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3| New Architecture Dean •

| Impact Earth
7 •
| Unzipping the Future
13 •
| Rocky Road

Touch the
Sky Rice’s towering



Contents 6 Once again, Rice is in the 3 An expert in urban and

top 20 of U.S. News & architectural theory has
World Report’s “America’s been named the new dean
Best Colleges.” of architecture.

7 Patricia Reiff returned 9 An economist looks at

to Houston just in time the effects of insuring
to destroy the city. America’s children.

16 Rice’s state-of-the-art
10 Department of Defense
BioScience Research 13 awards to Rice top $100
Collaborative opens for
million for the decade.

8 A Rice physicist is on
11 When it comes to quality
of student life, Rice is tops.
a quest to understand
death — or at least a
little part of it. A tough, electrically conductive material is being unzipped in a lab near you.

18 Brockman Hall for

Physics benefits from
federal stimulus funds.

12 It’s made of tiny cups.

It redirects light. It’s

4 Managing a name
change is good business.
Brockman Hall

6 She keeps powerful company.

Cover photo: Tommy LaVergne
20 It’s a rocky road from Marrakech to

Casablanca, and for Rice geology
students, that’s a good thing.

21 A paleontology graduate student’s

first sea voyage is a core
24 Owlmania
22 What do you get when you combine
It’s all about the Owls.
Rice students’ innovation, Project Row
by David Leebron Houses and the Solar Decathlon? The
ZEROW HOUSE, of course.
26 Coastal Watch
Hurricane Ike wrought great changes to the Texas 23 Sometimes there’s no hard-and-fast
coast, but geologist and oceanographer John rule for concrete construction.
Anderson thinks human development may be
hastening destructive coastal processes.
by Christopher Dow
42 Where most people saw old,
30 Cooking Up the Future peeling plywood, Henrique Oliveira
In the year since it opened, the Oshman saw a new artistic medium.
Engineering Design Kitchen has given students the
means to develop a surprising range of innovative 43 Rice art students help bring a sense
creations. of history to the resurrected Mexican
ghost town of Mineral de Pozos.
36 Touch the Sky
As a premier research university, Rice is known 44 Walk softly and carry a big
for its towering academic achievements — but the instrument.
campus has a few towering achievements of its own.
P h o t o s b y To m m y L a Ve r g n e 20 45 Everything is big in Texas, and that
Te x t b y C h r i s t o p h e r D o w includes Rice student art.

38 Publish, Not Perish

The resurrected Rice University Press is redefining
the parameters of academic publishing. 46 It’s hard to second-guess the Lone
by Christopher Dow Star State, but one thing you can
say for sure is that it’s going to
40 The Business of Science flood.
An unconventional career track at the intersection
of science and business opens a world of 47 Hoaxes, scams, forgeries and
possibilities. fabrications say something not just
by Christopher Dow
42 about those who perpetrate them,
but also about our media culture.

47 There is really only one pertinent

question managers need to ask
when filling empty positions: Who?

48 And the winner of the Conference
USA Institutional Excellence Award
for the fourth straight year is … .
48 Olympic training isn’t just for

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 1

F O R E W O R D Rice Magazine
Vol. 65, No. 4

There are many ironies inherent in our passage from the Published by the
Office of Public Affairs
Industrialized Age into the Age of Information, not the least of Linda Thrane, vice president
which is that much of our path is littered with information that is Editor
trivial, paltry, erroneous or deliberately misleading. An even greater Christopher Dow

irony is that much of this clutter and rubbish is spread via the great- Editorial Director
Tracey Rhoades
est information tool ever invented: the Internet. Creative Director
Jeff Cox
It certainly doesn’t help that there is much we simply don’t yet know, from deciphering the nature of
subatomic particles or effectively dealing with cancer, to developing better ways to generate energy Art Director
or comprehending what constitutes great art. There are, though, places dedicated to making sense of Chuck Thurmon
the world and bringing order to it — places such as Rice University, where discoveries by committed
Editorial Staff
researchers are filling gaps in our understanding of the world and of ourselves with knowledge that B.J. Almond, staff writer
will impact us profoundly in the years to come. Jade Boyd, staff writer
In this issue, for example, you can read about John Anderson’s research into natural and hu- Franz Brotzen, staff writer
Merin Porter, staff writer
man-generated coastal processes; the growth of the Professional Science Master’s Program, which
Jenny West Rozelle, assistant editor
produces graduates who combine scientific expertise with business acumen; and how the recently David Ruth, staff writer
resurrected Rice University Press is advancing a new paradigm for academic publishing. Jessica Stark, staff writer
Our shorter articles also demonstrate the breadth and depth of the research going on here at Mike Williams, staff writer
Rice. They include an analysis of the economic benefits of insuring America’s children; the identifi-
cation of a property of cell membranes that is responsible for cell death and that may play a role in Tommy LaVergne, photographer
cancer; and the invention of the I-slate, an electronic device designed to bring educational technol- Jeff Fitlow, assistant photographer
ogy to remote rural regions. And, as is to be expected from an international leader in nanotechnol-
The Rice University
ogy, there are major developments on the ultrasmall scale, such as nanoribbons, which are sheets
Board of Trustees
of tough, electrically conductive material that could be incorporated into aircraft, electronics and a James W. Crownover, chair man; J.D.
host of other products. Bucky Allshouse; D. Kent Anderson; Keith
Our students — the leaders and researchers of tomorrow — are doing amazing things as well. T. Anderson; Subha Viswanathan Barry;
Suzanne Deal Booth; Alfredo Brener; Robert
You can read about some of them in the student section, but also be sure to check out our feature
T. Brockman; Nancy P. Carlson; Robert L.
on the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, where students are taking advantage of one of Rice’s Clarke; Bruce W. Dunlevie; Lynn Laverty
newest facilities to create innovations that are then tested in real- Elsenhans; Douglas Lee Foshee; Susanne
world settings. Morris Glasscock; Robert R. Maxfield; M.
Kenneth Oshman; Jeffery O. Rose; Lee H.
Across the board, Rice is an international leader in the pro-
Rosenthal; Hector de J. Ruiz; Marc Shapiro;
found scientific, social and cultural changes that are taking place L. E. Simmons; Robert B. Tudor III; James
worldwide. But you don’t have to take our word for it: The U.S. S. Turley.
Department of Defense puts its money where its mouth is. DOD
Administrative Officers
funding to Rice last year totaled more than $32 million and pushed
David W. Leebron, president; Eugene Levy,
Rice well over the $100 million mark for DOD awards during the provost; Kathy Collins, vice president
past decade. for Finance; Kevin Kirby, vice president
And, as always, Rice is tops in rankings from a number of other outside sources. We are a Fiske for Administration; Chris Muñoz, vice
president for Enrollment; Linda Thrane, vice
“Best-Buy School,” a perennial U.S. News & World Report top 20 national university, ranked No. 1
president for Public Affairs; Scott W. Wise,
by the Princeton Review for the “Best Quality of Life” for students, and rated a best place to work vice president for Investments and treasurer;
by both the Houston Business Journal and the Chronicle of Higher Education. And PayScale, a Web Richard A. Zansitis, general counsel; Darrow
site that scores companies and universities based on salary data, reveals that Rice alumni have the Zeidenstein, vice president for Resource
highest median salaries among graduates of any Texas institution of higher education and that they
hold their own against graduates of our peer institutions nationwide.
As these rankings and the stories in this issue show, Rice is a place where rigorously examined Rice Magazine is published by the Office of
Public Affairs of Rice University and is sent
information is being generated and put into the service of humankind. Even better, it’s the kind of to university alumni, faculty, staff, graduate
information you can rely on, whether you read about it in Rice Magazine, on www.rice.edu or in the students, parents of undergraduates and
national media. In this day and age, some people might call that kind of trustworthy information friends of the university.
uncommon. We simply call it unconventional wisdom.
Editorial Offices
Creative Services–MS 95
P.O. Box 1892
Christopher Dow Houston, TTX
X 77251-1892
Fax: 713-348-6757
cloud@rice.edu E-mail: ricemagazine@rice.edu

Send address changes to:
Rice University
Development Services–MS 80
P.O. Box 1892
Correction In the last issue of Rice Magazine, the review of David Eagleman’s book, “Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives,” incorrectly listed Eagleman Houston, TX 77251-1892
as assistant professor of psychology at Rice. His correct title is former adjunct assistant professor of psychology at Rice. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Rice Names Architecture Dean

Sarah Whiting Kennon Memorial Symposium last spring.

Sarah Whiting, a member of the Princeton University School of Architecture fac-
“Sarah has a distinguished record of
ulty and an expert in urban and architectural theory, has been named dean of the achievement in the profession and in the his-
Rice School of Architecture. tory and theory of architecture,” Casbarian
said. “Based on my initial conversations with
Whiting will take the helm Jan. 1 from John Whiting currently is working on projects her, she has a very compelling vision for the
Casbarian, the school’s longtime associate both for the drama division of the Juilliard future of the school.”
dean who has been serving as dean since 16- School in New York and for the Golden Whiting said she brings to the School
year veteran Lars Lerup stepped down from House, a private residence in Princeton, of Architecture a strong commitment to the
the position earlier this year. Lerup will return N.J. Before forming WW, she worked with humanities, to emerging developments in
to Rice in 2010 as a professor. Rem Koolhaas at the Office for Metropolitan science and technology, and to the overlap
“Sarah Whiting’s strengths as a teacher, Architecture in Rotterdam, Netherlands, between these realms that architecture is
author and architect are clear, and she brings where she was involved with a number of uniquely able to exploit. “Architecture’s com-
abundant energy and intellect to Rice,” said architectural, urban and writing projects, in- bination of form and space affects the public
President David Leebron. “Her aspirations for cluding the master planning of Euralille, a by forming an aesthetic realm,” she said, “but
the School of Architecture align perfectly with business center in Lille, France, that opened it also fosters new experiences, relationships,
the goals we set for Rice in the Vision for the in 1994. Witte also will join the architecture economies and possibilities.”
Second Century — in particular our commit- faculty, and Whiting and Witte will relocate It is a “happy coincidence,” Whiting said,
ment to broaden and deepen our interaction WW Architecture to Houston. that her views mesh so well with Rice’s Vision

“Sarah Whiting’s strengths as a teacher, author and architect are clear, and she brings abundant energy and intellect to Rice.”
—David Leebron

with our home city of Houston. Under Sarah’s Perhaps best known for her professional for the Second Century: “Two of the school’s
leadership, we expect our already acclaimed criticism, Whiting has published dozens of strongest attributes are its historic commit-
school to be at the forefront of innovation in articles on urban and architectural theory. In ment to innovative practice and its focus on
architecture education and enterprise.” addition to editing several journals, she has the contemporary city. Cities like Houston, in
Before joining Princeton in 2005, Whiting edited books on Ignasi de Solà-Morales and particular, often have been ignored in urban
served for six years on the faculty of the James Carpenter and is the series editor of studies, even though they are the paradigmat-
Harvard University Graduate School of Design. “POINT,” a new architectural book series to ic cities of the 21st century.”
Prior to that, she taught at the University of be published by Princeton University Press. These strengths, Whiting said, form a
Kentucky, the Illinois Institute of Technology She also is the author of the forthcoming book terrific basis for moving the school forward.
and the University of Florida. She earned her “Superblock City.” “Everything felt just right — poised for new
Ph.D. in the history, theory and criticism of Whiting is no stranger to the Rice School possibilities,” she said. “I can’t wait to take on
art, architecture and urban form from the of Architecture. She has served on end-of- those new horizons come January.”
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. term project reviews many times over the past
As a principal of WW Architecture, a firm decade. She also has lectured at the school Naomi
—Mike Halas
she co-founded with her husband, Ron Witte, several times, most recently at the Paul A.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 3

That Rice Is One of
the Best Places to Work?
We Knew.

Rice’s reputation as a first-rate educational

institution has again been complemented by
its reputation as a great place to work. Twice.

The Chronicle of Higher Education named Rice

one of this year’s “Great Colleges to Work For.”

Giving the Jones School the Business

The publication ranked colleges for specific best
practices and policies, such as compensation and
benefits, faculty–administration relations and
confidence in senior leadership. The ranking was
based on a random survey of faculty, adminis-
trators and staff and an audit of demographics
and workplace policies and practices from more It’s official: Rice’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management is now
than 300 two- and four-year colleges. Rice was the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.
honored in 16 of 26 categories among four-year
schools with 3,000 to 9,999 students. Rice also
Research shows that the majority of the top MBA programs use the term “business” rather
was named to the Chronicle’s honor roll, which
than “management” in their names and logos, and that online searches for the Jones
recognizes the 10 colleges that were cited most
School predominantly incorporate “business” as well as “Rice MBA” and “Rice.”
often across all categories.
“The update better reflects our association with Rice University and provides clearer
The honor came just a few weeks after the
branding for the Jones School’s exciting programs and initiatives,” said Bill Glick, dean of
Houston Business Journal lauded the university
the Jones School. “Everyone already knows us as a business school. The ‘business’ desig-
as one of Houston’s “Best Places to Work” for the
nation in our new name better captures the breadth of our current offerings.”
fourth year in a row. Rice was named in the cat-
Those offerings have expanded during the last two years. New programs include an
egory of businesses with more than 500 employ-
undergraduate business minor and the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, which
ees. The winners were determined by responses
is geared toward aspiring K–12 principals. In fall 2009, the school launched a Ph.D. in busi-
of employees who completed an online survey
ness as well as a new weekend option for the Rice MBA for Professionals program. The
measuring a variety of attributes associated with
new name also better incorporates Rice Executive Education courses, which have been a
employee satisfaction and involvement with the
part of the Jones School for more than 30 years.
workplace. Participating institutions were consid-
—Julia Nguyen
ered for the rankings only if the percentage of
Learn more about the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business:
their employees who took the survey was high
› › › business.rice.edu
enough to represent a statistically valid sample
based on the size of their workforce.
“These recognitions mean a lot to all of us
at Rice because the primary factor in deciding
whether an institution was honored was favor-
able feedback from faculty and staff,” said Mary
Cronin, associate vice president for Human
Mexico’s Top Business Magazine Ranks Rice MBA Best in Southwest
Resources. Rice’s consistent ranking as a best “The Best Global MBAs for Mexicans, 2009,” an international MBA ranking by
place for employment helps the university recruit
and retain the best faculty and staff, she said.
Mexico’s leading business magazine, Expansión, named Rice’s Jesse H. Jones
“It’s particularly gratifying that their positive Graduate School of Business the best in Texas and the Southwest. The ranking also
comments spanned so many aspects of life at placed the Jones School 14th nationally and 26th globally.
Rice, from job satisfaction to work–life balance
to pride in the university,” Cronin said. “They are The ranking evaluated the educational experiences of Mexico’s students at full-time for-
the best.” eign MBA programs, including the programs’ academic quality, their international popula-
tion and the return on student investment. The schools’ reputations in the Mexican market
also factored into the ranking as assessed by the corporate leaders, decisionmakers and
top executives who make up Expansión’s readership base.
Learn more: The Jones School has strong business connections in Latin America that include part-
››› ricemagazine.info/08
nerships with the Graduate School of Business Administration and Leadership, based
See the Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey results: in Monterrey, Mexico, and an exchange program with INCAE Business School in Costa
››› ricemagazine.info/07 Rica. Over the past few years, Rice has recruited extensively in Mexico, Argentina, Chile,
Columbia and Peru, and the university recently partnered with the Princeton Review
GMAT prep centers in Latin America.
—Julia Nguyen

4 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

Eye on the Goal

Despite the setbacks caused by Hurricane Ike and the prolonged economic downturn,
Rice’s $1 billion Centennial Campaign is on target.

Recreation and Wellness Center.

As of the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2009, the campaign has raised Another popular campus destination is
a total of $555.8 million, of which $84.7 million came in during 2008-09. the Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion,
which opened last year. Located in the
Central Quad, the pavilion quickly became
The funds raised by the campaign will be received $55 million in commitments toward a popular hangout for students, faculty, staff
used to prepare Rice students for leadership its $100 million goal. and visitors to campus.
roles in their workplaces and communities, Several buildings funded by campaign This fall, Duncan and McMurtry colleges
enhance the university’s scholarship and re- gifts already are in operation. The Oshman opened to help house the largest freshman
search capabilities, and expand Rice’s com- Engineering Design Kitchen, for one, opened class in Rice’s history. The increased fresh-
munity and international outreach.
“A year ago we were about nine or 10
months ahead of schedule,” said Darrow
Zeidenstein, vice president for Resource
Development. “Although we lost that cush-
ion during the economic slump, this fiscal
year has been the third-largest fundraising
year in Rice’s history, thanks to the generos-
ity of our donors.”
One of the key messages of campaign
fundraisers is that during periods of econom-
ic uncertainty, the vision of Rice University
becomes even more important. “Access to
well-educated, talented and innovative peo-
ple is in the long-term interest of the United
States,” Zeidenstein said.
Rice’s supporters, including faculty, staff
and students, responded over the prior year
with an increased number of gifts to the Rice
Annual Fund, which brought in more than
$6.9 million to the campaign.
Bill Kazmierski ’09 contributed to the
Annual Fund even before he graduated in
May. “Rice was a truly life-changing experi-
ence for me,” he said. “Rice made it easy to
get involved and make a difference around
campus, and the professors made a notice-
able effort to make sure that I got the atten-
tion I needed. I see contributing to the Annual
Fund as a way to express my gratitude.” last December, enabling engineering stu- man population is part of the Vision for the
About 1,600 other recent graduates dents from different specialties to collaborate Second Century goal to expand the under-
also expressed their gratitude to Rice by on projects — just as they will in their ca- graduate student body.
donating more than $176,000 in response reers. (See story on Page 30.) The campaign, the largest fundraising ef-
to the Centennial Challenge to Young Tudor Fieldhouse, which opened last fort in Rice’s history, is scheduled to continue
Alumni. Their gifts brought in another fall, provides a modern facility for men’s and through the end of the university’s centen-
$487,000, thanks to a matching program women’s basketball and women’s volleyball nial year in 2012–13.
—B.J. Almond
offered by Cathryn Rodd Selman ’78 and games, and the Youngkin Center, housed
two anonymous board members that end- in the fieldhouse, includes a study area for
ed on June 30. student–athletes and offices for the Athletics
Geared toward supporting students, the staff. The Rice community also has access
Centennial Scholarship Initative is another to state-of-the-art workout facilities with the Support the Centennial Campaign:
important campaign highlight. So far, it has opening of the Barbara and David Gibbs › › › giving.rice.edu

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 5

U.S. News & World Report Ranks Rice in the Top 20
U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges
2010” guide ranks Rice University No. 17 among 262
schools classified as national universities — institu-
tions that offer a full range of undergraduate majors
and master’s and doctoral degrees and are committed
to producing groundbreaking research.

U.S. News also compared schools on the basis of specific

features, and Rice appears on a number of those lists:

• No. 5 on the list of national universities whose students

have the least amount of debt. Based on the Class of 2008,
this list shows 42 percent of Rice students with debt, and
an average debt of $11,108. Only the top two schools on
the list have average debts of less than $10,000.
• No. 11 on the “Top Up-and-Coming Schools” list.
Schools on this list were singled out as having recently
made promising and innovative changes in academics,
faculty, students, campus or facilities.

• No. 11 on the “Focus on Undergrads” list. This list fea-
tures schools where the faculty has an unusual commit-

ment to undergraduate teaching.
• No. 12 on the “Great Schools, Great Prices” list. This
best-value list relates a school’s academic quality to the
2008–09 academic year net cost of attendance for a stu-
dent who received the average level of need-based finan-
cial aid.
• No. 14 on the “Economic Diversity” list. This list is
based on the percentage of Rice undergraduates receiv-
Rice alumna Lynn Laverty Elsenhans ’78
ing federal Pell Grants, which are awarded to low-income
is in some pretty powerful company.
• No. 19 on the list of best undergraduate programs at en-
gineering schools whose highest degree is a doctorate. Two
The chairman of the board and CEO of the major petro-
specialties in Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering chemical company Sunoco, she earned the No. 10 spot on
are highlighted among undergraduate engineering special- this year’s Forbes list of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful
ties. Rice is ranked ninth in biomedical engineering and Women,” keeping such notable company as German
19th in electrical engineering.
—B.J. Almond Chancellor Angela Merkel (No. 1) and Federal Deposit
Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair (No. 2). Elsenhans
was listed ahead of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
(No. 54) and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama (No. 40).
The Forbes recognition is based on a combination of two scores: visibility
and the size of the organization or country the women lead. Elsenhans joined
Sunoco as its CEO and president in 2008 and was named chairman of the board
this year. Her earlier career was with Shell, where she climbed the management
ranks in national and international posts. She has remained active with Rice
as a member of its board of trustees, and she has been a major contributor to
scholarship funds and to the renovation of Autry Court.
In an interview published last year in Rice Magazine, Elsenhans said her
decision to attend Rice was because of its reputation in math, engineering and
“For me, [Rice] was the total experience, both inside and outside the class-
room,” she said. “I have a tremendous passion and deep love for Rice. I had a
fantastic experience here as a student. It prepared me extremely well and is a
See the complete U.S. News & World Report rankings: part of my success.”
›› › www.usnews.com —Dwight Daniels

6 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

“Our program has been vetted by numerous

experts on asteroids, and, even though they
don’t always agree with each other, they
agreed our presentation is accurate.”
—Patricia Reiff

Houston in the Cometary Crosshairs

Patricia Reiff returned from India just in time to destroy Houston.

Actually, the culprit is an imaginary comet, and the razing of Rice’s The show explores major impacts in Earth’s history and recreates
home city is only make-believe. For now. a meteorite fall on the Great Plains 10,000 years ago, the explosive
Reiff, professor of physics and astronomy and director of the Rice Tunguska event in Siberia in 1908 and the impact that contributed to
Space Institute, was in India to install two the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million
Discovery Domes — completely immersive years ago. The production also takes view-
domed planetariums that utilize digital tech- ers to visit asteroid hunters at the museum’s
nology and can be installed in fixed facilities George Observatory to see how they lo-
or in mobile, inflatable domes. The domes, cate asteroids that might pose a threat to
which can bring lessons about the heavens the planet.
to some of the most remote places on Earth, One such space rock is already raising
have been delivered to 75 locations on six concerns. On Friday, April 13, 2029, the
continents since Reiff and her partners at asteroid Apophis will come within 18,000
the Houston Museum of Natural Science miles of Earth — closer than the geosta-
(HMNS) built the first digital fixed dome in tionary satellites that monitor the weather
1998 and the first portable one in 2003. and carry television signals. The impact of
The imaginary destruction of Houston an asteroid the size of Apophis could wipe
was part of the somber message of Reiff’s out a city or cause a devastating tsunami.
latest production: a planetarium show titled That gave Reiff and her crew the per-
“Impact Earth,” which premiered at Burke fect excuse to visualize just such an event
Baker Planetarium at HMNS in May and for the finale of “Impact Earth.”
currently is in worldwide release. The show, She also expects Rice and HMNS to
funded by NASA and produced by Rice and continue to impact the globe through
HMNS, demonstrates the dangers asteroids their collaboration. “This is a partnership
and comets pose to the planet. In the cli- that’s been very, very deep over the years,”
max, viewers get an up-close-and-personal Reiff said. “Twenty years ago, I helped
look at what would happen if a comet the design the sundial that’s at the museum,
size of Shoemaker-Levy 9, which slammed and Rice helped the museum get George
into Jupiter in 1994, landed in the Gulf of Observatory. There’s a long history of coop-
Mexico. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be pretty. eration between Rice and the museum.”
Asteroids hitting Earth are the stuff of
—Mike Williams
B-movie legend, but that makes the peril no less real. “There have
been Hollywood movies about comets and asteroids hitting Earth, like
Learn what Rice is doing to explore our planet — and beyond:
‘Deep Impact’ and ‘Armageddon,’ but they were not fully scientific in
their explanations and animations,” said Carolyn Sumners, director ›› › rsi.rice.edu
of astronomy at the museum and an adjunct professor of physics and
astronomy at Rice. Find out what Rice researchers are working on in physics and astronomy:
Reiff said “Impact Earth” sets the record straight. “Our program ›› › physics.rice.edu
has been vetted by numerous experts on asteroids, and even though
they don’t always agree with each other, they agreed our presentation
is accurate.”

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 7

Rice physicist Huey Huang pioneered the use of bromine atoms (red) as Huang’s team was the first to predict that certain proteins would react
markers in membrane studies. Last year, the technique helped Huang with cell membranes in such a way as to cause them to curve and
confirm the toroidal shape of pores that trigger cell suicide. form the rounded, doughnut-like hole.

The “Hole” Story of Cell Suicide

Rice physicist Huey Huang is on a quest to understand death — or at least a
little piece of it. Huang has spent the past 15 years studying the properties of
cell membranes in an effort to unravel the mystery of cell suicide, a mystery that
starts with a tiny hole.

The hole is important because it’s a trigger helping change that. Thanks to Huang,
that kicks off a process known as apoptosis. scientists now know the shape of the hole,
Scientists want to understand apoptosis or pore, that triggers apoptosis. The hole
because of the role it plays — or fails to play occurs in a membrane that walls off the
— in cancer. In healthy bodies, defective cells mitochondria inside a cell. The mitochon- Huey Huang
are marked for an orderly death by apoptosis. dria are the cell’s internal power centers
These cells commit suicide and even have — the places where the cell produces the doughnut. Late last year, Huang, his gradu-
the courtesy to package their remains for energy necessary to live. In cells marked ate students and his longtime colleague Lin
convenient recycling. Why this happens is a for suicide, an unknown signal creates a Yang of Brookhaven National Laboratory in
mystery. Cancer cells, however, avoid apop- protein called Bax that punches the holes, Upton, N.Y., used the National Synchrotron
tosis. How they do that is perhaps the bigger and molecules leak out, kicking off a pro- Light Source at Brookhaven to take

Thanks to Huang, scientists now know the shape of the hole, or pore, that triggers apoptosis.
mystery, and one reason scientists want to cess that ends with “executioner” proteins hundreds of painstaking X-ray diffraction
crack the code on apoptosis is to find better systematically dismantling the entire cell. images of pores formed by pieces of Bax.
ways to fight cancer. Knowing that Bax forms pores and They confirmed the toroidal, or doughnut-
Unfortunately, apoptosis is not well understanding how it forms them are two shaped, hole, settling the debate about how
understood. Huang, Rice’s Sam and Helen different things. In 1996, Huang and his Bax forms holes in membranes.
Worden Chair of Physics and Astronomy, graduate students proposed a new idea Huang said the group is now turning its
opened a leading cell biochemistry text- about the way proteins might form pores attention to a more difficult investigation.
book to the chapter on apoptosis, which in the bilayered mitochondrial membranes. The group is trying to work with the entire
amounted to only a handful of pages. “This They suggested that certain proteins, includ- Bax protein to find out what causes it to
is all,” he said. “We really understand very ing Bax, react with the bilayered membrane start making holes in the first place.
little about it.” in such a way as to cause it to curve,
—Jade Boyd
But breakthroughs in Huang’s lab are forming a rounded hole like the one in a

8 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

New Year, Even Greater Challenge

2009–10 Centennial
Challenge to Young Alumni

A (Health Insurance)
Stitch in Time
Might Save …
Extending health insurance coverage to all children in the United
States would be relatively inexpensive and would yield economic
benefits that are greater than the costs, according to new research
conducted at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.
“Rice provides unparalleled
The researchers — Vivian Ho, chair in health economics at the Baker Institute,
professor of economics at Rice and associate professor of medicine at Baylor
opportunities for its undergraduates
College of Medicine, and Marah Short, senior staff researcher in health eco- that extend far beyond graduation.”
nomics at the Baker Institute — based their findings on recent studies that —Jo Ling Kent ’06
examined evidence regarding the economic impact of failing to insure all
children in the U.S. Ho and Short compared children’s health care in the U.S.
to the care provided in other industrialized countries and found that, despite Last year, more than 1,600 young alumni rose to the
the highest per-capita spending on health care among 30 member countries challenge for Rice and demonstrated why our gradu-
of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. ates are among the most elite and supportive in the
ranks third-highest in the percentage of the population lacking health insur- nation. Now Rich ’80 and Karen Waggoner Whitney ’79
ance, with one in seven people uninsured. They estimate the number of are issuing an even greater challenge for 2009–10.
uninsured children in the U.S. to be more than 8 million. They will match every gift from young alumni (Classes
Studies clearly indicate that this lack of coverage leads to “lower access to of 1999–2009) made to the Rice Annual Fund through
medical care and lower use of health care services,” the researchers wrote in June 30, 2010.
their report, titled, “The Economic Impact of Uninsured Children on America.”
It may even be reflected, they argued, in relatively high child morbidity rates Gifts received Sept. 1–Dec. 31, 2009, will be matched
in the U.S. Moreover, lack of health care for children has long-term effects — 3-to-1.
some of them economic — as those children become adults.
Children who receive better health care and enjoy better health are gen- Jo Ling Kent ’06, who currently works as an associ-
erally more productive as adults, the researchers said. The cost incurred by ate producer for CNN’s Beijing bureau, is one of many
providing universal coverage to children “will be offset by the increased value recent graduates who have risen to the challenge by
of additional life years and improved health-related quality of life gained from making a gift to the Rice Annual Fund for Student Life
improved health care,” they wrote. “From a societal perspective, universal and Learning. After earning a B.A. in history, policy
coverage for children appears to be cost-saving.” studies and Asian studies from Rice, Jo earned master’s
The report concludes that there is compelling evidence that covering all degrees in international affairs from Peking University
children in the United States with health insurance will yield not only im- and the London School of Economics and Political
mediate improvements in the health of children, but also long-term returns of Science. As a journalist, she has covered stories rang-
greater health and productivity in adulthood. “The up-front incremental costs ing from the 2008 Taiwan elections to the Beijing
of universal health insurance coverage for children are relatively modest,” said Olympics.
Ho, “and they will be offset by the value of increased health capital gained
in the long term.”
—Franz Brotzen Tell us how you are rising to the challenge at:

Read “The Economic Impact of Uninsured Children on America”: www.rice.edu/centennialchallenge

›› › ricemagazine.info/20

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 9

Find out how you can help Rice University achieve its goals for the next century: ›› › giving.rice.edu

Chip Off the Old School Slate

The image of rural schoolchildren in under-
developed countries chalking their lessons
on old-fashioned blackboard slates may
soon change, thanks to an energy-stingy
computer chip invented by Krishna Palem,
Rice’s Ken and Audrey Kennedy Professor
of Computer Science and Electrical and
Computer Engineering.
Palem’s breakthrough chip, called PCMOS
(for probabilistic complementary metal-oxide
semiconductor), trades off precision in calcu-
lations for significant reductions in energy use.
Prototype PCMOS chips were found to use
30 times less electricity while running seven
times faster than today’s best technology.
Although PCMOS runs on standard silicon, it

Research Funding Champ

breaks with current computing by abandon-
ing the set of mathematical rules — called
Boolean logic — that have thus far been used
in all digital computers. PCMOS instead uses
probabilistic logic, a new form of logic devel-
oped by Palem and his postdoctoral research Rice is challenging Texans’ notion that bigger is better,
associate, Lakshmi Chakrapani.
A key to using the technology is find-
particularly when it comes to security-related research.
ing applications — like streaming video for
cell phones or low-powered video displays U.S. Department of Defense awards to Rice during fiscal year 2009 totaled more than $32
— where error can be tolerated. The upshot million, pushing Rice well over the $100 million mark for DOD awards during the past
could be cell phones that have to be recharged decade. The awards come in areas where the university already has notable research
every few weeks rather than every few days. strengths — computation, digital signal processing, nanotechnology, quantum magnetism
The chips will find their first real-world use in and high-temperature superconductivity.
a solar-powered electronic slate, or I-slate, an “If you do a per capita adjustment on the amount of funding we receive per faculty
electronic version of the slates used by many member, I’m sure we are competitive not only in Texas but across the nation,” said Sallie
schoolchildren in rural India. The I-slate’s Keller, dean of Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering. “The depth of our offering
developers are working with educational on security-related research covers everything from the evolution of influ-
technologists from the International Institute enza and new treatments for breast cancer to improved chemical safety
of Information Technology, Hyderabad, in and atomic physics.”
India, to develop a visually based mathemat- Dan Carson, dean of Rice’s Wiess School of Natural Sciences,
ics curriculum that allows children to learn by said that the key to Rice’s funding success is the quality of the
doing, regardless of their culture, their native faculty. “That’s one reason you see such a wide array of research
tongue, their grade level or whether they have getting DOD funding here,” he said. “We have great faculty across
a full-time teacher. the board.”
“We expect to begin testing prototypes of Rice’s breadth of security-related research may be a surprise
the curriculum and the I-slates next spring,” given the university’s size. With 5,339 students, Rice is the second-
Palem said. smallest member of the Association of American Universities, an organi-
Inspired by microfinance, the I-slate’s in- zation representing the nation’s top 62 research universities. But Rice held its
novators intend to use social entrepreneurism own against the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, despite having
to create a self-sustaining economic model for only about one-tenth the number of students.
the I-slate that both creates jobs in impover- —Jade Boyd
ished areas and ensures the I-slate’s contin-
ued success. What is Rice University planning for the next century? Find out here:
—Jade Boyd › › › professor.rice.edu/professor/Vision.asp
Discover what innovations are being made at Rice:
› › › natsci.rice.edu
Want to help out? Find out how:
› › › giving.rice.edu

10 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
Dash for ‘Dots’ Raises Questions
Rice =
Quantum dots have the potential to bring many good things into the world: efficient
solar power, targeted gene and drug delivery, solid-state lighting, and advances
‘Best Quality
in biomedical imaging, for example. But they may pose hazards as well. of Life’

A team of Rice researchers has been working their toxins into the environment. The Princeton Review may have
to discover the health risks of quantum dots, “In that way, quantum dots resemble broadcast the news, but Rice’s
which are molecule-sized semiconducting batteries,” said Alvarez, referring to common own students said it first: Rice is
nanocrystals that generally are composed nickel-cadmium cells people are warned not
of heavy metals surrounded by an organic to throw in the trash. “They’re often made
No. 1 nationally for “best quality
shell. of coatings that are biocompatible and sta- of life.”
Pedro Alvarez, Rice’s George R. ble in water, but the moment we lose that
Brown Professor and chair of the Civil and coating, which can happen through a vari- The ranking appears in the newly
Environmental Engineering Department, ety of mechanisms, they can release toxic released 2010 edition of Princeton
published a paper in Environmental Science compounds.” Review’s popular guidebook “The
& Technology showing that under even mild- Used in solar cells, quantum dots may Best 371 Colleges.” Rice has consis-
ly acidic or alkaline conditions, the shells be quickly weathered by acid rain, he said. tently placed in the guide’s top 10 in
can break down, releasing their toxic con- Another concern is that acids in the body this category over the past several
tents into the body or the environment. He could break down dots used in medical ap- years. This year, Rice also ranks No.
co-authored the paper with colleagues Vicki plications. On the positive side, the research- 8 for “happiest students,” No. 11 for
Colvin, the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger ers found that certain proteins and natural “lots of race/class interaction” and
Professor of Chemistry and professor of organic matter, such as humic acids, may No. 19 for “great financial aid.”
chemical and biomolecular engineering; re- mitigate the effects of decomposing quantum The rankings are based on a
search scientist Shaily Mahendra; and post- dots by coating them or by complexing the survey of 122,000 students attending
doctoral research associate Huiguang Zhu. metal ions released, making them less toxic. the 371 colleges named in the book.
“We’re interested in the long-term implica- “If the dots degrade faster than they can They assessed their institutions on
tions of nanotechnology, and we recognized be excreted, there’s the potential for heavy food, dorm comfort, campus beauty,
that quantum dots are going to be produced metals to be released into the body,” Alvarez ease of getting around campus, re-
in large quantities,” said Mahendra, who did said. “Then their impact becomes a question lationship with the local community,
the bulk of the research. “We thought we of dose.” campus safety, surrounding area,
should be proactive in studying their effects The researchers cautioned that short- interaction between students, friend-
so that we can take part in the development term studies can’t easily predict whether tox- liness and happiness of the student
of safety guidelines.” ins released by quantum dots will build up body, and smoothness with which
The dots, 1/50,000 the width of a human in the body over time. “We hope our work the school is administered.
hair, were found to be safe in applications will stimulate research by other labs into the “We are a genuine community
with a neutral pH environment. However, release dynamics,” said Alvarez. where every individual feels that
the study suggested that when such products —Mike Williams they matter, and they do,” said Rice
are discarded, they can eventually release President David Leebron. “This is
also about the quality of our campus,
and it’s about having a campus with
numerous trees and open, green
space in the heart of a major city
where students can enjoy the best
of urban living. Mostly, though, Rice
received that ranking from our stu-
dents because they know that every
student is important.”
—David Ruth

Learn more:
› › › ricemagazine.info/23

Read Rice’s complete Princeton Review

› › › ricemagazine.info/24

Shaily Mahendra and Pedro Alvarez

display a sample of quantum dots.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 11

inside plasmonic nanoparticles resonate
Nanocups Brim with Potential with input from an outside electromag-
netic source in the same way that a pool
struck by a drop of water ripples. The
Superlenses. Ultra-efficient solar cells. Cloaking devices. Once the stuff of particles act the same way radio anten-
science fiction, these may soon be possible, thanks to a metamaterial that nas do, with the ability to absorb and
emit electromagnetic waves that, in this
collects light and emits it in a single direction. case, include visible wavelengths.
Because nanocup ensembles can
Created by Naomi Halas, an award-winning focus light in a specific direction, they
make good candidates for thermal so-
pioneer in nanophotonics, and graduate student
lar power. “Solar-generated power of
Nikolay Mirin, the metamaterial uses tiny, cup-
all kinds would benefit,” said Halas.
shaped particles called nanocups.
“In solar cells, about 80 percent of the
Mirin had been trying to make a thin gold
light passes right through the device.
film with nano-sized holes when it occurred
And there’s a huge amount of interest
to him that the knocked-out bits were worth
in making cells as thin as possible for
investigating. Previous work on isolated gold
many reasons.”
nanocups had given researchers a sense of their
In addition, a solar panel that fo-
properties, but Mirin found a way to lock en- cuses light into a beam that’s always on
sembles of nanocups into sheets that orient the target without having to track the sun
nanocups in a unified direction. The resulting would save a lot of money on machin-
metamaterial — a substance that gets its proper- ery and the energy needed to power the
ties from its structure and not its composition — machinery.
excels in capturing light from any direction and Using nanocup metamaterial to
focusing all of it in one direction. Redirecting transmit optical signals between com-
scattered light means none of it bounces off the puter chips has potential, and it also
metamaterial back into the eye of an observer. might be used in enhanced spectros-
That essentially makes the material invisible. copy and to create superlenses.
This means that the observer does not see “We’d like to implement the mate-
the material, but what is behind it. “The ma- rial into some sort of useful device,”
terial should not only retransmit the color and said Halas of her team’s next steps. “We
brightness of what is behind it,” Mirin said, “but also would like to make several varia-
also bend the light around, preserving the origi- tions. We’re looking at the fundamental
nal phase information of the signal.” aspects of the geometry, how we can
Halas — Rice’s Stanley C. Moore Professor manipulate it and how we can control
in Electrical and Computer Engineering and pro- it better. Probably the most interesting
fessor of chemistry, of biomedical engineering application is something we haven’t
and of physics and astronomy — said the em- thought of yet.”
bedded nanocups are the first true three-dimen- —Mike Williams
sional nanoantennas, and their light-bending
Learn more:
properties are made possible by electronic sur-
face excitations known as plasmons. Electrons › › › ricemagazine.info/25

“We’re looking at the

fundamental aspects of
the geometry, how we
can manipulate it and
how we can control it
better. Probably the most
interesting application
is something we haven’t
Nikolay Mirin and Naomi Halas
thought of yet.”
—Naomi Halas

12 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

Unzipping the Future

In the process developed by the Tour group, nanotubes open into nanoribbons sequentially, from the outer to inner layers.

Scientists at Rice University have found a simple way to create But the multiwalled nanotubes, which unzip in one hour at 130 to 158
sheets of tough, electrically conductive nanomaterial that can be degrees F, are a much cheaper starting material, and the resulting
nanoribbons would be useful in a host of applications.
used as basic elements for aircraft, flat-screen TVs, electronics “If a company wants to produce these,” Tour said, “it could prob-
and other products. And the process begins with a zipper. ably start selling small quantities within six months. To scale it up and
sell ton quantities might take a couple of years — it’s just a matter of
Discovered in the lab of James Tour, the technique — which uses a having the right reactors. But the chemistry is very simple.”
room-temperature chemical process to split, or unzip, carbon nano- Tour is excited by the possibility that conductive nanoribbons
tubes to make flat ribbons of graphene — can produce the ultrathin could replace indium tin oxide (ITO), a material commonly used in
ribbons in bulk quantities. Until now, making flat-panel displays, touch panels, electronic ink
such material in more than microscopic quan- and solar cells. “ITO is very expensive,” he said,
tities has involved a chemical vapor deposition
16 April 2009 | www.nature.com/nature
“so lots of people are looking for substitutes that

process at more than 1,500 degrees F. You’d have will give them transparency with conductivity.
to place thousands of the ribbons side by side to There are thin films of nanotubes that fit the
equal the width of a human hair, but tests show bill, but when you stack two cylinders, the area
graphene is 200 times stronger than steel. that is touching is very small. If you stack these
“If you want to make conductive film, this is ribbons into sheets, you have thinner films with
what you want,” said Tour, Rice’s Chao Professor very large areas of overlap and equivalent con-
of Chemistry and also a professor of mechani- ductivity or better.”
cal engineering and materials science and of NANOTUBES Tour envisions nanoribbon-coated paper that
computer science. “As soon as we started talking UNZIPPED could become a flexible electronic display, and
about this process, we began getting calls from A route to graphene
nanoribbon electronics
he’s already experimenting with nanoribbon-
manufacturers who recognized the potential.” infused ink for ink-jet printers. “We’re actually
The unzipping action can start on the end or printing electronics with these inks,” he said.
in the middle, but the result is the same — the RISING SEA LEVELS NATUREJOBS
“This is going to be the new material for many
tubes turn into flat, straight-edged, water-soluble A fossil record Go with the wind
ribbons of graphene. When produced in bulk, In search of inflation Tour said discussions already are under way
these microscopic sheets can be “painted” onto Darwin on the mind with several companies looking into large-scale
a surface or combined with a polymer to make production of nanoribbons and with others in-
it conductive. terested in specific applications for nanoribbons
Tour credited Rice temporary research scien-
tist Dmitry Kosynkin with the discovery. “Dmitry
Tour envisions nanoribbon- in their core product technologies. Formal indus-
trial partnering already has begun through Rice’s
came to me and said he had nanoribbons,” re- coated paper that could Office of Technology Transfer.
The work, which was featured on the cover of
called Tour. “It took a while to convince me, but
as soon as I saw them I realized this was huge.” become a flexible electronic the April 16 issue of the journal Nature, was fund-
ed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects
Also contributing were graduate students Amanda
Higginbotham, Jay Lomeda and B. Katherine display, and he’s already Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration and
Price; postdoctoral researcher Alexander Sinitskiy,
and visiting scientist Ayrat Dimiev. experimenting with Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory
through the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific
The basic process is the same for single or
multiwalled tubes. Single-walled carbon nano-
nanoribbon-infused ink for Research.
—Mike Williams
tubes convert to sheets at room temperature and
are good for small electronic devices because the
ink-jet printers.
width of the unzipped sheet is highly controllable.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 13


Feminist Economics by the Book Breaking News from the Future

Thanks to the Rice University-based journal In an era when newspapers are downsizing coverage of basic research,
Feminist Economics, economists in China will how can universities get the word out about breakthroughs?
have greater access to comprehensive research
about gender issues and economy. It’s a problem that puzzled University
of Rochester Vice President for
Communications Bill Murphy, who hit
The journal teamed up with graduate students in Peking upon a solution. Last March, Murphy
University’s China Center for Economic Research to publish presented a beta version of a Web site
in book form a Chinese translation of its 2007 special issue called Futurity.org at a meeting of the
on gender, China and the World Trade Organization. Association of American Universities.
Like the special issue from which it was derived, the That’s where Rice Vice President for
book, which is titled “China’s Transition and Feminist Public Affairs Linda Thrane jumped
Economics,” examines the consequences of China’s open- on board.
ing up to international trade The site, a group effort by 33
and its transition from socialism universities, is dedicated to sharing
to a market economy. It also research breakthroughs directly with
illustrates how the accession the public in an era when traditional
of China to the World Trade news outlets are rapidly shrinking.
Organization and the growth The site reports on discoveries in sci-
of the Chinese economy have ence, health, society and culture.
elevated the overall well-being Thrane said that Rice was a good fit for the pioneering project.
of many Chinese women but “We signed Rice up right away when we learned about this elite venue,”
adversely affected others. she said. “This is one more option for us to share the tremendous work of our
“Traditional economic anal- faculty members in ways that reach and interest broad audiences. And that vis-
yses pay little attention to the ibility builds respect and support for our faculty and our university.”
unpaid sector of the economy Rice already has had more than 20 stories featured on the site, and more
and do not adequately theorize are in the works.
how activities like unpaid child —David Ruth
and elder care are influenced
by government policies and Read breaking news from Rice and other research institutions:
then feed back into decisions
›› › futurity.org
about formal work, production
and consumption,” said Diana
Strassmann, editor of Feminist
Economics and professor in the
practice of humanities at Rice’s
Center for the Study of Women,
Nano-safety Journal Ratings Debut
Gender and Sexuality.
The Rice-based International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) has in-
“There is an interest and demand for such information,”
said Xiao-yuan Dong, who, along with Günseli Berik and troduced an interactive feature to its Virtual Journal of Nanotechnology
Gale Summerfield, guest edited the issue. “Many economists Environment, Health and Safety (VJ-NanoEHS) that allows users to post
just haven’t been introduced to feminist economic analysis. ratings and comments about technical papers archived at the site.
With this book, we hope to train them to approach their
research with a more comprehensive outlook.”
The five-star rating system, which was developed with extensive input from
The feminist economic outlook takes into account fac-
interested stakeholders, provides registered users an opportunity to acknowl-
tors such as who household decision-makers are, gender
edge the publications that best exemplify good research practice and effective
roles and quality of life. From that framework, the journal
research shows that minority women in China are now
A survey of potential contributors found that, as the pace of nano-EHS pub-
working outside the home at much lower rates. This may
lication rapidly increases, a rating system would help the highest-quality work
signal a return to traditional gender roles and indicate
to be identified. That will allow such work to serve as a model to others moving
that minority women appear to be losing out in the more
into the field and to better inform the public dialogue about nanotechnology’s
global economy.
risks and benefits.
—Jessica Stark
With the introduction of this new feature, ICON continues to extend the
utility of its comprehensive database on nano-safety. Other features include
a customized search function and an analysis tool that allows users to track
For more information on Feminist Economics visit: research trends over time.
›› › feministeconomics.org

Read the ICON Virtual Journal at:

›› › icon.rice.edu/virtualjournal.cfm

14 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
“It’s purely a Rice
story. While I was
here, I met my Rice Graduates
future wife, Ava Among Top Earners
Plummer, who’s also Rice University graduates have the high-
a Rice grad, Class est median salaries among graduates of
Texas colleges and universities, according
of 1978. We started to the 2009 Education and Salary Report
talking, then we by PayScale.com, a Web site that collects
started dating, and employee salary data. Rice graduates earn
median starting salaries of $57,900 and
we got married last median mid-career salaries of $105,000
December.” — at least $9,300 more and $8,100 more,
respectively, than graduates of any other

A Pioneer
—Raymond Johnson school in the Lone Star State. Among the
nearly 600 U.S.-based schools included in

the report, Rice ranked 23rd for salaries
of those with five or fewer years’ experi-
ence and 34th for salaries of those with at
least 10 years’ experience. The numbers
were based on more than a million us-
ers of PayScale.com who reported their
When Raymond Johnson stepped to the front of a Rice University classroom salaries and educational backgrounds in
for the first time this fall, few of his students realized the significance of a survey over the past year. All reports
were for graduates who work in the U.S.
the moment. In an extraordinary turn of events, the first black student to and whose highest academic degree is a
earn a degree at Rice had returned as a professor. bachelor’s.

The entire report is available at:

› › › www.payscale.com
The mathematician, who earned his doctor- Not so fast, said Rice officials, who
ate here in 1969, holds a unique place in jumped at the chance to bring him aboard.
Rice history as the first African-American to “He was well-known to the department for
be admitted and earn a degree — breaking his research, for the fact that he was our
a whites-only barrier that had been part of
the Rice Institute charter since the founding
first African-American graduate and for his
exceptional work mentoring doctoral stu-
Rice a Fiske
of the university. dents, which brought him national recogni- ‘Best-buy School’
Johnson, now Rice’s distinguished W.L. tion,” said Brendan Hassett, professor and
Moody Jr. Visiting Professor of Mathematics, chair of the Department of Mathematics. At Rice is one of the few elite private
spent a 40-year career at the University of Maryland, Johnson mentored 23 students colleges to make the list of “best-buy
Maryland, where he was the first black fac- — 22 of them African-American and eight
ulty member. He taught in, and for a while of them women — who went on to earn
schools” in the 2010 edition of “Fiske
chaired, the mathematics department and doctorates in mathematics, and his efforts Guide to Colleges.”
pursued research in harmonic analysis. earned him the 2006 Mentor Award for The book, which serves as a reference
With retirement beckoning, Johnson Lifetime Achievement from the American tool for students, parents and high school
agreed to come to Houston two years Association for the Advancement of Science. counselors, combined cost data with
ago for an event called “Our History, Our Rice President David Leebron recog- academic ratings and quality of student
Present, Our Future” that honored the 40th nized the value of what Johnson brings. life on campus to determine which in-
anniversary of the first African-Americans “It’s especially poignant to have Raymond stitutions offer remarkable educational
to enter Rice as undergraduates and earn here to greet our largest and most diverse opportunities at a relatively modest cost.
degrees. Johnson’s own history, present and freshman class ever,” he said. “His perspec- The guide did not rank the 44 best-buy
future also came together that day. tive of Rice then and experience with Rice schools in any order.
“It’s purely a Rice story,” said Johnson, now will help all of us better appreciate the The Fiske rating complements two
sitting in his office in Herman Brown Hall. progress that has been achieved through other independent rankings of best val-
“While I was here, I met my future wife, the work of so many. He is a pioneer who ues among private colleges that were
Ava Plummer, who’s also a Rice grad, Class helped us get to where we are today.” published this year. Kiplinger’s Personal
of 1978. We started talking, then we started Johnson modestly maintains he hap- Finance magazine and the Princeton
dating, and we got married last December.” pened to be at the right place at the right Review “Best Value Colleges for 2009”
Plummer, however, had no inten- time. “There were a couple of bumps, but both ranked Rice No. 4 among private
tion of leaving her position as a lawyer at it was very straightforward,” he said of his schools.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center to move to education. “I hope one of the things I can
Maryland. teach is that black students can succeed Find out why Rice is a great value:
“I started looking for a position in here. If they’re qualified and they work › › › futureowls.rice.edu
Houston,” Johnson said. “I knew I could hard, they’ll complete the degree.”
retire from Maryland, and the backup plan
was, in theory, to do that.” —Mike Williams

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 15

Building for
For years, Rice University has explored the frontiers of research Biochemistry and Cell Biology. The Gulf Coast Consortia, an orga-
and education. Now, it has started exploring another type of nization formed to help build interdisciplinary collaborative research
teams and training programs in the biological sciences, also is now
boundary entirely — the physical seam between the university headquartered in the BRC, and in July, Texas Children’s Hospital be-
and other Texas Medical Center institutions. came the first TMC institution to lease space in the building. Talks
are ongoing with several other TMC institutions that have expressed
At the heart of this quest is the newly opened BioScience Research interest in leasing space.
Collaborative (BRC). The building, meant to serve as a hub for col- Conceptualized and built by Rice, the 477,000-square-foot BRC is
laboration between researchers at Rice and other Texas Medical equipped for cutting-edge laboratory, theoretical and computational
Center (TMC) institutions, is located at the corner of Main Street and investigations and features eight floors of research labs, classrooms
University Boulevard — about a four-minute walk from medical pow- and auditoriums. It is designed to eventually accommodate a visual-
erhouses like Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital ization center and an entire floor dedicated to biomedical informatics.
and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. The building’s amenities also include a science marketplace that houses

Conceptualized and built by Rice, the 477,000-square-foot BRC is equipped for cutting-edge laboratory, theoretical
and computational investigations and features eight floors of research labs, classrooms and auditoriums.

“Within this region around the TMC and Rice, and reaching out a scientific resources shared by the entire BRC community and an urban
little bit farther to the University of Houston and the University of Texas plaza with 10,000 square feet of retail space for a restaurant and shops.
Medical Branch at Galveston, we have all of the capabilities necessary But while the building is full of thoughtful details, it’s what takes
to make very important advances in the biosciences,” said Rice Provost place inside that will truly help foster advances in research.
Eugene Levy. “Still, in order to capitalize on these complementary “I would like to see the BRC become a vanguard for showing how
competencies, we need to bring together a variety of institutions to it is possible to bring the best basic science and the best clinical or ap-
produce the specialized capabilities that none of the institutions have plied science together for a smooth transfer of knowledge from ‘bench
alone. That’s really the underlying idea behind the BRC.” to practice,’ which is even broader than the ‘bench to bedside’ so often
Rice faculty members have been transferring their laboratories and talked about,” said Mary “Cindy” Farach-Carson, Rice’s associate vice
offices to the new building since early July, and the entire Department provost for research. “We live in the Bio Age, and the opportunities
of Bioengineering will soon call the BRC home, along with several for integrating life sciences discoveries at Rice with world challenges
members of the Department of Chemistry and the Department of are enormous.”
—Merin Porter

16 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

Texas Children’s Hospital
Joins Rice’s BioScience
Research Collaborative
Late in July, Texas Children’s Hospital be- The students in the lab of Vicki Colvin, Kenneth S. Pitzer–Schlumberger
came the first Texas Medical Center insti- Professor of Chemistry and professor of chemical and biomolecu-
tution to lease space in the BioScience
lar engineering, are used to pioneering nanoscale research, but in
Research Collaborative (BRC).
July, they were pioneers of a different sort when they became the
Ranked among the top 10 best children’s hospitals
by U.S. News & World Report, Texas Children’s will
first tenants of Rice’s BioScience Research Collaborative.
lease space on the eighth floor of the 10-story BRC
for 10 years, with an option to renew up to 40 years.
Because the space is still under construction, dates After spending a week packing up their
for occupancy have not been finalized. old lab and a week unpacking in their new
one, the researchers were ready to take full
“We believe that this building and the collabor-
advantage of what the new space offered,
ative work that it will foster between Rice and other
including innovative workbenches, new
institutions of the Texas Medical Center will provide equipment and prime office space. They
a new impetus to the center’s leadership in medi- also were looking forward to something
cal research,” said Rice University President David the BRC offers outside of the lab: the stu-
Leebron. “Texas Children’s Hospital, with its strong dent hub.
commitment to medical research as well as teach- “It has a great view of campus, but
ing and health delivery, has become an increasingly it will also be a really great space where
important partner for Rice, and we are immensely we get to know other undergrads, gradu-
pleased to enter this new and deeper phase of ate students and postdocs working in the
BRC,” said Hema Puppala, a graduate stu-
working together.”
dent researcher in the Colvin group. “It will
Texas Children’s president and CEO Mark
be a place where we can talk about what
Wallace said that joining the BRC was a natural pro- we’re working on and hear about what oth-
gression in the hospital’s journey from “excellence ers are doing and maybe find ways to work
to eminence.” together.”
“The BRC is ideally situated to draw from a pool The BRC also has become home to a
of intellectual talent that is second to none,” said host of Rice chemists, biochemists, bio-
Wallace. “We are proud not only to demonstrate engineers, biomedical engineers, cell
our unwavering commitment to research, basic sci- biologists, and electrical and computer
ences and collaboration, but also to be the very first engineers. Other Rice groups and offices
are scheduled to make the move by the
partner of this amazing venture.”
end of January, including the rest of the
Although patients will not be treated at the
Department of Bioengineering, the Institute
BRC, they will benefit from new treatments devel- of Biosciences and Bioengineering, Beyond
oped there by researchers, physicians and scientists. Traditional Borders, Rice 360°: Institute for
Nanobiotechnology, for example, is expected to be Global Health Technologies, the Texas-
used increasingly to design noninvasive treatments United Kingdom Collaborative Research
for diseases that now require surgery. Initiative, and the Center for Biological and
—Jessica Stark Environmental Nanotechnology.
“It will be fun once we get everyone
in here,” said Arjun Prakash, a graduate
student researcher in Colvin’s group. “The
facilities are definitely nice, and proximity
to other researchers in the building and
within the Texas Medical Center makes col-
laboration more possible.”
—Jessica Stark

A full list of Rice researchers relocating

to the BRC can be found at:
› ›› rice.edu/ brc/researchers

Mark Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children’s See more photos of the Colvin Group’s
Hospital, signs an agreement with Rice President David move into the BRC:
Leebron that makes Texas Children’s the first Texas › ›› ricemagazine.info/ 27
Medical Center institution to lease space in Rice’s new
BioScience Research Collaborative.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 17

Construction @ rice

New Home for Physics and Astronomy

Imagine your department being divided among six buildings or your researchers hav-
ing to conduct experiments in the dead of night to avoid disturbances from traffic on
nearby streets that could skew results from highly sensitive instruments. Now imagine
Brockman Hall for Physics, currently under construction, bringing an end to all that.

One thing you don’t have to imagine is the The 110,000-square-foot Brockman Hall
$11.1 million in federal stimulus funding for Physics will support research and edu-
from the National Institute of Standards and cation in fundamental and applied physics
Technology (NIST) that will aid in the con- that is of direct relevance to the missions
struction of the new research facility. of the U.S. Department of Commerce and
“The NIST funding provides not only an NIST. Faculty from Rice’s Department of
impressive and tangible demonstration of the Physics and Astronomy and the Department
timeliness and importance of the Brockman of Electrical and Computer Engineering will
Hall for Physics building project, but also the occupy the building, which is scheduled to
culmination of literally years of dedicated open in spring 2011.
work by former dean Kathleen Matthews, “These are going to be absolutely state-
Rice project manager Pat Dwyer and others,” of-the-art facilities,” said Barry Dunning, chair

“This new facility will enable Rice to remain on the cutting edge of physical science research.”
Safe and Sound —James Coleman

said Dan Carson, dean of the Wiess School of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
of Natural Sciences. “This highly significant “We will be able to do research and not be
The Rice University Police Department award will provide the Wiess School and limited by the available space, vibration, hu-
(RUPD) will soon add public address Rice University with much more flexibility midity — all the things we’ve had problems
capabilities to the arsenal of weapons in planning and program development at a with in the past.”
it uses to ensure campus safety. The PA critical time.” The building is expected to earn silver
system will be affixed to approximately The NIST funding also will help ensure status under the Leadership in Energy and
Rice’s preeminence in research concerning Environmental Design standard developed
18 of the campus’s 54 emergency phones atomic/molecular/optical physics, biophys- by the U.S. Green Building Council. The
and will allow RUPD officers to alert the ics, condensed-matter physics, nanomaterials architect is KieranTimberlake Associates
Rice community to environmental and and photonics. in Philadelphia. External project manage-
other types of emergencies, including “It’s fantastic that NIST has recognized ment services are provided by Linbeck, and
weather-related situations and fires. the tremendous opportunities in physics-re- Gilbane Building Company is the construc-
lated research at Rice,” said James Coleman, tion contractor. The building previously
The upgrade is part of a four-year initia- Rice’s vice provost for research. “This new received a naming gift from the A. Eugene
tive begun in 2006 to bring Rice’s emer- facility will enable Rice to remain on the cut- Brockman Charitable Trust.
gency phones into compliance with the ting edge of physical science research.”
—Jade Boyd and Mike Williams
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA),
which was signed into law after the origi-
nal phones were installed approximately
20 years ago. So far, 32 of Rice’s first-
generation emergency phones have been
replaced with their ADA-compliant coun-
terparts, which also feature strobe lights
that operate when the phone is activated.
According to Facilities, Engineering and
Planning Project Manager Bob Flumach,
who has been working with Rice Chief of
Police Bill Taylor on the emergency phone
upgrades, the strobe light will alert other
people in the area that an emergency has
been reported and will also help guide se-
curity personnel to the location.
“The blue-light phones and public
address–system upgrades are really high
tech, and I’m very excited about them,”
said Taylor. “The new technology truly
brings Rice’s emergency phone system up
to speed.”
—Merin Porter

18 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
Common Ground
Rice’s athletic teams have shared a commitment to excellence for
decades — now they share a front door, too.
Completed in spring 2009, the Audrey Moody Ley Plaza is a grassy
quadrangle featuring several concrete and decomposed-granite path-
ways that connect Tudor Fieldhouse and Youngkin Center, Jake Hess
Tennis Stadium, Rice Track Stadium and Reckling Park. A variety of
trees surround the plaza, including Washingtonia palms, Mexican
buckeyes and burr oaks, while underground infrastructure installed
during the construction phase sets the stage for a
future fountain.
But the plaza isn’t just common ground for
Rice’s athletic facilities — it’s also becoming a com-
mon place for students to relax.
“I am seeing students use the area more and
more often, maybe just putting a blanket down or
throwing a Frisbee,” said Assistant Athletic Director
for Sports Information Chuck Pool. “I think as the
plaza’s greenery matures, we will see it being oc-
cupied even more.”
In addition to connecting Rice’s athletic facili-
ties and providing students with a space to unwind,
the plaza brings Reckling Park into the public eye.
Rice’s baseball stadium has long been nearly invis-
ible from College Way, where most Rice visitors
“Before the plaza was built, people might have
caught a glimpse of Reckling Park’s scoreboard as they hit the ten-
nis courts,” Pool said. “But it’s no longer an afterthought. There are
so many signature architectural facades on campus, and I think that
Reckling Park now is visible enough to become one of them.”
—Merin Porter

South Colleges Get a Facelift

The explosion of new colleges on the north side of campus may
have temporarily eclipsed the South Colleges, but that ended
in May as the South Colleges renovations and additions proj-
ect moved into high gear.

The project includes a new bed tower for Baker College and an-
other for Will Rice College. The 1955 wing of Will Rice will be
demolished, and a new kitchen/servery for Will Rice College and
Lovett College will be built. In addition, the Baker College kitchen/
servery will be completely renovated. Decorative limestone and
other materials have been salvaged from both Baker and Will Rice Baker College
to help match the renovations to the existing buildings.
The final phase of the project, which will be completed in time
for the beginning of the fall 2010 semester, will see a total of 82 new
beds added to the three renovated colleges.

Watch the work at Will Rice in progress:

››› ricemagazine.info/ 2 8

Learn more about Rice construction projects:

››› cons t r uc tion . rice.edu

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 19

Rocky Road There are a lot of interesting rocks along the road from Marrakech to
Casablanca, and a coterie of Rice students and their professors had a
good look at a lot of them during the summer break.

Led by Earth science professors André Droxler and Gerald Dickens, a group
of undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and profes-
sors about 25 strong traveled more than 2,000 miles during a two-week journey
through Morocco, one of the planet’s most unique geological regions. There they
were able to study geological formations from the northwest Sahara desert to
the Atlas and Rif mountains. These last, located along the Mediterranean coast,
contain rock that formed in the Earth’s upper mantle only to be pushed to the
surface by tectonic activity.
“The field trip gave students the opportunity to see a wide range of geol-
ogy as well as rocks that cover a great time span,” Droxler said. “The beauty of
Morocco is that we observed rocks from Precambrian times, about 700 million
years old, up to half a million years old. The
age, diversity and types of outcropping rocks
were all really astonishing.”
The students could
The lack of vegetation in much of the sense a disconnect
country made it particularly easy to peer back
through the ages as the group traveled though between Berbers and
the mountains of Morocco in a bus and two
four-wheel-drive SUVs. “You get to observe the
Arabs, and under-
completely uncovered outcrops, and the overall standing the social
landscapes are absolutely stunning,” Droxler
said. “Morocco gives you this great palette of organization and ob-
not only different types of rocks, but also differ-
ent formations and structures.” serving the different
“The beauty of Morocco is that we The deep structures of the Atlas and Rif
mountains are at the heart of an international
living conditions in
observed rocks from Precambrian project that involves Alan Levander, the Carey
Croneis Professor of Earth Science. The project
Morocco became part
times, about 700 million years is investigating the ranges, which are part of of a wider learning
old, up to half a million years old. the line of demarcation where the Africa and
Eurasia plates meet, to determine what happens
experience for them.
The age, diversity and types of when continents collide.
Droxler said Albert Bally, Rice’s Harry Carothers Wiess Professor Emeritus
outcropping rocks were all really of Geology, was an immense help in preparing students by teaching a spring
astonishing.” —André Droxler
seminar on Moroccan geology, which he became familiar with when he worked
for Shell and did research with graduate students while at Rice. Droxler got
further help from his own former teacher, Professor Emeritus Jean-Paul Schaer
from the University of Neuchâtel in Switzerland, who’d spent a lot of time
in Morocco. “He knew somebody who knew somebody who knew some-
body, and so on,” Droxler said. Three of Droxler’s colleagues doing field
research in Morocco — Francois Negro, Romain Bousquet and Lahssen Baidder
of Switzerland, Germany and Morocco, respectively — led the Rice students
through their journey of discovery.
Most of the people helping the students along the way were Berbers.
“Morocco is mostly inhabited by Berbers,” Droxler said. “Arabs moved to Morocco
a long time ago but never really established themselves in the mountains, where
the Berbers have lived forever.” The students could sense a disconnect between
Berbers and Arabs, and understanding the social organization and observing
the different living conditions in Morocco became part of a wider learning
experience for them.
“One reason the Department of Earth Science organizes these long field trips
every other year,” Droxler said, “is to give students the chance to learn to make
their way in the world, no matter where they go, not only as Earth scientists but
also as Earth citizens.”
—Mike Williams

20 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

Voyage to
the Bottom
of the Sea
Graduate student Lizette Leon Rodriguez had never been on Leon Rodriguez believes more evidence exists in the gooey sedi-
ments beneath the Pacific in the chemical composition of plankton’s
a boat for more than a couple of hours before embarking on calcium carbonate shells. “We can look at isotopes and different chemi-
the voyage of a lifetime. cal processes and know, for example, the temperature and the acidity
of the oceans at the time. We can track periods from the beginning to
A paleontologist specializing in planktonic foraminifers, otherwise the end and all of the processes that happened during that time. The
known as forams, she was one of 27 scientists among a crew of 120 that equatorial Pacific is a very productive place to get these samples.”
left Hawaii aboard the JOIDES Resolution, a research ship operated by Collecting the core samples one after another from each of seven
the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. As the vessel skirted the equa- target locations was hard work, and Leon Rodriguez put in 12-hour
tor, the crew drilled hundreds of meters of core samples to give them a shifts analyzing the samples, which one scientist on board described
glimpse at what the planet looked like in the Eocene Epoch, approxi- as “white ooze, like toothpaste, and brown ooze, like crumbly brown
mately 55 to 34 million years ago — core samples that Leon Rodriguez sugar.” Each 30-foot core was cut into manageable pieces, and samples
analyzed for clues that may ultimately reveal something about the near- were extracted from the eras the scientists wanted to analyze.
and long-term fate of Earth’s ocean–atmosphere dynamics. “We had to cut the pieces in the right places, wash the samples
Sinking to the sea floor in a constant shower over millions of — sometimes a couple of times — and then go to the microscope
years, forams and their calcium carbonate shells were buried in sedi- and check the forams to determine their ages by comparing them to
ment, creating a fossil record that can reveal a lot about the Earth comprehensive fossil records,” Leon Rodriguez said. “It got stressful,

“We can look at isotopes and different chemical processes and know, for example,
the temperature and the acidity of the oceans at the time.” — Lizette Leon Rodriguez

during times when atmospheric carbon dioxide peaked and the planet because we could see them drilling, and samples were coming, and
suffered bouts of global warming. we had a bunch waiting for us to wash, and we were looking at the
“What is interesting about the Eocene is there were periods very forams — we were racing all the time.”
similar to what we’re experiencing now in terms of global warming,” Now that a huge box of samples has landed in her Rice office,
said Leon Rodriguez, a native of Colombia who earned her master’s Leon Rodriguez can begin detailed analysis to learn about ocean con-
degree at Florida International University before coming to Rice. ditions eons ago.
“There was a huge release of carbon into the oceans and the atmo- “This is the real thing in terms of my research. On the ship, you
sphere that increased temperatures.” have to know what you’re doing, but you’re more like a technician.
Her adviser, Gerald Dickens, a professor of earth science, and his Here, I can run my chemical analyses and play with the samples.
colleagues argued in a paper in Nature in late 2007 that a chain reaction We’re going to have different curves that will tell us how the tempera-
of events in the Eocene that probably started with a period of intense ture and carbon levels in the ocean fluctuated over time. It’s going to
volcanic activity led to the release of a massive amount of greenhouse be fun.”
gases that warmed the planet. The paper was based on Eocene sedi- —Mike Williams

ments from what was then the ocean floor but is now New Jersey.
Discover unique opportunities for Rice graduate students:
› › › gradresearch.rice.edu

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 21

What do you get when you combine Rice student innovation; a commission to build a zero-energy home;
and Project Row Houses, a neighborhood-based art and cultural organization that seeks to develop
housing for low-to-moderate-income residents of Houston’s Third Ward? The ZEROW HOUSE, of course.

ZEROW HOUSE is an entry in the U.S. Department of Energy’s up- Unlike the other entries, however, ZEROW HOUSE was designed
coming Solar Decathlon, a housing competition in which teams of col- with affordability and a specific site in mind. While other entries oper-
lege and university students vie to design, build and operate the most ate on half-a-million-dollar budgets, ZEROW HOUSE was created with a
attractive, effective and energy-efficient solar-powered house. The building and material budget of about $150,000 in a way that will allow
Rice student team was the only one from Texas among the 20 teams its design and concepts to be replicated in six energy-efficient one- and
chosen from around the world to participate. This year’s competition two-bedroom homes on two 50-by-80-foot lots in Houston’s Third Ward.
will be held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in October.
“Our students have worked Design Challenges
at the highest level to create this
house, which is on par with profes- Engineering a house for Houston
sional work,” said Danny Samuels, was a challenge. The team specially
the Harry K. Smith Professor in the tailored the house to withstand the
Practice of Architecture at Rice. rigors of Houston’s Gulf Coast cli-
“Through working with Project mate by limiting the number of win-
Row Houses, we have taken the dows and using a high-reflectivity
next step in providing affordable, roof membrane. Both reduced the
appropriate technologies for people solar heat load during the day. For
who need it.” the same reason, some of the walls
Like other Solar Decathlon were thickened to limit the amount
houses, ZEROW HOUSE will be able of heat that might seep into the
to produce all the energy needed for house during the hot months. The
its operation on-site using photo- team also used a foundation and
voltaic solar panels and other green materials that could withstand hur-
technologies. The judges will look Rebecca Sibley, Allison Elliott and Joseph Nash ricane-force winds.
at 10 specific areas of competition: “The Solar Decathlon offers the
architecture, engineering, market challenge of providing innovation
viability, communications, comfort, appliances, hot water, lighting, and quality of design within a limited space,” said Nonya Grenader,
energy balance and transportation. Each house should produce professor in the practice in the Rice School of Architecture. “By skill-
enough electricity and hot water to perform all the functions of a fully placing elements that provide all services — a wet core — and
home, from powering lights and electronics to cooking and washing natural light and ventilation — a light core — the students began to
clothes and dishes. define and transform the small building envelope into much more.”

22 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
One of the most vexing design parameters had nothing to do with

Concrete Evidence
energy efficiency or cost. It had to do with transportation. Aside from
the international competitors, the Rice team has the farthest to travel
for the competition. While the team members will have five days to
reassemble ZEROW HOUSE in the National Mall, they had to find a
way to transport it and make it roadworthy while taking into account Sometimes there’s no hard and fast rule for concrete
laws from each state they will travel through on their journey to D.C. construction. Just ask Brantley Highfill and Zhan Chen.
“The main challenge was designing within all these limits,” said
Roque Sanchez ’09, the environmental engineering student who en-
The two are graduate students in the Rice School of Architecture,
tered Rice in the competition. “We had great ideas, but we had these
and they recently were runners-up in the building element division
boundaries to factor in. It inspired us to do more and push our own
of the international student design competition Concrete Thinking
limitations. I’m still shocked at how everything came together. We’ve
had so much support, and you can see that in the house itself.” for a Sustainable World, sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based
Sanchez said various sponsors from the Houston community Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. More than 300 stu-
pitched in and offered services and supplies, though the costs were dents from 55 schools of architecture from around the world participated
figured into the home’s final price tag. in the competition.
“Many of the energy-efficient materials and technologies featured The competition asked students to design innovative applications for
in ZEROW HOUSE, such as solar panels and solar water heaters, can Portland cement-based materials to achieve sustainable design objec-
be implemented in almost any home,” said senior Allison Elliott, one tives. Highfill and Chen’s proposal, Constructed Ecologies, made use of
of the student leaders. “A house can be both environmentally friendly permeable concrete planks called GeoPlanks to allow people more ac-
and affordable.” cess to water in environmentally sensitive areas — particularly along
bayous, seawalls and other places that land and water meet — than is
Collaborative Effort possible with traditional barriers.
The idea for GeoPlanks was born in a class on concrete taught by
The team worked on the house for about a year and a half, and its Douglas Oliver, a professor in the practice of architecture who served
efforts were aided by more than 100 people from disciplines across as the team’s adviser, when the students took a long look at Houston’s
campus. bayous.
“This was a great project to give our engineering students more “Concrete often is used to cover these waterways for flood-control
hands-on experience,” said Brent Houchens, assistant professor in me- purposes, but it also damages the existing natural environment,” Chen
chanical engineering and materials science and engineering faculty
said. “The resulting condition is miles of paved rivers that resemble
lead for ZEROW. “They had to learn how to optimize the systems such
major highway infrastructure in terms of both cost and construction.
as the solar array and solar water heater to make the house functional
Constructed Ecologies offers a productive alternative to this hard
but as cost effective as possible. The collaboration between them and
GeoPlanks, which are straight and angled interlocking sections of
concrete, can dip above and below the surface of a body of water and
The team worked on the house are designed to blend into the earth. The porous surface of each plank
for about a year and a half, and its naturally collects soil and seed deposits to reduce the surface area of
efforts were aided by more than exposed concrete and mitigate the “heat island” effect.
“We would love the opportunity to fabricate a system and test it
100 people from disciplines out,” Highfill said.
across campus. —Mike Williams

the architecture students and faculty has given them very rewarding
real-world experience.”
ZEROW HOUSE is just the latest project in an affordable hous-
ing initiative and long-term collaboration between the Rice Building
Workshop and Project Row Houses. In the past, Rice students have
designed and constructed other new housing on property owned by
Row House Community Development Corporation, including the Six-
Square House and a row of eight recently completed duplexes. The
direct inspiration for ZEROW was the 500-square-foot XS (extra small)
House constructed in 2003 at a cost of $25,000.
“The Rice Building Workshop allows students to experience ar-
chitecture at full scale, working in a spirit of collaboration,” Grenader
said. “The Solar Decathlon brought a talented mix of students together
who benefited greatly from the larger Houston community. Many in-
dividuals and companies gave their support and expertise in realizing
the project.”
After the Solar Decathlon, ZEROW HOUSE will be transported
back to its permanent location in Houston, where two local residents
will actually call it home.
—Jessica Stark

To learn more visit: ››› solardecathlon.rice.edu

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 23

24 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

When I received the offer to become president of Rice

University almost six years ago, I don’t think I had any pos-
session in the shape of an owl or with an owl depicted on it.
Now I am constantly on the prowl for an owl, and through purchases This past summer, my family and I were in Athens. As you might
and gifts, my wife, Ping, and I have acquired owl-laden pins, pendants, imagine, Athens is to owlmaniacs what Havana is to cigar aficiona-
rings, earrings, ties, cuff links, key chains, water pitchers, decanters, dos. Everywhere you go in Athens, you find things that have not
glasses, candles, soap and small boxes, as well as innumerable owl only an owl on them, but an owl that looks like the official Rice owl
sculptures of every shape, size and material. on our seal. Even the Greek version of the one euro coin features
Single owls, double owls, triple owls (hearing, seeing and the traditional Athenian owl. In fact, you can find more Rice sym-
speaking no evil) and quadruple owls. Some are literal represen- bols in Athens than you can in Houston’s airports or at the Galleria
tations and some abstract. As I travel around the world, I look — unfortunately.
for an owl to buy in every country I visit, and I typically return Although those afflicted with owlmania can be a bit indiscriminat-
with some small owl souvenir for my office staff. I have cloi- ing — almost any owl will do! — it is nonetheless important that we
sonné and lacquer owls from China, ceramic owls from Korea also treasure and elevate our official owl. You probably already have
and Japan, copper owls from Chile, a marble owl inlaid with begun seeing that owl a bit more often, and not only as part of our

semiprecious stones (in the style of the Taj Mahal!) from India, shield. Last year, for example, in addition to having a “RICE” pin in the
glass owls from Venice and a wooden owl carved by Native official Trajan font, we began producing small pewter owl pins that
Americans near the Grand Canyon. can be worn discreetly on a lapel.
In fact, I have developed a somewhat uncanny ability to walk into I am not alone in my enthusiasm for all things owl, and for good
a shop, look around quickly, and spot the two-inch owl 30 feet away. reason. One of the critical roles of symbols is that they enable us to
(Possibly an exaggeration, but if so, only a slight one.) communicate to others our common sense of identity and belonging to
In short, I have fully succumbed to owlmania. The dictionary a community — in this case the Rice community. Thus, owlmania is a
defines a “mania” as “excessive excitement or enthusiasm” for some- common characteristic of Rice alumni and others dedicated to Rice. In the
thing (assuming we fall short of the psychiatric definition of “a form homes of Rice graduates, you are likely to find more than a few owls. And
of insanity characterized by great excitement”). Of course, we at Rice as I wander around offices at Rice, I discover that even the most rational
would never agree that our mania for owls is excessive. It is merely and mild-mannered of my colleagues have succumbed to the affliction.
appropriate. This is as it should be. Our passion for our university is reflected in
The official Rice owl is not just any owl. It is the Athenian owl our passion for its symbols, and no symbol has endured longer or en-
taken from a Greek coin that is nearly 2,500 years old. Most Greek deared itself more to the Rice community than the owl, whether it takes
gods were associated with some animal, and Athena, the goddess the form of Sammy the Owl, the “war” or “predator” owl of athletics, or
of wisdom, was associated with the owl. Thus the owl became the the three Athenian owls on our shield. Owlmania is simply one more
symbol of wisdom in Western culture. way in which we demonstrate our loyalty and affection for Rice.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 25

By Christopher Dow • Photography by Jeff Fitlow

You might think that the Antarctic and the Texas Gulf Coast are about as different as possible while
still sharing the same planet, but for John Anderson, the W. Maurice Ewing Chair in Oceanography
and professor of earth science, the two are inextricably linked.

nderson’s love of the Gulf Coast goes back to his childhood, and even after he
began research on the Antarctic that focused on ice sheets and their decay and
contribution to sea level-rise, he maintained his interest in the Texas coastline. The
one-year anniversary of Hurricane Ike was an opportune time to talk to Anderson
about what is happening to the Texas coast and to get his prognosis for the future.

26 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
What makes the Texas coast a good subject for study?

The Texas Gulf Coast is a beautiful natural laboratory for understand-

ing how coasts evolve and how they respond to sea level change and
hurricanes because it has a fairly low gradient, and it doesn’t have the
huge subsidence rate that Louisiana does.
century. It’s well known that the bays of the Gulf Coast are much more
sensitive to sea level rise than is the coast. Coastal erosion gets a lot of
attention because people have houses on the beach, but the bays are
really the most threatened.


In some places, sediments coming down rivers help balance out ris-
How do you determine the effects of sea level rise, and what are
ing water levels, but that’s rarely the case in Texas. Our bays have a
you finding?
very low gradient, and Galveston Bay, in particular, is very shallow.
Around here, a sea level rise of 5 millimeters per year can result in 1
We study drill cores and other data from a wide range of estuaries to 1.5 meters of coastal retreat, and that amount starts to exceed the
— from Mobile Bay all the way to Corpus Christi Bay — to see how capacity of the bays to keep up. The effect is widespread flooding,
they developed and responded to changing conditions over the last changes of the bay margins and, at times, complete disappearances
10,000 years. The information we gather allows us to estimate future of deltas. Changes like these in the past occurred at a time when
response. These bays have changed dramatically during that time, and the ice sheets, particularly in Antarctica, were still experiencing some
they continue to change. It’s predicted that, by the end of this century, episodic retreat, but there’s little question that humans are responsible
sea level rise will be about 5 millimeters per year, or half a meter in a for the accelerated rise we’ve seen over the past 50 years.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 27

Why aren’t people more concerned?

Saying that the sea level will rise half a meter doesn’t mean a thing
to most people — certainly not to policymakers. You have to put it “Public education
into context using maps that show how much area gets submerged.
Sometimes it rings a bell and makes them think, but the reality is, is the main issue.
maps like those show best-case scenarios. Coastal systems don’t just sit
there while sea level rises and slowly inundates the landscape. When We’re living in a
coasts are in perturbed modes and along comes a hurricane like Ike,
the system can respond radically. We get what might be 10 years of
state of denial,
normal erosion in a single day. And in bays, we see dramatic changes,
as well. We know that Sabine Lake once had a large bay head delta,
and we keep
much like Galveston Bay has, and it disappeared sometime during the making the same
last couple of centuries, probably in response to a large hurricane.
mistakes over
When you look at our area, many of the chemical plants along
the Houston Ship Channel could be endangered by that kind of and over. We
sea level rise, which is certainly an economic consideration for
can’t continue
to rebuild right
back where we
Absolutely. Some of the best storm surge models come from NASA’s
Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake. You might wonder why, but
they’re in a pretty vulnerable place, and it got a lot more vulnerable in
the 1970s because of all the subsidence. They lost half their elevation, did before the
and the area is extremely prone to storm surge.
last hurricane.”
What effect did Hurricane Ike have on the Texas coast?
—John Anderson
The dunes that once lined the coast of Bolivar Peninsula are another
thing that puts things into context. They were 1,500 to 2,000 years
old, and Ike destroyed them overnight. And it’s not the first time such
a thing has happened. Everything south of the highway on Bolivar is
only 600 years old. What that tells us is that the peninsula was decapi-
tated around 600 years ago, and it’s taken all this time to reform.
People say, “The beach will recover,” and, yes, the beach does
recover, but it doesn’t recover where it was. It recovers where it is now,
and the dunes would recover, except there are houses sitting where
dunes would develop. The same is happening on Galveston, where
some fairly prominent dune ridges now are gone, replaced by miles
and miles of real estate. That’s the end of those dunes.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports an elevation loss of between three

and 10 feet on Bolivar, leaving an average elevation of only three feet.
That might make it vulnerable to even a strong tropical storm, much
less a hurricane.

Elevation is a big thing. I’ve heard people who aren’t very knowledge-
able about these things say that those little beach ridges you see in aerial
photographs can’t possibly offer any protection from storm waves. On
any given day at the beach, you see fairly large waves breaking over
sandbars that are less than a meter high. That’s a daily reminder that it
doesn’t take a lot of elevation to disrupt wave energy. When sea level
goes up during a storm surge, and those waves move across the bar-
rier islands, this ridge-and-swell topography is a very effective way of Hurricane Ike caused considerable erosion around Rollover Pass on
dampening that energy and causing those waves to break and lose their Bolivar. Because of the pass, Bolivar is, in effect, an island rather
energy. Yet, on the west end of Galveston, developers are allowed to go than a peninsula. Would another hurricane like Ike make Bolivar an
in and level the landscape. I don’t understand the rationale. island in fact?
People who are rebuilding there and on Bolivar face an even
greater threat because there’s not much left to protect them. We know Follett’s Island, which is just west of Galveston Island, was once part of
from Hurricane Alicia, and now from Ike, that no matter what we do, Galveston Island. It became a separate island when a storm breached
houses that are built in the first two rows from the beach are going to Galveston sometime within the last 2,000 years — more than likely,
get wiped out. People might pile sand under endangered houses, but within the last several centuries. This is a natural progression of bar-
once that beach profile is cut down, they can pile all the sand they rier island evolution. They tend to get longer and narrower, and along
want, and it’s not going to last. It’s just going to wash away during the comes a big hurricane and just slices off the end, and there’s a new
next storm. Unfortunately, people’s memory spans on storms only last barrier. So, yes, the day will come when Bolivar will be breached.
about a year. I hate to see people rebuilding right back in spots where Right now, Galveston is in a sort of quasi-equilibrium. It actually
house were destroyed a year ago. underwent a phase of growth for several thousand years, and now

28 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
Recently, there has been publicity about a plan to extend the Galveston
seawall to the west end of Galveston Island and all the way up Bolivar
Peninsula. The plan includes huge retractable dikes across Bolivar
Roads and San Luis Pass to limit storm surge. What would be the ef-
fects on the coast here if such a seawall were built?

Chris Hight, an associate professor in the School of Architecture, and

I have a project funded through the Shell Center for Sustainability
called Sustainable Strategy for Galveston Island. When the Ike Dike
idea was raised, our response was: After the 1900 storm, they put
that seawall in there, and that set the stage for the way Galveston
was going to be for the next hundred years. Then along comes Ike,
and now they’re going to completely entomb the island.
Despite all the hype around the Ike Dike, I’ve yet to see a serious
storm surge model to determine if it’s even going to work. It’s ironic
that a lot of supporters for the Ike Dike are people who have prop-
erty on the west end on the beach. I think they envision this thing
out at the water’s edge protecting their private property. If you’re
going to spend $3 billion on a feature for which the justification is
to prevent storm surge in the Houston Ship Channel, the last place
you’re going to want to put it is on the beach. If they did, the reality
is that the beach is going to continue to erode, and in a predictable
number of years, the water will be right up to the seawall just like it
is now along the west end of the present seawall. End of beach.
If they do build an Ike Dike, it’s going to have to be far
enough inland that it won’t have to be maintained every year as
we do the seawall. It probably will be along the highway rather
than the beach, or maybe on the other side of the island at the
Intercoastal Waterway.
Another consideration is the effect it will have on the wetlands.
San Luis Pass, which is one of the top natural preserves on the Texas
coast for birding and wildlife of all sorts, is probably going to be
devastated because there’s no way to put a lock across San Luis Pass
without destroying the integrity of the tidal inlet. And the geometry
of that inlet controls the exchange of water between the gulf and
West Bay. At the very minimum, I’d like to see some studies done.

What are the most important issues facing the communities along the
Upper Texas Coast? Are there any practical solutions to these?

Public education is the main issue. We’re living in a state of denial,

and we keep making the same mistakes over and over. We can’t con-
tinue to rebuild right back where we did before the last hurricane.
That ignorance of coastal processes goes to a fairly high level in state
government. Texas spends millions of dollars each year dumping
truck loads of sand on beaches, and the sand doesn’t last a year. We
could use that money on a sand nourishment project that would really
do some good. We’re convinced that we can engineer our way out of
the problem with an Ike Dike, or other such project, when we actu-
ally need to accept the fact that this coastline is changing and that it’s
going to change even faster in the next several decades.
it’s starting to retreat. It’s actually shrinking — eroding on both the
The project Chris and I are working on is to develop a 50- to
gulf and bay sides. Follett’s Island is retreating three times faster than
100-year plan for how Galveston Island might fortify itself, and more
Galveston on its gulf side, but if you look at the bay side, you see
important, how it might change the way it does things. The current
that it’s actually growing on its landward side. It’s shifted into what’s
trend is that developers come in and buy a big tract of land on the
called the rollover stage, where hurricanes take sand off the beach west end, then level the terrain and chew up wetlands. Chris and I
and pile it onto the back side of the island. Follett’s will continue have been trying to change the culture of the island to get people to
to migrate landward at a rate of about 10 to 12 feet per year until it want to move to high-rise condos on the east end. The Strand is there,
reaches some geological feature, such as the big fault line that runs there’s already a seawall and there’s a natural beach.
along the north shore of West Bay and East Bay. If we allow the Beyond that, we need to think about coastal sustainability — not
shoreline to do its natural thing, the waves will eat an escarpment just sustainable development but sustainable preservation of the coast.
there, pile up the sand and form the next barrier shoreline. The To accomplish that, we may need to just let go. Look at Galveston
system could step to that location pretty quickly if we have three or Island State Park. It’s doing quite well and has a nice beach. It may be
four Ikes in a matter of 20 years. that we ought to just back off and live with the changes.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 29

Most alumni remember it as Hicks Kitchen,
the central food service kitchen where
chefs prepared meals for the college
serveries. Since last September, though,
R ice st udents have k nown it as the
Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen,
and it’s the place where they’re cooking
up the future.
Gone are the stoves and freezers and food preparation areas, replaced by a
machine shop, a welding shop, a computational area, an etching room with a wet
lab, conference rooms, classrooms and much more — even a kitchen sink! The
renovation, accomplished thanks to a $2.4 million gift from Rice Trustee M. Kenneth
Oshman ’62 and his wife, Barbara, and an additional gift from National Instruments,
has given students a facility for cross-disciplinary and cross-technology training
that draws not only engineering students, but also those in the humanities, social
sciences, architecture and business. The completely redesigned 12,000-square-foot
facility has been operational for one year, and to celebrate, we are reviewing
some of the real-world solutions that students have developed there since it opened.

P h o t o g r a p hy by Je ff F i t l ow

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 31

It would be terrible if the first humans to reach Mars stepped onto the surface to discover their legs
could no longer hold them. NASA will take extraordinary measures to see that doesn’t happen, of
course, and a team of Rice students may play a role.
Team Taurus — Charlie Foucar, Shannon Moore, Evan Williams, and that’s just one way. Long before that can happen, NASA ex-
Bodin Hon and Leslie Goldberg, all of whom graduated in the pects to send explorers for more extended periods to an eventual
spring — designed a device to help astronauts keep their skele- moon base in one-sixth of Earth’s gravity.
tons strong and healthy by measuring bone mineral density loss, Bone-density markers can be found in blood, sweat and
literally on the fly. Their design of a bone-remodeling monitor for saliva, but the team decided that measuring deoxypyridinoline,
use in microgravity shared the top prize in NASA’s third annual which is found in urine, would be best because it can be col-
Systems Engineering Paper Competition. It’s the first national lected noninvasively.
honor to hang in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. The team’s prototype has three stages: a collection unit that
The team looked at all of the risks it could reasonably ad- ties into the spacecraft’s waste disposal system, an immunoassay
dress from a bioengineering approach and discovered that NASA process and a photometer that reads the absorbance spectra of
had no way of determining bone loss in space. It’s a critical issue. the combined solution and feeds the data to an analysis program
Astronauts lose bone mass at a rate of up to 2 percent per month personalized for each astronaut. Ground crews could then deter-
while aloft. That’s not a big deal on an orbital jaunt of a week mine the proper response, such as prescribing dietary supple-
or two, but residents of the international space station stay there ments or increasing the astronaut’s physical regimen. Eventually,
for up to six months and don’t have the tools on board to get a the technology might be applied to other biological processes to
real-time measurement of what turns out to be a hazard of living create an all-encompassing health monitor.
in microgravity. Travelers to Mars face a six-month trip as well,
—Mike Williams

Learn more: › ›› ricemagazine.info/ 3 2

The award-winning members of Team Taurus in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen:
(from left) Shannon Moore, Leslie Goldberg, Bodin Hon, Charlie Foucar and Evan Williams
32 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
Sunlight may be free, but converting it
into electricity is expensive. Leave it to
Rice students to find alternative solu-
tions to the problem.

“We want to alleviate energy problems in some of the

poorest regions of the world, so we’re using low-cost
technology to capture the sun’s heat for cooking and
other uses,” said team leader Doug Schuler, associate
professor of management in Rice’s Jesse H. Jones
Graduate School of Business. Schuler is the principal
investigator on a seed grant from Rice’s Shell Center
Capteur Soleil inventor Jean Boubour, left, and Rice’s Doug Schuler for Sustainability that aims to commercialize a technol-
are commercializing a low-tech solar technology that harvests the ogy called “Capteur Soleil.”
sun’s heat for cooking and other tasks. Capteur Soleil, which is French for solar capture,
is the brainchild of French inventor Jean Boubour,
Schuler’s co-investigator on the grant. Boubour in-
vented the device after searching in vain for a simple,
motorless solar technology that would be inexpensive
enough for rural Africa.
Capteur Soleil looks something like an ultramodern
lawn swing holding a bed of curved mirrors. The mir-
rors focus sunlight onto a steel pipe at the apex of the
frame. Water running through the pipe is converted into
steam, which can be used for cooking and other tasks
like making soap or sterilizing medical instruments.
Schuler’s team is building prototypes in the Oshman
Engineering Design Kitchen for testing in developing
nations. The team hopes to show that the devices can
pay for themselves easily by offsetting the cost of pro-
pane, which currently is used despite its high cost in
remote, rural communities.
The first Capteur Soleil prototype was installed in
Terrier Rouge, Haiti, at St. Barthelemy School, which
hosted undergraduate interns from Rice’s Beyond
Traditional Borders program last summer. Schuler
hopes the Capteur Soleil can save the 450-student
elementary school thousands of dollars per year in
fuel costs.
Boubour and Claire Krebs ’09, a mechanical en-
gineering major, built the first prototype in about two
weeks. A second prototype will be tested in Nicaragua
this fall. A third prototype will stay at the design kitch-
en for testing by students in bioengineering design
courses next fall.

—Jade Boyd

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 33

While it doesn’t look like R2-D2 or the other
robotic stars of the silver screen, an assis-
tive robotic device designed and built by Rice
undergraduate engineering students to help
stroke and spinal cord injury survivors could
be an even bigger hit.

The Rice team built the robot to perform

everyday tasks for patients recovering from
diseases that affect motor skills and to give
the patients exercise in the process. Armed
with a scissorlike claw, the remote-controlled
prototype can rove about and perform a va-
riety of functions, including moving a glass
of water or snatching a pen off the floor.
Working at Rice’s new Oshman
Engineering Design Kitchen under adviser
Marcia O’Malley, assistant professor in me-

chanical engineering and materials science,
the Rice team included bioengineering The hot cot design team includes (clockwise from left) Mimi Zhang, Lindsay Zwiener,
students Christine Moran ’09 and Austin Larissa Charnsangavej, Richard Romeo and McKenzie Smith.
Mueller ’09 and mechanical engineering
students Claire Krebs ’09, Beth Rowan ’09
and David Meyer ’10.
To manipulate their remote-controlled
robot, Rice team members use an instrument
designed by O’Malley called an exoskeleton.
In a rehab setting, this device would be at-
tached to one of the patient’s arms. Using
the exoskeleton could help patients build
endurance by gradually increasing their Lightbulbs in a plywood box — how complicated could that be?
range of motion and the amount of exertion
required to operate the robot. Maybe more complicated than you think when the lives of premature babies are at stake.
Before the students started the project, So when a team of Rice seniors began optimizing a low-tech incubator last spring, they
they conferred with people recovering from were determined to take every small issue seriously.
stroke or spinal cord injuries at the Institute The project was a “hot cot,” a primitive device that Rebecca Richards-Kortum, director
for Rehabilitation and Research, Memorial of Rice 360°, and Maria Oden, director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, spotted
Hermann, a rehabilitation hospital in the being used at a hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. The original, designed by students in Kenya,
Texas Medical Center, and with the physical used lightbulbs as the heating element and aluminum flashing on the bottom as insulation.
therapists who care for these patients. Angled planks directed warm air into the top chamber.
The prototype rolls on treads similar to “It fills a niche between having nothing and having an incubator,” Richards-Kortum said.
those on a tank and is less than 20 inches “It’s really designed for low-resource settings to keep premature babies sufficiently warm.”
tall and about 18 inches by 18 inches at the Oden instructed her team to make the device as efficient but also as inexpensive as
base. It is equipped with lifts designed to possible. The students determined the most thermally optimal combination of design and
raise a grabber to the height of a table for materials by analyzing airflow to maximize heat and maintain the right amount of oxygen
access to glasses, utensils and dishes, which in the infant’s chamber, seeing how well it worked in hot and cold climates, finding the
is no easy task since its maximum height is right electrical components to ensure the widest possible use and building models to test
around 3 feet. all of the above. A must for the design was that it could be constructed with materials
Tests are being planned to see how well readily available worldwide.
the prototypes work on patients in a real- The hot cot found a real-world trial when a team of students from Rice’s Jesse H. Jones
world environment. Graduate School of Business, under mentor Marc Epstein, distinguished research professor
of management, took the plans to Rwanda on spring break. Within five days, the team
—Rob Cahill
found a way to get a cot built by local carpenters, demonstrated it briefly in a clinic and
worked with local officials to begin to obtain regulatory approval. Plans for the cots will be
refined during the upcoming year based on feedback from the returning students.
See the rehab robot in action:
›› › ricemagazine.info/ 29 —Mike Williams

Learn more: ›› › ricemagazine.info/ 30

34 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
Five recently graduated bioengineering students spent their senior year brainstorming and then
building a device that will revolutionize the way doctors measure hand strength in patients — the Peg
Restrained Intrinsic Muscle Evaluator, or PRIME.
Maria Oden, who teaches Rice’s senior bioengineering de- PRIME aims to fill that gap. In a typical five-minute test using
sign course and is director of the Oshman Engineering Design PRIME, a patient puts one hand on a pegboard, and the doctor
Kitchen, challenged the team — Jennifer Cieluch, Caterina Kaffes, places pegs to immobilize all the fingers but the one being tested.
Matthew Miller, Neel Shah and Shuai “Steve” Xu — to come up A loop is fitted around the finger, and when the patient moves it,
with a device that accurately measures the strength of intrinsic the amount of force applied is measured by a force transducer.
hand muscles. These are the muscles from wrist to fingertip that In tests, the device has a data error rate of less than 10 per-
allow humans to play a piano, grip a pencil or perform any task cent, and the team believes that under 5 percent is achievable.
that requires dexterity and precision. With more hands-on experience, the students expect PRIME
Such a study is important because neuromuscular disorders to be ready for institutional review at Shriners Hospital for
such as spinal cord injuries, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, diabetes and Children–Houston. Already, the device has garnered two pres-
multiple sclerosis affect the intrinsic muscles of the hand. Also, tigious honors: It took first place at the IShow, a competition
20 percent of emergency room admissions in the United States sponsored by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers,
are hand-related. and was one of five winners in a student design competi-
Doctors routinely test hand strength, but the tests are usually tion sponsored by the National Science Foundation at the
subjective, done by feel. And the few devices currently available Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of
aren’t nearly accurate enough to be truly useful and do not work for North America conference.
individuals with small hands or those with unusual morphologies. —Mike Williams

Learn more: ›› › ricemagazine.info/ 31

The PRIME team — (from left) Jennifer Cieluch, Neel Shah, Matthew Miller, Steve Xu and
Caterina Kaffes — show off the Peg Restrained Intrinsic Muscle Evaluator.
The Campanile


Height: 125 feet
Built: 1912
Architects: Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson

When Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson, Rice’s founding

architects, began designing the campus, they envi-
sioned a tower that would hold water. That plan was
scrapped in favor of underground tanks, but the idea
of a tower so captivated then-President Edgar Odell
Lovett that the architects sought a practical func-
tion to justify one. The result was the Campanile,
the campus’s first and most impressive tower. Built
to decoratively mask the smokestack for the Power
House, it is still used to vent steam. In the beginning,
the Campanile was simply described as campanile-
like; it didn’t have a capital “C” until after the publica-
tion of the first edition of the “Campanile” yearbook
in 1916. The hipped tile eave that originally hooded
the top was removed when the tower was rebuilt in
1930 following a lightning strike. Architectural his-
torian Stephen Fox calls the Campanile Rice’s “most
ambiguous component … because it has no visible
base. It is always seen from a distance.”


Rice is famous for being the modestly
sized university that produces towering
achievements in teaching and research.
In keeping with that idea, the mod-
estly sized Rice campus displays a few
Howard Keck Hall
“towering achievements” of its own.
Height: 82 feet
Built: 1925
Architects: William Ward Watkin and
Cram & Ferguson
Photos by Tommy LaVergne
Text by Christopher Dow
Originally known as the Chemistry Building
and then as Dell Butcher Hall, Howard Keck

With thanks to: “The Campus Guide: Rice University,” Hall is a storehouse of scientific symbols,
by Stephen Fox (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001); a number of which are located on the build-
“A Walking Tour of Rice University,” by James ing’s tower. Most notable are those that use
C. Morehead Jr. (Rice University Press, 1990); contemporary representations to depict the
“A History of Rice University: The Institute Years, first part of the periodic table of elements. The
1907–1963,” by Fredericka Meiners (Rice University tower was built to house a mechanical system
Studies, 1982); and Susann Glenn of Rice University’s for venting the laboratories.
Facilities, Engineering and Planning department.
The Rice Memorial Center


The Crystal Campanile
Chapel Campanile Height: 85 feet
Built: 2009
Height: 70 feet Architects: Antoine Predock Architect PC,
Built: 1958 Morris Architects, Michael Graves &
Architect: Harvin C. Moore Associates

Even a nonsectarian place for fellowship When Antoine Predock designed the new South
such as the Rice Memorial Center Chapel Plant, which will supply the steam and chilled
needs a bell tower. Unlike its larger sibling water necessary to heat and cool buildings on
to the north, the Rice Chapel’s tower is a true the south side of the campus, such as the new
campanile, although its bells are electronic 10-story BioScience Research Collaborative,
chimes rather than real bells. The chapel he came up with his own modern take on the
and its campanile are based on the design Campanile. Although the newest tower at Rice,
of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome, called by some the “Crystal Campanile,” may
though on a much smaller scale. Architect be a functional sibling to the oldest, the two
Harvin C. Moore was a member of Rice’s couldn’t be more different. The sleek, high-tech
class of 1927. South Plant tower shows not only how design
has changed during the last century, but also
just how far we’ve come technologically. Built
to cool and recycle steam rather than belch
smoke, the Crystal Campanile resembles a mod-
ernist sculpture more than it does a functional
piece of equipment.



Russ Pittman Tower

Height: 94 feet
Built: 2000
Architect: Alan Greenberg

The Humanities Building is highly visible

from College Way, but when you are stand-
ing in the Academic Quad, its Russ Pittman

Tower is what you notice most. This is the

one tower on campus that always has been
purely decorative — unless you count it
serving as a roost for the large sculpted owl
that watches over the western half of the
Academic Quad.

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 37

“Publish or perish” goes the old saying in academia, but what happens when it’s the pub-
lishers who are perishing? Enter the recently resurrected Rice University Press, which
is blazing an unconventional path in redefining the parameters of academic publishing.

By Christopher Dow

cademic publishing is nothing Even so, academic publishers operating on
new for Rice. The university the commercial model must live with the massive
published an academic jour- expense of production, marketing and printing
nal titled the Rice Institute a relatively large number of copies, which has
Pamphlet (1915–62) and led, Moody said, to a crisis in academic publish-
later renamed Rice University ing. “Publishers are ceasing operations or cut-
Studies (1962–82), and a number of academic ting back drastically in the number of titles they
journals currently are housed at Rice. In 1982, do each year,” he said, “and growing numbers
Rice instituted a book publishing arm, Rice of young faculty are finding fewer outlets for
University Press (RUP), primarily as an outlet for the work of Rice their research.” As a result, deserving work is going unpublished be-
faculty and limited largely to topics of regional interest or of interest cause of the skewed economics of academic publishing rather than
to faculty members here. because the work lacks intellectual merit.
In a sense, the original RUP was the canary in the coal mine of
academic publishing. It succumbed in 1996 due to financial pressures A New Model
caused by the rising costs of conventional publishing and distribu-
tion colliding with the typically low readership experienced by niche RUP and its new model for academic publishing is, Moody believes,
publishers. the solution. Started by then-vice provost and head of Fondren Library
“It’s the essential problem for traditional academic presses whose Charles Henry and Joey King, who was the executive director of the
businesses are built on the commercial publishing model,” said Fred Connexions project, Rice’s digital collaborative environment for the
Moody, editor-in-chief of Rice’s 2.0 version of Rice University Press, development of educational material, RUP is administered by the
which came online, literally, in 2008. “You print a large number of Office of the Provost.
books, then you distribute them all over the country in the hope that “To put it grandly,” Moody said, “we want to save academic pub-
sales will recoup the investment.” lishing by making it financially viable without compromising editorial
Academic publishers generally follow this model even though the excellence. Like any academic press, we employ standard, time-hon-
purpose and market for academic books is far different than for com- ored editorial rigor and peer review to submitted manuscripts, and our
mercial fare. “Academic books tend to be of interest to a few experts acceptance of a book is based solely on its intellectual worth.”
and their students in a particular field,” said Moody. “They serve to The difference comes with production methods and distribution.
advance understanding of specialized topics and, if they earn good RUP leverages digital technology for both, and the key is that its books
reviews from expert readers, help the authors further their careers.” are published in two formats: an online version and a reasonably
Nowhere in this equation is book sales, which usually number in priced print-on-demand (POD) edition for those who prefer traditional
the hundreds, considered an important or legitimate reason for doing books. Using POD technology reduces costs by eliminating the need
academic research resulting in a published book. to print a large number of books beforehand, maintain an inventory

38 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
and deal with returns. Ordering an RUP book online is similar to direction RUP is taking is its new series, Literature by Design: British
ordering a book from Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble’s Web site. and American Books 1880–1930, which consists of facsimile editions
The cost of production for RUP is a fraction of that borne by tra- of out-of-print classic titles republished with fresh accompanying
ditional publishers, thanks to an automatic layout program developed material by leading contemporary scholars. RUP will produce 17 of
by Connexions. The same program is utilized for the online versions these books over the next three years, mostly for use in graduate-level
of the books, as well, but the digital versions don’t simply replicate English literature classes. The first of the series, “Le Petit Journal des
the printed ones. Instead, they are expanding the definition of what Refusées,” originally an 1896 parodic pamphlet printed on wallpaper
a book can be by allowing for new forms of scholarly argument that and trimmed in a trapezoidal shape, has just been released.
incorporate multimedia elements and digital forms of expression.
One example is “Houston Reflections: Art in the City, 1950s, 60s New Additions, New Editions
and 70s,” by Sarah C. Reynolds, which includes 18 hours of audio re-
cording in its online edition. Another is “Images of Memorable Cases: Moody is excited about RUP’s future. In the pipeline, in addition to the
50 Years at the Bedside,” a book on medical diagnostics by Dr. Herbert 17 facsimile editions, are one new title awaiting reader feedback and
L. Fred ’50, which is interactive, allowing the reader to study a case five others in peer review. He estimates that the press should be able
then click on a link to find the diagnosis. to manage seven to 10 titles per year without any
“Being online also allows us to link to other staff other than himself, but the demand from
Web sites,” Moody said. “It’s another way of prospective authors may require the press to
both augmenting a book and redefining what a make decisions about whether to maintain that
book is. Future titles will include video, three- level of output or expand. Those decisions also
dimensional models and, eventually, virtual en- hinge on the press’s financial situation.
vironments that readers can inhabit and study. “Our initial projections were to break even
Our titles never go out of print, and they can be in five years,” Moody said. “Now, we think we
updated easily and inexpensively.” can do that by the end of 2011 with a combina-
Another huge advantage to RUP’s open tion of foundation funding and sales revenue.” So
source model is the number of readers RUP far, RUP has been funded by the university with
can attract via Web-based publishing, and that help from two important establishing grants.
is crucial because academic publishing is more The first was $80,000 from Isabel Brown Wilson
about readership than dollars. “Our mission is of the Brown Foundation, Inc., which funded a
to disseminate the fruits of academic research Connexions content specialist for one year. This
as widely as possible,” Moody said. “We see ac- person is developing and optimizing RUP’s auto-
ademic material as an open-source educational matic page-layout system, updating the Web site
platform rather than as a source of revenue that and making many other technical enhancements
you attempt to make more valuable by restrict- to RUP’s overall system.
ing access to it through price and outmoded
distribution models.”
“To put it grandly, we want “Mrs. Wilson grasped the technical matters
immediately and understood better than almost

New Directions
to save academic publishing anyone I’ve encountered the rationale behind
our publishing model,” Moody said. “She is a

RUP’s model seems to be working. The press’s

by making it financially truly imaginative, visionary benefactor.”
The second grant — $15,000 from the Samuel
first title, “Art History and Its Publications in
the Electronic Age,” by Mariet Westermann and
viable without compromising H. Kress Foundation — will be used to develop
five book design templates for RUP’s automatic
Hilary Ballon, normally would have sold 200
copies, mostly to libraries, and in the end be read editorial excellence.” page-layout program that will allow the press to
automatically produce books that look profes-
by fewer than 1,000 people. RUP’s online ver- sionally designed by hand.
sion has attracted more than 110,000 readers. Dr. —Fred Moody In 2009, RUP received an ongoing Google
Fred’s book, written for the medical education Grants award, worth $120,000 per year. “This
field, was accepted for publication by a major ac- grant allows us to craft ad campaigns for our
ademic publisher but then was declined for cost books that link our book sales Web site to com-
reasons due to its more than 150 color illustrations. Dr. Fred submitted monly used search terms associated with our books,” Moody said.
the book to RUP, and in less than a year, it has had more than 200,000 “Since our marketing is based entirely on people finding us via the
visitors. These gratifying numbers show that RUP’s publishing model Web, this is a massively important grant for us.”
helps a book find an appropriate worldwide audience. In the long term, RUP hopes to be completely funded by a com-
Cost and distribution aren’t the only reasons an author might ap- bination of sales and a modest endowment provided by foundations
proach RUP. One of the press’s most recent books is “Flowering Light: interested in promoting good scholarship.
Kabbalistic Mysticism and the Art of Elliot R. Wolfson,” by Marcia With just 11 titles under it’s belt, RUP may be the fledgling among
Brennan, an associate professor of art history at Rice, and Moody says academic publishers, but that might not be the case much longer.
it was perfect for RUP for two reasons. “It is a brilliant work, probably “No one else in the academic publishing world is trying this,”
one of the best titles we’ll ever publish, and it is interdisciplinary — a Moody said. “If we can sustain this model, we not only can be among
very hard title to pigeonhole. I think that very few academic presses the best academic publishers in the world at a fraction of the cost, but
would have had the imagination or courage to publish this book be- we also will be at the forefront of publishing academic work in the
cause it’s very unusual, even unique. Peer reviewers, by the way, were digital age.”
uniformly ecstatic.”
Originally, RUP started with a focus on art history, but Moody
has received manuscripts in so many other fields that the press has Visit Rice University Press: ›› › ricepress.rice.edu
reconsidered its direction. “Now we think of ourselves as the demon-
strator of a new publishing paradigm rather than as a publisher spe-
cializing in a given subject area,” he said. An example of a surprising

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 39

The Business of Science
An unconventional career track at the intersection of science and business
transforms a dead-end bachelor of science degree into a world of possibilities.
By Christopher Dow

There is much talk these days of the need for young people who has been with the effort since it began enrolling students
pursuing college degrees to seriously consider science. After all, in 2002. “Students who choose science for a bachelor’s degree
basic scientific research is at the heart of advances in biosci- most likely don’t get jobs in science-related industries with-
ences and medicine, computing, power generation, the devel- out an advanced degree. Rice’s program helps them develop
opment of novel materials, and the myriad other technologies business and communications skills that, in conjunction with
that sustain our lives and our civilization. their scientific knowledge, open up job
The reality, however, is that many students opportunities.”
who come away from college with a bach-
elor’s degree in the sciences do not go on
“The idea is to give The general recipe for the two-year
program is 70 percent advanced science
to earn the advanced degrees necessary to
enter into research and development. Some
another option to and 30 percent core courses comprising a
management course; a science, policy and
are not interested in becoming researchers, students who love ethics course; special communication train-
and others simply are not suited to a life
in the lab. science but really ing; a capstone course; and an internship.
Students also can take specialized elective
What, then, can these students do with
a bachelor’s degree in science? A great don’t want to do courses, such as fi nance or accounting, at the
Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.
deal, it turns out. A 1997 survey by the
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation found that sci-
research.” The semester-long internship is a vital
element that excites students. “A lot of them
ence- and technology-oriented businesses choose the program because of the intern-
need more employees who combine an ship,” Beck said. “They feel they need more
understanding of science with skills in business and communi- practical experience, and the internship is a wonderful oppor-
cations. At the time, there were few, if any, academic programs tunity for them to get into the marketplace and see how their
offering a curriculum that melded science with business, so course work applies to a real job.”
the foundation began offering seed money to universities to Employers like it, too, because it gives them a way to
develop what have come to be called professional science preview job candidates. The majority of students get job offers
master’s programs. Rice took to heart the Sloan Foundation’s from their internships, and most accept them, while others keep
call to action and, in 2001, became one of the fi rst universities on looking. “We’ve had a few students who’ve decided, say, that
to develop a professional science master’s program. consulting isn’t really what they want, and they might then look
“The idea is to give another option to students who love at nonprofits or government,” Beck said. “One of our graduates
science but really don’t want to do research,” said Dagmar is working with the city of Houston under the mayor in the
Beck, director of Rice’s Professional Science Master’s Program, environmental department.”

40 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
Three Tracks people become involved, the goals are getting more refined, and
we’re working on a strategy for the organization.”
When Rice began to develop its professional science master’s of- The federal government has taken notice, too. Although funding
ferings, it was important to target areas that promised the greatest from the Sloan Foundation may taper off now that the ball is rolling,
returns on the investment, and three fields showed the highest professional science master’s programs are recognized in the federal
potential: environmental analysis and decision making, nanoscale stimulus package to the tune of $15 million. “Of course, all the
physics, and subsurface geoscience. programs will apply,” Beck said, “so there is stiff competition.” If Rice
The majority of graduates from the environmental program go to is a recipient, Beck hopes to be able to embellish the program with
environmental consultancy companies, and most have remained in student stipends, and she also would like to add two tracks to the
the Houston area. “We work with a great assortment of environmen- existing three.
tal companies in Houston,” Beck said, “and we’re starting to make One of these would be a professional science master’s in
inroads with the big oil companies, too. Chevron Corp. just hired integrated energy studies. As a matter of fact, the U.S. Department
one of our interns.” of Energy has funding available for universities that are starting
Beck has found that the program has been successful at placing such programs, and a professional science master’s in energy would
nanoscale physics students with larger companies that have multiple dovetail with the energy policy focus at the James A. Baker III
divisions where the skill sets of professional science master’s gradu- Institute for Public Policy as well. The second new track — science
ates can find a fit. Currently, the nanoscale program is based on and technology policy — also would be a cooperative effort with the
areas in physics such as advanced Baker Institute. “We’d pick focus
materials, photonics and electronics- areas, like health or nanotech
related nanotechnology, but Beck or environment, and would still
would like to further diversify it with require the science background,
offerings in biotechnology, biochem- but instead of training students in
istry and bioengineering to open up business, we would train them in
even more opportunities. policymaking.”
The subsurface geoscience grad-
uates primarily go into oil and gas. ‘A Neat Environment’
“We’ve had favorable feedback from
many oil and oil exploration com- The national growth of profes-
panies,” Beck said. “They have been sional science master’s programs
really excited about our students and is matched by increased interest
have hired a lot of them. In fact, the among students. Conventional
recruiter at Shell Oil Company is one wisdom says that when the
of our graduates.” economy slumps, people go back
to school. For the Rice professional
Raise in Status science master’s program, this
certainly has been true. Originally,
Rice may have offered one of the the program was capped at five
first professional science master’s students for each of the three
programs when the initiative began, tracks, but last year the program
but things are changing rapidly. had approximately 20 students and
Now, similar programs have been another eight or 10 in internships.
developed at universities across the This fall, another 18 enrolled.
country. “The level of academic
In 2006, the Council of Graduate excellence is rising along with the
Schools, the only national organi- numbers and is now very substan-
zation in the United States that is tial,” Beck said. “Plus we’re getting
dedicated solely to the advancement higher acceptance rates from
of graduate education and research, Dagmar Beck applicants. A lot of them realize
began lobbying the government to that if they develop higher skills,
have professional science master’s they have a better chance of being
program degrees formally recog- hired, and they know that they’ll
nized in the United States. The get a lot of contact with companies
council also held conferences and set through our program.”
up meetings for program directors to meet and exchange ideas. Those contacts have panned out in a big way. Even with the
Out of that synergy grew the National Professional Science recession, the program has had 100 percent placement with corpora-
Master’s Association (NPSMA), which was established in 2008. “The tions, government and academia. And the interaction has become a
Council of Graduate Schools has a lot of constituents to look after,” two-way street by engaging corporate executives and bringing them
Beck said. “We wanted to create an association that would be a to campus.
voice for the programs, assist alumni and help universities that want “A lot of corporate executives think that Rice is a neat environ-
to develop new programs.” ment,” Beck said. “They get the opportunity to attend events, and
From its initial membership of 13 program directors and deans, we’ve invited a lot of them to speak at our seminars. It really gets
NPSMA today consists of 70 universities plus several statewide them to become champions for the university, not only with our
systems. “California implemented statewide professional master’s program, but for Rice as a whole.”
science programs at all of their facilities and so have the New York
State system and the North Carolina State system,” said Beck, who
was elected to NPSMA’s board this year. “Florida is in negotiations to Learn more about Rice’s Professional Science Master’s Program:
add 24 more programs at their different state universities. As more ›› › sloan-pmp.rice.edu

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 41

P hotos: N ash B aker © nashb aker.c om
Where most people saw old, peeling plywood, Henrique Oliveira saw a new medium.

No Barriers
During the two years that Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira pursued in part relying on high-tech, flexible plywood to form the substructure
his master’s degree at University of São Paulo, the scenic view from his for the patchwork of veneer fragments. Oliveira then used variously
studio window was of a plywood fence surrounding a construction hued wood swatches like strokes of paint, layering them together over
site across the street. Over time, Oliveira watched the once-brand-new the armature and painstakingly stapling each piece in place.
sheets deteriorate and peel apart to reveal layers of color in a process The multicolored surface of “Tapumes” seemed to roil and undu-
that reminded Oliveira of the act of painting. A week before his final late across the back wall of Rice Gallery. It bulged out and then curved
student exhibition, the construction project was completed, and the onto itself, creating tunnels. Stalactites dangled from the ceiling; bul-
dilapidated fence was torn down. Inspired, Oliveira rushed out, gath- bous forms sprouted from the ground. Those seemingly unpromising
ered the scraps and used them to create his work for the show. It was scraps of plywood read like individual brush strokes and created a
the painter’s first installation. dynamic visual swirl of the sort you might see in the background of a

Oliveira collects the fencingg scraps

p for his work from the streets of São Paolo.
For “Tapumes,” Oliveira’s installation at Rice Gallery, the artist again Van Gogh. In fact there is something slightly ominous about the work.
created something amazing from this most unpromising of materials. Stare at it a while, and it’s as if the famed Dutch painter’s choppy, fre-
The word tapumes can translate from Portuguese as “fencing,” “board- netic brush strokes have escaped from one of the late artist’s canvases
ing” or “enclosure,” and in Oliveira’s hands, delaminated and decrepit and gone viral, infecting and consuming the gallery wall.
construction fencing is transformed into a sculptural tour de force. In the art world, it’s often said that everything has been done
Oliveira collects the fencing scraps for his work from the streets of before, and that’s probably true, in some form or fashion. And it’s also
São Paolo. He works with the pre-existing paint on the plywood sur- probably true that a great idea can turn into a gimmick in the hands
faces or sometimes tints the irregular strips of raw veneer with sheer of some artists. But Oliveira’s work seems surprising, fresh and highly
washes of earthy colors that allow the tone and texture of the wood to original as he keeps pushing the boundaries and exploring the pos-
show through. To create “Tapumes,” Oliveira and the installation team sibilities of tapumes that are no longer barriers.
constructed an elaborate armature across the back wall of Rice Gallery, —Kelly Klaasmeyer

42 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

Deep in the heArt of Mexico

High in the rugged central region of Mexico, about
185 miles northwest of Mexico City, lies the unlikely
destination of a group of Rice art students: the for-
mer ghost town of Mineral de Pozos.
Once one of the most important mining towns in the region, Pozos had, at
the end of the 19th century, 300 working mines and a population of 70,000.
But by 1910, silver prices had fallen, and the mines began closing down. In
the 1950s, only about 200 people called the half-forgotten town home.
But life eventually returned to the old ghost town. Today, about 3,500
residents are reclaiming the ruins and treading the dusty cobbled streets.
There are shops and hotels and, amazingly, about 10 art galleries — testi-
mony to the fact that many of the approximately 50 Americans who live at
least part time in Pozos are artists.
Among them are Geoff Winningham ’65, Rice professor of visual arts,
and his wife, Janice Freeman, and the two have brought a penchant for art
instruction — as well as a little bit of Rice — to the people of Pozos.
In 2007, the Jung Center of Houston commissioned Winningham to
organize an exhibition for FotoFest 2008, an international showcase of
photography and photo-related art. As he mulled over ideas for the ex-
hibition, he recalled a printmaking class Freeman had taught in her Pozos
studio to some children from a nearby orphanage.
“The prints they made were quite beautiful,” Winningham said. “So
I began to wonder if I could do something similar for the kids in Pozos —
teach them basic photography, help them photograph their town, process
and print their work, and still assemble a show in time for FotoFest.”
Winningham had only six months to get funding, buy cameras and ma-
terials, find and teach the Pozos children who wanted to participate, help
them produce the pictures, and then frame the show and hang it. Others
might have panicked or scrapped the idea altogether, but Winningham had
ready and willing resources in the form of Rice students. With the Jung
Center’s full support, the Pozos Children’s Project was off the ground, and
Winningham, Freeman and a group of Rice students were bound for the
town. There, they gave cameras and other materials to local children ages
7 to 16, who explored and captured their town through photography.
The result was “Mi Pueblo,” an exhibition of photographs and mono-
types that has toured Texas and Mexico and that eventually will stop at
art galleries at the University of Notre Dame, Duke University and the
National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, among others.
The project also grew into a larger endeavor: the Pozos Art Project
Inc., a Texas nonprofit corporation founded last year. And the work contin-
ued this past summer when Winningham and Freeman led another group
of Rice students on a month-long artistic and educational outreach trip to
the former ghost town. The students taught classes and workshops on
photography, painting and drawing to the community’s children and young
adults and organized public art exhibitions. This year, a small group of
Houston high school students also went along to further create opportuni-
ties for cultural exchange.
“We’ve had so much success with the project, we feel that we must
keep it going and growing,” Winningham said. “It’s not just about making
extraordinary art. We hope that through our projects, we can foster under-
standing, good relations and shared cultural experiences between young
people of the U.S. and Mexico.”
—Jessica Stark

In 2007, the children of Pozos, ages 7 to 16, were given cameras

and other materials to help them discover, explore and capture their
town through photography.
Walk Softly and Carry a Big Instrument
Ah, the life of the double bassist — not only do you have to lug around
the largest of the stringed instruments, but your playing is constantly
being upstaged by those scintillating violins and mellow cellos. But
two Shepherd School of Music bassists don’t have to go around beg-
ging for either respect or an audience. They earned both this past
summer at the 2009 International Society of Bassists Double Bass
Competition, the field’s most prestigious competition.

Shawn Conley ’05 earned first place in the jazz division and senior Kevin
Brown placed first in the orchestra division. Both studied under Paul
Ellison, the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Double Bass and chair of
“This is the most important event of its kind in the bassist world,”
Ellison said. “Placing first in this is similar to an athlete winning the
Heisman Trophy. These prizes are as important as they get.”
For Conley, Ellison was the draw to the Shepherd School. As a youth,
Conley attended orchestra classes but never had much enthusiasm for
playing until he heard the bass. Hooked on the sound, he convinced
“This is the most his parents to buy him a bass, and while still in high school, he won a
position with the Honolulu Symphony. He saw Ellison perform during a
important event summer music festival, and when it came time to consider colleges, there
of its kind in the wasn’t a question in his mind.
“I wanted to study with Paul,” Conley said. “He might not remember
bassist world. the first time I met him, but I do. He made a lasting impression on me.”
Placing first in Conley is thankful that the bass led him to Ellison and Rice. “I came
to learn from Paul, but I also found all these other great people and a
this is similar great environment,” he said. “Rice is a competitive place, sure, but in the
to an athlete Shepherd School, especially in bass, it’s not about competition; it’s about
learning from one another.”
winning the Conley took traits from his Shepherd School colleagues with him as
Heisman Trophy. he mounted the stage for the International Society of Bassists competi-
tion. Though the stylings of jazz are different from those of the classical
These prizes are music he was accustomed to, Conley won the prestigious Scott LaFaro
as important as Prize and earned a coveted expenses-paid concert appearance to open
the society’s 2011 biennial convention.
they get.” During the summer, Conley worked as a fellow at the Tanglewood
Music Center, which Brown also attended. The two share more than a
—Paul Ellison
Kevin Brown and Paul Ellison talent for bass.
“My work at the Shepherd School with Paul has been the basis of
what I have been doing for the past two years,” said Brown, who has
been playing the bass since he was 3. “It’s what brought me to the level
that I’m at.”
“ I came to learn from After besting a record-breaking field of 50 entries, Brown earned a
Paul, but I also found week’s paid internship with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
all these other great “When I took the stage, I just tried to eliminate my ego. I didn’t want
to ‘play better’ than the other players; I just wanted to play music,” Brown
people and a great said. “I had the attitude that whatever happened was going to happen,
environment. Rice and I was well enough prepared that even if something went wrong, I
could still make a presentable showing.”
is a competitive Brown said the Shepherd School’s collegiality is one of the best
place, sure, but in things about his Rice experience.
the Shepherd School, “Rice is a great place to be a student because there are a lot of
resources available,” he said. “The ensemble opportunities are amazing,
especially in bass, it’s and so is the faculty.”
not about competition; —Jessica Stark

it’s about learning

from one another.” Learn more about the Shepherd School of Music:
—Shawn Conley ›› › music.rice.edu

44 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

Another Roadside Attraction

Everything is big in Texas, and that includes Rice student art.
This past summer, original work by five Rice students was dis-
played in heroic scale on a series of billboards in and around
College Station.

Though there is a long tradition of artists making dramatic visual state-

ments in space usually reserved for advertising, it is rare for such an
opportunity to be made available to students, said international artist
and Rice professor Christopher Sperandio.
Lamar Outdoor Advertising donated the five 11-by-23 billboards
when Sperandio approached the company with the idea. He then
secured Meredith Goldsmith, curatorial associate at the Contemporary
Arts Museum Houston, to jury and select pieces for the student bill-
board project.
“The range of artwork that Rice University students are making
is impressive, and my selections reflect that range,” Goldsmith said.
“This billboard project was a unique opportunity for the artists to “The range of artwork that Rice University students are
stretch their subject matter and styles for a venue that audiences ex-
perience in motion. I am sure the students’ images will delight and making is impressive, and my selections reflect that
challenge their unsuspecting audience of drivers, as banal familiar
landmarks are transformed into works of art.” range. This billboard project was a unique opportunity
The student billboard project exemplifies the reinvigoration of
Rice’s Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts. for the artists to stretch their subject matter and styles
“The billboards are just part of the changes,” Sperandio said, noting
that the faculty has revised the studio program curriculum. “You can ex-
pect some exciting artworks to flow out of our program. Visual Art 2.0
for a venue that audiences experience in motion.”
is here — a critically minded, student-focused, boutique arts program —Meredith Goldsmith
perfect for artist–scholars who want to take advantage of the interdisci-
plinary nature of Rice and work in an expanded cultural field.”
—Jessica Stark
Burnett treats each
flood in its own chapter
that details background
information, such as
the structures of dams
or relative positions of
watercourses to cities
and towns.

Bad Water Rising

The late Texas musician Stevie Ray Vaughan probably was speaking from
personal experience when he sang, “It’s flooding down in Texas,” but that
matter-of-fact line also highlights an unfortunately predictable aspect of the
Lone Star State: It’s going to flood somewhere.

“Flash Floods in Texas” by Jonathan Burnett ’85 (Texas A&M kindling before washing down the river and spreading havoc all
University Press, 2008) may not mention all of the state’s floods the way to Laredo.
— probably an encyclopedic task — but it does cover 28 of the Burnett treats each flood in its own chapter that details back-
most devastating, beginning with the Austin Dam break of 1900 ground information, such as the structures of dams or relative
and continuing through the Guadalupe River flood of 2002. As his positions of watercourses to cities and towns. He then explains the
collection shows, few areas of Texas are impervious to destructive prevalent weather conditions that led to the flood, how the flood
inundations. progressed over the landscape and what the aftermath was like.
Floods in the eastern part of the state are generally of the sort Each chapter is accompanied by dramatic photos of the flood and,
where shallow rivers, streams and bayous overflow their banks often, of the area both before the water rose and after it subsided.
and drown the relatively flat countryside. In 2001, for example, The case histories show why Texans have gone to great lengths to
Tropical Storm Allison made much of Houston resemble a huge abate the effects of flooding, such as by building Addicks Reservoir
lake with a mirage of a city rising from the water. to protect Houston and rechanneling the San Antonio River where
The rougher terrain of the Hill Country and West Texas is an- it runs through downtown San Antonio.
other story. Flooding there frequently is accompanied by rushing But despite these and other protections, Texas is going to ex-
walls of water that add incredible violence to the saturation. That perience flooding nearly every time a hurricane or major tropical
was the case in 1954, when an 80-foot wall of water spawned by storm blows in over the coast. We can learn something about the
rains from Hurricane Alice swept down the Pecos River canyon, nature of these events from Burnett’s book, but a century from
taking out highway and railroad bridges and stranding travelers now, another Rice alum might aptly pen a similar volume that
and residents alike. When the deluge reached the Rio Grande, takes up where Burnett’s leaves off.
it demolished the international bridge at Del Rio like so much —Christopher Dow

46 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine
ON THE Bookshelf
Don’t Believe a Word of It Hiring the Right People
Did you hear the one about the 1,600-pound man-eating grizzly bear Your success as a manager — and the success of your company
killed by a forest ranger? The Internet story contained convinc- — is simply the result of how good you are at hiring employees.
ing details, was accompanied by photographs of the bear and the For Randy Street ’92 and Geoff Smart, that means that there is only
ranger, and was a fabrication based on a tissue of truth. one really pertinent question managers need to ask when filling
empty positions: Who?
Did you believe what you read about JT LeRoy, the rough-talking, cross-
dressing, precocious teenage hustler whose tale of sex work, abuse and That is the premise of Street and Smart’s
abandonment was recounted in a Pulitzer Prize-winning article? book, “Who: The A Method for Hiring”
Another fake — the brainchild of a 41-year-old woman from (Ballantine Books, 2008), which lays out a
Brooklyn. formula for selecting employees who will
These two stories are among dozens of others in “Fakers: Hoaxers, excel, whether the person being hired is a
Con Artists, Counterfeiters, and Other Great Pretenders” (The New call-center worker or a CEO.
Press, 2008), by Paul Maliszewski ’91. It’s a compendium of literary To create their hiring technique, the
hoaxes, political scams, art forgeries and other fabrications given life authors researched hiring procedures
through the efforts of people who would mislead others for profit, no- and gained several years of practical
toriety, political gain or just the sheer orneriness of it. experience dealing first-hand with hir-
Many of the fakes that Maliszewski outlines are of recent ori- ing issues. In the process, they gath-
gin, but he also exhumes historical examples that might ered data on more than 300 CEOs,
boggle the minds of contemporary readers. which was then processed by a
One is a series of articles published in financial team at the University
the New York Sun in 1835 that claimed of Chicago’s Graduate School of
the famous astronomer John Herschel Business. Street and Smart gleaned
had used a powerful telescope to observe further insights from interviews with
a civilization of bat-winged humanoids on business billionaires, CEOs of multibillion-
the Moon. The series, purportedly written dollar companies, and dozens of managers, investors, heads
by Herschel’s assistant, supposedly drew on of nonprofit organizations and other experts on management.
extracts published in the Edinburgh Journal The pair identified four parts of the hiring process where
of Science. The journal was real enough, but failure typically occurs. Fortunately, these failures are prevent-
the rest was pure hokum born of a circulation able, and the authors offer a blueprint for evaluating job candi-
war between the New York Sun and its rivals. dates. Called a “Scorecard,” it comprises three parts: mission,
Maliszewski examines these fakes and hoaxes outcomes and competencies. These three pieces describe
not as shocking aberrations but as part of a larger what a person must accomplish in a job and provide a clear
fake media culture, that we inhabit unquestioningly linkage between personnel and company strategy. Finally, the
every day. In doing so, he investigates our relation- authors present an interview mechanism designed to elicit accurate
ship to truth and authenticity and exposes the contra- and comprehensive information that will allow hiring managers to
dictions in our communication culture. make informed decisions.
Add it all up, and you have the makings of an en- “Who” is written in a concise, straightforward style and should be a
tertaining and informative, if highly twisted, read. valuable resource to anyone building a team of first-class employees.
—Christopher Dow —Christopher Dow

“African American “Escape into the Future: “Psychedelic Medicine: New “Unruly Bodies: Life “Modernism,
Religious Life and the Cultural Pessimism and Evidence for Hallucinogenic Writing by Women Drama, and the
Story of Nimrod,” by Its Religious Dimension in Substances as Treatments,” with Disabilities,” by Audience for Irish
Anthony B. Pinn, Agnes Contemporary American by Michael James Winkelman Susannah B. Mintz ’96 Spectacle,” by
Cullen Arnold Professor of Popular Culture,” by John M. ’76, director of the Ethnographic (University of North Paige Reynolds ’89
Humanities and professor Stroup, Harry and Hazel Chavanne Field School at Arizona State Carolina Press, 2007) (Cambridge University
of religious studies at Rice, Professor of Religious Studies at University, and Thomas B. Press, 2008)
and Allen Dwight Callahan Rice, and Glenn W. Shuck (Baylor Roberts (Praeger Publishers,
(Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) University Press, 2007) 2007)

Rice Magazine • No. 4 • 2009 47


Carrying the Olympic FLAME Four Times Up, Four Times a Winner
The Olympic torch is a familiar icon, but the
Olympics has another fire that burns just as And the winner of the Conference USA Institutional Excellence
brightly. It’s called FLAME — Finding Leaders Award for the fourth straight year is, ta-da! Rice University.
Among Minorities Everywhere — and this past
summer, senior Samuel Sok was one of 30 minor- The award is given to the C-USA institution with the highest grade point average
ity student leaders from universities across the during the academic year for all student–athletes in conference-sponsored sports.
nation selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee For 2008–09, Rice student–athletes combined for an annual GPA of 3.099, which
to attend the program. is the highest in the Owls’ current four-year run. The Owls have won the C-USA
Institutional Excellence Award every year since joining the conference.
The Rice football, women’s swimming and women’s tennis teams all won the
FLAME provides students with an in-depth look at C-USA Sport Academic Award for having the highest team GPA in the league for
the Olympic movement and gives them a chance to the 2008–09 academic year. The women’s tennis team posted the highest annual
explore the Olympic ideals of persistence, commit- GPA of any sport at 3.748. The Owl swimmers had the highest team GPA — 3.531
ment, vision, focus and determination. Participants — of any other Division I women’s or men’s swim program in the nation. And not
are mentored so they can apply Olympic-oriented only did Rice football record the league’s best team GPA at 2.843, the Owls won 10
principles to all aspects of their lives. games, including a postseason victory in the Texas Bowl.
Sok, a sport management major with an interest
in public relations, expects the experience to benefit
his career. “My job will primar- See the full list of the 2008–09 Sport Academic Award honorees:
ily be to create and maintain ›› › ricemagazine.info/26
an acceptable image,” he said.
“Since the Olympics stands for
worldwide unity in the world
of sports and consistently en-
forces that image, I feel that The women’s tennis team posted
the chance to learn from an
organization that publicizes its the highest annual GPA
of any sport.

brand very well and translates
it into real-world situations is
the opportunity of a lifetime.”
Sok said that because he
is a minority — an Asian-
American of Korean descent
— creating a world where
unity is possible is very im-
Samuel Sok portant to him, and he con-
siders his selection for the
FLAME program an honor.
While attending the program at the U.S. Olympic
Complex in Colorado Springs, Colo., Sok lived among
U.S. Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls.
The program itinerary included presentations by
USOC and national governing body senior staff mem-
bers, as well as one-on-one discussions with moti-
vational speakers such as legendary Olympian Billy
Mills (track and field, 1964), Paralympian John Register
(track and field, 2000) and two-time Paralympian
April Holmes (track and field, 2004 and 2008).
Additional activities included sport demon-
strations conducted by USOC resident athletes, a
networking-skills seminar and a hike through the
famous Garden of the Gods.
“FLAME has consistently been one of the USOC’s
most successful outreach programs,” said USOC
acting Chief Executive Officer Stephanie Streeter.
“FLAME program alumni have gone on to become
Olympians, USOC college interns, USOC sponsor
employees, and leaders in companies and organiza-
tions throughout the country.”

48 www.rice.edu/ricemagazine

A Gift for the Long Run

Throughout their lives, Edward ’33 and Naomi “Petie” Guion Holloway ’33
worked hard and lived modestly. When it came to Rice’s track and field
program, however, they were willing to splurge.

When they first met on Rice’s campus, Edward of Rice’s track has prevented the university
was an accomplished track athlete, and Petie from holding competitive track meets. Thanks
was a typist for the Campanile. In the years to the Holloways, the track will be replaced
that followed, a vast collection with state-of-the-art materials,
of Rice memorabilia — includ- and an endowed track schol-
ing photos of Edward at various arship will ensure that Rice’s
track events — filled their home award-winning track-and-field
and their hearts. While plan- program continues to grow
ning their wills, Edward and and thrive well into the future.
Petie chose to create a lasting Additional endowed funds
legacy of support for the uni- will provide scholarships to
versity that also would honor students with financial need
their shared love of Rice’s track Edward Holloway “Petie” Holloway
as well as generate yearly
and field program. contributions to the Rice Annual Fund. With
Through the generous bequest of their es- this enduring gift, the Holloways’ support
tate, the Holloways’ dreams for the program for Rice will benefit students and athletes for
will soon come to fruition. The poor condition generations to come.

To learn more about this fund or about making charitable gifts to Rice through your estate,
please contact the Office of Gift Planning for gift illustrations and calculations tailored to your situation.

Phone: 713-348-4624 • E-mail: giftplan@rice.edu • Web site: www.rice.planyourlegacy.org

Nonprofit Organization
U.S. Postage
Permit #7549
Houston, Texas
Rice University
Creative Services–MS 95
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77251-1892


Fall move-in day brought a record num-

ber of smiling young faces to the Rice
campus. The 896 freshman students,
surpassing last year’s record number by
more than 100, were selected from the
largest applicant pool in Rice’s history:
11,173. The incoming class is almost 14
percent larger than last year’s, putting
Rice’s Vision for the Second Century
plan for a 30 percent expansion of the
undergraduate student body ahead of