Reports on Research

Report on Research 2014-2015

Dan_JaffeOur scientists and scholars work in many disciplines but they are united in the common purpose of advancing knowledge. Scholarship is a vital part of The University of Texas at Austin’s mission to the people of Texas. Moreover, we believe that the undergraduate and graduate students of the university can receive an education of the first class only if the research conducted at this university is also of the first class.

Daniel Jaffe
Vice President for Research

Research Resources

Construction on the infrastructure for the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is underway in the Atacama Desert, a remote spot high in the Chilean Andes. The GMT is poised to become the world’s largest telescope when it begins early operations in 2021, producing images 10 times as sharp as those delivered by the Hubble Space Telescope. The unique design of the telescope combines seven of the largest mirrors that can be manufactured, each 8.4 meters (27 feet) across, to create a single telescope effectively 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter.

Giant Magellan Telescope

The archives of Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez were acquired and opened for research at the Harry Ransom Center. The Center also acquired the works of noted British writer Kazuo Ishiguro and Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post during the Watergate scandal.

A Grand Challenges Explorations prize from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will help undergraduate researchers create diagnostics to test mosquitos for blood-borne pathogens such as malaria, dengue fever and chikungunya virus.

A new cyberinfrastructure effort funded by a $13.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation will help engineers build safer structures that can better withstand natural hazards such as earthquakes and windstorms. The Cockrell School of Engineering team will use analytics, storage, visualization and cloud technologies at the university’s Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to develop DesignSafe, a resource-sharing Web platform that will enable computer models and simulations of natural hazards that can be validated against real-world data.

A National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant will make many of the first books printed in the Americas available for the first time in digital full-text format, thanks to innovations in optical character recognition (OCR) technology.

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) received approval from the UT System Board of Regents to expand its facilities. TACC's facilities are home to computing, data, and visualization resources as well as expert staff that support cutting-edge scientific research on such topics as predicting hurricanes and developing new energy sources.

Innovation and Enterprise

Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), which acts as a Japanese government agency, will work with UT on using alternative energy sources to power some of its high-performance computers. Specifically, the project will install and test key components of an efficient, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) data center infrastructure and a new solar farm at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC).

The Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) has received a $3 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to further advance the storm surge predictive simulations that have helped Texas emergency managers develop some of the country's most successful hurricane evacuation plans.

The Texas Health Catalyst is a new initiative that will tap leading experts from throughout the region and country to ensure that the campus’s best health-focused research is transformed into new drugs, devices and health products to benefit patients, health care providers and the public.


The Dell Medical School welcomes the first class in 2016 and begins to implement innovative academic programs, with the goal of creating a model healthy city and community.

Med School building rendering

UT researchers have long worked on issues related to health and wellness. Jaquelin Dudley, a professor of molecular biosciences, and her team have discovered a new way to manipulate how cells function, a finding that might help advance an experimental approach to improving public health: DNA vaccines, which could be more efficient, less expensive and easier to store than traditional vaccines.

James Booth, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, received a $3.3 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the neural basis of language development in order to better identify and treat children with learning impairments.

Researchers also received $4 million to develop techniques for imaging and manipulating the activity of neurons in the brain, studies that will help scientists explore the mechanisms of addiction, obesity, fear and many other brain states and disorders.

Rehab Robot HARMONY, developed by researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering, is the first-of-its-kind; a two-armed, robotic rehabilitation exoskeleton that could provide a new method of high-quality, data-driven therapy to patients suffering from spinal and neurological injuries.

Health research isn’t limited to the lab. Amid concerns that immigrants may pose a threat to American society, a new study showed that immigrant teens are less likely to engage in violent behaviors, crime and drug use than their U.S.-born counterparts.

Medicare, already the costliest public health insurance program in the world, is costing taxpayers an excess of $2 billion annually because of a practice called “upcoding” in private Medicare Advantage plans, according to research by economics professor Michael Geruso.


Across campus and the world, researchers are engaged in the study of a changing climate and its impact: past, present and future.

Evidence from the tropical lowlands of Central America reveals how Maya activity more than 2,000 years ago not only contributed to the decline of their environment but continues to influence today’s environmental conditions.

A well-known period of abrupt climate change 12,000 years ago occurred rapidly in northern latitudes but much more gradually in equatorial regions, a discovery that could prove important for understanding and responding to future climate change.

A new technique to track water flowing in glaciers, pioneered by UT scientists, is an essential step to understanding the future of the world’s largest glaciers as climate changes.

At the same time, research has shown some coral populations already have genetic variants necessary to tolerate warm ocean waters, and humans can help to spread these genes.

Arts and Humanities

While William Shakespeare lived four centuries ago, new discoveries are still being made. Through the use of text-analysis software, psychology researchers identified him as the author of the long-contested play “Double Falsehood.” And a printer's ornament on the title pages of the Bard’s earliest works suggests that from an early stage in his career, he received significant support in fashioning a unique brand.

Lady 8 ornament

Human trafficking is a hidden but global problem. The Texas Slavery Mapping Project will examine the scope of human trafficking in modern-day Texas in an effort to help prevent exploitation and to care for survivors.

Natural Sciences and Engineering

Biologists discovered that despite a billion years of evolution separating humans from the baker’s yeast in their refrigerators, hundreds of genes from an ancestor that the two species have in common live on nearly unchanged in them both.

A team of scientists and engineers identified the first sensor of the Earth’s magnetic field in an animal, finding in the brain of a tiny worm a big clue to a long-held mystery about how animals’ internal compasses work.

Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering have created the first transistors made of silicene, the world's thinnest silicon material. Their research holds the promise of building dramatically faster, smaller and more efficient computer chips. Research advanced smarter window materials that can control light and energy.

Engineers developed a centimeter-accurate GPS positioning system that could revolutionize geolocation on virtual reality headsets, cellphones and other technologies. Researchers also developed a new energy-absorbing structure, inspired by honeycomb design, that will better withstand blunt and ballistic impact.


President Barack Obama honored the GeoFORCE Texas program, a mentoring program in the Jackson School of Geosciences, with the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

President Obama also appointed UT economics Professor Sandra E. Black to the three-member White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

Björn Engquist and George Georgiou were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for their work in mathematics and biochemistry.

A neuroscientist, a chemical engineer, a mechanical engineer, a molecular biologist and a pharmaceutical researcher were elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Andrea Alù, received the prestigious 2015 Waterman Award from the National Science Foundation. He’s the first recipient from a Texas university to receive the honor, which comes with $1 million of research funding.

Architecture student Jessica Glennie and chemical engineering student Sai Gourisankar were awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, one of the most distinguished graduate scholarships in the world

The National Science Foundation (NSF) selected 36 students from UT for the Graduate Research Fellowships Program, giving the university the 12th highest number of NSF graduate fellows in the country in 2015.

UT is ranked No. 19 in the world for high-impact science, according to the Nature Index, which tracks publication in the world’s top research journals — the latest in a series of global rankings that recognize UT Austin among the world’s elite research universities.

Funding Numbers

Research expenditures at The University of Texas at Austin have averaged $623 million over the past four years. Most of the funding comes from federal research agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Research expenditures

2014-2015 Research Expenditures

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Report on Research 2013-2014

From the Vice President for Research

Juan SsanchezScholarship is a vital part of The University of Texas at Austin’s mission to the people of Texas. Moreover, we believe that the undergraduate and graduate students of the university can receive an education of the first class only if the research conducted at this university is also of the first class.

Dr. Juan M. Sanchez
Vice President for Research


2013-2014 Research Highlights

Research Resources

Magnum Photos SelectionThe Magnum Photos collection, which contains nearly 200,000 press prints of images taken by world-renowned Magnum photographers, has been donated to the Harry Ransom Center. The collection, more than 1,300 boxes of photographic materials, has been integrated into the university's curriculum, accessed by students and scholars and promoted through a variety of lectures, seminars and fellowships.

The most comprehensive system for developing sustainable landscapes, the SITES v2 Rating System, has been released by the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) program for use by landscape architects, designers, engineers, architects, developers, policymakers and others who work in land design and development.  SITES v2 resulted from a collaboration among the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has awarded a $2.4 million grant to the University to expand its Freshman Research Initiative, a program that gives students the opportunity to take part in advanced research projects early in their academic careers.  Each year the Freshman Research Initiative in the College of Natural Sciences offers about 800 first-year students the opportunity to earn course credit while doing original, publishable research in the sciences. With this grant, the research initiative will expand to admit students who transfer in to the college from other parts of the university and from other institutions, as well as create opportunities for students to continue doing research beyond their initial two years.

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) deployed Maverick, a powerful, high-performance visualization and data analytics resource for the open science and engineering community.

Innovation and Enterprise

UT Austin ranked fifth worldwide for U.S. patents granted to universitites in 2013. The list, based on data obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, recognizes the important role patents play in university research.

President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) announced the establishment of the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDI), a new $320 million research collaboration that includes The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering. The Digital Lab will serve as the nation’s flagship research institute for digital manufacturing, applying cutting-edge technologies to reduce time and cost of manufacturing, strengthen the capabilities of the U.S. supply chain and reduce acquisition costs for DOD. The lab will both develop and demonstrate digital manufacturing technologies and deploy and commercialize these technologies across key manufacturing industries.

The Global Venture Labs Investment Competition (Global VLIC), the longest-running investment competition for graduate student entrepreneurs, took place at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at The University of Texas at Austin. Often referred to as the "Super Bowl of world business plan competitions," this year’s Global VLIC featured 38 teams from 12 countries that gained admittance by either winning a qualifying U.S. or international competition or via the new open berth system.

Natural Sciences and Engineering

Singing MouseBiologists discovered that two species of singing mice that live deep in the mountain cloud forests of Costa Rica and Panama set their boundaries by emitting high-pitched trills. The findings show for the first time that communication is being used to create geographic boundaries between species, with the smaller mouse species steering clear of its larger cousin.

Astronomers have discovered the most distant galaxy ever found. The galaxy is seen as it was at a time just 700 million years after the Big Bang.

Engineers have built the smallest, fastest and longest-running tiny synthetic motor to date. The team’s nanomotor is an important step toward developing miniature machines that could one day move through the body to administer insulin for diabetics when needed, or target and treat cancer cells without harming good cells.

Physicists have devised a new method for enriching a group of the world’s most expensive chemical commodities, stable isotopes, which are vital to medical imaging and nuclear power. A less expensive, domestic source of stable isotopes could ensure continuation of current applications while opening up opportunities for new medical therapies and fundamental scientific research.

Engineers have built the first-ever circulator for sound, proving that the fundamental symmetry with which acoustic waves travel through air between two points in space can be broken by a compact and simple device.  The scientific knowledge gained may lead to advances in noise control, new acoustic equipment for sonars and sound communication systems, and improved compact components for acoustic imaging and sensing.

Nutritional scientists have demonstrated that resveratrol — which is abundantly available in red wine and also found in grapes, peanuts and berries — can ease some of the negative effects on the immune system caused by a diet high in fat.


BipedalpicAnthropologists confirmed a direct link between upright two-legged (bipedal) walking and the position of the foramen magnum, a hole in the base of the skull that transmits the spinal cord. The findings validate foramen magnum position as a diagnostic tool for fossil research and sheds further insight into human evolution.

Public health researchers have found that adults are less physically active — and more obese — in counties where summers are hot, especially if they are also humid or rainy. The study also found that adults are less active and more obese in counties where winters are especially cold, cloudy and dark.

Anthropologists have established a definitive genetic link between the earliest Americans and modern Native Americans. The findings have major implications for our understanding of the origins of the Western Hemisphere’s first people and their relationship to contemporary Native Americans.

Constitutional scholars created Constitute, a free online resource that offers a growing set of constitutional texts that users can compare systematically across a broad set of topics. The website launched at the United Nations General Assembly with the goal of assisting those in countries revising or replacing their constitutions.

In a study on regret surrounding sexual activity, psychology researchers found a stark contrast in remorse between men and women, potentially shedding light on the evolutionary history of human nature.

Psychologists showed that daily online testing boosts college performance and reduces achievement gaps.   With a new teaching platform called TOWER (Texas Online World of Educational Research), the researchers are transforming the way students learn. The findings show the customized online teaching model leads to improved test scores and attendance for all students. But students of low socioeconomic status are benefiting the most.

Communication researchers have introduced a new assessment that could reduce learning disorder misdiagnoses among bilingual children.  The Bilingual English-Spanish Assessment (BESA) will help speech-language pathologists differentiate limited exposure to English from underlying language impairments among children.

2013-2014 Award Winners

Tinsley OdenDr. J. Tinsley Oden, director of the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES), was awarded Japan’s Honda Prize for his role in establishing the field of computational mechanics, which enabled the development of computer simulation technology used broadly throughout industry and academia.


Allen J. Bard and Ernest MonizPresident Obama named Dr. Allen J. Bard as a recipient of the Enrico Fermi Award, one of the government's oldest and most prestigious awards for scientific achievement. The award was conferred upon Bard for international leadership in electrochemical science and technology, for advances in photo electrochemistry and photocatalytic materials, processes, and devices, and for discovery and development of electrochemical methods including electrogenerated chemiluminescence and scanning electrochemical microscopy.


Robert L. TalbertDr. Robert L. Talbert, a professor of pharmacy, has been named the 2014 recipient of the Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award presented by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP). The award is the highest recognition of outstanding contributions to pharmacy education awarded to a pharmacy academician.




Eric PiankaDr. Eric Pianka, an evolutionary ecologist in the College of Natural Sciences, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Pianka, the Denton A. Cooley Centennial Professor of Zoology at UT Austin, specializes in the evolutionary ecology of lizards. Currently, he is tying up his life’s work preserving his massive data set for future generations of evolutionary ecologists. One of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, and the humanities, arts and education.

Funding Numbers

Research expenditures at The University of Texas at Austin have averaged $618 million over the past four years. Most of the funding comes from federal research agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Research Expenditures 2013-2014

2013-2014 Research Funding by Source

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Report on Research 2012-2013

Texas Research

The University of Texas at Austin is one of the world's leading research universities. Its faculty and research staff generated more than $628 million in federal and corporate funding last year. This research funding and the graduate students it attracts help contribute about $2.8 billion and about 16,000 jobs annually to the Texas economy.

From the Vice President for Research

Juan SsanchezOur scientists and scholars work in many disciplines but they are united in the common purpose of advancing knowledge. In the past year, they moved toward the future with discoveries in biology, neuroscience, social sciences and the humanities. The university added resources such as a powerful new supercomputer and new buildings that strengthen our research enterprise. The university continued to have an impact on local, state and national economic endeavors, granting 17 licenses for commercializing university-developed technology.

Dr. Juan M. Sanchez
Vice President for Research

2012-2013 Research Highlights

Dell Medical School

Development began for the Dell Medical School, a significant new research and educational enterprise for the university. It is to open in 2016.

Rapid Research Response

After Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, a team of university researchers arrived to assess the health of affected beach and barrier systems on Long Island. Results will help efforts to restore sand to the barrier system in the wake of Sandy’s damage.

Advanced Computing

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) unleashed Stampede, one of the largest computing systems in the world for open science research. Scientists use it to execute applications for simulation and data analysis.

Research Resources

Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell HallNew buildings opened, offering enhanced research and educational infrastructure in a variety of disciplines. They are the Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Hall, the Belo Center for New Media and the Liberal Arts building.

A new laboratory in the College of Pharmacy, UT Advance, fills a critical gap in the process of developing new drugs and biotechnologies, enabling researchers to test potential drugs for effectiveness and safety.


Natural Science and Engineering

Black Hole NGC1277Astronomers at McDonald Observatory measured what may be the most massive black hole yet: 17 billion times our sun’s mass.

Physicists built a compact particle accelerator that matches the output of much bigger and more expensive instruments, a potential boon for chemists and biologists.






Decoding LonghornBiologists traced the iconic Texas Longhorn's genetic history, perhaps helping ranchers spread the hardy breed's traits to other cattle.

Engineers developed a very thin invisibility cloak that can hide three-dimensional objects from microwaves in their natural environment.






Physicists received a U.S. patent for a technology that could turn nuclear waste into fuel, thus removing the most dangerous forms of waste from the fuel cycle.

Engineers developed filters for hydraulic fracturing that improve mobile water recycling systems and could lead to significantly less water and energy use.

Social Sciences

Psychology researchers found that teaching teenagers that behavior change is possible can reduce aggressive reactions in conflicts with each other.

Sociologists learned that people who work from home end up working more hours and blurring lines between work and home life.

2012-2013 Award Winners

C. Grant WillsonDr. C. Grant Willson, a chemical engineering professor, received the Japan Prize, one of the highest scientific honors in the world, for his development of a process that is now used to manufacture nearly all of the microprocessors and memory chips in the world.




Dr. Allen J. Bard, left, a chemistry professor, and Dr. John B. Goodenoughright, an engineering professor, received the National Medal of Science in a White House ceremony, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government upon scientists, engineers and inventors. “I am proud to honor these inspiring American innovators,” Obama said. “They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this nation great — and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial environment.”

William PowersWilliam Powers, president of the university and former law school professor and dean, received the Fleming Prize for his scholarship in torts law.




Joseph J. BeamanSharon WoodDr. Joseph J. Beaman Jr. and Dr. Sharon L. Wood, in the Cockrell School of Engineering, were elected to the National Academy of Engineering.





Tracie HarrisonEileen KintnerDr. Tracie Harrisonleft, and Dr. Eileen Kintnerright, in the School of Nursing were elected to the National Academy of Nursing, one of nursing's highest honors.




Vayas, Luis 2011, new dean of Social WorkDiNitto DianaDr. Luis H. Zayas and Dr. Diana DiNitto in the School of Social Work were elected to the National Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.



Daniel HamermeshDr. Daniel Hamermesh in the College of Liberal Arts received the IZA Prize, the most prestigious international science award in labor economics in recognition of his fundamental contributions to the analysis of labor demand.



Seven faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)Dr. John Ekerdt, associate dean for research and professor of chemical engineering, Dr. Andrew Ellington, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Dr. Neal Evans II, professor of astronomy, Dr. Brian Korgel, professor of chemical engineering, Dr. Robert Krug, professor and chairman of molecular genetics and microbiology, Dr. Rodney Ruoff, professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Christine Schmidt, professor of biomedical engineering.

Funding Numbers

Research expenditures at The University of Texas at Austin have averaged $620 million over the past four years.  Most of the funding comes from federal research agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Research Expenditures 2012-2013

2012-2013 Research Funding by Source


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Report on Research 2011-2012

From the Vice President for Research

Juan SsanchezScholarship is a vital part of The University of Texas at Austin’s mission to the people of Texas. Moreover, we believe that the undergraduate and graduate students of the university can receive an education of the first class only if the research conducted at this university is also of the first class.

Dr. Juan M. Sanchez
Vice President for Research


2011-2012 Research Highlights

Economic Impact

The university received $20.3 million in 2011-2012 in royalty revenues from technologies it has licensed. During the year, it licensed 17 technologies, received 72 patents and disclosed 169 inventions.

Research Resources

The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) deployed a data repository to increase connectivity, computing capacity and collaboration among all 15 institutions in The University of Texas System. The repository greatly enhances researchers’ capabilities to share valuable scientific data in important research projects.

The College of Communication began hosting classes in the Belo Center for New Media, its new five-story, 120,000-square-foot facility providing interactive classrooms and meeting space for more than 4,200 students in the college and housing the adjacent KUT Public Media Studios. The Belo Center includes lecture halls, auditoriums, student offices and meeting rooms, as well as spaces for film screenings and conferences for all college departments.

Halleys Comet Herschel CollectionA collection of science materials from the family of Sir John F. W. Herschel (1792–1871) was opened for research at the Harry Ransom Center after a $10,000 grant enabled staffers to rehouse the collection and to create an online inventory. John Herschel has been called Britain's first modern physical scientist, and his correspondence has been noted as one of the most valuable archives for 19th-century science.

Thomas Smith (b. 1938), visual effects producer for such films as "Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back" and "E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial," has donated his archive to the Harry Ransom Center. The Smith collection comprises 22 boxes and documents Smith’s professional work through the 1980s and 1990s. Spanning from 1979 to 2003, the collection contains special effects storyboards, screenplay drafts, scripts, pre-production research, production materials, newspaper clippings, photographs and published materials such as fan magazines and cinematography periodicals. The papers also contain material relating to Smith’s time at ILM and Lucasfilm. An endowment has been established to support research in the collection.

Innovation and Enterprise

Arthur "Skip" PorterThe College of Natural Sciences began building new entrepreneurship programs to better connect students and faculty to industry under the direction of W. Arthur "Skip" Porter, the college's new associate dean for innovation and science enterprise. The college is adding an entrepreneurship-training component to every freshman course in the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI), which serves more than 500 freshmen per year (roughly one quarter of the college's freshman class). The entrepreneurial portion will also be added to every freshman critical-thinking course in the college. Taken together, Porter will be introducing entrepreneurship to more than 1,000 freshmen in the college annually.

1 Semester Startup (1SS), a class that supports undergraduates who are starting companies, debuted its “Demo Day,” in which student startups present five-minute investor pitches to the Austin entrepreneurial community.  Students from across disciplines, including computer science, engineering and business, advanced their startup companies during 1SS and were assisted with a semester-long program of startup acceleration. Students heard from local entrepreneurs, had to find co-founders, develop an elevator pitch and talk to customers.  1SS allows undergraduates to experience entrepreneurship first-hand while learning from some of the most successful entrepreneurs in Austin.

Robot Soccer ChampsUT Austin Villa, a team of computer science students, won Robot Soccer World Cup championships in two divisions during the annual RoboCup tournament, touted as the world’s biggest robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) event.  The AI research that is required to compete could someday lead to enhanced bomb-searching robots; autonomous cars that increase traveling efficiency and reduce car accidents; self-healing, smart computers; and AI agents that manage business supply chains more effectively than humans.


Natural Science and Engineering

Antarctic Ice RiftingGlaciologists at the Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) revealed that the floating ice shelves of a critical portion of West Antarctica are tearing apart at the seams — steadily losing their grip on adjacent bay walls, potentially amplifying an already accelerating loss of ice to the sea.

Astronomers at the McDonald Observatory confirmed that a Jupiter-size planet in a nearby solar system is dissolving, albeit excruciatingly slowly, because of interactions with its parent star. Their findings could help astronomers better understand star-planet interactions in other star systems that might involve life.

Physicists have developed the world’s smallest semiconductor laser, a breakthrough for emerging photonic technology with applications from computing to medicine. Miniaturization of semiconductor lasers is key for the development of faster, smaller and lower energy photon-based technologies, such as ultrafast computer chips; highly sensitive biosensors for detecting, treating and studying disease; and next-generation communication technologies.

Engineers showed that mechanical property changes in cells may be responsible for cancer progression. The team devised a 3-D cancer model that shows the softening of cells and changes in cell binding cause cancerous behavior in cells. The discovery could pave the way for new approaches to predict, treat and prevent cancer.

Biologists solved a 50-year mystery of how the bacteria that gives humans cholera manages to resist one of our basic innate immune responses. The answers may help clear the way for a new class of antibiotics that don’t directly shut down pathogenic bacteria, but instead disable their defenses so that our own immune systems can do the killing.

Social Sciences and Education

A Maya scholar deciphered the second known reference in Maya culture to the so-called “end date” of December 21, 2012, finding that the reference does not predict the end of time but rather, was intended to promote continuity during a time of crisis.

Psychologists showed that:

  • self-deception may help men succeed in the mating game, while women benefit more from effective communication.
  • when humans learn, their brains relate new information with past experiences to derive new knowledge.
  • even in this modern age of science, people are likely to find logic in supernatural rituals that require a high degree of time and effort.

Education researchers found that:

As part of a collaborative effort to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education nationwide through the 100Kin10 movement, the UTeach Institute has committed to doubling the number of universities implementing the UTeach teacher preparation program nationally from 25 to 50, and students enrolled nationwide, from 5,000 to 10,000, by 2017.

UTHS Nam My School GraduatesWith the goal of providing access to high-quality educational opportunities to anyone from anywhere, The K-16 Education Center graduated its first class of high school students from a partnership with the Nam My Vietnamese American Private School in Vietnam.  The partnership with K-16’s University of Texas Online High School (UTHS) enables participating students to earn a U.S. diploma and more easily enroll in U.S. universities. The entire curriculum is presented in English, the first offering of its kind in Vietnam.


2011-2012 Award Winners

Sawyer SaraAli KhademhosseiniDr. Sara Sawyer, a molecular genetics and microbiology professor and Dr. Ali Khademhosseini a 2011 Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellow in the biomedical engineering department, are among the 2011 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Bob MetcalfeDr. Bob Metcalfe, Internet pioneer and now professor of innovation at the Cockrell School of Engineering, has received Japan’s C&C Prize for the development of Ethernet. The award is the highest honor given by the NEC C&C Foundation.




Vincent GregoryThe Austin chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) awarded Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, with its highest honor, the DeWitty/Overton Freedom Award.



Nicholas PeppasDr. Nicholas A. Peppas, chair of the biomedical engineering department, has been elected to Spain’s prestigious Royal Academy of Pharmacy.




Six faculty members have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): Dr. Z. Jeffrey Chen, professor of molecular cell and developmental biology, Dr. Benny Freeman, professor of chemical engineering, Dr. Brent Iverson, professor and chairman of chemistry and biochemistry, Dr. Edward Marcotte, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, Dr. Michael Ryan, professor of integrative biology, and Dr. Kris Wilson, senior lecturer of journalism.

Funding Numbers

Research expenditures at The University of Texas at Austin have averaged $600 million over the past four years.  Most of the funding comes from federal research agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.

Research Expenditures 2011-2012

2011-2012 Research Funding by Source



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