October 18, 2017
Dear UT community,
I am excited to announce that UT’s first university-wide, interdisciplinary research challenge will be Planet Texas 2050: Planning for a Resilient Texas.
First announced by President Fenves in 2016, the Bridging Barriers research initiative will tackle some of the hardest questions in the natural and human-made world. Planet Texas 2050 is the first research theme selected under this initiative.
The theme will launch in early 2018, driven by our world class UT faculty and staff researchers.
This work brings together more than 55 faculty and staff researchers spanning 14 colleges, schools and units. Together, they will explore how the state of Texas will be able to ensure its own resilience in the year 2050, in both the built and natural environments, as it faces the synergistic stresses of climate extremes and rapid urbanization.
Extreme weather events, such as Hurricane Harvey, coupled with rapid population growth in Texas’ major metropolitan regions, including Austin, will place the state’s citizens, economy, and infrastructure under exceptional risk in the 21st century. Planet Texas 2050 will examine these threats through an unprecedented and comprehensive integration of environmental, architectural, archaeological, social and cultural data. The team’s findings will also be valuable to other regions of the United States and the world facing similar challenges in the 21st century.
Its major research goals will be:
- A better understanding of the feedback cycles in human-environment interactions.
- Create sophisticated simulations to predict possible futures for Texas.
- Data-driven recommendations for responding positively to such scenarios.
We will announce additional Bridging Barriers challenges in the coming months and years. As with Planet Texas 2050, the teams addressing these grand challenges have worked through the spring and summer semesters to develop research plans and will continue refining their plans during the 2017-2018 academic year. You can learn more about the ideas that contributed to these grand challenge themes at our website.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to Bridging Barriers to date. I have been incredibly impressed by the interest and effort our faculty and researchers have devoted since Bridging Barriers began, and I look forward to working with you.
The Planet Texas 2050 team is taking the first step in fulfilling its vision, and we are excited to support their successes in the coming years. Please join me in congratulating them.
Vice President for Research
The University of Texas at Austin