and public health officials to guide local policies, helped one city prevent hospital surges and long lockdowns, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications.

New Insights Could Lead to Crops Adapted to a Warming World

New Insights Could Lead to Crops Adapted to a Warming World

Pairs of seedlings show the difference in growth patterns for plants living in 22°C (left one in each pair) versus 28°C (right). Pairs of seedlings are shown for each day, from 2 to 7 days.

When air temperatures rise, plants tend to grow differently: they grow taller, their roots grow deeper, they bloom earlier and pores in their leaves get fewer. By helping them stay cooler and retain more water, these changes might enable them to adapt to our rapidly warming world. But there's a big downside for us humans. When it's hotter, crop plants that we depend on tend to have a lower yield.

Kristen Grauman Named Finalist in 2021 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

Kristen Grauman Named Finalist in 2021 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists

University of Texas at Austin computer science researcher Kristen Grauman was selected as a finalist for the 2021 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.

E-Cookbook Promotes Sustainable Food Sourcing and Raises Funds for Charity

E-Cookbook Promotes Sustainable Food Sourcing and Raises Funds for Charity

A team of 17 students from The University of Texas at Austin created a donation-based e-cookbook titled "A Taste of Austin Through the Lens of Sustainability" that showcases local restaurants and businesses focused on sustainability.

First Glimpse of Brains Retrieving Mistaken Memories Observed

First Glimpse of Brains Retrieving Mistaken Memories Observed

Scientists have observed for the first time what it looks like in the key memory region of the brain when a mistake is made during a memory trial. The findings have implications for Alzheimer's disease research and advancements in memory storage and enhancement, with a discovery that also provides a view into differences between the physiological events in the brain during a correct memory versus a faulty one.

Xue-Xin Wei Asks Basic Questions about the Nature of Intelligence

Xue-Xin Wei Asks Basic Questions about the Nature of Intelligence

Image by Vivian Abagiu.

Xue-Xin Wei, a computational and theoretical neuroscientist, recently joined the Department of Neuroscience as an assistant professor. Wei grew up in Qingdao, China, before obtaining his undergraduate degree in mathematics at Peking University. His lab works at the intersection of computational/theoretical neuroscience, statistics, artificial intelligence and deep learning. He and his team work closely with experimental scientists to test predictions of computational models to form theory-experiment loops.

Carlos Baiz and Shelley Payne Earn Prestigious Teaching Awards

Carlos Baiz and Shelley Payne Earn Prestigious Teaching Awards

Two College of Natural Sciences faculty members were named the winners of prestigious national and state teaching awards this spring.