Many College of Natural Sciences graduate students and postdocs travel far afield to find answers to thorny research problems. 

Arctic Answers

Marine science Ph.D. students Christina Bonsell and Arley Muth study kelp beds off the Arctic coast of Alaska to understand how these ecosystems are changing as the ocean warms, sea ice is lost, and discharge from rivers increases.

Credit: UT Marine Science Institute

Credit: Ted Dunton

Ailing Animals

Sofia Rodriguez traveled to the nearly impenetrable Darién Gap in Panama to study whether a deadly fungus endangered túngara frogs there. Amanda Perofsky spent the summer in Kirindy Mitea National Park in Madagascar determining the link between social interactions and bacteria transmission in lemurs. Both are graduate students in the Ecology, Evolution and Behavior Program.

Credit: Adam Dunn

Credit: Amanda Perofsky

Credit: Amanda Perofsky

Decoding an Empire

Statistics and data sciences graduate students Anastasiya Travina and Tianjian Zhou analyze data from museums in the Americas and Europe to decipher communications in khipu, knotted textiles that Incas used to communicate complex information. The researchers work to understand khipu records on accounting, labor distribution, astronomy and more, partnering with experts in Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Germany, Austria, the U.K., France, and the U.S.

Credit: Weltmuseum Wien

Hunting for Particles

Physics graduate student Avik Roy and postdoc Nikiforos Nikiforou journeyed to the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, searching for vector-like quarks, new particles whose discovery would challenge fundamental theories of the subatomic world.

Credit: CERN

Robot Soccer

Computer science graduate students Katie Genter, Josiah Hannah and Josh Kelle traveled to RoboCup 2016 in Leipzig, Germany, where they won the world championship in the 3-D simulation league. They also took first place in Beijing, China, at the World Robot Contest match. 

Credit: Austin Villa

Credit: Austin Villa

Coral Queries

Matt Ashworth, a postdoctoral researcher in integrative biology, traveled to Saudi Arabia, diving in coral reefs there and cataloguing marine microalgae to help track habitat degradation and pollution across the Red Sea. Marie Strader, a graduate student in the department, travels to Townsend, Australia annually to study reef-building coral larvae.

Credit: Marie Strader

Credit: Marie Strader

Credit: Matt Ashworth

Credit: Matt Ashworth

For more behind the scenes with our globetrotting young scientists, visit