Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

Get to know Big 12 research: University of Texas at Austin


This fall, we’re bringing you a special series of guest posts from staff members in our counterpart offices at the other universities in the Big 12 Conference.  In anticipation of tomorrow’s football matchup between Baylor and the University of Texas, we hear from Kathy Thatcher, senior grants and contracts specialist in the Office of Research and Graduate Studies in UT’s College of Liberal Arts.


What are some of the most interesting research projects being conducted by College Of Liberal Arts faculty?

The College of Liberal Arts at The University of Texas at Austin is home to 25 departments, 20 centers, 9 institutes, and 12 programs. Our researchers are active and dynamic and their interests include a wide range of topics in the social sciences and humanities. Two examples come to mind.

One of our faculty members in the Department of Geography and the Environment is participating in a collaborative National Science Foundation funded project. This team of researchers is investigating how geology, biology and climate interact in shaping species distribution and biodiversity in the Amazon/Andean forest (Click here to read more about the project in Life and Letters, the College of Liberal Arts magazine).

A College of Liberal Arts English professor’s research into the novels of Jane Austen has resulted in an online reconstruction of an art exhibit that Jane Austen herself attended in 1813. The combined efforts of this professor, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services and the Texas Advanced Computing Center resulted in a dynamic e-gallery that features 141 paintings by British portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds, a replica of the exhibition at the British Institution in Pall Mall, London (Click here to read more in Life and Letters).

Are there challenges associated with working in research administration specifically for liberal arts as opposed to STEM fields?

One of our ongoing missions is to find better ways to serve the needs of our humanities faculty and graduate students.  We also face the challenge of finding new sources of funding for our researchers, after humanities and social science funders at the federal level have had their budgets cut in recent years.

When developing grant proposals we sometimes find that the types of projects we work with require special handling to fit the policies for sponsored research. One of our specialties is helping researches who travel to remote locations internationally to develop proposals and proposal budgets that comply with federal and institutional regulations.

What services does your office provide to graduate students?

We assist graduate students with grant submissions the same way we work with faculty members. We strongly believe that graduate school should provide training for future employment needs. Regardless of whether graduate students find themselves working in academia or in other professional jobs outside of academia, they may need to find funding for their work,  be able to write clear and concise proposals and other documents, and prepare budgets. We strive to assist with training in these areas as we work with graduate students individually and in workshops about finding funding sources, grant writing, and budget preparation.

Lots of Baylor fans will be making the trip to Austin for the game this weekend.  Are there any lesser-known attractions in the area they should make sure not to miss?

There are lots of great things to do on campus, including the visiting the exhibits at the Blanton Museum of Art, the Harry Ransom Center, and the Texas Memorial Museum. Zilker Park offers a wide range of activities. Visit the Garden Center, hike on the green belt trails, rent a canoe to paddle on Lady Bird Lake, tour the dinosaur garden, and more.

Thanks to Kathy Thatcher and the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at UT College of Liberal Arts for participating in our “Get to know Big 12 research” series. Visit their website at


  1. Unfortunately, you will probably not be able to visit Zilker Park this weekend due to the Austin City Limits (ACL) Festival that is taking place there.

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