The University of Texas at Austin
  • In the Know

    Published: Aug. 2, 2010
    In
    Graphic created by Tillie Policastro

    Campus Kudos

    School of Nursing recognized for high graduation rate
    The School of Nursing has received a $25,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for exceptional performance in graduating students who are prepared to become licensed registered nurses. To be eligible, schools had to have a graduation rate and a registered nurse licensure pass rate of at least 85 percent for 2009. There are 97 schools of nursing in the state.

    College of Education team named finalist in Disney Learning Challenge
    Dr. Min Liu and a team of her students in the College of Education‘s Instructional Technology Program were chosen as finalists in the national Siggraph 2010 Learning Challenge, sponsored by Disney. The Disney Learning Challenge is a highly competitive contest designed to encourage technology teams from the corporate world and higher education to develop ways of making students’ interactions with computers fun and educational. Liu and her team developed a learning widget called Salamander Rescue for the competition.

    Press Mentions

    USA Weekend: Can you keep a secret?
    Aug. 1

    Their secrets were oh-so-different: Sandra Bullock had adopted a baby and kept little Louis under wraps for more than two months before announcing his arrival; Tiger Woods and John Edwards appeared to be happily married fathers until those images were shattered amid revelations of infidelity.

    Those of us outside the glare of the paparazzi also have secrets. In fact, researchers say that when asked, more than 90 percent of us say we have a secret. So how can we know in whom we can confide?

    “The vast majority of people say they know they’re supposed to keep a secret, but they told one other person, and that person tells one other,” says Anita Vangelisti, a professor of communication studies at The University of Texas at Austin. “Even for trustworthy people, it’s a difficult thing. That’s important for people to be aware of — their most trustworthy people are going to have a hard time keeping secrets.”

    The New York Times: The Mexican border’s lost world
    July 31

    Never a particularly pretty place, the border is at its ugliest right now, with violence, tensions and temperatures all on high.

    Cecilia Balli, an anthropologist at The University of Texas at Austin who grew up on the border, recalls how Charro Days, a holiday celebrating the common traditions in Brownsville, Texas, and the Mexican town of Matamoros, used to be a truly cross-border affair, with parades marching across the line.

    The last one she attended, earlier this year, was guarded by heavily armed police officers on the American side, and most of the revelers gave up on the idea of crossing back and forth, because of the lengthy lines at the immigration office and fears of violence.

    The New York Times: Officials optimistic that cement will kill BP well
    July 31

    BP’s volatile oil well in the Gulf of Mexico may finally be locked down and filled with cement within a matter of days.

    BP engineers said the static kill and the relief well efforts complement each other, and they expressed confidence that one or both efforts will work.

    For now, the well is capped and experts have concluded that the few seeps and leaks around the well are either irrelevant or come from another oil reservoir altogether. But that does not mean everything is secure.

    “No one has come out and said the well has full integrity,” said Greg McCormack, program director of the Petroleum Extension Service at The University of Texas at Austin, suggesting that it was still possible for the well to leak before the relief well was completed. For that reason, he said, the static kill operation makes sense to potentially kill the well two weeks earlier than the relief well would.

    The New York Times: Learning a language from an expert, on the Web
    July 28

    The message from the 14-year-old Tunisian skateboarder was curt. “Totally wrong,” he said of my French. My conjugation was off and I should study spelling. On a scale of one to five, he said, my French practice essay was worth a one. Then he disappeared into the anonymity of the Internet.

    If there is any truth to the old Russian proverb that enemies parrot yes while friends say no, then it is easy to form fast friendships on Livemocha.com, a Web site devoted to helping people learn languages by swapping messages over the Internet and then correcting each other’s messages.

    Orlando R. Kelm, a professor at The University of Texas at Austin, who uses Livemocha and other tools in his language classes, says he finds that working with a partner on written words is often easier than with spoken conversation.

    “A lot of times people write better than they speak,” he said.

    The New York Times: Gulf of Mexico’s deepwater oil industry is built on pillars of salt
    July 28

    Not so long ago — at least, in geological time — many in the oil game thought the Gulf of Mexico was tapped out.

    Financiers called it “the Dead Sea.” Nearly a century of production had run its course. Well after deeper well turned up dry, many drilling into thick layers of salt.

    Then, 25 years ago, it all began to change.

    To understand nearly any deepwater oil find in the Gulf, including BP PLC’s runaway Macondo well, requires understanding the salt that provides much of the region’s deepest bedrock, geologists say.

    “Do you know the old Bible reference, don’t build your house on sand?” said William Galloway, a geologist at The University of Texas at Austin. “Well, building your house on salt goes beyond anything in the biblical expression.”

    TIME: The science of cougar sex: Why older women lust
    July 9

    Men who cheat on their spouses have always enjoyed an expedient explanation: Evolution made me do it. Many articles, especially in recent years, have explored the theory that men sleep around because evolution has programmed them to seek fertile (and, conveniently, younger) wombs.

    But what about women? If it’s really true that evolution can cause a man to risk his marriage, what effect does that have on women’s sexuality?

    A new journal article suggests that evolutionary forces also push women to be more sexual, although in unexpected ways. University of Texas at Austin psychologist David Buss wrote the article, which appears in the July issue of Personality and Individual Differences.

    Buss, with the help of three graduate students, Judith Easton, Jaime Confer and Cari Goetz… found that women in their 30s and early 40s are significantly more sexual than younger women.

    Read last week’s In the Know.

    • Quote 2
      Bruce Holter said on Aug. 3, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.
      RE: School of Nursing. There are a total of 194 nursing educational programs in Texas. Of those programs, 97 are approved registered nurse educational programs and 97 are approved as licensed vocational nurse educational programs. See page five of the Texas Board of Nursing's latest status report: http://www.bon.state.tx.us/about/July10/5-1-2.pdf
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