Nov. 11, 2010 | Research Alert

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A.             Research Prizes and Honors
B.             News and Information
C.             Quoted
D.             Research Opportunities
E.             Research Project

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A.             Research Prizes and Honors


Plant geneticist Z. Jeff Chen has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship to work at the University of Cambridge beginning January 2011. He will also be a visiting fellow commoner at Trinity College of Cambridge.

As a Fulbright scholar and fellow, Chen, the D. J. Sibley Centennial Professor in Plant Molecular Genetics, will work with Cambridge's David Baulcombe to study the roles of small ribonucleic acids (RNAs) in hybrid vigor and hybrid incompatibility in plant hybrids and allopolyploids that contain two or more sets of chromosomes. Chen will also co-teach an epigenetics class for senior undergraduate students and interact with world-class scientists in epigenetics, circadian biology and plant science.

More at

B.             News and Information


Special Research Grants (SRG) provide research support of up to
$750 for specific projects of individual tenured and tenure-track
faculty members. The grants are intended to cover unanticipated
costs or special needs and should not be considered a means of
supporting on-going projects. Funds for special research grants are
provided by regental appropriation and are administered by the Office
of the Vice President for Research.

The University Co-operative Society Subvention Grants program is
designed to assist faculty authors in the publication of scholarly
books. Frequently, university and other scholarly presses demand that
authors provide funds to underwrite the publication of scholarly
monographs and books. Subvention awards provide financial assistance
to faculty members when departments and deans are unable to provide
needed support.

SRGs and Subvention Grants are competitive and funding is limited. See for more information.

C.             Quoted—UT Researchers in the News

The New York Times
Nov. 6, 2010
HEADLINE: Tea Party Rooted In Religious Fervor For Constitution
(The article also cites Law Professor Sanford Levinson's book, "Constitutional Faith.")

Sanford Levinson, a professor of law at The University of Texas, cited several other factors: ''In a country as fragmented as the United States is -- we don't have a national religion, a really shared ethnicity -- the kinds of emotions that would be directed at organic nationalism are displaced onto the Constitution.''

D.             Research Opportunities



The University of Texas at Austin Recovery Act Web page is online at:



Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Solicitations
Deadline: Jan. 6, 2011


Innovative Bioavailability Assays to Assess the Effectiveness of Contaminated Sediment Remediation
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Jan. 18, 2011; Application, Feb. 17, 2011,

Deepwater Horizon Disaster Research Consortia: Health Impacts and Community Resiliency
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Dec. 21, 2010; Application, Jan. 21, 2011


Developmental Systems
Deadline: Jan. 12, 2011

Software Development for Cyberinfrastructure
Deadline: Jan. 30, 2010

Chemical and Biological Separations
Deadline: March 3, 2011

High-Risk Research in Physical Anthropology and Archaeology
Deadline: Proposals accepted at anytime


The Huntington (independent research center with holdings in British and American history, literature, art history, and the history of science and medicine)
Fellowships at The Huntington 2011-2012
Deadline: Dec. 15, 2010

Cuban Heritage Collection
CHC Graduate Fellowships 2011
Deadline: Feb. 1, 2011


American Association for Cancer Research
Landon Foundation-AACR INNOVATOR Award for Cancer Prevention Research
Deadline: Dec. 8, 2010

L'Oréal USA Fellowships
Deadline: Dec. 13, 2010

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Postdoctoral Scholar Program Application
Deadline: Jan. 15, 2011

E.             Research Project

Learning in Worst-Case Noise Models

RESEARCHER: Adam Klivans, associate professor, Department of Computer Science, principal investigator
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $499,864

Machine Learning algorithms are ubiquitous in computer science with important applications to data-mining, classification, and ranking. These algorithms are typically applied to data sets that contain a sizable fraction of noisy training examples. This project focuses on developing learning algorithms that can succeed in the presence of noisy data sets that have been corrupted in a potentially adversarial or malicious manner. Algorithms that can tolerate these types of worst-case noise are critical for the deployment of complex machine learning systems, as real-world data sets (for example, data related to spam detection) are often noisy in unpredictable ways. Previous work on learning in the presence of noise focused on models with strong assumptions on how the noise is applied (e.g., independently for each data point).

The intellectual merit of this project lies in understanding the computational complexity of optimization problems associated with learning in worst-case noise models. More specifically, the project will design algorithms that can find a classifier whose error is competitive with the best function from a large class of concepts. In order to design these algorithms, the project will prove new structural results on how well classes of Boolean functions can be approximated with respect to a variety of well-studied probability distributions. Additionally, the project will explore hardness results for learning functions with respect to adversarial noise via reductions to notoriously difficult problems in cryptography and computational complexity.

The broader impact of this project is the potential to realize more powerful classification tools in a variety of application areas in the sciences such as computational biology (e.g., protein detection) and linguistics (e.g., text categorization). Additionally, the PI will develop a new graduate course that furthers the relationship between computational and statistical methods in machine learning theory.

Tim Green
Public Affairs
Office of the Vice President for Research
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78713-7996
Telephone: 512.475.6596; Fax: 512.471.5812
Walter Webb Hall, Mail Code: F3200