Who We Are
The Dean’s Scholars honors program, founded in 1983, is the oldest honors program in UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. Our program focuses on supporting undergraduate research, thereby preparing our students to go on to research-focused careers in science, engineering, and mathematics. Dean’s Scholars have gone on to become renowned professors and scientists as well as world-class surgeons, Teach for America instructors, and Silicon Valley engineers. In the past 10 years alone, our program has produced 42 National Science Foundation Fellows, 9 Goldwater Scholars, and 3 Astronaut Scholars. Dean’s Scholars have also won some of the world’s most prestigious and competitive graduate scholarships, including Marshall Scholarships, Gates Foundation Scholarships, and a Rhodes Scholarship.
What We’re Fundraising For
We are raising funds for two primary goals: to better connect our talented students with the resources and opportunities they need to pursue their passions, and to build a more connected and vibrant community of Dean’s Scholars, past and present. Our Dean’s Scholars often find that their undergraduate experience has been defined by their friends and experiences in the program as much as by their lessons in the classroom.
“There’s a spirit to the program...a small community of like-minded, very talented science students amidst a very large university. Dean’s Scholars isn’t just unique on campus. It’s unique in the nation.” —Dr. Alan Kaylor Cline, Director of Dean's Scholars (1991–2011)
Since our creation, the goal of Dean’s Scholars has been to provide a home for both intellectual discovery and close-knit friendships for many of UT Austin’s brightest minds. However, in the face of a tightening budget in recent years, the Dean’s Scholars Student Association has found it increasingly difficult to implement new and creative student-led initiatives—initiatives that have the potential to dramatically impact our students’ lives.
Meghan Mallya, Class of 2021, Neuroscience with the Pre-Health Professions Certificate: “Friday Lunch has exposed me to a wildly diverse set of research fields and has allowed me to hone in on my own interests. As an incoming freshman, I attended an honors open house and sat in on a Friday Lunch where I heard Dr. Jarrod Lewis-Peacock speak about his cognitive neuroscience research. Little did I know how influential that talk would ultimately be and that Dr. Lewis-Peacock would end up being my senior thesis advisor and my PI. Friday Lunch has served as a conduit for finding mentors, networking, and simply learning something from a realm of study you never even considered (I certainly hadn’t considered doing working memory research prior to that experience)!”
Friday Lunches, one of our program’s longest-standing traditions, have historically allowed inquisitive Dean’s Scholars to connect with similarly-passionate professors. Like Meghan, many Dean’s Scholars discovered their passions—and even found their research advisors and mentors—through Friday Lunches. However, in recent years, these weekly gatherings have suffered because tightened budgets make it difficult to afford quality lunches, leading to dramatically lower attendance: meaning fewer Dean’s Scholars are able to engage in the research they’re excited about and discover new intellectual callings. To this end, one of our top priorities is to use your gifts to revitalize Friday Lunches, thus restoring Dean’s Scholars’ access to the inspiring faculty and cutting-edge research that will allow them to change the world.
ALAN KAYLOR CLINE SCHOLARSHIPS
Emrys Peets, Class of 2020, Mathematics & Physics: “As a first-generation and socioeconomically-disadvantaged student, I have faced many challenges throughout my college career: not knowing if I’d have enough money for food the rest of the week and worrying I may have to get a job to afford my apartment, among others. All this meant I was effectively sacrificing valuable time in the lab. The Alan Kaylor Cline Scholarship means I can focus on my research this year and I can lead my senior thesis project to its conclusion. I am thrilled to have been nominated by my closest friends, and I’m excited that this scholarship can help others who care about DS as much as I do accomplish their research aspirations.”
As university tuition and the cost of living in Austin continue to climb, many exceptionally-talented Dean’s Scholars find they’re struggling to engage in the research they’re passionate about due to these stressful financial burdens. A Dean’s Scholar’s dreams and curiosity should never have to suffer due to their circumstances. To this end, your gift today will support the Alan Kaylor Cline Scholarship fund, which provides thousands of dollars to highly-motivated Dean’s Scholars like Emrys who would otherwise struggle to make ends meet. As a direct outcome of your support, a number of deserving Dean’s Scholars won’t have to worry so much about finances. Instead, they can focus their time and energy on investigating the research questions about which they’re passionate.
ALUMNI OUTREACH & INCLUSION
Nikita Klimovich, Class of 2016, Physics: “It would be hard to overstate the impact the Dean's Scholars program had on my college career. It shaped every aspect of my life for four years including my social interactions, hobbies, recreational activities, research experience, and academics. Dean's Scholars was absolutely pivotal to both my success and happiness as an undergraduate. It's a perfect example of how to build an active, supportive community and is by far the thing I miss the most about UT. I've been incredibly pleased to hear how the program has continued to improve since I graduated and can't wait to be involved with it again through the new alumni mentorship program and upcoming reunion.”
Your gift today will allow us to further strengthen our newest student-led initiative: alumni outreach and inclusion. Years of feedback revealed that our proud alumni desire to remain involved in—and give back to—our program. In line with this feedback, we have been hard at work organizing a Dean’s Scholars reunion this April. Open to all alumni since 1983, the reunion will be hosted the weekend immediately following our annual Distinguished Lecturer Series, which features 2018 Nobel Laureate Dr. Jim Allison (an event to which alumni are also invited!). Your gift today will allow us to further include alumni in program events such as Friday Lunch alumni panels, invitations to celebratory program dinners, and the ability to share insights regarding the future of our program. Additionally, your gifts will help us launch a new mentorship program this spring that inspires current Dean’s Scholars by connecting them with an accomplished alum.