Texas Is Changing

We expect easy access to clean drinking water every day. Reliable electricity 24/7. Clean air, a stable economy, and a safe place to live. These are critical for healthy, thriving communities. Take any one of these away, and our wellbeing and livelihoods can deteriorate quickly.

But in Texas and elsewhere, the looming realities of rapid population growth and weather intensity mean that the things we rely on to live — water, energy, dependable infrastructure, and an ecosystem to support them — are under unprecedented risk.

Here’s why: Texas’ population today is nearly 28 million. By 2050, that number is predicted to double to 55 million, with most people clustered in already-dense urban centers like Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Limited resources will be in even greater demand.

Add to that the environmental stress from prolonged droughts, record-breaking heat waves, and destructive floods, and what we have won’t be enough.

That’s our current trajectory, but we can still change course.

Planet Texas 2050 is an eight-year sprint to find solutions that will make our communities more resilient and better prepared. To do that, we’re bringing together architects, archaeologists, city planners, public health experts, geologists, engineers, computer scientists, artists — and more.

Just as important, what we discover will have applications that extend far beyond our region. We’ll share our findings, tools, and processes with researchers across the U.S. and the world who are facing similar challenges in the 21st century.

Annual Report

Flip through our interactive FY20 annual report and browse our network map to learn more about the progress we’ve made to date.



Our Goal: Sustaining Critical Resources

Without essentials like water and energy, the systems we rely on — infrastructure to move goods and people, dependable emergency services, and more — will fail. Our ability to sustain those critical resources at levels that can support massive population growth and climatic shifts is in jeopardy.

Planet Texas 2050 researchers are committed to developing programs and policy recommendations that will improve Texas’ adaptability and build its resilience. To do that, we have launched a set of six innovative “flagship projects,” which leverage the talents and expertise of our interdisciplinary research network to tackle what they see as critical issues when it comes to helping Texas respond to rapid growth and climate change.







Solving a Challenge, One Project at a Time

To address the most urgent issues affecting our region, Planet Texas 2050 is conducting new research, launching educational programs, and partnering with organizations and community groups throughout the state.

Team Members

UT’s first grand challenge brings together researchers from 14 colleges, schools, and units across campus, a number that is expected to grow as more projects are added each year.

Read full bioTim Keitt

Tim Keitt

ProfessorIntegrative Biology

My research blends computational approaches with ecology and evolutionary biology to address the causes and consequences of local and global environmental change.

Read full bioFernanda Leite

Fernanda Leite

Associate ProfessorCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

My built environment research program sits at the interface of engineering and computing. Most of my work has been in building and infrastructure systems information modeling.

Jonathan Lowell

Jonathan Lowell

Community Liasion School of Architecture
I am trained in social science research methods, facilitation, and community engagement. My role is to help ensure research is done with community and that its outputs have social impacts.
Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach

Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach

ProfessorGeography & the Environment

My research centers on water resources geography, water quality, and quantitative methods. My main questions have been how do people interact with water resources in the past and in the present, and how do we ensure a future with clean and abundant water to sustain our planet and its people.

Dev Niyogi

Dev Niyogi

Professor Geological Sciences and Civil, Architectural, Environmental Engineering

My work centers around studying extreme weather events, particularly landfalling hurricanes, heavy rain events, heat waves, and droughts. My goal is to help prevent natural hazards from becoming disasters by using scientific models and technological tools.

Paola Passalacqua

Paola Passalacqua

Associate ProfessorCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

I am trained at the intersection of water resources engineering, hydrologic sciences, and geomorphology. My goal is to understand how topographic patterns arise, evolve, and interact with climate and ecosystems, in order to improve predictions of the response of the Earth-surface to disturbance and change and to develop sustainable management solutions.

Read full bioAdam Rabinowitz

Adam Rabinowitz

Associate ProfessorClassics

I study the interplay between individuals’ daily lives and the unfolding of larger, historical processes — and on the interdisciplinary research methods necessary to connect the two.

Heidi Schmalbach

Heidi Schmalbach

Planet Texas 2050 Program DirectorOffice of the Vice President for Research

My 15-year career sits at the intersection of arts and culture, urban planning, and community development. I have generally been focused on methodologies for fostering connections between people, places and each other.

Read full bioMiriam Solis

Miriam Solis

Assistant ProfessorSchool of Architecture

My work looks at how race and racism affect environmental planning, particularly regarding wastewater infrastructure in older American cities.

Fernanda Leite

Associate ProfessorCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Eric Abelson

Research Scientist Biodiversity Center

David Arctur

Research Scientist Center for Water and the Environment

Lucy Atkinson

Associate ProfessorPublic Relations and Advertising

Tasha Banks

Assistant DirectorCommunity Engagement and Health Equity

Timothy Beach

ProfessorGeography and the Environment

Christopher Bell

ProfessorGeological Sciences

Nichole Bennett

Graduate StudentPublic Relations and Advertising

Aurora Berry

Undergraduate StudentSchool of Journalism and Media

Michelle Bertelson

Ecologist and Land StewardLady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Patrick Bixler

Assistant Professor of PracticeLBJ School of Public Affairs

Steven Boyles

Associate ProfessorCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Daniel Breecker

Associate ProfessorGeological Sciences

Keffrelyn Brown

ProfessorCurriculum and Instruction

Katy Brown

Research Scientist Department of Integrated Biology

Craig Campbell

Associate ProfessorAnthropology

Kate Canales

ChairDepartment of Design

Sergio Castellanos

Assistant ProfessorCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Camila Cortina

Graduate StudentDepartment of Integrated Biology

Abby Criswell

Undergraduate StudentDepartment of Integrated Biology

Anna Dabrowski

Engineering Scientist AssociateTexas Advanced Computing Center

Alison Damick

Postdoctoral FellowAnthropology

Clint Dawson

ProfessorOden Institute

Katie Dawson

Associate ProfessorDepartment of Theater and Dance

Ayush Deshmukh

Undergraduate StudentMechanical Engineering

Anthony Di Fiore


Paige Durant

Undergraduate StudentDepartment of Integrated Biology

Olivia Enriquez

Graduate StudentLBJ School of Public Affairs

Harry Evans

Senior Research Scientist Center for Water and the Environment

Julie Felkner

Assistant ProfessorSustainable Design

Tom Garrison

Assistant ProfessorGeography and the Environment

Ishaan Haldar

Undergraduate StudentMechanical Engineering

Daniel Hardesty-Lewis

Research Scientist Texas Advanced Computing Center

John Hasenbein

ProfessorMechanical Engineering

Michael Holleran

Associate ProfessorHistoric Preservation

Yasmiyn Irizarry

Assistant ProfessorAfrican and African Diaspora Studies

Teresa Jarriel

Postdoctoral FellowCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

J.E. Johnson

Scenic Studio SupervisorTexas Performing Arts

Lee Ann Kahlor

Associate ProfessorPublic Relations and Advertising

Erin Keenan-Early

Graduate StudentGeological Sciences

Tim Keitt

ProfessorIntegrative Biology

Melissa Kemp

Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Integrated Biology

Kyoung Yoon Kim

Graduate StudentMechanical Engineering

Erhan Kutanoglu

Associate ProfessorMechanical Engineering

Yu-Chen Lee

Graduate StudentCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Kevin Lee

Graduate StudentClassics

Yajie Li

Postdoctoral ScholarLBJ School of Public Affairs

Katherine Lieberknecht

Assistant ProfessorSchool of Architecture

Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach

ProfessorGeography and the Environment

Colleen Lyon

Head of Scholarly CommunicationsUT Libraries

David Maidment

Professor EmeritusCenter for Water and the Environment

Ian McIntosh

Undergraduate StudentMathematics

Pablo Montes

Graduate StudentCurriculum and Instruction

Vagheesh Narasimhan

Assistant ProfessorDepartment of Integrated Biology

Michael Oden

Associate ProfessorSchool of Architecture

Nnenna Odim

Graduate StudentCurriculum and Instruction

Katey Outka

Senior ProducerThe Drag Podcast Studio

Paola Passalacqua

Associate ProfessorCenter for Water and the Environment

Robert Paterson

Associate ProfessorCommunity and Regional Planning

Sandeep Paul

Graduate StudentLBJ School of Public Affairs

Lissa Pearson

Integrated Modeling and Decision AnalystTexas Advanced Computing Center

Kathy Perez

Graduate StudentCommunity and Regional Planning

Geeta Persad

Assistant ProfessorGeological Sciences

Suzanne Pierce

Research ScientistTexas Advanced Computing Center

Kelly Pierce

Research Scientist Texas Advanced Computing Center

Bianca Pizarro

Graduate StudentCommunity and Regional Planning

Je’aime Powell

Systems Administrator and Technical Research Design Analyst Texas Advanced Computing Center

Will Pratt

Graduate StudentGeography and the Environment

Matt Preisser

Graduate StudentLBJ School of Public Affairs

Robert Quigley

DirectorThe Drag Podcast Studio

Adam Rabinowitz

Associate ProfessorClassics

Stanley Roux

Professor EmeritusDepartment of Integrated Biology

Astrid Runggaldier

Assistant DirectorThe Mesoamerica Center

Tim Shanahan

Associate ProfessorGeological Sciences

Michael Shensky

GIS and Geospatial Data CoordinatorUT Libraries

Bjørn Sletto

ProfessorCommunity and Regional Planning

Lauren Springs

Graduate StudentAnthropology

Brian Stokes

Graduate StudentDepartment of Integrated Biology

David Stuart

ProfessorArt and Art History

riel Sturchio

LecturerDepartment of Art and Art History

Christine Thies

Research Scientist Center for Water and the Environment

Jessica Trelogan

Research Data Services CoordinatorUT Libraries

Darrel Tremaine

Research Program CoordinatorEnvironmental Science Institute

Fred Valdez


Carmen Valdez

Associate ProfessorSocial Work, Population Health

Eirik Valseth

Postdoctoral FellowOden Institute

Pavithra Vasudevan

Assistant ProfessorAfrican and African Diaspora Studies

Mark Wang

Graduate StudentCivil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Preston Wilson

ProfessorMechanical Engineering

Quinn Wozniak

Graduate StudentDepartment of Theater and Dance

Wen-Ying Wu

Graduate StudentGeological Sciences

Zong-Liang Yang

ProfessorGeological Sciences

Deidre Zoll

Postdoctoral FellowDepartment of Integrated Biology

Joni Adamson

Professor, English and Environmental HumanitiesArizona State University

Phil Berke

Director, Institute of Sustainable CommunitiesUniversity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Richard Corsi

Dean, Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer SciencePortland State University

Dave Dzombak

Professor, Civil & Environmental EngineeringCarnegie Mellon University

James Famiglietti

Director, Global Institute for Water SecurityUniversity of Saskatchewan

Marilu Hastings

Vice President, Sustainability ProgramsCynthia and George Mitchell Foundation

Vipin Kumar

Professor, Computer Science & EngineeringUniversity of Minnesota

Sheila Olmstead

Professor, Public AffairsUT Austin

Deanna Pennington

Associate Professor, Geological SciencesUT El Paso

Elizabeth Sall

FounderUrbanLabs, LLC

Lois Takahashi

Professor Emeritus, Urban Planning and Asian American StudiesUCLA

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