A Message from the Director

Dr. Jay Banner

Science education and community engagement are essential in addressing our society’s complex environmental challenges. For more than 20 years, our public talk series, Hot Science – Cool Talks, has continued to inspire K-12 students, teachers, families, and adult learners to explore a variety of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) topics. The talks feature scientists sharing their latest research with the community. Through a partnership with UT’s Moody College of Communication, we continue to expand Hot Science and have developed a documentary series, Hot Science TV. The show celebrates the heroism of scientists and their research. Through vibrant animation and inspiring storytelling, the series also highlights the wonders of the natural world. 

ESI continues to expand its efforts in community engagement. We have been awarded a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to partner geoscience researchers and Austin community members to address issues of community resilience. Project CRESSLE will assess community needs and create and design and implement community-driven research projects addressing resilience via three research themes: Water Resources, Climate Resilience, and Landscapes. 

ESI continues to provide opportunities for undergraduate students in sustainability education. ESI coordinates the summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program which provides students from non-research intensive universities the opportunity to engage in research at UT Austin. Each summer, 10 students are paired with a faculty mentor to conduct research on Sustainable Urban Systems. ESI is proud to lead this program, which has continued for over two decades, increased student interest in environmental sciences, and encouraged students to continue their research career in graduate school and STEM professional fields. 

ESI’s Advisory Council brings together environmentally conscious individuals from across a range of professions to advance the mission of ESI and enhance connections between ESI and like-minded partners outside of academia. 

Our societies are facing some major challenges in the 21st Century, driven by the projections of environmental change and increasing population, that will have disparate effects in our neighborhoods. Texas is not immune to these challenges, and to best address them we need to integrate the expertise and innovative ideas of researchers from our universities and research institutions, with the deep knowledge that local communities have from their lived experiences. Toward this end, ESI is creating research networks dedicated to studying the most acute problems for our society and integrating the communities into these efforts through collaborations with local non-profit organizations. As an example, ESI coordinates the Texas Water Research Network—which includes around 200 researchers from 70 institutions and non-profit organizations. 

Please keep in touch with us through this website or contact us directly at esi@esi.utexas.edu


Jay Banner, Director 
Environmental Science Institute