Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) will receive the 2011 Hall of Honor Award from the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin on April 21 for her years of work to advance science and math research and education at the university and in Texas.
Hutchison has long championed science. She was instrumental in establishing The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas (TAMEST), the centerpiece of her effort to support research and development while promoting Texas as a science state. During her tenure in the U.S. Senate, Texas has moved to third in the nation in receipt of federal research and development expenditures.
"The mission of the UT College of Natural Sciences to provide world-class research-oriented science education is very much in line with one of the great passions of my career, and that has been to strengthen science and research in Texas through centers of excellence and fostering collaboration," Hutchison said. "We have been partners in this effort, and I believe the work that we have done together has strengthened Texas as a national destination for research and as a global leader in innovation."
Hutchison's efforts have brought more than $35 million in federal funding to the College of Natural Sciences for projects with far-reaching implications in fusion, energy, astronomy, coastal ecosystem health and fisheries, defense, human health and nanoscience.
The senator made possible the creation of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve, a 185,708-acre area managed by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute for research and education in the Gulf of Mexico coastal environment. It is the only reserve within the national system in the western Gulf.
Her work also made possible the Petawatt laser, major improvements to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope and several major nanoscience and materials science initiatives.
Hutchison included a provision in the 2010 American COMPETES Act that would provide funding for U.S. universities to replicate the College of Natural Sciences' successful UTeach program, which allows students who major in science, technology, engineering or mathematics to concurrently become certified as secondary and middle school teachers.
"The promotion of science research and education has been a major focus for the senator during her tenure," said Dr. Mary Ann Rankin, dean of the college. "She has been transformational for the university and for Texas. This occasion is a chance for us to say thank you to her for all she has done for science in Texas."
Elected in 1993, Hutchison was the first -- and, to date, the only -- woman elected to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate. She is serving her third term as senator. She is the senior Republican on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. She serves on the Appropriations Committee and the Committee on Rules and Administration.
From January 2005 to December 2007, Hutchison was the chairman, and then the ranking member, of the Science and Space Subcommittee of the Commerce Committee, overseeing NASA and the National Science Foundation.
Since 1991, the College of Natural Sciences Hall of Honor Award has been presented annually to individuals who have distinguished themselves professionally and through demonstrated interest in the college. Hutchison is the 51st recipient of the award.
To learn about past winners, visit the college's Hall of Honor.