The university community is shocked and saddened by the death of Ronnie Smith in Benghazi. Ronnie was a proud Texas Ex who earned a master's degree in chemistry at The University of Texas at Austin in 2006. He was an enthusiastic and outgoing student. His death is a tragedy for the campus and our nation.
Department of Defense Panel to meet at UT Austin to Review Military’s Systems Involving Adult Sexual Assault
Event: An independent panel will convene at The University of Texas at Austin to discuss the systems used in the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of crimes involving adult sexual assault and related offenses under military law.
When: Dec. 11 and 12 from 8:20 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
Where: Multipurpose Conference Room 207 of the San Jacinto Residence Hall, at the corner of San Jacinto Boulevard and 21st Street.
Background: Issues and suggestions discussed or brought to the attention of the panel during the meeting will be considered in developing recommendations to improve the effectiveness of systems in the military dealing with adult sexual assault issues.
“We are pleased to welcome the Response Systems Panel to The University of Texas at Austin for this important meeting” said Noël Busch-Armendariz, associate dean for research at the School of Social Work and director of the Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “Our research indicates that the professionals in the response systems need better tools and strategies to more effectively address the pervasiveness and complexity of this crime. This public meeting and the ultimate panel recommendations to Congress will shift the military response. These recommendations will be a pivot toward justice for victims and accountability for offenders.”
The format for the meetings will be a discussion among panelists including secretary of defense appointees and congressional appointees.
The public may submit written comments and requests for oral presentations by emailing the deputy staff director (email@example.com) at least five business days prior to the meeting. All written comments will be treated as public documents. Upon prior written request, oral presentations by members of the public will be permitted each day during the last 15 minutes of the meeting, on a first-come basis. For more information, visit http://responsesystemspanel.whs.mil.
The Response Systems Panel held previous public meetings in Washington, D.C., this year during June, September and early November.
Panel members appointed by the secretary of defense include the Honorable Barbara S. Jones, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (retired); Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime; Former U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman of New York; Vice Adm. James Houck, U.S. Navy (retired); and Brig. Gen. Colleen McGuire, U.S. Army (retired).
Congressional appointees include Harvey Bryant, commonwealth’s attorney of Virginia Beach; Brig. Gen. Malinda Dunn, U.S. Army (retired); Col. Holly Cook, U.S. Army (retired); and Professor Elizabeth Hillman of the University of California's Hastings Law School.
The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M reignited their rivalry on the gridiron Nov. 17, and this year the stakes were … lower than ever.
After the final official showdown on Thanksgiving night in 2011 (Texas 27, Texas A&M 25), students started missing the rivalry. So this year the UT Student Government extended an offer to the Aggies for a duel where it counts: on the intramural fields.
Watch footage of the showdown in all its glory, courtesy of the Longhorn Network:
Battle-tested warriors from each school’s top men’s, women’s and coed flag football teams descended upon Caven Clark Field on a sparkling Austin afternoon. The national anthem was sung. Flags were velcroed. Hammies were stretched. Ponytails tightened.For school and country. [Photo: Eric Park]
The game announcer put things in perspective as the competitors took the field: “Today’s three games match the top flag football teams from The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. The university winning at least two of the three games will take home the SHOWDOWN TROPHY.”
There were no cheerleaders directing the crowd of roughly 200, only moms in homemade T-shirts. Instead of a Gatorade bath, the winners would be doused in very small amounts of bottled water.On the battlefield. [Photo: Eric Park] The crowd goes wild. [Photo: Eric Park]
There were burnt orange T-shirts and unfortunate “TU” chants. End zone dives and devastating interceptions. First up: the Lady Longhorns trounced their Aggie counterparts 19-0. A 26-6 UT coed win followed. With the trophy now secured for the Longhorns, all that remained was the men’s final.
It was a hard-fought battle, but in the end the Aggies emerged victorious with a 14-12 win.The enemy is cornered. [Photo: Eric Park]
Regardless of the score or who kept the trophy (Texas), the Lone Star Intramural Showdown gave old rivals — and friends — a good-spirited reunion.
“These are people that we went to high school with, people that we have mutual friends with that we’re playing against, so for our schools there’s a lot of pride on the line,” UT Student Government president Horacio Villarreal III told the Texas A&M student newspaper before the event. “There’s a lot of different factors in it that make it incredibly intriguing.”
Villarreal and Texas A&M student body president Reid Joseph spent much of the day together, swapping stories and cheering on their fellow students in the games they coordinated. “It was really neat to see two leaders from rivalrous schools show such respect and good nature towards each other,” said Alayna Alvarez, a UT journalism junior and Student Government communications director.
— Soncia Reagins-Lilly (@MotherDean) November 17, 2013
And so, with the rivalry renewed and the Longhorn champions in place, the students returned to their respective campuses and then home for Thanksgiving to watch their teams play other schools. The Lone Star Intramural Showdown will resume in the spring for a basketball tournament in College Station. But for now, once again, it’s Goodbye to A&M.
Texas Parents Outstanding Students Alexandra Arambula and Clark Plost enjoy a game-time spotlight with Gage Paine, vice president for Student Affairs, on Nov. 2.
Among the more than 50,000 students on campus, certain individuals emerge as leaders, making a lasting impression on their peers and the university. This year’s Texas Parents Outstanding Student Awards showcase two such students: seniors Alexandra Arambula and Clark Plost.
With their impressive academic records, selfless service, strong leadership and impeccable character, Arambula and Plost personify the university’s motto, “What Starts Here Changes the World.” They were honored Nov. 1 at the 62nd annual Celebration of Leadership Dinner, hosted by Texas Parents, part of the Division of Student Affairs, and the Office of the President.Alex Arambula: Researcher and Mentor
Arambula is completing her final year in biomedical engineering and Plan II with a pre-med concentration. Always interested in a medical profession, she became intrigued by research after attending a high school engineering summer camp at UT Austin.
“When I graduated high school, my classmates basically said I should go out and cure cancer,” she said in a video shown at the awards ceremony. “Coming into UT I was really excited about that.” She joined Professor George Georgiou’s lab at UT Austin and has worked with a therapeutic enzyme that can treat some forms of methionine-dependent cancers.
Another of her passions is guiding others. “I was a FIG mentor for three years and I have been a senior preceptor for the PLUS (Peer-Led Undergraduate Studying) Program,” she added. “Mentors have been a really important part of my life, so any way that I can give back to others that way is something that I love to do.”
Arambula, who maintains a 4.0 grade point average, also worked with a local hospice and Camp Kesem, a camp for children whose parents are affected by cancer. She says those experiences have been pivotal in her life and she ultimately hopes to integrate technical and humanistic medicine in the field of clinical research. “I think combining my passion for research with my passion for relationships as a physician is somewhere that I would like to see myself,” she said.
Arambula’s also a Normandy Scholar and involved in the Plan II Pre-Medical Society, LeaderShape-Texas, Tau Beta Pi and the Engineering Chamber Orchestra where she plays piano.Clark Plost: A Calling to Service
Plost is a management information systems and pre-dental student who admits he had a challenging freshman year as he struggled to find his place. Then his father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and Plost took a leave of absence for a full academic year to serve as one of his father’s primary caregivers. He returned to UT Austin with a renewed since of resilience, commitment and passion, noting “I found my niche with the Texas Wranglers.”
As the student organization’s president, he served as a Board Member of Easter Seals of Central Texas and led a project that brought more than 1,000 underserved Austin kids to university men’s basketball games. Clark currently serves as the president of Texas Round Table, an officer in Students for Texas Athletics and the chairman for the Fourth Annual Texas Wranglers Horns Helping Horns Golf Classic. The tournament has raised more than $60,000 for the program in the past three years.
“Here at Texas, the biggest way I’m able to say thank you to everyone here is to give back,” Plost said in his video. “I can give, give, give and never be able to give back everything Texas has given me.” After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in dentistry, with an eye toward continuing his service of others.
“My dream is to have two offices, one in the city and one in a rural area where I could go every so often and provide care for people who are unable to access good dental care,” he said.Outstanding Student Award finalists Michelle Moon, Holland Finley, Alex Arambula, Clark Plost, Brian Mbah and Michael “Ugeo” Williams are honored at the 62nd annual Celebration of Leadership Dinner Nov. 1.
Several years ago, I helped establish a network of more than 20 leading public research universities and partner organizations including the Association of American Universities, the Forum for the Future of Higher Education, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and Lumina Foundation to share ideas, best practices, and discuss policy solutions to common institutional challenges. The leaders of these great institutions recognize that we can accomplish more together than we can alone. This partnership creates discussion and new collaborations across the institutions.
Today the UT Austin campus welcomes representatives from several Public Flagships Network partners including the AAU, the APLU, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Kansas, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, and University of Pittsburgh. Together we’ll discuss how best to inform current higher education policy discussions to create more opportunities for educational innovation and how better to define and communicate the value of America’s great public research universities.
I’m proud that this group is strong and growing, and I welcome these members to the Forty Acres.
What starts here changes the world.
His culinary skills “are limited to eggs over easy and granola bars out of a package,” but that doesn’t stop finance professor Stephen Magee from hosting first-year MBA students in his home for Thanksgiving lunch every year. Many are international students experiencing their first American Thanksgiving.Every year MBA students gather at the home of finance professor Stephen Magee for Thanksgiving and a taste of home away from home.
Magee’s fiancée handles the cooking, with help from Green Mesquite BBQ or Whole Foods. The meal always includes traditional turkey and dressing, gravy, green beans and sweet potatoes. While students feast, Magee entertains with stories from his three decades at UT.
It’s a fitting tradition for Magee, who is described by one student as someone who “In one breath [will] teach us how to calculate the profit maximizing price a firm should charge for its product, and in the next he’ll be encouraging us to be good to our families.”
Asked why he does it, Magee recalls his days as a Ph.D. student at MIT in Boston, miles away from his home in Lubbock. A fellow Texan there reached out to Magee, offering home-cooked meals, mentorship and a sense of home. “Texas is an even more remote galaxy for many of our international students,” Magee says. “I do this so students can feel the warmth of home during a holiday in which they are separated from family.”
In a finding of relevance to the search for life in our solar system, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin’s Institute for Geophysics, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have shown that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life.
Scientists believe Europa is one of the planetary bodies in our solar system most likely to have conditions that could sustain life, an idea reinforced by magnetometer readings from the Galileo spacecraft detecting signs of a salty, global ocean below the moon’s icy shell.
Without direct measurements of the ocean, scientists have to rely on magnetometer data and observations of the moon’s icy surface to account for oceanic conditions below the ice.
Regions of disrupted ice on the surface, known as chaos terrains, are one of Europa’s most prominent features. As lead author Krista Soderlund and colleagues explain in this week’s online edition of the journal Nature Geosciences, the chaos terrains, which are concentrated in Europa’s equatorial region, could result from convection in Europa's ice shell, accelerated by heat from the ocean. The heat transfer and possible marine ice formation may be helping form diapirs, or warm compositionally buoyant plumes of ice that rise through the shell.
In a numerical model of Europa’s ocean circulation, the researchers found that warm rising ocean currents near the equator and subsiding currents in latitudes closer to the poles could account for the location of chaos terrains and other features of Europa’s surface. Such a pattern coupled with regionally more vigorous turbulence intensifies heat transfer near the equator, which could help initiate upwelling ice pulses that create features such as the chaos terrains.
“The processes we are modeling on Europa remind us of processes on Earth,” says Soderlund, where a similar process has been observed in the patterns creating marine ice in parts of Antarctica.
The current patterns modeled for Europa contrast with the patterns observed on Jupiter and Saturn, where bands of storms form because of the way their atmospheres rotate. The physics of Europa’s ocean appear to have more in common with the oceans of the “ice giants” Uranus and Neptune, which show signs of three-dimensional convection.
“This tells us foundational aspects of ocean physics,” notes co-author Britney Schmidt, assistant professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. More importantly, adds Schmidt, if the study’s hypothesis is correct, it shows that Europa’s oceans are very important as a controlling influence on the surface ice shell, offering proof of the concept that ice-ocean interactions are important to Europa.
“That means more evidence that the ocean is there, that it’s active, and there are interesting interactions between the ocean and ice shell,” says Schmidt, “all of which makes us think about the possibility of life on Europa.”
Soderlund, who has studied icy satellites throughout her science career, looks forward to the chance to test her hypothesis through future missions to the Jovian system. The European Space Agency’s JUICE mission (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) will give a tantalizing glimpse into the characteristics of the ocean and ice shell through two flyby observations. NASA’s Europa Clipper mission concept, under study, would complement the view with global measurements.
Soderlund says she appreciates the chance “to make a prediction about Europa’s subsurface currents that we might know the answer to in our lifetimes — that’s pretty exciting.”
Research funding was provided by the Institute for Geophysics, part of The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences.
Nursing Researchers Receive $2.2 Million NIH Grant for Multiple Sclerosis Cognitive Rehabilitation Study
Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, and Heather Becker, a research scientist at the school, have received a $2.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to continue their study on improving the quality of life for people coping with multiple sclerosis (MS), particularly those with cognitive impairments.
“The effects of MS on cognition is thought to occur in 50 to 75 percent of persons with MS and are increasingly recognized as potentially the most disabling symptom of the disease,” Stuifbergen said. “Strategies to assist persons with MS to manage cognitive issues are desperately needed since the related impairment has major effects on work, family and social life.”
The purpose of the longitudinal study is to test an innovative eight-week intervention: Memory, Attention and Problem Solving Skills for persons with MS (MAPSS-MS). In a recently completed exploratory study by Stuifbergen and Becker with 61 participants, MAPSS-MS showed promise as a means to improve memory, use of compensatory strategies, and performance of cognitive and instrumental activities of daily living. The new study comprises 180 people with MS across multiple sites in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
“To our knowledge, we were the first investigators to test a theoretically and empirically derived cognitive rehabilitation intervention that integrates the powerful effects of group interventions with individual home-based computer-assisted training,” Becker said. “If effective, the intervention will represent a new and feasible approach to solving a serious, debilitating problem commonly experienced by persons with MS.”
More than 400,000 people in the United States and 2.5 million worldwide live with multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system and the most common neurological disease of young adults. Preventing long-term disability, said Stuifbergen, is the most important goal of treatment, although work on empirically based treatment of cognitive deficits is in its infancy.
“Chronic disabling conditions like multiple sclerosis have profound and pervasive effects on the lives of millions of Americans,” Stuifbergen said. “Although rarely addressed, the need for cognitive rehabilitation exists for many persons with MS and may be a key factor to preserve quality of life.”
Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing, and Heather Becker, a research scientist at the school, have received a $2.2 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to continue their study on improving the quality of life for people coping with multiple sclerosis (MS), particularly those with cognitive impairments.
AUSTIN, Texas — After a national search, the Division of Student Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin has selected Mulugeta Ferede as the new executive director of the University Unions. Ferede will oversee student development and engagement activities that include Campus Events + Entertainment, business and food services, and facilities management for the University Union, Student Activity Center, Hogg Auditorium and Student Services Building.
“Ferede brings a successful track record of working at university student unions for nearly 20 years, most recently at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We look forward to the energy and new ideas he will bring to our campus community,” said Gage E. Paine, vice president for student affairs.
“This position provides leadership and strategic vision for some of the most trafficked spaces on campus while integrating the student experience and our academic mission. Ferede has the skills and talents to carry out this important goal through collaboration with our diverse body of students, faculty and staff,” noted Soncia Reagins-Lilly, senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students.
Ferede brings a diverse range of experience to The University of Texas at Austin. As the senior associate director of the Illini Union for the past eight years, he oversaw the expanded role and presence of that union on campus. That included the reorganization and modernization of practices related to programs, facilities, retail sales and food service. Throughout all of his work, Ferede maintains a focus on financial stewardship and a tradition of service and student development.
“I am excited to become a Longhorn and spend my days on the Forty Acres. The commitment to providing high-quality programs, facilities and services supports the educational mission of the university,” said Ferede. “I look forward to working with our students and campus community to collectively lead the premier student union operation in the nation.”
Ferede will begin his new position Jan. 21. He takes the place of William Andrew “Andy” Smith, who will help Ferede in the transition to his new role. Smith is retiring after 27 years of service.
Ferede received his bachelor’s degree in management and his master of business administration from Emporia State University.
Jazz Appreciation students will learn about the contributions of legends like Louis Armstrong (above), Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.
When professor Jeffrey Hellmer kicks off his Jazz Appreciation class on Jan. 21, he’ll have a few more students than he usually takes on in a semester. More than 10,000 people have enrolled in Hellmer’s free online class, one of nine massive open online courses (MOOCs) offered by UT during the 2013-14 academic year.
*Ok, while we can’t actually say “world’s largest” definitively, a reasonable online search did not turn up proof of another class that tops it. So we’re claiming it.
Like Introduction to Globalization, Ideas of the Twentieth Century and others before it, the Jazz Appreciation MOOC will be hosted by edX, an online nonprofit learning initiative whose other members include Harvard, MIT, the University of California at Berkeley, Wellesley College and Georgetown University.
Students can audit the course or participate in all the course activities and pass an evaluation to earn a certificate.
Considered to be America’s greatest original art form, jazz music is notable for innovation, creativity, and a close relationship with societal transformation. From the course description:
Jazz emerged during a time of tremendous change and upheaval in American society; this course will discuss how its evolution both reflected and contributed to those changes.
Much more than a lecture series, Jazz Appreciation weaves in musical performances and examples that will deepen your understanding of the musical process and develop your ability to identify and analyze different jazz eras and great jazz soloists. It also incorporates cutting-edge adaptive learning technology that will allow you to practice your new knowledge and skills, at your own pace, until you reach mastery.
Join this course to enhance your enjoyment of jazz by developing an informed understanding and deep appreciation of the art.
Hellmer is director of Jazz Studies in the Butler School of Music, is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor and a two-time finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition. Graduate students Alex Heitlinger, Gianni Bianchini and Daniel Dufour will join Hellmer as instructors.
The UT students competed against seven other teams from the U.S., Germany, China and Australia during the real-time, non-stop, 48-hour challenge. The competition is designed to introduce the next generation of students to the high-performance computing community.
The University of Texas winning team members are:
- Eric Dawson (biology);
- Jim Given (computer science, mathematics);
- Reid McKenzie (computer science);
- Julian Michael (computer science, physics);
- Suvamsh Shivaprasad (computer science); and
- Zachary Tschirhart (computer science, aerospace engineering, mathematics).
The team was coached by Rosales-Fernandez, John Cazes and John Lockman from the university’s Texas Advanced Computer Center (TACC), and two of last year’s team members served as student advisors: Michael Teng (computer science) and Andrew Wiley (computer science, electrical engineering).Nvidia.]
Harry Ransom Center Director Stephen Enniss statement regarding unauthorized J.D. Salinger materials posted online:
“Birthday Boy” and “Paula” (also called “Mrs. Hincher”) are in the Harry Ransom Center’s J.D. Salinger collection in manuscript form and are available to researchers in the Center's reading room, and have been for many years. An online finding aid (http://norman.hrc.utexas.edu/fasearch/findingaid.cfm?eadid=00465) of the Salinger materials notes the inclusion of both of these two unpublished stories. In 1999 someone who had seen the unpublished stories here added a third obtained from Princeton and printed a pirated edition of the stories in London under the title "Three Stories." It is one of these copies that recently sold on eBay and was subsequently uploaded onto a file sharing site.
Regarding the Ransom Center's policies of access, we routinely make manuscripts and archives of this kind available for research purposes. It is the primary function of a research library like the Ransom Center, and Salinger scholars have known of the manuscripts here and consulted them. It is rare that one takes advantage of that access and pirates a work in this way, but responsibility for that action rests with the individual who brought out the unauthorized edition and the copyright holder (in this case Salinger's estate).
Researchers may transcribe or make copies of documents for purposes of research since there is a difference between copying and publishing. This is common practice in research libraries in America. What is prohibited is the further publication from those copies without the permission of the copyright holder. That is what was violated in this instance.
Per UT tradition, the campus landmark is bathed in burnt orange lighting from top to bottom when a University of Texas athletics team wins a conference championship.
Texas won its third consecutive Big 12 Championship with a sweep of Kansas State on Saturday, Nov. 23. The Longhorns have won 20 conference titles in program history, including seven as a member of the Big 12 Conference.
With the outright Big 12 title, the Longhorns earn an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. The field for the tournament will be announced Sunday evening following the Tower lighting at 8:30 p.m. Central on ESPNU.
This post originally appeared on TexasSports.com.
Seahorses are slow, docile creatures, but their heads are perfectly shaped to sneak up and quickly snatch prey, according to marine scientists from The University of Texas at Austin.
“A seahorse is one the slowest swimming fish that we know of, but it’s able to capture prey that swim at incredible speeds for their size,” said Brad Gemmell, research associate at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, which is part of the College of Natural Sciences.
The prey, in this case, are copepods. Copepods are extremely small crustaceans that are a critical component of the marine food web. They are a favored meal of seahorses, pipefish and sea dragons, all of which are uniquely shaped fish in the syngnathid family.
Copepods escape predators when they detect waves produced in advance of an attack, and they can jolt away at speeds of more than 500 body lengths per second. That equates to a 6-foot person swimming under water at 2,000 mph.
“Seahorses have the capability to overcome the sensory abilities of one of the most talented escape artists in the aquatic world — copepods,” said Gemmell. “People often don’t think of seahorses as amazing predators, but they really are.”
In calm conditions, seahorses are the best at capturing prey of any fish tested. They catch their intended prey 90 percent of the time. “That’s extremely high,” said Gemmell, “and we wanted to know why.”
For their study, Gemmell and his colleague Ed Buskey, professor of marine science, turned to the dwarf seahorse, Hippocampus zosterae, which is native to the Bahamas and the U.S. To observe the seahorses and the copepods in action, they used high-speed digital 3-D holography techniques developed by mechanical engineer Jian Sheng at Texas Tech University. The technique uses a microscope outfitted with a laser and a high-speed digital camera to catch the rapid movements of microscopic animals moving in and out of focus in a 3-D volume of liquid.
The holography technique revealed that the seahorse’s head is shaped to minimize the disturbance of water in front of its mouth before it strikes. Just above and in front of the seahorse’s nostrils is a kind of “no wake zone,” and the seahorse angles its head precisely in relation to its prey so that no fluid disturbance reaches it.
Other small fish with blunter heads, such as the three-spined stickleback, have no such advantage.
Gemmell said that the unique head shape of seahorses and their kin likely evolved partly in response to pressures to catch their prey. Individuals that could get very close to prey without generating an escape response would be more successful in the long term.
“It’s like an arms race between predator and prey, and the seahorse has developed a good method for getting close enough so that their striking distance is very short,” he said.
Seahorses feed by a method known as pivot feeding. They rapidly rotate their heads upward and draw the prey in with suction. The suction only works at short distances; the effective strike range for seahorses is about 1 millimeter. And a strike happens in less than 1 millisecond. Copepods can respond to predator movements in 2 to 3 milliseconds — faster than almost anything known, but not fast enough to escape the strike of the seahorse.
Once a copepod is within range of a seahorse, which is effectively cloaked by its head shape, the copepod has no chance.
Gemmell said that being able to unravel these interactions between small fish and tiny copepods is important because of the role that copepods play in larger ecosystem food webs. They are a major source of energy and anchor of the marine food web, and what affects copepods eventually affects humans, which are sitting near the top of the web, eating the larger fish that also depend on copepods.
Gemmell, Buskey and Sheng published their research this week in Nature Communications.
Before we break for Thanksgiving, I want to tell everyone in the Longhorn family – students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends – how thankful I am for you. Because of your combined efforts and your dedication, Texas has a vibrant university of the first class, and that is something for which all Texans can give thanks.
There’s no more appropriate time than Thanksgiving to share this short video with you. In it, UT students express their feelings on “Thanks Day,” which this year fell on November 13 and which marks the day on which our students’ education would end for the school year if we had to depend solely on tuition and state funding. It’s heartwarming.
Lastly, let’s get our Horns up high for a big Thanksgiving night win against Texas Tech and show the Longhorns we’re behind them all the way.
Happy Thanksgiving and Hook ’em Horns!
Convocation ceremonies by schools and colleges at The University of Texas at Austin on Dec. 7 and 8 will honor about 3,064 students who will receive degrees at the end of the fall semester.
The graduating students include about 2,322 undergraduates, 576 students receiving their master's degrees, 148 doctoral students and 18 law students.
Fall graduation activities do not include a university-wide commencement ceremony. More information about fall convocations for individual colleges and schools is available online at http://events.utexas.edu/commencement/fall2013.
In honor of graduates receiving their degrees during the 2013 Fall Commencement ceremonies, The Tower will be lit orange with “13” displayed in the windows on each side. It will remain lit throughout the evening Saturday, Dec.7, and again Sunday, Dec. 8.
In addition to official convocation and graduation ceremonies, other celebrations will honor graduating students. These include:
- The Great Texas Exit, an open house event hosted by the Texas Exes alumni for members of the fall class and their families at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center, 2110 San Jacinto Blvd. The event is from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 6.
- The fall Latino Graduation Ceremony, sponsored by the Latino Leadership Council, will be held at 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 in the Student Activity Center. Graduates should arrive by 1:30 p.m. The ceremony provides Latino graduates, along with their parents, family and friends, an opportunity to celebrate their success and accomplishments at the university.
Fall convocation activities include:
Saturday, Dec. 7
9 a.m. Cockrell School of Engineering, Frank Erwin Center. Speaker: Sam Dawson, chief executive officer, Pape-Dawson Engineers, and chairman of the Engineering Advisory Board at The University of Texas at Austin.
9 a.m. School of Nursing, Bass Concert Hall, Performing Arts Center. Speaker: Norine Yukon, leader of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Texas and member of The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing Advisory Council.
9 a.m. School of Social Work, LBJ Auditorium. Student speaker: Kaitlyn Ryann Cryer, bachelor of social work, was chosen by her peers to be speaker.
Noon. College of Communication, Frank Erwin Center. Speaker: John R. Fleming, principal, Vision Corporation.
Noon. College of Education, Bass Concert Hall, Performing Arts Center. Speaker: Dr. Anthony Brown, associate professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The University of Texas at UT Austin.
1 p.m. Jackson School of Geosciences, McCullough Theatre. Speaker: Dr. Jay Banner, professor and Chevron Centennial Teaching Fellow, Department of Geological Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, and director of the Environmental Science Institute, College of Natural Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin.
3 p.m. College of Fine Arts, LBJ Auditorium. Speaker: Dr. Ann Collins Johns, senior lecturer in the Department of Art & Art History and a Regents' Outstanding Teaching Professor.
3 p.m. College of Liberal Arts, Frank Erwin Center. Speaker: Devin L. Geoghegan, co-CIO and founder, Nexus Asset Management LLC.
6:30 p.m. School of Architecture, Goldsmith Hall Gallery. No speaker.
Sunday, Dec. 8
10 a.m. McCombs School of Business, Frank Erwin Center. Speaker: Joe E. Holt, chief executive officer of the Austin region of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and chairman of the foundation’s board of trustees.
2:30 p.m. College of Natural Sciences, Frank Erwin Center. Speaker: Dr. Linda A. Hicke, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin.
“I wouldn’t have this opportunity without you,” reads one note.
“Thank you for helping make my dreams come true!” says another.
And another: “I sign on behalf of my family and our future. Gracias, Christian Mendez and Family.”
The notes are scrawled in pink and blue and orange and green marker on a life-sized sign in front of Gregory Gym. They’re hand written on little notecards in the lobby of the Law School. And at the School of Architecture they’re produced in 3-D sculpture with leftover studio materials.
Across campus on Nov. 13, University of Texas students participated in the annual Thanks Day celebration, writing, building and tweeting messages of gratitude to all the alumni, donors, family, faculty, and the state for supporting their education.
The timing of the event is significant: If UT relied exclusively on tuition and fees alone, it could only operate for about 11 weeks, or mid-way through November.Learn more about giving to UT and how gifts make a difference at the university.
Thankfully, UT doesn’t just run on tuition and fees, which account for only 25 percent of the overall budget. The majority – 75 percent – comes from additional supporters, who range from our family and friends to the state of Texas. And UT is proud to offer tuition and fees that remain lower than many of its peers. FY 2012-13 undergraduate resident tuition and fees at UT Austin ranked second-lowest out of a 12-institution national comparison group.
So thank you to our many supporters for making UT what it is. (Learn more about the university’s finances on the Budget 101 website.)
[Video via Students Hooked on Texas]
Cockrell School of Engineering students play a particularly satisfying version of fill-in-the-blank:
Architecture students got creative in their studios:From @knowawinkler / Instagram. See the time-lapse video for this message here. From @caittie_cat / Instagram.
Thank-you cards at the School of Law:
Signing the “card” in front of Gregory Gym:
In the largest, most in-depth study to date on regret surrounding sexual activity, a team of psychology researchers found a stark contrast in remorse between men and women, potentially shedding light on the evolutionary history of human nature.
Researchers for the peer-reviewed study included University of Texas at Austin evolutionary psychologist David Buss. The study was led by Andrew Galperin, a former social psychology doctoral student at the University of California-Los Angeles; and Martie Haselton, a UCLA social psychology professor. It is published in the current issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior.
The findings show how human emotions such as regret can play an important role in survival and reproduction. They suggest that men are more likely to regret not taking action on a potential liaison, and women are more remorseful for engaging in one-time liaisons.
“Prior sex researchers have focused primarily on the emotion of sexual attraction in sexual decisions,” Buss says. “These studies point to the importance of a neglected mating emotion —sexual regret — which feels experientially negative but in fact can be highly functional in guiding adaptive sexual decisions.”
Evolutionary pressures probably explain the gender difference in sexual regret, says Haselton, who earned her Ph.D. in psychology at UT Austin.
“For men throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner is potentially a missed reproduce opportunity — a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective.” Haselton says. “But for women, reproduction required much more investment in each offspring, including nine months of pregnancy and potentially two additional years of breastfeeding. The consequences of casual sex were so much higher for women than for men, and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today.”
In three studies the researchers asked participants about their sexual regrets. In the first study, 200 respondents evaluated hypothetical scenarios in which someone regretted pursuing or failing to pursue an opportunity to have sex. They were then asked to rate their remorse on a five-point scale. In the second study, 395 participants were given a list of common sexual regrets and were asked to indicate which ones they have personally experienced. The last study replicated the second one with a larger sample of 24,230 individuals that included gay, lesbian and bisexual respondents.
According to the findings:
- The top three most common regrets for women are: losing virginity to the wrong partner (24 percent), cheating on a present or past partner (23 percent) and moving too fast sexually (20 percent).
- For men, the top three regrets are: being too shy to make a move on a prospective sexual partner (27 percent), not being more sexually adventurous when young (23 percent) and not being more sexually adventurous during their single days (19 percent).
- More women (17 percent) than men (10 percent) included “having sex with a physically unattractive partner” as a top regret.
- Although rates of actually engaging in casual sex were similar overall among participants (56 percent), women reported more frequent and more intense regrets about it.
- Comparing gay men and lesbian women, and bisexual men and bisexual women, a similar pattern held — women tended to regret casual sexual activity more than men did.
Regret comes after the fact, so it's not protective, Haselton notes. But it might help women avoid a potentially costly action again.
“One thing that is fascinating about these emotional reactions in the present is that they might be far removed from the reproductive consequences of the ancestral past,” Haselton says. “For example, we have reliable methods of contraception. But that doesn't seem to have erased the sex differences in women's and men’s responses, which might have a deep evolutionary history.”
As we step away from routine to enjoy the holidays and the indulgence that often accompanies gatherings of family and friends, we sometimes end up worrying about what we should (and should not) be eating. But Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for the abundance of choices available to us. We should allow ourselves to enjoy good company and great food.
Dietitians — serving on the front line in the battle for better health through smarter food choices — understand perhaps better than anyone that a holiday centered around food is no time to be obsessing about the little things. If we focus too much on the little things, we risk missing what’s important.
Monica Meadows, director of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, has some surprising words of wisdom that will help you sail through the Thanksgiving holiday healthy and guilt free.
It is ok to:#1 Fry your turkey [Credit: Flickr user smcgee]
Is frying a less healthful approach to preparing turkey than roasting?
Research has indicated that most of the oil absorbed by a turkey in the process of frying is absorbed by the skin, says Meadows. The breast meat absorbs very little, if any, of the frying oil if the cooking temperature remains optimal throughout the cooking process.
Unless you eat the skin, there is little difference in calories and fat between the roasted and fried turkey, as long as the fried turkey is cooked in a healthy fat like peanut or canola oil. To minimize the absorption of oil, the turkey should be cooked at the recommended temperature and not soak in the oil when the cooking is complete.
Research has also indicated that frying properly also results in moister breast meat, compared to roasting.
However you prepare your turkey, the internal temperature of the dark turkey meat should reach 175°-180° F and the internal temperature of the white turkey meat should reach 165°-170° F.#2 Enjoy a post-turkey nap (but it’s not the turkey making you drowsy) [Credit: Flickr user Takashi Hososhima]
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid found in turkey and in other foods like eggs, cold-water fish, soy, milk and cheese. The theory goes that, because tryptophan can cross the blood-brain barrier, it’s the tryptophan-rich turkey meat making us feel sleepy. However, there has been no research to support this theory, says Meadows.
After-feast drowsiness is more likely to be the result of having enjoyed a day off of work, less than normal caffeine consumption, extra carbohydrates — or some combination of these or other factors.#3 Spice it up [Credit: Flickr user Sharon Drummond]
Winter desserts are redolent with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. These are the holiday spices in North America.
Other cultures add cumin, chilies, cardamom or turmeric to foods. While we are not likely to use herbs or spices in our cooking in amounts that would add health benefits, adding herbs and spices adds taste and dimension to foods, discouraging the addition of salt, sugar or fat.#4 Eat dessert [Credit: Flickr user my amii]
Remember that the choices you make during the holidays are not everyday choices, says Meadows.
Go ahead and taste your favorite dessert. Putting it on your plate doesn’t mean you have to eat the whole slice of pie if you find a few bites to be satisfying. Some traditional Thanksgiving Day desserts even come with lots of vitamin and minerals — along with the calories and fat. (Read more about the nutrients found in burnt orange foods, including pumpkin pie and carrot cake.)#5 Load up your plate and try everything… [Credit: Flickr user Ian David Wescott]
Just choose a smaller plate. Swapping a 10-inch plate for the typical 12-inch plate will likely lead to taking (and eating) less food. Remember, you can always go back for seconds. Load up on vegetables and fruit; put as many colors of vegetables on your plate as possible. Those dishes are better for you and will give you that full feeling faster. And while you’re at it, try a food you may have disliked in the past. Your sense of taste changes as you age and you might just find a new favorite food.
If a well-meaning relative persists in steering you toward the triple-decker bacon, macaroni and cheese casserole she made for the occasion, add a small serving to your plate while exclaiming, “Wow! That asparagus looks too good to pass by! I just can’t get enough asparagus.” Remember, you don’t need to clean your plate.
Eating well during the holidays is about a balance of smart choices and a little indulgence. Try not to worry too much about the minutiae of the day, says Meadows.This story is part of our yearlong series “In Pursuit of Health,” covering medical news and research happening across the university.
Something to be thankful for: Burnt orange foods are packed with vitamins, minerals and Longhorn pride.
Gazing at the traditional Thanksgiving table, it quickly becomes clear that many of the most appetizing foods share one thing in common: they’re burnt orange.
And while that means your Turkey Day menu won’t clash with your Longhorn pride, it’s also good news for your health. Burnt orange foods have significant nutritional benefits derived from vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C and thiamine and minerals like iron, copper and potassium. In other words, burnt orange foods pack a good deal of what’s good for you.
The more color to a sweet potato, the more vitamin A it contains. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of potassium.
Tip: To prevent the flesh of the sweet potato turning black, place cut sweet potato in cold water until ready to cook.Secrets for a Happy and
#1 It’s Ok to Fry Your Turkey
Most of the oil is absorbed by the turkey skin, says Nutritional Sciences lecturer Monica Meadows. The breast meat absorbs very little of the frying oil if the cooking temperature remains optimal throughout the cooking process.
Unless you eat the skin, there is little difference in calories and fat between the roasted and fried turkey, as long as the fried turkey is cooked in a healthy fat like peanut or canola oil.Click here for more Thanksgiving tips. Pumpkin Pie
An excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of calcium and iron. Iron is a component of hemoglobin and myoglobin, the oxygen carrying proteins in red blood cells and muscles. Iron aids with energy metabolism, neurotransmitter synthesis (brain function) and immunity.
Trivia: Pumpkin pie did not become a staple of Thanksgiving dinner in North America until the 19th century.Butternut Squash
Excellent source of potassium and vitamin A. Butternut squash also contains vitamin C, folic acid, pantothenic acid and copper. Along with iron, copper helps in the formation of red blood cells. As a component of enzymes, copper — an antioxidant — assists in energy production and in the formation of skin pigment.
Tip: A butternut squash will keep unrefrigerated for about a month.Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is a good source of vitamin A and contains calcium.
Trivia: After the sugar beet, the carrot contains more sugar than any other vegetable, making it a perfect dessert ingredient.Pumpkin
Pumpkin (and other winter squash) is an excellent source of potassium and vitamin A and contains vitamin C, folic acid, pantothenic acid and copper.
Trivia: The canned pumpkin pie filling found at grocery stores does not contain the pumpkin typically used for jack o’lanterns. Pie filling contains a different cultivar of winter squash.Carrots
Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A and potassium (when raw). They also contain thiamine, copper and vitamin B6. Thiamine aids in energy metabolism and protein synthesis, maintenance of nerve tissue and production of DNA and RNA.
Trivia: Carrots can also be white, yellow, red, purple and black.
Related story: For healthy Thanksgiving recipes, including pumpkin French toast muffins, visit nutrition senior Claire Siegel‘s blog, The Slender Student.
Collage image credits (Clockwise from upper left): Flickr users Dave Lifson, Liz Davis, Shaina Olmanson/Cascadian Farm, babeinthecitykl, Brendan O’s, Maria Pontikis/Anthimeria.This story is part of our yearlong series “In Pursuit of Health,” covering medical news and research happening across the university.