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From the College of Natural Sciences
Virus Discovery Offers Clues About Origins of Complex Life

Virus Discovery Offers Clues About Origins of Complex Life

Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin report in Nature Microbiology the first discovery of viruses infecting a group of microbes that may include the ancestors of all complex life. The discovery offers tantalizing clues about the origins of complex life and suggests new directions for exploring the hypothesis that viruses were essenti...
Nielsen Named One of Five National Academies Early-Career Research Fellows

Nielsen Named One of Five National Academies Early-Career Research Fellows

Kristin Nielsen, assistant professor at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute

PORT ARANSAS - As one of the five scientists who have been selected for the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine's Early-Career Research Fellowship in Human Health and Community Resilience, Kristin Nielsen, assistant professor at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute, will use her expertise to investigate how climate change is altering the potential for dietary contaminant exposure in remote Alaskan communities.

How to Best Support LGTBQ Youth, According to Science

How to Best Support LGTBQ Youth, According to Science

Pride Month is a time of celebration every June. This year's commemoration also comes at a time of heightened attention to the mental health concerns of young LGBTQ people. Recent research has shown these youth may be experiencing more concerns than older LGBTQ people.

Holy Bat Memory! Frog-Eating Bats Remember Ringtones Years Later

Holy Bat Memory! Frog-Eating Bats Remember Ringtones Years Later

Frog-eating bat (Trachops cirrhosus). Credit: Marcos Guerra.

Frog-eating bats trained by researchers to associate a phone ringtone with a tasty treat were able to remember what they learned for up to four years in the wild, according to a new study published in Current Biology.

Mathematician Awarded Distinguished Researcher Award

Mathematician Awarded Distinguished Researcher Award

Math professor Rachel Ward holds the W. A. "Tex" Moncrief, Jr. Distinguished Professorship in Computational Engineering and Sciences.
Natural Sciences Graduates Win Mitchell Awards

Natural Sciences Graduates Win Mitchell Awards

Students and recent graduates in the College of Natural Sciences were awarded the George H. Mitchell Award for Academic Excellence this spring. These awards honor students in STEM and other categories, with generous support provided by the University Co-op. The University of Texas at Austin recognized 12 undergraduate students this year for superior scholarly and creative achievements, highlighting the unparalleled dedication and achievement the students showed in their fields of study. 

Devleena Samanta Invents Ways to Detect Molecules in Living Cells

Devleena Samanta Invents Ways to Detect Molecules in Living Cells

Devleena Samanta joined the Department of Chemistry in fall 2021 as an assistant professor. She designs and synthesizes nanoscale materials to address challenges in biology and medicine, and she's passionate about teaching students from a variety of backgrounds. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University. We recently spoke with her to learn more.

Legacy of Colonialism Influences Science in the Caribbean

Legacy of Colonialism Influences Science in the Caribbean

Map of the Caribbean region. Generated using ArcGIS Pro online.

With the retreat of sprawling empires after the Second World War, one might think the colonial mindset of taking from smaller countries to support large nations would likewise be relegated to the past. But a new paper in The American Naturalist by an international collaboration of researchers shows how the legacy of colonialism remains deeply entrenched within scientific practice across the Caribbean archipelago.

How Electric Fish Were Able to Evolve Electric Organs

How Electric Fish Were Able to Evolve Electric Organs

UT Austin researchers confirmed that the genetic control region they discovered only controls the expression of a sodium channel gene in muscle and no other tissues. In this image, a green fluorescent protein lights up only in trunk muscle in a developing zebrafish embryo. Image credit: Mary Swartz/Johann Eberhart/University of Texas at Austin.

Electric organs help electric fish, such as the electric eel, do all sorts of amazing things: They send and receive signals that are akin to bird songs, helping them to recognize other electric fish by species, sex and even individual. A new study in Science Advances explains how small genetic changes enabled electric fish to evolve electric organs. The finding might also help scientists pinpoint the genetic mutations behind some human diseases.

Jason McLellan Named Finalist for Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists

Jason McLellan Named Finalist for Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists

University of Texas at Austin molecular biosciences professor Jason McLellan was selected as a finalist for the 2022 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.