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Research Alert

Research Prizes and Honors

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

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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.]


Peter Stone, associate professor of computer sciences, has been awarded a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship for his work on teams of mobile robots.

Stone is one of 190 artists, scientists and scholars who received the fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Successful candidates were chosen from a group of more than 2,600 applicants, and the awards total $8.2 million.

Stone’s research program focuses on machine learning and robotics, particularly in collaborative and adversarial dynamic environments. He is team leader of the UT-Austin Villa robot soccer team, an artificially intelligent robot team that competes in the worldwide RoboCup soccer competitions. He has been a world champion team member in six RoboCup events.

Stone and his students were also semi-finalists in DARPA’s Urban Challenge, a national competition where autonomous cars navigate themselves through an urban environment.

He is director of the Learning Agents Research Group in the Artificial Intelligence Lab, is an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, and recently received the 2007 International Joint Conferences on Artificial Intelligence Computers and Thought Award.

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News and Information


Dr. Carlton Erickson, professor of pharmacology and toxicology, has been named Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy. Erickson is the first appointment to the position created recently by Dean M. Lynn Crismon.

In his new role, Erickson will address faculty research mentoring and development. He also will work to enhance the college’s research infrastructure and to improve the environment for graduate programs.

Erickson joined the college faculty in 1977 and is internationally recognized for his contributions to the understanding of addiction and addiction issues. He is a celebrated addiction science researcher who has received, among other recognitions, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers.


Research Week 2008 is the university’s first campus-wide celebration of undergraduate research and creative activity. It runs April 14-18.

Research Week unites existing programs, events, and activities that showcase undergraduate research and creative activity. It also highlights the many research opportunities available to students.


“What PI’s and IBC’s Need to Know about Today’s Biosafety Issues”
Date: Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Time: 9 a.m. – 4:15 p.m.
[Registration/Meet and Greet from 8:30-9 a.m.]
Location: ACES 2.302 (Avaya Auditorium), The University of Texas at Austin main campus

The Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) of The University of Texas at Austin invites all Principal Investigators, Research Compliance Officers, Institutional Officials, IACUC/IRB/IBC Members and Biosafety Officers to attend a valuable information and discussion seminar regarding compliance and biosafety issues in academia.

The conference is FREE and includes snacks, lunch and program materials.

Topics include:

Speakers are:

  • Dr. Robbin Weyant, Director of Select Agents and Toxins, Centers for Disease Control
  • Dr. Bruce Whitney, Institutional Biological Safety Officer and Responsible Official, Texas AandM University
  • Mr. Christopher Johnsen, Director of Research Government Affairs, University of Texas Medical Branch
  • Ms. Dee Zimmerman, Environmental Health and Safety Consultant, University of Texas Medical Branch
  • Ms. Tam Johnson, Occupational Health Nurse Manager, UT Southwestern Medical Center

Everyone is welcome, but SEATING IS LIMITED. To attend the Research Enhancement and Development Conference, please complete and submit the registration form located no later than Monday, May 5.

Please contact Connie Brownson in the Office of the Vice President for Research, 512-471-2877, with questions or for more information.

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QuotedUT Researchers in the News

[A sampling of recent quotes by university faculty members and researchers. To be included in this section, let the Research Alert know when you or a colleague have been quoted.]

The New York Times
April 10, 2008
HEADLINE: The Flutter Over Heart Rate

”There is no association between maximum heart rate and exercise performance,” said Hirofumi Tanaka, the director of the Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory and an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas in Austin.

In fact, Dr. Tanaka said, when people start exercising regularly their maximum heart rate often goes down.

…Many athletes…try to keep their rate at some percentage of their maximum, 70 percent, say, or 80 percent, depending on their goals for the workout…But experts disagree on whether heart-rate monitoring makes sense.

Exercise physiologists tend to favor it. “You need to keep track of exercise intensity” in order to meet performance goals or to improve, Dr. Tanaka said. He does not rely on standard formulas for finding maximum heart rate, though, because they vary so much from person to person. Instead, he advises that people find their maximum “in a field setting.” He suggests going to a track and gradually increasing your speed until your heart rate stops climbing.

The San Francisco Chronicle
April 10, 2008
HEADLINE: These Olympic Torch Protests Unprecedented

One galling criticism in Chinese eyes has been the comparison with the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, where the Olympic torch relay started – as a national glorification exercise under the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.

In response to the Hitler comparison by a Times of London writer, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said, “The Times and its journalist insulted the people of China and the world.”

John Hoberman, a University of Texas professor who has written a book about the mix of politics and the Olympics, finds the comparison apt: “There’s a dictatorship that is exploiting the Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee in order to make a statement about its national greatness and place in the outside world.”

Hoberman said five modern Olympic Games in nondemocratic cities have been marked by significant protests: Berlin, Mexico City in 1968, Moscow in 1980, Seoul in 1988 and Beijing.

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Research Opportunities

Important university research deadlines:
Awards and Grants
Limited Submissions

Predoctoral Research Training Program
Deadline: Oct. 2, 2008

University Research in Biomass Technologies: Applied Research in Conversion of Biomass to Advance Fuels
Deadline: Letter of Intent, April 28, 2008; Application, June 2, 2008

Low Dose Radiation Research Program – Basic Biology and Modeling
Deadline: June 25, 2008

Earth Science Applications Feasibility Studies
Deadline: Notice of Intent, June 18, 2008; proposal, Aug. 27, 2008

Pathogenesis And Treatment Of Lymphedema And Lymphatic Diseases
Deadline: June 5, 2008

Technology and Methods Development for Genomics, Population Genomics and ELSI
Deadline: June 5, 2008

Research on Rett Syndrome
Deadline: June 5, 2008

Cryopreservation of Germplasm for Effective Management of Animal Genetic Resources
Deadline: July 1, 2008

Gender, Youth and HIV Risk
Deadline: Letter of Intent, June 29, 2008; Application, July 29, 2008

U.S.-JAPAN Brain Research Cooperative Program – U.S. Component
Deadline: Sept. 15, 2008

National Cooperative Drug Discovery Groups for the Treatment of Mental Disorders, Drug or Alcohol Addiction
Deadline: Letter of Intent, Aug. 18, 2008; Application, Sept. 17, 2008

Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge
Deadline: May 31, 2008

National Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education Digital Library
Deadline: June 27, 2008

Expeditions in Computing
Deadline: July 10, 2008

Genes and Genome Systems Cluster
Deadline: July 12, 2008

Science, Technology, and Society
Deadline: Aug. 1, 2008

Solar, Heliospheric, and Interplanetary Environment
Deadline: Aug. 20, 2008

Political Science Program
Deadline: Aug. 15, 2008

Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change
Deadline: Oct. 15, 2008

Deadline: Nov. 17, 2008

Ecology of Infectious Diseases
Deadline: Dec. 10, 2008

SSA Retirement Research Consortium
Deadline: June 9, 2008

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Research Project

[Let the Research Alert know about your research projects.]


FACULTY: P. Dean Corbae, professor, Department of Economics, principal investigator
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $75,224

The goal of this project is to understand consumer bankruptcy. As is clear from the meltdown in the subprime mortgage market beginning in late 2006, consumer bankruptcy has important implications for the health of the U.S. economy and, in turn, government responses to the crisis. This research provides an economic framework to understand the reasons households default and how financial institutions price their consumer loans when there is risk of default.

In practice, a consumer’s credit history includes detailed records of the individual’s past credit payments and adverse events such as bankruptcy. This detailed information is summarized by an individual’s credit score (a number between 300-850), which gauges the likelihood that an individual will default. The higher the score, the less likely an individual will default. Subprime borrowers typically have credit scores of 620 or lower. Interest rates on loans to people with low scores are typically high in order to compensate the lender for the risk of default.

To understand these practices, this project provides a model of unsecured consumer credit where borrowers have the legal option to default and lenders learn from an individual’s borrowing and repayment behavior about his unobservable characteristics in order to price loans in a competitive market. The model is used to shed light on consumer welfare in the presence of earnings uncertainty and to study the consequences of variations in regulation affecting consumer debt including bankruptcy law.

The intellectual merit of the research is the development of what may be the first quantitative model linking general equilibrium theory with data on credit scoring and consumer bankruptcy. The broader impact of the proposal may be of use to policymakers trying to understand how bankruptcy law affects the extension of credit to households and to lending institutions trying to assess household creditworthiness.

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