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The Astronomy program at UT Austin, comprised of the Department of Astronomy and McDonald Observatory, plays a central role in the University’s mission to achieve excellence in research, education, and public outreach. We advance frontier research that is revolutionizing our understanding of the Universe and our place in it. We are among the best programs in the nation, and we aspire to become the top US public university for Astronomy and to rank amongst the top several elite institutions globally. To support this, we: 

  • Hire the best new faculty members, at an average rate of one per year over the next decade, to counter the large wave of ongoing retirements.

  • Grow in frontier research areas that build on our unique strengths, while being open to new/interdisciplinary areas of great potential.
  • Recruit the best graduate students and postdocs to maintain a thriving research program and compete with top Astronomy departments in the nation. 
  • Support the GMT toward a successful completion and leverage its transformational potential to attract world-class faculty, researchers, and students.
  • Explore research initiatives that give us a scientific edge over other GMT partners, such as complementary theoretical work and far-infrared/sub-millimeter observations.
  • Constrain the evolution of dark energy with implications for fundamental physics and the fate of the Universe.
  • Develop cutting-edge instrumentation for the Hobby-Eberly Telescope, GMT, and McDonald Observatory. 
  • Offer a research-centered experiential undergraduate program that engages students in STEM and transforms them into scientists, innovators, and leaders.
  • Lead a high-impact education and public outreach program that impacts millions of people annually, brings scientific ideas to society and draws diverse young people into STEM fields.
  • Foster a climate of inclusion and excellence that promotes the broader participation of women and other under-represented groups in science.
  • Leverage philanthropy, external relations, and support groups to advance our mission.

With the implementation of these goals, we will be a major player in the quest to answer the oldest and deepest of questions: How did the Universe begin in a Big Bang and what came before? When and how did the first stars, planets, galaxies, and black holes form? How did they evolve into their present-day state? How do stars evolve and die, producing neutron stars, black holes and the chemical elements necessary to form planets and life? What are the demographics of exoplanets and what are the opportunities for life outside our Solar System? What is the nature of the dark matter and dark energy that make up most of the Universe? What is the ultimate fate of the Universe?