College of Arts and Sciences News

Professor Recalls Chance Meeting with Mandela

Catherine Higgs

The recent passing of former South African President Nelson Mandela caused one UT professor to recall her chance meeting with him. Catherine Higgs, professor of history and vice chair of Africana studies, met Mandela in the Johannesburg airport in February 1991, a year after he was released after serving twenty-seven years in jail for protesting against the apartheid state.

UT’s Latest Volume of Jackson Papers Exposes “Most Lurid Year” in Presidency

Andrew Jackson

A woman with a dubious reputation. Presidential cabinet members at each other’s throats. A president with a conspiracy theory. It’s not a fictional story of political intrigue. It’s real-life drama—detailed through the correspondence chronicled in the ninth volume of The Papers of Andrew Jackson, recently published by the University of Tennessee Press.

Two Professors Named NEH Fellows; UT Ranks in Top Ten for Fellows

Two professors from UT have been offered National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowships for 2014-15, continuing a university tradition of being a national leader in NEH fellows. Nancy Henry and Gregory Kaplan are being honored with the prestigious fellowship, marking thirteen in a string of NEH grants to UT faculty since 2004. This puts UT among the top ten institutions nationwide in the number of NEH grants awarded in the past ten years.

UT Study Finds Crocodiles are Cleverer than Previously Thought

A mugger crocodile balances twigs on its nose to tempt birds collecting small branches to build nests with, at Madras Crocodile Bank, Tamil Nadu in India. Photo credit: Vladimir Dinets

Turns out the crocodile can be a shrewd hunter himself. A UT researcher has found that some crocodiles use lures to hunt their prey. Vladimir Dinets, a research assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, is the first to observe two crocodilian species—muggers and American alligators—using twigs and sticks to lure birds, particularly during nest-building time. Dinets’s research is the first report of tool use by any reptiles.

UT Technology Named a 2013 Top Innovation

Technology developed by UT researchers that lights up cells to enable study of the effects of drugs and monitor disease is among The Scientist magazine’s top ten innovations of 2013. Most bioluminescent tests, or tests that light up cells, only temporarily generate a light signal. The UT technology genetically modifies the cells so they light up in response to specific stimuli that can be monitored over time.

UT Research Finds Newlyweds Implicitly Know If Marriage Will Fail

Newlywed bliss can overshadow serious marital problems, but a new study by UT researchers shows that signs of a failed marriage are often there from the beginning—if couples look closely. The study, by Michael Olson, associate professor of psychology, and Jim McNulty of Florida State University, finds that spouses’ automatic attitudes, not their more thoughtfully held conscious attitudes, are a good predictor of marital satisfaction.