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From the College of Natural Sciences
Visualizing Science 2022: Illuminating the Intrinsic Beauty in Academic Research

Visualizing Science 2022: Illuminating the Intrinsic Beauty in Academic Research

This past spring, the College of Natural Sciences invited our University of Texas at Austin faculty, staff and students to send in the top images from their research for our Visualizing Science competition. The images they produced nourish both the mind and the soul, offering not only food for thought but a feast for the eyes as well.

How Black Holes Might Have Influenced the First Stars

How Black Holes Might Have Influenced the First Stars

Just milliseconds after the universe's Big Bang, chaos reigned. Atomic nuclei fused and broke apart in hot, frenzied motion. Incredibly strong pressure waves built up and squeezed matter so tightly together that black holes formed, which astrophysicists call primordial black holes.

An artist's concept illustrates merging black holes. Credit: LIGO/Caltech/MIT/R. Hurt (IPAC).
UT Austin Selected for EcoCAR EV Challenge to Make Next-Gen Vehicle

UT Austin Selected for EcoCAR EV Challenge to Make Next-Gen Vehicle

Rishab Anand, electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. student; Junmin Wang, mechanical engineering professor and faculty advisor lead; Alex Huang electrical and computer engineering professor and faculty advisor; and Xingyu Zhou, mechanical engineering Ph.D. student.

The University of Texas at Austin is one of 13 university teams in North America set to participate in the EcoCAR EV Challenge, a prestigious collegiate competition to re-engineer state-of-the-art vehicles and prepare students for the future.

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

Probing the Secrets of Dead Stars and Planetary Remnants

The dark silhouette of the 2.1-meter Otto Struve Telescope is backed by a colorful sunrise. Credit: Ethan Tweedie Photography

In the course of research for his Ph.D., Zach Vanderbosch spent nearly 300 nights studying the heavens from telescopes at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory. Later this month, he will receive his doctorate for his research into the dead stars known as white dwarfs, and the orbiting disks of debris made up of these stars' former planets.

Potential New Gene Editing Tools Uncovered

Potential New Gene Editing Tools Uncovered

Scientists have found over a thousand versions of a natural gene editor in bacteria, which could lead to better gene editing tools to treat diseases. Image courtesy: National Human Genome Research Institute.

Few developments have rocked the biotechnology world or generated as much buzz as the discovery of CRISPR-Cas systems, a breakthrough in gene editing recognized in 2020 with a Nobel Prize. But these systems that naturally occur in bacteria are limited because they can make only small tweaks to genes. In recent years, scientists discovered a different system in bacteria that might lead to even more powerful methods for gene editing, given its unique ability to insert genes or whole sections of DNA in a genome.

Breakthrough in Fight on Tick-Borne CCHF Virus is Latest Use of New Strategy Against Diseases

Breakthrough in Fight on Tick-Borne CCHF Virus is Latest Use of New Strategy Against Diseases

A 3D atomic map, or structure, of the Gc protein (red and yellow) bound to two antibodies (green, blue and white) produced by a recovered patient. The Gc protein is a key molecule on the surface of the CCHF virus enabling it to infect cells. Credit: Akaash Mishra/University of Texas at Austin

Using the same approach they recently used to create effective vaccine candidates against COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), scientists are tackling another virus: the tick-borne Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF). It causes death in up to 40% of cases, and the World Health Organization identified the disease as one of its top priorities for research and development. The results appear today in the journal Science.

New Gravitational Wave Catalog Reveals Black Holes of ‘All Shapes and Sizes’

New Gravitational Wave Catalog Reveals Black Holes of ‘All Shapes and Sizes’

Today, an international scientific collaboration released the largest catalog ever of collisions involving black holes and neutron stars, raising the total to 90 events. The results suggest that intermediate-mass black holes are more common than scientists previously thought. The catalog also includes the second discovery of an intriguing object that seems too small to be a black hole, yet too large to be a neutron star.

New Model Reveals How Chromosomes Get Packed Up

New Model Reveals How Chromosomes Get Packed Up

To scrunch a chromosome (green), a condensin molecule opens and closes like a pair of fingers (light blue) connected by a hinge (dark blue).

One of the most astounding feats of nature is happening right now in cells throughout your body: noodle-like molecules called chromosomes, which carry part of your genetic blueprints and are about two inches (5 centimeters) long when fully stretched out, get stuffed into the cell's nucleus, which is at least 5,000 times smaller, with plenty of room for a bunch of other chromosomes. 

Ethical Artificial Intelligence is Focus of New Robotics Program

Ethical Artificial Intelligence is Focus of New Robotics Program

Ethics will be at the forefront of robotics education thanks to a new University of Texas at Austin program that will train tomorrow's technologists to understand the positive — and potentially negative — implications of their creations.

Research on Language Learning Yields Mitchell Prize for UT Austin Statisticians

Research on Language Learning Yields Mitchell Prize for UT Austin Statisticians

A cross-disciplinary team including University of Texas at Austin statisticians Giorgio Paulon and Abhra Sarkar have received the Mitchell Prize, a top prize in the field, for their study modeling what happens in the brains of nonnative English speakers learning another language's tonal differences.