We’re sure you’ve closely followed UT News over the past month, but just in case you missed it, The Horn is here to provide up-to-date coverage on university news that might’ve slipped under the radar. In May, UT now officially joins the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research, study reports on the turning tide of conservatism in the Supreme Court, UT scientists and engineers develops a hydrogel for parched environments, a new partnership aims to solve the cancer equation, and an overview of UT’s involvement unveiling the Black Hole.
UT Joins Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities With 19 Other Schools
Alongside 19 top research universities in the nation, UT will now join the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research (HSRU) to expand on hispanic representation in higher education. Prior to the Alliance, universities have taken initiative to increase funding for designated Latino human studies and computer science programs. By 2030, HSRU aims to achieve two goals: doubling the number of Hispanic doctoral students in Alliance Universities, and increasing by 20% of the Hispanic professoriate in Alliance universities. “Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States and are now 17% of the workforce, yet they continue to be underrepresented in higher education. No group is better positioned than we are to expand the pathway to opportunity,” said Heather Wilson, president of The University of Texas at El Paso and chairman of the Alliance. To read more about the alliance here.
Supreme Court is More Conservative Than Public, Study Shows
A recent research study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals that the Supreme Court is ideologically closer to the conservative right than the average American. The results were derived from three studies conducted in the past decade that show the public’s perception of the courts’ politics can fall in and out of sync with reality over time. For instance, in the first two surveys conducted in 2010 and 2020, the court’s position on key policy issues stayed relatively moderate, and both Democrats and Republicans perceived the court as more liberal. In the 2021 survey, however, the courts’ ruling shifted to the right after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, both Republicans and Democrats perceived the court to be more conservative, but Democrats perceived it more accurately. After conservatives achieved a 6-3 supermajority in 2021, the third survey revealed that Democrats did not account for the impact of the shift. Democrats perceived the court as less conservative than it was to prove to be while Republicans underestimated the shift. “This may change for both Democrats and Republicans depending on how certain cases are decided in the future,” said Maya Sen, professor of public policy at Harvard University and co-author of the study. “People are more supportive of changes to the court’s structure when they perceive it as being more ideologically distant from them.” You can read the full article here.
Low-Cost Gel Film Can Pluck Drinking Water From Desert Air
A team of scientists and engineering at UT have developed a low-cost gel film made of abundant materials that can pull water from the atmosphere in even the driest climates. This groundbreaking discovery produces a practical solution designed for people to obtain water in the hottest, driest environments. Materials for the reaction costs $2 per kilogram, and a single kilogram can produce from 6-13 liters of water relative to the area’s humidity. The gel is a type of flexible firm that can be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes. Making the film itself only requires the gel precursor, mixed and poured into a mold then freeze dried for use. The simplicity of reaction enables mass usage at a high-sustainability rate that is quick and easy to operate. “This new work is about practical solutions that people can use to get water in the hottest, driest places on Earth,” said Guihua Yu, professor of materials science and mechanical engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering. “This could allow millions of people without consistent access to drinking water to have simple, water generating devices at home that they can easily operate.” You can read more about this innovation here.
UT Researchers Aim to Change the Cancer Equation
An innovative partnership between UT’s Machine Lab, Oben Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, and the Dell Medical School aims to speed up the discoveries for cancer treatment and save many lives in the process. UT researchers will integrate two emerging core disciplines – computational ecology and machine learning – to transform the future of cancer treatment. By using advanced mathematical and computational approaches to modeling and simulating, a combination of theory, knowledge, and data driven models, researchers can accurately calibrate patient specific tumor models and capture the individuality of each cancer patient. Through connecting university research with community providers, UT aims to provide effective research in providing qualified personnel specializing in computational skills and capabilities, as well as medical knowledge. “A new wave of machine learning is creating predictive models that are transforming science,” said Adam Klivans, director of the Machine Learning Lab and NSF-funded Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning. “Our technologies can anticipate new biological and chemical interactions to advance the automated discovery of new treatments”. You can read more about the featured story here.
UT Supercomputer Helps Unveil Black Hole at Our Galaxy’s Heart
In 2019, Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) researchers unveiled the first ever captured image of a black hole – Sagittarius A* – taking the science world by storm. Beyond the overwhelming evidence of a black hole at the Milky Way’s galactic center, the image enlisted the help of high-performance computing-powered models, providing a deeper understanding of the plasma properties around Sagittarius A* and how it’s shaped by its environment. This was made possible by UT’s Foretera supercomputer, operated by the Texas Advanced Computing Center. They used Foretera to create the largest-ever simulation library of black holes and generated a multitude of simulations in comparison to its data. Comparing realistic models with theoretical observations, researchers were able to probe the physics of these extreme objects more accurately. Although the project received tremendous praise from the science world. Its success spawned many unanswered mysteries that require more complete computational models in future research. “This image is a testament to what we can accomplish when, as a global research community, we bring our brightest minds together to make the seemingly impossible possible,” said Sethuraman Panchanathan, director of the National Science Foundation. “NSF is proud to be an international partner that invests in this innovative research and the infrastructure that makes such fantastic discoveries possible.” To read more about the discovery here. To read about the research results, go here.