Space tourism is going to create a lot of jobs — but who's going to take on preparing the workforce? Image via Getty Images

Throughout history, humans have always been fascinated in exploring and traveling around the world, taking them to many exotic places far and away. On the same token, ever since the dimension of space travel has been inaugurated with multiple private companies launching rockets into space, it has become an agenda to make space travel public and accessible to all. We believe that space travel is the next frontier for tourism just like for our forefathers world travel to faraway places was the next frontier, for recreational and adventure purposes.

In a world racing on technology, we can picture flying cars, invisible doors, and international cuisine in space. With this rapid expansion of the land, the idea of space tourism has stirred the space industry to think about running businesses, start trade, and set up universalization beyond the ring of the earth. It is no longer science fiction but our immediate future. However, the true question remains. Who will be responsible for all of it? Are we training the right workforce that is needed to build and run all of this?

Space tourism is an exciting idea in theory, traveling to extra-terrestrial destinations, exploring new planets, all by being in an anti-gravitational environment. Through these diminishing borders and rapid advancements soon we'll be living the space life, all the virtual, metaverse gigs coming to reality. But before that let's explore space tourism and how the solar system will welcome humans.

What is Space tourism?

Ever since 1967, Apollo opened the getaway of space travel and the technological intervention spun to rise. Just like nomad tourism, space tourism is human space travel for commercializing interstellar for leisure or pleasurable adventures of the unknown. Space has different levels of horizons, according to research, orbital space has high speeds of 17,400 mph to allow the rocket to orbit around the Earth without falling onto the land. While lunar space tourism goes into subcortical flights and brings people back at a slower speed.

Studies have shown that in the upcoming years, commercial space exploration will hike up the economical database, by generating more than expected revenue. On these grounds, space tourism won't be limited to suborbital flights but rather take onto orbital flights, this revolutionary expenditure will change the future.

Everything aligns when the right team works together endlessly to reach the stars. The space exploration will only take place with enthusiastic and empowered individuals catering towards their roles.

Astronomers, space scientists, meteorologists, plasma physicists, aerospace engineers, avionics technicians, technical writers, space producers, and more will work in the field to make this space dream come true.

The attraction of Space exploration

Curiosity is the gateway to the seven wonders of the world. Humans are born with novelty-seeking, the drive to explore the unknown and push boundaries. This exploration has benefited society in a million ways, from making bulbs to jets.

The attraction towards exploring the space stems from the same desire for novelty seeking. We want to answer the most difficult questions about the universe, is there only darkness beyond that sky? Can we live on another planet if ours die? To address the challenges of space and the world, we have created new technologies, industries, and a union worldwide. This shows how vital space exploration is to humans. Many astronauts dwell on the idea of seeing the iconic thin blue outline of our planet, the quintessential experience makes the astronaut go back and back. However, are we entering this dimension with the right skills? Is our future workforce ready to take need the best

Who will lead the path?

The main question that still goes unanswered is who will run space tourism. When it comes to the future, there are infinite options. One decision and you will fly into an endless sky.

This expenditure has opened multiple career opportunities for the future workforce to take on for diversification and exploration of space. Currently, we cannot predict how people will find meaning and improve their lives through space tourism, but it will be a soul-awakening experience. According to experts, travelers would prefer a livelihood in space for which companies are working day and night to figure out accommodation and properties. The ideas include having space hotels, offices, research labs, and tents for operations.

Lastly, space tourism is just a start, we are moving into a dimensional field of physics and astronomy to create new opportunities and ground-breaking inventions to explore the untouchable. The new era of more refined and thoroughly accessed careers are on the rise, let's see how the world evolves in the next 10 years.

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Ghazal Qureshi is the founder and CEO of UpBrainery, a Houston-based immersive educational technology platform that taps into neuroscience research-based programs to provide adaptive learning and individualized pathways for students at home or in the classroom.

These guest articles — with advice and perspective on topics ranging from quiet quitting to emotional intelligence — attracted the most readers throughout the year. Photo via Getty Images

These were the most-read guest columns by Houston innovators in 2022

2022 in review

Editor's note: Every week, InnovationMap — Houston's only news source and resource about and for startups — runs one or two guest columns written by tech entrepreneurs, public relations experts, data geniuses, and more. As Houston's innovation ecosystem gets ready for 2023, here are some of this year's top guest contributor pieces — each with pertinent information and advice for startups both at publishing and into the new year. Make sure to click "read more" to continue reading each piece.

Is your New Year's resolution to start contributing? Email natalie@innovationmap.com to learn more.

Houston expert: How to navigate Gen Z's quiet quitting movement at your company

Your perspective on quiet quitting is probably generational, says one Houston expert and startup founder. Photo via Getty Images

This month, the internet has been discussing "quiet quitting," the practice of employees setting hard boundaries about when they work and to what extent they are willing to go beyond the outlined expectations of their jobs.

The conversation around quiet quitting has also been lively at the Ampersand offices. As a training company that is dedicated to training new professionals for employers both big and small, it's critically important for our team to have a good grasp on the relationship employees have with their jobs, and what motivates them to succeed. So we had a long meeting where we discussed what quiet quitting meant to each of us. Read more.

Houston expert shares how small business leaders can encourage PTO use

Retaining employees is no easy feat these days. Encouraging a healthy PTO policy can help avoid burnout. Photo courtesy of Joe Aker

As many small businesses continue to operate in a challenging, fast-paced environment, one thing that has arrived at breakneck speed is midyear, along with the summer months. Theoretically, to ensure work-life balance, most employees should have 50 percent of their PTO remaining to use for summer vacations and during the second half of the year. In reality, that is probably not the case given workers are hesitant to use their PTO, leaving approximately five days of unused PTO on the table during 2020 and 2021.

While the pandemic affected PTO usage the last two years, the labor shortage appears to be a major contributor in 2022, which has led to PTO hoarding and increasing levels of employee burnout. Although these factors can be compounded for small business owners because there are fewer employees to handle daily responsibilities, it is imperative for workers to take PTO, returning recharged with a fresh perspective on the tasks at hand. Read more.

Houston expert: 3 emotional intelligence tips for improving patient-practitioner experience

A Houston expert shares how to improve on communication in the health care setting. Image via Getty Images

After spending hours with healthcare professionals as both a consultant and patient, I know that it takes a special kind of person to take care of others in their most distressing and vulnerable times. That responsibility has been in overdrive because of COVID, causing emotional burnout, which in turn affects patient care. By equipping yourself with emotional intelligence, you can be more resilient for yourself and patients.

Emotional intelligence is keeping your intelligence high, when emotions are high.

Health care sets up an environment for a tornado of emotions, and the rules and regulations centered around patient-provider interactions are often complex to navigate. This leaves many on the brink of emotional exhaustion, and for survival’s sake, depersonalization with patients becomes the status quo. Feeling a disconnect with their patients is another added weight, as few get into this industry for just the paycheck – it’s the impact of helping people get healthy and stay healthy that motivates them. I’ve seen it time and time again with people in my life, as well as on my own patient journey as I battled stage 3 cancer. Read more.

Here's what types of technology is going to disrupt the education sector, says this Houston founder

Edtech is expected to continue to make learning more interactive, fun, and inclusive for people around the world. Photo via Pexels

Technology has always maneuvered education in a certain direction but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced it to shift towards a new direction entirely.

What started off as a basic video lecture turned into a more hybrid and innovative form of education, enabling student engagement and interactivity like never before. Social media forums allow teachers to pay one-on-one attention to students boosting their learning process.

With an edtech boom on the rise, there is a question of what further expansion in educational technology is expected. Here are some technology breakthroughs currently underway in the education sector. Read more.

Houston expert weighs in on marketing from an investor’s perspective

What should Houston startups know about marketing? Photo via Getty Images

Just what do investors want to see from a startup with regards to the company’s marketing? I recently spoke on this topic to a cohort of early-stage technology startup entrepreneurs at Softeq Venture Studio, an accelerator program that helps founders build investable technologies and businesses. Read more.

Gamified activities incentivize students to work harder to achieve goals and catch up in the subjects they were falling behind in. Photo via Getty Images

Houston expert: How gamification in education can close the COVID-19 learning gap

guest column

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented difficulty for teachers. Students adjusting from in-person to remote back to in-person learning have struggled immensely.

Research demonstrates that during the COVID-19 pandemic, high school students lost on average “the equivalent of 3.4 months of instruction in reading, 3.3 months in math, 3.1 months in science, and 2.3 months in English” — even through remote learning.

This learning gap, or COVID slide, as it is more commonly referred to, needs to be addressed. Already, we are seeing the consequences of this learning loss. According to data from the ACT, the standardized college entrance exam taken by high school juniors and seniors, the “average high school junior who took the college entrance exam in spring 2021 fell from the 50th to 46th percentile.”

Even as in-person instruction resumes again, test scores continue to stagnate and fall. The question remains: how do we recoup this learning loss caused by COVID-19?

What is ed tech?

Education technology, or edtech, refers to the practice of using educational hardware and software to enhance teaching in the classroom. Edtech can make learning more accessible and fun for students. With the rise in learning gaps in the classrooms, edtech can solve this growing issue.

While edtech has taken over the field of education quite rapidly due to the onset of COVID-19, there are certain aspects of educational technology that are still unexplored by many. Virtual reality, augmented reality, and machine learning have become more prominent in the field. Learning becomes much more exciting when the idea of games is added to it.

The concept that students end up learning more while having fun has been given a new name: gamification in education. Game-based elements are integrated with learning to enhance students’ knowledge and information. Technology has broken down various barriers to becoming an integral part of our day-to-day lives and changing how we live. However, despite becoming a part of education, there is limited research as to how gamification affects students.

Benefits of gamification in education

Do you remember that feeling back in school when you received a gold star on your worksheet? Or the time when your name went up on the classroom wall of fame? That feeling of being excited and even proud of our achievement is what we need to harness in order to make our students excited about their learning. By providing badging and credentialing in their day-to-day learning, we can provide gamification aspects of that classroom wall of fame!

Even though it is evident that students are significantly more enthusiastic when gamification in education is involved, there are certain behavioral changes caused by gamification that are also observed by various studies.

A study shows that gamification has a positive yet moderate effect on students. However, it tends to have a greater impact on school students than college students. Nonetheless, this cannot be generalized to all students since many character traits differ across students resulting in various outcomes.

According to Science Direct, students who experienced challenge-based gamification faced an increase in their performance levels by 89.45 percent as compared to those who only received lectures. This study once again proves that gamification piques the interest of students in their education and leads them to do better.

This point is further supported by Intuition which found that 67 percent of students found gamified learning to be more engaging and encouraging as compared to traditional learning courses.

The learning environment created with the availability of gamification seems promising to the extent that students are capable of achieving more and absorbing more as compared to traditional learning methods. E-learning has made different channels of education accessible to students who seem more eager to learn in a virtual social network. This behavior gives room to healthy competition among students who then wish to perform better than others.

​Incorporating gamification in education

There isn’t a set standard of gamified learning involved and depending on the lesson, different features of gamification can be used to make education fun and unique for all. Some useful ways of incorporating gamification within the classroom include:

  • Creating avatars. Allowing students to have personalized experiences and developing their skill sets in a competitive environment with their classmates prepares them for practical life.
  • Awarding badges. Rather than receiving grades, students can be awarded online badges that mark their progress in class.
  • Knowledge checks. Testing subject skills through quizzes and leaderboards increases the performance levels of students while strengthening their concepts within the class.

The addition of simple gamification in education makes the learning process unique to each teacher or classroom while enhancing the competitiveness of students to perform better and achieve more.

Considering that children have faced a detrimental setback in their education, we need to get their attention back on track. COVID-19 has made students heavily reliant on their tablets and smartphones which makes using gamification a good technique to get them to engage with their academics once again. These conceptual gamified activities incentivize students to work harder to achieve goals and catch up in the subjects they were lacking behind in. It is time that we try these engaging activities and unique methods to boost student engagement and provide an avenue for them to get excited about their education.

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Ghazal Qureshi is the founder and CEO of UpBrainery, a Houston-based immersive educational technology platform that taps into neuroscience research-based programs to provide adaptive learning and individualized pathways for students at home or in the classroom.

These are the Houston women named to this year's Women of Influence list by Entrepreneur Magazine. Photo via Getty Images

Houston founders recognized as influential women

who runs the world?

A handful of Houston women have been named to Entrepreneur Magazine's 2022 Women of Influence list, which recognizes women making an impact in their respective industries.

Ghazal Qureshi and Vernee Hines, co-founders of The Woodlands-based UpBrainery Technologies, and Houston-based Carolyn Rodz, along with her California-based co-founder, Elizabeth Gore, of Hello Alice, made the 2022 list. Additionally, representing the bar and restaurant world, Alba Huerta, founder of Julep, joins her fellow Houstonians for the honor.

UpBrainery is an AI-driven technology platform that helps middle and high school students align their interests with career development. The company has worked with Whataburger, Girl Scouts, The Houston Rockets, NASDAQ and others. It was also named by the Department of Defense Education Activity as the premiere provider of Career Technology Education for 52 military middle schools across the world this summer. The app uses its proprietary BrainLab platform that presents TikTok-style videos, gamified learning and augmented reality to relate to its young users.

"Our careful plan to launch a disruptive education technology in 2020, just as schools shut down, did not go well!," the duo told Entrepreneur. "But today we're engaging students through gamified content and immersive experiences. We've been hyperfocused on career development in middle and high school with new tools that allow students to better understand their interests and aptitudes. Technology is the only way to scale change. And although changing the status quo in education is daunting, it's doable."

Qureshi, Qureshi serves as the CEO of Upbrainery, and Hines were also named to Forbes' Next 1000 list in 2021, which featured inspiring entrepreneurs and small-business leaders “who are redefining what it means to build and run a business amid the new normal.” The company recently participated in the gBETA Houston accelerator in 2021.

Hello Alice is a data-driven platform that provides over 1 million small business owners with free advice, resources, and access to funding. Most recently, the Houston-based tech company announced a new founder-focused credit card.

"As a Latina- and women-founded company, we focus on New Majority small business owners facing persistent and glaring disparities in access to capital," the two founders told the magazine. "We have raised and distributed over $37 million in grants — mostly to women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, those with a military connection, and entrepreneurs with disabilities. And we've brought on partners like Mastercard and NAACP to help."

Edtech is expected to continue to make learning more interactive, fun, and inclusive for people around the world. Photo via Pexels

Here's what types of technology is going to disrupt the education sector, says this Houston founder

guest column

Technology has always maneuvered education in a certain direction but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced it to shift towards a new direction entirely.

What started off as a basic video lecture turned into a more hybrid and innovative form of education, enabling student engagement and interactivity like never before. Social media forums allow teachers to pay one-on-one attention to students boosting their learning process.

With an edtech boom on the rise, there is a question of what further expansion in educational technology is expected. Here are some technology breakthroughs currently underway in the education sector:

Biometric signals

A technology that picks up human behavior and traits to display individual needs and requirements has become an important part of the education system. Biometrics within the classroom can disclose every student’s disposition, physical and emotional, making it possible to tailor the course to their personal needs.

Augmented reality glasses

Thomas Edison once said “Books will soon be obsolete in schools. Scholars will soon be instructed through the eye.” AR glasses layer data on what students see naturally giving a real-life learning experience. A student using AR glasses in the class could sit on his desk and have a geographical map laid out in front of him in the geography lesson.

Multi-touch surfaces

Even though multi-touch surfaces are present in smartphones and tablets, enabling them in the education system will be a game changer. With multitouch desks, students can access the virtual world of learning and connect with other students globally.

According to FMI, the Edtech Market will reach a whopping $288.4 billion by 2031. Analysts suggest this growth is due to sway towards digital learning which has allowed users to view content anywhere, anytime. The Learning Management Software has gained global acceptance since innovative tools are launched to help users adapt to the upcoming technology.

Companies and institutions are using LMS to enhance learning capabilities to further an edtech boom.

Between 2021 and 2031 the academic institution segment in the Edtech market is expected to increase by 16.7 percent. McKinsey suggests that these technologies have filled the void left by conventional teaching methods. Technologies like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality have made classroom interactions and in-person experiences effective in the education system.

At the same time, Edtech investment is growing as well. HolonIQ reported a $21 billion venture of capital investment in edtech startups globally, in 2021. This was a growth 3 times higher before the pandemic hit the world. During the global pandemic, the education sector was revolutionized and learning moved online. This opened up an avenue for edtech startups globally creating room for an edtech boom.

Growth opportunities created by educational institutes 

Moving on from the global pandemic, education institutes have moved on from traditional learning, encouraging students to use ebooks. This has created opportunities for companies to share their e-learning solutions in the market.

Microlearning has been introduced as a concept where learners are provided knowledge at the rate they can absorb the information efficiently. This is helpful for learners with a short attention span. Microlearning improves learning transfer by 71 percent, and engagement by 50 percent while reducing development cost by 50 percent and increasing the development speed.

The pandemic has left its impact on the education system with educators and learners being comfortable with adaptive edtech. According to research by Purdue University, technological advances have changed the perspectives of both educators and learners. Being more aware of the fact that there is no standard way of learning for all students, teachers prefer educational technology for interactive learning sessions.

Innovation in edtech continues to grow since there are no limits to growth, especially in technology. After receiving positive feedback from parents, teachers, and students, further advances in edtech are expected to make learning more interactive, fun, and inclusive for people around the world.

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Ghazal Qureshi is the founder and CEO of UpBrainery, a Houston-based immersive educational technology platform that taps into neuroscience research-based programs to provide adaptive learning and individualized pathways for students at home or in the classroom.

This week's roundup of Houston innovators includes Tammi Wallace of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Adam Putterman of OURS, and Ghazal Qureshi of UpBrainery. Courtesy photos

3 Houston innovators to know this week

who's who

Editor's note: In this week's roundup of Houston innovators to know, I'm introducing you to three local innovators across industries — from edtech to mental health — recently making headlines in Houston innovation.

Tammi Wallace, co-founder of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Tammi Wallace of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce was a panelist on The Ion's Pride in Tech event. Photo via LinkedIn

There are a few days left in Pride Month, and Houston's tech community came together last week to celebrate — but also discuss some of the challenges within the ecosystem for LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs.

In a Q&A with InnovationMap, Tammi Wallace, co-founder of the Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce, shared her advice for LGBTQIA+ innovators and allies.

"Get involved with the Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce," she says. "Since 2016, the chamber has been working to build a strong community to support LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs and get them access to resources to help their businesses grow and thrive." Click here to read more.

Adam Putterman, co-founder of OURS

Adam Putterman, co-founder of OURS, shares how he jumped on the opportunity that is innovating the future of relationship health. Photo courtesy of OURS

More than ever before, people are warming up to the idea of seeking professional health care for more than just their bodies, Adam Putterman, co-founder of OURS says on the most recent episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast.

"We've seen a massive shift in the perception of counseling and therapy — and, more importantly, all the aspects of health that are not just your body," he explains. "It's no longer just going to the gym, it's meditating, coaching for a professional field. We've found that people are taking that mindset and applying it to their relationship as well."

After launching its beta in 2020, OURS worked in stealth to develop its product, which officially launched in May. The platform costs $400 for a four-week program that includes six personalized interactive sessions with an OURS guide at the helm of the experience. These one-hour technology-powered sessions are based around an innovative new technology, called Loveware, and include dynamic and meaningful conversations between a couple that are built around the magic that comes from being in the room with an expert. Click here to listen to the full episode and read more.

Ghazal Qureshi, founder and CEO of UpBrainery

Innovations like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and machine learning certainly have advantages in the edtech sector. Photo courtesy

The education community is facing big changes thanks to technology and new innovations. In a guest column for InnovationMap, Ghazal Qureshi — founder and CEO of UpBrainery, a Houston-based immersive educational technology platform — shares how things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more have the potential to impact the sector.

"AI has created benefits for educators as well, such as it has created a task automation system in which all kinds of daily mundane tasks including grading papers, admin work, replying to queries, etc. have been directly automated," she writes. "Although adopting cutting-edge technology in the educational industry for most institutions is certainly not a piece of cake as it is time-consuming and very costly." Click here to read more.

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10+ can't-miss Houston business and innovation events for April

where to be

It's time to look at what's on the agenda for April for Houston innovators — from pitch competitions to networking events.

Here's a roundup of events not to miss this month. Mark your calendars and register accordingly.

Note: This post might be updated to add more events.

April 4 — A.I. Digital and the Future of Energy

In the latest installment of UH Energy's "Critical Issues in Energy" Symposium Series, the speakers will take a deeper dive into the role of A.l. within the energy marketplace, specifically with what is being done with A.I. and what is capable of being done. In addition to this pivotal look at one crucial aspect of the energy transition, attendees will be afforded networking opportunities with speakers and distinguished guests, and food/refreshments will be provided.

The event is Tuesday, April 4, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, at the University of Houston. Click here to register.

April 5 — Creating & Sustaining Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Join us for a fireside chat discussing the growth of entrepreneurship & a panel on demystifying the patent process.

The event is Wednesday, April 5, from 9 to 11:30 am, at the Ion. Click here to register.

April 5 — HAN Angel Academy

Learn angel investing best practices from Capital Factory co-founder and chairman, Gordon Daugherty in a half-day bootcamp format for accredited investors.

The event is Wednesday, April 5, from 11 am to 4 pm, at Rice University - Shell Auditorium. Click here to register.

April 11 — Future of Health Care

The Greater Houston Partnership's inaugural Future of Health Care event highlights one of the region's major industry sectors driven by world-class institutions and professional talent.

The event is Wednesday, April 11, from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, at the Royal Sonesta. Click here to register.

April 11 — Idea to Impact: Navigating the Challenges to Commercializing University Discoveries

Amazing discoveries are made in university labs every day, yet most of them never develop into widely accessible commercial products. Why? And what can universities do to change that? As part of Rice University's "Betterment of the World" Scientia Lecture Series, join Rice Business on April 11 at 4 pm virtually or in person (Shell Auditorium, McNair Hall) to hear Yael Hochberg, Professor in Entrepreneurship at the Jones Graduate School of Business, as she discusses the challenges in commercializing university research discoveries.

The event is Wednesday, April 11, from 4 to 5 pm, at Rice University and online. Click here to register.

April 11 — Greentown Houston Climatetech Career Fair 2023

Greentown Labs and ALLY Energy welcomes all professionals, students, and soon-to-be graduates to join us for the Greentown Houston Career Fair, which focuses on connecting professionals directly with Greentown Houston’ network of founders, CEOs, and cutting-edge climatetech startups looking for bright and eager talent.

The event is Tuesday, April 11, from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, at Greentown Houston. Click here to register.

April 15 — Earth Day Clothing Swap Party with Sustainable Fashion & Earth Month HTX

A clothing swap is a fun, alternative solution to thrift shopping or secondhand fashion that allows you to clean out the clothes you no longer wear and in return bring home new additions to your closet - all for free and hosted by Houston startup RESTATEMENT.

The event is Saturday, April 15, from noon to 5 pm, at Patterson Park. Click here to register.

April 17-18 — AI Powered Renewable Energy Workshop

AI Houston Institute of Rice University in partnership with Ion is getting together experts from academia and industry working on the application of artificial intelligence in solving some of the most complex challenges facing the Energy industry as it transitions into alternative sources of energy that are green and sustainable.

The event is Monday, April 17, to Tuesday, April 18, at the Ion. Click here to register.

April 19 — Investor Studio Series: Dream Big Ventures x Ion x Mendoza Ventures

Underrepresented founders face a lot of barriers, including rarely seeing VC dollars. However, Dream Big Ventures and Mendoza Ventures are looking to change those statistics to help diverse founders succeed. Join Dream Big Ventures Founder and CEO Staci LaToison, and Mendoza Ventures Co-Founders Senofer Mendoza and Adrian Mendoza, as they discuss the growth of women and Latinas in Fintech, AI, and Cybersecurity in this fireside chat.

The event is Wednesday, April 19, from 5 to 7 pm, at the Ion. Click here to register.

April 19 — The H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge Championships

Join Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and support Rice University student ventures at the H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge (NRLC) Championships on Wednesday, April 19. Five student finalists will pitch their ventures to compete for the chance to win a share of $100,000 in equity-free funding.

The event is Wednesday, April 19, from 5:30 to 9 pm, at Rice University. Click here to register.

April 20 — Female Founders and Funders

Calling all rockstar female founders and investors in the Houston area. Mark your calendars for this month's Female Founders and Funders meetup. Coffee and breakfast is provided and the event is free to attend.

The event is Thursday, April 20, from 9 to 10 am, at Sesh Coworking. Click here to register.

Texas researchers name ancient beaver fossil after favorite Texas gas station

Beaver Country

The legend of a treasured gas station chain continues with a new chapter: a rediscovered beaver fossil is being named after Buc-ee’s.

The ancient animal was named Anchitheriomys buceei (A. buceei) by Steve May, a research associate at the University of Texas Jackson School of Geosciences and lead author of the Palaeontologia Electronica paper that describes the beaver.

A. buceei fossils were rediscovered by researchers in UT Austin’s collections and include fossils from six different Texas sites. May decided to name A. buceei after Buc-ee’s after spotting a “This is Beaver Country” billboard in 2020 that reminded him of the fossils he was studying at the time.

Though Buc-ee’s was founded in 1982, CEO Arch “Beaver” Alpin III said in a press release that his business’ history is longer than he thought, and that he may “need to rethink [their] beginnings.”

Occurrences of A. buceei can be found between 15 and 22 million years ago along the state’s gulf coast. At first glance, they don’t appear much different from current native Texas beavers. But according to the report’s co-author Matthew Brown, who is also the director of the Jackson School’s vertebrate paleontology collections, they are nearly 30 percent bigger than today’s beavers.

A partial skull fossil of the beaver was originally collected in 1941 by paleontologists. One of the original finders was Texas A&M University museum curator Curtis Hesse, who passed away four years later before he could name it a new species and publish his study.

More information about A. buceei can be found on UT Austin’s website.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.