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From the College of Natural Sciences

Three New National Academy of Sciences Members

Dean Goldbart alerted key supporters of the College to some good news after a vote by the National Academy of Sciences to elect three more faculty to the Academy. The additions bring the total number of NAS members in UT Austin Natural Sciences to 16, and five additional faculty members are in the National Academies of Engineering or Medicine.

In our challenging times, positive news is especially welcome, so I wanted to ensure you are among the first to hear about ours here in The University of Texas at Austin's College of Natural Sciences. Three of our faculty members this week received one of the highest honors in science, election into the U.S. National Academy of Sciences:

  • Mark Kirkpatrick, the Painter Professor in Genetics in our Department of Integrative Biology;
  • Katie Freese, the Jeff and Gail Kodosky Endowed Chair in Physics; and
  • John Kormendy, the Vaughan Chair Emeritus in Astronomy.

I am exceedingly proud of our Texas scientific leaders. And I am grateful that I have had multiple opportunities to tout winners of science's top distinctions in my (not even two years!) time as dean, from Allan MacDonald receiving the Wolf Prize earlier this year to Karen Uhlenbeck selected for the Abel Prize to John Goodenough receiving the Nobel Prize.

As you know, the impact of Texas Science also extends to the current efforts to curb COVID-19, with numerous important efforts being led by our faculty, staff and students. Billions of media impressions across the globe in recent weeks have highlighted how UT Austin scientists push the boundaries of discovery, take action on life-saving research and connect with the public. (At the end of this email, I have included a few examples, should you wish to share them with your networks.) 

In all that we do, the generosity of donors like you makes a powerful difference. For example:

  • Across UT Austin, funding raised for the Student Emergency Fund has allowed Student Emergency Services to distribute more than $1.6 million in funding and 637 computers to Longhorns in need. The College is supporting the University's goal of raising $2 million for a $4 million total impact after President Fenves' match. If you wish to make a gift to support our student scientists, please visit this link.
  • Another $4.6 million has been raised to support COVID-19 research across UT Austin, including UT Health Austin clinicians and their care and support for those in the Austin community. Significant funding has been secured for Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers' modeling research, and we are actively engaging donors to support 40 researchers in the College who are combatting COVID-19. 
  • Thousands of alumni and friends have chosen to engage with us through compelling virtual events. Several links to these events are given below, and we appreciate the support that you provide, allowing us to deliver public outreach when many people are craving opportunities to learn about and rally behind science and scientists.

Finally, I expect you will have heard about various changes in leadership at the university with the upcoming departures of President Fenves and Provost McInnis. While we are of course sorry to bid Greg and Maurie farewell, especially as they have been such enthusiastic supporters of CNS, our college is fortunate already to have strong relationships with the new leaders, interim President Jay Hartzell and longtime College of Natural Sciences members interim Provost Dan Jaffe and interim Vice President for Research Ali Preston. 

I hope all of you and your loved ones are staying well and healthy. I and all of us in the dean's office look forward to engaging with you at future events—virtual and later in person—in the weeks and months ahead. 

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Tuesday, 07 February 2023

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