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| Pushing Moore’s Law


| Carbon Tax


| Bull Year


| Rice Filmmakers


The Magazine of Rice University


| Van Gogh's Canvas


No. 8 | 2010

Rhodes to Success

Contents 7





Looking for telltale signs of bioterror.


Heroes come in all shapes and sizes.


That letter of recommendation might be hurting your chances.


If you can’t accept a physical limitation, then push its boundaries.

It’s been a bull year for the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.


When it comes to segregation, separate is never equal. To meet the United Nations climate challenge, the U.S. might do well to institute a carbon tax.



The Houston AsianAmerican Archive is designed to foster a deeper understanding of Houston’s immigrant history.


Once again, Rice is a “Great College to Work For.”


To live on campus, or not to live on campus — that’s the question.

The maternal ancestor of us all lived 200,000 years ago.

A festive mood launches the Centennial Celebration countdown on Rice Day.

On the Cover: Ye jin Kang, Rice’s newest Rhodes Scholar, holds up a signed football presented by Director of Athletics, Recreation and Fitness Rick Greenspan during halftime at the Rice–University of Alabama at Birmingham game, which Rice won 28–23. See the story on Page 5. Cover photo: Tommy LaVergne



Rice film school




16 If you can’t get water from the ground, harvest it from the air. 17 History meets science at a Historic Texas Cemetery.

20 Reflections on Rice’s Past and Future

18 A summer fellowship program offers students a Gateway to the real world.

With the launch of the Centennial Celebration, it’s time to consider where Rice has been and the course it has charted for the century to come.

19 Seeing small never looked so big.

By David W. Leebron



The divide between science and religion seems to be growing, but is it? Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund delves into the facts and figures.

40 Students don’t come to Rice to study film. They become filmmakers because they can’t help it.

22 Science vs. Religion: Is Dialog

By Linda Day

42 Somewhere at the intersection of art and science sits Lina Dib.

26 Be Counted and Count When you want to know about the census, there’s no better source than sociologist Steve Murdock.

44 Scale, spectacle, and tricks of light and perspective emerge from Rice Gallery in one elegant plane.

By Christopher Dow

45 Sometimes what lies beneath the surface of a painting is what gives the real clues to an artist’s oeuvre.

28 Understanding Cities of Tomorrow Two former centers at Rice merge in a new institute that aims to bring insight and direction to urban growth and development.


By Christopher Dow

46 Want statistics on the U.S. presidency? Look no further.

32 Better Health Care, Lower Cost A health care economist eyes the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system.

46 Photos and text chart the coastline of the western Gulf of Mexico.

By Jessica Stark

34 Provost Appoints Task Forces for Three New Initiatives

Rice’s new provost, George McLendon, talks about a strategy that will allow Rice to marshal its resources to become a recognized leader in bioscience and health, energy and the environment, and international strategy.



38 Academic Success and Immigrant Students

By Jessica Stark

47 The Large Hadron Collider won’t create a black hole or tear the fabric of space–time, but what it will do is pretty amazing. 47 Who better to edit a collection of Latino mysteries than a pair of Latina law enforcement officers who also are professional writers?

By Mike Williams

How can we increase success among the increasing number of immigrant students in U.S. schools? There may be answers.


48 Men’s soccer is kicking up a storm.


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Rice Magazine




No. 8


he contributions made to human knowledge and understanding by research universities such as Rice is most obvious in the sciences and engineering, which produce tangible results that impact our lives on a daily basis. At Rice, our scientists and engineers are exploring the universe from the biological to the cybernetic, from the dimensions of the purely physical to the effects of unseen forces, and from nano to cosmic scales. But perhaps no subject is so profoundly difficult to study and understand as human beings. Who we are as individuals and how we interact within social, political, economic and religious aggregates are the domains not of the hard sciences but of the social sciences. The Rice School of Social Sciences may be the smallest of the main divisions on campus, but it serves the largest number of students, with more than a third of Rice undergraduates majoring in one of its departments. Its varied disciplines — anthropology, cognitive sciences, economics, managerial studies, policy studies, political science, psychology and sociology — not only focus on how people think and act as individuals and within society, but also seek to generate workable solutions for problems faced by individuals and the global community as a whole. It would seem that a great deal of what social scientists study contains some degree of polarization, and maybe that’s what makes the social sciences as intrinsically interesting as they are important. Take, for example, the work of sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, who has spent the last few years examining the divide between science and religion. In “Science vs. Religion,” we look at her latest findings, which question the popular assumption that scientists are, by and large, antireligious. We also look at the work of political scientist Melissa Marschall, who has been researching ways to promote academic success among the increasing numbers of immigrant and Englishlanguage learners in U.S. schools, and at the efforts of health care economist Vivian Ho, who is seeking ways to streamline the U.S. health care system and make it more efficient as well as effective. And in this census year, we also talk to sociologist Steve Murdock about the U.S. Census, which he directed in 2008 and 2009: how it works, who benefits from it, why it’s important to be counted and why the U.S. Census is a world-class model of data collection. There are a number of other articles on Rice social sciences in this issue, but let me highlight the Kinder Institute for Urban Research. An outgrowth of the nearly 30-year-old Houston Area Survey and other urban-based institutes at Rice, the Kinder Institute aims to bring insight and direction to urban growth and development by studying major cities in the U.S. and abroad, in addition to Houston. The institute will bring a wealth of Rice talent — not just from the social sciences but from practically every discipline — to bear on the pressing issues created by the massive growth of urban centers worldwide. If you just scratch the surface of research at Rice, you will find a great research university that aspires to understand our world and our universe. If you explore a little deeper, you’ll find the human face that gives it all meaning. Explore the social sciences at Rice: › ››

Christopher Dow

Published by the Office of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, vice president Editor Christopher Dow Editorial Director Tracey Rhoades Creative Director Jeff Cox Art Director Chuck Thurmon Editorial Staff B.J. Almond, staff writer Jade Boyd, staff writer Franz Brotzen, staff writer Jenny West Rozelle, assistant editor David Ruth, staff writer Jessica Stark, staff writer Mike Williams, staff writer Photographers Tommy LaVergne, photographer Jeff Fitlow, assistant photographer The Rice University Board of Trustees James W. Crownover, chairman; J.D. Bucky Allshouse; D. Kent Anderson; Keith T. Anderson; Laura Arnold; Subha Viswanathan Barry; Suzanne Deal Booth; Robert T. Brockman; Nancy P. Carlson; Douglas Lee Foshee; Susanne Morris Glasscock; James T. Hackett; Larry Kellner; Robert R. Maxfield; M. Kenneth Oshman; Jeffery O. Rose; Lee H. Rosenthal; Hector de J. Ruiz; L. E. Simmons; Charles Szalkowski; Robert B. Tudor III; James S. Turley; Randa Duncan Williams. Administrative Officers David W. Leebron, president; George McLendon, provost; Kathy Collins, vice pr esident for Finance; Kevin Kirby, vice president for Administration; Ron Long, interim vice president for Investments and treasur er; Chris Muñoz, vice president for Enrollment; Carol Quillen, vice president for International and Interdisciplinary Initiatives; Linda Thrane, vice presi dent for Public Affairs; Richard A. Zansitis, vice president and general counsel; Darrow Zeidenstein, vice president for Resource Development. Rice Magazine is published by the Office of Public Affairs of Rice University and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, graduate students, parents of undergraduates and friends of the university. Editorial Offices Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, T TX X 77251-1892 Fax: 713-348-6757 E-mail: © D ECEMBER 2 010 RICE UNIVE RSITY

Corrections: Our article “Brains and Bronze” stated incorrectly that John L. Wortham, rather than his son, Gus S. Wortham, was the founder of the Wortham Foundation. The first director of the Center for the Study of Cultures was Michael Fischer and not David Nirenberg, as was stated in “Human(ities) Interaction.”




Hero on the Line Louise Beraud should have been home, enjoying the rewards of a college degree. Instead, she was busily patching calls through a telephone switchboard in wartime France while the building around her burned. “We just kept on working,” Griggs told the Houston Chronicle in Beraud, who left Rice University after her junior year to attend 1980. “It wasn’t really a matter of bravery. You just do the thing that’s Chicago University, had put off her degree to attend to a more imright. You don’t think of anything else.” portant matter: The War to End All Wars. She was one of nearly 300 At the war’s conclusion, Griggs stayed in France for a time and American women to join the Army Signal Corps Female Telephone worked with the YWCA to help resettle families before returning to Operators Unit, which was formed in 1917 when Gen. John Pershing, Rice to complete her degree in 1920. Although her bravery was never commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, reportquestioned, she and the other Hello Girls returned to the States to disedly ignored orders to keep women (other than nurses) out of the cover that they had never actually been in the Army war and formed the operators unit that became and therefore could not be honorably discharged. known as the Hello Girls. “She said that after the war, something happened in Most of the recruits had been telephone opthe Senate, and they were told they weren’t a part erators, and all were fluent in English and French of the U.S. Army,” Gottschalk recalled. “She and the so that they could translate messages instantly. other women in the Signal Corps had to petition After two weeks of training in communications Congress for their discharge. She wrote those letters and self-defense, they took an enlistment oath and for what must have been 50 years.” were told to buy their own uniforms. The first 233 Finally, at the behest of then-President Jimmy Hello Girls were sent to France in March 1918, and Carter in 1978, Congress passed a law ordering that they quickly proved their worth, working long the status of “civilian volunteers” with the Armed hours to keep command posts wired to the front. Forces in wartime be revisited. In 1980, the year Beraud, who became Louise Beraud Griggs before she died, Griggs received her honorary diswhen she later married her wartime love, had charge and a World War I Victory Medal with a learned French at home. “Her father came over clasp for France in a ceremony at the Texas Army from France as a master chef,” said Shelley National Guard Armory in Houston. This year, on Gottschalk, Griggs’ granddaughter and wife of Nov. 11, Griggs was honored again for her heroic Arthur Gottschalk, professor and chair of composervice in a ceremony at the Rice Memorial Center sition and theory at the Shepherd School of Music. as part of Rice’s 2010 Veterans Day observance. “John Jacob Astor hired him.” Griggs’ parents met Griggs continued to make use of her aptitude in America and settled in Houston, where Griggs’ Louise Beraud Griggs in French after the war; she taught the language father managed the Tejas Club at the Rice Hotel at Houston Heights High School until her marriage in 1924, said her and catering at the Rice Institute. daughter, Belle Griggs Johnson. “She never griped,” Johnson said Various reports indicate between two and four other Hello Girls of her mom. “She made the best of everything. She was a super, were at the switchboard in an Army barracks in Souilly when the buildsuper woman.” ing caught fire during a shell attack in the Meuse–Argonne Offensive, —Mike Williams a bloody, months-long battle that helped seal Germany’s fate. While soldiers worked to put out the blaze, Griggs and other operators refused View photos from Rice’s 2010 Veterans Day celebration: orders to abandon their posts and kept critical lines of communication open. For that, they won special citations from the Army. ›› › 75

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Clockwise from left: Rice professors Douglas Natelson and Lin Zhong, graduate students Zhengzong Sun and Jun Yao, and Professor James Tour.

“I’ve been told by industry professionals that if you’re not in the 3-D memory business in four years, you’re not going to be in the memory business. This is perfectly suited for that.” —James Tour

Breaking a Barrier

If you can’t accept a physical limitation, then push its boundaries.

The limitation, in this case, is the physical limits of miniaturization possible for today’s electronics. If Moore’s Law, which states the number of devices on a circuit doubles every 18 to 24 months, continues to hold true, our electronic devices will reach their smallest — and fastest — state in the very near future.

Graphic: Jun Yao

a charge. “Flash memory is going to hit a brick wall at about 20 nanometers,” Tour said. “But our technique is perfectly suited for sub10-nanometer circuits.” It also means layers of silicon-oxide memory can be stacked in tiny but capacious three-dimensional arrays. “I’ve been told by industry professionals that if you’re not in the 3-D memory business in four years, you’re not going to be in the memory business,” Tour said. Now, however, Rice University scientists have created the first two“This is perfectly suited for that.” terminal memory chips that use only silicon, one of the most common Silicon-oxide memory also is compatible with conventional transubstances on the planet, in a way that should be easily adaptable to sistor manufacturing technology. The circuits feature high on-off nanoelectronic manufacturing techniques and promises to extend the ratios, excellent endurance and fast switching — below 100 nanolimits of miniaturization. seconds — and they will be resistant to raLast year, researchers in the lab of Rice diation, which should make them suitable Professor James Tour showed how elecfor military and NASA applications. trical current could repeatedly break and Yao had a hard time convincing his reconnect 10-nanometer strips of graphite colleagues that silicon oxide alone could to create a robust, reliable memory “bit.” make a circuit even though it is, according At the time, they didn’t fully understand to Tour, the most-studied material in huwhy it worked so well, but that recently man history. “In research, if everyone nods changed thanks to a new collaboration by their heads, then it’s probably not that big,” the Rice labs of professors Tour, Douglas Yao said. “But if you do something and evNatelson and Lin Zhong, and it turns out eryone shakes their heads, and then you that you don’t need the carbon at all. prove it, it could be big.” Jun Yao, a graduate student in Tour’s Austin tech design company PrivaTran lab and primary author of a paper that A silicon-oxide memory chip in which silicon nanowire forms is testing a silicon-oxide chip with 1,000 appeared in the online edition of Nano when a charge is sent through the silicon oxide, creating a memory elements that was built in colLetters, confirmed his breakthrough idea laboration with the Tour lab. The company two-terminal resistive switch. when he sandwiched a layer of silicon oxis using the technology in several projects ide, an insulator, between semiconducting supported by the Army Research Office, National Science Foundation, sheets of polycrystalline silicon that served as the top and bottom Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Navy Space and Naval electrodes. Applying a charge to the electrodes created a conductive Warfare Systems Command Small Business Innovation Research pathway and formed a chain of nanosized silicon crystals. The chain (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. can be repeatedly broken and reconnected by applying a pulse of Yao’s co-authors on the paper were Tour; Natelson, a Rice profesvarying voltage. The nanocrystal wires are as small as 5 nanometers sor of physics and astronomy; Zhong, assistant professor of electri(billionths of a meter) wide, far smaller than circuitry in even the most cal and computer engineering; and Zhengzong Sun, then a graduadvanced computers and electronic devices. ate student in Tour’s lab. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, “The beauty is its simplicity,” said Tour, Rice’s T.T. and W.F. Chao the Texas Instruments Leadership University Program, the National Professor of Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineerScience Foundation, PrivaTran and the Army Research Office SBIR ing and materials science and of computer science. That simplicity is Program supported the research. key to the technology’s scalability. Silicon oxide switches or memory locations require only two terminals, not three — as in flash memory —Mike Williams — because the physical process doesn’t require the device to hold Read the paper: ›› › 4



“I’m looking forward to making new friends, embracing a new culture and immersing myself in a unique academic environment.” —Ye jin Kang

Rice Student Named Rhodes Scholar Some people see a problem and turn away, too baffled, busy or disinterested to do anything about it. Then there’s Ye jin Kang. Kang saw the prevalence of tuberculosis in Mexico, Honduras and Zambia, which made her committed to fighting the disease. Now, a Rhodes Scholarship will take her one step closer to her dream of being a global citizen sensitive to the needs of different cultures. The Rice senior, one of 32 Americans and 80 students worldwide to be awarded the prestigious scholarship, will spend two years at Oxford. “I’m looking forward to making new friends,” she said, “embracing a new culture and immersing myself in a unique academic environment.” Kang plans to earn two Master of Science degrees — one in global health science and one in global governance and diplomacy. The latter prepares students to work with international and nongovernmental organizations and private firms that interact with them. Kang’s goals include developing private and public partnerships with ministries of health abroad to improve health care. “Infectious diseases know no political or geographical boundaries, fuel a cycle of poverty and hinder economic development,” Kang said. “That’s why I want to work toward eradicating disease as a physician–policymaker on the international level.” It’s a direction Kang has been moving in for several years. The summer before she came to Rice, she was one of two Texas delegates to the National Youth Science Camp. Then, while at Rice, she designed and taught undergraduate courses on tuberculosis and North Korea. She also served as a clinical intern at National Masan Tuberculosis Hospital in South Korea and has done extensive research on TB at the National Institutes of

Health. Her abilities as a policymaker also received a serious jump start when, as a freshman, she founded a student magazine called Catalyst: Rice Undergraduate Science and Engineering Review with fellow students and served as editor in chief of the first two issues. Kang is expected to graduate from Rice in May with majors in ecology and evolutionary biology and in policy studies in global health, along with a minor in biochemistry and cell biology. She attributed the diversity of her academic interests to wanting to study disease at the micro and macro levels. “Winning this scholarship really was a team effort,” Kang said. “I feel so blessed — I couldn’t have gotten this award without the support of my professors, committed faculty and friends.” This year also, two Rice seniors were awarded Marshall Scholarships. Anthony Austin will pursue a Master of Advanced Study degree in mathematics at Cambridge University and a Master of Science in pure mathematics at Imperial College London, and Jingyuan Luo will complete a Master of Science degree in biomedicine, bioscience and society at the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master of Research in stem cell biology at Imperial College London.

A Great College to Work For For the second year in a row, the Chronicle of Higher Education has recognized Rice University as one of its “Great Colleges to Work For.” The Chronicle cited 97 colleges for specific best practices and policies, such as compensation and benefits, faculty–administration relations, and confidence in senior leadership. The honorees were determined by the Chronicle’s random survey of faculty, administrators and staff and an audit of demographics and workplace policies and practices from each institution. Rice was honored in eight of the categories among four-year, mediumsized schools: job satisfaction; teaching environment; facilities, workspaces and security; compensation and benefits; professional/career development programs; work/life balance; respect and appreciation; and supervisor or department chair relationship. Rice also was named to the Chronicle’s honor roll, which recognizes the overall top 10 colleges that were cited most often across all categories. —Arie Wilson Passwaters

See the survey results: › › ›

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Centennial Challenge to Young Alumni

Continuing Expansion

Young Alumni, Meet Your Match!

What school at Rice enrolls more students annually than Rice’s entire undergraduate and graduate student populations put together? Keith Anderson ’83 CCYA Co-Challenger

Charley Landgraf ’75 CCYA Co-Challenger

Rice simply couldn’t be the high-caliber institution that it is today without the ongoing support of alumni. With that in mind, Keith Anderson ’83 and Charley Landgraf ’75 are challenging young alumni to join them in supporting the Rice Annual Fund. • Give a gift, get a match. If you graduated from Rice between 2000 and 2010, Keith and Charley will generously match your Annual Fund gift 3-to-1 until Dec. 31, 2010. • Gave last year or the year before? Get a bigger match! If you made an Annual Fund gift during the past two years of the challenge, your new gift will be matched 4-to-1 until Dec. 31, 2010. • Meet your class goal and help earn up to $230,000 for Rice. Keith and Charley will contribute an additional $20,000 for each class that reaches its goal by June 30, 2011, and an extra $10,000 in honor of the first class to hit its goal.

See how your class is stacking up, and then rise to the challenge by making your gift at:

If you answered the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, you might be one of the 12,000 people who attend courses each year at one of the largest continuing education programs in Texas. Founded in 1968, the school has spent much of its life housed in a “temporary” building while helping others reach their personal and professional goals, but now the school is eyeing growth of its own. Key to the expansion is a new building that will be located between Rice Stadium and campus Entrance 8 at University Boulevard and Stockton Drive. Construction will be completely funded by philanthropic gifts, and thanks to generous Centennial Campaign gifts from the school’s namesake and Rice trustee Susanne M. Glasscock ’62 and her husband, Melbern Glasscock ’61, and others, the school has raised nearly $9.5 million for the $24 million facility. The Glasscock School offers noncredit programs in personal development, professional development, teacher professional development and languages. In addition to the thousands of Houstonians who attend classes at the school, more than 4,000 college-preparatory teachers from all over the country attend its professional development courses, and the English as a Second Language program has attracted students from more than 100 countries. The school’s Master of Liberal Studies has grown into the second-largest master’s program at Rice. For many of its programs, the school collaborates with organizations such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Houston Museum of Natural Science; the Greater Houston Preservation Alliance; the Writers’ League of Texas; the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Houston Chapter; and HR Houston. “We see the Glasscock School at the center of Rice’s efforts to engage the broader Houston community,” said Mary McIntire, dean of Continuing Studies. “As the oldest and possibly best-known educational outreach of the university, the school has a nearly 45-year-old place in the shared lives of Rice and Houston.” The new building will allow the Glasscock School to expand the size and scope of its offerings. Enrollment is expected to increase from 12,000 a year to 15,000, and e-learning and daytime programs will be added. The three-story, 51,000-squarefoot facility will include 24 classrooms, conference rooms, a language center, an auditorium, a commons area and a terrace for events. “This building isn’t just about Continuing Studies and all its programs,” Susanne Glasscock said. “This is a building where Rice University can greet, involve, engage and maybe even entertain our neighbors, the city of Houston and the world.” The Glasscocks have been regular School of Continuing Studies students for about 30 years. In 2006, the school was officially renamed the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies in honor of an endowment gift — believed to be the largest endowment ever for a U.S. university continuing education program — from the Glasscocks. The new building will be built to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards. —Jessica Stark




Michael Emerson discusses segregation in society during a presentation to the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals.

Separate Is Never Equal It’s no surprise that people try to get the best houses in the best neighborhoods they can find. How does it end up they live so segregated by race? That’s the question that Michael Emerson asked, and he said he hears two common answers. The fi rst: “It’s not race; it’s class.” “In fact, that’s not the answer,” said Emerson, the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and co-director of the university’s new Kinder Institute for Urban Research. “There is a range of incomes within any racial group, and when we look at where people live by income level, they’re still segregated by race. Segregation by race is substantially greater than segregation by income.” The second answer — “People like to live with people like themselves” — is somewhat more accurate, he said, but it’s still not the complete answer. “In current times, many people want not to live with certain people — people they think will drive down their property values, raise crime and lower the quality of local education. They use race to decide these other factors.” The 2000 Census showed a distinct separation between black and white neighborhoods, with Hispanics somewhat more integrated but still dominating many neighborhoods of their own. According to the most recent Houston Area Survey, too few are committed to diversity. Emerson’s own neighborhood is a good example of what has befallen not only Houston, but other major cities nationwide. “When I moved there, it was mixed with many racial groups, but now it’s 99 percent black and Hispanic,” said Emerson, who is white. “I’m totally convinced we have to live in integrated neighborhoods, so my family and I choose to do so.” A “factorial experiment” of African-Americans, Hispanics and whites, 1,000 each, revealed important results. As expected, there was sensitivity among all groups to high crime rates and low-quality schools, and blacks and whites were more sensitive to home valuation than Hispanics. But what about race? Race is less of an issue for Hispanics, at least in Harris County. “But for whites,” Emerson said, “you get a different story. They are highly sensitive to percent black and percent Hispanic. Even if you take a neighborhood that has low crime, high-quality schools and rising property values, and you say it’s 30 percent black, in almost every single case, the white respondent will say, ‘Not likely to buy the home.’” Similarly, he

said, African-Americans in Harris County proved less interested in neighborhoods where the percent of Asian residents was on the rise. Why does neighborhood segregation by race matter? The fourfold increase in the national gap between net worth of white and black families — demonstrated in an “incredibly detailed” study of 2,000 families followed over 24 years from 1984 to 2007 — is telling. The study, Emerson said, “shows most middle-class Americans generate their wealth through their homes, and white “There is a range neighborhoods, due to higher of incomes demand, rise in value more than in other neighborhoods. So it’s within any racial a big deal where people live. group, and when We must fi nd ways to stop givwe look at where ing benefits along racial lines. As people live by most Americans believe, benefits income level, should go to people by merit, not race.” they’re still segEmerson said he and his regated by race. Kinder Institute colleagues are Segregation by anxious to see the results of the race is substan2010 Census when they become available next year. He hopes to tially greater fi nd Houston neighborhoods that than segregation have been integrated for 20 years by income.” or more. “We will attempt to understand why they are stably in—Michael Emerson tegrated,” he said, “and what the consequences are, positive and negative, for people who live there.” “People give all kinds of reasons why it’s okay to have segregation and to have inequality by class and race and never actually face it,” he said. “The fact is, the society our children inherit will suffer and the society our grandchildren inherit will suffer even more if we don’t address racial segregation and the resulting increasing racial wealth gap.” —Mike Williams

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No. 8



Rice Creates Houston’s First Asian-American Archive



Mother of All Humans Lived 200,000 Years Ago The most robust statistical examination to date of our species’ genetic links to “mitochondrial Eve” — the maternal ancestor of all living humans — confirms that she lived about 200,000 years ago. The Rice University study was based on a side-byside comparison of 10 human genetic models that each aim to determine when Eve lived using a very different set of assumptions about the way humans migrated, expanded and spread across Earth. “Our findings underscore the importance of taking into account the random nature of population processes like growth and extinction,” said study co-author Marek Kimmel, professor of statistics at Rice. “Classical, deterministic models, including several that have previously been applied to the dating of mitochondrial Eve, do not fully account for these random processes.” The quest to date mitochondrial Eve (mtEve) is an example of the way scientists probe the genetic past to learn more about mutation, selection and other genetic processes that play key roles in disease. The research, which resulted from a standing collaboration between Rice and Silesian University of Technology, is available online in the journal Theoretical Population Biology. It was supported by grants from the This binary tree shows how all the people Polish Ministry of Science on the bottom row are related to their and Higher Education and most recent common matrilineal ancesthe Cancer Prevention and tor. Mitochondrial Eve is the most recent Research Institute of Texas. common matrilineal ancestor for all living humans. —Jade Boyd


Last summer, Tracey Lam learned about Houston’s past, but it wasn’t in a history book. It was through hours-long conversations with some of Houston’s Chinese-American citizens. Part of a new research project of Rice’s T.T. and W.F. Chao Center for Asian Studies, the oral-history interviews and transcriptions will be fully accessible through the Woodson Research Center’s Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA). The HAAA is designed to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of Houston’s immigrant history by researching, preserving and sharing the rich background, diverse cultural legacy and continuing contributions of Asian-Americans to the city. The Chao Center created an internship program to help build the HAAA and deepen students’ historical and cultural understanding. The students said that getting to know the people behind the stories helped them see Houston — and U.S. history — through new eyes. “They told stories with such colorful details that I couldn’t have appreciated by just reading,” said Lam, a Lovett College senior who grew up listening to her parents tell stories of their own immigrant life. The oral histories collected by Lam and four other interns join complete copies of Houston’s first Chineselanguage newspaper, records from the publisher’s business, as well as oral histories of the company’s founders. The Chao Center is working with more organizations to further round out the archive and include artifacts focusing on labor and capital. —Jessica Stark

Rice Remains Among Nation’s Top 5 Best-Value Private Schools in New Kiplinger Ranking For the third year in a row, Rice is No. 4 on the list of best values in private colleges ranked by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. The rankings for 2010–11, announced Oct. 28, measure academic quality and affordability. The magazine bases two-thirds of a school’s ranking on academic excellence. Princeton, Yale and Caltech were the top three schools on the list, and Duke University rounded out the top five. “With the lowest sticker price of our top-25 ranked universities, along with generous need-based and merit-based aid,” Kiplinger wrote, “Rice lives up to its reputation for affordability.” —B.J. Almond

For the complete rankings, visit: ›› › Who Knew: ›› ›


Academic Benefits of Living On Campus

To live on campus or not to live on campus — that is the question for many college freshmen, their families and university administrators. One important consideration is how living in a dorm affects students’ academic success.


four-year and public versus private control. They found that “for most students in most institutions, the type of residence during college does not seem to have a significant effect on first-year academic performance.” For some minority students, however, they found notable differences. “Among black students, those who live on campus in residence halls have significantly higher GPAs than similar students at the same institution who live off campus with family.” There also was a similar difference for all students attending liberal arts institutions. “Those who live on campus also have significantly higher GPAs than comparable students at the same institution who live off campus with family.”

A new study by Rice Associate Professor of Sociology Ruth Lopez Turley titled “College Residence and Academic Performance: Who Benefits From Living on Campus?” examined the issue against the background of previous research, which identified living on campus as the single most important environmental factor influencing academic engagement. Turley and study co-author Geoffrey Wodtke sought to reveal more comprehensive information by focusing on the academic achievements of different groups. What they found suggests that the answer to that question varies by race/ethnicity, gender and a variety of institutional characteristics. Wodtke, an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin when the research was conducted, currently is a graduate student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

The researchers first compared the grades of a national sample of college students living on campus in residence halls, off campus in private apartments and at home with family and then compared the effect of college residence by race/ethnicity and gender. To gain comprehensive data, the authors expanded previous study samples from public research universities to a wider range of institutions, like liberal arts colleges. “At different types of institutions,” Turley and Wodtke wrote, “the residential experience is likely to differ in ways that may produce significant variation in the relationship between student residence and academic achievement.” The study’s analytic sample was centered on first-year students, 18 to 25 years old, whose parents claimed them as dependents and who were enrolled full time in institutions that offered on-campus housing but that did not require fi rst-time students to live on campus. Students attending Rice University were not included in this study. Most of the sample lived on campus

(54 percent), 28 percent lived off campus with family, 15 percent lived off campus without family and very few lived in other types of residences (3 percent), such as fraternities/ sororities or university-owned off-campus housing. By comparison, Rice houses 80 percent of its undergrauate students on campus. The researchers first compared the grades of a national sample of college students living on campus in residence halls, off campus in private apartments and at home with family and then compared the effect of college residence by race/ethnicity and gender. Finally, they examined whether the relationship between residence and achievement varied across a variety of postsecondary institutions characterized by enrollment size, research orientation, two-year versus

In an effort to account for these variations, the authors pointed out that “the differences between those who live on campus and those who live off campus without family are insignificant. This suggests that, for black students and students attending liberal arts institutions, living off campus per se does not appear to be leading to lower first-year grades, but rather living with family seems to be the culprit.” Turley and Wodtke also noted that students at liberal arts schools may have an advantage because these institutions usually focus on undergraduates and have more restrictive admissions than larger public universities. Finally, since living on campus is more expensive than living off campus with family, the authors called for all parties — from high school counselors to parents to university financial aid administrators — to work to make on-campus living more feasible so students can experience the academic benefits. —Franz Brotzen

Read the study in the journal Urban Education:

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Rice Magazine

No. 8




CO2 Emissions At the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen last year, the United States pledged to reduce the 2005 levels of CO2 emissions by 17 percent by 2020. To help make that happen, two Rice University researchers are calling on policymakers to encourage the transition from coal-based electricity production to a system based on natural gas through a carbon tax. Dagobert Brito, the George A. Peterkin Professor of Political Economy, and Robert Curl, the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor Emeritus of Natural Sciences and winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry, made their recommendation in a paper published on the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy website.

emissions by modeling the transition from coal-based electricity generation to a system based on natural gas. Because coal-based electricity generation accounts for about a third of U.S. CO2 emissions — some 2 billion metric tons — Brito and Curl describe it as “the 900-pound gorilla in the room.” Replacing coal generators with natural gas,

Replacing coal generators with natural gas, they believe, “is the most economical way to achieve a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent.”

production to a system based on natural gas. The authors said policymakers should encourage this transition, but they doubt whether natural gas supplies will be adequate to maintain this shift in the long run. Development of nuclear and renewable electricity generation will need to continue at a rapid pace. Natural gas, however, can be the transition technology to carbon-neutral electrical generation. CO2 permits would drastically affect the economics of coal-based electrical production and could possibly create volatility in the market for electricity. To reduce the risk of high volatility, the authors back a carbon tax to assist the transition from coal to

Because coal-based electricity generation accounts for about a third of U.S. CO2 emissions — some 2 billion metric tons — Brito and Curl describe it as “the 900-pound gorilla in the room.” Brito and Curl argue that there are three important unresolved questions in the current debate on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions: First, what is the range of prices on carbon dioxide emissions that will be necessary to achieve the desired reductions? Second, should electrical generators and transport fuels be regulated jointly or separately? Third, should the restrictions be in the form of a quantity limit such as cap and trade or in the form of a carbon tax? The authors calculated the cost of CO2


they believe, “is the most economical way to achieve a target of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent.” So-called “clean coal” is not the answer, the authors noted. “Unless or until there is a technological breakthrough in carbon sequestration,” they wrote, “replacing existing coal generation capacity with modern coal generation plants can only reduce total carbon dioxide by 5 percent.” In any case, the United States already is moving from coal-based electricity

natural gas. They also assert that separating emissions permitting for the production of electricity from that of transportation would mean that a rise in carbon prices needed to effect a shift to natural gas-based electricity generation would have very little impact on transportation fuels. —Franz Brotzen

Read the paper: ›› ›



Exposing Telltale Signs of Bioterror Large-scale outbreaks of illness are never pretty, but these days, one question may be paramount: Is the outbreak caused by a natural pathogen or one that was grown in a lab by terrorists? Discovering the answer to that question is the aim of a group of Rice researchers who have won federal support to develop a genomic test designed to provide homeland security and public health officials with the tools they need to quickly determine how to respond to an outbreak. The three-year grant is Rice’s first from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). “In a natural outbreak, there are classic rules of epidemiology that describe how particular types of diseases will spread,” said principal investigator Yousif Shamoo, associate professor of biochemistry and cell biology and director of Rice’s Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering. “In a man-made outbreak, you may be faced with an actor who is continuously spreading the disease, or you might have a

Low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli bacteria, magnified 10,000 times.

media. And it’s the same diet every day. Our expectation is that organisms will lose certain genes that allow them to get nutrition from the soil or the gut or wherever they came from, simply because they don’t need them anymore.” In a lab, domesticated strains will outcompete the wild type, which will disappear from the lab within just a few generations. For the DTRA project, Shamoo and his students will gather wild strains of two common bacteria — Enterococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli — and domesticate each of them in the lab. Genomic snapshots will be taken throughout the process, and they’ll be analyzed for telltale patterns. “We don’t want to get into the business of trying to catalog the

“The idea is to look for common sets of responses to domestication that you would likely see for any organism that’s adapting from living in the wild to living in the laboratory.” —Yousif Shamoo

person who, knowing public health strategy, has engineered strains.” Shamoo’s lab specializes in studying how the process of evolution plays out at the molecular level. His group also studies how bacteria evolve to become drug-resistant. He said the same forces that allow drug-resistant strains of an organism to outcompete their nondrugresistant cousins in a hospital will also allow his team to discern between pathogens whose origins are in nature or the lab. That will be possible because of the way bacteria can progress through hundreds of generations in just a few weeks and rapidly adapt to new conditions. “Living out in the wild is a pretty rough existence,” Shamoo said. “By comparison, life in the laboratory is very posh. Lab-grown bacteria live in very nice conditions on agar plates eating this very rich

specific changes that take place for thousands of different organisms,” Shamoo said. “The idea is to look for common sets of responses to domestication that you would likely see for any organism that’s adapting from living in the wild to living in the laboratory.” While E. faecalis and E. coli are each common, well-studied bacteria, they also come from opposite ends of their species’ genetic spectrum. The fundamental differences in their chemical and physical properties will give the researchers a broad range of genetic patterns associated with domestication. “If we find something after three years, and we want to expand the pool to include soil bacteria or other types,” Shamoo said, “we can do that and see if the patterns repeat.” —Jade Boyd

Rice Magazine

No. 8



AforBull Year the Jones School If the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business was a surfer, it would be riding one heck of a rankings wave. In just four years, the school has moved from an unranked position among entrepreneurship programs into the No. 6 position in the country and No. 1 in Texas as ranked by the Princeton Review for Entrepreneur magazine. Rice is one of only four schools to achieve a top 10 ranking during both the past two years. T date, the Rice Alliance for Technology To and Entrepreneurship, the university’s flagship initiative devoted to the support of entrepreneurship, has assisted in the launch of more than 235 companies that have raised more than half a billion dollars. And a recent Jones School alumni survey revealed that 22 percent of Rice MBA alumni have started one or more entrepreneurial companies — 76 percent are still in business today. The entrepreneurship ranking came on the heels of a survey by the Economist that named the Jones School’s full-time MBA program No. 1 in the Southwest, 25th nationally and 41st among 132 schools globally — two points higher than last year. The survey focused in particular on students’ abilities to pursue new career opportunities, expand personal development and educational experiences, increase salaries, and network. A ranking by the Wall Street Journal continued the Jones School’s impetus, naming the MBA for Executives (EMBA) — an exclusive and rigorous MBA curriculum designed for upper-level managers with an average of 10 years’ work experience — No. 1 in Houston and No. 19 overall in the U.S. “We have students from traditional Houston industries, such as energy and finance, and we also have students from the health care, legal and military sectors who


Other Recent Jones School Rankings • No. 4 for finance (Financial Times) • No. 5 for student assessment of career services (The Economist) • No. 8 among MBA for Professionals programs (Businessweek) • No. 8 for salary increase (Financial Times) • No. 9 for accountancy (Financial Times) • No. 15 for job placement three months after graduation (U.S. News & World Report) • No. 16 for faculty research productivity (Financial Times) See the Entrepreneur survey:

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Learn more about the Jones Graduate School of Business: › ››

Who Knew:

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are ready to build on their business and leadership skills,” said Lina Bell, director of the Rice EMBA program. “We work diligently to ensure that our students have an exemplary experience, and this ranking is a positive indication that our efforts are valued.” Princeton Review also weighed in — listing the Jones School at No. 6 for Best Professors in “The Best 300 Business Schools: 2011 Edition.” In determining the rankings, Princeton Review collected the opinions of more than 19,000 students at the best AACSB-accredited MBA programs in the world. Describing the Jones School as “prestigious, rigorous and well-rounded,” Princeton Review also noted that Rice has a strong focus on the energy industry and close ties to energy firms in Houston, and the school’s finance program is known throughout the South. And most recently, Bloomberg Businessweek listed the Jones School a top 30 MBA program and tabbed the school as one of the top 10 for its intellectual capital and faculty research. “The fact that student salaries are in the top 20,” said Jeff Fleming, senior associate dean for the Jones School, “provides a market-based measure of what corporate recruiters think of our program.” “Our mission has been to build a quality curriculum, taught by the best professors and entrepreneurs,” said William Glick, dean of the Jones School and the H.J. Nelson III Professor of Management. “We are confident that by adhering to this principle, the school will continue to be recognized not only by those familiar with the Jones School, but also by the larger community.” —Reported by Mary Lynn Fernau, Laura Hubbard, David Ruth and Jessica Stark



Recommendation Letters May Be Costing Women Jobs, Promotions

Randi Martin

If you’re a woman seeking employment, you might want to take a closer look at those letters of recommendation you’re sending in with your application and resume. They might be hurting your chances more than helping them. A comprehensive study by Rice psychology professors Michelle Hebl and Randi Martin and graduate student Juan Madera, now an assistant professor at the University of Houston, shows that qualities mentioned in recommendation letters for women differ sharply from those for men, and those differences may be costing women jobs and promotions in academia and medicine. The study was funded by the National Science Foundation. The researchers reviewed 624 letters of recommendation for 194 applicants for eight junior faculty positions at a U.S. university. They found that the letter writers conformed to traditional gender schemas when describing candidates. Female candidates were described in communal (social or emotive) terms such as affectionate, helpful, kind, sympathetic, nurturing, tactful and agreeable, and behaviors such as helping others, taking direction well and maintaining relationships were highlighted. Male candidates, on the other hand, were described in agentic (active or assertive) terms such as confident, aggressive, ambitious, dominant, forceful, independent, daring, outspoken and intellectual, and writers emphasized behaviors such as speaking assertively, influencing others and initiating tasks. A further aspect of the study involved rating the strength of the letters, or the likelihood the candidate would be hired based on the letter. The research team removed names and personal pronouns from the letters and asked faculty members to evaluate

them. The researchers controlled for such variables as the number of years candidates were in graduate school, the number of papers they had published, the number of publications on which they were the lead author, the number of honors they received, the number of years of postdoctoral education, the position applied for and the number of courses taught.

Subtle gender discrimination continues to be rampant. And it’s important to acknowledge this because you cannot remediate discrimination until you are first aware of it. —Michelle Hebl

“Communal characteristics mediate the relationship between gender and hiring decisions in academia, which suggests that gender norm stereotypes can influence hireability ratings of applicants,” said Martin, the Elma Schneider Professor of Psychology. “We found that being communal is not valued in academia, and the more communal characteristics mentioned, the lower the evaluation of the candidate.” A follow-up study funded by the National Institutes of Health is under way and includes applicants for faculty and research positions at medical schools. In the new study, enough applicants and positions

Michelle Hebl

will be included so that the researchers can use the actual decisions of search committees to determine the influence of letters’ communal and agentic terms in the hiring decisions. The “pipeline shortage of women” in academia is a well known and researched phenomenon, but this study is the first of its kind to examine the recommendation letter’s role in contributing to the disparity and evaluate it using inferential statistics and objective measures. It’s also the first study to show that gender differences in letters actually affect judgments of hireability. “This research not only has important implications for women in academia, but also for women in management and leadership roles,” said Hebl, professor of psychology and management. “A large body of research suggests that communality is not perceived to be congruent with leadership and managerial jobs.” The research team also noted that letter writers included more doubt raisers when recommending women, using phrases such as “She might make an excellent leader” versus what they used for male candidates, “He is already an established leader.” “Subtle gender discrimination continues to be rampant,” Hebl said. “And it’s important to acknowledge this because you cannot remediate discrimination until you are first aware of it. Our and other research shows that even small differences — and in our study, the seemingly innocuous choice of words — can act to create disparity over time and experiences.” The study, “Gender and Letters of Recommendation for Academia: Agentic and Communal Differences,” was published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Applied Psychology. —Jessica Stark

Rice Magazine

No. 8




A V2C Progress Report

Part 1

Four years ago, President David Leebron launched the Vision for the Second Century (V2C), a 10-point strategy for Rice’s growth and advancement as one of the premier research universities in the world. Today, as the university embarks on the countdown to its centennial, a lot has been accomplished under that plan that positions Rice well for its second hundred years.


he V2C was the result of an 18-month process, known as the Call to Conversation, of gathering information and ideas from across the Rice community. But it was very much grounded in founding President Edgar Odell Lovett’s vision of Rice as a great global institution of arts, sciences and letters. As Brockman Hall for Physics nears completion and the V2C moves from the student body growth and physical plant construction phase to the academic enhancement phase, this an opportune time to explore the V2C in action. In this issue we will cover the first three goals. We cannot cover every achievement of the past four years, but we want to highlight some of the major accomplishments that will serve Rice, and its many stakeholders, well into the future. Be sure to look in our upcoming issues for many of the other ways that the V2C is enhancing Rice. Goal 1: We must raise our research and scholarship profile. Although Rice is the second-smallest member of the Association of American Universities, an organization representing the nation’s 63 premier research universities, U.S. News & World Report has ranked Rice among the top 20 U.S. universities every year since it began its rankings in 1988, and this year, Times Higher Education magazine placed Rice among the top 50 universities worldwide. In recent years, Rice has regularly ranked among the top U.S. research universities in educational value for its students, faculty scholarly output, invention disclosures and patent portfolio, U.S. Department of Defense awards, and salary potential of its alumni.


Rankings are creatures of methodology and often cause heartburn in academic organizations. Nonetheless, Rice’s consistently high rankings show that it is gaining recognition for is research and scholarship, fostered by an interdisciplinary, entrepreneurial culture. When it comes to cutting-edge science and engineering, Rice’s contributions have led to worldwide revolutions in computing, nanoscale science and engineering, and most recently, biomedicine and biotechnology. The biosciences have been greatly enhanced by Rice’s many interactions with researchers at other member institutions of the Texas Medical Center (TMC) — interactions that will be further cultivated by the cooperative atmosphere within Rice’s new BioScience Research Collaborative, the largest building project in Rice’s history. This state-of-the-art research facility, located at the intersection of Rice and the Texas Medical Center, will strengthen the link between these world-renowned institutions and lead to discoveries that will help reinvent the world of health and medicine. In the humanities and social sciences, Rice continues to excel in a number of disciplines, including history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, economics and political science. We also are home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and more than 15 academic journals and book series, all of which focus international attention on Rice as a center of research and academic achievement. Sponsored research revenues are one of the more important indicators that Rice is recognized as one of the best research institutions in the country. Since the inception of the V2C, sponsored research revenues from industries, foundations, and

federal, state and local governments have increased from about $78 million to more than $130 million. Overall, faculty effort for sponsored projects has gone up approximately 37 percent since 2008, and proposal submissions went up 22 percent from 2008 to 2009 and are up an additional 39 percent to date in 2010. High-profile research in the sciences and engineering, of course, comprises the bulk of sponsored research awards, but researchers in the School of Social Sciences have brought in record-breaking grants to study local elections; Houstonians’ attitudes about the arts, education and health care; and the advanced placement exam scores as predictors of college success. Yet another measure of Rice’s growing research and scholarship profile is the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index released by Academic Analytics, which has called Rice the most productive research university in Texas and among the top 10 research universities in the country. And the Patent Scorecard has named Rice’s patent portfolio the most impactful among American research universities. Soon after the implementation of the V2C, Rice created the Office of Research, currently headed by Vice Provost for Research James Coleman, to oversee the growth of research at Rice and to manage the university’s $100,000,000 research enterprise. The role of the Office of Research is to facilitate the ability of Rice’s faculty to excel at research and to ensure that the broader Rice community understands the important role that research, creativity, innovation and scholarship play in generating the intellectual energy that makes Rice such a special place.


Goal 2: We must equip our students with the knowledge, skills and values to make a distinctive impact on the world. Rice’s undergraduate students come to campus well equipped to tackle the challenges of obtaining a degree in Rice’s demanding academic environment, and once here, they continue to excel. But academic excellence is only the outline of the portrait of a Rice student. What defi nes and gives life to the features is the intense interest that Rice students take in the well-being of the world and the people living in it. A perfect example is their exciting — and excited — participation in Rice 360º: Institute for Global Health Technologies, which was established in 2007 by Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering, in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative. This initiative engages students in a setting that nurtures awareness of human needs and provides the means for them to address those needs in practical ways. The student-created medical inventions coming out of the Rice 360º program are too numerous to detail but include a diagnostic Lab-in-a-Backpack; a handcranked blood centrifuge; a low-cost, lightweight portable microscope; and lowpower-consumption incubators and aerators for ill and premature infants. These devices and others outfit medical providers with essential equipment designed for use in remote and underdeveloped regions of the world. Since its establishment, Rice 360º has been institutionalized at Rice as a minor in global health technologies.

Closer to home, Rice students are some of the most eager participants in partnerships with Houston, particularly through the Center for Civic Engagement, a direct result of the V2C’s call for increased interaction with the city. The center coordinates a range of community activities through Leadership Rice, the Center for Civic Research and Design and the Community Involvement Center. Last year, more than 2,000 students logged in excess of 21,000 hours of community service with nearly 200 nonprofit partners throughout Houston and beyond. They participated in civic research and design courses, mentored in local K–12 schools, worked in homeless shelters, organized clothing and food drives, planted trees, worked in Houston-area museums and hospitals, and participated in cultural events and activities throughout the city. For all their unconventional efforts, they earned Rice a place on the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for service learning and civic engagement. Goal 3: We must strengthen our graduate and postdoctoral programs. Graduate students are key to both research and fostering the entry of new faculty into higher education, and this year, Rice has 2,272 of the world’s best. Demonstrating the university’s dedication to graduate education, in 2007, Rice appointed a dean to oversee graduate and postdoctoral studies and also recently added Ph.D. programs in sociology and art history. Both are the only doctoral programs in their fields in Houston.


In a recent assessment, the National Research Council, created in 1916 by the National Academy of Sciences, measured the quality and effectiveness of more than 5,000 doctoral programs at 212 American universities. The report did not rank the programs or schools in numerical order but instead placed doctoral programs in ranges that reflected the quality and effectiveness of the programs based on criteria seen as most important to faculty, students and administrators. Rice’s doctoral programs in history, bioengineering, political science, materials science and applied physics all scored in significantly high percentiles when compared with similar doctoral programs elsewhere, and other Rice doctoral programs also fared well. To better accommodate students in graduate programs, Rice has increased graduate student housing by almost 80 percent under the V2C. The Rice Village Apartments, located one block west of Rice, is a 137-unit garden-style complex that provides affordable, family-friendly housing for graduate students. The complex, which augments the 112-unit garden-style Rice Graduate Apartments just north of campus, is certified to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Be sure to look in the next issue as we continue our coverage of the ways that the V2C is helping Rice fulfill the promise of its first 100 years and grow into a new century of possibilities. Learn more about the Vision for the Second Century: › › ›

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Out of the


Some rural Moroccans have to trek for miles every day because their arid environment doesn’t provide enough drinking water. Or does it? Six Rice students with the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy’s Energy Forum spent a month in the Boutmezguida region of southern Morocco to help with a project that harvests potable water from the fog that envelops parts of the Atlas Mountains. The students were joined by Amy Myers Jaffe, a fellow in energy studies at the Baker Institute and associate director of the Rice Energy Program; Ronald Soligo, professor of economics; and Eugenia Georges, professor and chair of anthropology. The project, developed by the Dar Si Hmad Foundation in Sidi Ifni, Morocco, utilizes a polyethylene mesh to capture tiny droplets of water that then drip into collecting tubes that lead to a storage tank at the bottom of the mountain. The sustainable project could theoretically provide clean, safe water for people in the area. Rice’s involvement in the project began this past spring in Integrated Approaches to Sustainable Development, a class taught by Jaffe. “One of the guest lecturers was Jamila Bargach, the founder of the Dar Si Hmad Foundation,” said Kevin Liu ’10, who now works as a research associate at the Energy Forum. “She told us about an opportunity to go to Morocco to work with fog nets in water-poor areas. The goal of the trip was to expose students to applying sustainable techniques learned from a course to real-world problems in developing countries.” Bargach graduated from Rice in 1998 with a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology. She started her nonprofit foundation to improve the quality of life for some of the more impoverished communities in and around Ifni. In addition to Liu, other Rice participants were junior John Michael Nosek, junior Rebecca Jaffe, senior Marilu Corona, junior Alexandra Ernst, — Kevin Liu senior Noemie Levy and Joyce Yao ’10. Although the nets cannot supply enough water for a metropolitan area, they can make a real difference for rural families. At a cost of

“The goal of the trip was to expose students to applying sustainable techniques learned from a course to realworld problems in developing countries.”

roughly $1,000 to $1,500 to cover materials and maintenance for an average 10-year life span, they can provide anywhere from 200 to 1,000 liters of water per day for a village. The students also looked into the possibility of harvesting water that accumulated on trees by spreading tarps on the ground beneath them. The idea stemmed from observing indicators of water accumulation on the vegetation, which acts as a natural fog collector. The Rice students’ mission included conducting background research on the project, completing the calculations for the designs and locations of the nets, and developing the required infrastructure for a future Rice group to finish the project next summer. “Determining the location to position the nets will be especially important for maximizing the efficiency of the nets in regard to the orientation, frequency of fog, and wind speed and direction,” Liu said. “The region also could benefit from a comprehensive survey of natural groundwater patterns created by the fog.” “The challenges of both the science and engineering and cultural implementation are large, and the predestined conditions of geography and nature are hard to overcome,” Jaffe wrote on the Baker Institute’s blog in the Houston Chronicle. A principal lesson of the Morocco experience, she added, is that “the solutions to such problems are not global at all. They are community-specific and require a deep knowledge of cultural, geographic and socio-political conditions.” Liu echoed Jaffe’s conclusion: “Although we may think we know what is best for other countries, it is impossible for us to put ourselves in their shoes. A comprehensive survey needs to be done before any construction begins so we can get a feel for the situation. If you just go and build without understanding the culture and the relationships of the locals — and what is socially acceptable — you could do more harm than good.” —Franz Brotzen



History Meets Science at Historic Texas Cemetery The physical sciences crossed paths with Texas’ cultural history when a group of Rice University graduate students took the latest tools of geophysical science into a remote field at Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) to search for unmarked graves in one of Texas’ few known slave cemeteries. “They are finding graves that we did not know existed,” said Akel Kahera, associate professor of architecture at PVAMU and director of the Texas Institute for the Preservation of History and Culture. “And the beautiful thing about this equipment is that it can give us a reading of the location of these graves, and then we can do further research to try to identify who the people are who may have been buried in these locations.” This is the third year that Kahera has teamed with the students and instructors from Rice’s Earth Science 515 course to search for unmarked graves in and around the Wyatt Chapel Cemetery on the northern portion of the Prairie View campus. Prairie View, the second-oldest public institution of higher learning in Texas, was founded in 1876 on 1,000 acres of land that had been part of Alta Vista, one of Texas’ largest pre-Civil War plantations. Though there are no written records of a slave burial ground for Alta Vista, oral histories and a few old headstones suggest that the area around the present-day Wyatt Chapel Cemetery served as the slave burial ground for both Alta Vista and Liendo, another large plantation nearby. The students use ground-penetrating radar, GPS and high-tech survey instruments to catalog and map suspected graves. They then use the data to create a sophisticated map that PVAMU researchers can augment with archival and historical data. One of the course instructors, Dale Sawyer, professor of Earth science at Rice, said investigating the geology and geography of the area can help reveal clues about the cemetery’s history. “We’re inter—Akel Kahera ested in the geology and the depth of the clay here to tell us something about where we expect burials to be,” Sawyer said. A dense layer of clay lies about three feet below the sand in the area, and because the clay is so difficult to dig by hand, most burials were no deeper than 2 to 3 feet. The course’s lead instructor, Davin Wallace, postdoctoral research associate in Earth science at Rice, said the ground-penetrating radar lets the students see unusual features down to about 10 feet. While the radar doesn’t give a photographic image of what’s beneath the surface, a burial returns a signal that is different from features such as tree roots or buried stumps. When a suspected grave is located, GPS is used to get a rough fix on the location, and flags are placed for follow-up surveys with state-of-the-art laser-ranging devices. Kahera said the work of the Rice team is vitally important in the documentation of the history of Wyatt Chapel Cemetery. “We love this partnership,” he said, “and I hope we can continue it.” Sawyer, Kahera and Wallace all credited Alison Henning, a former lecturer in Earth science, for much of the program’s success. Henning founded and led the program at Rice during its first three years.

“The beautiful thing about this equipment is that it can give us a reading of the location of these graves, and then we can do further research to try to identify who the people are who may have been buried in these locations.”

Ground-penetrating radar can identify unmarked burial sites. From left, graduate student Becky Minzoni, postdoctoral research associate Davin Wallace and Professor Dale Sawyer, review radar results.

—Jade Boyd

Watch a video clip of the radar survey: › ››

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Gateway to the Real World After spending more than a decade learning spoken and written Chinese, Chris Chan thought he was ready for a summer in China. Throughout his life, he had taken many trips to visit family in Hong Kong and kept abreast of happenings in mainland China. He knew he’d face some unexpected challenges as he interned at the World Expo in Shanghai, but he felt fortunate to be traveling to a place in which he could assimilate quickly and well.

D.C. or Houston under the Summer Fellows program, the newest of Gateway’s four programs. The program offers stipends for social sciences undergraduates who identify unique uncompensated summer internships in the U.S. or abroad to gain firsthand experience working full time while they build rapport with accomplished alumni and interview leaders to discover the source of inspiration behind their achievements. For McMurtry College senior Enstin Ye, the summer fellowship was a glimpse into the future. “I have had the chance to see every aspect of inpatient psychiatry patient care: interacting with patients, attending group activities and family meetings, and working on behind-the-scenes social work tasks,” she said of her internship with Bellevue Hospital Center in New York. “This has been a truly eye-opening experience, and I am seriously considering becoming a psychiatrist.” Under Gateway’s International Ambassador program, students receive a stipend, get guidance in making contacts and conducting interviews, prepare reports, and make presentations upon their return. The Social Sciences Undergraduate Research Enterprise program funds independent research projects for students and provides course credit. In the past year of the program, students explored the role of physicians in genetic testing, studied survey methods of school bond elections, learned about subprime mortgages and looked at regional subcultures of the United States.

Chris Chan celebrates his Gateway Summer Fellowship at Mount Hua, one of the five sacred mountains of China. “As it turned out, the real China was the biggest surprise,” Chan said. “So much of my experience in Shanghai was characterized by learning and new experiences — from acclimating to an international work environment to traveling by myself across China.” As a summer fellow through the School of Social Sciences Gateway program, Chan spent his summer in Shanghai getting a taste of the real world by interviewing business and government leaders there. The Jones College junior learned from J. P. Lopez ’96, human resources manager at Disney Publishing; Gregory Pfleger Jr. ’00, a foreign service officer; Wang Qun, vice chairman of Yum! Brands China; and Jose Villarreal, commissioner general of USA Pavilion. “Every story is unique, and each persona has an individual set of ideals, beliefs and advice,” Chan said, “but there was a common lesson in each story: The world as we know it is shrinking, and the global future is bound together.”


The program offers social sciences majors the opportunity to explore career paths now so they can transition more easily out of academic life. Befitting of its name, the program acts as a gateway from student life to the real world. That realization about the real world is just what the Gateway Program intends for its students. The program offers social sciences majors the opportunity to explore career paths now so they can transition more easily out of academic life. Befitting of its name, the program acts as a gateway from student life to the real world. “On the flight back to Houston after almost four months abroad, I knew I was a changed person,” Chan said. “I returned with hopes of sharing my experiences — the seeds of creating my own future — and eventually, changing the world.” Chan was one of six students who spent their summers in China, New York,

The final prong of the Gateway program is the social sciences internship, in which students earn course credit while working at businesses, hospitals and government agencies, both in the United States and abroad. Rice students have recently interned with such companies and nonprofits as NBC Universal, American Civil Liberties Union, Merrill Lynch and the Children’s Assessment Center. —Jessica Stark

Learn more about the Gateway Program: ›› ›


Compact Microscope a Marvel A compact microscope invented at Rice University may be small, but its scope is macro. Andrew Miller ’09,, working with Rice 360º: Institute for Global Health Technologies, created the 2.5-pound instrument, dubbed the Global Focus microscope, as his senior design project. His goal was to make an inexpensive, portable and highly capable microscope that could be used in clinics in developing countries that have limited access to lab equipment and lack electricity. Miller’s first model was built from off-theshelf parts and encased in a rugged plastic shell that he created with a 3-D printer at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK). Light to power the 1,000-times magnification microscope comes from a top-mounted LED flashlight. He has since replaced the microscope’s plastic casing with aluminum for better stability. In tests, the portable, battery-operated fluorescence microscope, which costs $240, stacks up nicely against devices that retail for as much as $40,000 in diagnosing signs of tuberculosis. Miller and colleagues at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute (TMHRI) analyzed samples from 19 patients suspected of having TB, an infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs and can be fatal if not treated. The Global Focus microscope performed just as well as the lab’s reference-standard fluorescence microscope. The team reported similar findings were obtained in 98.4 percent of the samples tested. The research was published online in the journal PloS ONE. The Global Focus microscope won this year’s Hershel M. Rich Invention Award, which is presented annually by Rice Engineering Alumni to a Rice faculty member or student who has developed an original invention. It was the first undergraduate project to win the award. Miller, who graduated from Rice with a degree in bioengineering, works as a medical device designer for Thoratec, a San Francisco company that makes ventricular assist devices. Part time, he continues working to commercialize the microscope in a

Andrew Miller

In tests, the portable, battery-operated fluorescence microscope, which costs $240, stacks up nicely against devices that retail for as much as $40,000 in diagnosing signs of tuberculosis.

way that will ensure its cost remains low for users in developing countries. He and Rice have contracted with a medical device consultant, 3rd Stone Design, to produce 20 microscopes that are currently undergoing field-tests. Co-authors of the paper include Rice alum Gregory Davis ’09; Maria Oden, professor in the practice of engineering at Rice and director of the OEDK; Mark Pierce, a research scientist and lecturer in bioengineering at Rice; Randall Olsen, a Methodist Hospital pathologist and TMHRI scientist; and Mohamad Razavi, Abolfazl Fateh, Morteza Ghazanfari, Farid Abdolrahimi, Shahin Pourazar and Fatemeh Sakhaee of the Pasteur Institute of Iran. The program was supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Precollege and Undergraduate Science Education Program. —Mike Williams

Read the paper: ›› › Learn more about Rice 360º: Institute for Global Health Technologies ›› › Who Knew: ›› ›

Rice Magazine

No. 8





Reflections on Rice’s Past and Future By David W. Leebron

On October 12, we officially launched a countdown to Rice University’s 100th anniversary celebration that will culminate on October 12, 2012. This leads to two broad questions: What’s the importance of a university centennial, and what are the principle things that characterize Rice’s near century of history?


some ways, the 100-year milestone marks Rice becoming a mature university, even though we are one of the youngest members of the Association of American Universities. To put this in some perspective, this past summer I visited the University of Leipzig shortly after it celebrated its 600th anniversary. The University of Bologna was founded 922 years ago. Although Rice has changed constantly during its comparatively brief history, after nearly a century it also has established its own strong sense of identity. We are a small university not because we were founded to be small (we weren’t) or because we haven’t had time to grow (we have). Rather, we choose to be comparatively small because that has become an important part of our identity, distinctiveness and success. Similarly, our distinctive commitment to undergraduate education is not a mere reflection of our youth, but an essential

be understandable, such as the end of free tuition in the 1960s. During our history, we have reached many forks in the road. In the 1960s and even later, we might have chosen to become primarily a university for science and engineering. That is certainly where our early strengths lay. But instead, we embarked upon a path to become an ever more wide-ranging university offering a broad array of academic disciplines. Our School of Social Sciences, and its increasing importance not only to the university but to the city of Houston, reflects the lasting impact of that decision. More students today major in the social sciences than in any other school. Our faculty is deeply engaged with a range of questions that span the local to the international. They study the details of city life and race relations and build theoretical models of political systems both here in the United States and abroad. They seek to understand the workings of ancient societies

Our student body has changed enormously, from one in which nearly all the students were white and from Texas to one in which there is no majority ethnic or racial group and that hails from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. and I dare say immutable part of our values — the values that have taken hold and guided us even as the Rice Institute evolved into the very different university that is the Rice of today. And yet, that gelling of identity ought not be taken to mean we are done changing and growing — and here I do not mean in the sense of numbers of students. Insofar as a university is about both the creation and dissemination of knowledge, it can no more succeed by simply staying the same than can any other enterprise in our competitive, ever-changing world. So a century mark is a time to pause, to take note of what we have become, achieved and contributed, and then to turn our attention to the future and contemplate how best to achieve our evolving aspirations. Just try to imagine Rice without the changes of, say, the last third of a century or so. That would mean no separate School of Social Sciences, no Jones Graduate School of Business, no Shepherd School of Music, no Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, no Department of Bioengineering, and little diversity in our student body or faculty. Our student body has changed enormously, from one in which nearly all the students were white and from Texas to one in which there is no majority ethnic or racial group and that hails from all 50 states and more than 80 countries. Of course, there are some things that have changed for which a sense of regret may


as well as the future of our own. Our students pursue their own research in the social sciences literally all around the globe. In this issue we announce the formation of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, which should help propel to greater achievement not only the social sciences at Rice, but also multiple other schools and departments whose professors also work on urban problems. It will be an invaluable resource for the city of Houston and, equally, a link between Rice and the great urban centers of the world. Thirty years of experience in researching the city of Houston through the Houston Area Survey will now benefit, and benefit from, the study of other global cities. A century ago Rice was envisioned to be an intellectual beacon for Houston. I cannot overstate my gratitude to Rich and Nancy Kinder for their vision and generosity in making possible this new venture in support of the vital relationship between our university and its home city. This is in fact the kind of exciting new enterprise that has characterized 98 years of distinguished history at Rice. I am confident that many more such advancements lie ahead. So, when we gather together two years from now for the Centennial Celebration, we will observe not only the achievements that lie behind us, but the new heights that are to come.

Town Hall Launches Countdown to 2012 Centennial Celebration A festive mood complemented President David Leebron’s optimistic outlook for the university as he assessed Rice’s past, present and future at a town hall held on Rice Day — the anniversary of the university’s formal dedication Oct. 12, 1912. “We’re in good shape,” Leebron said as he focused on Rice’s financial situation, contributions to society, community, campus and upcoming Centennial Celebration, and we’ve reached a point in the Vision for the Second Century where we have achieved most of our infrastructure and expansion goals.” On the revenue front, Leebron noted that the endowment has risen in value and that the Centennial Campaign is two-thirds of the way toward its $1 billion goal. (See “Centennial Campaign” on Page 3.) About one-fourth of the money raised for the campaign has gone toward new buildings and the physical plant. “All of that construction,” Leebron said, “has been on time and on or under budget.” Support for the Rice Annual Fund dropped somewhat this year, but Leebron expressed hope that the campaign goal of raising an annual amount of $8.2 million for the Annual Fund by fiscal year 2013 will be reached. “The Annual Fund is an increasingly important source of revenue,” he said, “because it supports scholarships and student life.” Although the 30 percent expansion of the undergraduate student body and an increase in tuition have yielded an increase in undergraduate tuition revenue since fiscal year 2005, Rice also increased funding for financial aid when the economic slump created more need. “We take a lot of pride in the economic diversity of our students,” Leebron said. “We remain need-blind and committed to educational opportunities for students regardless of financial need.” Rice’s revenues did get a boost from sponsored research, which was up more than 12 percent to $98.5 million in FY10. Stimulus funding accounted for $6.7 million. “This dramatic increase reflects what our faculty are able to accomplish,” Leebron said, “and what our research contributes to the world.” Leebron spoke at length about the contributions that Rice makes to the education of outstanding students and to the

betterment of our world, and he cited the 25th anniversary of the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the buckyball at Rice. That remarkable achievement has had an impact on everything from cancer treatments to energy to manufacturing and continues to symbolize Rice’s capacity to change the world. Another example is the Houston Area Survey, the nation’s longest-running in-depth study of any metropolitan area in the United States. Leebron also noted the extraordinary research contributions of Rice students, whose low-cost portable microscope and salad spinner centrifuge, for example, enable delivery of better health care to the poorest regions of the world. Leebron commended the efforts of the Rice Art Committee to increase campus vibrancy and beauty with new art pieces gracing the BioScience Research Collaborative, Raymond and Susan Brochstein Pavilion, and other Rice buildings and open spaces. With $800 million in board-approved construction projects nearly completed, an entering class size that is now 30 percent larger than in 2004, broader engagement with the city of Houston, an enhanced research mission and a larger international presence, Leebron said Rice can take pride in having achieved many of its V2C goals. He said that Rice will move forward with three new initiatives identified by the faculty: bioscience and human health, energy and the environment, and international programs. (See “Provost Appoints Task Forces for Three New Initiatives,” Page ??.) “The best is yet to come,” Leebron said, and although he may have been speaking in general terms about the university’s future, he also meant right then, in the here and now. Even before his final words echoed through the hall, the MOB, accompanied by cheerleaders and Sammy the Owl, made a surprise appearance onstage, performing their trademark “Louie, Louie,” to help launch the official countdown to the university’s 2012 Centennial Celebration. Shepherd School graduate students Alex Pride and Jeff Northman performed a special trumpet fanfare composed for the occasion by Marie Speziale, professor of trumpet and chair of brass, and the cheerleaders led the audience in a “10, 9, 8 …” countdown that ended with “Celebrate Rice!” They then tossed centennial T-shirts into the crowd, and the MOB took over the stage and had the crowd dancing while blue and gray balloons displaying the centennial mark rained from above.

Learn more and see a slideshow of the Centennial Celebration kickoff: › › › Rice Magazine

No. 8




Science “Belief in God is a mistake, an impoverished view of the world. Faith is a delusion.” —Richard Dawkins Evolutionary biologist and author of “The God Delusion”1

“If God brought about our existence for a purpose, then the most important kind of knowledge to have is knowledge of God and of what He intends for us. Is creation in that broad sense consistent with evolution? The answer is absolutely not.”

—Phillip E. Johnson Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law, Emeritus, the University of California at Berkeley and author of “Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds”2



Religion BY L I N DA DAY

Is Dialog Possible?


xtreme views always make the best headlines and sound bites, and judging by the popular media, the chasm between science and religion seems broad and deep. Is constructive dialog possible across the gap? Can we bridge it? Or should we just leave things as they stand and accept that the differences between science and religion are impossible to reconcile? That last question might seem expedient, but it comes at a cost, as Rice Assistant Professor of Sociology Elaine Howard Ecklund makes clear in her new book, “Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think.”

Ecklund, who also is director of the Program on Religion and Public Life at the Institute for Urban Research, is something of an academic Clark Kent. Unassuming, mild mannered, friendly and a person who laughs easily, she’s not the obvious person to charge into an often vicious fray that has divided American society for a century. She grew up in a conservative religious family in upstate New York, and she ultimately found her way to a Ph.D. in sociology. Later, being “a bit of an entrepreneur,” she cornered a grant to study religion and science,

and that funding became a booster rocket for her career. After five years of dogged, systematic study in a metaphorical research phone booth, Ecklund has emerged with a fistful of impeccable data, the desire to help heal a wound in American life and the SuperCharm to get it done. She negotiates deftly between dense scholarly articles and engaging opeds, and she talks about science and religion in a way that informs without inflaming. That alone may rank with leaping tall buildings in a single bound.


“It’s unfortunate that the extremes on both sides get the most media play,” Ecklund said. “The public ends up thinking everyone who’s a scientist is a rabid atheist. Of course there certainly are atheists in science, but I can count on fewer than the fingers of one hand the number of scientists I’ve interviewed at top universities who have the same kind of views Richard Dawkins has.” On the other hand, scientists often think that every religious person is a fundamentalist completely against science. “I know from broader studies of religion in American society that that’s not the case either,” she said. “That’s the benefit of doing research — you get an actual insight into what’s really happening in a variety of ways, systematically, rather than just listening to the voices that pop to the top of our culture.” Of course, there is a very real ground of discord; Ecklund notes that about 40 percent of Americans believe that creationist accounts of Earth origins should be taught in public schools instead of evolution, and 65 percent think that both should be taught side by side. In comparison, nearly all of the scientists she surveyed think that evolution is the best explanation for development of life on Earth. But are all of these scientists “rabid atheists?”

Rice Magazine

No. 8



In 2005, Ecklund set out to discover the facts. She surveyed 2,198 randomly selected science faculty members from 21 top-ranked U.S. research universities. Her personalized letter, a $15 “guilt incentive” and determined follow-through induced an amazing 75 percent response rate. Ecklund then requested interviews with more than a third of those 1,646 scientists and connected with 275. “Everything about the interview process was transformational for me,” she says. “It turned my own stereotypes on their heads.” Forty-nine percent of the scientists in her survey have some religious affiliation — mostly Jewish, mainline Protestant or Catholic. Only 2 percent are Evangelical Protestant, compared to 28 percent of the U.S. population. More surprising, only 34 percent state, “I do not believe in God,” and only a very few of these atheists could be called “Richard Dawkinsian.” “The data from talking to scientists have been so compelling,” Ecklund said. “Scientists employ religion in a variety of ways. Even the most secular are thinking about ethical issues in religious frameworks and trying to figure out how to engage religious students in the classroom. And some

“Scientists employ religion in a variety of ways. Even the most secular are thinking about ethical issues in religious frameworks and trying to figure out how to engage religious students in the classroom.” —Elaine Howard Ecklund

scientists are very religious — in different ways, probably, than many of the general public — but very religious. They employ many kinds of narratives. Some practice religion in conventional ways, and many are developing their own sense of spirituality outside of religious institutions.” She did find scientists who think that science is the totality of knowledge and that if it’s not in science it’s either not real, or it’s not worth thinking about. “I think that is an extreme view,” Ecklund said. “There is a whole range of scientists who think there are other compelling ideas about the world and knowledge and meaning that science doesn’t have any access to, and that these other ways of looking at the world are almost equally as important. You can be a


great scientist with any of those views.” One of Ecklund’s fascinating discoveries is that although many scientists are religious — in one sense or another — many of them also buy into the public’s stereotype that scientists are all atheists. This often leaves religious scientists stuck in the closet. THE COST OF SILENCE

In addition to accepting the stereotype that all scientists are atheists, scientists also tend to believe that the public hates and fears science. “Some religious people do have very negative views,” Ecklund admitted, “but this is all the more reason that scientists should figure out ways of having

intelligent dialog with them. If the situation is as extreme as many of us think it is, that’s all the more reason to be concerned.” Ecklund sees the lack of dialog causing potentially dire consequences for both education and funding. “I don’t mean to be too crass and practical,” she said, laughing, “but if parents worry their kids will lose their faith if they go into higher education, and that worry keeps kids away from science, that is hugely problematic. We know from studies that the more science training kids get, the better they do — better jobs, better earning prospects, better life in general. It’s pretty detrimental to kids’ chances if we prevent them from getting a good science background. So if there are scientists out there who have found ways to reconcile science and religion, then a kind of model should be offered to kids so they can see it as a good thing to learn science. For some kids, scientists could provide a spiritual or religious motivation to learn more about the world.” Ecklund pointed out that, in terms of funding, some areas of science are dominated by government grants, and advancement in these areas can be problematic if the general public does not support the research. “It’s hugely important to have funding for basic research,” she said, “because we’re always discovering things that will have enormous application and societal benefit down the road.” So, given that there is a habitable valley between the stereotypical extremes and that finding our way into this valley is extremely important, how do we do it? How do we create a productive dialog in place of the rants that currently dominate the sound bites? Ecklund would say that the first step is to shatter the myths that our stereotypes have created. This is where she trades her scholar’s hood for SuperCharm’s cape, and emerges from the academic phone booth to bring her data to the public. SHATTERING MYTHS

The last chapter of Ecklund’s book recounts the myths behind the sound bites; for example, religious people may think: • There are no religious scientists; they’re all atheists. The reality is that only 34 percent are. • Atheists are always hostile to religion. Not true. Even “atheist” scientists may be intensely spiritual. Many atheists belong to religious communities, and most have no desire to denigrate religion or religious people. • Science is a major cause of unbelief. Nope. “Scientists are just fundamentally

One of Ecklund’s fascinating discoveries is that although many scientists are religious — in one sense or another — many of them also buy into the public’s stereotype that scientists are all atheists. This often leaves religious scientists stuck in the closet. inquisitive people,” Ecklund said. “If they lost their faith, it was much earlier than the scientific training, often because their religious communities were just not open to inquisitive kids. People who care about kids keeping their faith need to be more open to asking difficult questions of their faith.” • Then, of course, there are myths that scientists believe: • Ignore religion, and it will go away. Ouch. There are 14 times more evangelicals in the general population than among top scientists, and they are not going away. More than 50 percent of Americans agree that “we depend too much on science and not enough on faith” and that “scientific research these days doesn’t pay enough attention to the moral values of society.” One survey shows that nearly 25 percent of the American public thinks that scientists are hostile to religion. Scientists must find a way to engage this group. • All religion is fundamentalism, and fundamentalists are ignorant. Actually, religious people have as much education as nonreligious people. Scientists should be concerned about how the religious backgrounds of their students affect their attitudes in school. • All evangelical Christians are against science. Evangelicalism, sometimes confused with fundamentalism, is not as detrimental to gaining scientific knowledge as many have thought, and evangelicals now graduate from college at the same rate as other Americans. Ecklund notes that forward-thinking scientists and educators are finding ways to address the science–vs.– religion divide through special programs for secondary teachers, undergraduates and graduate students.


After myth shattering, what? “I have an idea that could involve different kinds of communicators,” Ecklund said. “Scientists, humanists, journalists with science backgrounds and many others could come together in something we might call a Public Science Project. There could be many kinds of conversations. You can’t just ask the scientists to solve the problem — they’re going to say, ‘I have 75 research grants to write and a lab to run, and you want me to teach Sunday school?’” Yet, she argues, we have to cultivate a broad desire to address the issue, and we have to think strategically about appropriate roles that people can play. Scientists who value religion and spirituality have a special responsibility to marshal their resources to help the believing American public understand that religion and science do not have to be in conflict. Both science and religion are at stake if any less is done. Ecklund said that no university she’s visited compares to Rice in terms of desire to reach out to the public. “Rice could do this in a way that others can’t,” she said. “We could potentially be a model for other universities and for public discourse in general.” Notes 1 From the video promoting Richard Dawkin’s book “The God Delusion”: 2 From Web page “What is Darwinism?”:

Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think In “Science vs. Religion: What Scientists Really Think” (Oxford University Press, 2010), Elaine Howard Ecklund has set herself a tough task: to present an impeccable collection of revelatory data — the results of a survey of 1,646 top scientists and interviews with 275 of them — in a way that maintains scholarly credibility while also appealing to the general public. She certainly succeeds, opening the doors of dialog about an issue of vital importance to our nation’s future. You will find this book consistently readable, engrossing — and enlightening. The data is here, and Ecklund brings it to life by interweaving scientists’ personal stories, while her own deep humanism shines throughout the work. The book starts by looking at the real religious lives of scientists: the voice of science, the voice of faith and what Ecklund calls “spiritual entrepreneurship.” She then takes up the relationship between science, religion and society: suppression vs. engagement, “God on the Quad” and what scientists are doing wrong that they could be doing right. She closes with a chapter about shattering myths and opening paths for dialog. Appendices and notes cover the details of the survey/interview process, and an extensive bibliography offers additional resources.

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Be Counted and Count By Christopher Dow

Once a decade, the United States Census Bureau asks all Americans to stand up and be counted. It’s a task that takes an entire year, and the accuracy of that count affects the lives of everyone in the country.


you want to know about the U.S. census, there are few who can tell you more than Steve Murdock, Rice’s Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas, which generates objective analysis of key social and public policy issues that impact Texas and other parts of the United States. Aside from knowing interesting tidbits about the census, such as the fact that Thomas Jefferson was the first director of the Census Bureau and that the census is the U.S.’s largest peacetime operation in terms of employment, Murdock understands how the census works, what the data mean and why the findings are important. Some of that comes from nearly four decades of working with census data, but it also stems from his service as the director of the U.S. Census Bureau from Jan. 4, 2008, to Jan. 9, 2009. He also has served as the state demographer for Texas and as director of the Texas State Data Center. As director of the Census Bureau, Murdock was involved in the lead-up to the 2010 census. “When you’re going to count all Americans — about 134 million households totaling about 385 million individuals — it’s a pretty big enterprise,” he said. “In every place, there are unique issues to deal with.” For example, the census begins in January in Alaska because the bureau has to get a count of the native peoples before the ice starts to break up and they go out hunting. This year, the Census Bureau employed nearly a million people during two major phases. The first is what’s called the Master Address File. “The census is really a


census of households, from which you get individuals,” Murdock said. “The starting point is collecting every single address in America because the addresses are where the forms are sent.” When the mapping process is complete, the mailing of the questionnaire takes place. The next, and even larger process is called Non-response Follow-up. “If they’ve sent you a couple of questionnaires without response, they’ll go out and try to find you,” Murdock said. “They’ll go to each address up to six times, and if they still haven’t been able to contact you, they will go to your neighbors to get as much information as they can. At a minimum, they want the numbers of residents, but some of the other data, such as ages, race and ethnicity, isn’t always valid since the neighbors might not know.” Although the census occurs only once a decade, the Census Bureau does not remain fallow in the intervening time: It employs 14 to 16 thousand people who collect data every year, all year long. “The Census Bureau collects and publishes about 60 percent of all the data published by the federal government,” Murdock said. “Housing starts, foreign trade, balance of payment, information on government agencies such as Housing and Urban Development and the National Institutes of Health — all the data you see on the evening news are collected by the Census Bureau. It’s clearly the dominant census data collection in the world, and in fact, people from all over the world come to the Census Bureau to learn about our procedures of data collection.” Longevity might be one reason the Census Bureau is so successful. “It’s the oldest continuous census, although there were censuses before ours in Europe and England that were sporadic,” Murdock said. “Our census is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which requires that the census collect data for all persons residing in the United States. It doesn’t say anything about citizenship. So the census has an obligation to count everybody, and it’s good that it does, because if it distinguished by status, it would be much more difficult.” Indeed, every time the census is done, there is trepidation among illegal aliens that the bureau will reveal that they’re here illegally. To count people who are hesitant to participate, the Census Bureau employs people who are from local communities and can convince holdouts that its safe to fill out the forms. “It’s one thing to have somebody come along and say, ‘I’m from the U.S. Government, trust me,’” Murdock said. “It’s another thing to have your neighbor come and ask you to cooperate.”

“When you’re going to count all Americans — about 134 million households totaling about 385 million individuals — it’s a pretty big enterprise.” —Steve Murdock

And getting counted is important because each person counted is worth about $1,400 annually in federal funding to a local jurisdiction. “Being counted is not just a nicety for statisticians,” Murdock said. “It’s very important for communities in terms of having the resources they need to run their governments.” And governmental agencies aren’t the only consumers of census data. Users in the private sector far outnumber those in the government. The data is employed for everything from deciding where to site convenience stores, fast food restaurants and hospitals to determining what types of products might do well in different areas. In 2000, all this counting and follow-up resulted in an astounding response rate of 99.5 percent. “For most surveys, a 95 percent response rate is considered excellent,” Murdock said. “For the census, that same number would be a dismal failure because those who are missed are not distributed equally across groups. Historically, minorities — particularly African-Americans and Hispanics — are likely to be missed. If you’re at more than 98 percent, that’s a pretty good census.” Murdock believes that the current census will show a gain in the United States of 26 to 27 million people, of which 5 million will be non-Hispanic whites and Anglos, about 13 million Hispanic and the rest African-American and Asian. “This will be the most diverse population growth in our history,” he said. “The Census Bureau projects that, by 2023, more than half the children in America will be non-Anglo. Growth and diversity go hand-in-hand.” While immigration is responsible for some

of the expansion, two of every three people added to the U.S. population are from natural increases due to birth and death rates. Congress is very sensitive to the accuracy of the census because it is critical in apportioning each state’s number of seats in the House of Representatives. “Texas will probably see an increase of about 4 million people after the current census and will get three or four seats in the House,”

“You can basically take every census question and you will find somebody at the bureau who has spent his or her professional life on that question — on how to ask it, how to answer it, how to characterize it, how to place it.” —Steve Murdock

Murdock said. “It’s a continuation of the population shifts we saw during the last century from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West. In 1900, 62 percent of the population lived in the Northeast and Midwest and 38 percent lived in the South and West. By 2000, 58 percent lived in the South and West and 42 percent lived in the Northeast and Midwest.” Another reason for the success of the census is the attention paid to the

questionnaire. Every item on the form comes from the need to assist some government agency, such as Social Security, Housing and Urban Development or highway planning. “You can basically take every census question,” Murdock said, “and you will find somebody at the bureau who has spent his or her professional life on that question — on how to ask it, how to answer it, how to characterize it, how to place it.” The Census Bureau will test not only alternative forms of the questions and orders of questions, but also their physical presentation. “A good example is that, one year, the question on race was asked before the question on ethnicity, and the results showed very clearly that you had more complete results if you put the question in the reverse order,” Murdock said. “Every question is tested as thoroughly as possible to ensure that we get as complete and accurate information as possible. As soon as the current census is done, they’ll test to see which questions did well because sometimes a question that does well on one survey doesn’t do well 10 years later due to changes in perceptions, cultures and so forth.” There is one dominant reason that the U.S. census stands far above the others, however. “No other country has a better census than ours because it is entirely dependent on and enjoys the cooperation and confidence of the American people,” Murdock said. “Every census director is pleased that the public is very cooperative and understands the importance of being counted.”

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Understanding Cities of Tomorrow




As America transforms into one of the most urbanized nations on Earth, it is more important than ever to study the phenomenon of urbanization to understand what makes up the modern city, how it develops and how best to channel its diverse and sometimes divergent energies in coherent, purposeful directions. 28


hat is the premise of Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. Cities have choices as they consider how to grow into the future, and, to choose wisely, their leaders need to stay ahead of the economic and demographic trends and understand the changing attitudes and concerns of the public. “Cities around the world face similar issues,” said Michael Emerson, institute co-director and the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology. “Part of our goal is to develop comparative studies of Houston and other cities to see what they have in common and what things make them unique.” He and co-director Stephen Klineberg, professor of sociology, believe that Houston, as an emerging global city, is the

ideal laboratory for studying how cities around the world deal with the multitude of issues raised by their transitions from regional or national hubs to centers of international importance. “Houston is about three years ahead of Texas and about 30 years ahead of the United States,” Klineberg said. “It’s where America’s future is taking place today and where America’s future is going to be worked out.” The directors are equally committed to having Rice recognized as the premier place in the country to study global urbanism. The university already combines targeted research and interdisciplinary cooperation with its own emerging global reach, particularly in Asia and Latin America, and the institute’s programs will be aided further

by Rice’s new Ph.D. program in sociology — the only such program among Houston universities. Genesis The institute, originally called the Institute for Urban Research, is the result of the melding last February of two centers within the School of Social Sciences. One was the Urban Research Center, home to the Houston Area Survey (HAS), which was created by Klineberg 30 years ago this coming spring and is the most continuous in-depth survey of any urban area in the U.S. The second was the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life, founded by Emerson to study urban issues.

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“We are huge believers in Rice, a worldclass institution. This is a unique opportunity to position the Institute for Urban Research to serve Houston and Rice and to be a resource for coming generations of American cities.” —Rich Kinder

Major ongoing funding from corporations in Houston has enabled the institute to hire an executive director, three program directors, and several undergraduate and graduate student assistants and to start several research projects. Outside grants also have come in to fund specific projects. And now, a $15 million gift from Houston philanthropists Rich and Nancy Kinder will take the institute’s endeavors to a whole new level. “It’s an incredible, transformative gift,” Klineberg said. “It accelerates dramatically the timing of the whole process.” The gift also gives the institute the resources to broaden its range of research opportunities. “We can hire a community liaison full time to go out into the community,” Emerson said. “We can hire map makers and demographers and do whatever it takes to address this huge project that we’re attempting.” The Kinders, who founded the Kinder Foundation to support education, urban green space and other quality-of-life issues, read an editorial in the Houston Chronicle about the fledgling institute’s goals and thought their support could serve as a fulcrum. “We are huge believers in Rice, a world-class institution,” said Rich Kinder, who is chairman and CEO of Kinder Morgan, one of the largest pipeline transportation and energy storage companies in North America. “This is a unique opportunity to position the Institute for Urban Research to serve Houston and Rice and to be a resource for coming generations of American cities.” With the Kinders’ gift, the institute will become its own entity — akin to the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy — which will span the School of Social Sciences and the School of Humanities and draw on faculty in other disciplines as well.


Programs So far, the Kinder Institute has developed research along three major lines: race, religion and urban life. “These areas are important because the larger cities are, the more diverse they become,” Emerson said. “Differences in race and religion are where we have points of conflict, but they also provide potential for our greatest strengths. We’re trying to understand how we can use social science to enable groups, in all their diversity, to work together to minimize conflict and play on those strengths. If that energy could be harnessed here, Houston will be a city like no city has ever been before.” A recent study on race, for example, explored what influences people to chose particular neighborhoods to live in. “Houston is a fairly segregated city — although not the most segregated,” Klineberg said. “It’s also the most spread out, least-dense city in America, so we don’t come to know or interact with each other. A lot of stereotypes and insecurities are based on this lack of contact, and we want to know how you get stable, successful interethnic contact.” Religion is another issue because cities bring into closer contact practitioners of religions that traditionally have been separate. “In the HAS, we’ve seen a tripling in the percentage of respondents who are Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist,” Klineberg said. “Houston was an overwhelmingly Anglo-Protestant city, and now it’s almost equally composed of Catholics and people of other religions.” Institute researchers have been looking at the amount of contact across religions, and there’s amazingly little — even less than there is across race. “If people are Christians, they don’t know any Muslims and don’t want to know any Muslims, and vice versa,” Emerson said. “If we’re going to try to live together and work together to make the city great, it’s inefficient to try to do it in separate enclaves.” Because American cities — and Houston in particular — have become microcosms of the world, it is more important than ever to negotiate issues of race, ethnicity and religion. But also needed is knowledge about a whole range of urban issues to understand what the challenges and opportunities are in the 21st century for the people who live in these cities. That’s where the institute’s focus on urban life comes in. “In studying urban areas, we tend to study the big mass systems, such as infrastructure, economy and politics,” Emerson said. “But we often forget about people living in communities and trying to navigate

and get to work. What is life like for them? When we refer to urban life, we’re looking at people’s daily lived experience.” These programs are just the beginning. The directors plan to develop a Visiting Scholars and Urban Leaders Program. “This will enable us to bring in top scholars and accomplished urban leaders,” Emerson said, “to spend a semester or a year at Rice to write, work on policy papers, give highprofile lectures, and provide training and networking for Rice students and community leaders.” The directors also want to establish programs on health, poverty and other issues, and to expand the institute’s program on leadership. ”Who runs cities and makes it possible for them to function in all their aspects?” Emerson asked. “How do people come to know enough to do that? We really want to know about the leaders — how they get elected and where they come from. In this time of tremendous social change and upheaval, leadership matters more than ever.” Part of the plan includes exporting the HAS to other metropolitan areas, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, to gain comparative data for a major study of American cities. The directors already have opened discussions with Emory University about starting an Atlanta area survey modeled on the HAS. The institute also has begun efforts to do comparative studies with cities outside the U.S. that are, in some ways, similar to Houston. The first was the Coastal Cities Project, an effort to do an international research project to examine U.S. coastal cities and three Chinese cities, all of which are petroleum-producing centers that must deal with environmental issues as well as hurricanes. “It was a wonderful experience, and we really want to do something like that on a broader basis with cities around the world,” Klineberg said. “Houston has major connections to Latin America as well as to Asia, and comparative analyses of cities with different traditions but facing similar challenges can benefit us all.”

“We really want to know about the leaders — how they get elected and where they come from. In this time of tremendous social change and upheaval, leadership matters more than ever.”

—Michael Emerson

Rich and Nancy Kinder, center, surrounded, from left, by Michael Emerson, President David Leebron, Chairman of the Rice Board James Crownover, Mayor Annise Parker and Stephen Klineberg.

Learn more about the Kinder Institute for Urban Research: ›› ›




Engagement The Kinder Institute’s directors intend to use objective, broad social science quantitative data collection and analysis to gain deeper insight into the contemporary urban experience and, thanks to the resources provided by the Kinders, to share that insight in ways that improve cities and urban life. “The institute includes a strong community outreach component to ensure that the research informs and inspires the communities on which it is based,” Emerson said. “We want people to think of Rice as a model of how universities can work with cities so that we become a national and global leader not only in studying urban areas, but in being able to work with cities to lead to better cities.” One of the most critical issues in cities is education and closing the achievement gap, and the institute plans to help create a Center for Educational Innovation. Another project, which institute researchers are in the midst of right now, is a study of the arts, education and health in Houston. Funded by the Houston Endowment, this study will include a new survey that will be added to the HAS’s repertoire. The grant also will enable the institute to host two major national conferences — one on the arts and the other on education and health — and spotlight Houston as a place

“Houston has major connections to Latin America as well as to Asia, and comparative analyses of cities with different traditions but facing similar challenges can benefit us all.” —Stephen Klineberg

where innovative art initiatives and important educational reforms are taking place. “A big commitment with the Kinder gift is to enhance the visibility of the institute within the city,” Klineberg said. “We want to make the study of Houston and an understanding of the options and choices that we Houstonians have about the kind of city that we’re building capture the imagination of the Houston community.” Toward this end, the institute is creating a state-of-the-art interactive website called “Ask the HAS.” Visitors can send in questions, and institute staff will research the answer and provide it within 24 hours. “Anybody will be able to use it,” Emerson said, “from individuals at home to governmental entities to overseas users.” Another intriguing item on the agenda is a coffee-table book that celebrates

Houston during the past 30 years. “The book will combine quantitative research from the HAS with photographs and qualitative interviews that illustrate the lived experiences we’ve researched with the data,” Klineberg said. “It will be a book that puts together the whole range of ways of knowing about a city. And Rice is excited about that because it’s approaching its centennial, and 2011 is the year in which the university will focus on Rice and its relationship to Houston.” Catalyst for Change The Kinder Institute presents a tremendous opportunity to develop an informed understanding of the urban changes under way in Houston and elsewhere that will be enormously important for helping civic and community leaders develop policies that will help navigate those changes successfully. And the opportunities for Rice are no less inspiring, making it a catalyst for a qualitative change in Houston and the rest of the country and world. “Rice is a place where really exciting research has direct implications and outreach to communities,” Klineberg said. “It also provides a powerful model — maybe the best there is — of how research universities can work with cities to enhance the quality of life in urban America and elsewhere.”

Rice Magazine

No. 8




Better Health Care, Lower Cost

As a health economist, Vivian Ho usually thinks about maximizing utility and reducing costs when walking through a hospital. But that wasn’t the case in May 2006 when she walked into the neonatal intensive care unit where her newborn son, Alexander, was being treated.


o’s research and professional life took a backseat during those 11 long days her infant spent in the hospital, but the experience gave her a new perspective on the work she does professionally. She was now the person going through the hoops of the very health care system she had spent decades studying. She was now the patient, trying to make sense of a hospital bill with unintelligible codes and way too many dollar signs. She was now the mom, trying to understand doctorspeak amidst the cacophony of bleating monitors, off-key lullabies and babies’ cries. Like any first-time mom, Ho had many questions for the doctors and nurses looking after her baby. Most of the time, she asked about the care he was receiving and his progress and what she

strategies to control cost growth in health care so that people end up with better-quality health care at a lower cost. That was one aim of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March. But the majority of the legislation, which Ho calls “the most significant reform of the U.S. health care system since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid,” was devoted to improving access to health insurance through increased regulation of insurance companies and the provision of subsidies to aid individuals and families in purchasing health insurance. That is a good thing, Ho said; however, the legislation neglected the underlying reason more than 50 million U.S. citizens lack health care — they’ve been priced out of the market due to health care’s rising cost.

“Costs continue to rise because doctors and hospitals are rewarded for performing more services, not for improving patient health.”

—Vivian Ho

could do to speed it. But she couldn’t silence the economist in her. “Alexander needed an expert to feed him, but he didn’t need the other bells and whistles of the NICU,” said Ho, professor of economics and the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics. “As an economist, it got me thinking about the cost-effectiveness of such treatment. I was paying for around-the-clock care and facilities, which cost thousands of dollars, but all he needed was an expert to feed him.” Ho’s eye for efficiency and effectiveness extends well beyond her personal experiences with health care. Her research tries to identify


“As the number of uninsured Americans and private health insurance premiums rise simultaneously, many hospitals have argued that they have had to raise prices for the insured patients in order to cover the costs of treating uninsured patients,” Ho said. “But our preliminary analysis suggests that hypothesis is false.” Ho and her team have looked at hospitals in Texas and found that they receive reasonable government subsidies to care for the uninsured, so that cost doesn’t appear to be shifted to a privately insured patient. Rather, the costs of treating privately insured patients seem to be rising on their own.

“Costs continue to rise because doctors and hospitals are rewarded for performing more services, not for improving patient health,” Ho said. “Our system is set up to reward specialists performing costly surgeries, not general practitioners taking preventative measures.” Studies have shown that Medicare, Medicaid and the private sector richly reward specialists for performing aggressive and costly surgeries and interventions on patients who have suffered a heart attack or are at risk of heart disease, whereas general practitioners would actually lose money if they spent the amount of time necessary to advise and treat the patients to prevent them from developing the disease. Technology is another cost contributing factor. Most new technologies make treatments more expensive, and as the technologies are introduced into the market, they get overused, according to Ho. She said that during the last 15 years, Americans have spent twice as much on technologies to ease lower back pain; however, there has been no documented improvement in outcomes associated with these treatments. “As much as a third of our health care costs could be waste,” Ho said. “The thing is, we trust our doctors too much. We don’t see that they’re human and can have a bad day at the office just like anyone else. We don’t price shop or compare. If they tell us we should have a knee surgery, we have it, regardless of the literature and studies that tell us knee surgeries could be ineffective.” Ho’s latest research is aimed at finding ways to control costs while delivering highquality cancer surgery. Funded by the National Cancer Institute, her team is examining data from tens of thousands of Medicare patients to identify surgeon or hospital characteristics that are associated with lower costs and high quality for these complex cancer operations. “We know that doctors who perform more operations achieve lower costs per patient; however, their hospitals do not experience lower average costs,” Ho said. “This counterintuitive phenomenon could hold the key to controlling some health care costs.” Ho’s research team, which includes surgeon Thomas Aloia from The Methodist Hospital System, are exploring whether economies of scale exist for hospitals performing cancer surgeries. Their working hypothesis is that high-volume hospitals provide higher quality care and lower costs due to fewer surgery-related complications, but these cost savings are hidden by the investments that hospitals must make to provide care. For example, high-volume hospitals may have higher nurse-to-patient ratios, better-equipped intensive care units, and more advanced preoperative and postoperative monitoring. Whatever the case, they are hoping their results can guide future Medicare reimbursement policies. “If we find that hospitals that perform more cancer surgeries achieve lower costs and higher quality,” Ho said, “we can set Medicare payments for cancer surgeries at a low enough level that they discourage high-cost, small facilities from offering cancer surgery.” Some might argue that doing so would harm patients in the long run by eliminating competition and options, but Ho said that’s not the case this time. Such a pricing strategy would help eliminate the choices that are not in the best interest of patients or their pocketbooks. “So much of the delivery of health care has to do with incentives,” she said. “What economists can do is provide a conceptual framework and statistical analysis on how to organize. We hope this can help physicians and allow them to serve their primary responsibility of patient care.” It’s hard to believe that a researcher so committed to working with and for physicians hadn’t intended to launch a career in health economics, a field that wasn’t even on the map when she set upon her path of study. She had planned to work in labor economics. “Health economics wasn’t a sexy topic,” Ho said. “I knew of a couple of doctoral students working in that field, and I couldn’t understand why they would waste their time.” But a couple of innovative professors changed her tune, and before she knew it, she was working in a medical school in Montreal, Canada, where she saw many opportunities for collaboration between doctors and economists. Today, her interest has not waned, and she remains committed to finding solutions for issues that plague the health care system. “As we get better and more advanced in the field of medicine, we have a more complex health care system that comes with a complex set of problems that we need to face on the front end,” she said. “We need to change the way we reward our physicians and hospitals, and we need to come up with better technologies for providing medicine.” On a bright note, Ho’s son is now fine and, she said, is the light of her life.

“We know that doctors who perform more operations achieve lower costs per patient; however, their hospitals do not experience lower average costs. This counterintuitive phenomenon could hold the key to controlling some health care costs.” —Vivian Ho

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Provost Appoints Task Forces for

Three New Initiatives By Mike Williams



For weeks before starting his new job and during his first few months at Rice, George McLendon’s selfassigned role was to listen. Now the university’s new Howard R. Hughes McLendon, a highly regarded researchProvost is talking. er, entrepreneur and administrator who


came to Houston from Duke University, was in full learning mode as he worked his way around campus getting to know his new colleagues. What McLendon learned astonished him as he sought help to define the initiatives that will enhance Rice’s international distinction, as envisioned in President David Leebron’s Vision for the Second Century. In conversations with 80 or so leading faculty members, department chairs, college masters, and directors of institutes and centers, McLendon discovered that most identified three clear paths to greatness. “This kind of process could not happen at most universities in the country,” he said, “because there wouldn’t be this level of shared consensus.” Those initiatives are the focus of a letter McLendon issued to Rice faculty last month that outlined a broad plan for bioscience and health, energy and the environment, and international strategy. As a result, three faculty-led task forces are gearing up to study how Rice can best use its resources to become a recognized leader in each of those domains. McLendon brings a wealth of experience and insight to the provost role. He served as dean of the faculty of arts and sciences at Duke from 2004 until coming to Rice and dean of Duke’s Trinity College, which encompasses arts and science, from 2008 until this year. His recent research has focused on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, stroke and other diseases, and he has founded several biotechnology companies, along the way earning the American Chemical Society’s prestigious Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry as well as Guggenheim and Alfred P. Sloan research fellowships. The Texas native and A&M-trained chemist continued to teach at Duke throughout his tenure there. Even while interviewing at Rice, he commuted back and forth from Silicon Valley, where he was introducing Duke students to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. McLendon is settling into his Allen Center office, where his classical guitar has a place of pride, and he’ll complete the transition when his wife, Terry, who most recently served as medical director at the Duke-affiliated Person Memorial Hospital, joins him in the near future. Their two adult children both teach in upstate New York. McLendon talked with Rice Magazine recently about his repatriation as a Texan, his introduction to the Rice community and how the university’s new initiatives came into focus.

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Rice Magazine: What drew you to Rice?

Rice Magazine: If we could do just two or three things, what should those be?

McLendon: There were a lot of things that were intriguing. One is I’m a multigeneration Texan. My forebears came here during the years of the Republic — so I’m “DRT” [Daughters of the Republic of Texas] on both sides. I’m very committed to this state, and Rice is, without any question, the great university within the state of Texas. I can even say that as an Aggie. Rice is the great university; A&M is a strong No. 2. There’s also someplace in Austin; I forget its name. [McLendon earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas at El Paso.] And there are family considerations — all of my parents and siblings are within two hours of Houston. But mostly it’s about being at a great place, in a great state, where I feel my background can make a difference.

Rice Magazine: Your personal strengths align nicely with a lot of the research here. Is that an advantage? McLendon: It’s helpful to understand from different perspectives what works in certain intellectual disciplines, what’s necessary to be great beyond being good. So having some personal experience, I hope, provides credibility with other faculty members with whom I share teaching and with whom I share research interests. Rice is not going to be the Princeton of Texas. Rice is going to be Rice. It’s our pride. It’s our strength. But it’s still helpful to know how things work in other places and to understand what best practices are, then to figure out how to modify those in ways that make sense for our institution.

Rice ultimately has the potential to be far more impactful because you can set up a spirit of collaboration. We’ll figure out how to do that in a way that takes advantage of Rice’s unique strengths. —George McLendon

Rice Magazine: Had you spent much time on campus before? McLendon: I had given a couple of seminars here. I know a lot of faculty members. I know about places somewhat like us, but I didn’t know Rice well. After I arrived in Houston, I had about six weeks before my job started to have some unencumbered time, just to get to know Rice better. I wanted to meet people, and the questions I wanted to ask were pretty simple: I need to know what drives Rice, so tell me about yourself. Why did you come here? Why do you stay? What’s exciting about Rice? What’s your department like? And then I said, “Imagine for a moment, even in a time of limited resources, that we were to do something really special, where we could be great. Set aside your departmental hat for a minute, just put on a Rice hat and tell me what two or three things we might do that would cut across all schools. Things that your department might be excited about participating in but that wouldn’t be focused on your department, necessarily. Things that would take advantage of our local and regional strengths, our traditions, our sense of making the world a better place.


McLendon: In 80 conversations, you would expect to get somewhere between 60 and 240 answers. There were 20 or 30 things that got one vote. There were a dozen that got two votes. The astonishing thing is there were only three that got more than three votes. It’s a big deal to think you can make a difference. But it’s also extraordinary when the chair of English, the chair of sociology, the chair of civil engineering and the chair of physics all agree on what your three things should be. I do think the Vision for the Second Century paved the way for the best possible conversations.

Rice Magazine: Two of them are no surprise, as we’re strong in energy and the environment and bioscience and health. McLendon: Those take differential advantage of our strengths. We’re right next to the Texas Medical Center [TMC], the greatest medical center on the face of the Earth. It’s kind of obvious that there’s underutilized intellectual capital and underutilized intellectual collaborative opportunities.

Rice Magazine: And the BioScience Research Collaborative gives us new paths into the TMC. McLendon: Absolutely. It’s also true that we’re the energy capital of the United States, so that makes some sense. You can’t do energy without doing the environment and vice versa.

Rice Magazine: How did international strategy come to be one of the three? McLendon: To be a great university in the 20th century, you had to have some things, including regional dominance, which Rice has. All great national universities have a regional flavor. But in the 21st century, you really have to think of yourself as having not only a regional and national mission but a global mission as well. I learned two things from listening to faculty. One, if we’re going to pursue a thoughtful international strategy, it has to be driven by intellectual priorities. It can’t just be, “We want to be in Southeast Asia because everybody else is in Southeast Asia.” That’s not a strategy. The second is that we have a unique potential opportunity here. Houston is one of the two gateway cities between North America and South America. Houston and Miami. That’s it. So we might have a unique opportunity to make a significant difference in the world by having a southern-focused strategy. With these initiatives, we’ve learned there is — and this is unprecedented in the history of academia — consensus around what our large-scale, critical global issues should be, where Rice could be among the national leaders in those conversations.

Rice Magazine: How do you feel about the initiatives? McLendon: There’s a clear and extraordinary consensus. And in retrospect, I do think there’s some perceived wisdom in those things. But I didn’t make them up. I just served as a scribe for this process. And that’s why I’m excited about it.

“I like to have very clearly focused plans and clear milestones and to couple resource utilization to those milestones. But they’re not going to be set by me. They’re going to be set by our faculty, by our students, by the Rice community. Then I just manage the process.” —George McLendon

Rice Magazine: What happens now?

Rice Magazine: When do you expect to start seeing results?

McLendon: We’re ready to begin a communication with the faculty that says, “This is what I’ve learned from you.” The next step is to find out: Are these really the right things? Can we really make a difference? Can we understand the level of resources, both from internal allocations and external fundraising, that would be necessary for us to be among the national leaders? We’re not ready to implement anything. We’re just ready to have the next level of conversation, so we’re doing that with three task forces that, roughly, have one person representing each of our schools. That minimizes the parochialism.

McLendon: I don’t want to get that far ahead of the process. This is going to be very open and transparent. There’s going to be feedback and input from lots of constituencies, from many faculty, from students, from alumni, from supporters in the Houston community. Our job is to find out if we can be great at this. The first step is to have this collective conversation, guided by a small-focus task force. They’ll produce a white paper that will say, “Here’s what we think is possible.” And that will be the source of additional conversation. By December, we’ll have a sense of what’s possible, and from there, we’ll be in conversation with the trustees and others about what commitments we will be willing to make internally and externally to seize the promise of that possibility. Then things can start to happen very fast. If there is one thing I’d like to communicate, it’s that this isn’t my initiative. This is an extraordinary, collective zeitgeist of the faculty. My responsibility is to respond to that zeitgeist and find out, in ways that are appropriate to Rice’s history and traditions and ambitions, if we can build things that we’ll all be extraordinarily proud of.

Rice Magazine: Does having a collaborative culture to begin with help? McLendon: Rice ultimately has the potential to be far more impactful because you can set up a spirit of collaboration. We’ll figure out how to do that in a way that takes advantage of Rice’s unique strengths. There are very few places where a leading corporation in the energy sector could have all of those people sitting at the table, not fighting to be in charge but saying we’re all committed to doing this together.

Rice Magazine: There’s a natural focal point for bioscience and health with the BioScience Research Collaborative and a natural focal point for international strategy at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, but how do you bring all the energy initiatives under one umbrella? McLendon: I’m familiar with some of the historic challenges. Since we’re asking all the schools to find ways to collaborate, the processes have to be co-chaired by someone from the provost’s office and someone whose primary affiliation is within the faculty.

Rice Magazine: Are you up to the task? McLendon: For better or worse, I have rapidly gotten this funny reputation based on my background. People say, “Ah, he’s a startup guy.” And I am. I like to have very clearly focused plans and clear milestones and to couple resource utilization to those milestones. But they’re not going to be set by me. They’re going to be set by our faculty, by our students, by the Rice community. Then I just manage the process.

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Academic Success and Immigrant Students B Y



How can we increase student success among the growing number of immigrant and English-language learners in U.S. schools? Answers may include bolstering the recruitment of minority teachers and administrators or focusing more attention on teacher training or in-service professional development. So says new research from Rice that found that schools with minority principals are more likely to feature programs to increase involvement of immigrant parents in their children’s school and education, which can increase the likelihood of student success.


arent involvement includes a wide range of activities such as communication between schools and parents, parent attendance at school events and parent support of learning that takes place at home. “Minority principals seem to be taking an active role in addressing the needs of immigrant parents,” said Melissa Marschall, the Albert Thomas Associate Professor of Political Science and author of the study. “In particular, we see that African-American principals are exercising leadership in promoting school-based parent-involvement programs in ‘new immigrant destinations.’” Marschall said that finding is somewhat surprising given the black–white racial context of many new immigrant destinations and the media’s tendency to focus on conflict and competition between immigrant and African-American residents in these places. New immigrant destinations — such as Durham, N.C.; Cedar Falls, Iowa; or Ogden, Utah — are cities and communities characterized by smaller, rapidly growing foreign-born populations. Established immigrant destinations, such as New York and Chicago, are cities that have historically served as primary immigrant gateways. For the study, Marschall and her co-authors, Paru Shah of Macalester College and Katharine Donato of Vanderbilt University, examined parent-involvement policies for about 1,300 schools throughout the country and found distinctly different effects for teachers and principals depending on whether schools were located in established or new immigrant destinations. In particular, Marschall and her co-authors found that in established destinations, minority teachers are strongly associated with the type and magnitude of parent-involvement programs schools provide, whereas in new destinations, teacher training and in-service professional development are most consistently associated with these policies. This suggests that teachers who do not share linguistic or racial/ethnic backgrounds with their students still foster outreach with immigrant parents when their schools provide enhanced education, training and


professional development focused on issues of culture, language and immigration. The study also shows the strong, positive effect of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which distributes funding to schools and school districts with a high percentage of low-income families. “The greater the percentage of Title I students, the more schoolbased parent programs offered,” Marschall said. “By tying parentinvolvement programs to federal aid, No Child Left Behind creates a strong incentive for schools to implement policies that explicitly promote parent involvement — and the data show that this indeed seems to be happening.” According to the study, school districts with larger percentages of minority and non-English-speaking students had a greater number of policies that involve parents as decision-makers, foster communication with parents regarding students’ academic success, provide links to social services and explicitly involve a diverse group of parents. Underlying Issues Marschall is looking at these issues in more detail in a separate study for her new book, “Immigrants and Schools,” in which she evaluated survey data for more than 1,600 immigrant parents in six immigrant communities in New York and Chicago. The study examined the relationship between immigrant parents and schools, but unlike nearly all research on this topic, Marschall’s study links parent responses to what schools are actually doing. To date, studies have focused either on schools or parents and thus have provided only one side of the story. “What this study is finding is that just because a principal says her school is doing x, y and z,” Marschall said, “it doesn’t mean that parents know about or understand the implications of x, y and z.” She found that some immigrant parents aren’t even aware of the services

“There’s always a tendency to just follow the rules and assume that’s enough. Schools need to monitor and assess the extent to which these programs and policies are producing the intended effects.” —Melissa Marschall

extended to them, such as New York’s parent–coordinator program. In 2002, the city mandated that its public schools create a parent–coordinator position to ensure that someone in each school is directly responsible for supporting families. The coordinators are charged with communicating directly with parents, identifying issues of concern to families and working with school leaders to ensure the issues are addressed in a timely manner. “Such programs and policies are a step in the right direction, but if parents aren’t aware of them, then they’re not effective,” Marschall said. “There’s always a tendency to just follow the rules and assume that’s enough. Schools need to monitor and assess the extent to which these programs and policies are producing the intended effects.” New York also instituted an interpretation and translation unit designed to communicate with parents in their language. Survey data showed that 80 percent of Chinese and 74 percent of Mexican parents said they rely on interpreters at parent–teacher conferences and other events. “While some schools seem to be prioritizing outreach and programming for immigrant parents, many are not,” Marschall said. “This seems to be particularly the case when it comes to homework and parent involvement in schooling and learning at home.” Whereas 75 percent of parents surveyed indicated that their child’s teachers assign homework that requires parent participation, most reported that the school provided very little information, guidance or support for helping with the homework. Marschall said that’s particularly concerning given the lack of English proficiency among immigrant parents and their low level of educational attainment. Of those parents surveyed, only 3 percent of Chinese said they speak predominately English at home, and almost 25 percent of them said that the school communicates with them exclusively in English. Mexican immigrants, too, tend to speak their native language at home — 62 percent report speaking predominately Spanish — and 57 percent of the Mexican respondents did not have a high school diploma or its equivalent. “Nearly all parents expressed interest in helping their children, but many also felt discouraged and inadequate because the limits of their own education or English proficiency prevented them from being able to help,” Marschall said. “In light of this, it appears that schools need to do more outreach and educational programming for parents.” In her fieldwork, Marschall also saw many immigrant parents

with schedules that prohibited their participation in school events or parent–teacher conferences. “I don’t think the schools always understand that many of their parents don’t have a 9-to-5 schedule,” she said. “They’re small-business and restaurant owners and workers. They’re in a new country where they don’t have an extended family to help them out.” Schools expect that parents will let them know about such challenges, Marschall said, because that’s how American culture is. “If something is not right or not working, Americans speak up,” she said. “But in some cultures, people defer to authority and won’t question it. So they won’t tell a teacher that they can’t understand homework instructions, and they won’t tell a principal that a program isn’t working.” Increasing Heterogeneity Marschall’s studies of immigrant-parent involvement tie nicely into her ongoing research on minority involvement in community and government affairs. She is spearheading the Local Elections in America Project (LEAP) to create a centralized, comprehensive and cost-effective local-elections database. Her research team will use the LEAP database as the foundation for a project that focuses on the centrality of race and ethnicity in local electoral politics. “The increasing racial and ethnic heterogeneity of the U.S. population is most evident at the local level,” Marschall said. “So local elections provide the best arena for testing a whole range of theories about minority candidates’ paths to office and the trajectory of their political careers.” The study seeks to answer whether the lack of minority representation in elected offices is due to the defeat of minority candidates or the absence of minority candidates. Marschall will also look at how a candidate’s race and ethnicity shapes the competitiveness of municipal elections and how voter turnout is impacted when a minority candidate is on the ballot. LEAP is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is the latest in a notable history of such successes within Rice’s Department of Political Science. Over the past decade, the department has placed second in terms of the total number of NSF political science grants received by any political science department in the country, regardless of faculty size.

Rice Magazine

No. 8



From left: Charles Dove, Tish Stringer and Brian Huberman

Lights, Camera , Action! By David Theis

During the final meeting of his Film Production class last spring, graduating senior Viren Desai felt nervous. Associate Professor of Visual Arts Brian Huberman was critiquing the students’ films, and, as Desai said, “Film is his life, and he never minces his words.”


esai’s anxiety was compounded by other factors as well. Unlike most of his classmates, he wasn’t a film major. In fact, his major — mathematical economic analysis — sounds about as far from the arts as you can get. In addition, his 10-minute film, “Contemplating a Gun,” has an experimental structure. It appears to track the hallucinations — or is it the reality? — of a drug-addled woman seated on a graffitiemblazoned toilet. The story goes in a circle, ending up with the same grim image with which it started, the woman’s plight unresolved. According to Desai, some of his classmates “didn’t think it made sense.”


Then Huberman spoke. “The piece is ugly, violent, disgusting. And wonderful!” These words came as a tremendous validation to Desai, who is attracted to the arts despite having “a business bent.” “The class,” he said, “gave me the confidence to have faith in my own vision for the piece.” The Rice film program is part of the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, which formed in 2003 when drama, film and studio arts separated from the Department of Art History. Film students are required to take the Introduction to Film Criticism course taught by lecturer Charles Dove, who also programs films at the Rice Media Center, as well as the documentary and fiction filmmaking courses

taught by Huberman. A third partner, film and video technician Tish Stringer, works with the teachers to instruct Huberman’s students in the use of the filmmaking equipment and oversees the projection booth for Dove’s films. After the mandatory classes, students can choose between the film theory or the filmmaking tracks. If they choose filmmaking, they can take more classes or work independently to produce their own “special problems” film. The Rice Media Center, where the films are screened and the courses take place, was founded in 1969 by art patrons Jean and Dominique de Menil. The de Menils were more interested in documentary cinema’s capacity for provoking debate — and even change — than in art for art’s sake, and they brought French-trained American filmmaker James Blue to Houston to run the Media Center and make hard-hitting documentaries. In 1975, Blue recruited Huberman from England’s National Film and Television School. There’s little doubt

Arts that Huberman’s vision for the film program closely matches that of its founders, and Huberman taught documentary filmmaking for many years before fiction film was added to the curriculum. “I agree with Jean de Menil that film should have a strong political agenda,” Huberman said. He also thinks film should be a raw, visceral medium, and he has little tolerance for most of Hollywood’s output, which he terms “too pretty.” Even so, if a film student wants to learn Hollywoodstyle filmmaking, Rice’s training equips him or her to do so at the graduate level. Huberman proudly compares the Rice program to that of the University of Texas at Austin, which has 1,000 or so students and a pipeline to Hollywood. When Rice and UT students screened their films together at a recent program, Huberman said, “The UT films were slick, but devoid of meaningful content. Ours were full of content, with passable production values.” Stringer and Dove share Huberman’s values. Dove’s programming has moved away from screening masterpieces by Bergman and Ozu to showing films —

The Rice Media Center, where the films are screened and the courses take place, was founded in 1969 by art patrons Jean and Dominique de Menil.

Rice isn’t the first school that wouldbe filmmakers think of, so what draws students here to become film majors? “Students don’t come to Rice to study film,” Dove explained. “They become filmmakers because they can’t help it.” Recent graduate and film major Dorea Novaez ’10 is a case in point. She came to Rice planning to become a lawyer, but her father’s death during her freshman year caused her to re-evaluate her priorities, and she became a visual arts/English double major. She particularly remembers the documentary class as “a great learning experience.” Her documentary subject was an environmental activist working at cleaning up Galveston after Hurricane Ike. Novaez said that while trying to keep up with the activist, she “learned shooting and editing on the fly.” For her “special problems” film, Novaez wrote and shot a 15-minute documentary, “An Elegy: for the West,” which very poetically deals with both the western landscape and the death of her father. Like other film students, Novaez was the beneficiary of the film department’s sophisticated film equipment and facilities, which were upgraded and revamped a few years ago. According to Stringer, the Media Center theater is very well equipped, featuring Dolby sound, the only “silver screen” in Houston and the area’s only 70 mm-capable projector. Film students have access to digital cameras; professional-grade tripods, lights and

usually documentaries — that inspire communities to come together and take action. “That is a far cry from the cinephile culture screenings that have little social impact,” Dove said. According to Huberman, who also serves as department chair, there now are 15 to 20 film majors at any one time, and class sizes have grown in recent years. “The recent Film Production class, for example, had 18 students,” Huberman said, “while a few years ago, it would have had only five.”

The film program may be one of Rice’s best-kept secrets, but as its graduates continue to raise its profile with the quality of their work, it might not be a secret much longer. sound equipment; and digital editing suites. In keeping with the program’s guerrilla style, however, Stringer would like to push the students in a more “lofi” direction. “Let’s do ‘phone-film’ — film made with cell phone cameras,” she suggested, “so we don’t get so hung up on beauty.” Novaez plans to make a career of film. She is currently working on a feature being shot in Houston, and she plans to pursue the combined MFA/MBA film program at NYU. She hopes to follow other Rice graduates who have made their marks in film. Among others are producer and director Amy Hobby ’86, who has made several studio films, including 2002’s “Secretary”; Kayvan Mashayekh ’89, who wrote and directed “The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam,” starring Vanessa Redgrave; and Mark Brice ’80, who won an Emmy for his cinematography work on the television series “Carrier.” Tariq Tapa’s ’03 film “Zero Bridge” premiered at the 2008 Venice Film Festival, and “August Evening,” a lovely and very well-reviewed independent 2007 film, was made by Chris Eska ’98. Despite the film program’s successes, its leaders occasionally feel aggrieved at its relative obscurity. “People sometimes tell me they’re surprised to hear Rice has a film department,” Huberman said. “We’ve been here since 1969.” The film program may be one of Rice’s best-kept secrets, but as its graduates continue to raise its profile with the quality of their work, it might not be a secret much longer.

Brian Huberman

Rice Magazine

No. 8



“Recantorium” by Lina Dib

Everyday Engaging With the

Somewhere at the intersection of art and science sits Lina Dib. By Jenny West Rozelle

The Rice anthropology Ph.D. candidate makes time for her art in addition to her studies, often incorporating one into the other. “To me, art and anthropology are not so different,” said Dib. “Both disciplines are about looking around, looking in, framing and deframing things, and asking questions. Anthropologists, classically, are known for venturing to far-off places, encountering strange customs and making them familiar under the rubric of studying humanness. Art, on the other hand, has been known to take the familiar and make it strange by the simple act of breaking something up — even a gesture — into its constituent parts. One can be seen as the complement of the other.” Encouraged by a professor at Université de Montréal to study anthropology as a way to pull together her scientific and artistic interests, Dib earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees there in 2002 and 2005, respectively. When it came time to choose a school for her doctorate, the Montreal, Canada, native was attracted to Rice thanks to the university’s strong team of professors — professors who, according to Dib, changed the meaning of anthropology in the 1980s and 1990s and “promoted experimental forms of writing and expression that went beyond the traditional borders of the discipline.” Dib’s dissertation topic also pushes the limits of her field. Fascinated by the fact that now people are documenting their


everyday lives with various recording devices, which is what anthropology has been doing for years, Dib decided to study how these recording devices were affecting our lives. “I thought this was an interesting moment for my discipline,” she said. “I examine how memory is invoked, how it informs and how it changes with new digital recording technologies. I look at various technological projects and prototypes that are designed with the goal of improving our fragile memories.” Beginning in 2006, Dib came across a network of scientists in England who were brought together to form a group called Memories for Life. The group includes engineers, neuroscientists,

Arts computer scientists and other experts who study the problem of how we remember, how memory works and how we deal with overwhelming amounts of information. She worked intermittently with the group until 2008, when she moved to England for a year to research their projects more in-depth. While in England, Dib tested Microsoft’s SenseCam, a camera worn like a badge that takes pictures based on integrated light, temperature and accelerometer sensors. It took about 3,000 pictures a day. Working with neuroscientists, Microsoft has been testing this device with amnesiacs and Alzheimer’s patients to see if it helps them better remember. “It’s a beautiful project and a sensitive one to try to give back a sense of normalcy to people who can’t remember what they did two days ago, let alone two years ago,” said Dib. “At the same time, there’s the other extreme, which is normal people using these tools. What does it mean to have a prosthetic memory? What if I could remember everything I had seen or heard and everyone I’ve met? The irony of the idea of having a perfect memory is that essentially it renders you catatonic. We cannot deal with so much. We’re meant to filter.” Dib also worked on another project with the team in Sheffield, this time involving sound. To examine the relationship between memories and sounds, they gave sound recorders to families and asked them to collect “sonic souvenirs” of their holidays. The sound souvenirs included arguments between kids about what music to play, a narrated family tea time with the sound of pouring tea and loud sipping, grandmothers talking, and other sounds of family members during reunions. “The sounds these families brought back were so different and evocative that this research spawned several publications and creative projects,” said Dib. “What was really fun was reviewing the sounds with them — sitting around and reminiscing. Otherwise it might have been really abstract.” Dib’s recent art installation, “Sounds for Stairs,” a soundscape at Houston’s Box 13 ArtSpace, was inspired by the sound project. As visitors walked up the stairs of the gallery, they set off motion sensors that triggered different sounds to play through speakers hanging directly above: sounds recorded in or inspired by Houston, such as cicadas, a train, the Houston Art Car Parade, a helicopter and dogs. “The idea was to connect sound and place and sound and memory,” Dib said. “For example, when I first came to Houston five years ago, someone said, ‘You have to see the movie “Urban Cowboy” with John Travolta if you want to know Houston.’ In the installation, one sensor set off a series of mumbles and a lovers’ quarrel between Bud and Sissy, the main characters of the movie. The piece was personal, but also evocative of much more than my own relationship with the city.” The sound files were longer than they were

programmed to play, so they changed a bit over time. And the trains, dogs and helicopter only played once in a while. Every 10 minutes a sound played whether there was someone in the stairs or not, as if the exhibit had a life of its own. Dib called the unpredictable piece “playful” — the sounds evolved as people interacted with the piece, so it was a different experience for each person. Although Dib has been a painter since she was 3 years old, she has become more and more attracted to interactive art. Another piece she created is “Recantorium,” an interactive video and sound installation that was on display at the Rice Media Center during FotoFest this past spring. Dib gathered sentimental objects from local Houstonians — things that people collect or can’t bring themselves to throw away, such as a beloved teddy bear, an old baseball bat or antique typewriters. She created a stop-motion animation of these objects. The pile grows or the objects begin to disappear based on the motion of the people in the room.

While in England, Dib tested Microsoft’s SenseCam, a camera worn like a badge that takes pictures based on integrated light, temperature and accelerometer sensors. It took about 3,000 pictures a day. “Besides the aesthetic quality of all these colorful things thrown together, what struck me were the narratives about why people hang on to what someone else might consider junk,” Dib said. “The stories and memories people shared were very evocative, and so the voice recordings became a central part of the installation. They’re so touching, but more important, everybody can relate to them. They’re about the everyday.” It’s the everyday that Dib finds so fascinating — breaking down the mundane to find the beauty underneath. But she does this with the realization that the “everyday” is always changing. “There’s a critique that’s happened in both art and anthropology that I think matters, which is that you can’t take something and just represent it. You can’t go out there and say, ‘This is how it is. This is how these people are.’ Because we’re constantly — whether as artists or as anthropologists — dealing with people, and we live in a world of flux.” While some in her field might find this fact daunting, Dib wouldn’t have it any other way.

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Plane of Light In a recent exhibit at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory art museum, Sarah Oppenheimer created an opening in the floor of an upper gallery that seemed to be a large chute emptying into a neighboring yard. It was typical of the artist’s work, which plays with architecture by creating and manipulating planes and openings that have the power to alter perceptions of space in ways that are as fascinating as they are disorienting. In “D-17,” Oppenheimer’s recent installation at Rice Gallery, viewers may not have experienced anything as extreme as the vertigo instilled by the Mattress Factory’s chute, but the work’s sheer scale was jaw dropping. The installation was composed of a tapering 65-foot white aluminum plane similar in size and shape to the wing of a jet that that seemed to pierce through two walls of glass. Starting out small, it went through the transom over “D-17” evolved the entrance to Sewall Hall and grew over a year and a wider as it spanned the lobby before it appeared to pass, unsupported, through half and employed the gallery’s glass wall to embed itself in structural engineers, the stone floor. In broad daylight, the sculpture was safety inspectors, essentially masked from casual passsophisticated ersby by the reflections in the windows of Sewall Hall, and the tip that stuck out wood and metal through the transom didn’t look espefabricators, and a cially promising. At night, it was a differproblem-solving ent story: In the interior lighting, the stark and dramatic form seemed to cut through construction crew the building like a knife. that included In constructing the piece, Oppenheimer’s main interest was exploring Rice architecture how the building’s glass walls gradated students. the light that struck the surface of the aluminum plane. A viewer looking down the work could see the color shift with each pane of glass, but the work also offered a few of the optical tricks viewers have come to expect from the artist. A channel in the plane directed sunlight from the outside to the building’s interior, and from a particular point in the lobby, one could look into the channel and see a reflection of the campus beyond. At the same time, a viewer inside the gallery, facing the opposite direction, could look down the channel and see exactly the same view: a little section of nature framed for viewing from different angles. Although some of Oppenheimer’s installations have evoked visceral reactions or created what the artist has called “fun house” effects, Oppenheimer’s approach to her work is far more methodical and scientific than theatrical. “D-17” evolved over a year and a half and employed structural engineers, safety inspectors, sophisticated wood and metal fabricators, and a problem-solving construction crew that included Rice architecture students. Oppenheimer also held a design workshop in which she worked with students to analyze the reflectivity of the glass walls as well as the light conditions in the space. But to Oppenheimer’s credit, the sheer scale, spectacle and airiness of “D-17” made light of the technical details, all of which disappeared into the work’s elegantly angled plane. Photos: Nash Baker


—Kelly Klaasmeyer



Art History in the Making It’s hard to believe that the surface of a painting by Vincent Van Gogh might be immaterial to art historians, but sometimes it’s what’s underneath the paint that gives the real clues to an artist’s oeuvre.

And this is where the process gets interesting. Don Johnson uses a program to lay out the thread-pattern maps of the paintings as though they were pieces of a puzzle and tries to match the thread patterns edge to edge, producing a mosaic of canvases in the order they would have been cut from a larger bolt. The moMuseums and art historians began peering beneath Don Johnson said. “He wanted a particular grade of saics make it easy to see that a particular series of the surface of paintings soon after the discovery of canvas from a particular dealer. He really liked it, for paintings — the longest has 44 Van Goghs — came X-rays, most often looking for details of the underlysome reason.” from the same bolt. ing painting or, in some cases, for evidence of works Johnson uses the software to examine a digi“If we can reconstruct a bolt or roll,” Don that had been painted over. But some aspects of tized X-ray of an entire painting. Although the mateJohnson said, “it would really help in figuring out what lies beneath a painting’s surface, what painting was done when.” such as the canvas, are invisible to He has pieced together 31 groups X-rays. To analyze a canvas, art hisof paintings from the 300 or so he’s torians have had to count the number analyzed so far. “We think each corof threads by hand, a slow and tedious responds to a different bolt of cloth,” process that gives little information he said. “The 44-painting one is the about the fabric’s weave. biggest. There are a couple in the 20 Enter self-described “Van Gogh range, and a whole bunch of pairs, freak” Don Johnson, Rice’s J.S. which probably means they’re cut from Abercrombie Professor Emeritus of smaller pieces of canvas. We’ve yet to Electrical and Computer Engineering, put everything together. That’s what who is the principal investigator on will happen this coming spring.” a new National Science Foundation He hopes to analyze more than grant to assist in the studio practice half of the 864 Van Gogh paintings project at Amsterdam’s Van Gogh known to exist. Though Rice’s Johnson Museum. “The museum wants to undoesn’t expect to get X-rays of the 200 derstand as much as they can about or so paintings in private collections, Van Gogh’s process,” he explained. he’s very close to getting half of the “What kind of paints did he use? How 600-odd museum-owned paintings. “I Don Johnson, Rice’s J.S. Abercrombie Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer did he paint?” need about five more,” he said, “and I’ll Engineering, shows a portion of a 44-painting mosaic of Van Goghs. On the left are the paintHe and Richard Johnson (no relabe more than halfway on the available ings, placed where they were cut from the original bolt of canvas. On the right are the matchtion), the Geoffrey S.M. Hedrick Senior Van Goghs.” ing weave patterns created from the X-rays by Johnson’s software, which allows paintings Professor of Engineering at Cornell When the Van Gogh project conto be aligned edge to edge. University, have developed a computer cludes next year, Don Johnson expects program to analyze aspects of Van to give the Amsterdam museum a comGoghs and other paintings that can’t actually be seen rial, like human skin, is invisible to X-rays, X-rays do prehensive archive of data about its collection that by X-rays but that can be inferred, creating a virtual not pass through the white lead paint applied as a can be shared and compared with other museums. fingerprint of the structure of a painting. base coat to commercially available artist canvas. Later, the team will apply the same techniques to the But the software has proved capable of revealRolls of canvas were sold to dealers, who then sold much smaller Delft School collection by Johannes ing information about the canvas, as well — importhe rolls or lengths cut from the rolls to artists. Artists Vermeer. tant in Van Gogh’s case because the canvas can tell then cut what they needed from these bolts, which —Mike Williams us a lot about not just the artist’s process, but also could be 2 meters high and 100 meters long. about the timeline in which his works were created. The X-rays show where the lead paint runs This is possible because Van Gogh was notoriously along the valleys of the weave, revealing the number Who Knew: picky about his canvas. “Van Gogh was very precise,” of threads per centimeter, vertically and horizontally. ›› ›

Rice Magazine

No. 8



Book on the Presidency Wins Political Science Association Award Looking beyond individual U.S. presidents to the office itself, “Vital Statistics on the Presidency,” by Lyn Ragsdale, covers George Washington’s tenure through the 2008 primary season. Ragsdale, Rice’s Radoslav A. Tsanoff Chair of Public Affairs, professor of political science and dean of the School of Social Sciences, takes an expansive view of the presidency that allows researchers to recognize major themes across administrations and to reach overall conclusions about the nature of the institution and its future. The data — which detail the expansion of the office, budget patterns, public opinion and public appearances, and presidents’ relations with Congress — are put into context by thoughtful essays explaining key statistical patterns, making the book an intriguing and comprehensive reference to important patterns throughout the history of the presidency. The book struck a positive chord with the American Political Science Association (APSA), earning it the 2010 Richard E. Neustadt Award, which is given by the APSA’s Presidency Research Section for the best book on the U.S. presidency published during the previous year. Ragsdale shared the award with George Edwards and William Howell, editors of “The Oxford Handbook of the American Presidency.” —Franz Brotzen

Time and Tide on the Gulf Coast

Once again, Geoff Winningham ’65, Rice professor of visual arts, presents a sumptuous and handsome blending of history, contemporary narrative and striking photographic images in “Traveling the Shore of the Spanish Sea: The Gulf Coast of Texas & Mexico” (Texas A&M University Press, 2010). Beginning at Sabine Pass on the Texas–Louisiana border and ending at Playa Escondida in the crook of the Bay of Campeche, the book chronicles the early settlement and ongoing life of the western Gulf Coast as well as the effects of recent events, such as Hurricane Ike. “I wanted to make a visual record of the natural landscape of the coast at this point in time,” Winningham wrote. “As far as I knew, no one had photographed the landscape of this coastline — from the coastal plain of Texas to the mountains of southern Veracruz — in a continuous and comprehensive way.” But as Winningham worked, he recognized that the coast’s varied history was as important as its contemporary scenery, and he decided to juxtapose the two. The book’s many luxurious photographs include striking landscapes, detailed close-ups of natural and man-made objects, street scenes, and portraits of people that both visually delineate the individuals and give a sense of their inner lives. Three photos of Jerdy’s Barber Shop in Port Arthur, for example, depict walls completely papered with photographs, posters and bumper stickers, as if Jerdy’s life was on display. And four photos taken in Veracruz, near the other end of the journey, show the exhibits of the homegrown El Mini-Zoologío Museo de Don Pio, which similarly reveal their creator’s interests. Equally interesting is how the photographs characterize two very different cultures that not only coexist, but often have melded into an interesting cross-cultural mix. The text is just as illuminating, providing a rich background that gives even greater depth to the visual narrative. And everywhere is the pervasive water of the Gulf of Mexico, defining the lives of the people who live along its shore no less than it etches the coast’s physical features. —Christopher Dow



Atom Smasher Humans have come a long way in understanding the cosmos, but we have yet to fathom all there is to know about its basic building blocks: subatomic particles. That’s where the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) comes in. While many of us have read about some of the preliminary discoveries being made at the LHC, the highest-energy particle accelerator ever built, most of us probably don’t know much about the collider, how it works or what physicists hope to learn from it. That’s where “The Quantum Frontier: The Large Hadron Collider” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) comes in. Author Don Lincoln ’90, a scientist with the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and popular science writer, explains for nonscientists what the collider does and what it might teach about particle physics, including uncovering the nature of dark matter, finding micro black holes, identifying extra dimensions and revealing the origin of mass in the universe. The book also communicates the excitement that physicists feel at having this extraordinary tool that will profoundly alter our understanding of the atom and stimulate scientists for decades to come.


Hands Up for an Arresting Anthology You’d want any anthologist to know writing as well as the subject matter of the anthology. Who better to edit a collection of Latino mystery stories then, than a pair of Latina law enforcement officers who also are professional writers? Sarah arah Cortez ’72, who graduated from Rice with degrees in psychology and religious studies and has been a police officer in Texas since 1973, is an award-winning poet and anthologist as well as a teacher of creative writing. She joins Liz Martínez, a New York state investigator and writer, to edit “Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery” (Arte Publico Press, 2009), a collection of 17 crime and mystery stories from veterans as well as newcomers to the field. “We are eager to introduce readers to a cast of sleuths, murderers and victims of crime,” Cortez writes in the introduction, “who reflect contemporary society’s preoccupations with identity, with self and territory — both internal and external — and its concomitant complex allegiances and surprising compromises.” Ranging from private-eye tales to police procedurals to legal thrillers, the stories are set in locales as distinct as New York, Mexico, California, Texas, Colorado and Puerto Rico, and the characters who populate them are just as diverse — and as unpredictable as the twists that reveal the perpetrators. “Hit List” closes with rap sheets of the writers included in the volume. —Christopher Dow

—Christopher Dow

“Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia,” by David M. Eagleman ’93 and Richard E. Cytowic (MIT Press, 2009)

“Hollywood Faith: Holiness, Prosperity, and Ambition in a Los Angeles Church,” by Gerardo Marti, research affiliate of the Institute for Urban Research at Rice (Rutgers University Press, 2008)

“Fieldwork Is Not What It Used to Be: Learning Anthropology’s Method in a Time of Transition,” edited by James D. Faubion, professor of anthropology at Rice, and George E. Marcus, professor emeritus of anthropology at Rice (Cornell University Press, 2009)

“The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russia and the Caucasus,” by Bruce Grant ’93 (Cornell University Press, 2009)

“The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America,” by Douglas G. Brinkley, Rice professor of history and fellow at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy (HarperCollins, 2009)

Rice Magazine

No. 8





The Sid Richardson College tower contains 224 stairs, and it is a rarity to find a student willing to run up all of them at full speed. Rarer still is it to find a group of peers charging to the top and belting into song upon reaching Sid’s roof — all in the name of paying for uniforms and travel costs.

Kickin’ It

Up a Notch “We’re such a tight group. If you need help on anything, you can call anyone. Once you’re a Lad, you’re always a Lad.” —Gabriel Garcia

Such is the case of the Rice men’s club soccer team. This energy-sapping sprint, informally known as the Sid-a-Thon, has turned a squad that was filled with little more than questions and noncommittals a few years ago into one of the most successful club teams not just on campus, but in the entire region. Composed of 23 students, including three graduate students and six freshmen, the squad just finished one of its finest campaigns in recent memory. After spending the last few seasons in a local Houston bracket playing the likes of Houston Community College and University of Houston–Downtown, the team jumped up to the tougher Louisiana League for the 2010 season. Not only did the squad, known as the Lads, have to deal with the toughest travel schedule — it was the only group from Texas — but it had to clash with teams from schools many times the size of Rice. “In the past, opponents’ school size has been a concern,” said co-captain and senior forward Dan Rist. “But with the talent that we picked up this year, we’re really competing.” Although the team dropped a pair of tight matches against Louisiana State University and University of Louisiana at Lafayette in the middle of the season, the Lads’ victories were rarely close. For instance, the squad kicked off the season in September with a dominant 7–0 victory against the University of New Orleans. And when the team traveled to face Grambling State University in early October, Rist put his team ahead with a header 30 seconds in, helping lead his team to a 6–1 road win over one of the top programs in Louisiana. “I didn’t really see Dan behind all the giants,” said freshman midfielder Alex Suarez, noting the height of the Grambling State players. “But you knew it was his goal because he was the one running around without a shirt on.” In order to finance the season — and the jersey Rist ripped off after his goal — the team had to resort to multiple fundraising schemes, including a dating site, known as Lads Dating, but unfortunately none of the guys found an online match. The most successful effort has been the Sid-a-Thon, which seeks donors to sponsor the runs. If you have both the funds and the time, you can even dash up the stairs with the team on their next run. The Lads finished the season 4–2–1, and although they narrowly missed the playoffs, that didn’t seem to dampen the team’s spirit. “I really like the camaraderie on the team,” Suarez said. “In high school, the seniors were obviously seniors, and the freshmen were low on the totem pole. But here all the seniors are great.” In fact, head coach Gabriel Garcia ’00 said this year’s squad was one of the tightest in the program’s 30-year history. Garcia, who has now served as head coach for three years, said that the team’s spirit rivaled the squads he played on as an undergrad — squads that regularly took down schools such as the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. While he said that the current incarnation may not be at that level quite yet, the progress the players made this year and the sense of team spirit they exhibited give him every reason to believe that they soon will be. “We’re such a tight group. If you need help on anything, you can call anyone,” Garcia said. “Once you’re a Lad, you’re always a Lad.” —Casey Michel

Learn more about the Lads: ›› › 48


“We all have obligations to give back when we can, and Rice is one of mine.” — Bob Easton

Joan and Bob Easton ’66

A Legacy of Inspiration The year was 1962. Rice was celebrating its semicentennial, and at a podium in Rice Stadium, President John F. Kennedy announced an ambitious plan to send the first man to the moon. In the audience was Bob Easton ’66, a freshman who was discovering a new kind of home in Rice. While Bob was growing up, his family had relocated nearly every year because of his father’s line of work in the power plant industry. His five years at Rice provided a newfound stability, and he made the most of it, earning both a B.A. and B.S. in chemical engineering, serving as Baker College’s treasurer, producing the first in-college theatre production, managing the Thresher and developing friendships that have lasted to this day. “Rice was very good to me and really shaped my life,” he said. Now, as Rice approaches its centennial in 2012, Bob and his wife, Joan, are helping shape the life of the university. They established four charitable remainder unitrusts that will not only benefit Rice in the future, but also provide Bob and Joan and their siblings with a lifetime of quarterly income payments.

[ Creative Giving Tip: Retirement Plan Assets ] Establishing a charitable remainder trust is a tax-efficient way to diversify out of highly appreciated stock while creating an income stream for yourself and fulfilling your philanthropic goals.

To learn more about including the university in your estate or establishing a charitable remainder trust in support of the Centennial Campaign, please contact the Office of Gift Planning. Phone: 713-348-4624



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Rice University Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892

Rice Day!

President David Leebron’s town hall on Rice Day, Oct. 12, not only marked the official opening of the university 98 years ago, but also kicked off the countdown that will culminate in Rice’s Centennial Celebration on Rice Day 2012. As President Leebron closed his presentation to an attentive audience, balloons cascaded down to a fanfare from the MOB, and cheerleaders and Sammy the Owl took the stage and had the crowd dancing in the aisles. A student picnic later in the day also celebrated the Centennial Celebration kickoff. Visit the photo gallery ›››

Rice Magazine Issue 8  

Rice Magazine is published by the Office of Public Affairs of Rice University and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, graduate stu...

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