Researchers, scholars and experts from The University of Texas at Austin are sought by news outlets every week for their knowledge, expertise and insights. Here’s a selection of recent media hits.
UT Researchers Tackle Austin Traffic With Help From Your Smartphone
Center for Transportation Research, Cockrell School of Engineering
A group of researchers at UT’s Center for Transportation Research have been awarded a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to study Austin’s traffic. Real estate experts estimate 100 people move to Austin daily, and Austin’s traffic issues have worsened over the past five to 10 years. Transportation researchers at UT are hoping to change that with help from wireless technology experts. Here’s an excerpt:
Researchers plan to collect data using Bluetooth and smartphone technology to learn more about how and why people travel the way they do and how to improve transportation to make that experience better. It will also allow researchers to sift through the data and look at ways to disseminate the information to help shape people’s decisions when they travel.
The grant also provides money to present the research at some Austin high schools to expose students to transportation research and engineering. The grant is expected to last four years.
Read more about this grant or listen to the interview.
Astronomers Discover Most Distant Galaxy Yet
Steven Finkelstein, Department of Astronomy, College of Natural Sciences
Steven Finkelstein, UT astronomer and lead author of a study published in the journal Nature, has discovered the most distant galaxy known. Finkelstein and a team of scientists used images from the Hubble Space Telescope and spectrographic equipment at the W.M. Keck Observatory to confirm the 43 possible galaxies.
The newly discovered galaxy, whose light took just over 13 billion years to reach Earth, has been named z8_GND_5296. One noted trait about the “record-breaker is that it forms stars at an incredible rate, about 330 per year more than a hundred times faster than our Milky Way galaxy.”
Read more about the discovery.
Astronomers Discover Farthest Known Galaxy (UT feature)
Texas Astronomer Discovers Most Distant Known Galaxy (UT News)
UT-Austin Announces Gift to College of Communication
The Texas Tribune
Moody College of Communication
On Monday, Oct. 21, the university announced a $50 million gift from the Moody Foundation to the College of Communication. The Moody gift is “the largest endowment for the study of communication of any public university in the nation.”
Each of the college’s five departments Advertising and Public Relations, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Communication Studies, Journalism, and Radio-Television-Film will get a $1 million endowment. Additionally, $10 million will be invested in an “idea fund” for developing new curricula and courses, $13 million will go toward graduate student recruitment, $5 million will go toward facility improvements and $7 million will support undergraduate work. The rest will be split among the college’s research and community outreach centers, such as the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life.
The university will rename the college the Moody College of Communication during a Nov. 7 dedication.
Read more about Moody’s investment in the College of Communication.
Moody Foundation Invests $50 Million in UT Austin College of Communication (UT news)
Government Doesn’t Have to Borrow to Spend
The New York Times
James Galbraith, LBJ School of Affairs
Professor James Galbraith penned an op-ed in the New York Times’ “Room for Debate” column about the U.S. debt ceiling. Galbraith says that the idea of a debt ceiling is “trapped by the bad-faith aura of this bad-faith law” and is a “sham” and a “gimmick.”
Read Galbraith’s entire op-ed here.
Spanking Tied to Later Aggression Among Kids
Elizabeth Gershoff, School of Human Ecology, College of Natural Sciences
A new study suggests spanking an out-of-control kid to change behavior may lead to aggressive behavior years later. “There’s just no evidence that spanking is good for kids,” Elizabeth Gershoff, parental discipline expert at UT, told Reuters.
“Spanking models aggression as a way of solving problems, that you can hit people and get what you want,” said Gershoff, who wasn’t involved in the new study. “When (children) want another kid’s toy, the parents haven’t taught them how to use their words or how to negotiate.”
Despite mounting evidence on the harms tied to spanking, it is “still a very typical experience” for U.S. children, the study’s lead author said.
A total of 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers said they spanked their 3-year-old children. That fell slightly to 52 percent of mothers and 33 percent of fathers who spanked their 5-year-olds.
Read the entire story from Reuters Health.
Dell-Led Trio to Donate Magnum Photo Archive to University of Texas
The New York Times
Harry Ransom Center
The Magnum photo archive was donated in September to the university by the Dell, Fuhrman and Phelan families. The photo collective contains nearly 200,000 prints and is valued at an estimated $200 million. The archive had been on display at the Harry Ransom Center since late 2009.
“The Dells, the Fuhrmans and the Phelans have given UT one of the richest collections of photographs documenting the visual culture of the 20th century,” said university President Bill Powers. “It will serve as a tremendous resource for our students and faculty and for humanities scholars from throughout the world. The Magnum Photos collection is one more example of the Dell family’s support of UT, the Austin community and Texas.”
The donation of the Magnum Photos collection is expected to be the single-largest gift to the Ransom Center ever, Powers said.
Read more about the donation on the Deal Book blog.
UT Austin Receives Gift of Magnum Photos Collection from Dell, Fuhrman, Phelan Families (UT news)