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From the College of Natural Sciences
Like Their Domestic Cousins, Native Bees are Hurt by Pesticides

Like Their Domestic Cousins, Native Bees are Hurt by Pesticides

Image of a Mason Bee or Blueberry Bee (Megachilidae, Osmia sp.) by Alejandro Santillana, Insects Unlocked

Because they are critical in maintaining our food supply, a lot of research and public attention has been focused (rightly) on the health of domesticated honey bees. On the other hand, native bees also play critical roles in their environments, including pollinating flowers and agricultural crops. Unfortunately, hundreds of North American native bee species are in decline, due to a variety of factors including loss of habitat, nutritional stress, climate change and exposure to pathogens and agrochemicals.

Computer Scientist Named to President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

Computer Scientist Named to President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

William H. Press, a computer scientist and computational biologist at The University of Texas at Austin, will provide scientific perspective to the White House, as a recently named member of President Biden's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

Technological Leaps Help Biologists Study Quickly Changing Landscapes

Technological Leaps Help Biologists Study Quickly Changing Landscapes

Biologists, naturalists and ecologists are typically known for conducting boots-on-the-ground field research, whether it is hiking through the jungles of Costa Rica to study rare frogs, paddling along Arctic coastlines to study sources of carbon or studying endangered birds in South Texas. But increasingly, technology is expanding the work these scientists can do beyond where their feet alone can take them.

New Tumor Cell Tracking System Aims to Understand Cancer Treatment Resistance

New Tumor Cell Tracking System Aims to Understand Cancer Treatment Resistance

HeLa cells, a cancerous cell line used by researchers around the world to study a large variety of important research questions. Photo credit: Tom Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research. Photo courtesy of NIH.

Despite tremendous advances in medicine, tumors are challenging to cure because they are made up of heterogeneous cells. In other words, like human families, the individual cells of a tumor share some common traits and characteristics, but as the tumor expands, the cells also develop their own identities. And, as a result, some cells are more resistant to therapy than others and quicker to adapt and change.

Combining Agrochemicals More Harmful to Bees than Previously Understood

Combining Agrochemicals More Harmful to Bees than Previously Understood

When multiple agrochemicals are used, their effects on bees can be magnified. Photo courtesy of Emily Bailes.

Bees perform critical services in ecosystems, including by pollinating the plants that humans and other animals rely on for food. According to new research, however, bees exposed to multiple types of agricultural chemicals face much greater risk than previously understood. The finding, published in the journal Nature, has researchers raising the alarm that regulatory approval processes need updating to allow for more consideration of the environmental risks brought about by these chemicals' interactions.

Unlocking Secrets of Some of the World’s Smallest Viruses

Unlocking Secrets of Some of the World’s Smallest Viruses

A typical flu virus is so small that a thousand of them could fit in the width of a human hair.

Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

Study on Climate Change Impacts on Plants Could Lead to Better Conservation Strategies

The three-year study focused on Coyote Ridge, a grassland near San Jose, California, which has several endemic plant species. Credit: Erika Zavaleta/University of California, Santa Cruz.

The loss of plant species that are especially vulnerable to climate change might lead to bigger problems than previous studies have suggested, according to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If confirmed, the findings can help inform conservation strategies and lead to more accurate predictions about what ecosystems will look like in the future.

Biologist Awarded Radcliffe and Guggenheim Fellowships

Biologist Awarded Radcliffe and Guggenheim Fellowships

Steven Phelps, a professor of integrative biology and director of the Center for Brain, Behavior and Evolution at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded two prestigious fellowships in the same year related to his work on the biology of intimacy. He received both a 2021 Guggenheim Fellowship and was named a 2021-2022 Radcliffe Fellow by the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.

Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery

Undetected Coronavirus Variant Was in at Least 15 Countries Before its Discovery

Illustration: Jenna Luecke

A highly contagious SARS-CoV-2 variant was unknowingly spreading for months in the United States by October 2020, according to a new study from researchers with The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium. Scientists first discovered it in early December in the United Kingdom, where the highly contagious and more lethal variant is thought to have originated. The journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, which has published an early-release version of the study, provides evidence that the coronavirus variant B117 (501Y) had spread across the globe undetected for months when scientists discovered it.

Integrative Biology Professor Wins Early Career Award for Contributions to Ecology

Integrative Biology Professor Wins Early Career Award for Contributions to Ecology

Caroline Farrior, an assistant professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, was elected as one of 10 Early Career Fellows for 2021 by the Ecological Society of America, an organization of professional ecologists.

Repeated Testing for COVID-19 is Vital, Economic and Public Health Analysis Shows

Repeated Testing for COVID-19 is Vital, Economic and Public Health Analysis Shows

As a new presidential administration takes steps to examine options to control the spread of COVID-19 through increased testing, epidemiologists at The University of Texas at Austin and other institutions have a new analysis that shows the value of having all people in the U.S. tested on a regular, rotating basis to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and the loss of life from COVID-19. The team's model is outlined in a paper published online today in The Lancet Public Health.

Key Switchgrass Genes Identified, Which Could Mean Better Biofuels Ahead

Key Switchgrass Genes Identified, Which Could Mean Better Biofuels Ahead

Biologists believe they are one step closer to a long-held goal of making a cheap, widely available plant a source for energy and fuel, meaning one of the next big weapons in the battle against climate change may be able to trace its roots to the side of a Texas highway.

New Tool Helps Parents and Educators Estimate COVID-19 Infection Numbers at Their School

New Tool Helps Parents and Educators Estimate COVID-19 Infection Numbers at Their School

With COVID-19 cases hitting new highs across the country, a new online tool can help families and school leaders estimate how many infected people are likely to show up at a school on a given day anywhere in the United States. The free, interactive dashboard was produced by The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

Curbing COVID-19 Hospitalizations Requires Attention to Construction Workers

Curbing COVID-19 Hospitalizations Requires Attention to Construction Workers

Construction workers have a much higher risk of becoming hospitalized with the novel coronavirus than non-construction workers, according to a new study from researchers with The University of Texas at Austin COVID-19 Modeling Consortium.

Invasive Cactus Moth Likely to Spread and Destroy Native Prickly Pear

Invasive Cactus Moth Likely to Spread and Destroy Native Prickly Pear

The cactus moth has a wingspan of only about an inch, but this invasive insect has the potential to cause largescale agricultural and ecological devastation in Texas, according to the first study of cactus moths in Texas.