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From the College of Natural Sciences

The Stengl-Wyer Endowment

In a message to all faculty, Dean Paul Goldbart shared news of a major investment in the college's field stations and life sciences research.

This month, the college will be announcing the largest endowment in its history: the Stengl-Wyer Endowment. This transformative gift from the estate of the late Dr. Lorraine I. Stengl will provide in-perpetuity support for College of Natural Sciences research and education related to the diversity of life and organisms in their natural environments.

The college received guidance from a faculty committee appointed to make recommendations for how funds from the Stengl-Wyer Endowment will be allocated to ensure maximum impact. Following the committee's guidance and harnessing competitive review processes so that the endowment advances the most worthy activities, the college will begin by embarking on these initiatives:

  • The Stengl-Wyer Scholars Program, a competitive program to be launched this fall, which, in due course, will support nine postdoctoral researchers in the college.
  • Support for and enhancements of the college's field stations, including the Stengl Lost Pines Biological Station.
  • Support for the college's natural sciences collections, especially the Biodiversity Collections.
  • Research grants for faculty. This opportunity to propose high-impact research projects will open on November 1.
  • Support for graduate student fellowships.
  • Support for undergraduate research summer fellowships and streams within the Freshman Research Initiative.
  • Support for program coordination.

On behalf of the entire college community, I want to extend my profound thanks to our colleague Professor Larry Gilbert. An encounter at a public outreach event at Brackenridge Field Laboratory decades ago first led Dr. Stengl to begin supporting UT Austin biological research. Her many gifts in Natural Sciences were stewarded over the years by Larry, whose community of field station researchers became like a family to Dr. Stengl.

I am also especially grateful for the contributions of our Stengl-Wyer Endowment Committee members: Nancy Moran, Harold Zakon, and Jeffrey Barrick. Through their careful planning, we have in place a road map to ensure not only that The University of Texas at Austin remains a top-ranked program for ecology and evolutionary biology but also that it is positioned to lead a new era of cross-disciplinary discovery.

But, naturally, I must reserve my deepest gratitude to Dr. Stengl. This is a pivotal time for research and education related to biodiversity and the interaction of organisms with their environments. I am delighted that the Stengl-Wyer Endowment will empower UT to define the forefront of that work, and I look forward to working with our faculty to ensure its success.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

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