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From the College of Natural Sciences
In Singing Mice, Scientists Find Clue to Our Own Rapid Conversations

In Singing Mice, Scientists Find Clue to Our Own Rapid Conversations

Alston's singing mouse. Photo by Bret Pasch.

Studying the songs of mice from the cloud forests of Costa Rica, researchers from New York University School of Medicine and The University of Texas at Austin have identified a brain circuit that might enable the high-speed back and forth of human conversation. This insight, published online today in the journal Science, could help researchers better understand the causes of speech disorders and point the way to new treatments.

Texas Invasive Species Program Gets Boost from Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation

Texas Invasive Species Program Gets Boost from Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation

Destructive and costly fire ants, crazy ants, moth larvae and invasive grasses can wreak havoc on Texas ecosystems, but biologists at The University of Texas at Austin are bringing the fight to them. With the help of a $6 million continuing grant from the Lee and Ramona Bass Foundation, researchers in the Texas Invasive Species Program will seek n...
New Material Holds Promise for More Secure Computing

New Material Holds Promise for More Secure Computing

When the two atomically-thin sheets of this new material are rotated slightly with respect to each other, an interference pattern known as a moiré pattern appears. This feature appears to enable Li’s new material to act as a series of single photon emitters. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

As computers advance, encryption methods currently used to keep everything from financial transactions to military secrets secure might soon be useless, technology experts warn. Reporting today in the journal Nature, a team of physicists and engineers led by University of Texas at Austin physics professor Xiaoqin Elaine Li report they have created a material with light-emitting properties that might enable hack-proof communications, guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics.

Nutritional Scientist Named to USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee

Nutritional Scientist Named to USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee

Heather Leidy, associate professor of nutritional sciences, will be among 20 scientific experts who will draft dietary guidelines for the United States.

Computer Scientist Elected Fellow of Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

Computer Scientist Elected Fellow of Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence

University of Texas at Austin computer science professor Kristen Grauman was elected a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), a lifetime honor.

Scientists Synthesize a New Type of DNA with Extra Building Blocks

Scientists Synthesize a New Type of DNA with Extra Building Blocks

A DNA double helix built from eight hachimoji building blocks: G (green), A (red), C (dark blue), T (yellow), B (cyan), S (pink), P (purple) and Z (orange). The first four building blocks are found in human DNA; the last four are synthetic. Each strand of the double helix has the sequence CTTAPCBTASGZTAAG. Image credit: Millie Georgiadis/ Indiana University School of Medicine.

A team of synthetic biologists led by Steven Benner at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution—and including Andy Ellington at The University of Texas at Austin—have synthesized a new kind of DNA that uses eight building blocks instead of the four found in all earthly life. Reporting today in the journal Science, the researchers suggest the new eight-letter DNA could find applications in medicine and biological computing. The finding also has implications for how scientists think about life elsewhere in the universe.

Interacting With More People is Shown to Keep Older Adults More Active

Interacting With More People is Shown to Keep Older Adults More Active

It's been said that variety is the spice of life, and now scientists say variety in your social circle may help you live longer. Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have found that older adults who spend more time interacting with a wide range of people were more likely to be physically active and had greater emotional well-being.

Habitable Zone Planet Finder Enables Discovery of Planets Around Cool Stars

Habitable Zone Planet Finder Enables Discovery of Planets Around Cool Stars

The dome of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, which now houses a new instrument for finding planets around cool stars: the Habitable Zone Planet Finder. Photo credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography.

A new astronomical spectrograph provides the highest precision measurements to date of infrared signals from nearby stars, allowing astronomers to detect planets capable of having liquid water on their surfaces that orbit cool stars outside our solar system. The Habitable Zone Planet Finder (HPF) allows precise measurement of a star's radial velocity, measured by the subtle change in the color of the star's spectra as it is tugged by an orbiting planet, which is critical information in the discovery and confirmation of new planets.

Ali Preston Has A View Into Memory

Ali Preston Has A View Into Memory

Alison Preston is the Dr. A. Wilson Nolle and Sir Raghunath P. Mahendroo Professor of Neuroscience in the College of Natural Sciences. She also holds appointments in the in the College of Liberal Arts' department of psychology and the Dell Medical School's department of psychiatry. She spoke with The Texas Scientist about her work. 

Astronomer Caitlin Casey Named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar

Astronomer Caitlin Casey Named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar

Caitlin Casey has been named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar.

Caitlin Casey, UT Austin astronomy assistant professor, has been named a 2019 Cottrell Scholar by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA).