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Research Alert

Read the research blog Further Findings.

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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Read the research blog Further Findings.

Research Prizes and Honors

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


A. Van Jordan, an associate professor in the Department of English, has been named a USA Fellow by the United States Artists, a national artists advocacy group. Jordan is one of nine fellows in literature and one of 50 overall.

The fellowships award $50,000 to artists of all disciplines from across the country.

Jordan’s award-winning poetry has appeared in respected anthologies such as the “Pushchart Prize” and “Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century.” He is the author of “Rise” published by Tia Churcha Press in 2001, and “M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A” published by W.W. Norton in 2004. Van Jordan’s new collection of poetry is “Quantum Lyrics.”

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News and Information


The Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) and the Division of Statistics and Scientific Computation (SSC) will offer free federal grant development assistance next semester to eight early-career tenure-track faculty at The University of Texas at Austin who have not received federal funding to date.

The program is designed to maximize a grant’s funding possibility through technical writing guidance provided in monthly meetings with a nationally recognized grant-writing consultant, Elizabeth Tornquist. Each participant will also be assigned an on-campus statistical or mathematical consultant from SSC to collaborate on the creation of a high-quality analysis section.

The program is intensive, requiring two to three meetings (individually and in small groups) per month across the spring semester, with the aim of creating a strong draft of a federal proposal by June 2009.

Applications are due by Dec. 12, 2008, for federal grant proposals to be submitted no earlier than June 2009.

Eligible applicants are early-career tenure-track faculty who are within three years of joining The University of Texas at Austin and have not received federal funding.

To request an application or more information, contact Maria Winchell in OSP, 232-4319.

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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.]

Nov. 27, 2008
HEADLINE: Lincoln, Roosevelt Presidencies Offer Lessons for Obama

[Dr. H.W. Brands, history professor, appeared on the PBS NewsHour to talk about presidential transitions and his new book, “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”]

BRANDS: And I think he [President-elect Barack Obama) can take a lesson from Roosevelt’s example in connecting with the American people at an emotional level as soon as he became president. Roosevelt took charge very quickly.

And one of the first things he did, after just five days in office, was to deliver the first of his fireside chats, in which he reached over the heads of Congress and over parties and made an emotional appeal to the American people, saying that everything that we’ve done, everything that we’ve started will only work if we have the support of the American people.

So he made Americans part of his administration, and his administration benefited enormously from that.

The New York Times
Dec. 2, 2008
HEADLINE: A Ball on the Seafloor Casts Doubt on Views Of How Life Diversified

[Dr. Mikhail Matz, assistant professor in integrative biology, describing the giant deep-sea single-celled organisms his team found.]

In the summer of 2007 during an expedition off the Bahamas, a team of scientists made an unusual discovery. On the seafloor more than 2,000 feet down, a remote submersible vehicle recorded video of what one of the researchers, Mikhail V. Matz of The University of Texas, described as a “brainless, eyeless, colorless ball completely covered in mud.”

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Research Opportunities

Important university research deadlines:
Awards and Grants
Limited Submissions

Career Development Grants in Occupational Safety and Health Research
Deadline: Feb. 12, 2009

W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship Program 2009
(Click on Du Bois Fellowship program for PDF)
Deadline: Jan. 21, 2009

Graduate Student Researchers Program
Deadline: Feb. 1, 2009

Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities
Deadline: Feb. 18, 2009

Informing Systems Biology through Genetic Variation: The Genes, Environment and Health Initiative
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, Dec. 14, 2008; Application, Jan. 14, 2009

NLM Express Research Grants in Biomedical Informatics
Deadline: Feb. 5, 2009

Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award for Individual Predoctoral Fellows in Nursing Research
Deadline: April 13, 2009

Jointly Sponsored Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Predoctoral Training Program in the Neurosciences
Deadlines: Letter of Intent, April, 25, 2009; Application, May 25, 2009

Perception, Action and Cognition
Deadline: Feb. 1, 2009

Integrative, Hybrid and Complex Systems
Deadline: Feb. 7, 2009

2010 Project (Arabidopsis thaliana genes)
Deadline: Feb. 18, 2009

Earth Sciences: Instrumentation and Facilities
Deadline: Feb. 23, 2009

Dart Neuroscience Scholars Program
The Dart Neuroscience Scholars Program in Learning and Memory
Deadline: Jan. 15, 2009

Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation
Dissertation Fellowships
Deadline: Feb. 1, 2009

Association for the Sociology of Religion
Fichter Research Grant Competition
Deadline: March 1, 2009

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Research Project

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


FACULTY: Janice Fischer, professor, Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, principal investigator
AGENCY: Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Advanced Research Project
AMOUNT: $150,000

This study will aim to understand the biochemistry of Angelman syndrome, which is a genetic disease that affects about one in 10,000 people and results in severe mental retardation, motor dysfunction, seizures and sleep disorders.

The fruit fly Drosophila has a gene, named dube3a, that is very similar to the human gene, UBE3A, which is inactivated by mutation in people with Angelman syndrome. The human and fly genes encode a protein called a ubiquitin ligase, which causes other proteins, its substrates, to be degraded.

We have generated flies with mutations that inactivate dube3a function, and we think that they serve as a credible model for Angelman syndrome. We showed that like the human UBE3A protein, Dube3a is enriched in the fly nervous system. Also, like people with UBE3A mutations, flies with dube3a mutations have no obvious external morphological abnormalities, but lack motor coordination, have defective long-term memories, and circadian rhythm defects. We also generated flies that over-produce Dube3a protein in their eyes. These flies have aberrant eye morphology, and we have shown that this is most likely because the excess Dube3a protein is degrading too much substrate. These flies are useful for genetic screens aimed at finding the critical substrates of the Dube3a protein.

We propose to use Drosophila with mutations in two different genetic screens aimed at identifying dube3a substrate genes. The idea is that if the level of substrate is diminished by lowering the activity of a substrate gene, the mutant eyes should look worse. Conversely, if a substrate is over-produced by turning up the activity of the substrate gene, the eyes should appear more normal.

We plan to test as many of the genes in the fly genome as possible for each of these properties. In follow-up experiments, we will use a combination of genetics, biochemistry, and microscopy to determine which of the genes identified are UBE3A substrates likely critical to Angelman syndrome. Our ultimate goal is to work with mouse and human geneticists to test the substrates for relevance to the Angelman syndrome symptoms in mutant mice and in people with Angelman syndrome.

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