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From the College of Natural Sciences

Marc Airhart is the Communications Coordinator for the College of Natural Sciences. A long time member of the National Association of Science Writers, he has written for national publications including Scientific American, Mercury, The Earth Scientist, Environmental Engineer & Scientist, and StarDate Magazine. He also spent 11 years as a writer and producer for the Earth & Sky radio series. Contact me

Maggie Miller Receives Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize

Maggie Miller Receives Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize

Maggie Miller, a UT Austin alumna in mathematics who will soon return to join the faculty, has been awarded a Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prize, an early career award for women in mathematics that is part of the annual Breakthrough Prizes. She is being honored for her work on fibered ribbon knots and surfaces in 4-dimensional manifolds.

Potential New Drug Target Could Boost Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Drugs

Potential New Drug Target Could Boost Effectiveness of Chemotherapy Drugs

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a large family of reverse transcriptases (RTs)—enzymes that are found in all organisms and have been extensively studied for more than 50 years—have the previously unsuspected ability to repair DNA damage. The discovery makes them a potential new drug target that might be exploited to block cancer cells from developing resistance to radiation and chemotherapy drugs. The findings were published today in the journal Cell.

Enzymes in a large family called group II intron-like RTs have 3D structures that are remarkably similar, which suggests they share the ability to help repair double-strand DNA breaks. This image is a superposition of two of these enzymes: G2L4 and GsI-IIC RT. Their shared (or conserved) structures are in alternating green and gray. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.
Steven Weinberg’s Test of Quantum Mechanics Might Soon Be Realized

Steven Weinberg’s Test of Quantum Mechanics Might Soon Be Realized

About six years ago, Mark Raizen got a phone call from his University of Texas at Austin colleague, the Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg.

"He had a lot of questions for me about atomic clocks," Raizen said. "He had this idea for testing quantum mechanics, and he asked me if I could come up with a realistic system to do it in."

An ytterbium lattice atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. NIST physicists combined two of these experimental clocks to make the world’s most stable single atomic clock. Credit: N. Phillips/NIST
New Era at UT Austin Begins for Famous Long-Term Evolution Experiment

New Era at UT Austin Begins for Famous Long-Term Evolution Experiment

Jeff Barrick, director of the Long-Term Evolution Experiment, examines a dish of E.coli bacteria from the LTEE. Credit: Nolan Zunk/University of Texas at Austin.
The Long-Term Evolution Experiment began back when a dozen eggs cost 65 cents, the film Rain Man topped the box office and George Michael's song "Faith" ruled the pop charts. The bacteria central to this long-running experiment—descendants of E. coli that were plucked from the wild and have spent some 75,000 generations in captivity—now live on the University of Texas at Austin campus.
Bringing Developmental Biology to South Texas

Bringing Developmental Biology to South Texas

Over the last two decades, John Wallingford has taught developmental biology short courses to students at two of the country's most highly prestigious and competitive biological research institutions: the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. But not all biology students have access to these transformative experiences.

Students in the Baffin Bay Developmental Biology short course in Kingsville, TX in August 2022. Photo credit: Miranda Smith.
New Partnership Will Scale Up Investment in Ethical AI Research and Innovation

New Partnership Will Scale Up Investment in Ethical AI Research and Innovation

Kenneth R. Fleischmann, Will Griffin, Mikel Rodriguez and Alice Xiang at the 2022 Good Systems Symposium. Credit: Stacey Ingram Kaleh.

The University of Texas at Austin and the MITRE Corporation, a nonprofit dedicated to solving problems for a safer world, have formed a partnership that includes accelerating innovative ethical artificial intelligence (AI) research currently underway by interdisciplinary teams of researchers who are part of UT Austin's Good Systems research grand challenge.

Wide View of Early Universe Hints at Galaxy Among the Earliest Ever Detected

Wide View of Early Universe Hints at Galaxy Among the Earliest Ever Detected

Members of the CEERS collaboration explore the first wide, deep field image from the James Webb Space Telescope at the Texas Advanced Computing Center’s Visualization Lab on the UT Austin campus on July 21, 2022. Credit: Nolan Zunk/University of Texas at Austin.

Two new images from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope show what may be among the earliest galaxies ever observed. Both images include objects from more than 13 billion years ago, and one offers a much wider field of view than Webb's First Deep Field image, which was released amid great fanfare July 12. The images represent some of the first out of a major collaboration of astronomers and other academic researchers teaming with NASA and global partners to uncover new insights about the universe.

Researchers Aim to Make Computer Networks Easier to Change on the Fly

Researchers Aim to Make Computer Networks Easier to Change on the Fly

It's hard to make changes to the software running on a computer network while it's in use—and that can make it harder to respond quickly to a cyberattack. The National Science Foundation has awarded a grant to computer scientists from Rice University, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington to develop runtime programmable networks that can respond to real-time changes rapidly and without interruption of service.

Race to Find Earliest Galaxy Heats Up

Race to Find Earliest Galaxy Heats Up

Maisie's galaxy, imaged by the James Webb Space Telescope, may be among the earliest ever observed. Researchers estimate that we're seeing it as it was about 290 million years after the Big Bang.

In the past week, astronomers have been giddily sifting through the latest images from the James Webb Space Telescope and turning up golden nuggets nearly everywhere they look. Major news outlets including BBC, Nature, Space.com and CNET are reporting that several teams have found what appear to be a slew of galaxies seen much earlier than the earliest detected by the Hubble Space Telescope.

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Neutralizing Crazy Ants

Neutralizing Crazy Ants

Over the past 15 years or so, tawny crazy ants from South America have been popping up across the southeastern U.S. like paratroopers dropping in from an invading army. Where they take hold, they're like an ecological wrecking ball and they cause headaches for homeowners. Podcast host Marc Airhart joined biologist Edward LeBrun in the Texas Hill Country to test a new weapon in the battle against the destructive tawny crazy ant.