University of Texas at Austin

Archive for August, 2009


Thursday, August 27, 2009

There will be water

Hydrogeology students in the field.

Hydrogeology students in the field.

Over on the Web site of the Jackson School of Geosciences, writer Marc Airhart tells something of a mystery story about water. The Tecolote Farm, which raises organic produce east of Austin, was running out of level of water in the aquifer their wells tapped got lower and lower. Students from the Jackson School went out to see if they could find another source. Find out what happened.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Straightening science policy

Wendy Wagner

Wendy Wagner

In late 2008, Wendy Wagner, a law professor at The University of Texas at Austin, got a call. Would she serve on a panel that would develop guidelines for the proper role of science in setting regulatory policies?

Wagner has written books with titles like “Bending Science: How Special Interests Corrupt Public Health Research” (co-authored with Texas law colleague Thomas McGarity) and “Rescuing Science from Politics: Regulation and the Distortion of Scientific Research.”

Could there be any other answer than
Read More …

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Evolution at its finest

Tanya Paull

Tanya Paull

What is an example of evolution at its finest, when an elegant efficiency is selected over time, that you’ve come across in your research?

That’s the question The Bulletin of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute posed to four of its investigators. One of them is Tanya Paull, an associate professor in the Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

Here’s her answer:

“I think the perfect microcosm of efficient evolution is the virus.

A virus uses every nucleotide of its nucleic acid, sometimes many times over,
Read More …

Monday, August 17, 2009

The GRACE connection

Whenever I see a scientific study about water on Earth, I check to see if it involves the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

GRACE is a NASA mission run by The University of Texas at Austin and the German Aerospace Center. Byron Tapley, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, is GRACE’s principal investigator.

Since the start of GRACE in 2002, data it has collected have generated scores of papers about the Earth’s climate and water resources.

The latest projects
Read More …

Monday, August 10, 2009

Before college, students do real research: Part 2

Kanish Mehta

Kanish Mehta

In our last episode, Jay Kapoor, a soon-to-be freshman at The University of Texas at Austin, shared his experiences in the Science & Engineering Apprenticeship Program at the university’s Applied Research Laboratories (ARL:UT).

Now Kanish Mehta, who also will start the the university in the fall semester, shares his thoughts about the program.

Mehta graduated from Anderson High School. His supervisor in the ARL:UT program is Trevor Garner, a research associate in ARL:UT’s Space and Geophysics Laboratory. Mehta’s project is Investigating the Morphology of
Read More …

Friday, August 7, 2009

Before college, students do real research: Part 1

The Science & Engineering Apprenticeship Program at the university’s Applied Research Laboratories (ARL:UT) is a competitive program for graduating seniors from primarily Austin area high schools. The apprentices receive hands-on experience in laboratory research and development projects during the summer before they begin college.

Twenty one students are participating in the program this summer–16 at ARL:UT and five at the university’s Institute for Advanced Technology.

Two of the apprentices have shared their summer experiences with Further Findings. First up is Jay Kapoor. We’ll hear from
Read More …

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Field work on the moon (well, Canada)

Marc Airhart from the Jackson School of Geosciences sends this:

Mark Helper,left, receives a Haughton-Mars Project patch from Pascal Lee.

Mark Helper,left, receives a Haughton-Mars Project patch from Pascal Lee.

For more than 10 years, scientists interested in the exploration of the moon and Mars have visited an ancient impact crater in the Canadian high arctic that they say resembles some craters found on these other worlds.

Video of Mark Helper at Haughton-Mars Project

Mark Helper, a geologist at The University of Texas as Austin’s Department of Geological Sciences, recently returned from summer field
Read More …