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UT News

Research Alert

Please note: Next week’s Research Alert will be devoted to the University of Texas at Austin recipients of our internal fellowships and grants. The following week the Research Alert will resume its normal format.

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Please note: Next week’s Research Alert will be devoted to the University of Texas at Austin recipients of our internal fellowships and grants. The following week the Research Alert will resume its normal format.

Research Prizes and Honors

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


Recent University of Texas at Austin doctoral graduate Robert Quimby of the California Institute of Technology and his adviser, University of Texas at Austin astronomy professor J. Craig Wheeler, have won the Hyer Award from the Texas Section of the American Physical Society for excellence in physics-related research by a graduate student and adviser at a Texas higher education institution.

The Hyer Award recognized Quimby’s work on his Texas Supernova Search, in which he discovered two of the most intrinsically bright exploding stars, called supernovae, ever detected. The award was presented this past weekend at a meeting of the Texas Section of the American Physical Society in El Paso.

Quimby discovered supernovae 2006gy and 2005ap, among others, with the Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment at the University’s McDonald Observatory in West Texas. He identified them as amazingly powerful explosions after gauging their distance by studying them with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald, one of the world’s largest optical telescopes.

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News and Information


The deadline for nominations for the Hamilton Book Author Awards, underwritten by the University Co-operative Society, is 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10.

The awards recognize faculty and staff members who have published the best book-length publications as determined by a multi-disciplinary committee appointed by the Vice President for Research.

The first prize is $10,000 and four other prizes are $3,000 each.

Nominated books must have been published between Sept. 1, 2007, and Aug. 31, 2008. Books in any language may be nominated.

Authors may nominate their work by submitting a nomination form, two copies of the book, and two copies of their current CV to the Office of the Vice President for Research (MAI 302, Mail Code: G1400) on or before 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10, 2008.

For more information, please contact Marilyn Harris, 471-2877.


The Innovative Instructional Technology Awards Program (IITAP), sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment (DIIA), recognizes faculty achievements in developing and using technology that makes teaching and learning more effective, relevant, and efficient.

All University of Texas at Austin faculty and faculty-student/staff teams are invited to enter innovative instructional materials that they have developed specifically for UT Austin courses. To be eligible, innovative instructional materials should be used for at least one semester, with documented outcomes, and should demonstrate how the instructor’s approach improves teaching and promotes students’ knowledge and skills.

The Call for Entries runs through Jan. 26, 2009. Apply for IITAP.

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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
Oct. 26, 2008
HEADLINE: Rethinking the Notion Of Political Dominance

[From article on reversal of fortune for the Democratic and Republican parties.]

Yet their more tradition-minded elders have also moved that way, if in smaller numbers, reflecting the breadth of discontent with the country’s direction and Washington’s inability to act on persistent problems like health care and immigration policy. As long as these problems persist, any governing coalition remains at risk.

”There’s a huge amount of instability that’s built into the political system right now,” said Walter Dean Burnham, a professor emeritus at the University of Texas and a leading scholar of American political alignments. ”Hegemony tends to erode pretty quickly.”

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Research Opportunities

Important university research deadlines:
Awards and Grants
Limited Submissions

Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship Program
Deadlines: strongly encouraged Application Materials, Nov. 21, 2008; e-Application, Dec. 3, 2008

Computational and Theoretical Chemistry
Deadlines: Pre-Application, Nov. 21, 2008; Application by Invitation, March 13, 2009

Characterizing the Blood Stem Cell Niche
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Dec. 8, 2008; Application, Jan. 6, 2009

Interactions Between Physical Activity and Drug Abuse

Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Dec. 29, 2008; Application, Jan. 28, 2009

2009 NIH Director’s New Innovator Award Program
Deadline: May 27, 2009

Major Research Instrumentation Program
Deadline: Jan. 22, 2009
[Note: This is a Limited Submission. Please contact Courtney Frazier, 512-471-6424.]

Cyber-Physical Systems
Deadline: Feb. 27, 2009

Semiconductor Research Corporation
Global Research Collaboration in Device Sciences (Memory Technologies)
Deadline: White Paper, Dec. 11, 2008; Invited Full Proposal, March 10, 2009

Robert Bowne Foundation
National Afterschool Matters Initiative
Download 2009 Edmund A. Stanley, Jr. Research Grants RFP on the right.
Deadline: Dec. 15, 2008

Metanexus Institute
Metanexus Global Network Initiative Catalyst Grants
Download request for proposal form
Deadline: Feb. 15, 2009

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Research Project

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

FACULTY: Anna Gal, associate professor, Department of Computer Sciences, principal investigator
AGENCY: National Science Foundation
AMOUNT: $200,000

Many aspects of computation can be viewed as communication processes. Communication complexity is the mathematical theory aimed at estimating the amount of communication necessary for such processes. Communication complexity arguments can be used to provide estimates on various other resources needed for computation, including time and space (memory) and circuit size. Communication complexity has many applications in different areas including computer networks, VLSI circuits, data structures, cryptography, learning theory and distributed computing.

This project focuses on exploring the connections between communication complexity and the complexity of computational problems in other models of computation. The main objectives of this research are developing new techniques for proving lower bounds on communication complexity, and using these methods to obtain lower bounds on resources in other models. The project addresses problems of randomized and multiparty communication complexity, private information retrieval, and estimating the space requirements of data stream algorithms.

Proving lower bounds on the complexity of specific functions with respect to various resources has been one of the most challenging areas in complexity theory. Communication complexity arguments and techniques originating from communication complexity have been at the core of several lower bound results that are at the boundary of what is achievable by current techniques. The project can potentially lead to new methods for attacking fundamental problems in complexity theory.

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