Giving students and faculty the opportunity to interact directly with top experts and officials is an important feature of a research university education. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz visited the campus to speak to students, faculty members, staff, and the media about America’s current energy situation.
Sec. Moniz said that the administration’s pursuit of an “all-of-the-above” energy policy “maps very well onto what you’re doing here at The University of Texas… This campus is engaged in so many of our programs, including in clean energy.” He called out the work that the Jackson School of Geosciences is doing in geothermal energy research and recognized Prof. Allen Bard as “the father of electrochemistry,” to whom he and President Obama bestowed the Fermi Award in the Oval Office on Monday. (Bard is director of UT’s Center for Electrochemistry and the Hackerman-Welch Regents Chair in Chemistry.)
“…this campus [is] a research powerhouse, especially in the arena of energy,” he said. “The fact that so many students are willing to put their energies into solving these problems is our best hope for the future.”
What starts here changes the world.
Due to winter weather and continued threat of hazardous road conditions, The University of Texas at Austin will close for the day on Friday, February 7, 2014. Road conditions are expected to improve with an increase in temperatures this afternoon; therefore, the university will resume normal operations at 5 p.m. for evening classes and activities.
Essential personnel, defined by www.policies.utexas.edu/policies/emergency-leave, are asked to report as requested by their supervisors.
Those classes that are scheduled to already be under way at 5 p.m. will be cancelled or have a delayed start time. Students should follow faculty instructions with regard to those class start times.
As the situation progresses, updates specific to closure and reopening will be available through local media, the university's Facebook page and Twitter feed, the emergency web page (www.utexas.edu/emergency), and by calling the university's general information number, 512-232-9999.
Due to winter weather, The University of Texas at Austin will open at noon, Friday, February 7, 2014. Normal operations will commence at that time, including evening activities and classes.
All classes are canceled until noon.
Those classes that are scheduled to already be under way at noon will be cancelled or have a delayed start time. Students should follow faculty instructions with regard to those class start times.
The university asks that supervisors work with employees who have children in school districts that have closed for the day.
Essential personnel, defined by www.policies.utexas.edu/policies/emergency-leave, are asked to report as requested by their supervisors.
Weather is often unpredictable and conditions can change rapidly. Before traveling to campus, please carefully assess your personal safety. If conditions are not safe for you to travel, please stay home. As the situation progresses, updates specific to closure and reopening will be available through local media, the university’s Facebook page and Twitter feed, the emergency web page (www.utexas.edu/emergency), and by calling the university’s general information number, 512-232-9999.
From left: Hap Hunnicutt, Steve Stevens, Bill Powers, and John O. Smith
This week, I had the honor of hosting the Executive Committee, vice presidents, and staff of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in my office. Approximately 480 current Longhorn students are at UT because of the hard work these people have put into raising scholarships, which currently total $7,769,000 over the students’ four years at UT.
Since the first scholarships were awarded in the 1980s, some 1,800 Longhorns have received more than $20 million in support. In addition to $7,577,000 for normal scholarships, the organization is awarding an additional $176,000 for achievement scholarships given to top juniors and seniors.
What’s more, each year the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo sponsors a “UT Night,” in which they celebrate all things Longhorn. I’m looking forward to going on March 18, as I do each year. I hope you’ll support this organization that has done so much to support UT Austin.
Hook ’em Horns,
Provost Among Four UT Austin Engineers Elected to National Academy, the Highest Number of Members Elected Among U.S. Universities in 2014
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced today that Gregory L. Fenves, executive vice president and provost of The University of Texas at Austin, is one of four professors from the Cockrell School of Engineering to be elected to the prestigious academy this year.
The academy also elected Thomas F. Edgar, director of the Energy Institute and professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering; Yale N. Patt, professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science in the College of Natural Sciences; and Bob E. Schutz, professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics.
They are four of 67 new members and 11 foreign associates to join the academy in 2014. UT Austin reported the highest number of new members elected to the academy this year among universities across the United States.
“Provost Fenves and Professors Edgar, Patt and Schutz are exactly the type of UT Austin faculty who change the world every day,” said Bill Powers, the university’s president. “Their research and their distinguished careers as teachers have shaped generations of engineering students and enhanced our understanding of the world.”
Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions bestowed upon an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education.
“We are extremely proud to have four faculty members elected to the NAE,” said Sharon L. Wood, interim dean of the Cockrell School and an NAE member. “This is further confirmation that the Cockrell School is at the forefront of engineering research and education.”
New members representing the Cockrell School of Engineering:
Thomas F. Edgar, director of the Energy Institute at UT Austin and the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Chair in Engineering, is recognized for contributions to mathematical modeling, optimization and automatic control of chemical and microelectronics processes and for professional leadership.
A chemical engineer who has been on the Cockrell School faculty for more than 40 years, Edgar’s energy research includes renewable energy, combined heat and power, energy storage and improved oil recovery. Edgar serves on the board of Pecan Street Inc., a public-private partnership focused on renewable energy and smart grids in Austin. He is also principal investigator for the Pecan Street demonstration project, funded by the Department of Energy, and for the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program. He is past president of the American Automatic Control Council and past president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
Gregory L. Fenves, executive vice president and provost of The University of Texas at Austin, is recognized for contributions to computational modeling, creation of open-source software for earthquake engineering analysis and for academic leadership. Prior to becoming provost, Fenves served as the eighth dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
Fenves came to UT Austin from the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, assistant director at the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center and professor of structural engineering, among other positions.
Yale N. Patt, the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Centennial Chair in Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, was elected for contributions to high-performance microprocessor architecture.
Patt joined the Cockrell School faculty in 1999. He has received many international awards for his research and teaching, including the prestigious Eckert-Mauchly Award in computer architecture from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society. Among his many teaching commendations are the Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, the university’s Texas Excellence Teaching Award and membership in the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
Bob E. Schutz, the Joe J. King Chair of Engineering in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, was elected for his contribution to the use of satellite laser ranging and GPS tracking to study Earth system dynamics.
Schutz was the science team leader for NASA’s Geoscience Laser Altimeter System, an instrument used to measure topography that operated on the Ice, Cloud, Land and Elevation Satellite in Earth’s orbit for several years. Schutz has served on the Cockrell School faculty since 1969. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Geophysical Union and the American Astronautical Society.
AUSTIN, Texas — A new study correlating brain activity with how people make decisions suggests that when individuals engage in risky behavior, such as drunk driving or unsafe sex, it’s probably not because their brains’ desire systems are too active, but because their self-control systems are not active enough.
This might have implications for how health experts treat mental illness and addiction or how the legal system assesses a criminal’s likelihood of committing another crime.
Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin, UCLA and elsewhere analyzed data from 108 subjects who sat in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner — a machine that allows researchers to pinpoint brain activity in vivid, three-dimensional images — while playing a video game that simulates risk-taking.
The researchers used specialized software to look for patterns of activity across the whole brain that preceded a person’s making a risky choice or a safe choice in one set of subjects. Then they asked the software to predict what other subjects would choose during the game based solely on their brain activity. The software accurately predicted people’s choices 71 percent of the time.
“These patterns are reliable enough that not only can we predict what will happen in an additional test on the same person, but on people we haven’t seen before,” said Russell Poldrack, director of UT Austin’s Imaging Research Center and professor of psychology and neuroscience.
When the researchers trained their software on much smaller regions of the brain, they found that just analyzing the regions typically involved in executive functions such as control, working memory and attention was enough to predict a person’s future choices. Therefore, the researchers concluded, when we make risky choices, it is primarily because of the failure of our control systems to stop us.
“We all have these desires, but whether we act on them is a function of control,” said Sarah Helfinstein, a postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin and lead author of the study that appears online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Helfinstein said that additional research could focus on how external factors, such as peer pressure, lack of sleep or hunger, weaken the activity of our brains’ control systems when we contemplate risky decisions.
“If we can figure out the factors in the world that influence the brain, we can draw conclusions about what actions are best at helping people resist risks,” said Helfinstein.
To simulate features of real-world risk-taking, the researchers used a video game called the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART) that past research has shown correlates well with self-reported risk-taking such as drug and alcohol use, smoking, gambling, driving without a seatbelt, stealing and engaging in unprotected sex.
While playing the BART, the subject sees a balloon on the screen and is asked to make either a risky choice (inflate the balloon a little and earn a few cents) or a safe choice (stop the round and “cash out,” keeping whatever money was earned up to that point). Sometimes inflating the balloon causes it to burst and the player loses all the cash earned from that round. After each successful balloon inflation, the game continues with the chance of earning another standard-sized reward or losing an increasingly large amount. Many health-relevant risky decisions share this same structure, such as when deciding how many alcoholic beverages to drink before driving home or how much one can experiment with drugs or cigarettes before developing an addiction.
The data for this study came from the Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics at UCLA, which recruited adults from the Los Angeles area for researchers to examine differences in response inhibition and working memory between healthy adults and patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or adult attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Only data collected from healthy participants were included in the present analyses.
Other researchers on the study include: Tom Schonberg and Jeanette A. Mumford at The University of Texas at Austin; Katherine H. Karlsgodt at Zucker Hillside Hospital and the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research; Eliza Congdon, Fred W. Sabb, Edythe D. London and Robert M. Bilder at UCLA; and Tyrone D. Cannon at Yale University.
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Consortium for Neuropsychiatric Phenomics and the Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity.
Link to the paper “Predicting risky choices from brain activity patterns”: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/01/29/1321728111.full.pdf+html
Want to Attend UT?
As students at one of the most highly ranked universities in the world, Longhorns have a reputation for being among the best of the best. The recent Business Insider feature “17 Incredibly Impressive Students at The University of Texas” brings that to life. Reporters Melissa Stanger and Melia Robinson’s profiles are brief but moving portraits of young men and women from across campus who make it easy to see why we say “What Starts Here Changes the World.”
Click each student’s name below to go directly to his or her story.
Jon Cozart, YouTube star
Famous for his Disney, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings musical parodies, the film student has more than 90 million views on his videos and has sold more than 100,000 songs on iTunes. [Photo: Lucy Maude Ellis]Holland Finley, emergency services reformer
The business student helped improve campus emergency response services and is a collegiate national wakeboarding champion. [Photo courtesy Holland Finley]Katie Floyd, historical translator and youth advocate
The Latin American Studies major got special access to the UT Library’s rare books room to work with 18th and 19th century texts. [Photo courtesy Katie Floyd]Holly Heinrich, New York Times contributor
With a White House internship and New York Times byline under her belt, the government major will tackle a master’s degree in public policy at Cambridge University. [Photo courtesy Holly Heinrich]Nina Ho, branding agency founder
This branding and social media entrepreneur also speaks four languages. [Photo courtesy Nina Ho]Hirokazu Horikoshi, environmental conservationist
He put his urban studies degree into practice, creating a campus landscape design projected to reduce landscape water usage by 50 percent. [Photo courtesy Hirokazu Horikoshi]Mark Jbeily, ROTC rising student leader
The son of Lebanese immigrants who escaped civil war, Jbeily wants to “preserve the way of life that drew my parents to this country in the first place.” [Photo courtesy Mark Jbeily]Kevin Machate, Air Force veteran, record-breaker and filmmaker
Machate was nominated for Austin Filmmaker of the Year and also holds three Guinness World Records (he can squat a lot more weight than you). [Photo courtesy Kevin Machate]Jordan Metoyer, affordable housing activist and Truman Scholar
She chose a career in urban planning after her childhood home was lost to foreclosure. [Photo courtesy Jordan Metoyer]Charles Nwaogu, health care crusader and refugee outreach volunteer
A government and Arabic language and literature double major, this White House intern works to increase health care enrollment within black communities. [Photo courtesy Charles Nwaogu]Divya Ramamoorthy, regenerative heart researcher
This biomedical engineering and Plan II double major works in a UT lab whose research could one day eliminate the need for organ donations. [Photo: Valerie Nies]Ana Laura Rivera, policy buff and social change agent
A first-generation college student, Rivera interned on Capitol Hill and organizes sexual health awareness events on campus. [Photo courtesy Ana Laura Rivera]Cortney Sanders, equality champion
Also a Congressional intern, Sanders filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in favor of UT’s affirmative action defense case. [Photo courtesy Cortney Sanders]Jay Shah, tech whiz and charity cyclist
The triple major is an active computer science blogger and joined fellow Longhorns in biking 4,500 miles across the U.S. to raise money for cancer research. [Photo courtesy Jay Shah]Rudy Torres, NASA researcher
A mechanical engineering student, Torres was a standout intern for the NASA Johnson Space Center Education Office’s Undergraduate Student Research Program. [Photo courtesy Rudy Torres]Yevgeniya Vinogradova, startup co-founder
Her company is developing software to make computer use easier for people with upper limbatory disabilities. [Photo courtesy Yevgeniya Vinogradova]Margaret Wellik, sustainable food manager
The Plan II student started and built UT’s student-run Micro Farm, which produced nearly 500 pounds of fresh produce from just one-fifth of an acre in its first harvest. [Photo courtesy Margaret Wellik]You may also like:
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.The Myth of Race in the Age of President Barack Obama
U.S. News and World Report Jacqueline Jones, Department of History, College of Liberal Arts
The concept of race is a myth, says history professor Jacqueline Jones. Jones’ book, “A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America,” chronicles the lives of six Americans, over four centuries, to demonstrate the application of the concept. Last month, she sat down with U.S. News to discuss her new book and the origins of the myth that race is a biologically determined characteristic.Could Malpractice Reform Save the U.S. Health Care System?
PBS Bill Sage. [Photo by Marsha Miller/UT Austin.] Bill Sage, School of Law
Malpractice reform, a decades-long debate, may be ripe for compromise with the current changes in the health care system. Often known as medical tort reform, malpractice reform has seen changes in states like California and Texas, but attempts to pass similar federal regulations have failed since the 1970s.
Professor Bill Sage published an essay in the journal Health Affairs calling for the government to now step in. Specifically, Sage proposes doctors and the federal government strike a deal that would appease physicians, while physicians would agree to larger health care system changes like bundling services instead of fee-for-service. Sage believes it will pave the way for more affordable health care.
PBS NewsHour spoke with Sage to learn more about his proposal. Read the interview.
UT Law Magazine: William Sage
NPR’s State Impact Michael Webber, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Cockrell School of Engineering Michael Webber
Earlier this month at the annual Webber Energy Group research symposium, professor Michael Webber, deputy director of the Energy Institute, provided his five energy and environment predictions for 2014, acknowledging that “Predictions are often wrong.”
Webber’s five predictions, as reported by State Impact Texas, are: exploding trains; less flaring; a sunny forecast for solar; more gas, less coal; and a cage match over exports.
Longer term, Webber says water will become more valuable. “I think water will join petroleum as one of the world’s great strategic resources,” Webber said. “Oil and gas companies will become Oil, Gas and Water companies.”How Life Began: New Clues from New Worlds
TIME Andrew Ellington, Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology, College of Natural Sciences Andrew Ellington
Could life exist elsewhere in the universe? The odds are getting better all the time. Water and carbon, two of the essentials for life, can be found almost everywhere. How abundant life actually is is still a 50-50 proposition. But, UT scientist Andrew Ellington remains upbeat. Ellington and his colleagues hope to create a proto-cell in the lab that could represent the earliest life forms.More Religiously Conservative Protestants? More Divorce, Study Finds
Los Angeles Times Jennifer Glass Jennifer Glass, Population Research Center, College of Liberal Arts
In a study to be published in the American Journal of Sociology, sociology professor Jennifer Glass finds a “puzzling paradox” of why divorce is more common in religiously conservative states. Glass and another researcher “discovered that people living in areas with lots of conservative Protestants were at higher risk of getting divorced, even if they weren’t conservative Protestants themselves.”
Glass also found that it was not poverty nor higher rates of marriage that drove up divorce in “red” counties.Love Struck: Bats Attack Frogs after Eavesdropping on Their Serenade
Nature World News Mike Ryan, Department of Integrative Biology, College of Natural Sciences
A team of researchers, including biologist Mike Ryan, have recently discovered frogs singing love songs to potential mates end up prime targets for hungry bats. The newly published study reports bats can detect ripples created by the frog when serenading, even after it stops “singing.”
“A general theme of this research is that the way we communicate with any kind of a signal is by creating a disturbance in the environment,” said Ryan. “When we vocalize, we’re causing changes in the air pressure around us and that’s what our ears hear. When we use visual signals, light bounces off whatever pigments we’re using and is transmitted to the receiver. Anything we do disturbs the environment, whether it’s intended as a communication signal or not.”
The University of Texas at Austin Energy and Water Conservation (EWC) Program is asking the campus community to turn off lights, computers, and other equipment when leaving campus buildings for the weekend on Friday, Jan. 31, 2014. Called Longhorn Lights Out, this voluntary initiative demonstrates how simple, individual actions can result in significant energy savings across campus. During the September 2013 Longhorn Lights Out, the university saved almost 17,000 kWh of electricity–equivalent to turning off 1,900 compact fluorescent bulbs and removing the greenhouse gas emissions of 2.5 cars for one year.
On Friday, volunteers from the student chapters of Engineers for a Sustainable World and American Society of Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Engineers (ASHRAE) will assist with turning off lights and electronics, as they did in Sept. and Nov. 2013. The Division of Housing and Food Service will participate as well, as part of the division’s sustainability efforts.
Through the remainder of the Spring 2014 semester, Longhorns Lights Out will take place on the last Friday of the month.
To volunteer for Longhorn Lights Out, send an email with your contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Longhorn Lights Out, visit Facilities Services website. For information about other initiatives to conserve energy and water on campus, visit Energy and Water Conservation program website.
History is hot.
Just ask the fans who keep putting UT’s “15 Minute History” podcast on the top of the charts in iTunes U, routinely topping other content providers such as Harvard University, NASA, Smithsonian Libraries and TED.
Since being added to the University of Texas iTunes U channel in July 2013, the podcast collection — featuring short, accessible discussions from UT faculty and graduate students — has frequently held the number-one spot in iTunes U’s Top Collections category. It has drawn 104,488 downloads and more than 20,000 subscribers.
The topics are wide-ranging and likely to intrigue any history buff. They’re drawn from the World History and U.S. History Standards for Texas K-12 social studies courses, making them a strategic educational resource for teachers and students.
With 40 episodes and counting, there is plenty of material to dig into. Below, sample a few highlights. [Links open to the 15 Minute History podcast website.]
15 Minute History is a joint project of Hemispheres, the international outreach consortium at the University of Texas at Austin, and Not Even Past, a website with articles on a wide variety of historical issues, produced by the Department of History.
Episode 2: Islamic Extremism in the Modern World
In this episode, we tackle “that pesky standard” in the Texas World History course that requires students to understand the development of “radical Islamic fundamentalism and the subsequent use of terrorism by some of its adherents.” This is especially tricky for educators: how to talk about such an emotional subject without resorting to stereotypes and demonizing? What drives some to turn to violent actions in the first place?
Episodes 21 and 22: Causes of the U.S. Civil War (Parts 1 and 2)
In the century and a half since the war’s end, historians, politicians and laypeople have debated the causes of the U.S. Civil War: what truly led the Union to break up and turn on itself? And, even though it seems like the obvious answer, does a struggle over the future of slavery really explain why the south seceded, and why a protracted military struggle followed? Can any one explanation do so satisfactorily?
Historian George Forgie has been researching this question for years. In this two-part podcast, he’ll walk us through five common — and yet unsatisfying — explanations for the most traumatic event in American history.
Episode 38: The International Energy Crisis of the 1970s
Most Americans probably associate the 1973 oil crisis with long lines at their neighborhood gas stations, but those lines were caused by a complex patchwork of international relationships and negotiations that stretched around the globe.
Guest Chris Dietrich explains the origins of the energy crisis and the ways it shifted international relations in its wake.
Episode 16: The First Illegal Aliens?
Fears that the U.S. is being invaded by illegal aliens, of vast numbers waiting to stream across the border and undermine the American working class may seem ripped from today’s headlines today, but a century and a half ago politicians weren’t looking south toward Mexico when debating immigration policies. They were looking west, toward China. Concerns over Chinese immigration shaped U.S. immigration policies in ways we still observe today.
Guest Madeline Hsu from UT’s Center for Asian American Studies discusses the tumultuous experience of Chinese immigration to the U.S., the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and sheds light on the lingering immigration issues first discussed in the 19th century that continue to concern us in contemporary political debates.
Episode 29: The Slavic Vampire
Long before Bill and Sookie, Bella and Edward, there was the upyr’, a mythical creature that caused crops to fail, infants to die in their cribs, and plagues to spread throughout the Slavic lands of eastern Europe. How did we go from upyr’ to Vampire: the creature of the night who survives by drinking on blood and sparkles in the sunshine? And, more importantly, what can we learn about medieval Eastern Europe by talking about vampire myths and mythology?
Guest Thomas Garza takes us on the trail of vampires from their 11th-century origins to the days of Stoker, Harris and Meyer, and helps us learn a thing or two about how society copes with its deepest fears along the way.
Episode 36: Apartheid
With the death of Nelson Mandela in December 2013, attention turned once again to the conditions that brought him international acclaim as the first black president of South Africa and overseer of a process of national reconciliation that kept the country from falling into bloodshed. But what was the system of apartheid that he and millions of other South Africans had rallied against for so long? Where did it come from? How was it enforced? And what brought it to an end?
Guest Joseph Parrott helps us understand the system of “separateness” that dominated the lives of South Africans of all races for so long and introduces us to the key organizations and players that fought against it and finally dismantled it.
Episode 14: Early Drafts of the Declaration of Independence
The Declaration of Independence is arguably one of the most recognizable documents in American history, quoted and recited often. But the first draft that Thomas Jefferson wrote contained passages that were edited and deleted by the Continental Congress before its approval. What did they say? What might have been different about the early Republic if they were left in? And is there really a treasure map hidden on the back of the original document?
Guest Robert Olwell from UT’s Department of History takes a deeper look to get insight into Jefferson, the workings of the Congress, and the psyche of the American colonists on the eve of revolution — plus, we’ll put that whole treasure map thing to rest once and for all.
Episode 6: Effects of the Atlantic Slave Trade on the Americas
The Atlantic slave trade was one of the most important examples of forced migration in human history. While slavery in the U.S. is well documented, only 10 percent of the slaves imported from Africa came to the United States; the other 90 percent were disbursed throughout the Americas — nearly half went to Brazil alone. Where did they go? What did slavery look like in other parts of the New World? And what are the lingering effects on the modern world?
Guest Natalie Arsenault, formerly of UT’s Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies the oft-ignored impact of the slave trade on other parts of the Americas.
Professor Neal Burns (@berryboy316), Assistant Professor Angeline Close (@angelineclose), Assistant Professor Carlos Hernandez (@chm_utaustin), Associate Professor Michael Mackert (@mackert), Assistant Professor Kevin Thomas (@kevin_d_thomas), Professor Gary Wilcox (@garybwilcox) and lecturer Steve Wille (@swilleman) will share their thoughts under #SBAdJudge.
They will assess ads on qualities such as the presence of a strong emotional hook, relevance to the brand's position, the likelihood that a viewer would ask friends to view the ad and the likelihood that a viewer would want to see the ad again.
The faculty members will meet virtually through 3D ICC's Immersive Terf platform to watch the Super Bowl. Now based in San Francisco, Burns uses the Terf platform to teach his Advanced Account Planning Seminar at Moody College.
In addition to the faculty panel, students from two advertising courses will tweet their thoughts about Super Bowl-related social media and ads. Students from Wilcox's Social Media course will post under #AdGradBowl, and students from Wille's Sports and Social Media course will post under #ADV378S.
The faculty members all have deep experience in advertising, marketing, traditional media, social media, online media and messaging. For a fuller description of their backgrounds, please see: http://ow.ly/t7Rs2.
A team of researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering has built the first-ever circulator for sound. The team’s experiments successfully prove that the fundamental symmetry with which acoustic waves travel through air between two points in space (“if you can hear, you can also be heard”) can be broken by a compact and simple device.
“Using the proposed concept, we were able to create one-way communication for sound traveling through air,” said Andrea Alù, who led the project and is an associate professor and David & Doris Lybarger Endowed Faculty Fellow in the Cockrell School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Imagine being able to listen without having to worry about being heard in return.”
This successful experiment is described in “Sound Isolation and Giant Linear Nonreciprocity in a Compact Acoustic Circulator,” which will be featured on the cover of Science in the Jan. 31 issue.
An electronic circulator, typically used in communication devices and radars, is a nonreciprocal three-port device in which microwaves or radio signals are transmitted from one port to the next in a sequential way. When one of the ports is not used, the circulator acts as an isolator, allowing signals to flow from one port to the other, but not back. The UT Austin team realized the same functionality is true for sound waves traveling in air, which led to the team’s building of a first-of-its-kind three-port acoustic circulator.
Romain Fleury, the paper’s first author and a Ph.D. student in Alù’s group, said the circulator “is basically a one-way road for sound. The circulator can transmit acoustic waves in one direction but block them in the other, in a linear and distortion-free way.”
The scientific knowledge gained from successfully building a nonreciprocal sound circulator may lead to advances in noise control, new acoustic equipment for sonars and sound communication systems, and improved compact components for acoustic imaging and sensing.
“More broadly, our paper proves a new physical mechanism to break time-reversal symmetry and subsequently induce nonreciprocal transmission of waves, opening important possibilities beyond applications in acoustics,” Alù said. “Using the same concept, it may actually be possible to construct simpler, smaller and cheaper electronic circulators and other electronic components for wireless devices, as well as to create one-way communication channels for light.”
This research may eventually allow for an “acoustical version of one-way glass,” said Preston Wilson, acoustics expert and associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “It also opens up avenues for very efficient sound isolation and interesting new concepts for active control of sound isolators.”
At the core of the team’s sound circulator is a resonant ring cavity loaded with three small computer fans that circulate the airflow at a specific velocity. The ring is connected to three ports outfitted at each end with microphones that record sound. In their experiment, the researchers start by transmitting sound from one port, for example, Port 1. If the fans are off, the sound signal from Port 1 splits symmetrically into the two receiving ports, Port 2 and Port 3, as expected. However, when the researchers turned the fans on and delivered a moderate airflow into the ring, with specific velocity tailored to the ring design, transmission symmetry was broken and the signal from Port 1 would flow entirely into Port 2, leaving Port 3 completely isolated. Conversely, when a signal was sent from Port 2, it would flow into Port 3, leaving Port 1 isolated. Acoustic signals then flow from Port 1 to Port 2, from Port 2 to Port 3 and from Port 3 to Port 1, but not in the opposite directions (see figure).
“It is just the right spin of fluid (air) coupled with the strong resonance of our ring cavity, which makes our design powerful,” Alù said. “These two combined mechanisms create strong nonreciprocity in a compact device. Sound waves are routed in one direction only — always contrary to the direction of the airflow.”
The UT Austin team believes their basic design for this first-of-its-kind sound circulator can be easily scalable to different acoustic frequencies. UT Austin has filed a provisional patent on the device. The team includes Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering postdoctoral fellow Dimitrios L. Sounas and graduate students Romain Fleury and Caleb F. Sieck. The team also includes Michael R. Haberman, a researcher in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and UT Austin’s Applied Research Laboratories.
Alù and his team are now working on a design for the sound circulator that does not require moving parts. In a parallel research line, they are also working on translating these concepts to realize novel nonreciprocal components, such as circulators and isolators, for radio waves and light.
Research for the acoustic circulator was supported by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
The University of Texas at Austin is committed to transparency and disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest of its researchers. Dr. Alu has received funding from various government, private and nonprofit entities including the National Science Foundation, the Welch Foundation, the Norman Hackerman Advanced Research Program and the Department of Defense. He is a consultant with the Southwest Research Institute. Dr. Haberman receives monetary payments as a consultant to HRL Laboratories LLC in the area of acoustic materials behavior and testing and also conducts research funded by HRL. He has fully disclosed these relationships in accordance with university policy. He has received funding from various government entities including the Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
As a San Francisco-based speech-language consultant in the mid-1980s, Elizabeth Peña noticed a discouraging trend. At one elementary school, speech-language pathologists had diagnosed every English-Spanish bilingual kindergartner with a language learning disability.
Doubting that every child had a learning disability, Peña — now a communication sciences and disorders professor at The University of Texas at Austin Moody College of Communication — made it her mission to reduce learning disorder misdiagnoses among English-Spanish bilingual children.
Peña and other researchers have introduced the Bilingual English-Spanish Assessment (BESA), which will help speech-language pathologists differentiate limited exposure to English from underlying language impairments among children ages 4 to 6 years, 11 months.
Conducted through Moody College's Human Abilities in Bilingual Language Acquisition Lab, research was funded by the National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Other researchers included Moody College Professor Lisa Bedore, San Diego State University Professor Vera Gutiérrez-Clellen, Temple University Professor Aquiles Iglesias, and La Salle University School of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Brian Goldstein.
"Most standardized language assessments are developed for English speakers, and the assessments that are developed for Spanish speakers are focused on students who are monolingual or who mostly speak Spanish," Peña said. "But if students have a fairly balanced understanding of each language, which assessment do you give? That's why we developed the BESA."
Since the BESA's December publication, speech-language pathologists in private practice, schools and clinical settings across the U.S. have placed orders, according to AR-Clinical Publications owner Nancy Martin. A subsidiary of San Rafael, Calif.-based AbigSys Research, AR-Clinical Publications was formed to publish bilingual assessment materials.
The BESA is designed specifically for bilingual speakers and focuses on the features of Spanish and English that are most associated with language impairment. In Spanish, for example, children with language impairments tend to make more mistakes with articles that mark number and gender. In English, children with language impairments tend to have difficulties learning past tenses.
Unlike other assessments, the BESA also provides guidance for combining test scores from English and Spanish versions to reach a diagnostic decision.
In research presented at the 2013 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, recent University of Cincinnati Ph.D. graduate Rochel Lazewnik found the BESA to be the most highly discriminating of five standardized tests for predicting language impairment among bilingual children.
The BESA's key strengths are that it includes English and Spanish subtests and items based on the linguistic characteristics and cultural practices of bilingual English-Spanish children, Lazewnik said.
Kai Greene, who earned his Ph.D. in communication sciences and disorders from the Moody College in 2012 and has worked for more than 10 years as a bilingual certified speech-language pathologist in Texas and California, said the BESA is a huge step in the right direction for speech-language pathologists, educators, administrators and parents.
"Sadly, much work still needs to be done in terms of educating school administrators, teachers and parents about many of the unique factors that revolve around bilingual language learning," said Greene, now an assistant professor at California State University, East Bay. "The issue of overdiagnosis persists in that bilingual children’s language differences are mistaken as disorders."
Casey Taliancich, a communication sciences and disorders doctoral candidate, said such a test would help her in her position as a bilingual speech-language pathologist in Dallas.
"With the assessment we've been using, it's difficult to get a comprehensive picture of language needs," Taliancich said. "I'm confident that this new assessment will be an efficient tool for speech-language pathologists."
The University of Texas at Austin is committed to transparency and disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest of its researchers. Drs. Peña and Bedore will receive royalties from BESA's sales but do not own or have any financial interest in AR-Clinical Publications.
President Barack Obama will deliver his 2014 State of the Union address Tuesday night, during which he is likely to discuss income inequality, immigration, health care policy, foreign policy and global affairs, among other issues. Experts from The University of Texas at Austin are poised to share their insights on a variety topics related to the speech and are available to speak with the media.
Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs
Professor of History
Professor of Public Affairs
Suri is the author of five books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, including “Liberty's Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama.” He is available to talk about diplomacy, global security, defense and American presidential history.
Health Policy/The Affordable Care Act
Assistant Professor of Public Affairs
Richardson is a health economist whose research broadly addresses how government should intervene in health care markets. Richardson is available to discuss issues related to health care that arise during the State of the Union address.
U.S. Foreign Policy
Executive Director, the Clements Center for History, Strategy and Statecraft
Inboden has served as senior director for strategic planning on the National Security Council at the White House, where he worked on a range of foreign policy issues including the “National Security Strategy.” He is available to discuss topics related to U.S. foreign policy.
Director, the Center for Politics and Governance
Former Texas state Rep. Sherri Greenberg is available to discuss any implications for the State of Texas as they relate to comments by President Obama in his State of the Union address.
Income Inequality & Labor Unions
Associate Professor of Communications
Cloud is an expert in political rhetoric and violence as political expression, popular culture studies, labor movements and public life in the United States. She can comment on the State of the Union's focus on income inequality.
Professor of Government
Buchanan is a nationally renowned expert on politics and government. He has written multiple books on the American presidency and is frequently quoted in media stories about state and national politics. He is available to speak about the presidency and the public, public policy and political behavior
Presidential Rhetoric & Party Polarization
Associate Professor of Government
Theriault's research includes American political institutions, primarily Congress. He is available to speak about party polarization in Congress, presidential rhetoric and public approval of Congress.
Politics & Media: How Journalists Cover Politics and Elected Officials
Director, Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life
Lawrence has written numerous articles analyzing media coverage of high-profile news events and policy issues. Her current research includes journalists’ use of social media to cover politics; media coverage of political candidates; and film and politics. She is available to speak about how journalists are portraying the State of the Union address and President Obama.
Politics & Media: Campaign Messaging
Chair of the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the Moody College of Communication
Stekler's documentary work about American politics and society includes a long list of successful films that have earned numerous awards. His research focuses on politics, political campaigns, political advertising and how polls affect campaigns and campaign messaging.
Professor of History
Brands has written more than 20 books on such leaders as Benjamin Franklin, Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his book “Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.”
Last week, we celebrated the largest gift of the Campaign for Texas and one of the largest gifts in the 135 year history of the University. Jim and Miriam Mulva, already among the largest donors to The University of Texas at Austin, have pledged $60 million to UT.
The historic gift will support two critical construction projects on the campus: $20 million will support the building of the Engineering Education and Research Center and the Cockrell School of Engineering. And $40 million will support the renovation of the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Business buildings at the McCombs School of Business.
In recognition of this gift, we are dedicating the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Conference Center and Auditorium, to be completed in 2017. And at the McCombs School, the CBA/GSB will be renamed James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Hall.
I know you will join me in thanking the Mulva family for this transformative gift. It will be exciting to watch our campus change and grow because of it, and our engineering and business students will be indebted to them for decades to come.
What starts here changes the world.
Photo by John Everett for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
AUSTIN, Texas — The Mulva Family Foundation has made a $60 million multiyear pledge to The University of Texas at Austin to support the McCombs School of Business and the Cockrell School of Engineering, once again demonstrating a deep commitment to the university’s future and to a continued vision of excellence in teaching and research.
The Houston-based foundation’s donation is one of the largest cash pledges made during the course of the Campaign for Texas and provides additional momentum to the campaign as it approaches its conclusion later this year. With this pledge, the campaign is now poised to exceed $2.7 billion in donations, well on its way to the university’s $3 billion goal.
The Mulvas have a long history of supporting the university and stand among UT’s greatest supporters in its 131-year history and among Texas’ top proponents of education. The Mulvas’ deep commitment to the university and to these projects led them to this pledge. Payments during the early years will support the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC) construction, with subsequent payments going toward the McCombs project after it has been fully approved. This will allow the projects to move forward quickly and enable the university to rely on yearly support to sustain them.
"The University of Texas has been very important to our family. Accordingly, it is also important that we give back and assist in the growth and development of this premier institution," said Jim Mulva.
Of the gift, $20 million will go toward the construction of the EERC, which will include the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Conference Center and Auditorium when it is completed in 2017.
Another $40 million will be used to renovate the Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration buildings, upon consideration and approval of the University of Texas System Board of Regents. The buildings will collectively be renamed the James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Hall.
Jim Mulva earned a bachelor’s in business administration from UT Austin in 1968 and an MBA in 1969. He served in the university’s Naval ROTC program and in the U.S. Navy, where he was stationed in Bahrain with Bill Powers, now the president of UT Austin. After his service to the nation, Mulva had a distinguished career in the energy industry, which included serving as chairman and chief executive officer of ConocoPhillips.
Reflecting their commitment to Powers’ vision for the university and his long-term leadership, the Mulvas previously donated $15 million to build the Liberal Arts Building on the East Mall that includes space for the university’s ROTC programs. Their philanthropy started with a $100 gift to the McCombs School of Business in 1986.
“Jim and Miriam Mulva’s generosity has already transformed The University of Texas at Austin and will continue to do so for decades to come,” said Powers. “I’ve known Miriam and Jim for more than 45 years. They have always been able to recognize what needs to get done — and then make it happen. Miriam and Jim are doing that again today for our business students, our engineering students and our entire university.”
The EERC will provide students and faculty members with state-of-the-art student project, teaching, research and interactive spaces. The Mulvas’ gift will help build the 299-seat James J. and Miriam B. Mulva Conference Center and Auditorium in the EERC. The Cockrell School's first auditorium, it will become the largest teaching space in the school.
"Jim Mulva's career has exemplified innovation. I am so pleased that his name and Miriam’s name will be seen by thousands of students every week in the premier facility in the U.S. for engineering innovation — and that so many students will directly benefit from the Mulvas’ gift," said Provost Gregory L. Fenves, who is a former dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.
The gift will help the university meet its goal of raising $105 million from private sources to pay for construction of the $310 million EERC. The Board of Regents has also committed funding and has authorized the university to borrow for the project.
The McCombs School of Business is currently expanding and modernizing its facilities. Phase 1 is the construction of a new building — Rowling Hall — to house and expand graduate and executive business education programming. The planned Phase 2 is the renovation of McCombs’ current buildings to produce state-of-the-art learning and research environments for undergraduate students and McCombs faculty members. The Mulva pledge would constitute the lead gift for Phase 2 of this facilities plan upon consideration and approval by the Board of Regents.
“Modern pedagogy, including the ways in which content is delivered and students learn, is rapidly evolving. These new and upgraded facilities are essential in our efforts to ensure that we maintain our leadership role in business education,” said Thomas W. Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business. “The Mulvas’ generous gift will contribute directly to the ever-increasing quality of our students and faculty and, therefore, to the reputation of our business school and university.”
Their decision to dedicate a substantial portion of their available philanthropy over a long period reflects both the Mulvas’ deep understanding of current students’ needs and their appreciation of how to make nationally ranked programs in business and engineering even stronger.
This is the latest in a series of major gifts the university has received in recent months. Last fall, the Moody Foundation announced a $50 million gift to create the Moody College of Communication, and Michael and Susan Dell and their partners donated the Magnum Photo Archives to the university's Harry Ransom Center.
Due to inclement weather, The University of Texas at Austin is officially closed today, Friday, Jan. 24. Classes will resume Monday, Jan. 27. The university is following the lead of the City of Austin and Austin Independent School District.
Updates and additional information about special events scheduled for today will be posted online at www.utexas.edu/emergency/. As the situation progresses, updates specific to closure and reopening will be available through local media, the emergency web page, and by calling the university’s general information number, 512-232-9999.
Two of Texas’ most dedicated proponents of higher education, Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long, were awarded the prestigious Mirabeau B. Lamar Medal during a luncheon and award ceremony today at the Headliners Club in Austin.
The award, presented by members of the Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors, the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas and the Texas Association of Community Colleges, recognizes individuals, foundations and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to higher education in Texas.
In his nomination letter, University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers said, “Service to institutions of higher education can involve more than giving money, and the Longs have been just as generous with their time and talent as they have been with their treasure. Joe and Terry’s record of support of higher education in Texas has been—and continues to be—nothing short of remarkable.”
The couple has an extensive history of supporting higher education initiatives, including significant donations to numerous UT System components and to several community colleges and private universities. They have also funded numerous scholarships, professorships and fellowships at UT Austin, where they both completed their undergraduate work.
Teresa earned both a master’s degree and a doctorate in education at the university, and Joe is a 1958 graduate of the Law School. They met and married while Joe was in law school and Teresa was working on her Ph.D.
Prior to retirement, Joe spent several decades as a finance attorney with a private practice in Austin, leading into a second career as a highly successful banker. Teresa served in several state and federal education administration positions and sits on several community boards. She is a former trustee of Austin Community College.
Their commitment to higher education stems from their personal experiences at the university, their belief in the value of education, and their desire to extend the same opportunity to others.
The couple established The Long Foundation in 1999 to support programs throughout Texas that provide opportunities for children and young adults to improve their economic and social potential, as well as that of their communities. Additionally, the foundation supports programs for the visual and performing arts that add to the cultural enrichment of the state, and in particular the Austin metropolitan areas.
The Longs have given just over $26.7 million to The University of Texas at Austin, including major gifts to the Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, the College of Fine Arts String Quartet Endowment and the School of Law’s Long Career Launch Program, which helps recent graduates start their legal careers in government or nonprofit public-interest organizations.
Today marks a major milestone in the development of UT’s Dell Medical School as we announce the selection of our inaugural dean. I’m delighted that Dr. Clay Johnston will lead the creation of a world-class medical school at UT Austin.
Clay Johnston is a physician and a Ph.D. and comes to us from the University of California, San Francisco, where he has served as associate vice chancellor of research, director of stroke service, and as a professor of neurology and epidemiology as well as director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute. He earned his bachelor’s at Amherst College, completed medical school at Harvard, and earned his Ph.D. in epidemiology at UC-Berkeley. He has published extensively on the prevention and treatment of stroke. He is the Executive Vice Editor of the Annals of Neurology and has served on the editorial boards of several other journals. He has won multiple national honors for his work in the field of strokes.
Dean Johnston will begin on March 1. I know you will join me in giving him a warm UT welcome.
This is an excerpt of an article originally published in Alcalde.[Illustration by Brian Stauffer]
As American forces withdraw from the difficult terrain of Afghanistan, two things have become glaringly clear: Our nation over-relies on the military and under-invests in diplomacy. Since the boots of U.S. soldiers first hit the ground 12 years ago, American civilian experts on politics, economics, and culture have been present in very small numbers throughout the region. In their place, American soldiers have taken on tasks for which they are poorly prepared, like negotiating agreements on resources, monitoring elections, and helping to build representative institutions. The same is true at a national level, where American military commanders in Afghanistan have frequently assumed the lead in negotiating with the country’s vain and corrupt leader, Hamid Karzai.LBJ School Dean Robert Hutchings (left, photo by Marsha Miller) and Professor Jeremi Suri (photo by Sasha Haagensen)
The failures of diplomacy in Afghanistan are, in part, a consequence of the imbalance between overwhelming American military force and inadequate civilian capabilities. A similar pattern has played out in Iraq, Libya, and most recently Syria, where the inconsistent, stop-and-go diplomatic approaches toward the Assad regime have exposed the lack of strategic thinking at the highest levels of the U.S. government.
Our soldiers constitute one of the best-trained fighting forces the world has ever seen, but they are clearly asked to do too much. Our diplomats, in contrast, struggle to find the resources for adequate training. Our soldiers are stretched too far; our diplomats are too few and too poorly prepared.
The U.S. defense budget is roughly 20 times as great as the combined budget of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. There are more lawyers in the Pentagon than diplomats in the State Department, and more musicians in military bands than members in the entire U.S. diplomatic corps.
As defense secretary Robert Gates argued in 2008, the U.S. government risks the “creeping militarization” of its foreign policy by giving such overwhelming priority to our military services and paying so little attention to the diplomats who work to advance American interests and values through non-military means. Gates reminded Americans that current and future wars are likely to be “fundamentally political in nature” and that military means always need to be harnessed to political ends.
For answers to how we can re-imagine our nation’s foreign policy, history offers many valuable insights. The founders of the United States were, above all, diplomats.