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From the College of Natural Sciences
Do Stars Fall Quietly into Black Holes, or Crash into Something Utterly Unknown?

Do Stars Fall Quietly into Black Holes, or Crash into Something Utterly Unknown?

This artist's impression shows a star crossing the event horizon of a supermassive black hole located in the center of a galaxy. Illustration credit: Mark A. Garlick/CfA.

Astronomers at The University of Texas at Austin and Harvard University have put a basic principle of black holes to the test, showing that matter completely vanishes when pulled in. Their results constitute another successful test for Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

Historical Rainfall Levels Key in Carbon Emissions from Soil

Historical Rainfall Levels Key in Carbon Emissions from Soil

Scientists have known that microbes living in the ground can play a major role in producing atmospheric carbon that can accelerate climate change, but now researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that soil microbes from historically wetter sites are more sensitive to moisture and emit significantly more carbon than microbes from historically drier regions.

Three Alumni to be Inducted into Hall of Honor

Three Alumni to be Inducted into Hall of Honor

Three world-changing alumni of the College of Natural Sciences have been selected for induction into the college's 2017 Hall of Honor. Two distinguished alumni, Gail Dianne Lewis and Alan Stern, have been excelling in their chosen fields for decades. Meanwhile, emerging leader Franziska Roesner has only just begun to make her mark. All are building a better world.

Biofilm Discovery Suggests New Way to Prevent Dangerous Infections

Biofilm Discovery Suggests New Way to Prevent Dangerous Infections

Pseudomonas bacteria forming a biofilm. Credit: Vernita Gordon/U. of Texas at Austin.

Microbial biofilms—dense, sticky mats of bacteria that are hard to treat and can lead to dangerous infections—often form in medical equipment, such as flexible plastic tubing used in catheters or in tubes used to help patients breathe. By some estimates, more than 1 million people contract infections from medical devices in U.S. hospitals each year, many of which are due to biofilms. A study from The University of Texas at Austin suggests a possible new way to prevent such biofilms from forming, which would sharply reduce incidents of related hospital-borne infection.

5 Ways to Celebrate the Class of 2017

5 Ways to Celebrate the Class of 2017

​In light of Commencement, we step back to celebrate the Class of 2017. We've updated this post, post-commencement, to share highlights from all three College of Natural Sciences ceremonies. 

Commencement Speaker Helps Shape Young Minds Through Sesame Street

Commencement Speaker Helps Shape Young Minds Through Sesame Street

Before Elmo and Cookie Monster come alive on the small screen, childhood experts like Jennifer Kotler Clarke, Vice President of Content Research & Evaluation at Sesame Workshop, conduct experiments and review data to ensure these and other Sesame Street Muppets have the intended impact on children, parents and educators all over the world.

Graduate Leaves Legacy of Giving Behind

Graduate Leaves Legacy of Giving Behind

For the last three years, Michelle Eng has risen at 4:30am twice a week in order to serve breakfast to the homeless before heading to class. But what is even more impressive about this pre-med graduating senior is her spirited enthusiasm and the fact that the hours spent downtown are a tiny portion of what she donates to Austin's campus and community.

Alumnus Helped Usher in Age of Personal Computing and Guide Lunar Astronauts Home

Alumnus Helped Usher in Age of Personal Computing and Guide Lunar Astronauts Home

Bob O'Rear (M.S. '66) wrote computer code that helped guide Apollo astronauts safely home and led the team that developed software for the first IBM PC. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

In the summer of 1980, Microsoft was a scrappy little company with about 40 employees known mostly for producing computer languages like BASIC and FORTRAN. Annual revenues were just a few million dollars a year. That was all about to change when they got a call from global computer giant IBM. Could they help with a top-secret project to build, in less than a year, an affordable personal computer for ordinary people?

3 Lessons from Research About Supporting Mothers

3 Lessons from Research About Supporting Mothers

Illustration by Jenna Luecke

Mothers have been celebrated and honored in the US for the last century on a national Mother's Day. But we all also know that families—and perhaps especially mothers—are under increasing pressure, financial, social and otherwise. Supporting mothers is critical for moms, kids, businesses and communities, and research from the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at UT Austin is pointing to what can be done.

UT Austin Mourns Death of Groundbreaking Physicist Cécile DeWitt-Morette

UT Austin Mourns Death of Groundbreaking Physicist Cécile DeWitt-Morette

The University of Texas at Austin mourns the loss of renowned physicist and professor emerita Cécile DeWitt-Morette, who was a faculty member in the Department of Astronomy and the Department of Physics. DeWitt-Morette received international acclaim for her work in theoretical physics and for the educational institution she established in Europe, L'École de Physique des Houches, which helped launch many of the world's leading physicists and mathematicians.