March 15, 2012 | Research Alert

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Research Prizes and Honors

[Have you or a colleague won a research-related prize or honor? Let the Research Alert know.]

Researcher receives award from Environmental Research Letters

Carey KingCarey King, research associate at the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, has been awarded the Rosenfeld plaque in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of energy economics published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

This one time award was presented to King for his paper, “Energy intensity ratios as net energy measures of United States energy production and expenditures.” Here, King described a new method to measure energy return on energy invested (EROI) that can be estimated every year, rather than the previous best method which gave estimates at best every five years.

News and Information

Four Colleges and Schools Receive Top Marks in Rankings

Four colleges and schools at The University of Texas at Austin were ranked in the Top 10 in their areas by U.S. News & World Report, according to the 2013 graduate rankings released March 13.

The College of Education again ranked No. 1 among public institutions and No. 3 nationally. The school’s highly rated departments include educational administration, educational psychology and special education.

The Cockrell School of Engineering retained its No. 8 ranking, with Top 10 rated programs in aerospace, chemical, civil and environmental engineering.

The College of Pharmacy ranked No. 4 and the School of Social Work ranked No. 7.

Quoted-UT Researchers in the News

New York Times
March 13, 2012
HEADLINE: Refining the Formula That Predicts Celebrity Marriages’ Doom

David Buss (David Buss, professor in the Department of Psychology, offers his idea on why celebrity couples break up in an article in the Science Times section of the New York Times.)

David M. Buss, who analyzed mating strategies around the world in “The Evolution of Desire” and “Why Women Have Sex,” suggests several reasons the wife’s sexy image and tabloid fame mean trouble.

“Research has documented that women who wear skimpy or sexually provocative clothing tend to be higher on the trait of narcissism,” says Dr. Buss, a psychologist at the University of Texas. “My research on married couples found that the trait of narcissism predicted likelihood of sexual infidelity. Those high on narcissism feel entitled to have sex with others. Also, they oscillate between feelings of grandiosity and worthlessness, and the sexual attention helps keep them in the self-aggrandizing region of self-esteem.”

Research Opportunities

Important University Research Deadlines

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The University of Texas at Austin Stimulus Package Web page is online.

Funding Sources

Department of Education

Accelerating the Academic Achievement of Students with Disabilities Research Initiative
Deadline: Sept. 20, 2012

Reading and Writing
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, April 19, 2012; Application, June 21, 2012

Mathematics and Science Education
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, April 19, 2012; Application, June 21, 2012

Department of Energy

ARPA-E Open Funding Opportunity
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, March 30, 2012; Concept Paper, April 12, 2012; Application, to be determined

Technologies to Ensure Permanent Geologic Carbon Storage
Deadline: April 17, 2012

Second Generation Dark Matter Experiments
Deadline: July 6, 2012

Department of the Interior

Arctic Landscape Conservation Cooperative
Request For Proposals (PDF)
Deadline: April 3, 2012

Department of Justice

Social Science Research on Indigent Defense (PDF)
Deadline: May 23, 2012


Space Technology Research Opportunities for Early Career Faculty
Deadlines: Notice of Intent, March 30, 2012; Proposal, May 3, 2012

Lunar Advanced Science and Exploration Research
Deadline: March 1, 2013

National Institutes of Health

NIDCD Small Grant Program
Deadline: June 29, 2012

Identification and Characterization of Molecular Targets Within the mTOR Pathway With Potential to Impact Healthspan and Lifespan
Deadline: June 16, 2012

Climate Change and Health: Assessing and Modeling Population Vulnerability to Climate Change
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, April 24, 2012; Application, May 24, 2012

National Science Foundation

CISE-MPS Interdisciplinary Faculty Program in Quantum Information Science
Deadline: June 1, 2012

Engineering Design and Innovation
Deadline: Oct. 1, 2012

Scalable Nanomanufacturing
Deadline: June 4, 2012

Arts, Humanities and Culture

German Academic Exchange Service
Research Visit Grant & Arts Study Visit For Faculty
Deadlines: May 15, 2012 and Oct. 15, 2012

Aaron Copland Fund for Music
Performing Ensembles Program
Deadline: July 2, 2012

Other Funding Opportunities

John Merck Fund
Developmental Disabilities Translational Research Program
Deadlines: Preliminary Proposal, May 15, 2012; Proposal, Sept. 17, 2012
Proposals for this grant should be submitted through the Office of Sponsored Projects via the Proposal Review Form. For questions, please call 471-6424 or email

Texas State Support Committee
Proposal to Enhance Competitive Position of Cotton in Texas (PDF)
Deadline: May 3, 2012
Proposals for this grant should be submitted through the Office of Sponsored Projects via the Proposal Review Form. For questions, please call 471-6424 or email

Research Project

EAGER: Noise and strong analog error-correcting codes in neural computation

Kerry CookRESEARCHER: Ila Fiete, assistant professor,Section of Neurobiology and Center for Learning and Memory, principal investigator
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $175,000

This project aims to uncover the existence of a qualitatively better class of analog error-correcting codes than previously known in the brain, show how such codes can be used and decoded, and develop the theory for quantifying the performance of such codes.

Information theory was introduced into neuroscience relatively early, and the theory of efficient (source) coding has been widely embraced in the sensory neurosciences. However, the second branch of information theory, which deals with the maximally parsimonious addition of redundancy to recover signal from noise, has curiously not made inroads in neuroscience. Shannon's channel coding theorem revealed the existence of codes that make possible error correction at efficiencies previously thought impossible.

The investigator's central hypothesis is that the brain routinely employs such error correcting codes and the machinery required to decode and work with them. The hypothesis is motivated by a recent analysis of the grid cell code for animal location by the investigator and colleagues, showing it has unprecedented error-correction properties compared to known population codes in the brain (Sreenivasan & Fiete, 2011).

The investigator proposes to: 1) Develop definitions and constraints for analog neural codes, to apply the channel coding framework to neural codes and thus characterize their "goodness" on error-correction. 2) Identify high-level coding properties that enable strong error-correction, and search for these properties in observed but poorly understood neural codes. At the same time, explore strong theoretical error-correcting codes that the brain may plausibly implement. 3) Model plausible neural mechanisms for decoding such codes. Decoding is inference, so this question can be more generally thought of as exploring neural mechanisms for hierarchical inference.

The Research Alert is an electronic publication from the Office of the Vice President for Research at The University of Texas at Austin. It includes news of research honors and awards, news of research programs and deadlines, researchers quoted in news media, a listing of funding opportunities and a look at a current research project. It is available by e-mail and on the Web.

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