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From the College of Natural Sciences
Put No Effort into Teaching (and Other Advice Janice Fischer Ignored)

Put No Effort into Teaching (and Other Advice Janice Fischer Ignored)

A geneticist and award-winning teacher on the resurgence of teaching at research universities, how students have changed since she's been in the business, and the joys of repetition.

Tropical Forests’ Recovery from Deforestation is Surprisingly Fast

Tropical Forests’ Recovery from Deforestation is Surprisingly Fast

Secondary forests at the slope Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica. Photo credit: Rens Brouwer.

Tropical forests are being deforested at an alarming rate, but also have the potential to regrow naturally on abandoned lands. A study published this week in Science shows that regrowing tropical forests recover surprisingly fast, and after 20 years can attain nearly 80% of the soil fertility, soil carbon storage, structure and tree diversity of old-growth forests. The study concludes that natural regeneration is a low-cost, nature-based solution for climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and ecosystem restoration.

David Vanden Bout Appointed Dean of the College of Natural Sciences

David Vanden Bout Appointed Dean of the College of Natural Sciences

David Vanden Bout has been appointed dean of the College of Natural Sciences

The University of Texas at Austin has selected David Vanden Bout to serve as the next dean of the College of Natural Sciences, effective immediately. In this role, he will hold the Robert E. Boyer Chair in Natural Sciences and lead the university's largest college.

UT Austin's McLellan Receives O'Donnell Award in Medicine

UT Austin's McLellan Receives O'Donnell Award in Medicine

UT Austin structural biologist Jason McLellan, Ph.D., is the recipient of the 2022 Edith and Peter O'Donnell Award in Medicine from TAMEST (The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas). He was chosen for his breakthrough research in mapping, modifying, and stabilizing coronavirus spike proteins, which paved the way for the creation of leading COVID-19 vaccines.

Yi Lu Honored Among Top Inventors

Yi Lu Honored Among Top Inventors

Yi Lu, a chemist from The University of Texas at Austin, has been selected as a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a prestigious distinction awarded to a select group of 164 academic innovators around the world for 2021.

Switchgrass Genes Offer Advantages as Climate Change Tool

Switchgrass Genes Offer Advantages as Climate Change Tool

While switchgrass has been seen as useful as a clean-burning source of renewable fuel, it also has the ability to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and store it underground in its substantial root system. Atmospheric carbon is a major contributor to climate change and finding ways to sequester it underground could have impacts on efforts to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change.

Sodium-based Material Yields Stable Alternative to Lithium-ion Batteries

Sodium-based Material Yields Stable Alternative to Lithium-ion Batteries

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new sodium metal anode for rechargeable batteries (left) that resists the formation of dendrites, a common problem with standard sodium metal anodes (right) that can lead to shorting and fires. Images were taken with a scanning electron microscope. Image credit: Yixian Wang/University of Texas at Austin.

University of Texas at Austin researchers have created a new sodium-based battery material that is highly stable, capable of recharging as quickly as a traditional lithium-ion battery and able to pave the way toward delivering more energy than current battery technologies.

Potential New Gene Editing Tools Uncovered

Potential New Gene Editing Tools Uncovered

Scientists have found over a thousand versions of a natural gene editor in bacteria, which could lead to better gene editing tools to treat diseases. Image courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute.

Few developments have rocked the biotechnology world or generated as much buzz as the discovery of CRISPR-Cas systems, a breakthrough in gene editing recognized in 2020 with a Nobel Prize. But these systems that naturally occur in bacteria are limited because they can make only small tweaks to genes. In recent years, scientists discovered a different system in bacteria that might lead to even more powerful methods for gene editing, given its unique ability to insert genes or whole sections of DNA in a genome.

Math for Poets: Postdoc Heather Wilber Wins AWM Dissertation Prize

Math for Poets: Postdoc Heather Wilber Wins AWM Dissertation Prize

Heather Wilber, an NSF postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics who joined the Oden Institute in May 2021, received the 2022 Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM) Dissertation Prize for a study entitled, Computing numerically with rational functions. Although only published earlier this year, it has resulted in multiple papers in scientific journals already, appearing in the SIAM Journal of Scientific Computing, Linear Algebra and its Applications, and Constructive Approximation (to appear).

UT Austin Harnesses Power of Biology in Partnership with Army Research Laboratory

UT Austin Harnesses Power of Biology in Partnership with Army Research Laboratory

Jimmy Gollihar at work in the "biological foundry." Photo credit: Callie Richmond.

Early last year, Jimmy Gollihar was deep into building a unique facility on the Forty Acres, what he calls "the biological foundry" – a turbo-charged, biotech playground with a focus on rapid scientific discovery. The foundry was to be a key element of a partnership in synthetic biology research between The University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. military. Then, as fate would have it, COVID-19 would change everything.