The Magazine of Rice University
E i g h t P a r t s A m a z i n g Caroline Shaw ’04 spent $50 to enter her vocal piece, “Partita for 8 Voices,” into the 2013 Pulitzer competition for music. Turns out, it was money well spent. Also: The inaugural Rice Seminar examined human trafficking, Tim ’92 and Karrie Smith League ’92 preside over the world’s best movie house, Rice jumps into the online education world of MOOCs, the 100th commencement, OEDK inventions and more.
The Magazine of Rice University
Massively Open, Distinctively Rice Everything you wanted to know about MOOCs. Is Rice watching the revolution in online education from the sidelines? Hardly.
By Lynn Gosnell
Campus news, a win-win award, pet projects, public diplomacy and oh, we exceeded our Centennial Campaign goal.
Rice research findings in science, health, public policy, engineering and more.
Reel Nerds Who else but Rice grads could create a chain of movie houses as quirky and successful as the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas?
Meet Rice staff member Carlos Amaro and alumna Caroline Shaw ’04, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for music; also, campus visitors in noted and quoted.
By Rose Cahalan ’10
A true fresh-man graduates. Esther Ayuk ’13 of McMurtry College catches a breeze in the Sallyport on the way to receiving her diploma.
The Hard Truths of Human Trafficking Turns out, what you “know” about human trafficking may not be the whole story. A yearlong humanities seminar brought new perspectives to an age-old problem.
Arts & LEtters
Rice Gallery’s stunning “Unwoven Light,” Meghan Caulkett ’13 and her traveling harp, ARUBA’s moving documentary, flights of fancy, books and more.
By Miah Arnold
Women’s tennis wins conference; baseball’s 18th consecutive season championship and marathon Super Regional play.
On the cover Read a profile of Pulitzer winner Caroline Shaw ’04 on Page 18. Photo by Piotr Redlinski. Left A theater for movie fans. The Ritz on Austin’s 6th Street is the flagship location of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s growing empire. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.
Parting Words Deborah Harter, associate professor of French, writes about her weekly racquetball game.
D ow n load
Featu red Con tr ibu to rs
Follow what’s going on throughout campus and beyond the hedges. Videos, photos and more can be found online. Watch us, like us and join us in the conversation about Rice. Youtube youtube.com/riceuniversity
Rice Magazine on Issuu
Lettuce Eat Better Does your salad know what time it is? It may be healthier for you if it does, according to new research from Rice and the University of California at Davis. “Vegetables and fruits don’t die the moment they are harvested,” said Rice biologist Janet Braam, who is studying plants’ circadian clocks. “They respond to their environment for days, and we found we could use light to coax them to make more cancerfighting antioxidants at certain times of day.” Braam’s team simulated day-night cycles of light and dark to control the internal clocks of fruits and vegetables. The upshot: There may be potential health benefits to storing fresh produce under day-night cycles of light. Watch the video online at ricemagazine.info/151.
#Commencement It’s commencement in miniature. Photographer Jeff Fitlow captured this overview of Rice’s 100th Commencement using a “tilt-shift” filter from Snapseed on Instagram. The perspective creates an optical illusion by focusing on one area and blurring the rest.
View recent and past issues, dating back to 2003.
Follow the progress of each quarterly magazine.
2 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
Miah Arnold (“Rice Seminar”) earned a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston. Her short essays and fiction have been published in a number of journals and magazines. She is the author of the novel “Sweet Land of Bigamy” (Tyrus Books, 2012) and numerous short essays and fiction. Her essay “You Owe Me” appears in Best American Essays 2012. She will join the faculty of Georgia College next fall.
Rose Cahalan ’10 (“Reel Nerds”) lives in Austin, where she is an assistant editor at the Alcalde, the University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine. At Rice, she studied English. Her eternal allegiance lies with KTRU, Rice Coffeehouse and Martel College.
Jade Boyd, associate director of News and Media Relations in Public Affairs, has written about science and engineering at Rice for more than a decade. A recovering journalist, he once told a class of freshmen that science writing at Rice was so much fun, he’d keep doing it even if he won the lottery.
The Magazine of Rice University Summer 2013 Rice Magazine is published four times a year and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, parents of undergraduates and friends of the university. Published by the Office of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, vice president Editor Lynn Gosnell Art Director Erick Delgado Creative Services Jeff Cox senior director Dean Mackey senior graphic designer Jackie Limbaugh graphic designer Tracey Rhoades editorial director Jenny W. Rozelle ’00 assistant editor Tommy LaVergne university photographer Jeff Fitlow assistant university photographer Contributing Staff B.J. Almond, Jade Boyd, Jeff Falk, Amy Hodges, Mike Williams news and media relations Students Johanna Ohm ’13
Don’t just pass by. A new quarterly email survey invites your critical feedback on each issue’s content. In return, we’ll tell you what we learned.
e love reader surveys — Rice Magazine, and its predecessor, Sallyport, periodically invited reader feedback in this way. To date, these paper surveys have flown back and forth between us — Rice’s campus and your home or workplace — via mail. We loved your thoughtful responses, but it took a lot of time and effort to tally and analyze the data. The new design we debuted last issue provided a powerful incentive to go back to you, our readers, and ask: So, how are we doing? Thanks to our new survey partners, Rice’s Office of Institutional Effectiveness, we have created a simple online format that our readers can fill out at their convenience. Best of all — we can create all kinds of reports with a mouse click. We launched the quarterly survey this spring, emailing 1,700 Rice Magazine recipients, including alumni, staff, faculty and graduate students. At press time, 225 of you had responded. So, what did we learn? You were evenly split on whether the cover image of a trail sign along the Chemin de St. Jacques made you “more interested in this issue” or made “no difference.” A small minority said it made you “less interested in this issue.” We asked if you “read, skimmed or skipped” each department and feature. Well-read departments up front included Sallyport, Abstract, and Noted and Quoted. In the back of the magazine, you liked the Rice Gallery and Bookshelf sections best. Our new essay page was well-read, too. Your favorite feature? “Scraps of Time” by a nose, then “Wise Ideas” and finally “Path of Knowledge.” The readership for all three features was gratifyingly high. When we asked if you agreed with the statement, “I learned something new about Rice in this issue,” 88 percent either agreed or strongly agreed. By the way, you read a lot of magazines — from TIME and Texas Monthly to Dwell, Wired, Businessweek, and Garden and Gun. Our favorite magazine mentioned was Quidditch Quarterly. I have to thank Fred Lawrence ’64; Leah Aschman, constituent relations officer; and Danny Eaton, senior network architect, for entering our drawing. Their names were randomly chosen from a pool of survey respondents to receive some nice Rice swag. Thanks, guys! So, if YOU are randomly selected for our survey, we thank you in advance for filling it out. —Lynn Gosnell email@example.com
Photo: Jeff Fitlow
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Centennial Campaign exceeds $1 billion goal “We did it! More than 49,000 Rice alumni, faculty and staff, members of the Houston community and some very special friends of the university saw the Vision for Rice’s Second Century and made this happen,” said Rice alumna and trustee emerita Susie Glasscock ’62, who co-chaired the campaign with alumnus and trustee Bobby Tudor ’82. With a record-setting $1.094 billion* in gifts and pledges, Rice has exceeded the $1 billion goal of its Centennial Campaign — the largest fundraising effort in the school’s 100-year history. The campaign raised funds to achieve the strategic objectives of Rice’s Vision for the Second Century and to heighten the positive impact that Rice and its graduates have on the world through education, research and service. Scholarships,
endowed faculty chairs, fellowships, student leadership programs, investments in research and academic initiatives, new buildings, athletics facilities and renovations to current facilities were made possible by the campaign. Rice launched the campaign in November 2008 after raising half the $1 billion goal during the quiet phase. Four recent major gifts pushed the total to more than $1 billion: »» Dr. Milton and Laurie Boniuk gave Rice $28.5 million to establish the Boniuk Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Tolerance. »» A lead gift for a new opera house at the Shepherd School of Music has been secured from an anonymous donor, and additional funds will be raised to complete the project. »» An anonymous friend of the university increased his total campaign commitment to $42 million for a wide range of student activities, facilities and program support. »» Alumna and trustee Suzanne Deal Booth ’77 gave $7.5 million for the arts. Look for a full report of the Centennial Campaign in the fall issue of Rice Magazine. Read the Rice News story at: ricemagazine.info/152. *As of 6/24/13
4 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
Rice University Board of Trustees Robert B. Tudor III, chairman; Edward B. “Teddy” Adams Jr.; J.D. Bucky Allshouse; Keith T. Anderson; Doyle Arnold; Laura Arnold; Albert Chao; T. Jay Collins; Mark Dankberg; Lynn Laverty Elsenhans; Doug Foshee; Lawrence Guffey; B.B. “Ben” Hollingsworth Jr.; John Jaggers; Larry Kellner; R. Ralph Parks; Lee H. Rosenthal; Jeffery Smisek; Charles Szalkowski; Robert M. Taylor Jr.; Guillermo “Memo” Treviño; James S. Turley; Randa Duncan Williams. Administrative Officers David W. Leebron, president; George McLendon, provost; Kathy Collins, vice president for Finance; Kevin Kirby, vice president for Administration; Chris Muñoz, vice president for Enrollment; Allison Kendrick Thacker, vice president for Investments and treasurer; Linda Thrane, vice president for Public Affairs; Richard A. Zansitis, vice president and general counsel; Darrow Zeidenstein, vice president for Resource Development. Editorial Offices Rice University Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 firstname.lastname@example.org Postmaster Send address changes to: Rice University Development Services–MS 80 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 © July 2013 Rice University
News and Update s from Campus
T Photo: Jeff Fitlow
he 20th annual Latin Jazz Concert took place on a beautiful spring day just outside of Brochstein Pavilion. The Rice Jazz Ensemble, directed by Larry Slezak, a longtime jazz teacher at Rice, included students, alumni and professional musicians from Houston. The program included such standards as Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia,” “Malaguena” by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona and “La Fiesta” by Chick Corea. The audience filled the outside tables and sat on blankets or folding chairs under the trees.
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Th e Class of 20 1 3 *
888 945 1 49 to 51 BIOC students were awarded
was a triple degree.
Neil deGrasse Tyson to the Class of 2013: The future of exploration is in your hands. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson recalled President John F. Kennedy’s famous “We choose to go to the moon” speech at Rice Stadium and discussed the drivers of exploration, but what he most wanted to talk about at Rice University’s 100th commencement ceremony May 11, 2013, was Apollo 8. “It was unheralded, but it was the first mission to leave Earth and go somewhere else,” Tyson said of the 1968 mission around the moon that prepared NASA — and humanity — to land on another world less than a year later. “It orbited the moon, came around the back side. They held up a camera and there was Earth, rising over the lunar surface,” he said. “There was Earth, not as we had ever seen it ... not with color-coded countries. There was Earth with oceans, land, clouds. Do you realize no representation of Earth before that included clouds?” Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York
6 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
City, told 1,742 graduates, their families and friends in the Rice Academic Quadrangle of the immediate impact that photo had. “Over the next five years, the following happens on Earth. The Environmental Protection Agency is founded. A comprehensive Clean Air Act, a comprehensive Clean Water Act is passed. Earth Day is founded. The organization Doctors Without Borders is founded. Where did they get that phrase ‘without borders’? Did anyone before that photo think of Earth as a place without borders? No. “DDT was banned. The catalytic converter was introduced. Leaded gas was removed from the environment. All of this happened in those five years, while we were still at war. “Something changed about humanity with that photo,” Tyson said. “It was a cultural response to our presence in space. It affected commerce. It affected how we treated Earth. It affected our outlook. It had us thinking about a future as never before. “We went to the moon to explore it, but in fact we discovered Earth, for the first time.” —Mike Williams Watch Neil deGrasse Tyson’s commencement speech to Rice’s graduates at ricemagazine. info/153.
was the percent of female to male graduates.
(Biochemistry and Cell Biology) was the most-awarded major. *includes December 2012 grads
Photos: Jeff Fitlow
Miss Your Profs? Here are Rice’s MOOCs for 2013–2014. MOOC stands for massive open online course, and it’s a topic that is taking the higher ed world by storm. Rice faculty are teaching classes via two MOOC providers, Coursera and edX. How did all this come about? We cover our MOOC year on Page 22. Via edX.org Signals and Systems, Rich Baraniuk, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Electricity and Magnetism, Jason Hafner, Department of Physics and Astronomy and of Chemistry Paradigms in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Kathleen Matthews, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology Evolution of the Solar System and the Earth, Rajdeep Dasgupta, Cin-Ty Lee, Adrian Lenardic, Alan Levander and Francis Albarede, Department of Earth Science Socrates, Don Morrison, Department of Philosophy and of Classical Studies, and Harvey Yunis, Department of Classical Studies Fundamentals of Immunology, Alma Novotny, Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology Religion and Hip Hop Culture, Anthony Pinn, Department of Religious Studies Fundamentals of Parallel Programming, Vivek Sarkar, Department of Computer Science Via coursera.org Chemistry Concept Development and Application, Part II, John Hutchinson, Department of Chemistry Hands-on Laboratory Course for Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering, Don Johnson, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Troubleshooting Workshop for Clinically Relevant Biomedical Equipment, Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Department of Bioengineering and of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Ann Saterbak and Maria Oden, Department of Bioengineering Algorithmic Thinking, Luay Nakhleh, Department of Computer Science and of Biochemistry and Cell Biology Analytical Chemistry, Vicki Colvin, Department of Chemistry and of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Nanotechnology: The Basics, Dan Mittleman, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Vicki Colvin Inquiry Science Learning: Perspectives and Practices 1, 2, 3 and 4, Lara Arch, Chris “C.J.” Thompson, Lisa Webber and Reid Whitaker, Center for Digital Learning and Scholarship Using the Next Generation Science Standards for Students’ Deeper Understanding, Terry K. Talley, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
Photos: ShauLin Hon; Jeff Fitlow
A team of students who are developing a better lithium-ion battery pitched their way to more than $900,000 in prizes at the 2013 Rice Business Plan Competition this April. Northwestern University’s SiNode Systems was the grand prize winner. Rice’s world-renowned competition brought 42 university teams to campus to vie for more than $1.5 million in startup prizes, including investment offers, in-kind awards and cash. More than 400 applicants from the United States and 1,200 internationally applied for a coveted spot in the competition. The teams (each team must include at least one graduate student) competed in various categories, including energy, information technology and life science. Judges included venture capitalists, early-stage investors and proven entrepreneurs. And the winners? The other top finishers featured companies developing a surgical device that helps detect blood vessels (BriteSeed, Northwestern University), a diagnostic device that detects lung cancer by analyzing a patient’s breath (VOC Diagnostics, University of Louisville), a medical device to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome fatalities (Owlet Baby Monitors, Brigham Young University), a low-cost process for microencapsulation (AQDOT, University of Cambridge) and software to help manage lab animals (MouseHouse, University of Chicago).
Rice fielded two startups. Medical Informatics Corp. took home $28,500 in prizes for their medical device integration invention, and Saranas LLC, with another medical device that helps detect internal bleeding complications, was awarded $1,500. As always, the competition is hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship (www.alliance.rice.edu) and the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business. Read all about the competition and watch the elevator pitches and six finalists’ presentations at ricemagazine.info/154.
Fondren Library typically becomes more crowded during final exams, but not always with students. This year, dogs and cats joined in on Rice students’ study sessions with Fondren’s “Furry Friends” study break at the end of the spring semester. S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
The library invited Houston pet therapy organization Faithful Paws (www.faithful pawshouston.com) to bring its pets to the reference area. Four to five therapy dogs and their owner–volunteers came to offer students a chance to take a break from sitting in the stacks and to meet new friends. For some dogs, this study break was a repeat visit — it was back by popular demand after successful visits during last semester’s final exams. Tilly, a rescued standard poodle, came with her owner, Sarah Hazel, to greet students with tail wags and hello licks. Tilly’s job as a therapy dog keeps her busy; she works once a week at the Methodist Hospital in addition to doing special projects like study breaks at Rice. “She’s an expert at this type of thing,” Hazel said. During the three-day study break, numerous breeds of dogs (and two cats) came to lounge on Fondren’s first floor. Students “pawsed” for the break, and as for the animals, the hours of attention and petting were well received. —Johanna Ohm ’13
Six new members — and one re-elected member — to the Board of Trustees brings a range of experience and leadership. The Rice University Board of Trustees has elected six new members with expertise ranging from banking and investments to the airline, energy, product distribution and satellite communication industries. The board also re-elected one current member. New trustees are Doyle Arnold ’70, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Zions Bancorporation; Mark Dankberg ’77, co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of ViaSat Inc.; returning board member Doug Foshee ’92, chairman, president and CEO of Sallyport Investments LLC; Jeffery Smisek, chairman, president and CEO of United Continental Holdings Inc.; B.B. “Ben” Hollingsworth Jr. ’64, chairman of BBH Capital; and Guillermo “Memo” Treviño ’83, president of Southern Distributing Co. Re-elected to another four-year term was Randa Duncan Williams ’85, chairwoman of the board of directors of Enterprise Products Holdings LLC. —B.J. Almond Read the full story at ricemagazine.info/155.
8 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
Talk about a win-win Rice University bioengineering faculty members Rebecca RichardsKortum and Maria Oden used their $100,000 prize from a major international award to launch the Day One Project (rice360.rice.edu/ dayoneproject), an ambitious effort to build a new neonatal ward at the African hospital that has helped Rice implement low-cost studentdesigned health care technologies since 2007.
Richards-Kortum and Oden launched Day One after winning the 2013 $100,000 Lemelson–MIT Award for Global Innovation May 1. Within the first week, Day One had raised 70 percent of the $375,000 needed to build the new neonatal facility at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in Blantyre, Malawi. The country’s premature birthrate — 18 percent — is the world’s highest. In addition to providing excellent care for premature babies, the new facility will also serve as an innovation hub for the design, evaluation and implementation of new technologies designed by students from Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies. Ultimately, Rice 360° aims to use the Day One Project to create a collection of low-cost, neonatal technologies that a district hospital serving 250,000 people can implement for about $5,000. Oden and Richards-Kortum won the prestigious award in honor of their life-saving inventions and pioneering efforts to inspire and lead Rice students to invent and deliver cost-effective global health technologies in developing nations. The pair co-founded both Rice 360° and its award-winning, hands-on engineering education program Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB). More than 10 percent of Rice
undergraduates have participated in BTB, which has produced 58 health technologies that are already helping an estimated 45,000 people in 24 countries. “When Maria and I learned we had won this award, we both knew exactly how we wanted to use the prize money,” Richards-Kortum said. “QECH is an extraordinary place that is committed to caring for the world’s most vulnerable patients. The physicians there have shown us how simple innovations can dramatically improve neonatal health, and they’ve inspired us to engage our students in solving the challenges of newborn care in low-resource settings.” “We are accepting the $100,000 Lemelson– MIT Award for Global Innovation on behalf of all of the people at Rice, the Texas Medical Center and around the world who have helped to make BTB’s work possible,” Oden said. “Our decision to donate the prize money to QECH is a way to recognize the efforts of our students and collaborators, while ensuring that more life-saving technologies will be used to improve neonatal care in the developing world.” —Jade Boyd Watch the Day One Project video online at ricemagazine.info/156. The MIT video can be seen at ricemagazine.info/157. Photo: Jeff Fitlow
Goal The goal was to promote public diplomacy, defined as “the encouragement of national interests by informing, engaging and influencing people around the world.” The class centered around a colloquium where Rice students hosted 12 visiting undergraduates from Qatar. Matthews supplemented her lectures with guest scholars who brought in additional expertise in Middle Eastern history, culture and current events. Rice students studied Qatari history, religion and culture and planned discussion topics and field trips in advance of the international students’ visit the first week of March. “I wanted the students to learn what it takes to be a leader by having them moderate their own session — and be the ‘expert’ in their area — as well as be involved in making choices about the direction the program would take, such as choosing colloquium topics, organizing excursions and editing each others’ writing,” Matthews said. Readings “No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam,” by Reza Aslan (2011); “Qatar: A Modern History,” by Allen J. Fromherz (2012); “Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us, and Why it Matters,” by James Zogby (2012); and numerous other assigned readings Photo: Michael Stravato
Sylla bu s
Public Diplomacy and Global Policymaking in the 21st Century Behind the scenes of UNIV 312
Session Spring 2013, Thursdays, 4–6 p.m., Room 283, Baker Hall Teacher Kirstin R.W. Matthews, senior fellow, Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy; adjunct lecturer, Department of Sociology Rohini Sigireddi ’14, student director Students 12 Rice students from a wide variety of majors (e.g., civil engineering, political science, anthropology, Asian studies, chemical engineering) and 12 undergraduate students from Qatar’s Hamad Bin Khalifa University
Social Media The students used Facebook and Twitter to fulfill part of their assignments and communicate with one another, domestically and internationally. Grading P olicy Grades were based on class participation, weekly assignments, a colloquium paper and a final exam. Why Take This Class “I wanted to get involved in public policy, but it wasn’t your regular traditional policy class where you just have lectures,” said Shayak Sengupta ’15. “It was more engaging. ... I expected to have a lot of cultural experiences, which definitely happened by interacting with the Qatari students outside our regular policy discussions.” “In our formal discussions, we exchanged perspectives with the students from Qatar on an array of international issues, tackling even the most controversial ones [such as immigration and foreign policy] head on,” said George Romar ’13. “Outside the discussions, whether attending our first rodeo together or eating Cracker Jacks at a baseball game, we were also able to build personal connections and friendships that I look forward to maintaining.” —Lynn Gosnell S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Crowning Achievement Transitions and growth can be tough on organizations, and the last decade has seen a lot of both at Rice University. Fortunately for Rice, steady and astute leadership by board chair James W. Crownover ’65 not only paved a smoother road, but opened the way to future destinations.
When Jim Crownover stepped down as chairman of the Rice Board of Trustees June 30, he left a legacy in the tradition of Rice’s best leaders. During his two terms as board chairman, Rice developed and implemented a strategic plan that proposed an increase in the student body and $800 million in campus construction, launched and completed its Centennial Campaign, and celebrated its centennial. A National Merit Scholar, Crownover was drawn to Rice by the university’s reputation for being challenging, and Rice more than lived up to his expectations. “I learned how to think critically here,” he said. “Rice doesn’t prepare you to do well in the first year; it prepares you to sustain a great career.” Although Crownover graduated with a B.A. in 1965 and a B.S. in 1966, both in chemical engineering, he knew that being a scientist or engineer wasn’t for him. But he had discovered that he really liked economics. He left Houston to attend Stanford Graduate School of Business, and while he was there, he met his wife, Molly. After earning his MBA, he signed on with McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, and soon after, the company sent him to head its Houston office. Crownover thrived at McKinsey, where he rose to its board of directors and served as co-chair of the company’s worldwide energy practice. It didn’t take long for Crownover to become well-known and respected in Houston. “The man has a heart bigger than Texas,” said Anna Babin, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Houston,
Jim Crownover at the All-Rice Picnic in 2008.
10 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
which more than once has named him its Volunteer of the Year. “When Jim speaks, it’s after much thought and consideration, and when he speaks, people listen.” By the time Crownover retired from McKinsey as managing director and partner, he was already back at Rice, helping govern the university as a board member. It was an auspicious time for solid leadership. President Malcolm Gillis was soon to step down, and chairing the search committee to find a new president was one of Crownover’s first major tasks. “We wanted somebody who was fresh and energetic and wanted to shape something,” Crownover said. He found that person in David W. Leebron, then dean of the Columbia Law School. “I knew we had somebody who’s very smart, aspirational and aggressive,” he said. “I was looking for that.” In 2005, Crownover was elected board chair following the retirement of Bill Barnett, and he discovered that his work for McKinsey had given him invaluable qualifications for chairing the board of a research university. “At McKinsey, I thought about strategy for a lot of different companies and institutions,” he said. “I also dealt with a lot of different kinds of structures, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and I believe that uniqueness such as Rice’s can be leveraged into something really exciting.” With Rice’s centennial fast approaching, Crownover’s knowledge and experience were of increasing importance. The centennial entailed two distinct but intertwined elements: a capital campaign to raise funds
“The man has a heart bigger than Texas.” Anna Babin, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Houston
to implement the designs laid out in the V2C and a celebration that would both honor Rice’s first 100 years and set its diverse constituencies on a unified course into the 21st century. The Centennial Campaign, with the astounding fundraising goal of $1 billion, was launched in 2008, and early plans for the Centennial Celebration were drawn up. Despite the difficult economic times that befell the United States, the university kept on its fundraising target. “While you don’t really like these tough times,” Crownover said, “they give an institution a remarkable opportunity to distinguish itself and show its mettle.” That mettle was proved this spring when the Centennial Campaign exceeded its goal by bringing in $1.094 billion (as of June 24, 2013). Thanks to its success, Rice’s infrastructure received a vital shot in the arm with a number of new and renovated academic buildings, two new residence halls, and embellished athletic facilities, notably Tudor Fieldhouse and Youngkin Center and the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center. And the campaign is paying off in more ways than funding. The last few years have seen the establishment of Rice programs and institutes with worldwide impact along with record numbers of applicants eager to take advantage of the university’s exceptional education and updated campus. Although Crownover has retired from the board, his excitement about Rice remains strong. “We’re still improving,” he said. “In the next decade or two, Rice can be the best story of advancement among American universities.” —Christopher Dow Photo: Tommy LaVergne
Natur al Sciences
Volcano Location Could Be GreenhouseIcehouse Key A new Rice University-led study examines whether continental-arc volcanoes like Mount Etna in Sicily may have produced high levels of carbon dioxide during long greenhouse periods in Earth’s ancient past.
The journal Geosphere published a study by Rice earth science faculty that links the Earth’s repeated long-term flip-flopping between greenhouse and icehouse states over the past 500 million years to the episodic flare-up of volcanoes at key locations along continental arcs. Such eruptions could release enormous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “Continents store massive amounts of carbon dioxide in sedimentary carbonates like limestone and marble, and it appears that these reservoirs are tapped from time to time by volcanoes, which release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said Professor Cin-Ty Lee, who along with graduate student Benjamin Slotnick, Professor Adrian Lenardic, Professor Gerald Dickens and Associate Professor Rajdeep Dasgupta, all in the Department of Earth Science, led the study. Lee is a petrologist and geochemist whose research interests include the formation and evolution of continents as well as the connec-
Findings, Research and more
tions between deep Earth and its oceans and atmosphere. “One process that can release carbon dioxide from these carbonates is interaction with magma,” Lee said. “But that rarely happens on Earth today because most volcanoes are located on island arcs, tectonic plate boundaries that don’t contain continental crust.” Lee and his colleagues showed that tectonic activity drives an episodic flare-up of volcanoes along continental arcs, particularly during periods when oceans are forming and continents are breaking apart. Earth’s climate continually cycles between greenhouse and icehouse states, which each last on timescales of 10 million to 100 million years. Icehouse states — like the one Earth has been in for the past 50 million years — are marked by ice at the poles and periods of glacial activity. By contrast, the warmer greenhouse states are marked by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and by an ice-free surface, even at the poles. The last greenhouse S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
period lasted about 50 million to 70 million years and spanned the late Cretaceous, when dinosaurs roamed, and the early Paleogene, when mammals began to diversify. The inspiration for this research dates to an informal chalkboard-only seminar, known as “Looney Noons,” at Rice in 2008. The talk was given by Dickens, an oceanographer and paleoclimate expert. “Jerry was talking about seawater in the Cretaceous, and he mentioned that 93.5 million years ago there was a mass extinction of deepwater organisms that coincided with a global marine anoxic event — that is, the deep oceans became starved of oxygen,” Lee said. “I don’t remember much else that he said that day because it had dawned on me that 93 million years ago was a very interesting time for North America. There was a huge flare-up of volcanism along the western margin of North America, and that was the peak of all this activity. “I thought, ‘Wow!’” Lee recalled. “I know coincidence doesn’t mean causality, but it certainly got me thinking. I decided to look at whether the flare-up in volcanic activity that helped create the Sierra Nevada Mountains may also have affected Earth’s climate.” Over the next two years, Lee developed the idea that continental-arc volcanoes could pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. One indicator was evidence from Mount Etna in Sicily, one of the few active continental-arc volcanoes in the world today. Etna produces large amounts of carbon dioxide, Lee said, so much that it is often considered an outlier in global averages of modern volcanic carbon dioxide production. Tectonic and petrological evidence indicated that many Etna-like volcanoes existed during the Cretaceous greenhouse, Lee said. He and colleagues traced the likely areas of occurrence by looking for tungsten-rich minerals like scheelite, which are formed on the margins of volcanic magma chambers when magma reacts with carbonates. It wasn’t easy; Lee spent an entire year pouring through World War II mining surveys from the western U.S. and Canada, for example. The problem, however, was to find a mechanism that would drive long-term tectonic oscillations. As it turned out, Lenardic had been working independently on exactly the same problem, showing that the nature of subduction zones would change with different
12 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
configurations of continents. Lee said, “And so through a series of random encounters, we all found that our ideas were converging. It is only because of our diverse and synergistic faculty at Rice that we are able to tackle problems bigger than our individual respective fields.” A great deal of research remains to bring further evidence to light. “That’s a huge, long-term endeavor,” Lee said. “But if we are right, it’s a paradigm shift.” Graduate student Kelley Liao ’10 and postdoctoral research associate Bing Shen contributed to the study, as did faculty members and additional colleagues at the University of Tokyo, the University of British Columbia, the California Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University and Pomona College. Engineering
Ozone and Heart Attacks
Researchers have found a direct correlation between out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) and levels of air pollution and ozone in Houston. Their work has prompted more CPR training in at-risk communities. The research by Rice statisticians Katherine Ensor and Loren Raun, based on a massive data set unique to Houston, was published last winter in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation. Given that the American Lung Association has ranked Houston eighth in the
United States for high-ozone days, the Rice researchers set out to see if there is a link between ambient ozone levels and cardiac arrest. Ensor is a professor and chair of Rice’s Department of Statistics, and Raun is a faculty fellow in that department. The authors analyzed eight years’ worth of data drawn from Houston’s extensive network of air-quality monitors and more than 11,000 concurrent OHCA logged by Houston Emergency Medical Services (EMS). They found a positive correlation between OHCAs and exposure to both fine particulate matter (airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrograms) and ozone. The work is expected to help Houston EMS fine-tune its deployment of personnel and equipment and provide early warnings to health officials and the public when weather and/or incidents warrant an alert for high ozone levels in specific areas, Ensor said. Houston’s effort is part of a range of interventions to mitigate the consequences of poor air quality days, though none are substitutes for the primary strategy of improving air quality, according to the city’s Health and Human Services Department. “The bottom-line goal is to save lives,” Ensor said. “We’d like to contribute to a refined warning system for at-risk individuals. Blanket warnings about air quality may not be good enough.” —Mike Williams Read the full article at ricemagazine. info/158.
Rice researchers found a positive link between ozone levels and cardiac arrest in Houston. The team relied on eight years of data from EMS and Houston’s network of air-quality monitors. The American Lung Association has ranked Houston eighth in the United States for high-ozone days.
Photo: Van Hart
A rainbow flag flies over the State House in Providence, R.I., May 2, 2013. Rhode Island became the 10th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Public Policy
Marriage Could Improve Health for Same-sex Couples
Same-sex couples who live together have worse health than married opposite-sex couples and similar health as opposite-sex couples who are living together but not married (after adjusting for socio-economic differences), according to a recent study by Rice sociologists. “Families, Resources and Adult Health: Where Do Sexual Minorities Fit?” is one of the first studies comparing the health of married couples, cohabiting opposite-sex couples and cohabiting same-sex couples. The study appeared in the March 2013 Journal of Health and Social Behavior. “Previous studies have indicated there are health disadvantages to living together versus being married, but almost no previous research has focused on same-sex couples,” said Justin Denney, Rice assistant professor of sociology, associate director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research’s Urban Health Program (kinder.rice.edu/urbanhealth) and the study’s lead author. “This study is one of the first to show that the mental and physical health disadvantages of unmarried couples living together may extend to same-sex couples.” Bridget Gorman, professor of sociology at Rice and the study’s co-author, said that given the socio-economic advantages of cohabiting same-sex couples, it’s unclear why they report Photos: Jessica Rinaldi; Carlos Barria/Reuters/Newscom
equally poor health as cohabiting opposite-sex couples and worse health than married opposite-sex couples. However, she theorizes that there are factors not measured in their study that could have a negative impact on the health of cohabiting same-sex couples. “Based on previous research linking health to socio-economic status, one might expect cohabitating same-sex couples to report the best health,” she said. “However, our survey has no direct measures of stress from discriminatory experiences and that may be playing a part that we can’t assess.” Gorman said that previous studies have determined that being a racial minority can have a negative impact on health because of discrimination and other undesirable experiences, and it is reasonable to assume that these experiences would extend to sexual minorities. “Our research shows that cohabitating opposite-sex couples have fewer resources than married opposite-sex couples and are less likely to share the resources that they do have (such as health insurance and bank accounts) that can be leveraged toward better health,” Denney said. “However, the study shows that cohabitating same-sex couples are socio-economically advantaged and more similar to married opposite-sex couples in their tendencies to share resources within a relationship that can positively impact health. Taken together with decades of research showing improved health through marriage, our results suggest that affording same-sex couples the option to marry could possibly improve their health prospects.” —Amy Hodges Read the study at ricemagazine.info/159 and see the news video at ricemagazine.info/160. Engineering
Gone in Five Minutes
An analysis of censorship patterns on the Twitter-like Chinese social media service called Weibo gives the clearest picture yet of how the site’s operator, Sina Weibo, finds and deletes controversial posts in near real time, despite a daily volume of 100 million messages. The study was conducted by computer scientists working independently and at Rice University and the University of New Mexico (UNM). Launched three years ago, Weibo, like
Twitter, allows users to post 140-character messages with usernames and hashtags. About 300 million people use Weibo, which is China’s most popular microblogging service. A team led by Rice’s Dan Wallach and UNM’s Jed Crandall worked with the study’s lead author, independent researcher Tao Zhu. Their analysis indicates that Sina Weibo uses a combination of keyword-matching software and human censors to monitor and delete potentially controversial posts on Weibo. By closely monitoring individuals who frequently post controversial messages, Sina Weibo is able to delete many objectionable posts in less than five minutes, the study found. Wallach is professor of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering. Crandall is an assistant professor of computer science at UNM. The researchers said that Weibo, as one of China’s largest social networking companies, faces the dual challenge of keeping its users
A man holds an iPhone as he visits Sina Weibo’s microblogging site in Shanghai. engaged — and thereby watching advertisements and making money for Weibo — while keeping the content it hosts compliant with local laws. “Weibo gives us a window into the future for what Internet censorship of social media around the world may look like,” Wallach said. “Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis championed transparency a century ago when he wrote, ‘Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.’ We hope that our research shines a light on how laws created by governments and implemented by the private sector can affect free speech everywhere, including here in the U.S.” —Jade Boyd Read the Rice News report at ricemagazine. info/161 and read the study at ricemagazine. info/162. S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Blood Clotting Linked to Immune Response
Rice researchers have found an unexpected link between a protein that triggers the formation of blood clots and other proteins that are essential for the body’s immune system. “This link opens the door for studying severe, debilitating inflammatory disorders where the disease mechanism is still poorly understood, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, regional ileitis and ulcerative colitis, as well as age-related macular degeneration,” said study co-author Joel Moake, a hematologist and senior research scientist in bioengineering at Rice. “There’s clinical evidence that clotting and inflammation are somehow linked in many patients, even in the absence of an infection. This linkage could help explain some of the clinical cases that have long baffled physicians.” Nancy Turner, a research technician in Moake’s lab, discovered the biochemical link after conducting hundreds of experiments on more than a dozen proteins, including key molecules involved with both clotting and the body’s innate immune response. “In addition to the clinical evidence, there’s also a logical basis for this connection,” Moake said. “Clotting is a type of wound response, and wounds are magnets for infection, so there could be a selective advantage in triggering both responses at the same time.” But the link could also have a downside. For example, if a person has a genetic mutation or acquired disorder that causes their blood to clot more often or more extensively than normal, the overactive clotting could lead to the
kind of inflammation that would typically be caused by an infection. Furthermore, initiation of the clotting process may initiate clinical relapses in patients susceptible to various types of severe inflammatory disease. —Jade Boyd Read the Rice News story at ricemagazine. info/163. Rankings
Tops in Research
Rice University is ranked No. 1 among the world’s top universities in the field of natural sciences and engineering for the quality and impact of its scientific publications, according to the Leiden rankings for 2013. Rice is ranked No. 6 for all sciences. The Leiden rankings measure the scientific performance of 500 major universities around the world and are calculated by the Centre for Science and Technology Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. The 2013 rankings are based on indexed publications from 2008 to 2011 from the Web of Science bibliographic database produced by Thomson Reuters. The rankings depend heavily on the proportion of a university’s presence in “top 10 percent” publications — those most frequently cited — and on the school’s involvement in scientific collaboration. The Leiden rankings do not rely on subjective data obtained from surveys or on data provided by universities themselves. Preceding Rice on the list were Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1), University of California at Santa Barbara (2), Stanford University (3), Princeton University (4) and Harvard University (5). —B.J. Almond Read more at www.leidenranking.com.
Kitchen Creations: Motion Power The Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) provides a space for undergraduate students from all academic backgrounds to design, prototype and deploy solutions to real-world engineering challenges. Working in teams with clever names like DermaSave, EpicDemics and Fork Yeah, approximately 800 students worked on 90 projects throughout the academic year. What did they cook up? Here’s just one example.
The Agitation Squad: (from left) Tyler Wiest ’13, Carlos Armada ’13, Julian Castro ’13 and David Morilla ’13 The Challenge
Create and capture renewable energy for charging a battery that could power small electronics The Answer
A strand of the clot-forming protein von Willebrand factor (VWF) glows brightly (green) under a microscope. The VWF is bound to many fluorescently labeled complement proteins called C3 (red dots), which are a part of the innate immune system.
14 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
PediPower, a portable unit that can fit onto walking shoes and is designed to turn movement into energy
Photos: Nancy Turner; Jeff Fitlow
Above, Tyler Wiest ’13 attaches a PediPower prototype to a shoe to demonstrate its power-generating capabilities. The device is designed to be installed on common walking shoes and to connect via wires to a regulation unit worn on the hip. How It All Started The students decided last fall to create a shoe-mounted generator. Cameron, a Houston-based international company, approached the Rice engineering students with the project. The team’s advisers were David McStravick, a professor in the practice of mechanical engineering and materials science, and Omar Kabir, a senior principle research engineer in corporate technology at Cameron.
Bringing an Idea to Life Working with the Movement Analysis Laboratory at Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, the team determined the force at the heel delivered far more potential for power than any other part of the foot. “We went to the lab and saw the force distribution across the bottom of your foot, to see where the most force is
Photos: Jeff Fitlow
felt,” Morilla said. “We found it would be at the heel and at the balls of your toes, as you push off. We went with the heel because, unless you’re sprinting, you’re letting gravity do the work.” The PediPower hits the ground before any other part of the prototype shoe. A lever arm strikes first. It is attached to a gearbox that replaces much of the shoe’s sole and turns the gears a little with each step. The gears drive a motor mounted on the outside of the shoe that generates electricity to send up to the battery. What’s Next The students expect the project to be picked up by another team at Rice in the fall, with the hope they can refine the materials, shrink the size and boost the power output, all of which will get PediPower closer to being a commercial product.
“Theoretically it would be something you just wear, and you don’t notice it,” he said. “That’s the end goal. If you showed someone the shoe while you’re standing still, they wouldn’t even see the device.”
Read more about the OEDK projects at ricemagazine.info/164.
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Voices N ot ed an d Q u ot e d
We went to the moon to explore it, but in fact we discovered Earth, for the first time. Neil deGrasse Tyson, speaking at Rice’s 100th Commencement, May 11, 2013. Tyson, a renowned astrophysicist and passionate advocate for science education, is the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. His wife, Alice Young ’79, is a Rice graduate. Read more about Rice’s 100th graduating class on Page 6.
Everybody’s friendly. It’s nice. It’s not the sort of cutthroat atmosphere you’d expect at a major university like this, but I’m not complaining. Sam Carroll, incoming freshman, quoted during Owl Days
What gender are you? What gender am I? Why do we care? I don’t know exactly, but we do care. Lora Wildenthal ’87, associate professor and chair of the Department of History, speaking at the Scientia Colloquium, April 9, 2013. During the 2012–2013 academic year, Scientia’s lectures focused on the theme “The Power of Ideas” through a series of fiveminute talks. Watch the series: scientia.rice.edu
16 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
Stories from the rice community
I don’t know what will happen to the continent of Africa over the next [several decades], but I do know the population will double. Whether the countries are on their feet with functioning economies is not going to be an issue simply for them, but an issue for us also. Tony Blair, former British prime minister and founder of the Africa Governance Initiative, speaking at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy as part of the Shell Distinguished Lecture Series.
Mathematical modeling is best understood when students move from physical problem through theory to computation, with physical experiments used to assess the efficacy of the model. This is the way the natural philosophers operated, but we have better tools. Mark Embree, professor of computational and applied mathematics and co-director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, giving the 2013 Brown Lecture on Teaching Excellence.
Everyone can tell you about the important faculty members. Everybody can tell you about the presidents, the provosts, the big donors on campus, the members of the board of trustees. But, many, many more people built this institution. Centennial historian Melissa Kean ’96, who welcomed visiting children of the family of former Rice Institute employee Jose Garcia. Garcia, who worked on the grounds crew, and his family lived on campus, circa 1945–1949.
What type of supplies do you typically order? I order specific parts or supplies that individual teams need. Since teams are building prototypes, they don’t usually order in bulk, but it’s a lot of small orders, including specialized hardware, tubing, wire, etc. In many cases the teams use materials on hand to begin the process. Each team is given a budget, and I’m responsible for tracking their expenditures. Once orders arrive, I disperse packages. With 80 teams participating last year, that’s a lot of orders. Let’s just say the delivery guys and I are on a first-name basis by the end of the year. Do you maintain the OEDK equipment? If for some reason one of our machines is not functioning properly, I, along with other team members, try to repair or restore it. However there are times we aren’t able to effectively correct the problem and additional help is needed. We always try, though.
A Ca rlo s o f A l l T rade s
has a diverse background — from the petrochemical industry to satellite communications to hands-on electronics experience with the U.S. Navy — that combined has well prepared him for his current role as the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen’s (OEDK) engineering design technician.
As a technician at the OEDK, Amaro wears many hats. Since coming to Rice in 2006, his job description has evolved to meet the needs of the facility and that of the students who are designing and implementing projects for realworld problems. And he stands at the ready to be sure they have what they need, be it tape, specialized tools or advice. When classes are in full swing, what is a typical day like for you at the OEDK? They can be relatively stress-free, or I can be Photo: Jeff Fitlow
inundated the minute I walk through the door. The spring semester is the busiest [design projects are coming to fruition]. I serve as a resource to answer questions and give advice or guidance, especially during the development of the teams’ prototypes. I am there to troubleshoot with individual teams and lend a hand when something isn’t working out like they had hoped. Beyond that, I do everything from emptying garbage cans when necessary to ordering paper for printers and specific parts for design teams. Did I mention orders?
Are there any projects you’ve seen take shape in the OEDK that stand out more than others? I see amazing things here all the time. But if I had to pick one or two projects, it would be the Dose Right or bCPAP devices, which were created here and are out in the real world giving people a chance at life that they might not normally have. I have had a lot of interaction with these teams, and it was great to see the ideas turn into helpful tools. The simplicity in the designs and functions are almost too good to be true. Overall, this facility and the students have produced some truly amazing solutions. What’s been the biggest benefit of gathering all these resources under one roof? I’ve seen the addition of new courses to the engineering curriculum as a result of increased interest among incoming students. After touring the facility, many prospective students see what’s in store for them and often choose to come to Rice because of the impression the OEDK has on them. Plus, we frequently provide tours to administrators from other institutions. It’s neat to hear that other places are starting up similar facilities and referring to them as ‘design kitchens.’ —Tracey Rhoades Note: This fall, the OEDK will open an additional 6,000 square feet of work space with 24 more work tables to augment the existing 12,000 square feet and 36 work tables. S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Ei gh t Pa rts Ama zi n g
Caroline Shaw ’04
took the classical world by surprise when she won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for music. Her vocal piece, “Partita for 8 Voices,” beat out works from more established composers in the hunt for one of America’s top music awards.
haw, who has made her name in the nontraditional world of new music, did the unexpected to win. Composers traditionally are nominated by their publishers or the institutions that commission their work. But Shaw, with the nerve for self-promotion that’s essential for success in today’s fragmented scene, discovered you could nominate your own composition. So she sent in “Partita,” which she’d written
18 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
for Roomful of Teeth (www.roomfulofteeth.org), the vocal ensemble she has sung with since 2009. “I believed in this piece, I believed in this group, and I wanted more people to know about it,” said Shaw, 30, the youngest composer to win the Pulitzer. “I figured it was worth $50 to have the five members of the Pulitzer committee hear it. Now lots of people are paying attention.” Those taking interest include the music director at Carnegie Hall,
who met with Shaw in early May to discuss possibilities for one of her new compositions in an upcoming season. “I was a pretty obscure person until [the announcement],” said Shaw in late April, following the Pulitzer news. “In the past, I’d say, ‘Yes,’ to everything, and play, for a small fee, with any group that needed a violinist. Now I can start to be able to say, ‘Yes,’ to what I want to.” Shaw’s emergence as one of America’s top composers comes nine years after graduating from Rice’s Shepherd School of Music alongside two classmates who are also making it in New York: Grammy Award winner Sasha Cooke ’04, a mezzo-soprano who has sung with the Metropolitan Opera, and Andy Einhorn ’04, music director and conductor of the hit Broadway musical, “Cinderella.” Shaw has succeeded through her tenacity, her openness to learning, a strong network within the new music scene, and her talent to perform as a vocalist and violinist at the highest levels. Now her compositions have garnered acclaim. She has fun, too. In November, Shaw fans who visited www.carolineshaw.com were treated on video to the ditties she created for voice, violin and flowerpot during the days she lost electricity during Hurricane Sandy. In Shaw’s post-Sandy world, the Beatles’ classic “I Want to Hold Your Hand” became transformed into “I Want to Charge My Phone.” “It’s all about finding your niche in New York, and Caroline has certainly found her own way,” said Einhorn. “Her piece that won the Pulitzer was such an unusual, creative piece of music. It’s the kind of music that keeps our art form alive with a deeply rooted understanding of tradition and an eye to the future.” Shaw, who lives in Manhattan and is in the third year of her doctoral studies in music composition at Princeton University, got her start in New York singing in the choir at the Trinity Wall Street Church. Her major engagements today are playing violin with the American Contemporary Music Ensemble and singing with Roomful of Teeth. The vibrant performance scene in New York, however, provides manifold opportunities, be it performing for the Mark Morris Dance Group, collaborating with composers John Cale and Steve Reich, or touring with Alarm Will Sound, one of the world’s top new music ensembles. In July, she’ll sing at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at a 24-performance run of “Monkey: a Journey to the West.” In late April, she performed in the Rare Books Room at the Strand Book Store in Greenwich Village, with the leather-bound collections of Shakespeare and Moliere providing the backdrop for three of the nation’s leading composers, who gathered to discuss their collaborative process. With an a cappella trio, Shaw sang their song “I Want To Live,” a haunting meditation on
Photo: Piotr Redlinski
“Her piece that won the Pulitzer was such an unusual, creative piece of music. It’s the kind of music that keeps our art form alive with a deeply rooted understanding of tradition and an eye to the future.” Andy Einhorn
Listen “Partita for 8 Voices” is available for download on iTunes: ricemagazine.info/165 Read more about Roomful of Teeth’s debut album here: ricemagazine.info/166
desire, envy, loss and survival that she’d recorded in 2010 and released just this year. Shaw sang alto, her voice anchoring the group in a piece that evoked the tone poems of the 15th century and explored the complex emotions that roil about in a single sentence: “I want to live where you live.” She recalled recording the album when she’d just ended a relationship. “Those words — they are just heartbreaking,” she said. Shaw, who was a member of Wiess College, came to Houston to major in music and study violin with Kathleen Winkler, the Dorothy Richard Starling Professor of Classical Violin, at the Shepherd School. She thrived on Winkler’s focus on the integrity of technique and sound and the decision-making involved in musical phrasing. After graduation, she traveled to Europe on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, visiting formal gardens in England, Italy and Sweden, where she found inspiration to draw and paint. “I needed a break from music,” said Shaw, who grew up in Greenville, N.C., and began learning violin at age 2. “I couldn’t imagine my life without the violin, but I had to try. It had become a source of stress for me — not knowing what to do, worrying I wasn’t good enough and needing to find myself in another way.” Upon her return, she dove back into violin studies at the Yale School of Music. At Yale, she discovered her voice and found work as a singer. She also began improvising on her violin as an accompanist for modern dance classes, providing the opportunity to explore her own musical ideas within the strict context of meter and tempo. “It was a great brain exercise,” she said. “I had to improvise, echo the motion and create an hour and a half of music for something connected to the body, and connected to these primitive origins of music.” It was another step in a musical journey that led Shaw to the Pulitzer in 2013. Shaw is quick to warn that she feels a tad uncomfortable with the award, which has proclaimed her a prize-winning composer. She still considers herself a musician — one who can write, sing and play and intends to do so for audiences for a very long time. “I have a funny feeling about composers, that they are this thing, this noun,” she said. “I’d rather call myself a musician and break down some of the walls.”—David McKay Wilson David McKay Wilson writes regularly for alumni magazines across the country. In his day job, he writes the Tax Watch column for The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y., and his work appears regularly in The New York Times.
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
20 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
From Start to Finish
The rain cleared just in time for Rice’s 100th Commencement to take place outside on a warm and humid May morning. When the turn finally came for McMurtry College seniors to advance to the podium, Esther Ayuk ’13 embraced the Sallyport’s cooling breezes. Ayuk, who is from Cambridge, Mass., was among 888 undergraduates awarded degrees at Rice’s 100th Commencement and was also a member of the first class to complete all four of their undergraduate years at one of Rice’s two newest colleges. The intrepid freshmen who pioneered the Anne and Charles Duncan and Burton and Deedee McMurtry colleges entered Rice when the buildings opened in 2009. Photo by Jeff Fitlow
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
22â€ƒ R i ce M a g a z i n e Âˇ S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
Lynn Gosnell Illustrations
Massively Open, Distinctively Rice
This academic year, Rice faculty will teach more than a dozen free online courses, up from four this past year, to thousands of students and teachers around the world as part of a movement to make higher education more accessible. Rice’s rapid entry into the new realm of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is attracting attention — and scrutiny. What’s in it for Rice students here at home?
The Rice Start
The modest video features two men sitting side by side in a sparsely furnished office, speaking directly into a webcam. The bespectacled one on the right wears a button-down blue shirt and tie and speaks first. “Hi, I’m Scott Rixner.” The bearded one on the left wears a striped purple polo shirt. “And I’m Joe Warren. Scott and I are professors in the Department of Computer Science here at Rice University. With the help of Stephen Wong and John Greiner, we are proud to offer an exciting new course designed for Coursera.” The course, An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python, teaches the simple-to-learn, high-level language used in many introductory computer classes at Rice. Warren explains that the two developed
a new browser-based environment called CodeSkulptor to make programming applications easier, and Rixner adds that students will learn by building fun games, such as “Pong,” “Blackjack” and “Asteroids.” “We can’t promise that you’ll be a professional programmer,” he said with a boyish grin, “but you’ll definitely know enough to be dangerous!” With this charmingly nerdy video, Rice launched itself into the technologically sophisticated and rapidly evolving world of MOOCs last fall. A MOOC is a faculty-taught course made available to students worldwide (massive) via the Internet (online) for free or at a minimal cost (open). While the concept of distance education is nothing new — motivated learners have long turned to radio, television and closed-circuit video networks for access to education — MOOCs leverage today’s S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
technology to broadcast courses to audiences undreamed of in the era the public informed. David Brooks has weighed in. So has Thomas of “extended education.” Such courses harness video technology, online Friedman — more than once. MOOCs are here, and Rice is actively textbooks, student chat rooms or forums, virtual labs and other new engaged in both conversation and experimentation to figure out what software applications to facilitate learning. this means for teaching here and afar. This new brand of online education is the subject not only of intense debate about teaching, learning and campus resources, but also of A Pioneering Year Rice became an early adopter by piloting a entrepreneurial invention and capital investment. Proponents say handful of courses beginning in fall 2012, MOOCs will democratize knowledge; critics say MOOCs will dilute after signing an agreement with Coursera. The provost’s office recruited scholarship or undermine the traditional classroom learning environ- volunteers willing to quickly translate a classroom learning enviment. Some see a revolution in personalized learning, while others see ronment to an online one — in other words, to be Rice’s MOOC pioa new revenue stream.* neers. In addition to Rixner and Warren’s team, three other professors What do the Rice guys in the video see? Something that has changed answered the call: Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson; Don the way they think about and practice the art of teaching. “I will never Johnson, the J.S. Abercrombie Professor Emeritus of Electrical and ‘lecture’ in a classroom again,” said Rixner, during a talk last Decem- Computer Engineering and professor of statistics; and Vicki Colvin, ber about what he learned by teaching his first MOOC. “This is how the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Chemistry, vice I will teach in the future, whether I’m teaching provost for research and professor of chemical for 80,000 people online or 20 people in a Rice and biomolecular engineering. classroom.” If that sounds counterintuitive for a These faculty members found themselves at faculty member at a university like Rice — with the bottom of a steep learning curve in online its 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, median class teaching and technology. For many, preparing size of 14, wealth of undergraduate research and short, instructional, tailored-to-their-course videos “I will never distinctive residential college system — read on. was time-consuming. “It is much more difficult ‘lecture’ in a to make an effective 10-minute video than it is MOOC Rise To trace the rapid rise of MOOCs to prepare for a 50-minute lecture,” Rixner said. classroom again. in higher education’s discourse, One week, Rixner tracked 75 hours on the project, we need to page through only a few years of hisand Warren logged another 83. What compelled This is how I will tory. A legacy of the open-source software movethese faculty members to spend entire summer ment of the 1980s, MOOC is an acronym coined vacations — Johnson invested 600 hours in his teach in the future, by Canadian educators as recently as 2008. The first electrical engineering MOOC — learning new whether I’m term breached the public’s consciousness only in technology for an untested educational platform? the past couple of years, after some university-level For Johnson, who taught Fundamentals of teaching for 80,000 experiments in placing courses online resulted Electrical Engineering, the answer points to a love in then-unheard of enrollment numbers. In 2011, of both teaching and problem-solving. “It sounded people online or for example, more than 58,000 people enrolled in fun and hadn’t been done before,” he said. Another Stanford’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence selling point was that the course’s textbook — 20 people in a Rice online course, which was taught by two superstars which he authored — was already online via Rice’s classroom.” in the field, Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig. In popular open-education repository, Connexions. “I do all of this as an experiment,” Johnson said. The New York Times, a Massachusetts Institute of Scott Rixner “Unless we’re participating, we won’t appreciate Technology (MIT) computer scientist commented on Stanford’s megaclass, saying “... we will see lots or figure out what its drawbacks are, figure out and lots of models over the next four or five years.” what’s good, what’s bad.” More than 35,000 stuThat statement turned out to be prescient. dents registered for the rigorous course, and about These early experiences, along with the success 5,000 of these watched the videos. Approximately of online educational nonprofits like the Khan 500 worked the problem sets, and 100 took the Academy, inspired the founding of two ventures, Coursera and Udacity. final exam. Coursera, which launched in spring 2012 with four university partners Johnson is now busy working on a sequel. “It’s the hands-on lab — Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the Uni- part of the course at Rice,” he said, while demonstrating for a visitor versity of Michigan — has signed up more than 80 universities to put to his Abercrombie Engineering Laboratory office how he records “the world’s best courses online for free.” Udacity functions more like video lessons. How can hands-on take place online? Turns out there an online university with courses that can be taken either for free or is software that mimics a few of electrical engineering’s standard test for a fee that guarantees college credit. MIT and Harvard also formed instruments, such as the oscilloscope. “There’s all kinds of issues to the nonprofit edX. Much like Coursera, edX acts as a hub or consor- work out with forming virtual lab groups,” said Johnson, who seemed tium for its member universities, which include many international not at all deterred by the challenge. schools. These MOOC providers created sophisticated platforms for Colvin recently concluded an eight-week course called Analytical course delivery and began forming partnerships with universities to Chemistry/Instrumental Analysis that covered about half a semesaccess course content. ter of material. “If chemistry is the science of stuff, then analytical It seems like not a week goes by without a major news article about chemistry answers the question: What is it?” she wrote in the course the growing phenomenon of MOOCs. The Chronicle of Higher Educa- description. Colvin designed the course specifically for chemistry tion and Inside Higher Ed, as well as The New York Times, have put students working toward their degree — but her audience turned out together special online sections to keep administrators, faculty and to be much broader than she anticipated. “It was just an incredibly
24 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
*The term continues to evolve rapidly in 2013, as MOOC providers expand into for-credit, K–12 and professional development offerings.
ing with a new teaching tool,” said Caroline Levander, who in a new position as vice provost for interdisciplinary initiatives is overseeing all of Rice’s digital learning initiatives, including MOOCs.
Growth and Guidelines
diverse audience, everything from a 14-year-old to professional Ph.D. statisticians,” Colvin said. “That makes it really hard to teach. Part of being an effective communicator is to know your audience.” In addition to the unexpectedly diverse audience, Colvin identified another challenge. “That’s the idea of keeping people’s attention,” she said. In a voluntary setting versus a Rice classroom, Colvin had to design her lessons to “grab someone’s attention and hold it for eight weeks.” She sees that this attitude will improve her teaching in the traditional classroom format. Hutchinson, a professor of chemistry as well as undergraduate dean, created Chemistry: Concept Development and Application, which drew 16,000 registrants of all ages and levels of experience with chemistry. In the online environment, “people are coming and going like crazy,” he said. “It’s not like an on-campus course with a start and end.” This asynchronous, come-and-go environment inspired Hutchinson to come up with a uniquely personable solution in his course videos. “The approach I took was to imagine that I was sitting next to students and tutoring one-on-one. So, on the screen, while the lecture’s going on, there’s a slide presentation.” Next to the slide, students “see me solving a problem or working through a line of reasoning.” The app for that? A document camera and an old-fashioned physical notepad that he scribbles on while teaching. “I tried six different formats before settling on that one,” he said. All faculty have adopted these video lessons for their Rice classes in some version of teaching by “flipping the classroom.” It’s a term Hutchinson hears a lot in higher education circles these days. “In the conventional classes, students show up, take notes, go back to their dorms, sit around tables late at night and have deep discussions trying to understand what they’re learning,” he said. “The class time delivers information. Out-of-class time is used for discussion and synthesis.” The new goal is to use class time for more discussion, problem-solving and interactive learning — not for delivering information that has to be learned later. “I think what we know a year into this is that our faculty, our very best faculty across departments, are really interested in experiment-
Since those first classes were taught via Coursera, Rice has doubled down by joining edX, a nonprofit MOOC platform with a deep commitment to open access. In this case, the term “open” in MOOC not only means “open to anyone,” but perhaps more importantly open for university partners to innovate and to develop — in any way they see fit. “edX is developing a set of best practices that will govern how consortium members share information across institutions,” Levander said. And in June, Rice became the first university to offer continuing education classes for teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, via Coursera. Five professional development courses, each lasting four weeks, are coming from Rice’s Center for Digital Learning and Scholarship with materials from STEMscopes, the center’s online comprehensive science curriculum used by more than a million students in Texas. Last fall, a Faculty Senate Working Group formed to evaluate the benefits and costs “related to developing a strong online instructional presence at Rice,” to establish a framework for this development and to draw up policy recommendations. In May, the group strongly recommended the adoption of a set of guiding principles. “The very first statement in the guiding principles was that in developing an online class, it should be done for the benefit of on-campus Rice students first,” said David Alexander, professor of physics and astronomy and the group’s chair. The remaining principles call for faculty to create unique Rice content, protect and enhance Rice’s brand, maintain a flexible (multiplatform) approach and provide broad access to high-quality education to non-Rice audiences. Still to be worked out, said Alexander, are issues with college credits, the awarding of certificates, intellectual property, faculty teaching loads, revenue sharing potential and the integration of MOOCs with Rice’s other, more established online efforts. “Rice has a strong combination of ongoing discussions about online education that involves all the right people. They might not have all the answers, but at least everyone is aware of what the issues are,” Alexander said. When Levander put out a call this March for new MOOCs, she received more than 20 proposals. With input from a faculty review panel, a dozen new courses were given a green light. “That’s more than the whole UT system is developing,” she said. The cohort remains heavily science focused but also includes philosophy and religious studies. Rice has recently hired staff to support the infrastructure of instructional design, including the time-consuming efforts of course design, videotaping, testing and more. (See a list of scheduled MOOCs on Page 7.) Rixner remains a vocal convert. “[It] has forced me into thinking a lot more carefully about what I’m going to teach. It also helped the on-campus experience in that there’s this polished product out there that I can have Rice students use. That left a lot more free time during class to do other things that were more interactive and more one-on-one.” “It is just really clear our students are going to be benefiting profoundly. Our faculty are having remarkable conversations about teaching and about how we teach,” Levander said. “That’s only good for what we do here. It’s completely enlivening.”
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Reel How two Rice graduates started an unconventional cinema empire
Nerds W o r d s
Rose Cahalan ’10 P h o t o s
26 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 Âˇ R i ce M a g a z i n eâ€ƒ
n a balmy night this spring, Tim League ’92 took the stage at a new theater in North Houston. The latest branch of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema chain that Tim and his wife, Karrie Smith League ’92, founded in 1997 wouldn’t officially open for three more days — but a sellout crowd had already packed Theater Six. The draw was a screening of the 1998 cult classic “Rushmore,” introduced by Tim and the movie’s star, Jason Schwartzman. With a beer in hand, Tim bounded so enthusiastically onto the stage that he tripped. “I almost just fell on my face,” he said happily. “Thank you all very much for coming out tonight …. I don’t have any right to be owning or operating movie theaters except for one thing, which is I really, really, really love movies.”
After the film, Schwartzman asked where they could get a drink. “There’s a pub in the basement of the chemistry building at Rice,” Tim suggested. And so the pair ended up at Valhalla, drinking pints and sharing stories late into the night. It was a surreal moment for Tim. As a Rice student two decades earlier, he’d frequented Valhalla with friends. Now he was there with a celebrity — and he’s become a bit of one himself. Today Tim is the CEO of a rapidly growing cinema empire. He owns 14 Alamo Drafthouse theaters (with 12 more coming soon), a film distribution company, a film festival and a high-end film poster company. With locations in seven states and growing, the Alamo is in the middle of a rapid transition from funky Austin attraction to coast-tocoast power player. Entertainment Weekly called it “the best theater in America,” and Wired said it “might just be the coolest movie theater in the world.” Big entertainment franchises are nothing new, of course. But the national rise of a company as proudly weird as the Alamo Drafthouse is. This is a theater that once offered viewers the option to watch the 2010 suspense thriller “Buried” from the confines of coffins outfitted with LCD monitors. It’s also a full-service restaurant and bar with elaborate themed menus, so moviegoers sip butterbeer while watching “Harry Potter” and scarf nine meals like a Hobbit during “Lord of the Rings.” The Alamo’s unabashedly geeky vibe is the heart of its brand. It also looks a lot like the culture of Rice University: serious about its work,
28 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
but also seriously playful, with wacky traditions and pranks. That’s not a coincidence. In fact, you could argue that Rice was the Alamo’s earliest incubator.
Rice matriculation, 1991: The Academic Quad fell silent as the crowd of a few thousand freshmen, O-Week advisers, faculty and staff was seated, awaiting the formal speeches that would mark the start of the matriculation ceremony. Then there was a flash of yellow. Three giant bananas — Tim and two friends in banana suits — dashed across the clearing in front of the assembled crowd, mere inches from the podium where Rice President George Rupp would soon speak. Laughter broke out as a flustered Rice University Police Department officer chased the student, shouting, “Stop, banana!” The banana prank was the most infamous in a long line of Tim League capers at Rice. “You know how in college you sit around at night drinking and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if …?’” recalled David Garraway ’93, Tim’s close friend and former Will Rice College roommate. “Well, Tim was the one who didn’t just come up with crazy ideas, he actually made them happen.” One night at Valhalla, Tim and some friends heard that in the early 1900s, Rice upperclassmen carried wooden canes. Garraway remembers Tim joking about resurrecting the tradition. “Two days later, he
Alamo Drafthouse theaters host a variety of themed screenings. In the Alamo Ritz in Austin, Terror Tuesdays bring in the slash-loving fans (or are they zombies?) of vintage horror. A host introduces the film before each showing.
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 Âˇ R i ce M a g a z i n eâ€ƒ
O f f b e at F i l m s R ice O wls W ill L ove
We asked Alamo Drafthouse Cinema founder Tim League to recommend 10 of his favorite films that display a Rice University sensibility: quirky, creative and surprising. “My love of weird, fun and thought-provoking movies from around the globe was definitely shaped by my Rice experience,” League said. “Adam’s Apples” (Denmark) “Adam’s Apples” is a deep-black absurdist comedy, a musing on the book of Job with an incredible preJames Bond performance by Mads Mikkelsen. “Bug” (USA) William Friedkin continues to dazzle even 40 years after “The French Connection.” Michael Shannon delivers a staggeringly intense, borderline-psychotic performance. “Dai-Nipponjin” (Japan) Japanophiles and fans of mockumentaries like “Best in Show” will enjoy this comic tale of a giant who must defend Japan against monsters. “The FP” (USA) In a dystopian future, major civic decisions are decided by lethal dance-dance revolution battles. Action fans will smile at this deadpan spoof of B-movie gang dramas.
30 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
had funding secured and a cane builder signed on,” Garraway said, “and they went around selling mesquite and hickory canes, saying, ‘Would you like to buy the official Rice cane?’” Then there was the “No Holds Barred Art Show,” for which Tim and his friends convinced every Will Ricer to contribute artwork. One student simply dragged a sofa into the commons, sat on it for two days straight and called it performance art. Tim did all this while juggling double majors in mechanical engineering and art history — and while getting to know Karrie Smith, a biology and French major living down the hall at Will Rice. Like so many Rice romances, theirs blossomed over calculus. “I had trouble waking up for freshman calc,” Tim remembered, “and Karrie always made it on time, so I started giving her my homework to turn in.” They’ve been together ever since. Most weekends at Rice, they ended up at the River Oaks Theatre. Tim had been a film buff since childhood, and soon Karrie was one, too. “Indie cinema was having a golden age in the ’90s,” Tim said, “and we watched many, many films.” Still, they never imagined making their hobby a career. The Leagues saw their futures as many science and engineering students do — a straight line to the oil industry for Tim and grad school for Karrie. “We just didn’t realize there were other options,” said Karrie, who is now a “happily retired” full-time mom to their twin toddler girls. “When you’re good at math and science, it’s easy to let your career choose you.” Luckily, it didn’t take them long to turn that equation around.
No Idea What We’re Doing
It all started with a “For Lease” sign. After graduation, Tim took a job with Shell Oil in Bakersfield, Calif., and Karrie started a Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of California at Davis. They weren’t happy. Karrie realized that research wasn’t for her, while Tim wanted an outlet for his creative side. Tim’s drive to work took him by Bakersfield’s old Tejon Theater, a 1940s relic in disrepair. When he saw the “For Lease” sign, Tim said, “something ignited in my head.” At age 23 and with no formal business experience, he signed the lease. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Karrie laughed. “Frankly, it was an impulse and an idiotic risk.” The Leagues quit their jobs to spend the next year remodeling the Tejon. To save money, they lived in a 10-by-10-foot windowless room behind the screen, cooking on a hot plate and washing in a mop sink at the concessions counter. The Tejon was a financial disaster, doomed by its location in one of Bakersfield’s worst neighborhoods.
“The Good, the Bad, the Weird” (South Korea) Before Hollywood watered down Kim Jee-woon, he crafted perhaps the most entertaining action-comedy of the last decade, a playful spin on the Sergio Leone classic. “JCVD” (Belgium) When Jean-Claude Van Damme breaks the fourth wall in the climax of this film, you question everything you ever assumed or joked about the world’s most infamous kickboxer. “Kill List” (UK) A British crime drama braided together with deep Anglo-pagan witchcraft and some truly demented twists and turns, “Kill List” marks the emergence of a fresh new voice in genre cinema, Ben Wheatley. “Miami Connection” (USA) So bad it’s good, this 1987 cheeseball adventure (now a staple of our midnight movie repertoire) profiles a Florida synth band that takes on a group of rogue drug-dealing motorcycle ninjas. “Rubber” (France/USA) Robert, a very disgruntled psychokinetic automobile tire, explodes the heads of birds, beasts and humans alike on a high-desert killing spree like no other. “Timecrimes” (Spain) An intelligent spin on time-travel conventions by Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo, who is now prepping “Supercrooks,” an oddball superhero film with graphic novel legend Mark Millar.
That didn’t stop the couple from trying every sales tactic in the book, plus some new ones. Out of sheer desperation, they started pairing meals and movies — hiring an Italian restaurant to cater for a Spaghetti Westerns series. Their creativity, plus a few successful live concerts, kept the theater alive, but just barely. After two years at the Tejon, the Leagues faced three facts. First, they were broke; second, they had just finished a crash course in entrepreneurship; and third, they were ready to get married. “We realized if we could survive total poverty, running this impossible business, we could probably handle anything,” Karrie said. It didn’t take long to settle on the perfect site for their next theater — the artsy town where they’d often road-tripped on weekends at Rice. They were headed to Austin.
Keeping It Weird
Alamo Drafthouse’s corporate headquarters is housed in an Austin building that was a funeral home before it became a dance club called Klub Krucial. Now employees in jeans and T-shirts peck at MacBooks in an open workspace; craft beer is on tap in the kitchen; and a cart labeled “Apocalypse Preparedness Station” holds a Nerf gun, a lightsaber and a hard hat. All this lends the office a youthful start-up vibe, though the Alamo has been an Austin institution for 16 years. When the doors opened in 1997, business was slow at first — until a rave review came out in the Austin American-Statesman. Shows started selling out that week, and they pretty much haven’t stopped since. Within a year, the theater had caught the attention of big names like Quentin Tarantino, who personally hosted screenings from his own collection. These days, a typical week’s showings range from highbrow foreign films to Hollywood blockbusters to something called Terror Tuesday, which promises “decapitation, evisceration, degradation and mutilation” in 35 mm. One of the Alamo’s most successful series, the Rolling Roadshow, screens movies in scenic locations all over the country (like showing “Rocky” on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). It was inspired by a Will Rice tradition called the Road Rally — half scavenger hunt, half road trip. “A lot of Alamo programming was inspired by experiences we had at Rice,” Tim said. “We were already silly and nerdy when we started college, and Rice embraced that.” The Alamo is now planning to double its number of theaters by 2014, then double again in 2017. Can a company built on eccentricity retain its character as it becomes a massive franchise? Tim League is betting that it can. “We try to hire the right people and then get out of their way,” he added. “We’re investing in film nerds.”
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
32â€ƒ R i ce M a g a z i n e Âˇ S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
During the yearlong Rice Seminar, 10 scholars delved into human trafficking’s long history and new visibility on the global stage. Next year, they’ll publish their research. It’s more complex than
Miah Arnold Art
anyone thinks. S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
T he billboards seize our attention: A young girl, cowering in the corner of a brothel. Her hands are bound, her clothes are torn and her face shows only a hint of hope. “Sonya is just one of the 28 million people enslaved in the world today,” the sign said. “What would Harriet Tubman do?”
34 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
On opening spread: These photos are from the project titled “Open See” by American photographer Jim Goldberg. Goldberg’s project documents “the story of refugees, immigrants and trafficked individuals journeying from their countries of origin to their new homes in Europe. This project addresses the struggle of immigrants to leave conditions where war, disease and economic devastation prevail,” he writes on the project’s website, www.opensee.org. Goldberg is also a professor of photography and of fine arts at California College of the Arts and a member of Magnum Photos.
Americans fought a bloody and intimate war to annihilate an evil built into our nation’s constitution, but somehow it seems we have again become a nation in need of abolition. Though we still grapple with the geographical, socio-economic and racial repercussions of the Civil War, if anything seemed certain, it was that with it, we had vanquished slavery. But then, around the 1990s, something changed. Here came these billboards and magazine ads. Here came the news stories about kidnapped girls sold into Houston brothels, Malaysian immigrants imprisoned as domestic workers in suburban Sugar Land, and men who are thrown overboard if they complain about being forced to live and work on the fishing boats supplying Whole Foods’ sustainable fish. And finally, here is the story naming Houston the capital of human trafficking in the United States. Because many people believed slavery was eradicated with the 13th Amendment, these stories seemed to come from nowhere. But the truth is, slavery never went away. It has simply changed forms. Today, the United Nations defines human trafficking and modern slavery as “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power … for the purpose of exploitation.” The breadth of forces that lead to modern human trafficking are complicated. Efforts to understand and change the way the public understands them have been front and center at Rice University this past year, where the inaugural Rice Seminar was led by history faculty members James Sidbury and Kerry Ward. The seminar’s title, “Human Trafficking — Past and Present: Crossing Disciplines, Crossing Borders,” pointed to the scope and aspirations of their project.
A H umanities T hink Tan k he Rice Seminar is itself a revolutionary project. Its mission is to engage a new humanistic question every year by creating an interdisciplinary, international humanities think tank unique to Rice University. The annual seminar is the brainchild of Dean of Humanities Nicolas Shumway, a Latin American scholar who came to Rice from the University of Texas at Austin in 2010. It is funded by the Humanities Research Center and the School of Humanities. “Rice may be the only university with a humanities think tank,” said Shumway, who also noted that most think tanks have a political agenda. “They tend to sideline history.” To create the seminars, a cohort of visiting researchers are brought to Rice for the entire academic year. The researchers live in Houston, and they form part of the group that includes at least six representatives of Rice, including faculty, postdocs and graduate students. An undergraduate course run by the Humanities Research Center every year also engages the seminar’s topic. Finally, to engage the public — including human trafficking activists — in this year’s topic, the seminar leaders organized an innovative lecture series called “Houston Connections.” The topic of human trafficking was in part chosen for this year’s seminar because, Shumway said, “It has a clear interdisciplinary aspect to it. There are many approaches to it, and yet nobody gets a degree in human trafficking. You have to have many foci to understand it.” The inaugural Rice Seminar included scholars of women’s studies, public health, sociology, political science, English and art history as well as four historians. Each researcher worked on their own project, which ranged from Robert Slenes’ explorations of the way Brazilian chattel slavery differed on small and large plantations, to graduate student Meina Yates-Richard’s research into the sonic dimensions
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
of slavery as represented in 20th-century literary texts, and Jennifer Musto’s scholarship on the way trafficking can be propagated by and fought against by the use of new technologies and media. (A list of participating scholars and their Rice Seminar topics is on Page 37.) During the fall semester, each member of the seminar was responsible for choosing a set of readings to introduce to the rest of the group. “It could be seminal texts or ones that highlighted a particularly important set of issues in terms of the participant’s topic,” Sidbury said. The discussions were commonly much longer than the three-hour meetings Ward and Sidbury had allotted, and according to Sidbury, people only “quit talking to go eat.” The meetings had a direct impact on each others’ works. “People are taking what they initially said they’d do in different directions,” Ward explained, “and they’re thinking of different projects. It’s been wonderful to watch.” During the second semester of the seminar, participants revised early drafts of the articles. This year’s seminar closed with a symposium in which all the participants presented newly revised versions of their work over the course of a few days. The scholars want to publish their findings in a single volume. Two meetings are scheduled next year to finish up work on the project. “It is rare, ironically, for there to be space within universities to have the time and the sustained engagement to think collectively,” Ward said, when asked about the value of the seminar experience. “The more common model is that faculty bring in a lecturer, one at a time. It’s not the same as being with a group of people every week and to have the formal and informal conversations that really push the boundaries of what we’re thinking.” Next year’s topic for the Rice Seminar is materialism, and the year after that, it will be on borders. Shumway hopes the seminars will become a permanent fixture at Rice. When asked why other schools have not pushed a similar project, his answer was quick: “They haven’t had the idea. They haven’t had a fanatical dean.”
The topic of human trafficking was in part chosen for this year’s seminar because, Shumway said, “It has a clear interdisciplinary aspect to it. There are many approaches to it, and yet nobody gets a degree in human trafficking. You have to have many foci to understand it.” 36 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
T he Problem of Definition t wasn’t just the problem of trafficking that attracted Sidbury and Ward to explore the issue of slavery, but the problem of the way modern-day trafficking is, for lack of a better word, marketed to the American public. It appeared to scholars of trafficking that the well-intentioned actors in the anti-trafficking movement sometimes based their appeals on soft or unreliable data. Still, nonprofits and activists who interact with trafficking victims on a daily basis need information, and they need the support of the general public to do their jobs. The thirst for knowledge and search for supporters sometimes leads to claims and information based on emotion and the repeated use of unverified “facts.” The result can be the spread of good information, but also the spread of bad information. Scholars of both contemporary and historical subjects have some specific complaints or concerns about the way human trafficking is perceived by activists, the media, law enforcement and even the government organizations that fight trafficking. Here are some examples: ■ Skewed Statistics. There is no study saying Houston is the capital of human trafficking in the U.S. as is often claimed, said Maria Trujillo, executive director of the Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition, who attended “Houston Connection” events this year. However, almost every nonprofit website in Houston states this as fact. What is true, she said, is that you could “go to any other city and they’ll say, ‘Seattle is the [trafficking] hub. Oklahoma City is the hub. Colorado is the hub.’” Another statistic scholars are skeptical of is that there are 28 million people trafficked in the world each year. The number is based on estimates they believe are inflated — just as the numbers of people enslaved in the Atlantic slave trade were — to draw attention to a just cause. “All we can ever look at is the number of victims who have been rescued,” Trujillo said, “but that is not indicative of the number of potential victims that exist in a city.” Lowered numbers would not diminish the impact or the truths of slavery, Sidbury said, because “numbers don’t tell the whole story. Nobody knows what the numbers mean for the experiences of the people who are undergoing this, but because we know more about the [trans-Atlantic] trade, we know more about slavery, especially the connections between the cultures of the West Coast of Africa and the cultures of African-descended people living in the Americas. We know about the civil wars. We understand the descendants.” ■ Melodrama. The pictures like the one on the billboard are melodrama, Professor Carole Vance said in the final lecture of this year’s seminar, held in Fondren Library. Vance is an associate clinical professor of sociomedical sciences at the Mailman School of Public Heath at Columbia University. Melodramas, Vance told her audience, require a victim, a hero and a bad guy. In such a story, the trafficked persons have no will of their own. Instead, the hero — usually someone from law enforcement involved in the fight against trafficking — swoops in and saves a woman in distress. “We must fight against the sense that having been victimized, a person is nothing but a victim,” Sidbury said when asked about the harm of such images. “So much of activist literature is about hapless victims and is designed to elicit pity. But I do think that it is helpful to push against seeing people as nothing but their exploitation.”
■ Hyperfocus on sex trafficking instead of labor. Media often hyperfocus on sex trafficking, as do the police and the government agencies pushing for legislation against trafficking. State and local laws tend to focus on criminalizing actions around pornography and prostitution. The problem, the scholars suggested, is that focusing on punishing the pimps and Johns, or outlawing forms of pornography, is that these fights suck money and attention away from the long-term solutions that would reduce the supply chain. Vance suggested in her talk that the real culprit is labor laws. Focusing on the sex trade ignores all the other facets of trafficked people — domestic workers, construction workers, migrant laborers and maritime sailors, for instance. Low wages and poor labor laws create a population so desperate they put up with more and more, and the line between self-possession and being owned by another begins to become thinner and thinner. ■ Immigration. Media campaigns encourage people to look for possible trafficked persons “next door.” However, Vance pointed out in her lecture that the people who see numbers of trafficked people daily are rarely in residential neighborhoods; they are often themselves in vulnerable situations spurred on by exploitive choices: undocumented immigrants. They can be mistreated and underpaid without actually being trafficked because they fear being turned in, or fear that if they turn in their employers for trafficking others, they’ll be deported.
S cholarship in P rogress hile many of these ideas might be new to general readers, they help form the core understandings of trafficking for the scholars. They are, in a sense, the givens within a diverse range of research projects that encompass the major work of the seminar. For example, Rachel Hooper, a Rice graduate student studying art history, originally proposed to make a database of the kinds of generic images used by nonprofits and government entities when eliciting concern for trafficking. Early in the fall semester, Hooper realized a catalog would do little good. The clichéd images of anti-trafficking efforts — “hands tied together in chains, women hidden in the shadows, young white girls frightened and vulnerable, impoverished children in dirty working conditions, and photo journalism of busts of brothels or smuggling rings”— were so prevalent that the catalog would be tiny, Hooper said. The seminars helped her to refocus her idea on contemporary artists Kara Walker (b. 1969), Glenn Ligon (b. 1960), Jim Goldberg (b. 1953) and Dana Pope (b. 1977), who “felt very strongly that the racism embedded in 19th-century images of blacks needed to be directly confronted in order to understand the mechanics,” Hooper said. For the closing symposium in May, Hooper worked with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) to pull images by the aforementioned artists and to deliver a public lecture at the museum as part of the MFAH Works on Paper Study Center. With about a dozen awe-inspiring prints, mixed-media cutouts and lithographs behind her, Hooper discussed the way images could tell larger truths than the melodrama of the images typically found in magazines — which, she said, were often stock photos on trafficking. Another scholar, Jennifer Musto, uses the core ideas on trafficking in a different way. Musto is a women’s studies scholar who came to Rice from UCLA to work on two projects that stem from the passing of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. The first project is
Rice seminar participants and their areas of study Seminar organizers James Sidbury, the Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities, professor of history Slavery and Trafficking in Florida Agriculture from the 1820s to the Present Kerry Ward, associate professor of history Suppressing Slavery at Sea: International Cooperation in Ending the Maritime Slave Trade Rice University participants Rebecca A. Goetz, assistant professor of history Indian Enslavement in the Atlantic World, 1500–1670 Kimberly Kay Hoang, postdoctoral fellow in the Program in Poverty, Justice and Human Capabilities Human Trafficking: Migration and Forced Labor Rachel Hooper, graduate student, Department of Art History Creating a Monster that Swallows You: Seeing the Suppressed in Kara Walker’s Cut Paper Silhouettes Meina Yates-Richard, graduate student, Department of English Sonic Dimensions of Slavery and Human Trafficking External participants Sheryl McCurdy, associate professor of the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences and the Division of Management, Policy and Community Health, University of Texas School of Public Health Human and Drug Trafficking in Tanzania: Public Health Concerns and Responses Jennifer Musto, University of California at Los Angeles Human Trafficking, Carceral Protectionism and Rescue Politics in the United States Deliana Popova, University of Hamburg, Germany Securitizing Human Trafficking: Moral and Security Concerns in Contemporary Anti-Trafficking Discourses Robert W. Slenes, professor of history, Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil Contrasts in Bondage in Brazil’s Center-South: The Central African Diaspora, Manumission and Slave Identity in Large and Small Holdings, 1791–1888
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
a book about the way U.S. state and nongovernmental organizations have responded to trafficking, while her second area of focus entailed research about the ways modern media technologies are being used to disrupt human trafficking online. Musto received her Ph.D. last August and is currently serving on a White House working group dealing with human trafficking. She will begin a tenure-track appointment at Wellesley College in the fall. “Working with Rice Seminar colleagues over the course of the academic year has inspired me to ask new kinds of questions,” Musto said. She was struck by the extent of the similarities that exist between the way governments and activists responded to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the white slavery panics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and modern trafficking. This line of thought led Musto to question “why there is so much energy, attention and resources dedicated to anti-trafficking in our current moment, what anti-trafficking actors seek to accomplish with anti-trafficking interventions, and whether these interventions broadly align with or sharply depart from organized efforts to address trans-Atlantic slavery and white slavery.”
By reaching across the hedges into Houston, by reaching across disciplines, the Rice Seminar offers a start. closed borders that induced our current panic? “It is not sufficient to say that,” she said, “because it isn’t war, but in these cases the populations victimized by wars globally who become vulnerable to human trafficking. If you follow the logical conclusion, it is that these forms of exploitation are rooted in poverty, rooted in displacement, rooted in globalization. At the core of this whole dilemma is an awareness that global inequalities are increasing, inequalities in the U.S. are increasing, and that is creating vulnerabilities.”
Conversation and Culpabilit y Economics of S lavery he 13th Amendment proclaims, “Neither slavery nor involunT tary servitude … shall exist.” These are the words that prosecutors today bring into the courtroom in cases of human trafficking. And the person who wrote them? “A gentleman from Virginia named Thomas Jefferson,” U.S. Ambassador-at-Large Luis CdeBaca said last fall, in the first “Houston Connections” lecture. “He was not only able to come up with the very wording that protects people from slavery today … but also unwilling to pass up the profits he could have from his nail factory populated entirely by slave children.” Ambassador CdeBaca heads the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and serves as senior advisor to the Secretary of State. He is also a distant relative of the Spanish explorer of the same last name who crashed off the coast of Galveston and became himself enslaved by Native Americans before becoming revered by them as a healer. If he inherited something from his long-gone relative, it was an ability to deliver spiritual medicine. Jefferson’s choices were not unique during his time, CdeBaca insisted: our modern- day consumer culture drives the same kinds of contradictions. We need to look at our sex industry whether or not we are for globalization, pornography or strip clubs, he said, “just as we need to look at Jefferson, a man whom all our contradictions are embodied in.” This idea harkens back to something Ward said about how slavery itself never went away. If it bobs into our consciousness every few years, what makes us suddenly begin to see slavery again, as began to happen in the 1990s? Ward gave the example of the Moral Panic in the late 19th and early 20th century, in which political upheavals in the Russian empire left large populations of displaced peoples at risk, and white women and girls were drawn into international prostitution — many of them against their will. It spurred one of the first North American re-examinations of slavery after the antebellum era. So then, was it the instabilities caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union and increasing European integration that opened previously
38 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
he Rice Seminar will likely be as productive for future seminar topics as it has been for the study of slavery for a reason so simple that it sounds trite: to begin addressing global intellectual issues, we need to communicate not just with the people who think like us, but also with people who come at the same ideas from radically different standpoints. It is an idea that seems obvious but is of greater importance in a world where our social media sites place ads — political and material — based on what they figure our predilections to be. We are, in essence, all surrounded by our own digital yes men. By reaching across the hedges into Houston, by reaching across disciplines, the Rice Seminar offers a start. Sidbury explained a particularly important but unsettling idea early on, an extension of what Ward was explaining above. “These people are working with a more exploitive set of choices than the rest of us,” he said about the victims of trafficking. Recent news bears this out. When a Bangladeshi factory burns and collapses on the bodies of a thousand workers supplying clothes for American consumers, that “more exploitive set of choices” becomes apparent. The world can be seen from the standpoint of these choices, not passive victimhood; terrible choices, but choices nonetheless. These cases stir up the inevitable questions: Where is the line between paying somebody a low wage and trafficking? Is coercion telling a person they can work all day sewing our Gap T-shirts for 20 cents in a factory they know is unsound and unsafe and knowing their economic situation precludes them from saying no? Are you culpable if you buy a Gap shirt — or a Whole Foods fish, a J.C. Penney’s skirt, a Hershey bar or a gold wedding band? What can you do? Should you send petitions to your government to further outlaw “sex work” or to decriminalize it? Should you boycott goods to pressure companies to treat our neighbors the way we’d like our children to be treated when they enter the marketplace? One thing is certain: The answers to these questions can’t be contained in a billboard. Enslavement of the dispossessed, defeated and weak is, perhaps, the world’s oldest sickness.
Houston C onnections
IT IS LATE AT NIGHT. Stills: Ruth Villatoro
hile most people are in deep sleep, activist Katherine “Kat” French is just getting started: She is leading a group of Christian women to the shell of a cantina closed down a few months ago in Houston. It is an early scene in filmmaker Ruth Villatoro’s documentary “The Cantinera,” which premiered at Rice University as part of the “Houston Connections” lecture series portion of the Rice Seminar. A cantinera is a woman who works in a Latin bar by drinking 30 to 40 beers a night and having sex with the patrons. Sometimes the women are imprisoned on the bar’s grounds until they can pay off “debts” that continuously accrue; sometimes the women were groomed for sex work as children and know no other way of life. In these latter cases, such as in the case of Lillian, the cantinera that Villatoro profiles in her film, they might have their own apartment and live outside the bar. If you were driving by the building French takes tours through, it would look much like any other rundown bar. It is a small building in the front with a large, fenced-in area you might imagine is a patio for a band or performances. Inside the building itself, too, the first impression is that it’s an ordinary bar that went
out of business. Then an unsettling feeling sets in as it appears the patrons vanished right in the middle of their pool games and their last drink. French, a hefty, loud and funny woman, regularly tours cantinas throughout Houston to catalog them and to offer assistance to cantineras who might be looking for a way out. “So they would come through here, as I recall,” French said in the movie, pointing down a small hallway, “and the girls would come through here through that walkway, and meet the guys in the back.” The back is a large compound. It is full of what look more like stalls than rooms. It is filled with dirty mattresses and condom wrappers, with plastic beer cups and stench. The women French takes on these tours are all visibly shaken. On the car ride home, one woman looks into the camera and said, “Who’s to say your 5-year-old girl couldn’t get stolen from your front yard and end up in these places?” By profiling victim advocate Dottie Laster, Lillian and French, the film offers a focused view of the world of the modern-day abolitionists and their mission to save trafficked persons. That such a film was shown as part of a Rice Seminar series is important. It’s true that academics can be skeptical of the tactics the abolitionists use. However, Sidbury and Ward thought it was important to cross the hedges into the heart of Houston’s activist scene, in hopes that activists and scholars would attend each others’ events and enrich dialogue around trafficking on both sides of the issue. Among those invited were Villatoro, novelist Martha Braniff and Christian activist Julie Waters, who heads the local organization Free the Captives. Were there any fireworks? “There was a lot of respectful interaction,” Sidbury said. Though the scholars hoped to impart a deeper understanding of trafficking to the community organizations and activists, they learned from the exchange as well. “There are many parallels between the way activists today fight to see themselves and are seen by people who are critical of them, and the way the people fighting 19th-century American slavery saw themselves and were seen by people opposed to them. Some of those parallels have been helpful for the scholars in thinking through our skepticism,” Sidbury said. “It’s been interesting seeing ourselves cast that critical eye in some ways and then thinking about who was casting that similar sort of critical eye on the abolitionists in the 19th century, and thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t want to be like them.’” In a world where we all hope to be on the right side of history, Sidbury’s observation is a lesson in wisdom and humility.
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Arts & Letters
40 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
Creative Ideas and Endeavors
Photo: Sophie Feng ’14
The Physics of Art
hrough Aug. 30, 2013, at Rice Gallery, you can view “Unwoven Light” by Soo Sunny Park, an artist and associate professor of studio art at Dartmouth College. The installation consists of large sections of chain-link fence, welded into undulating shapes, and polychromatic tiles that fill the open spaces between the chain links. A physical theme of this work is waves. The chain link appears to support the motion of large water waves, and the panels are colorful because they manipulate light waves. As a physicist, when I look at this beautiful installation, I have the following visceral reaction: “What is the complex dispersion relation of this medium?” Is that not the universal reaction? It should be. After all, waves are the connection between how a medium shakes in space and how it shakes in time. Imagine launching a wave in a stretched string by shaking one end with your hand. You vibrate the end of the string in time. Now imagine what the string looks like frozen at a moment in time. It has the shape of a vibration in space. The dispersion relation connects the vibrations in time and the vibrations in space. Rather than some esoteric quantity, the disperPhoto: Nash Baker
sion relation is simply the speed of the wave. Surface waves on water, pressure waves in air (sound) and even electromagnetic waves in space (light) are perfectly characterized if you simply know how fast they travel at different frequencies. To increase my appreciation of “Unwoven Light,” I calculated the dispersion relation for flexural waves in the chain-link fence. The gentle rolling waves that surround you would travel at 118 miles per hour if they were moving. That changes my view of the art from pastoral to hyperkinetic. The shifting colors observed throughout the exhibit are due to the wave nature of light. Different colors correspond to different wavelengths. (A wavelength is the length of a single vibration in space.) Blue wavelengths are short, red wavelengths are long and white light is a mixture of all visible wavelengths.
“As a physicist, when I look at this beautiful installation, I have the following visceral reaction: ‘What is the complex dispersion relation of this medium?’ Is that not the universal reaction?”
Here the white light is unwoven by thin films on the tile surfaces. When light strikes the film, some fraction of the light reflects off of the front, some fraction reflects off the back and some goes straight through. The two reflected beams travel different paths and then merge. If they merge “in phase,” the waves add. If they merge “out of phase,” the waves cancel. Whether they are in phase or out of phase depends on the film thickness and the wavelength. So, for a fixed film thickness, some colors reflect and some transmit. However, what may surprise you is that despite the many different colors observed, all of the tiles and films are identical. The variety of color is seen because light strikes the film at different angles, which affects the light’s path and therefore which colors are reflected and which are transmitted. This means that the exhibit looks different from every position and angle you observe it. “Unwoven Light” is a stunning display due to both the genius of the artist and the possibilities of physics. —Jason Hafner Jason Hafner is an associate professor of physics and astronomy and of chemistry at Rice. Watch the installation of “Unwoven Light” and other videos on Rice Gallery’s Vimeo page: vimeo.com/ricegallery. S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
A Harp With Heart
ast spring, a special guest entered the classroom of music lecturer Rachel Buchman at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, her presence immediately quieting the 5- and 6-year-old students who had been dancing to Buchman’s lively piano playing. The guest wheeled in a 6-foot-tall, 85-pound harp on a dolly as the children gazed at the unfamiliar instrument and its petite owner, Meghan Caulkett ’13. Caulkett, 25, who earned a master’s degree in harp performance in May, allowed the children to glide their fingers across the harp’s strings and enjoy the melodic sounds they sent sweetly into the air. The music lesson was part of Caulkett’s creative plan — an outreach concert series called “47 Strings” — to promote an appreciation for classical music by providing concerts to audiences who are not often exposed to it. Named after the number of strings on her harp, “47 Strings” will conclude at the end of this year with a performance at a homeless shelter, nursing home or to additional children at the Shepherd School of Music, all places where she has performed throughout the series’ duration. “I’m really trying to get classical music out in the public but present
42 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
it in a way that people can understand and identify with,” said the California native. “There are so many studies that show how important an arts education is and what a difference it makes for people, especially kids. They get higher math scores and reading rates.” For Buchman’s young students, who come from all walks of life for Saturday lessons in music appreciation, Caulkett’s mission fit right into the program. Plucking the harp’s long and short strings, Caulkett created multitudes of low and high sounds. As the vibrations filled the room, she stepped on the harp’s pedals to play sharp and flat notes and then introduced more sounds by knocking on the harp’s soundboard, its wooden frame. After intriguing her young audience with the instrument itself, Caulkett began to play “Song in the Night” by composer Carlos Salzedo, a complicated piece some might consider too advanced for young, untrained ears. But for Caulkett, the piece challenges children to use their imaginations and find the infinite number of stories tucked inside the song. “It’s nighttime in China,” began one student. The song picked up in tempo as Caulkett plucked the harp’s strings harder, using the backs of her fingernails. “There are morning bells,” said another. The piece grew faster, prompting an unexpected interpretation: “All the cow washers are tending to their cattle.” As Caulkett continued with loud, multiple glissandi, there was a consensus: Someone was giving a party. “Music makes us imagine all different things,” Caulkett told the class. After being asked which concert theirs was, she plucked the 22nd string on her harp. “That’s your string. This is the 22nd concert of ‘47 Strings,’” she said. Watching Caulkett help children experience music has been moving for Buchman, who has long searched for ways to cultivate such an appreciation. “Especially today, kids are so used to everything being mechanized and recorded,” Buchman said. “So, to be witness to the act of playing an instrument up close is hugely impactful on kids.” As budgets and music programs continue to be cut from schools, Caulkett sees potential roadblocks to her budding career. Noting that professional orchestras are declaring bankruptcy at frightening rates, she worries that youngsters who grow up without an appreciation for musical instruments will not be inclined to fund the arts as adults or to appreciate music by learning to make it themselves. Wanting to share her love of music, she applied for and was awarded Rice’s Sviatoslav Richter Fund for Music Outreach to be used for six concerts at homeless shelters. Caulkett used the money and other private donations to help design her website (www.meghancaulkett.com), purchase music, print programs, hire freelance flautists and violinists for chamber music pieces, and pay for the transportation of her large instrument as it has traveled to many destinations, including the House
“I’m really trying to get classical music out in the public but present it in a way that people can understand and identify with. There are so many studies that show how important an arts education is and what a difference it makes for people, especially kids.” Meghan Caulkett ’13 Photo: Anni Hochhalter
Arts & Letters
of Tiny Treasures — a preschool at a homeless shelter in Houston. Caulkett, who has performed with the Houston Symphony and for legendary film composer John Williams, played the piano until she discovered the harp in high school — a rather late time to learn a new instrument, she admitted. However, the harp is very similar to a piano. They both require the hands to move independently, and the harp’s strings are similar to a piano’s white keys, while its pedals are similar to a piano’s black keys. Perhaps the most interesting fact about the harp? At least for now, to 5-year-old Rosie Heghinian, one of Buchman’s students, it’s that the instrument’s short strings “are made from sheep guts.” Caulkett is currently preparing for her 28th concert as she begins her career as a principal harpist with the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony of Southwest Texas. She also is serving as a substitute musician with the Houston and San Antonio symphonies. “It’s so rewarding to me to share something I’m really passionate about,” she said. “I want to continue ‘47 Strings’ in some way and make it a part of my career.” —Heather Saucier Heather Saucier, a native Houstonian, is a freelance writer and communications professional. She holds degrees in communications and philosophy from the University of St. Thomas and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City. She has written for the Houston Chronicle, Newsday, Tulsa World and the Agence France-Presse.
Young, Gifted and Black
reated for the Rice Centennial Celebration events, this award-winning documentary was recently released by the Association of Rice University Black Alumni (ARUBA). The film features 15 distinguished black alumni telling their stories directly to the camera. Accompanying the story are dozens of personal snapshots as well as a thoughtful musical arrangement by Rice graduate Gabriel Medina ’11. Some of the most moving experiences are narrated by black alumni who were pioneers at Rice in the 1960s and 1970s. The voice of Raymond Johnson ’69, the first black student to enroll at Rice, is especially significant. Johnson officially entered Rice as a Ph.D. student in 1964 — after the Rice Board of Trustees filed suit to amend the university’s charter and allow the admission of black students — and was the first to earn a degree in 1969. Today, he’s the W.L. Moody, Jr. Visiting Professor of Mathematics at Rice. Former Owls quarterback Stahle Vincent ’72 was among several alumni who related a feeling of responsibility as one of the first black students at Rice. “Being a pioneer was something that I didn’t sign on for. It wasn’t an aspiration of mine. It wasn’t a goal,” said Vincent. “I started getting letters from teachers, then coaches, then players and then regular students who said, ‘You make us all proud. If you can do it, you’ve inspired all of us.’ And that had a dramatic impact on me. ... Because all of a sudden you have a whole lot of people who you don’t know pulling for you and using you as an example.” “We did set good examples for those to follow,” said Pamela CarImages: Mouth Watering Media
From top: Tamara Siler ’86 is one of 15 alumni featured in the documentary “Young, Gifted and Black: Reflections From Black Alumni at Rice”; Siler at Rice in the 1980s; Siler’s grandmother first visited Rice when her granddaughter graduated. rington Scott ’73, who grew up in Houston’s Third Ward. The film is divided into three parts: the foundation and growth in Rice’s African-American student body and the change in the overall student body. All the alumni eloquently tell anecdotes from their own experiences at Rice: positive, painful and somewhere in between. One of the few themes that these alumni share is the influence of a key mentor — a relative, a high school teacher, a Rice professor or staff member, for example. The film ends with a 2013 grad discussing her looming graduation. “It’s been a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of stress, a lot of laughter, a lot of fun. I’ll feel a little sad, definitely, a little sad.” This film was made possible through donations from ARUBA S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
members. “Young, Gifted and Black” is available for purchase ($20) from the Rice University Bookstore or online through www.riceowls. com. To order through the website, click “Official Store” to find the item. The video won a 2013 Circle of Excellence Award (Silver) from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. “Young, Gifted and Black: Reflections From Black Alumni at Rice,” directed by Douglas Newman. Produced by Rice University Multicultural Community Relations and Mouth Watering Media (2012). 83 minutes.
Dellschau’s Delightful Drawings
his handsome coffee-table monograph features the fantastic creations of Charles August Albert Dellschau (1830–1923), a self-taught artist whose intricate drawings, watercolors and collages are recognized as some of the finest and earliest examples of American visionary art. Along with more than 250 images, the volume includes six essays and an introduction by experts on Dellschau’s work. The late Thomas McEvilley (1939–2013),
A 1912 drawing of a flying machine by the visionary artist Charles A.A. Dellschau. More than 250 images are gathered in a new book with a lead essay by the late Thomas McEvilley, a longtime lecturer in Rice’s art history department.
44 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
a lecturer on Rice’s art history faculty for more than 35 years and an influential art critic, wrote the book’s lead essay, titled “Charles A.A. Dellschau’s Aporetic Archive.” Dellschau, an immigrant from Prussia, spent most of his life in Houston, where he worked as a butcher. In his late 60s, after experiencing a series of family tragedies, he began to handwrite and illustrate his memoirs — two volumes in English and one in German. Then he started drawing and painting on pieces of butcher paper. The subject of these drawings? Airships and fantastic flying machines — what Dellschau called “Aeros” — rendered in exquisite and whimsical detail. Dellschau’s images chronicle the history and exploits of the Sonora Aero Club, a group of men who got together in mid-1850s California to design and build flying machines. Or did they? In fact, no one knows for sure if the Sonora Aero Club ever existed. Some of the names mentioned in Dellschau’s stories can be documented, while others have escaped the historical record. And in fact, there’s no definitive proof that Dellschau was in California during the Gold Rush era at all. Does that matter? “The problem is that little if any confirmation of Dellschau’s personal history, the club and so on, has been found,” wrote McEvilley, who was not so concerned with the veracity of Dellschau’s life history as he was with the work’s aesthetic form and symbolism. Readers also will be impressed by the (mostly) documented account of the miraculous journey taken by Dellschau’s scrapbooks after his death in 1923. After Dellschau died, his drawings and possessions were placed in an attic of the home where he lived, and that’s where they moldered for 40 years. A fire in the home led to a house cleaning, and Dellschau’s work was left in the street. They were retrieved and ended up in a furniture shop near downtown Houston, where they were soon discovered by a student who happened to intern for Dominique de Menil. The Menil Collection acquired four of the scrapbooks, and a man named P.G. Navarro acquired the remaining eight surviving scrapbooks. Soon, Dellschau’s drawings had traveled from the obscurity of a sweltering Houston attic to being desired and acquired by galleries, private collectors and museums around the country. McEvilley pays tribute to Navarro’s “Books of Dellschau” for their close examination of the artist’s themes, motivations and possible connections to historical sightings of mysterious airships in the late 1890s, both in Texas and throughout the Southwest. As McEvilley points out, flight has dominated our imaginations in the last century. In a beautifully written passage, he tethers this theme to the labors of inventors and engineers, saints and angels, shamans and magicians. In Dellschau’s mandala-themed drawings, we see “a space for transformation, though it is not glimpsed at the moment of the blazing miracle — but the gentle ascent of a balloon floating silently up, up away.” Dellschau’s obsession with flight, as depicted in the thousands of surviving drawings the likes of which would make a Rice engineer proud, is contagious. The drawings invite us to ponder both the history and future of flight and the fuel of imagination. —Lynn Gosnell “Charles A.A. Dellschau,” text by James Brett, Thomas McEvilley, Tracy Baker-White, Roger Cardinal, Thomas D. Crouch, Barbara Safarova and Randall Morris (Marquand Books, 2013)
Image: The Museum of Everything, London
Arts & Letters
On the Bookshelf Q&A Stephen Fox, author of the Houston Architectural Guide, 3rd Edition (American Institute of Architects, Houston Chapter, and Minor Design), 2012 What surprises did you find while researching your third edition? Since I’ve now lived in Houston for over 40 years, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, but it still does: how rapidly Houston both expands and changes. It’s relentless. Sometimes it can be exhilarating. Often it is frustrating and depressing as good architecture and good places are sacrificed for replacements that do not make Houston a better place to live.
Main Street Square is a prime example of a successful public space created through a private/ public partnership, says Stephen Fox in his latest guide to Houston. “The Life Informatic: Newsmaking in the Digital Era” by Dominic Boyer (Cornell University Press, 2013) New technologies and the onset of the digital information era have impacted news production, as analyzed in this first anthropological ethnography of modern office-based news journalism. Boyer is a professor of anthropology at Rice.
“Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas” by Jeffrey Stuart Kerr ’79 (Texas Tech University Press, 2013) Kerr describes the founding of Austin — the land, personalities and politics involved — in this book about a pivotal point in Texas history. The author has written two other books about the state’s past and also writes a history column for the Austin Post.
“What Things Are Made Of” by Charles Harper Webb ’70 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013) This beautiful book of poetry draws on Webb’s own life and experiences with humor and emotion. The author is a professor of English at California State University at Long Beach.
You write about the first decade of the 21st century representing a significant period of consolidation. What do you mean? A process of coming together urbanistically, which is something that doesn’t happen easily or often in Houston. In the 21st century, one sees this coming-together process occurring in any number of public space improvement projects that happened because citizens, banding together in nonprofits, pushed local government agencies into action. How are public/private partnerships driving improvements to Houston’s public spaces? One such area is the Main Street transit corridor, reshaped in conjunction with the opening of the METRORail light rail line in 2004. Others are Discovery Green, the outdoor event space that opened downtown in 2008; Buffalo Bayou Promenade downtown, where the Buffalo Bayou Partnership has realized a 100-year-old vision for transforming the bayou’s banks into a public park; and Hermann Park, where the Hermann Park Conservancy has, since the mid-1990s, redeemed the park’s major spaces with beautiful and durable infrastructure and landscape improvements. We hear a lot these days about Houston being one of the country’s fastest-growing, most diverse and most economically viable cities. How does this play out in the city’s environment? This is what I find problematic about Houston. Unlike the 1970s and 1980s — when the developer Gerald Hines made it seem as though Houston was the place where the next big thing in architecture happened first — Houston developers today have written off architecture and urban design as externalities that don’t add value to their projects. The results are bleak, such as the mega-apartment complexes built by real estate investment trusts: five stories of wood-frame construction wrapped around concrete parking garages. Stephen Fox ’73 is an architectural historian and, since 1990, a lecturer at the Rice School of Architecture.
S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
Sports News and Profiles
18 and Counting In a record-setting season and nail-biting postseason play, the Owls won their 18th-straight baseball conference championship and advanced to the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals before falling to N.C. State University in an epic 17-inning competition.
t was the longest Super Regional game in NCAA history, and the final score of 5–4 showed just how hard fought the game was. The Super Regional had a best-of-three game format, and Rice had lost the opener the day before. “It was a heartbreaking loss,” head coach Wayne Graham said. “I am very proud of the whole team. Our pitching was outstanding for so much of the year. We were only a couple outs or a couple runs from making it to Omaha [annual site of the College World Series], and not
46 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
many thought we would even get this close.” Rice had advanced to the Super Regional after a heart-thumping regional tournament in Eugene, Ore. The Owls eliminated the University of San Francisco in the first round before facing the tournament host — the Oregon Ducks. Against Oregon, sophomore pitcher Jordan Stephens led the team to a two-hit shutout, before falling the next night to a frustrating 11–0 shutout. Facing elimination, the Owls came back the next day to deliver a decisive defeat (11–4) to Oregon and advance Photo: Tommy LaVergne
Women’s Tennis The Rice women’s tennis team excelled this season with recordbreaking play, a conference championship, coaching honors and an Left: Shortstop Ford Stainback ’15 during C-USA semifinal win over Memphis. The Owls baseball season ended in the Super Regionals against N.C. State University. Above: Owls flocked to Oregon’s PK Park for an exciting 11–4 regional title win.
NCAA tournament competition. Head coach Elizabeth Schmidt led the Owls to a 2013 Conference USA championship and a top 20 national ranking.
to the Super Regional in Raleigh, N.C. Graham, in his 22nd year at Rice, led the team to a final 44–20 record. While the NCAA Super Regionals were being played, five Rice players were selected for the 2013 Major League Baseball draft and sophomore Zech Lemond was named a third-team All-American relief pitcher by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
his spring, Rice broke ground on the new George R. Brown Tennis Complex, which will have 14 tennis courts, coaches’ offices, locker rooms, training and equipment rooms, and covered spectator seating. Competition-quality lights will give Rice the ability to play matches at night, and the court configuration will give coaches better visual access to monitor team play. Spectators will benefit from seating that allows for viewing multiple matches. The facility also will accommodate intramural activities and the Rice Tennis Club. The $8 million complex is named for the late George R. Brown, former chair of the Rice Board of Trustees. Brown was a prominent Houston businessman and philanthropist who served on the Rice board for more than 25 years, from 1943 to 1968. Ralph and Becky O’Connor and their family provided lead funding for the project. Brown served as both Ralph O’Connor’s mentor and business associate and was the grandfather of O’Connor’s four children. O’Connor is a trustee emeritus of Rice; he served on the board from 1978 to 1988. The 126,000-squarefoot complex is under construction in West Lot 3 and is expected to be ready for use by next tennis season. Photos: Tommy LaVergne
ed by Katie Gater ’13, Natalie Beazant ’15, Dominique Harmath ’14 and Liat Zimmermann ’15, the Owls won their first C-USA title since 2005 and a berth in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Championship in Palo Alto, Calif. The Owls were defeated by Stanford in the NCAA tournament’s second round. “It’s been a fun journey this season, and while we are sad to see it end, our team can hold their heads high because of the way they competed every time they stepped on the court and because of everything they were able to accomplish this year,” Schmidt said. Highlights of the regular season included the Owls’ first win over the University of Texas
Natalie Beazant ’15 finished the season with a 17–3 singles record and a 15-match winning streak. at Austin, a 16-match winning streak and an appearance in the Elite Eight of the NCAA singles tournament. Beazant and Harmath earned berths in the singles and doubles competitions as part of the 2013 NCAA Division 1 Women’s Tennis Singles Championships, which followed the team competition. Beazant advanced to the quarterfinals, the first Rice women’s tennis player to advance that far in NCAA play. “We are extremely proud of Natalie for everything that she has accomplished this season,” Schmidt said. S u m m e r 2 0 1 3 · R i ce M a g a z i n e
It’s been at least 10 years since weekly stints at racquetball started up at Rice on Friday afternoons at 4 o’clock. Allen, Dennis, Frank and I resume each time, in motley clothes, our comic battle full of drawling yowls when balls fall short and points are lost.
You couldn’t find more graceful common heart — four colleagues taking time to teach our friends by knocking heads and smacking knees and blacking eyes with rocket fizz. Nor could you find more funny differences. Frank torments us all with lobs and perfect touch that are, for him, God’s work on earth. Dennis is Frank’s devilish antidote and speeds across the court while blasting epithets like Shakespeare’s scribe. Allen, finally, is all elegance, a lanky statesman frowning now with warm dismay, now with sportsman’s ire, catching us with sometimes perfect shot — but always caught himself between the gangly kid and thoughtful man that frame, each one, his kingly walk. I myself keep all in check (or drive each one quite wild) with endless stories and quirky lore. Frank bristles when my antics poke at him in friendly argument. Dennis loves to shout I’m in his way — shouts that I should move aside, keeps on shouting when I stop to ask the time just when he writhes to hit the bloody ball. Allen shares his grief with me at shots he’s missed then turns to thoughts on war and peace and sitting presidents. For some of us the world revolves around our stalwart stands as lone and hearty mavericks, keen to hold our place and stay the night and voice our sounds against oncoming wind. For some the world is meant
48 R i ce M a g a z i n e · S u m m e r 2 0 1 3
for Allen Matusow William Gaines Twyman Professor of History Dennis Huston professor of English and
Frank Jones Noah Harding Professor of Mathematics
for two — for partnerships that give to maverick hearts new light and speed and earthly warmth. And then, for some, we add to these fine stands against course elements the strength of tiny groups that fill our lives with special zest — help bring out some trailing part of us that also yearns each week to have its day. No wonder that this stunning group, on Friday afternoons, marvels at Frank’s sacred words, loves the cursing sprite that makes of Dennis one unruly imp, welcomes forth the surly kid in Allen that lies behind his lion face and lets me be the nutty lark I am (no matter what I say or do or put on wild display). No wonder that, at 5 o’clock, we fondly, fondly walk away. Walk away quite full for having doused our friends with gallons filled with who we are. Full for holding shards of love, passed from one to next through foul and fine and funky play. Full for knowing, in one week, we’ll once again — the four of us — celebrate our friends, our drawling yowls, our common heart. — Deborah Harter Deborah Harter is associate professor of French studies at Rice. See these four friends on the racquetball court and hear Harter read a version of this essay at ricemagazine. info/167.
It’s like going off the deep end. You fall for it hard. You get hooked. This is how Rice Professor John Sparagana describes his passion for making art and teaching. For those who knew Grace Christian Vietti (1899–1970), the sentiments would have seemed very familiar. Grace earned her advanced degree in art history at a time when few women were pursuing doctoral studies, and her love of sculpting was legendary with her family and friends. Through several planned gifts, her daughter, the late Teresa Jane Vietti ’49, M.D., honored her mother’s passions by establishing the Grace Christian Vietti Endowed Chair in Visual Arts, which now supports Professor Sparagana.
And this is how a gift has impact: Sparagana is creating provocative and acclaimed art, while unleashing the creative potential of Rice students from a variety of majors — or as he puts it, creating opportunities for revelation. “Visual art requires a high level of intellectual inquiry and abstract thought,” he said. “Smart people do these things very well, and that’s what we have at Rice.”
Read the full conversation with Professor Sparagana. Visit www.rice.planyourlegacy.org.
If you would like to support your passion or a loved one’s passion through an immediate or deferred gift to Rice, please call the Office of Gift Planning at 713-348-4624.
Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit #7549 Houston, Texas
Rice University, Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892
In May, university photographer Tommy LaVergne went airborne to photograph the Rice campus from above. The 27-year Rice staff veteran said that it was only his second time to shoot aerial campus photos, but it’s a perspective he enjoys. “It’s exciting to be up in the sky with no doors and in a very secure harness,” he said. LaVergne, who was aloft for an hour, shot
hundreds of photos for use in campus publications. This one shows a stately view of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business in front of the Barbara and David Gibbs Recreation and Wellness Center and pool. James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace at the Suzanne Deal Booth Centennial Pavilion practically glows white, and a solitary couple adds perspective.
Photo: Tommy LaVergne