In a corner on the second floor of the Patterson building is a group of offices with an unusual label: the TOAD lab. The offices do have some toad decorations, but the namesake comes from the initials of Molecular Biosciences associate professors Theresa O’Halloran and Arturo De Lozanne.
They are one of several couples who work at UT. The family has two children and see each other daily at work, but they’re not the only familial faces on campus. De Lozanne’s brother works here as well, and incidentally played an important part in the previously unnamed lab.
“One day he came into our lab and saw two things labeled TO and AD together,” De Lozanne said. “He asked me, ‘Why do you call it toad?’ And I said, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea of what to call the lab!’”
Besides De Lozanne’s brother, O’Halloran said she also has relatives in Austin, although not on campus. This proximity to family, along with the toad decorations, is an experience that separates working in Austin from the other universities they’ve both worked at: Stanford, UT-Southwestern and Duke.
De Lozanne isn’t part of the lab anymore — so it’s technically just the TO lab now — but Kristin Falkenstein, who was a graduate student in the lab and is now a licensing specialist on campus, said she fondly remembers her time there. Falkenstein said besides having joint lab meetings and other discussions, the two professors did very well to keep their work life separate.
“They’re very hands-on,” Falkenstein said. “One of the things I remember is both of them coming in to do some lab work when the students were having trouble. That’s pretty atypical for professors … it was great, how involved they were with the graduate students.”
Both professors have also won Distinguished Teaching Awards for their classes, and Falkenstein said they’re very well known throughout UT faculty. At home, however, O’Halloran and De Lozanne are popular to a different kind of crowd.
“We’ve had rats, we’ve had a snake … we’ve had chickens, cats, and dogs,” O’Halloran said. “Now we’re down to two dogs, and we take them out on walks everyday.”
The diversity of their pets is echoed in their admiration of the city they’ve learned to call home.
“I love Austin,” O’Halloran said. “I’m always blown away by the new people I meet and the creativity of the music they’re making, the art people are making and the technology getting off the ground.”
Austinites say the same of the couple as well.
“They’re just great people,” Falkenstein said. “And I know a lot of faculty look up to them for their dedication to teaching people at UT.”