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From the College of Natural Sciences
New Partnership Aims to Demystify Artificial Intelligence “Black Boxes”

New Partnership Aims to Demystify Artificial Intelligence “Black Boxes”

Isil Dillig (left) and Swarat Chaudhuri are part of a new, multi-institution initiative aimed at better understanding what happens inside artificial intelligence "black boxes."

The promise of artificial intelligence to solve problems in drug design, discover how babies learn language, and make progress in many other areas has been stymied by the inability of humans to understand what's going on inside AI systems.

Surveying Deepest Space to Understand Dark Energy

Surveying Deepest Space to Understand Dark Energy

HETDEX is the first major experiment to search for dark energy. It uses the giant Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory and a set of spectrographs to map the three-dimensional positions of one million galaxies.

Two decades ago, Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt, and Adam Reiss shocked the world when they published research showing not only that the Universe was expanding, but that the expansion was occurring at an accelerating rate. The discovery came as a complete surprise even to the astronomers themselves, and netted them a Nobel Prize in 2011.

Hidden Source of Carbon Found at the Arctic Coast

Hidden Source of Carbon Found at the Arctic Coast

Dr. Craig Connolly takes a groundwater sample to measure the concentration and age of organic carbon and nitrogen in groundwater flowing beneath the beach. Credit: Jim McClelland.

A previously unknown significant source of carbon just discovered in the Arctic has scientists marveling at a once overlooked contributor to local coastal ecosystems – and concerned about what it may mean in an era of climate change.

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

Cancer Drug with Better Staying Power and Reduced Toxicity Shows Preclinical Promise

The drug candidate, called OxaliTEX, is made of two parts: a star-shaped molecule (blue) called texaphyrin that acts like a kind of delivery truck and a modified version of a platinum drug (red) that acts like a toxic package for cancer cells. Illustration credit: iQ Group Global.

​A drug candidate has been found in preclinical trials to stop tumor growth entirely, deliver more cancer-busting power than many commonly used chemotherapy drugs and do so with fewer toxic side effects and more ability to overcome resistance.

Coronavirus Spreads Quickly and Sometimes Before People Have Symptoms, Study Finds

Coronavirus Spreads Quickly and Sometimes Before People Have Symptoms, Study Finds

Infectious disease researchers at The University of Texas at Austin studying the novel coronavirus were able to identify how quickly the virus can spread, a factor that may help public health officials in their efforts at containment. They found that time between cases in a chain of transmission is less than a week and that more than 10% of patients are infected by somebody who has the virus but does not yet have symptoms.

Public Outreach Programs Suspended in Response to COVID-19

Public Outreach Programs Suspended in Response to COVID-19

​The University of Texas at Austin's public-facing programs on campus and at museums, schools and science centers are currently suspended to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the agent causing the COVID-19 pandemic.

McDonald Observatory Hires Teznie Pugh as New Superintendent

McDonald Observatory Hires Teznie Pugh as New Superintendent

The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory has hired Teznie Pugh as its new Superintendent, responsible for managing day-to-day operations at the West Texas site.

Demographics Linked to Choice Not to Vaccinate Children in Texas, Study Finds

Demographics Linked to Choice Not to Vaccinate Children in Texas, Study Finds

Texans who are college-educated, live in suburban or urban areas, have higher median incomes and are ethnically white are less likely to vaccinate their children, according to analysis by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin. The findings could help public health officials identify pockets of low vaccination rates where communities within the state are at higher risk for an outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.

Joydeep Biswas Builds Robots to Navigate the Real World

Joydeep Biswas Builds Robots to Navigate the Real World

The Biswas lab demos robotic cars at campus events like the college donor brunch and Explore UT.

Joydeep Biswas leads the Autonomous Mobile Robotics Laboratory (AMRL) at UT, where he and other researchers work on building mobile service robots that assist humans in everyday environments. The lab investigates programs and algorithms that enable these robots to better navigate changing conditions, incorporate human assistance and recover from failures intelligently.

New Method Could Transform Vaccine Distribution to Remote, Developing Areas

New Method Could Transform Vaccine Distribution to Remote, Developing Areas

Access to vaccines around the world could get easier thanks to scientists at The University of Texas at Austin who have developed an inexpensive and innovative vaccine delivery method that preserves live viruses, bacteria, antibodies and enzymes without refrigeration.