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From the College of Natural Sciences
Prof_iles: Steve Finkelstein

Prof_iles: Steve Finkelstein

Assistant professor and astronomer Steve Finkelstein can travel through time. Well, almost. He uses data from the Hubble Space Telescope to gaze beyond to the most distant galaxies in the universe. He studies galaxy evolution, and is on a quest to discover the origins of our Milky Way and life itself.

Visualizing Science 2015: Beautiful Images From College Research

Visualizing Science 2015: Beautiful Images From College Research

​As part of a continuing tradition, we invited faculty, staff and students in the College of Natural Sciences community to send us images this past spring that celebrated the magnificent beauty of science and the scientific process. Our goal was to find those moments where science and art become one and the same.

Alum Recognized for Cancer Research Breakthrough

Alum Recognized for Cancer Research Breakthrough

Jim Allison, a College of Natural Sciences alumnus and cancer researcher, has been named the 2015 recipient of the prestigious Lasker Award for clinical medical research.

Neuroscience professor wins NSF CAREER award

Neuroscience professor wins NSF CAREER award

Laura Colgin, an assistant professor in the Department of Neuroscience, has received the Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation to pursue her research on the relationship between brain waves and memory during sleep.

New Nanostructure Could Lead to Advanced Optical Devices

New Nanostructure Could Lead to Advanced Optical Devices

When a quantum dot (right) is placed next to it, the light scattering properties of a much larger gold nanoparticle (center) change. A polarized light shining on the nanoparticle generates an electric field (surrounding bands of color).

Physicists Xiaoqin "Elaine" Li, Gennady Shvets and their colleagues have been exploring new ways to manipulate light on the nanoscale. In a paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they describe work that could lead to better biological sensors and improved devices for optical communications and computing.

Study Shows Common Molecular Tool Kit Organisms Share Across Tree of Life

Study Shows Common Molecular Tool Kit Organisms Share Across Tree of Life

Researchers created the world’s largest protein map, identifying nearly 1,000 protein complexes that are shared across the tree of life. This image shows a small portion of that map.

In one of the largest and most detailed studies of animal molecular biology ever undertaken, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Toronto discovered the assembly instructions for nearly 1,000 protein complexes shared by most kinds of animals, revealing their deep evolutionary relationships. Those instructions offer a powerful new tool for studying the causes of diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and cancer.

Audio: Cocktail Party Effect

Audio: Cocktail Party Effect

How do we manage to follow a conversation with a friend in the middle of a noisy room? Neuroscientists, like Nace Golding, are still working out the details—but what they've learned so far is pretty amazing.

Froggy Went a Courtin'

Froggy Went a Courtin'

Two male túngara frogs make mating calls to attract females. Image by Amanda Lea.

Marketers and used car salesmen have long exploited a vulnerability in the way we make decisions, called the decoy effect, to get us to buy a certain product, even if our gut instinct is to buy another. Now a graduate student and her advisor in the Department of Integrative Biology have discovered that female frogs are prone to this same kind of irrational behavior when it comes to choosing a mate.

College Welcomes New Faculty in New Academic Year

College Welcomes New Faculty in New Academic Year

The College of Natural Sciences welcomes 11 new faculty this fall. Whether searching for evidence of exotic new physics, enabling the creation of personal robots, or addressing critical problems in cancer research, these industrious and innovative faculty members build on the college's reputation for pioneering research and research-based teaching.

Computer Scientists Find Mass Extinctions Can Accelerate Evolution

Computer Scientists Find Mass Extinctions Can Accelerate Evolution

At the start of the simulation, a biped robot controlled by a computationally evolved brain stands upright on a 16 meter by 16 meter surface. The simulation proceeds until the robot falls or until 15 seconds have elapsed. Image credit: Joel Lehman.

A computer science team at The University of Texas at Austin has found that robots evolve more quickly and efficiently after a virtual mass extinction modeled after real-life disasters such as the one that killed off the dinosaurs. Beyond its implications for artificial intelligence, the research supports the idea that mass extinctions actually speed up evolution by unleashing new creativity in adaptations.