Tower Fellows Resources

Amazing Events & Lectures
Tower Fellows enjoy exclusive events and lectures on a weekly basis. A sample listing of events from previous cohorts is below.

Visit our Facebook page for updates and photos from recent Tower Fellows events.
Inside the Algorithm: Social Media & American Democracy
The 2016 election left us with many questions about the influence of social media - but without access to data, there were few answers. In the aftermath, academic researchers partnered with Meta to conduct the most comprehensive research to date on the role of social media in American democracy. Co-project lead and UT Moody College of Communication Professor Talia Stroud delved into this groundbreaking, multi-year project and shared what we've learned so far about how the Facebook and Instagram algorithms affect what people see, do, and believe.

Talia Stroud
Professor of Communication Studies and Journalism, Director of the Center for Media Engagement
Rastafari in the Making of Black Britain
Although there are a great many people around the world who identify with Rastafari, it's a belief system that in many respects mainly proliferated in the 1970s and 1980s. Rastafari, a fascinating manifestation of faith that can be described as one of the Caribbean's syncretic belief systems, had pronounced international reach that
extended to Britain, and took hold among children of Caribbean imigrants who came to Britain between the late 1940s and the early 1960s. This talk considered the perhaps unlikely origins of Rastafari in 1930s Jamaica, and its influenced on diasporic identities, music, and the visual arts.

Eddie Chambers
Professor, Art History (African Diaspora Art)
Mapping the Galaxy & The Mystery of Dark Energy
The Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) will produce the most important galaxy map of the Universe. This map will allow us to measure how the Universe expands over time and will provide key insights into the mysterious entity called dark energy. We'll offer a glimpse at just-released data from this project, among the largest of its kind ever attempted.

Karl Gebhart
Herman and Joan Suit Professor of Astrophysics and HETDEX Project Scientist
Drilling the Chicxulub Impact Crater
The Chicxulub impact crater on the Yucatan Peninsula offers an opportunity to study the Earth's most recent mass extinction event, driving the extinction of an estimated 75% of life on Earth at the genus level. We'll discuss how recent surveys of the crater's core samples have advanced our understanding of how this impact affected the Earth's environment leading to the Cretacious-Palogene mass extinction.

Sean Gulick
Research Professor, Jackson School of Geosciences and co-director of the Center for Planetary Systems Habitability
The American Comic Book Industry and Hollywood
This talk surveyed the approaches taken by different comic book publishers and addresses how these different publishers have negotiated the relationship between their publishing and filmed entertainment divisions. The talk also highlighted what is distinctive about comic books as sites of contemporary IP exploitation by Hollywood, in comparison to other pre-sold properties such as plays, podcasts, and popular fiction.

Alisa Perren
Professor of Radio-Television-Film and Director of the Center for Entertainment and Media Industries
Artificial Intelligence
How will AI change the communities where we live and work? This question does not have a straightforward answer. It can be tempting to get swept up in AI hype or fall into AI gloom— celebrating or fearing a future that will be imminently rebuilt by technology. Yet, AI is built by people. We influence the direction and shape of new technologies almost as much as technologies influence our daily practices. This talk offered insights into the possibilities and challenges of AI, building a sense of informed empowerment around sensible applications of AI technologies - based on an engaged understanding of the work it takes to make AI work.

Samantha Shorey
Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and member of UT-Austin's AI research initiative, Good Systems.
Alien Worlds: Searching for Planets Around Other Stars
The last 25 years has seen a huge revolution in our understanding of planetary systems around other stars. The Kepler spacecraft has revolutionized our knowledge of these systems, introducing us to types of planets we had never imagined could exist. Do these other planetary systems also harbor life? The new generation of large telescopes, such as the Giant Magellan Telescope, will begin to provide some answers to these questions.

William Cochran
Research Professor, Department of Astronomy
Biology Meets Plastic: Biology Eats Plastic
We are overrun in plastics and plastic waste. Biology has already begun to learn how to eat plastic in the wild, and biotechnologists are mining and adapting the methods that have evolved for personal and industrial use.

Andrew Ellington
Fraser Professor of Biochemistry at UT and Principal Investigator with The Ellington Lab

How concerned should we be regarding the technology commonly known as "deep fakes"—that is, the rapidly-improving capacity to use deep learning algorithms to synthesize video and audio of real people saying or doing things they never said or did. Professor Chesney will explain the nature of the technology, the possible benefits, the many potential harms, and the difficulty of framing legal, business, educational, and other responses to it.

Bobby Chesney
James A Baker III Chair in the Rule of Law and World Affairs at the UT School of Law
Tour of UT's Brackenridge Field Lab
Get a behind-the-scenes tour of UT's Brackenridge Field Lab from director Larry Gilbert and learn how its history is intertwined with Austin's industrial and ecological history.

Larry Gilbert
Director, UT Brackenridge Field Lab and Professor of Integrative Biology
Tour of Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium
UT's Athletic Director leads our Fellows on a behind-the-scenes tour of our iconic football stadium.

Chris Del Conte
University of Texas Vice President and Director of Athletics
Inman's View of the World

Admiral Inman will share his thoughts on hotspots around the world based on his unique perspective and experience in the highest levels of our country's defense and intelligence establishment.

Bobby R. Inman, Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.) LBJ Centennial Chair in National Policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs; former director of the NSA and deputy director of CIA.
If you would like to download a full semester schedule of events from a previous year, complete the form below.
The UT Nine
On-Campus Events Straight To Your Inbox
Each week we'll send a curated list of our favorite 9 events taking place at the University that are open to the public.