UT ranked No. 10 in scientific research

Aditya Singh

UT-Austin ranks No. 10 among U.S. universities for publication of scientific research and No. 11 among all U.S. institutions, according to the latest report from the Nature Index. UT-Austin was also ranked No. 4 among all U.S. public universities.

Kenneth Diller, professor of mechanical engineering, researches the effect of temperature on living systems and how it might be used to recover injured tissue. Diller said research is emblematic of our university motto.

“Well, what starts here changes the world, and particularly in our department, things born here can and do have a very large practical impact on people’s quality of life,” Diller said.

Aaron Baker, professor of biomedical engineering, researches how to use mechanical forces to enhance stem cell therapies, a line of research that looks at regenerative diseases.

“We are especially looking at how to grow new blood vessels, the holy grail of cardiovascular (heart) therapy,” Baker said.

When asked about why research is important to UT, Baker said that it comes down to impact.

“University research does things that industry really likes and needs but doesn’t have the money for, but when the economy gets tough, everyone goes to research and development,” Baker said.

Both professors said undergraduates are important to research at UT and their efforts in scientific journals has had a large influence on the ranking. Baker said he got into research through an undergraduate project where he worked on prosthetics with a professor that gave most students independent projects, and that allowed him to fall in love with research.

“I want to create that experience for my undergraduates here at UT,” Baker said.

Thomas Yankeelov, director of the Center for Computational Oncology at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at UT, said undergraduates influence research at UT by bringing a fresh perspective to research.

“They are really clever, they are fun, and they keep you young … they say things that are against the grain because they don’t know what the grain is, so it is nice having refreshing ideas in the lab,” Yankeelov said.

Yankeelov researches the natural laws of tumor growth in cancer and tries to make prediction about them in rigorous mathematical ways to best treat with drugs. Yankeelov said that when it comes to anything that has to be modeled or computed, UT is ahead of the curve with some of the fastest supercomputers in the world.

“We don’t try to catch up, we try to be our own trendsetters, we are discovering and inventing new fields,” Yankeelov said.

The ranking was established through The Nature Index, which tabulates author affiliations for about 60,000 scientific articles published per year in 68 elite natural science journals.

“The goal of the university is to generate knowledge, what we do in the classroom is disseminate knowledge, what we do in our research is try to discover it,” Yankeelov said.