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From the College of Natural Sciences
Mathematician Receives Max Planck-Humboldt Medal

Mathematician Receives Max Planck-Humboldt Medal

Mathematician Sam Payne has been awarded a Max Planck-Humboldt Medal. Photo credit: Vivian Abagiu.

Sam Payne, professor of mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded one of this year's two Max Planck-Humboldt Medals. The medal is financed by the German government and awarded jointly by the Max Planck Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Giant Flightless Birds Were Nocturnal and Possibly Blind

Giant Flightless Birds Were Nocturnal and Possibly Blind

A new analysis of the skulls of extinct elephant birds show they were nocturnal and possibly blind. Credit: John Maisano/University of Texas at Austin.

If you encountered an elephant bird today, it would be hard to miss. Measuring in at over 10 feet tall, the extinct avian is the largest bird known to science. However, while you looked up in awe, it's likely that the big bird would not be looking back.

Everything’s Bigger in Texas, including the Occasional Spider Web

Everything’s Bigger in Texas, including the Occasional Spider Web

If creepy-crawly, eight-legged types are the stuff of your Halloween fears, you might want to stop reading here.

UT Austin Selected for New Nationwide High-Intensity Laser Network

UT Austin Selected for New Nationwide High-Intensity Laser Network

The Texas Petawatt Laser, among the most powerful in the U.S., will be part of a new national network funded by the Dept. of Energy, named LaserNetUS. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

The University of Texas at Austin will be a key player in LaserNetUS, a new national network of institutions operating high-intensity, ultrafast lasers. The overall project, funded over two years with $6.8 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, aims to help boost the country's global competitiveness in high-intensity laser research.

Biologists Receive $2 Million to Classify the Microbial World

Biologists Receive $2 Million to Classify the Microbial World

UT Austin biologists have received funding to classify the world’s microbes based on genetics, function and ecology. This image is a tree of life for one group of microbes called archaea. In this case, they are all found in the guts of great apes. Credit: Howard Ochman/University of Texas at Austin.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a team of four researchers, including University of Texas at Austin biologists Howard Ochman and Mark Kirkpatrick, approximately $2 million over three years to classify the entire microbial world into genetic, ecological and functional units. The researchers also aim to understand how diversity originates and to analyze the genetic basis of functional and ecological differences between emerging species.

Dave Thirumalai Awarded Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics

Dave Thirumalai Awarded Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics

A chemist at the University of Texas at Austin has been awarded the top prize for chemical physics, given biennially by the American Physical Society. Davarajan Thirumalai received the Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics for his groundbreaking work in developing "analytical and computational approaches to soft-matter systems" and applying these approaches to "the transitional behavior of supercooled fluids and glasses, folding dynamics of protein and RNA biopolymers, and functioning of molecular motors."

‘Honey, I Shrunk the Cell Culture’: Scientists Use Shrink Ray for Biomedical Research

‘Honey, I Shrunk the Cell Culture’: Scientists Use Shrink Ray for Biomedical Research

Using a new kind of "shrink ray", UT Austin scientists can alter the surface of a hydrogel pad in real time, creating grooves (blue) and other patterns without disturbing living cells, such as this fibroblast cell (red) that models the behavior of human skin cells. Rapid appearance of such surface features during cell growth can mimic the dynamic conditions experienced during development and repair of tissue (e.g., in wound healing and nerve regrowth). Credit: Jason Shear/University of Texas at Austin.

From "Fantastic Voyage" to "Despicable Me," shrink rays have been a science-fiction staple on screen. Now chemists at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a real shrink ray that can change the size and shape of a block of gel-like material while human or bacterial cells grow on it. This new tool holds promise for biomedical researchers, including those seeking to shed light on how to grow replacement tissues and organs for implants.

Why Do our Eyes Move as They Do? UT Scientists Have New Answers to That

Why Do our Eyes Move as They Do? UT Scientists Have New Answers to That

Humans move their eyes about two or three times a second, even when we're concentrating on a particular object or image, but the reason for these tiny eye movements has never been very clear.

New Protein Sequencing Method Could Transform Biological Research

New Protein Sequencing Method Could Transform Biological Research

An ultra-sensitive new method for identifying the series of amino acids in individual proteins (a.k.a. protein sequencing) can accelerate research on biomarkers for cancer and other diseases. Credit: David Steadman/University of Texas at Austin.

A team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin has demonstrated a new way to sequence proteins that is much more sensitive than existing technology, identifying individual protein molecules rather than requiring millions of molecules at a time. The advance could have a major impact in biomedical research, making it easier to reveal new biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases, as well as enhance our understanding of how healthy cells function.

Visualizing Science 2018: Beauty and Inspiration in College Research

Visualizing Science 2018: Beauty and Inspiration in College Research

Over the last six years, faculty, staff and students from across the College of Natural Sciences have submitted hundreds of images from their scholarly research for our annual Visualizing Science competition, and these images have been viewed by tens of thousands of people. The submitted images, often beautiful and stunning, are the ones that spoke to their creators, inspiring and informing them as they followed their scientific passions.