Research In Engineering Part 2: The Thermal Façade Lab 12.13.16

By Abraham Peek, Assistant Editor of Social Sciences


The Thermal Façade Labs at the University of Texas at Austin are two outdoor facilities that allow UT professors, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers to conduct groundbreaking research on facades, window systems, and the thermal dynamics of buildings.

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Research in Engineering Part 1: An Interview with Professor Atila Novoselac 11.29.16

By Abraham Peek, Assistant Editor of Social Sciences

Atila Dr. Atila Novoselac is an associate professor in Cockrell’s Department of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering. He’s an expert in Architectural Engineering and Building Energy and Environments and has worked on more sponsored projects (sixteen) than Novak Djoković has had Tennis Grand Slam wins (twelve). His research interests include ventilation and indoor air quality, modeling of built environments, building energy analysis, and Demand Response Energy Management Technology.

The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Continue reading

The Contemporary Influence of the Renaissance: Hamilton and Shakespeare 11.10.16

By Jennifer Murphy, Assistant Editor of Humanities

Many people believe that Renaissance literature and hip-hop do not interact with each other. These two areas are often never discussed at the same time when studying the English language. However, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda has revealed a powerful connection between them.

Miranda gathered inspiration from both hip-hop and the works of William Shakespeare when writing his Broadway play, Hamilton. The play uses hip-hop and early modern theatre to illustrate the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757 – 1804) and the American Revolution. Hamilton has become a cultural phenomenon, winning 11 Tony awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and setting records for ticket sales. Hamilton has led artists and academics to discover Shakespearean qualities that have been given new life through hip-hop.

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Changing Biological Clocks 11.03.16

By Kyungseok Jung, Assistant Editor of Natural Sciences

Whether it be working late night shifts, travelling across the world, or re-training ourselves to wake up before 2 PM, we have all tried tirelessly to shift our sleep schedules.

Circadian clocks are present in every cell of our body and regulate physiological processes in response to changes in the environment. Not surprisingly, trying to adjust sleep schedules can take a major toll on our bodies, as the circadian system keeps our cells in sync with our “master” internal clock1.

In a recent study by Adamovich et al.2 at the Weizmann Institute of Science, the role of oxygen was investigated as a “resetting cue” for circadian clocks. The researchers discovered that decreasing oxygen levels for short periods of time expedites jet-lag recovery in mice.

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The Orphan Myth 10.31.16

By Maria Düster, Assistant Editor of Social Sciences

Over the past decades, hundreds of thousands of citizens in western countries have adopted children from impoverished, troubled, or war-torn countries. These adoptees, though pure in intention, are often ignorant about the dark underbelly of the adoption industry and that many of the children they are adopting may not be orphans at all.

UNICEF reported in 2006 an estimated 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. However, this figure is deceptive; the organization’s definition of “orphan” includes children who have lost just one parent, either to desertion or death. Only 10 percent of the total—around 13 million children—have lost both parents. Even then, most of these children live with extended family and have support systems.
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Programming Cancer 10.25.16

By Stephanie Wang, Assistant Editor of Natural Sciences

Cancer is a disease that involves the the uncontrollable division of the body’s cells.

Human bodies, for the most part, do a good job of making sure we get what we need. More specifically, our cells in our bodies only divide to form more cells when necessary. However, this process breaks down when some genetically mutated cells stop having a mortal cycle and divide over and over again with no response to apoptosis — programmed cell death — signals.

This is a huge health problem with major implications. The newly formed cells are not specialized for certain functions, as are normal human cells. Rather, the excess cells form tumors in the body, which can be both malignant and benign. Benign tumors can typically be removed via surgery with no other risks. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, can spread to other parts of the body and form new tumors there as well.
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An Interview with Dr. Marjorie Woods 10.17.16

By Shannon Carey, Assistant Editor of Humanities

Marjorie WoodsDr. Marjorie Woods is a Professor of Medieval Literature at the College of Liberal Arts. She is the Blumberg Centennial Professor of English and University Distinguished Teaching Professor, and has received numerous teaching awards, including the Humanities Research Award, the Harry Ransom Award for Teaching Excellence, the University President’s Associates’ Teaching Excellence Award, and the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award. Her research focus is the comments written in the margins of medieval manuscripts.
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The Biology of Biofuels: An Interview with Shayan Bhathena 10.05.16

By Sonali Arora, Assistant Editor of Social Sciences

Shayan Bhathena
Shayan Bhathena is a senior at The University of Texas at Austin majoring in Plan II and Human Biology. Shayan works as a peer mentor for the Biology of Biofuels stream in the Freshman Research Initiative, and is currently researching the biology of a biofuels species commonly called switchgrass, or Panicum virgatum.

As a freshman, Shayan started out on the pre-medical track, and accordingly, joined a variety of pre-medical organizations. However, she soon became interested in research after learning about the research opportunities available at UT.

“As the year went on and I learned more about the crazy amount of research that happens at UT, I felt like I was missing out on some really cool experiences. I applied to FRI as a sophomore, and joined the Biofuels stream in the spring. Although biofuels research has nothing to do with my career path, I’ve always had an interest for environmental science, and felt that I should use my time as an undergraduate to take advantage of the opportunities that I might not have later.”

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The Universal Pursuit: An Interview With Dr. Raj Raghunathan 08.29.16

By Diane Sun, Director of Communications

If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy? by Dr. Raj Raghunathan Raj Raghunathan is a Professor of Marketing at the McCombs School of Business whose research on consumer behavior incorporates disciplines from psychology to economics. He has been awarded two McCombs Research Excellence Awards and a National Science Foundation Career Grant for his work.

In April 2016, Dr. Raghunathan published his first book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?, continuing the themes of his online course and discussing the friction between career success, individual achievement, and personal happiness – topics that resonate deeply with college students. In this interview with our Communications Director Diane Sun, Dr. Raghunathan draws on his research expertise and personal experiences to offer students advice on the most seemingly elusive pursuit of modern times. Continue reading

Who Wants to Live Forever? 04.12.16

By Dmitri Ukraintsev, Biochemistry Major

The DNA in our cells is constantly undergoing replication with each cell division throughout our lives, with some organ systems replacing themselves cell by cell in just a matter of days. DNA utilizes a number of steps to copy our genetic code into new cells so we can get taller, heal wounds, grow hair and nails, and even make germ-line cells like sperm and eggs to reproduce. However, DNA has limitations.


With each subsequent replication, the telomeres at the end of each chromosome shorten and eventually disappear all together.

During replication, the “ends” of the linear chromosome, known as telomeres, are not replicated as easily as the middle of the chromosome, and so a bit of the ends are lost with each cycle. This is due to the requirement of a primer observed in the DNA replication process. Continue reading