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From the College of Natural Sciences
You Can Help Decode the Universe!

You Can Help Decode the Universe!

Would you like to help astronomers understand more about the universe? McDonald Observatory astronomers are trying to learn more about dark energy — the mysterious force causing the universe to expand faster and faster over time. And now there is a fun and easy way anyone can help with their research, using a smartphone or computer.

Our Immune Systems Blanket the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Antibodies

Our Immune Systems Blanket the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein with Antibodies

An analysis of blood plasma samples from people who recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infections shows that most of the antibodies circulating in the blood -- on average, about 84% -- target areas of the viral spike protein outside the receptor binding domain (RBD, green), including the N-terminal Domain (NTD, blue) and the S2 subunit (red, yellow). Illustration credit: University of Texas at Austin.

The most complete picture yet is coming into focus of how antibodies produced in people who effectively fight off SARS-CoV-2 work to neutralize the part of the virus responsible for causing infection. In the journal Science, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin describe the finding, which represents good news for designing the next generation of vaccines to protect against variants of the virus or future emerging coronaviruses.

Two CNS Faculty Receive President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Awards

Two CNS Faculty Receive President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Awards

Laura Lashinger (left) and Sally Ragsdale are recipients of the annual President's Associates Teaching Excellence Awards.

Laura Lashinger and Sally Ragsdale, two College of Natural Sciences faculty members, have been named recipients of the annual President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award for the 2020-2021 academic year. The award recognizes the university's educational innovators who demonstrate exceptional undergraduate teaching in the core curriculum, including signature courses, and engage with curriculum reform and educational innovation.

Graduating Researcher and Student Leader Grateful for Mentorship and Support

Graduating Researcher and Student Leader Grateful for Mentorship and Support

In high school, Brett Dolotina looked forward to a diverse, lively campus culture at UT Austin. Austin seemed like a place where people could live freely. Dolotina, who uses they/them pronouns, looked forward to developing their own identity. Dolotina graduates this month as a Public Health and Biochemistry double major and a passionate student leader, with hopes of building a career in research.

Black and Latinx Advocacy Council and CNS Announce Aspire Award Winners

Black and Latinx Advocacy Council and CNS Announce Aspire Award Winners

For more than a decade, the Aspire Awards have provided an occasion for faculty, staff and students to recognize undergraduate leaders in the College of Natural Sciences. The event celebrates undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in the sciences, recognizing their achievements in research, service and leadership. This year, 25 students were given Aspire awards in several categories. The event is a collaboration between the college's Office of Undergraduate Education and the student-led Black and Latinx Advocacy Council.

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

This illustration of the newly forming exoplanet PDS 70b shows how material may be falling onto the giant world as it builds up mass. Researchers got a unique look at radiation from extremely hot gas falling onto the planet with Hubble Space Telescope, allowing them to directly measure the planet’s mass growth rate for the first time. Credit: Y. Zhou/UT Austin/NASA, ESA, STScI and J. Olmsted
The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin to get a rare look at a young, Jupiter-sized planet that is growing by feeding off material surrounding a young star 370 light-years from Earth.
Bay Education Center is Fully Repaired and Reopened after Hurricane Harvey Damage

Bay Education Center is Fully Repaired and Reopened after Hurricane Harvey Damage

Opening May 8 is the Bay Education Center in Rockport,Texas. Credit: Eddie Seal

This May 8, 2021 the Bay Education Center, which is operated by the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, a program of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, will reopen and showcase its new exhibits. Like many museums and nature centers on the Texas coast, the Bay Education Center was struck a double blow with Hurricane Harvey and then the pandemic. 

Jonathan Sessler Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Jonathan Sessler Elected to National Academy of Sciences

Chemist Jonathan L. Sessler of The University of Texas at Austin has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The academy is the country's most prestigious scientific organization, and election to it is one of the highest honors for American researchers.

Hepatitis C Drugs Boost Remdesivir’s Antiviral Activity Against COVID-19

Hepatitis C Drugs Boost Remdesivir’s Antiviral Activity Against COVID-19

Drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures, according to new study. Illustration credit: Jenna Luecke/University of Texas at Austin.

Remdesivir is currently the only antiviral drug approved in the U.S. for treating COVID-19 patients. In a paper published this week in Cell Reports, researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai showed that four drugs used to treat hepatitis C render remdesivir 10 times better at inhibiting the coronavirus in cell cultures.

Mathematician Receives Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching

Mathematician Receives Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching

Amanda Hager, an associate professor of instruction in the Department of Mathematics, has been awarded the 2021 Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching, in recognition of her dedication to students. The student body is entirely responsible for the nomination, selection and award processes for the annual award, given exclusively to faculty in the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Liberal Arts.