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From the College of Natural Sciences
Math for Poets: Postdoc Heather Wilber Wins AWM Dissertation Prize

Math for Poets: Postdoc Heather Wilber Wins AWM Dissertation Prize

Heather Wilber, an NSF postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematics who joined the Oden Institute in May 2021, received the 2022 Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM) Dissertation Prize for a study entitled, Computing numerically with rational functions. Although only published earlier this year, it has resulted in multiple papers in scientific journals already, appearing in the SIAM Journal of Scientific Computing, Linear Algebra and its Applications, and Constructive Approximation (to appear).

As We Develop, the Brain Connects Lessons Learned Differently

As We Develop, the Brain Connects Lessons Learned Differently

Members of Alison Preston’s research group study fMRI brain scans. Credit: Vivian Abagiu.

A new study of brain activity patterns in people doing a memory task finds that the way we make inferences — finding hidden connections between different experiences — changes dramatically as we age. The study's findings might one day lead to personalized learning strategies based on a person's cognitive and brain development.

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. 

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.

First Confirmed Detection of Neutron Stars Crashing into Black Holes

First Confirmed Detection of Neutron Stars Crashing into Black Holes

For the first time, researchers have confirmed the detection of a collision between a black hole and a neutron star.

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

Exoplanet is Gobbling Up Gas and Dust as it Continues to Build Mass

This illustration of the newly forming exoplanet PDS 70b shows how material may be falling onto the giant world as it builds up mass. Researchers got a unique look at radiation from extremely hot gas falling onto the planet with Hubble Space Telescope, allowing them to directly measure the planet’s mass growth rate for the first time. Credit: Y. Zhou/UT Austin/NASA, ESA, STScI and J. Olmsted
The Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin to get a rare look at a young, Jupiter-sized planet that is growing by feeding off material surrounding a young star 370 light-years from Earth.
Two Postdocs Receive Fellowships to Study Extrasolar Planets

Two Postdocs Receive Fellowships to Study Extrasolar Planets

Two UT Austin postdoctoral scientists, Brianna Lacy and Yifan Zhou, have received the 51 Pegasi b Fellowship from the Heising-Simons Foundation, which will provide them with support for research focused on planets that orbit a star outside our solar system, known as exoplanets. Zhou is supervised by Brendan Bowler, an assistant professor of astronomy, and Lacy will be supervised by Caroline Morley, also an assistant professor of astronomy.

Scientists Discover How Remdesivir Works to Inhibit Coronavirus

Scientists Discover How Remdesivir Works to Inhibit Coronavirus

Remdesivir is the only antiviral drug approved for use in the U.S. against COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Gilead.

More effective antiviral treatments could be on the way after research from The University of Texas at Austin sheds new light on the COVID-19 antiviral drug remdesivir, the only treatment of its kind currently approved in the U.S. for the coronavirus.

A Cornucopia of Newly Confirmed Gravitational Wave Detections

A Cornucopia of Newly Confirmed Gravitational Wave Detections

After months of thorough analysis, two international scientific teams, including scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, have released an updated catalog of gravitational wave detections, more than tripling the number of confirmed events. Each detection of a gravitational wave represents the discovery of a pair of extremely massive objects—black holes or neutron stars—far out in the universe smashing into each other, shaking the very fabric of space and time so much that sensitive detectors on Earth could feel them, sometimes more than a billion years later.