Discovery starts in the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas Austin. 


Diverse scientific disciplines and programs converge here to catalyze the development of new scientists, new knowledge and groundbreaking ideas. 

As scientists and mathematicians, we are driven by a desire to know how the world works—to understand its quarks, galaxies, mathematical patterns, genes, organisms and chemical reactions. We then use that information to understand and solve problems that are important to society, including issues related to human health, technology development, and the environment. 

All members of the College of Natural Sciences community, from the newest freshmen to the most senior faculty members, are the drivers of this process of discovery. Through inquiry- and research-based education, our students are gaining strong skills in critical thinking and scientific reasoning. They are solving new equations, discovering new planets and creating new molecules in the lab. 

Through discovery, they transform themselves into the next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders and agents of change. 

Strengths

The College of Natural Sciences is one of the largest colleges of science in the United States, with a community of more than 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 700 tenure and non-tenure track faculty members, and 1,200 staff. Our centers for research and education stretch across Texas and include the McDonald Observatory in West Texas, the Marine Science Institute on the Gulf coast, and in Austin, the Brackenridge Field Laboratory. 

We have one of the world’s most powerful lasers, top facilities for gene sequencing, and access to the Texas Advanced Computing Center, one of the largest supercomputing systems for research in the world. Many of our departments are ranked in the top twenty nationally. Grants and contracts from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and many others amount to more than $110 million in external funding each year.

The College of Natural Sciences benefits from its location in Austin, Texas, which has a strong economy and growing biotechnology and medical industries. It is already home to many large and small technology companies, and continues to attract more every year. There are abundant opportunities for synergy with the Austin business community. The city’s desirability is an asset for recruiting outstanding students and faculty. 

Our educational and honors programs have become national models and attract some of the nation’s finest students. UTeach has been replicated at 34 universities across the nation. The Freshman Research Initiative is a model for engaging large numbers of first-year students in real world research problems as part of the standard curriculum at a large public university. Texas Interdisciplinary Program Scholars is but one example of our small learning communities that improve student success in science. 

Students come to the College of Natural Sciences because they have the opportunity to work with innovative faculty who are at the top of their fields, changing our understanding of the world. 

Challenges

Higher education is fundamentally changing in the United States. Our college embraces the opportunity to respond in creative and original ways to the challenges presented by shifting funding models for teaching and research, and to the need for greater access to quality education. 

We must become as efficient as possible with our resources. We will develop innovative ways to ensure that all students have access to small learning communities and the courses necessary to progress in their degrees. We will explore creative ways to use technology to expand inquiry-based learning opportunities and prepare students for an evolving landscape of career possibilities. We will develop a long-term plan to address our limited classroom and research space and determine how to renovate buildings that are in severe disrepair.

We will increase our number of large, federally funded interdisciplinary project grants and communicate more clearly with our external constituents about the transformative ideas and programs within our college. Finally, it is imperative that the college’s community, across the ranks, reflect the diversity of this state and nation and that we broaden our reach in educating and preparing the next generation of scientists and mathematicians.

Our Future

The future of the state and the nation depends on discoveries in science and technology, and on science-literate, innovative citizens. At its very core, the College of Natural Sciences serves Texas and the United States as a discovery powerhouse. It is where students discover science, technology and mathematics, and prepare themselves to become global citizens. New technologies, medicines and processes are developed here by faculty members, staff and students who are given the freedom to exercise their creativity and passion. The college’s purpose is to foster an environment that promotes discovery, open inquiry and innovation.

The college is great today, but it will be better in the future because it will have: 

  • A thriving community of students, faculty members and staff engaged in innovative, inquiry-based educational programs that fuse the academic and research missions of our university.
  • A strong, stable financial foundation that is characterized by the efficient use of resources.
  • Students, faculty members and staff who reflect the diverse populations of our nation and serve as positive role models for future generations of scientists and mathematicians.
  • Graduate student and postdoctoral fellow programs that lead to high-impact discoveries in partnership with our faculty members.
  • A global reputation for outstanding educational programs and innovative research.
  • Well-supported, fully-integrated non-tenure track faculty dedicated to the profession of teaching.
  • A strong partnership with the Dell Medical School that brings a new era of biomedical research and education to Central Texas.
  • Discoveries that are changing the world.

In short, the College of Natural Sciences will be one of the best science colleges in the country.

The goal of this 2013 strategic plan is to create that future. It is placed within the context of the university’s core purpose—to transform lives for the benefit of society—and vision, as defined by the Commission of 125:

“The University of Texas will be the best in the world at creating a disciplined culture of excellence that generates intellectual excitement, transforms lives, and develops leaders. The University of Texas will define for the 21st century what it means to be a university of the first class.” 

Our Objectives

FRI StudentDevelop Leaders

RibosomePromote Discovery

Austin Texas Night SkylineCreate Impact