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Polymathic Scholars
CNS Honors Center
Painter Hall (PAI) 5.37

Mailing Address
The University of Texas at Austin
1 University Station G2500
Austin, TX 78712-0806

Mollie Marchione, Coordinator
T: 512-232-1048



Welcome to the Polymathic Scholars program! This handbook has been prepared as an introduction to the program. You will learn about important people, activities, policies, dates… in fact, much more than you can remember, so keep it handy and feel free to ask questions. You can also find much more information throughout the Polymathic Scholars website.

Please take a little time to learn about the program. You may find that this program is the most important facet of your university experience. The other honors students you meet may very likely be your friends for life. Through our network of contacts, you will also meet faculty, research supervisors, and health professionals who will be important mentors for your intellectual development and academic progress here at this university and beyond.

Lastly, please notice the wide range of activities the program offers: mentoring, sports, social events, lectures, and much more. Given the strong role of the Student Leadership Panel and generally small size of the program, you have a unique opportunity to have a hand in making Polymathic Scholars all that you want it to be. Without question, performing well in your classes is important. But there is so much more to a university education than what happens within classes. We hope you look back later and say this was the most enriching period of your life – and that the Polymathic Scholars program played a part in that. Make up your mind now to get as much as you can from it!


Dr. Alex Huk
Polymathic Scholars
Faculty Director



PS Faculty Steering Committee

Under the leadership of Dr. Alex Huk, members of the faculty steering committee serve as mentors to Polymaths, review applications, and determine program policy.


Alex HukAlex Huk is Associate Professor of Neuroscience in the College of Natural Sciences and Director (Interim) of the Imaging Research Center in the College of Liberal Arts. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2001 and did his post-doctoral work at the University of Washington (Seattle) before joining the UT faculty in 2004. Dr. Huk's  primary research program focuses on how the brain processes movement and integrates this information over space and time to guide action in a dynamic world. He teaches the undergraduate-level Laboratory in Psychophysics and the graduate-level Ethical and Professional Development in the Sensory Neurosciences. 



r aldrichRichard Aldrich is Professor and Chair of the Section of Neurobiology in the School of Biological Sciences and the Karl Folkers Chair II in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research. He received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University and did his postdoctoral work at Yale University in Physiology. His research is directed towards understanding the mechanisms of ion channel function and the role of ion channels in electrical signaling and physiology by using a combination of molecular biology, electrophysiology, biophysics, cellular and systems physiology, and computational biology. Dr. Aldrich has served on the council and as president of the Society of General Physiologists, and is a Fellow of the Biophysical Society. 


Ruth BuskirkRuth Buskirk is Distinguished Senior Lecturer in the Section of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology and Fellow of Worthington Endowed Distinguished Senior Lecturership for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Plan II. Her research on behavior and physiology includes work of spiders, dragonflies, baboons, and unusual animal behavior before earthquakes. She has taught introductory biology, honors biology, and honors genetics at the University of Texas at Austin for over 20 years. Dr. Buskirk received the UT System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2009 and is a three-time recipient of the Texas Exes Teaching Award. 


Caryn CarlsonCaryn Carlson is Professor and Associate Chair of Advancement in the Department of Psychology. She earned her Ph.D in psychology from the University of Georgia before continuing on to do her postdoctoral work at Indiana University. Though she now focuses on positive psychology, well-being, and life satisfaction, she previously studied the functioning of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While studying that field, much of her work was dedicated to distinguishing ADHD subtypes. As a professor, she has taught the highly coveted psychology course Positive Psychology and the Good Life for many semesters. She has also won numerous awards including the Raymond Dickson Centennial Endowed Teaching Fellowship, the Eyes of Texas Award for excellence in service to the University, and the President’s Associates Teaching Excellence Award.


miacarterMia Carter, Associate Professor in the Department of English, received her Ph.D. from the Department of English and Modern Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1992. Her awards and honors include induction in the Academy for Distinguished Teachers, the Texas Excellence in Teaching Award, the Chancellor’s Teaching Award, Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award, The Eyes of Texas Award for Student Service, the Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the Liberal Arts College Teacher of the Year Award. Her fields of specialization are Gender Studies and Cultural Studies and Postcolonial and British Film and Literature. Currently, she is working on a study of Virginia Woolf and the aesthetic and ideological intersection of modernism and imperialism.


colgin lLaura Colgin, Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, received her PhD from the Institute for Mathematical Behavioral Sciences from the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Colgin investigates the relationship between brain rhythms and behavior. The main goals of her work are to understand the functional significance of the different types of rhythms within the entorhinal-hippocampal network and to uncover their underlying mechanisms. Understanding the relationship between brain rhythms and behavior, and determining which circuits are involved, is expected to provide novel insights into diseases associated with aberrant rhythmic activity, such as schizophrenia, autism, and Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Colgin received the UT Austin College of Natural Sciences Teaching Excellence Award in 2014.


daileyRené Dailey is interested in communication in families and dating relationships. In her research on families, she focuses on how acceptance and challenge from parents and siblings are related to children’s psychosocial adjustment (e.g., self-esteem, identity), communication patterns (e.g., openness), and more recently, weight management. In her work on dating couples, she is investigating communication in “on-again/off-again” relationships and how communication in these relationships differs from other dating relationships. Her work has appeared in Communication Monographs, Human Communication Research, and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. She teaches courses on personal relationships and nonverbal communication. 


Arturo elozanneArturo De Lozanne is Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor in the Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology. He is interested in the study of cell motility and its role in different aspects of cell biology. His current research is focused on the understanding of the molecular basis of cytokinesis. He received his Ph.D. in cell biology from Stanford University and received the President’s Associates Teaching Award for outstanding achievement in the classroom in 2004 and the Holloway Award for Teaching Excellence in 2006. Dr. De Lozanne participated in the UF Evolution Debate in 2009.


Thomas GarzaThomas Garza is Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies and Director of the Texas Language Center and Arabic Flagship Program. His research interests include contemporary Russian youth and popular culture, teaching the cultural component in foreign languages, applications of authentic media—especially film—in language teaching, and vampires in Slavic cultures. Garza’s research on vampires was featured in the History Channel’s docudrama, “Vampire Secrets,” and in HBO’s vampire documentary to launch the “True Blood” television series. Garza has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award and National Award for Post Secondary Teaching.


GleasonAn Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, Marci Gleason's research focuses on how transitions or stressful contexts influence both individual and relationship processes. Currently she is investigating the role of social support in regulating emotion, health, and relationship functioning as couples become first-time parents. Other topics of interest are: 1) how family togetherness influences important couple and parenting outcomes, 2) how pathological personality traits present in older adults, 3) the influence of personality disorders on health and relationship functioning as individuals age, and 4) how intensive longitudinal designs can be used to better understand both between- and within-person processes. 


gonzalez-martinRachel González-Martin holds a Ph.D. in Folklore & Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. Dr. González-Martin is Assistant Professor in the Department of Mexican & Latina/o Studies. Her research focuses on the verbal and material traditions of communities coming-of-age in the American Latino Diaspora. Her work looks at personal-experience-narratives, body art, materiality and self-portraiture with regard to gender, sexual identities, race, and socioeconomic status. She is currently working on a book manuscript that explores the intersection of consumer citizenship and Latino identity in the 21st century titled, Coming Out Latina: Quinceañera Style and Latina/o Consumer Identities.

Alex Huth

Alex Huth earned his Ph.D. through the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley. He is Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science. His research is focused on how the many different areas in the human brain work together to perform complex tasks such as understanding natural language. He uses fMRI to measure brain responses while subjects do real-life tasks, such as listening to a story, and then uses those data to build computational models of how the brain functions.


Judith JellisonJudith Jellison is Mary D. Bold Regents and Distinguished Teaching Professor of Music. She also serves as Head of the Division of Music and Human Learning and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in children’s literature and performance, observation and evaluation, and music in special education and therapy. Dr. Jellison has served on the editorial boards of the “Journal of Research in Music Education” and the “Journal of Music Therapy.” She has served as Chair of the Executive Committee of the Music Educators Research Council and the Society of Research in Music Education of MENC and served on steering committees of the National Endowment for the Arts and the United States Department of Education.


Mike MaukMike Mauk is Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Texas at Austin. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and did postdoctoral work in the Neurology Department at Stanford Medical School. Dr. Mauk’s research focuses on computation and mechanisms of learning in brain systems, particularly in the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. The hallmark feature of his research is the combined use of experiment and computer simulation to address what brain systems compute and how their neurons and synapses accomplish this computation. Dr. Mauk’s ultimate goal for his research is to understand brain systems well enough to build fully functional replicas.

Gerald Oettinger

oettingerGerald Oettinger is Associate Professor of Economics. He teaches courses in labor economics, microeconomic theory, and personnel economics. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Oettinger has published articles in the "Journal of Human Resources" and the "Review of Labor Economics and Statistics." He received both the Killam Award and Rapoport-King Award for supervising outstanding honors students.

Susan Rather

susan ratherSusan Rather is a Professor of Art History (American Art) and Associate Chair of the Department of Art and Art History. She is the author of "The American School: Artists and Status in the Late Colonial and Early National Era" (New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2016). Her courses include Art, Art History and Medicine, which examines similarities and differences between the discipline of art history and the types of visual training offered by medical schools in conjunction with museums. Dr. Rather holds a Ph.D. from the University of Delaware.


RobertsBrian Roberts is a Professor in the Department of Government and Director of the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory. His research interests include American political institutions, interest groups, and positive political economy, with a focus on the intersection of politics and financial markets, corporate political participation, and distributive politics. He has published papers in the fields of political science, economics and finance and holds an appointment in the new Department of Business, Government and Society in the McCombs School of Business.


roberts millerTrish Roberts-Miller is a Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing. Her field of interest involves the history, theory, and pedagogy of public argumentation. She has taught many different courses at UT including Demagoguery, Principles of Rhetoric, Deliberating War, History of Public Argument, Rhetoric of Racism, and Propaganda. She received her Ph.D., in Rhetoric from UC Berkeley and taught at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro as well as the University of Missouri-Columbia before coming to UT Austin in 2000.


s rouxStanley Roux is Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University. Dr. Roux’s research studies how the environmental stimuli of light and gravity alter patterns of growth and development in plants using molecular approaches to characterize proteins that are critically involved in mediating the coupling of light and gravity stimuli to morphogenic changes in plants. He has been published in numerous journals and is currently identifying genes that are differentially expressed in microgravity and examining the role of these genes in mediating the gravity response. Dr. Roux was honored as a Piper Professor by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation in 2002.


l sadunLorenzo Sadun is Professor of Mathematics. He received his B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from the University of California in Berkeley. He has been awarded with a Distinguished Teaching Award by the U.C. Berkeley Physics Department. He has written several op-ed columns for the Austin American Statesman. Lorenzo Sadun has been teaching at the University of Texas in Austin since 1991 and is the Associate Chair in charge of the graduate program in the department of mathematics. He ran for the Place 10 seat against Cynthia Dunbar at the Texas State Board of Education election in 2009 and for congressional candidate in 2004. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles in academic journals.



Rosa Schnyer is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Nursing. Dr. Schnyer's research focuses on the use of complementary therapies, especially acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in the management of stress, depression and anxiety disorders, present alone or as part of complex, chronic conditions. Specifically, Dr. Schnyer is interested in evaluating the effect of acupuncture and Chinese herbs on sympathetic and parasympathetic function, inflammatory markers, stress hormones and clinical symptoms in patients with depression and anxiety. Dr. Schnyer is interested in developing novel treatments that can be delivered to large populations at low cost and that encourage and support patients to participate in their own care.



2018-2019 PS Student Leadership Panel

2016 17 student panel


The Polymathic Scholars Student Leadership Panel hosts a variety of social, academic, and service events on and off campus. Among its signature achievements is the Texas Chautauqua Series, an annual campus-wide forum on issues of particular importance to Texans. Recent forums have concerned the controversy over how evolution should be taught in the state’s public schools, concealed carry legislation, the influence of major college football in higher education, and the pros and cons of taxing carbon emissions. Sophomores, juniors and seniors apply to join the coming year’s panel in April; freshmen may apply after their first semester. The 2018-2019 Chair is Christian Lumley.



Aakansha Bagepally

Aksha bagepallyis a second-year Biology and Government double major from Round Rock, Texas. She hasn't finalized a field yet, but is interested in science communication and foreign policy. After college, she hopes to continue her education in either medical school or law school, and continue to pursue her interest in policy research. She has been involved with the Vertebrate Interactome Mapping FRI, Texas THON Committee, and Student Government as a Natural Sciences Representative. Outside of class, Aksha enjoys running, going to concerts, finding the best bubble tea, travelling, and volunteering.


Sarah Campbell

Sarah Campbell is a Neuroscience major from Katy, Texas, in the class of 2020. Her interdisciplinary field, “Science Fiction in Society,” investigates how sci-fi entertainment influences how the general public views science and scientists. She currently mentors for the Bugs in Bugs FRI Research Stream. Outside of class, she loves to listen to music, read, play the cello, hike, and cook more food than she can possibly eat. She looks forward to meeting and planning events for her fellow Polymaths!


chaneyJarod Chaney is a fourth-year Neuroscience major from Southlake, Texas. He plans to combine philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience in his field, “Consciousness,” to explore how non-sentient neurons give rise to thinking, feeling beings. Jarod describes himself as “tentatively pre-med” but is also considering grad school and was once heard asking about the difficulty of the LSAT. His interests and hobbies include boxing, running, music, French, and reading.


Holly Hodge

Holly Hodge is a third-year Neuroscience and Philosophy student from the exotic city of Austin, Texas. Her polymathic field is "Policy and the Modern City," which centers around the effects of local policy on urban planning. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, podcasts, traveling, food, and hanging out with friends. After finishing her degree at UT, she plans to go to medical school to become a neurologist.


Srividya Kottapalli


 Srividya is a second-year Biochemistry and History double major from Lubbock, Texas. Although her field is yet to be finalized, she is exploring the common ground between her two majors. Srividya is on the pre-med track hopes to go to medical school after undergrad and pursue medical research later. She is part of the Bioactive Molecules FRI stream on campus. Srividya is also involved in volunteer project that focuses on mentoring middle school children, Home Cooked Fridays, UTSeva and HSA. In her free time, she likes to take long walks, read and watch historical shows. This is Srividya’s first year on panel and she looks forward to creating valuable experiences for the Polymathic community.

Claire LeBovidge

c lebovidgeClaire LeBovidge is a third-year Biology major from Houston, Texas. Her field is “Culture: Its Role in the Spread of Disease,” and focuses on how different cultural practices around the world impact the transmission of disease. Although not certain, in the future she hopes to continue working in a science discipline pertaining to research, law, or academia. Claire works as an undergraduate TA in Natural Sciences, as well as a mentor in the Functional Genomics FRI stream. Outside of school, she loves to hike, travel, and has an expansive spoon collection from around the country and world.


Christian Lumley

Christian is a fourth-year Biology major, Jefferson Scholar, and Polymathic Scholar originally from Southlake, Texas. His field is titled “Artistic and Cultural Movements of the Enlightenment,” and deals with the integration of the fine arts with other aspects of European culture during the Enlightenment. After graduation, Christian plans to attend medical school. Outside of Polymathic Scholars, Christian is a Health Leadership Apprentice at Dell Medical School, an MCAT teacher for the Princeton Review, a tutor at the Sanger Learning Center, and a mentor and undergraduate researcher in the Supramolecular Sensors FRI Lab. In his free time, he plays classical guitar, explores Austin, and buys books that he intends to read but probably won’t for a long time. This year he is the chairman of the panel and is looking forward to working closely with the Polymathic community.

Athena Owirodu

a owiroduAthena Owirodu is a third-year Biochemistry major born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Her designed field is titled "Human Resilience in Academia throughout the 21st Century," which aims to understand how certain qualities impacts an individual's ability to achieve success in college. Athena has been a part of the Virtual Drug Screening stream through FRI, and served as a mentor in the Scientific Inquiry Across Disciplines class for freshmen students pursuing research. Outside of school, she is passionate about social justice, volunteering with children, finding a plethora of study spaces on campus, and listening to instrumentals. 

Lois Owolabi

l owolabi

Lois is a second-year Biochemistry major from Carrizo Springs, Texas. For her field, Lois has her sights set on the intersection between Health Education Policy and Health practices. Outside of Polymathic Scholars, Lois sings as a tenor with Voice of Africa A Capella, contributes to the Microbe Hackers FRI Research Lab, serves the Austin area with her fellow Chickadees in the Chi Kappa Phi Service Society, and cultivates a Christ-centered community with InterVarsity-Texas Gospel Fellowship Campus Ministry! In her free time, Lois loves to read, organize, play the guitar, travel, tutor, and write poetry. This is Lois' second year on the leadership panel and she looks forward to developing beautiful and exciting traditions with each class of Polymathic Scholars!


m owolabi

Michael is a fourth-year Biochemistry major from Carrizo Springs, Texas. His polymathic field of study, "Health and Healthcare in West Africa," analyzes the traditional and modern health systems in West African Nations. On campus, Michael is involved in Texas Gospel Fellowship (a corner of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship), and recently the Health Career Mentorship Program (HCMP). During his free time, Michael enjoys reading, listening to music, and volunteering at St. David's Medical Center.



Alli ReibachAlli is a fourth-year Neuroscience major from Denton, Texas. She designed her field, "Language and the Brain," to investigate the neurological basis of language. She hopes to be a speech pathologist someday, and views her research as a way to connect neurosience to her future career. Aside from her studies, Alli enjoys rock climbing, reading, and spending time with her friends. 




Vik ShirvaikarVik Shirvaikar is a fourth-year student from Frisco, Texas, majoring in Math and Economics with an additional concentration in scientific computing and data science. His polymathic field, "International Politics and Finance," deals with the interactions between public policy and financial decision-making on a worldwide scale. Outside of Polymathic Scholars, he is also involved with the Natural Sciences Council, The Daily Texan, and the UT Quiz Bowl team. In his free time, Vik enjoys playing soccer, improvising on his violin, attending musicals and comedy shows, and playing chess.


Hannah SimonHannah Simon is a third-year Environmental Science and Visual Media major from Euless, Texas. Her field of “Environmental Photojournalism” will someday take her around the world to document, research, and report on environmental concerns in hopes of reaching the people who do not pursue science as a career. By effectively communicating her research, she hopes to reduce and reverse the negative impact that people have on the environment. Outside of Polymathic Scholars, Hannah is also involved in Texas Spirits, works as an undergraduate TA in Natural Sciences, and is biking from Austin to Anchorage with Texas 4000 this summer.

Thanvi Thodati

t thodatiThanvi Thodati is a second-year Neuroscience and Plan II major from Round Rock, Texas. She has not taken Field Invention yet, but she hopes to study abroad in Europe as a part of her certificate. She is currently in the Plant Pathways FRI Research Stream, a volunteer at St. David’s Medical Center, and a copy editor with The Daily Texan. Thanvi is slowly but surely learning how to cook, and she watches Food Network extensively as a source of inspiration. She loves Bollywood films, late night ice cream runs with her friends, and poetry. She is looking forward to her first year on the student panel!



Reid Woodall is a third-year Chemistry and History major from Houston, Texas. His field, "Reverse-Engineering Progress," aims to examine the factors that contributed to the beginning and end of the Renaissance and compare them to today's current scientific and technological progress. Outside of Polymaths, Reid has been a part of the Supramolecular Sensors stream in FRI, and has participated in TSTV. In his free time, Reid collects vinyl, explores Austin, obsesses over Marvel movies, and is giving the Kindle another try. After college, he plans to attend graduate school and find a job that lets him travel the world.


CNS Honors & Scholarships

CNS Honors & Scholarships (formerly, CNS Honors Center) was created in 2013 to support the educational aspirations of some of the country’s most promising science students at one of the world’s leading research universities. The Center’s mission is to expand the College’s capacity to recruit extraordinary students—and foster extraordinary student achievements—through a diverse portfolio of world-class honors programs. Dean’s Scholars (DS), Health Science Scholars (HSS), and Polymathic Scholars (PS) have been designed to appeal to students with different aptitudes and goals. Each, however, gives talented and motivated students unprecedented access to rigorous courses, authentic research opportunities, outstanding faculty, innovative degree plans, dedicated advising, and community-building event programming. The programs are designed to increase individual student attention and promote exploration of academic, cultural, and social interests through small intellectual communities of scholars. Collectively DS, HSS, and PS serve about 500 students.

m searle

Madison Searle | Director
Madison oversees CNS Honors & Scholarships in its day-to-day operations including honors student programming and curriculum, honors program admissions and recruitment, faculty involvement and mentorship, and alumni support. He holds an M.A. in English from the University of Virginia.


a chacon poseyAdrianne Chacon-Posey | Scholarship Coordinator
Adrianne is the Scholarship Coordinator for the College of Natural Sciences. She serves all prospective and current undergraduate CNS students in their search for both college and campus wide scholarships, as well as nationally competitive awards. Adrianne is a proud Texas Ex, having received her BS in Applied Learning and Development from UT.


m hemenwayMark Hemenway | Academic Advisor
Mark is the academic advisor for students in Dean’s Scholars and Health Science Scholars. He enjoys having the opportunity to work with honors students from Orientation through graduation and is a good place to start with any questions related to UT. Mark is a recent recipient of the James W. Vick Award for academic advising.


m marchioneMollie Marchione | Supplemental instruction, Program Coordination,
Academic Advising
Mollie guides Polymathic Scholars (PS) through the process of designing and proposing a field of study, assists with thesis evaluation for Health Science Scholars and PS, advises PS, and assists with recruitment and administration for DS, HSS, and PS. She holds a Ph.D. in History from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Previously, she was the associate director and lecturer for the UT-Austin Center for Women's & Gender Studies.

r wilcoxRebecca Wilcox | Thesis instruction, Academic Advising
Rebecca teaches the Capstone thesis courses and the preparatory thesis workshops for Polymathic Scholars (PS) and Health Science Scholars. She also advises PS and assists with recruitment and administration for DS, HSS, and PS. Previously, she coordinated UT-Austin’s Office of Undergraduate Research and taught at West Texas A&M University. She holds a Ph.D. in English from UT-Austin.


What Is the PS Honors Program?

Polymathic Scholars, the newest college-wide honors program in the College of Natural Sciences, is designed for undergraduates committed to the sciences who also have passionate interests beyond them. The program’s mission is to foster these students’ creative curiosity by helping them integrate their diverse interests into an academic degree plan that’s both rigorous and personally rewarding.

Those interests might be public policy questions that concern scientists, or they might have nothing to do with science. What they have in common are interesting questions—questions that require expertise from different branches of knowledge, interdisciplinary questions. And a major research university like UT-Austin is the ideal setting for answering them.

In their second year, Polymaths determine their questions, identify the courses and faculty relevant to answering them, and design a field of study in a written proposal that’s reviewed by faculty members affiliated with the program. The classes listed on the field proposal will constitute a certificate curriculum. Certificates are similar to minors: they allow students to complement their major with coordinated coursework outside their major on a subject of interest. The distinctive feature of Polymathic certificates is that each is conceived not by the university, but by the students themselves. The coursework, formally recognized on transcripts as the Evidence and Inquiry certificate, is a component of the College’s Bachelor of Science and Arts honors degree.

The hallmark experience of the Polymathic Scholars program is the Capstone project, for which students write an honors thesis on a research question within their field of study. We hope they will submit part or all of their work for publication. Polymaths also present their Capstone work to the public during Research Week in the Spring of the year they write their theses.

But Polymathic Scholars are also a community, diverse in background yet like-minded in their sense of curiosity. Faculty and members of the CNS Honors Center endeavor to create for Polymaths a small-college oasis within a resource-rich, world-class research university.

Who Is Selected?

The Polymathic Scholars program is highly selective, admitting about fifty first-year students each year. A small number of openings are also reserved for second-year students who have distinguished themselves in their first year of college, whether at UT-Austin or another institution. The program looks for students with a high level of academic and community accomplishment and a strong interest in science, as well as an aptitude for and achievement in one or more areas outside the sciences. Polymathic Scholars typically achieve high SAT scores and class rankings, but admission is not based solely on these criteria. Equally important in the selection process is evidence of an applicant’s work ethic and thoughtful ownership of intellectual and creative pursuits both within and beyond the sciences.

What Does the PS Program Entail?

Overview. Polymathic Scholars (PS) are advised in the Honors Center throughout their undergraduate years at UT.

PS students must schedule an appointment with their academic advisor before course registration each semester. At this advising session, students will review degree plans to assess what degree requirements have been completed and which ones are still needed. Advisors will contact students at least two weeks prior to registration for the next semester.

Overview. Nearly all Polymathic Scholars complete a Bachelor of Science and Arts degree plan in a department within the College of Natural Sciences. The BSA combines a science emphasis with sufficient electives to create a truly cross-disciplinary undergraduate curriculum. Students can augment their science coursework with study in the humanities, communication, business, education, social sciences, or the arts. After graduation, the student’s transcript will reflect receipt of a BSA degree with honors if the student completes PS in good standing. Like all UT students, Polymathic Scholars must also complete “common core” requirements to obtain their degree from UT.

Placement or exam credit. In general, placement or exam credit is not accepted in lieu of science courses that are required for a degree plan. The CNS honors courses offer instruction that challenges our very best students while providing an in-depth background in each discipline. These courses are integral to the experience of an honors education, and placement or standardized tests typically cannot be substituted. Some students may be able to use AP exam scores to receive credit for lower-division mathematics and physics courses if they wish to be placed in higher level math or physics. The Polymathic Scholars program does accept exam credit in other Core areas such as history, government, rhetoric, English, the social sciences, fine arts, etc. These are the only exceptions to the placement-credit rule. Your academic advisor can provide more information about claiming credit based on test scores and/or previously completed college-level coursework.

Overview. Polymaths take coursework designed for honors students. Some of these courses are honors versions of courses that are part of the BSA degree plan. Others are seminars that count as electives and are required for completing the program.

Polymathic Scholars Coursework Timeline

Year 1 (5 to 8 credit hours)

  • UGS 303: Originality in the Arts and Sciences (Fall)
  • NSC 109: Originality in Scientific Research (Fall)
  • NSC 110H: PS First-Year Seminar (Fall and Spring)
  • Optional: Freshman Research Initiative lab credit (Spring)

Year 2 (5 to 8 credit hours)

  • NSC 109, Topic 4: Polymathic Capstone Field Invention (Fall)
  • NSC 110H: CNS Honors Seminar (Spring)
  • Capstone Field Course(s) (Spring)

Year 3 (8 to 11 credit hours)

  • NSC 110H: CNS Honors Seminar (Fall and Spring)
  • Complete Capstone Field Courses (Fall and Spring)
  • PS Thesis Planning Workshops (Fall and Spring)

Year 4 (6 credit hours)

  • NSC 323, Topic 1: PS Capstone Thesis Preparation Seminar (Fall)
  • NSC 371: Capstone Thesis Seminar (Spring)

NSC 110H/PS First-Year Seminar: Freshmen participate in a year-long first-year seminar led by Dr. Alex Huk, PS program faculty director. The goal of NSC 110H / PS First-Year Seminar is to introduce students not only to some of the university’s finest teachers and researchers, but also to the range of intellectual work on campus.

UGS 303 Originality in the Arts and Sciences:
In their first semester, Polymaths enroll in this Signature course for CNS honors students that satisfies the research methods course requirement for the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI). UGS 303 students also register for the supplemental course, NSC 109: Originality in Scientific Research. In their second semester, Polymaths have the opportunity to initiate and engage in real-world research experience with faculty and graduate students through the FRI, which has many research streams in various science disciplines.

NSC 110H/CNS Honors Seminar:
One of the major advantages of being a CNS honors student is having access to small seminars that connect students with some of the university’s best teachers and top researchers. These seminars help create the honors community of scholars and introduce students to acclaimed faculty in a small-group setting. Topics and instructors vary from semester to semester. Students choose a seminar to take in spring of their sophomore year and in fall and spring of their junior year.

PS Thesis Planning Workshops: These workshops are required for all Polymaths who plan to write their theses in the following academic year (typically third-year students who will write theses as seniors). Polymaths will take several one-hour workshops to support their progress toward successful completion of their theses. 

NSC Capstone Seminars: PS-specific seminars walk students through their Capstone experience.

  • NSC 109, Topic 4: Polymathic Capstone Field Invention: This second-year PS-specific seminar guides students through the process of figuring out what they would like to study, determining which academic disciplines are relevant, and writing a proposal for faculty review that defines and defends their aims and scope.
  • NSC 323, Topic 1: PS Capstone Thesis Preparation Seminar: In this fourth-year seminar, students develop a focus for their Capstone research. Students determine their research question and the scope of their project, conduct research, and begin work toward the thesis itself.
  • NSC 371, Capstone Thesis Seminar: Students are provided research and writing support while writing their honors thesis under the direction of one or more faculty supervisors.

Why research?
The world of academia is changing, and for the better. Evolving technologies and accelerated curricula afford high school students opportunities for intellectual growth that stand in stark contrast to the traditional classroom setting. College learning environments are evolving at an even faster rate, and the idea that a college degree is earned simply by passing exams in 40 lecture courses is subsiding at elite colleges and universities. Polymathic Scholars are expected to realize their full potential, not just by earning high marks in their classes, but by exploiting the greatest resource the University of Texas at Austin has to offer: the research prowess of its faculty.

The University of Texas at Austin is an exceptional research university. The College of Natural Sciences provides an academic home to some 400 or so tenure-track faculty, and many hundreds of other adjunct faculty, who achieved their standing in the scientific and academic community by demonstrating the ability to engage in independent, innovative scientific inquiry. Simply put, they are the people who discover new knowledge, and when UT students listen to a lecture or open a textbook, it is almost certain that what they are reading was discovered on a college campus. It is a priority of the Polymathic Scholars program that as soon as possible, students will find themselves working side by side with a professor and discovering new knowledge in a discipline of interest to them.

In order to become part of the research arena in the College of Natural Sciences, an array of special courses and programs have been developed to assist Polymaths. Each of these is described below. 

UGS 303, Originality in the Arts and Sciences. Polymaths’ accelerated involvement in research begins during a course taken in the fall of their first year. Through UGS 303, Originality in the Arts and Sciences, they will learn to frame important questions about the world and to answer them through principled research methods. While all honors students must take UGS 303, they will be free to choose the particular kind of research project they complete for this course. Dr. Arturo De Lozanne leads this course, along with a staff of teaching assistants who provide students with individualized attention.

Freshman Research Initiative. Polymaths are automatically admitted to the critically acclaimed Freshman Research Initiative. The FRI is a three-semester sequence that begins with a research methods course (UGS 303, Originality in the Arts and Sciences for honors students) and then places students in a spring semester research laboratory to learn the techniques employed in one of over twenty research streams. Typically, the laboratory placement partially satisfies a lab course requirement for each major degree plan, with more authentic research participation than non-FRI “off the shelf” lab courses.

In addition, FRI helps students find summer research internships and other independent inquiry experiences in the fall semester of their sophomore year. After that, many honors students choose to assume peer leadership roles within FRI, such as becoming an FRI mentor for new students or a research assistant. Many honors students also parlay their FRI research placements into long-term collaborations with senior researchers in a wide range of labs accross campus. Students who have questions about FRI should contact their academic advisor.

Research opportunities beyond FRI. We advise students to not limit their research experiences to those provided by FRI. We encourage students to utilize the university’s many online resources to find opportunities to collaborate with faculty (e.g., Eureka, faculty webpages, departmental webpages). Students should turn to others as well—their academic advisor, professors, fellow students, and Honors staff—to help them learn about ways to become part of the teams that make UT a top-ranked research university. In fact, several student-run organizations facilitate this search for research opportunities. SURGe—Science Undergraduate Research Group—is a good place to start.

There is no correct answer as to how to find “the right” faculty member(s) to work with. For some students, it is the simple consequence of a chance conversation with a professor after class. Others need to view it like applying for a job—they become knowledgeable about the professors whose work interests them, make appointments, and start knocking on doors. The good news is that the opportunities are plentiful and there will always be a place for students who make the effort.


Evidence & Inquiry Certificate/Capstone Thesis Guidelines


College honors programs typically culminate in a significant academic project in addition to the student’s coursework for his or her major. The Evidence & Inquiry Capstone thesis satisfies this tradition in the spirit of the Polymathic Scholars program, which encourages students to forge connections across traditional disciplinary boundaries as they develop their academic interests. Capstone projects may also open opportunities for acknowledgement through awards or publication, and they add depth to applications to graduate schools, professional schools, or jobs after graduation. Most importantly, however, graduates often tell us that the Capstone thesis is the most rewarding accomplishment of their undergraduate career.

The Capstone project satisfies the College of Natural Sciences’ honors program thesis requirement for Polymathic Scholars.


Students pursuing the Evidence & Inquiry certificate usually develop their unique fields of study in the fall of their second year at UT. In their third year, they take a series of one-hour workshops designed to help them start planning for their theses, including brainstorming possible topics and finding faculty mentors. At the same time, they are taking field courses that facilitate exploration of their fields of study. Students who plan to conduct primary research should initiate this process in the third year as well. Ideally, students complete field courses before beginning their final year in the program so that they may draw upon a broad range of work as they narrow their thesis topics.

Students formally embark upon the thesis process in the fall of their final year, when they enroll in NSC 323, Topic 1: PS Capstone Thesis Preparation Seminar. This seminar supports the research process. Working with one or more faculty mentors as well as peers during class meetings, students consider appropriate thesis topics, write a short thesis proposal, and develop an initial plan for drafting the thesis. NSC 323 typically meets one hour per week, allowing extra time for independent reading and research.

Polymaths do the bulk of their writing and complete the thesis during the spring of their final year in the program, when they enroll in NSC 371: Capstone Thesis Seminar. This seminar structures the writing process, supports the development of a public thesis presentation, and offers students opportunities to receive feedback on their work-in-progress. The course syllabus includes a series of deadlines for incremental assignments and drafts of the thesis. NSC 371 typically meets two hours per week, allowing extra time for independent research and writing.

3rd Year  Fall 4th Year (NSC 323)  Spring 4th Year (NSC 371)
Field courses & workshops  Finalize thesis mentor  Continue research
Talk with mentors  Narrow topic  Draft and revise thesis
Brainstorm topics  Secondary research  Give thesis presentation
Begin primary research if applicable  Proposal & outline  Explore publication


Topic Selection

Your Evidence & Inquiry Capstone thesis must be connected to your E&I field of study, and should emerge out of expertise you develop in your field through courses and research. Although topics vary widely, every thesis is expected to pose a question (or a set of interrelated questions) and present evidence appropriate to the disciplines involved to develop an argumentative answer to that question.

Developing a topic takes time. To explore possible thesis topics within your field of study, we encourage you to talk with professors, classmates, mentors, and advisors and to read independently and extensively.

As you consider topics, think not only about questions you want to investigate and things you are curious about, but also about goals you may have for your Capstone work. Most students develop topics that may be readily explored through secondary research. Theses based on secondary research may involve the systematic review and synthesis, analysis, and interpretation of existing sources of evidence, such as peer-reviewed journal articles, data sets, government reports, and scholarly books. Though students pursing secondary research may not collect original data, they do present original arguments based on their own analysis and new ways of looking at existing data. Your own conclusions, based on research and evidence, are central to the secondary research thesis.

Some students may wish to collect original data and base their thesis on primary research. This research often involves designing a study and collecting data through surveys, interviews, lab work, or research in the field or in an archive. As is the case for secondary research, the student’s faculty mentor(s) should be involved in choices about how to approach the project. Primary research is usually begun no later than the student’s third year.

If you plan to collect primary data using humans, animals, or potentially dangerous materials for your thesis, you must apply for and receive the university’s approval, even for a simple survey of fellow students. Your faculty mentor will need to sponsor your application, and official approval must be granted before you may begin data collection. Gaining approval can take several months, depending on the proposed project and other factors outside of your control (such as the caseload and meeting schedule of the review board). Any student who is interested in original data collection should refer to the website of the Office of Research Support and Compliance and talk with an ORSC advisor related to their field of study. For more information, visit https://research.utexas.edu/ors/

Polymaths are also encouraged to consider primary research projects based on analysis of archival records such as those housed in UT’s Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the Briscoe Center for American History, the LBJ Library, the Benson Latin American Collection, or even a national repository such as the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Archival materials take many forms, from historical photographs and clothing to personal letters and government records. Though archival research is typically complex and time-consuming, it offers rich opportunities for truly original work. At UT, archivists are often excited to help students brainstorm how their holdings may be used in new and unique ways.

Thus, as you consider possible thesis topics, also think about the methods with which you hope to gain experience through your Capstone work, whether it is based on primary research, archival research, or secondary research.

Faculty Mentors

Students typically seek guidance from one or more faculty mentors as they develop and refine a thesis topic. Though you are encouraged to talk with multiple faculty members about your ideas, you will choose one primary mentor who is willing to formally supervise your thesis process.

Your primary thesis mentor should be a UT-Austin faculty member with expertise in at least one significant area related to your field of study. Mentors may be faculty members of any rank, typically either a professor or a lecturer. Graduate students are not eligible to serve as primary thesis mentors, but may provide secondary mentorship with the consent of the primary mentor.

To find a suitable mentor, you will need to do some research. You should talk with your professors, TAs, advisors, and fellow students about your ideas for your project; search UT’s Eureka database; explore departmental websites; and read professors’ published papers to identify faculty whose interests overlap, at least partially, with your field.

You are responsible for initiating contact with faculty members who might be potential mentors and for asking one of them to supervise your work. Some faculty members may not be able or willing to supervise your thesis, so start this process early and get to know several professors with interests in your field. One of the Thesis Planning workshops you attend in your third year will address strategies for finding and approaching possible mentors. You will be expected to have a faculty mentor who has agreed to supervise your thesis no later than the beginning of your final year. When you ask a faculty member to serve as your mentor, be sure to provide this professor with the Evidence & Inquiry Guidelines for Faculty Mentors. In the fall of your final year, you will submit a Thesis Registration Form, which your mentor signs in acknowledgment of his/her commitment to supervising your work. You will not be permitted to take the required thesis-writing seminar, NSC 371, without a signed Thesis Registration Form.

Briefly, the role of a faculty mentor is to guide your research, critique your ideas and drafts, and participate in evaluating your final thesis. You are expected to meet with your mentor regularly; meeting at least once per month in the fall and at least every other week in the spring of your thesis year is recommended. Make sure that you and your mentor share clear expectations regarding topic, disciplinary conventions, and meeting times. Some faculty mentors may require students to demonstrate evidence of progress beyond the deadlines outlined in the NSC 323 and 371 syllabi.

The Capstone Thesis

The Capstone thesis is a substantial scholarly work that represents the pinnacle of your academic achievement at the undergraduate level. As noted above, each thesis is unique, and develops out of each student’s individual field of study. However, the guidelines below apply generally to all Capstone theses. If you have concerns about whether your project will meet the expectations outlined below, consult with the NSC 371 instructor before beginning your work.

Thesis Standards
Different disciplines have different standards. Consider standards of evidence, for example; numeric data and inferential statistical analyses back up many sociology professors’ arguments about the nature of poverty in America. However, archived photographs of the poor—combined with subjective interpretations of their meaning—constitute evidence for many American studies professors. Different disciplines also have different conventions for appropriate methodologies, writing style, citation, formatting, structure, and argumentation. You will work with your faculty mentor(s) to determine the appropriate standards specific to investigating and writing about your topic.

The thesis must be a persuasive, evidence-based paper that answers a genuine research question (or set of interrelated questions) related to your field of study. Research questions should address complex problems that cannot be resolved by a simple, binary response or accepted facts. Your research question should position you to offer an answer that adds something unique to scholarly conversations on your topic. Though you will certainly include brief summaries of some of the most influential work that has already been published in your field, your analysis will reveal new ways of understanding this work. The answer to your question(s) should take the form of an argument—an original claim with supporting reasoning and evidence, communication of research findings, acknowledgement of alternative viewpoints, and a cogent conclusion.

Your thesis should reflect conventions typical of the main discipline(s) in which your topic is situated. You and your faculty mentor should agree on what methods you will employ and how to communicate them accurately and effectively. For instance, if you are synthesizing a large, complex body of literature on a topic, you need to develop and implement clear decision rules for when to include or exclude sources to answer your research question(s). These decisions must be made apparent to your readers so that they know how you arrived at your answer.

Write this paper for well-educated, intelligent people who are not necessarily experts in your particular topic area. Your immediate audience will be your peers in Polymathic Scholars and your mentors and instructors for the thesis. Therefore, if you need to use technical terminology in your work, strive to define this discipline-specific jargon. You should include enough background in your introductory material to ground a non-specialist in the field and help this reader understand the significance of your argument.

Students who hope to publish their work in a discipline-specific journal will revise their paper for a more specialized audience after submitting the thesis. Because the purpose and conventions of a Polymathic Scholars thesis differ from those of a published article, substantial revision prior to publication is typical.  

Please keep in mind that E&I theses cannot be kept confidential. In addition to sharing your work with fellow students, you are expected to attempt to publish your thesis by submitting it (or a revised version of it) to an approved peer-reviewed publication. Thus, you should write about topics and ideas you are willing to share with others.

Our length guideline is 30-40 pages—or about 8,000-12,000 words—of double-spaced body text, plus the cover page, abstract, references, and any figures, tables, or appendices you choose to include. You and your mentor(s) may need to discuss whether the length of the thesis should be adjusted in order to adequately address your research question. The thesis seminar instructor should be involved in any such conversation.

If you are writing a combined thesis for PS and another honors program, expect length guidelines to increase. Coordinate with both programs before the end of your third year to allow time for negotiation.

Citations and References
You must cite your sources of information and give credit for ideas and phrases that are not your own. Citations should follow standard guidelines appropriate to your discipline—for instance, APA, MLA, or AMA. Most students use a citation style involving in-text parenthetical citations and a complete references list; however, some styles use footnotes or endnotes for citations. Talk to your faculty mentor about preferred citation styles in your discipline.

The appropriate number and type of citations depends on your topic and your research question(s). Your goal should be to conduct a complete, unbiased search for sources. As a general observation, most successful PS theses engage a minimum of 25 scholarly sources.

Your thesis should meet the following formatting requirements:

  • A Polymathic Scholars/E&I signature page as the cover sheet
  • Neatly laser-printed (preferably printed on both sides of the page to conserve paper)
  • Numbered pages
  • One-inch margins, double spacing, and 12-point standard serif font (Times New Roman is preferred)
  • Additional formatting appropriate to the field (consult your supervisor)
  • Careful proofreading. A thesis with more than a few errors in spelling, grammar, or punctuation is not acceptable.

Additional formatting guidelines will be provided through the NSC 371 thesis seminar and discussion of disciplinary considerations with your faculty mentor.

Thesis Submission
You will write your thesis and take the NSC 371: Capstone Thesis Seminar concurrently. Though much of your writing will be done independently, weekly seminar meetings will help you stay on track with thesis deadlines and requirements. The syllabus will provide more information about what 
to submit and when. Typically, the final thesis is due the week after classes end in May.

You will be expected to submit a digital copy of your thesis through the course Canvas site as well as an original, signed hard copy submitted to the thesis seminar instructor or the Honors office. It is not necessary to have your thesis professionally bound.

The grade for your thesis is assigned as part of your grade for NSC 371: Capstone Thesis Seminar. The thesis grade represents a significant part of your grade for the course, but your demonstration of consistent progress through incremental assignments, your Capstone presentation, and your participation in class activities also contribute to your grade for the course. Details on specific grading policies may be found in the syllabus for NSC 371.

Your thesis will be evaluated independently by your faculty mentor and a member of the Honors faculty, typically the NSC 371 instructor. Your mentor will submit his/her grade recommendation form directly to the NSC 371 instructor; this grade is averaged with the Honors faculty member’s evaluation. This grading process is designed to ensure that students’ work is reviewed by professors with expertise in the relevant fields of study while also maintaining consistency of evaluation across the breadth of the program.

Here are the criteria that your mentor will be provided as the standard, overarching approach to grading a Polymathic Scholars thesis:

  • A grade of A (exemplary) on the final thesis should be assigned for thorough research, familiarity with authoritative sources and methods of the discipline, a well-reasoned analysis of the research methods and sources used, direct application of the research to the argument being made, a cogent conclusion based on the research, and superior written presentation of the thesis argument.
  • A grade of B (better than required) should be assigned for a thesis that demonstrates all of the above, but may use fewer or less appropriate research sources and methods, and sufficient (rather than superior) written presentation.
  • A grade of C (as required but no better) will indicate a basic grasp of the data and appropriate sources, limited application of the research towards the argument being made, and merely acceptable written style.
  • A grade of D (barely passable) indicates minimally acceptable research findings in addition to poor analysis and writing standards.
  • A grade of F is appropriate where the thesis represents a crudely thrown-together or last-minute effort or even evidence of unoriginal work. 


It is your responsibility to communicate with your mentor about expectations, deadlines, and feedback. If you feel you are not communicating effectively with your mentor, you should address this issue with him/her and/or your NSC 371 instructor as early as possible.

Additional Information
Sample theses and information about the Evidence & Inquiry Certificate are available for review. If you have further questions about the Capstone thesis, you may contact Dr. Rebecca Wilcox at (512) 232-5930 or rebecca.wilcox@austin.utexas.edu. You may also contact the main CNS Honors & Scholarships office in PAI 5.37.

Major Scholarships

It is never too early to start thinking about scholarships and preparing to apply for them. Below is a list of guidelines for several major scholarships. Please feel free to meet with Adrianne Chacon-Posey to discuss these and other opportunities. Detailed information about scholarships can be found at https://cns.utexas.edu/honors/scholarships.

Website: http://provost.utexas.edu/awards/astronaut
Who Can Apply: sophomores, juniors
The Astronaut Scholarship is for outstanding students in the fields of engineering, mathematics, and natural or applied sciences who have shown initiative, creativity, and excellence. Nominees should have conducted a considerable amount of research in their field. Astronaut Scholarships are not awarded for pre-medical studies, so clinical medical research is not considered in the research selection criteria. However, biomedical research is included. The award is for students in their junior and senior years, so scholarship candidates must be sophomores or juniors at time of nomination. Students do not apply directly for this award but instead are nominated by their faculty supervisor. The Astronaut Scholarship is worth up to $10,000.

Website: winstonchurchillfoundation.org
Who Can Apply: seniors
The Churchill Scholarship offers U.S. citizens of exceptional academic talent and outstanding achievement the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in engineering, mathematics, or sciences at the University of Cambridge, Churchill College. The scholarship covers all tuition and fees, and offers generous travel and living allowances. A campus committee selects UT Austin’s nominees before applications are forwarded to the Churchill Foundation.

Website: https://world.utexas.edu/abroad/funding/scholarships/fulbright
Who Can Apply: juniors, seniors
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs. A candidate will submit a Statement of Grant Purpose defining activities to take place during one academic year in a participating country outside the U.S. During their grants, Fulbrighters will meet, work, live with and learn from the people of the host country, sharing daily experiences.  The program facilitates cultural exchange through direct interaction on an individual basis in the classroom, field, home, and in routine tasks, allowing the grantee to gain an appreciation of others’ viewpoints and beliefs, the way they do things, and the way they think. Through engagement in the community, the individual will interact with their hosts on a one-to-one basis in an atmosphere of openness, academic integrity, and intellectual freedom, thereby promoting mutual understanding. Funding begins when students complete their undergraduate degree. From https://us.fulbrightonline.org

Website: https://www.gatescambridge.org/
Who Can Apply: seniors
Gates Cambridge Scholarships are awarded to outstanding students from outside the United Kingdom to study at the University of Cambridge. The program aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others. Gates Cambridge Scholarships are highly competitive, full-cost awards for graduate study and research in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Students apply directly to the funding organization.

Website: https://goldwater.scholarsapply.org/
Who Can Apply: sophomores, juniors
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship provides $7,500 per year for educational expenses to two groups of students—those who will be juniors or seniors in the next academic year. Applicants must have outstanding potential and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. A campus committee selects UT Austin’s nominees before applications are forwarded to the national competition.

Website: cns.utexas.edu/health-professions/jamp
Who Can Apply: freshmen
The Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) is a special program created by the Texas Legislature to support and encourage highly qualified, economically disadvantaged students pursuing a medical education. The program provides scholarship money through a student’s undergraduate education, paid summer internships at a Texas medical school, admission to a Texas medical school (provided all program requirements are met), and scholarships throughout medical school.

Website: marshallscholarship.org
Who Can Apply: seniors
Marshall Scholarships support U.S. citizens of high ability with outstanding intellectual, personal and public service accomplishments for one or two years of graduate study in any discipline at a college or university in the United Kingdom. The scholarship aims to strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments, and their institutions. The award covers educational costs, living expenses, and travel costs. A campus committee selects UT-Austin’s nominees before applications are forwarded to the national competition.

Website: nsfgrfp.org
Who Can Apply: seniors
The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $30,000 along with a $10,500 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution they choose. Students apply directly to the NSF.

Website: rhodesscholar.org
Who Can Apply: seniors
The Rhodes scholarships, the oldest international fellowships, bring outstanding students from many countries around the world to the University of Oxford. A Rhodes scholarship offers the opportunity to study at Oxford University for one or two years, with all tuition and fees paid and a living allowance provided. Intellectual and academic achievement of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but they will also be expected to demonstrate integrity of character, interest in and concern for others, leadership ability, and the energy to fully use their talents. A campus committee selects UT Austin’s nominees before applications are forwarded to the national competition.

Website: http://schwarzmanscholars.org/
Who Can Apply: seniors
The Schwarzman Scholarship is an all expenses paid scholarship to the one-year master's program at Tsinghua University in Beijing. An institutional letter of recommendation is required, but otherwise students apply directly to the Schwarzman Scholars.

Website: truman.gov
Who Can Apply: juniors
The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is a $30,000 merit-based scholarship awarded to undergraduates who wish to attend graduate or professional school in preparation for careers in government, the non-pro t sector, or elsewhere in public service at a leadership level. Students must be college juniors at the time of selection. Scholars are required to work in public service for three of the seven years following completion of a Foundation-funded graduate degree program as a condition of receiving Truman funds. A campus committee selects UT Austin’s nominees before applications are forwarded to the national competition.

Website: udall.gov
Who Can Apply: sophomores, juniors
Description: The Udall Scholarship is awarded to future leaders across a wide spectrum of environmental fields, including policy, engineering, science, education, urban planning and renewal, business, health, justice, and economics. The Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation also supports future Native American and Alaska Native leaders in Native American health care and tribal public policy. Each scholarship provides up to $5,000 for the student’s junior or senior year. Honorable Mentions will receive a $350 award. A campus committee selects UT Austin’s nominees before applications are forwarded to the national competition.

Website: http://provost.utexas.edu/awards/mitchell
Who Can Apply: juniors, seniors
The University of Texas at Austin, with the generous support of the University Co-op, recognizes up to five undergraduate students for superior scholarly or creative achievement. Two students receive awards of $2,500 each, two students receive awards of $5,000 each, and one student receives the top award of $12,000. Faculty members nominate students who have demonstrated superior scholarly or creative achievement through a notable paper or thesis, research project, creative or artistic endeavor, or other product of the student’s academic work.


Opportunities in CNS

All CNS Honors students are admitted automatically to the Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) in the College of Natural Sciences. FRI offers first-year students the opportunity to take part in cutting-edge, original, publishable research in chemistry, biochemistry, nanotechnology, molecular biology, physics, astronomy, or computer science. 

This early research experience serves as a platform for future research and success for our students. The three-semester program familiarizes students with experimental techniques and provides them a deep understanding of the scientific process while offering an opportunity to contribute to publications and make contacts for letters of recommendation. First-year students will receive information about joining one of the FRI research streams in the fall through their honors Signature course. For more information, visit CNS Freshman Research Initiative.

Science is global, and the leading scientists and doctors of the 21st century will be the people who have an understanding of global issues, the courage to take risks, and the confidence to immerse themselves in the unknown. Students can spend a year, a semester, a summer, or a Maymester class—a four-week course taught by UT faculty members that runs from late May to late June—studying abroad. It is possible to take courses abroad for your major and continue using financial aid. Popular study abroad programs include the varied Maymester offerings and UT faculty-led science classes, such as a Biology course offered in Australia or Genetics and Organic Chemistry courses offered in Spain. Students may also wish to explore research opportunities at an international institution. Internship opportunities are offered through the Study Abroad Office as well as external organizations. For more information on these and other opportunities, visit the UT-Austin International Office.

The College of Natural Sciences funds or administers a number of fellowships for students doing research. In addition to spending a summer researching at UT, opportunities abound for participating in paid summer research programs at other institutions around the country. We can also help direct students to many outside sources of funding for research. For more information, visit CNS Innovative Education.

In April, undergraduates who have participated in research at UT or another institution present posters and talks about  their work. For more information, visit CNS Innovative Education.


Academic Integrity and Expectations

Polymathic Scholars are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity in every aspect of their work at the University. By signing this statement, a Polymath takes responsibility for knowing the University of Texas policy on academic integrity and for following it carefully.

The student should read the document titled "Academic Integrity at the University of Texas at Austin," a publication of Student Judicial Services. The document is available from the UT-Austin Office of the Dean of Students. The following explanation of plagiarism should be understood as a general guide. Four different acts are considered plagiarism:

  1. failing to cite quotations, facts that are not common or personal knowledge, or borrowed ideas;
  2. failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks;
  3. failing to summarize and paraphrase in the student’s own words. It is not enough to name the source and vary the language slightly by plugging in synonyms; students must restate the source’s meaning in their own language and style; and
  4. submitting work for a grade to more than one instructor (or for more than one course) without the express consent of both faculty members involved.

Intellectual work is the lifeblood of universities, and the University of Texas treats intellectual theft as seriously as municipalities do the theft of property. For universities, intellectual work is property. We strongly encourage students who are uncertain about whether or not a passage of their writing constitutes plagiarism to ask their instructor.

Natural Sciences honors students are expected to maintain a 3.50 cumulative GPA minimum. Students not meeting the GPA minimum will be placed on probationary status with the honors program. Honors students on academic probation are still able to fully participate in the honors program experience. Honors students on academic probation will be required to meet with a CNS Honors staff member to discuss and agree upon probationary terms. Probationary terms may include required study group attendance, tutoring via the Sanger Learning Center, and mandatory attendance at a minimum number of office hours per week. If students fulfill the agreed-upon terms and raise their GPA by the end of the probationary semester, the probationary status will be lifted. However, if students either do not agree to the probationary terms or do not meet the probationary terms at the end of the semester, they may be dismissed from the honors program.

All students are expected to read and understand the academic integrity statement and GPA expectations. If a student ever needs clarification on any question of academic honesty or expectations, he/she/they should seek help from faculty or from Polymathic Scholars staff.


Honor Code

“The core values of The University of Texas at Austin are learning, discovery, freedom, leadership, individual opportunity, and responsibility. Each member of the university is expected to uphold these values through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community.”

The code above was created by University of Texas at Austin students, staff, and faculty and was adopted by the university in 2004.