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Harrington Fellowship Supports Three Natural Sciences Graduate Students

Three winners of the university's most prestigious fellowship program, the Donald D. Harrington Fellows Program, are currently working in the College of Natural Sciences. The three graduate students—from California Institute of Technology, Georgia State and The University of Texas at Austin—are researching how planets form beyond our solar system, how our brains make associations between rewards and the environments in which we get them, and how corals respond and adapt to changes in their environment.

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Physicist Peter Onyisi, assistant professor in the College of Natural Sciences, was part of a team at CERN working with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that discovered something that looked like the Higgs boson particle.

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Peter Thomas, professor of marine science, and researchers in his lab have made a discovery in fish that could provide a chink in the armor of cancer cells.

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The groundbreaking Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) program at The University of Texas at Austin helped a pair of students put a coveted feather in their cap quite early in their academic careers: the chance to say they’ve been published in a top-tier scientific journal from the prestigious Nature Publishing Group.

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Sparks literally fly when a sperm and an egg hit it off. Chemists helped detect how the fertilized mammalian egg releases from its surface billions of zinc atoms in "zinc sparks," one wave after another.

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Every week, as Sneha Patel stood in front of the roughly 20 freshmen she mentored and gave tips on how to navigate college, she would see a lot of heads nodding—but not in the back of the room. There sat one girl, always with her headphones on, not participating. Patel was surprised when the student signed up for one of the individual sessions she offered to each of her mentees. She probably won't even show up, Patel thought. When the student did arrive for her meeting, she was very quiet at first. Then something shifted.

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A new computational technique developed at The University of Texas at Austin has enabled an international consortium to produce an avian tree of life that points to the origins of various bird species. A graduate student at the university is a leading author on papers describing the new technique and sharing the consortium’s findings about bird evolution in the journal Science.

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Jacob Heiling (BS '13) was already interested in biology when he started working as a greenhouse assistant at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory (BFL) as an undergraduate. The time he spent watching butterflies interact in the greenhouse sparked his interest in studying species interactions, and that led to an independent research project on the chemical ecology of bird-dispersed fruits.

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Physics professor and UTeach executive director Dr. Michael Marder joined President Obama, the First Lady and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders today to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.