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From the College of Natural Sciences
UT Austin Selected as Home of National AI Institute Focused on Machine Learning

UT Austin Selected as Home of National AI Institute Focused on Machine Learning

The NSF AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning and the Machine Learning Laboratory will be administratively housed in the Gates-Dell Complex at The University of Texas at Austin. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu/University of Texas at Austin.

The National Science Foundation has selected The University of Texas at Austin to lead the NSF AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning, bolstering the university's existing strengths in this emerging field. Machine learning is the technology that drives AI systems, enabling them to acquire knowledge and make predictions in complex environments. This technology has the potential to transform everything from transportation to entertainment to health care.

UT Austin Will Test More Than 5,000 a Week for COVID-19

UT Austin Will Test More Than 5,000 a Week for COVID-19

Samples are loaded into a liquid handling robot at the High Throughput Testing Core (HTTC) on campus. Photo by Vivian Abagiu.

When the novel coronavirus began spreading across the United States this spring, The University of Texas at Austin quickly purchased three state-of-the-art robots and assembled additional equipment capable of processing hundreds of COVID-19 test samples every day.

State Cancer Research Grant Awarded to Molecular Bioscientist

State Cancer Research Grant Awarded to Molecular Bioscientist

Cancer research is getting a boost at The University of Texas at Austin as researchers in the College of Natural Sciences and Dell Medical School received grants from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).

McDonald Observatory Will Reopen to the Public Aug. 28

McDonald Observatory Will Reopen to the Public Aug. 28

Aerial view of McDonald Observatory. Photo credit: Damond Benningfield.

The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory is planning to reopen to the public, in a limited fashion, on Friday, Aug. 28. Beginning with a star party that night, the observatory's Frank N. Bash Visitors Center will begin holding public programs again.

Some Bacteria Sacrifice Themselves to Protect their Brethren from Antibiotics

Some Bacteria Sacrifice Themselves to Protect their Brethren from Antibiotics

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered how some cells within a bacterial swarm will sacrifice themselves so that other cells in the swarm have a better chance of surviving onslaught by antibiotics, in a discovery important for efforts to address antibiotic resistance.

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.

Tiny Insects Provide Inspiration for New Biomaterials

Tiny Insects Provide Inspiration for New Biomaterials

Oncometopia hamiltoni leafhopper insect. Photo by Alex Wild, used with permission.

They may be tiny, but leafhoppers have a super power: they secrete a substance that makes their bodies water-repellant and anti-reflective, which may help them blend in with their surroundings and escape surface tension. Symbiotic bacteria living in the leafhoppers appear to assist in producing the substance and its soccer-ball-shaped nanostructures called brochosomes, but the process is something of a mystery.

Early Spread of COVID-19 Appears Far Greater Than Initially Reported

Early Spread of COVID-19 Appears Far Greater Than Initially Reported

Patients with undiagnosed flu symptoms who actually had COVID-19 last winter were among thousands of undetected early cases of the disease at the beginning of this year. In a new paper in The Lancet's open-access journal EClinicalMedicine, epidemiological researchers from The University of Texas at Austin estimated COVID-19 to be far more widespread in Wuhan, China, and Seattle, Washington, weeks ahead of lockdown measures in each city.

Computer Scientists Explore How Artificial Agents Collaborate on a Shared Task

Computer Scientists Explore How Artificial Agents Collaborate on a Shared Task

There's an (albeit cliché) saying that says that two heads are better than one. Unsurprisingly, this idiom extends to artificial agents. In the field of AI, researchers have been working to understand how to make independent agents, who may have different goals, work together in an environment to complete a shared task. Three researchers in the Department of Computer Science, graduate student Ishan Durugkar, recent doctoral alumnus Elad Liebman, and professor Peter Stone, have been working to solve this problem. 

Locking Down Shape-Shifting Spike Protein Aids Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

Locking Down Shape-Shifting Spike Protein Aids Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

An engineered protein developed by UT Austin researchers and their colleagues is a key element of COVID-19 vaccines currently in human trials by Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.

The experimental vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 that was the first to enter human trials in the United States has been shown to elicit neutralizing antibodies and a helpful T-cell response with the aid of a carefully engineered spike protein that mimics the infection-spreading part of the virus.