University of Texas at Austin

Archive for the ‘biology’ Category

Friday, December 18, 2009

Research round up for fall 2009

Why women have sex. Why some ants don’t. Is your online personality the real you? What do bats sing about to each other? Who’s that new meat-eater shaking up the dinosaur family tree? Do toddlers make their own grammar?

These are among the questions that University of Texas at Austin researchers answered in the fall 2009 semester.

Here’s a look back at what they found.

Women and sex: Let me count the whys
Challenging the idea that women’s sexual motivations are tied exclusively to
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Pianka goes Nova. Super!

Eric Pianka and Gisela Kaufmann--Photo by Carsten Orlt

Eric Pianka and Gisela Kaufmann–Photo by Carsten Orlt

Sometimes it pays to read those old magazines gathering dust in doctors’ offices. That turned out to be Eric Pianka’s version of being discovered by a talent scout.

Pianka, a biologist who holds the Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professorship at the University of Texas at Austin, is the expert guide in “Lizard Kings,” a part of the Nova series on PBS. It will be shown on KUT at 7 p.m. Oct. 20, 2009.

And it’s
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Using your brain

R. Dayne Mayfield

R. Dayne Mayfield

The people who use their brain to think ahead about donating their brains to science do R. Dayne Mayfield a big favor.

Mayfield, a researcher at the Waggoner Center for Addiction and Alcoholism Research, uses the brain tissue to study the genetic impact of alcohol on the brain.

READ MORE about ADDICTION research at on Oct. 5, 2009

The more he knows about the donors, the better the information obtained from the donors’ tissue.

The plan-ahead donors fill out a questionnaire detailing
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Batty love songs

George Pollak

George Pollak

The experiment began in a backyard barn. Instruments used included sophisticated recording equipment. A strong regimen of statistical analysis capped it off.

The result: evidence that suggests that male bats sing songs with distinguishable syllables and phrases to attract females, and in some cases, to warn other males to stay away. The paper written about the study was published in PLOS One.

The research was a collaboration of the owner of the barn, Barbara Schmidt-French of Bat Conservation International; George Pollak, a
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Monday, July 27, 2009

More on skin cancer probe

While KEYE-Channel 42 interviewed Prof. James Tunnell about his optical skin cancer probe, Further Findings also had video equipment rolling.

Here is a clip of Tunnell explaining how the probe might work.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Skin cancer probe featured on KEYE

Ron Oliveira and James Tunnell

Ron Oliveira and James Tunnell

The skin cancer probe being developed in James Tunnell’s lab was featured on KEYE-TV-Channel 42 on the 10 p.m. newscast on July 20, 2009. KEYE’s Ron Oliveira went to Tunnell’s lab in the Biomedical Engineering building to interview Tunnell and Naras Rajaran, one of the graduate students working on the project.

See the video from KEYE.

The optical probe is designed to determine of a spot on the skin is benign or cancerous. If it’s not benign, the spot
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Omega-3s are good for fish, too

People who get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets may have a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes, and fish are a major source of these fatty acids. But what good are omega-3s to the fish?

Omega-3s may give young fish the boost they need to dart away from predators, leading to greater survival of the vulnerable larvae and potentially larger populations of adults.

Read more at the College of Natural Sciences.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

A lab’s (musical) notes

John Wallingford

John Wallingford

The new Neko Case, vintage Jimi Hendrix, the Black Keys and the polyester-clad classic “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack.

An iPod playlist gone rogue?

No, it’s the soundtrack of John Wallingford’s developmental biology laboratory on a typically eclectic day.

“My philosophy is to make a lab a very fun place because I need my people to be here all the time,” he says.

Music is a key ingredient in lab fun. It helps the students stay alive while doing painstaking bench work.

“You’re going to
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Friday, May 29, 2009

Spring 2009 discoveries revisited

The spring 2009 semester has ended and that’s a good time to take another look at some of the research that came out of University of Texas at Austin labs in the past few months.

Here’s a roundup of some of the more interesting discoveries in exercise, psychology, business and statistics.

Add crunch to your post workout recovery

In a study of well-trained cyclists, exercise physiologist Lynne Kammer found that a bowl of whole grain cereal is as good as a sports drink
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Friday, May 22, 2009

Covering the over and under

Richard Matzner, digs black holes

Richard Matzner, digs black holes

[caption id="attachment_585" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Pablo Munguia, digs pen shell clams"]Pablo Munguia, digs pen shell clams[/caption]Today, Further Findings points readers to two research stories–one in outer space and the other under the sea–posted elsewhere on The University of Texas at Austin Web site.

Aaron Dubrow, the science writer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC), writes about the research of Richard Matzner, an astrophysicist at the university.

Matzner uses TACC’s Ranger supercomputer to simulate binary black hole mergers and search for gravitational waves. The waves were
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