Rice Magazine | Spring 2017

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The Magazine of Rice University


Rice historians explore new mapping technologies


ALSO How six alumni found their dream jobs A space for starry nights The Moody Center for the Arts opens


book, “A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America,” helps amateurs identify nearly every butterfly on the continent, including this one, Strymon martialis, a Florida native that Glassberg photographed in its subtropical habitat. For more on butterflies and why we love them, turn to Page 42.

The Magazine of Rice University


Contents F EATUR ES



New technologies are helping researchers chart a detailed path through history, and Rice is leading the way.



Alumni who steered their careers — and lives — in unexpected directions share their stories of reinvention.



An amateur astronomer studies the night lights in his not-so-amateur observatory.



S A L LY P O R T News and views from campus


SCOREBOARD Dispatches from Rice Athletics


A B ST R ACT Findings, research and more


SCENE A glimpse at campus life


ARTS & LETTERS Creative ideas and endeavors


FA M I LY A L B U M From Rice’s archive


on the web MAGAZINE.RICE.EDU Our online magazine features select content from the print edition, multimedia stories, fresh updates between issues and a link to our flip-through magazine (and archives) via ISSUU.

Featured Contributors Sarah Bronson ’09

(“This Authentic Life”) is a wrangler of academic manuscripts, a columnist covering immigrant-run restaurants and a ruminator on the uses of language. She lives in Houston. Nicky Ackland-Snow

(“Mapping the Questions”) is a U.K.-based illustrator and fine artist whose clients include Bloomberg Press, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. When she isn’t creating collages, Nicky spends her time as a Level 1 football (soccer) coach.


‘POKEMON GO’ When Michael Groth graduates this May with a degree in mechanical engineering, he won’t be following a typical career path. Instead, he plans to manage and grow his highly successful Pokemon YouTube channel. In this short segment, Groth describes how he first got involved in making Pokemon-related videos and how being at Rice has fostered his creativity. With almost 10 million views on his most popular video and nearly half a million subscribers, Groth has decided to make YouTubing a full-time career.

Follow Rice Magazine on Instagram and Twitter

Allyn West

(“Mapping the Questions”) is a writer and editor with the Houston Chronicle. He lives in Houston with his wife and daughter. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @allynwest.

On the Cover

Do you tweet? Rice Magazine shares news and views — and connects with alumni around the world — via our Twitter account. @RiceMagazine 2

Are you more of a visual person? Would you like to see more of Rice’s beautiful campus? Catch our behind-the-scenes photos, campus shots and more via Instagram. @Rice_Magazine

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An illustration by artist Nicky Ackland-Snow evokes the multilayered imagery of modern cartographic technologies.


The Magazine of Rice University spring 2017 Rice Magazine is published four times a year and is sent to university alumni, faculty, staff, parents of undergraduates and friends of the university.

Experienced bus driver

Published by the Office of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, vice president EDITOR











Jon-Paul Estrada Amy McCaig Chuck Pool Kendall Schoemann Mike Williams INTERNS

Natalie Danckers ’17 Taegan Howells ’18

My Brilliant High School Careers


Y F I R S T J O B WA S at a clothing shop in the mall, and I lied about my age (I was not quite 16) to get it. The outgoing personality required for selling clothes — versus merely having patrons try them on — clashed with my shy nature and I was “let go” within weeks. Luckily, the Hudson-Belk cafeteria was hiring, and so I became a tea and water pourer. This is not as exciting as it sounds, though it did come with a hairnet. And while I loved eating in this elegant Southern cafeteria, famous for its strawberry shortcake, showing up day after day for the same routine was boring. Finally, I got the best job of my high school career, as a school bus driver, which was a job they eagerly gave to 17-year-olds back then. I loved this job for two reasons — it paid above minimum wage and I got to skip seventh period to drive my route. The middle school routes were the most challenging, and sometimes I had to pull the bus over and tell everyone to pipe down. If I had a morning route, I parked the big yellow bus at home, and on cold days my dad would go out early to crank up the engine and turn on the heat. These jobs have no direct line to a career as an editor and writer — or do they? I’m still introverted and can’t imagine working in sales. I value variety (hello, stories!) over routine work. And, while I’ve not had to tell anyone to pipe down in quite some time, I love putting lots of people in a car and driving.

Most of all, I appreciate the small kindnesses that make the workplace more inviting. In our feature on reinvention, we take a more serious look back at the winding professional routes taken by a half-dozen alumni who ultimately ended up happy in their careers. In every case, what could be considered a “false start” played a critical role in where they eventually landed … For now, that is. Navigation seems to be a theme of this issue, and Rice is an innovator in the burgeoning field of “spatial humanities” — a collaborative approach to understanding our past that combines old and new worlds of cartography. We’ve been following the development of imagineRio, an interactive and illustrated atlas built by a Rice historian and architect, for a couple years now. Viewers can navigate through 500 years of the history of Rio de Janeiro at imaginerio.org. Finally, this issue’s “Unconventional Wisdom” portrait features the inspiring force that is psychologist and much-lauded professor Mikki Hebl. Elsewhere, we congratulate the women’s basketball team on a winning season, bring you stories about applied science, trace a student’s Nobel-worthy family tree and celebrate the opening of the stunning new Moody Center for the Arts. Now, pipe down and read on. — LYNN GOSNELL m aga z i n e . ric e . e du



Dear Editors:

F R O M T H E L AT E S T I S S U E , I have noted several book titles that I intend to give to family members — yes, I still give books as gifts. I was most struck by the “Breathe Easy, Repeat” article. I am convinced that it is a project that only a faculty member who is a mother would have felt so intensely compelled to spearhead. I recall serving on a grant panel where Professor Richards-Kortum’s proposal stood out in an impressive field of ambitious ideas. It is wonderful that she has a scientific partner who is equally as passionate, and the name MORRK says it all! This is why we need to be attentive to hiring women and minority faculty who perceive problems and tackle ideas from their unique perspectives. Moreover, we need to be sure to support them once they have arrived on campus: all faculty need to be trained to mentor younger faculty, postdocs and graduate students who are from diverse backgrounds. — AMY CHENG VOLLMER ’77

THE SUGGE STIONS BY THE experts from the Baker Institute were excellent, but there were no citations of constitutional authority for any of the government actions. Nor was there any discussion of costs or how to pay for the recommended government initiatives. Have the Constitution and the budget become irrelevant? I hope that Baker Institute authors will comment in future issues of Rice Magazine on other issues, such as economic policy, immigration, foreign policy and the environment. — BART RICE ’65

T H E M O R E T H I N G S C H A N G E , the more they stay the same. From 1973 to 1977 (and beyond?), the tree at the Rayzor Hall end of the Fondren Library colonnade was festooned with hammocks every Friday afternoon. The occupants called themselves “Zen Druids.” Christopher Zakes ’77 was the first hammock-er, in 1973, and others, including my acrophobic self, soon followed. — DEBBIE DAVIES (HUFFMAN) ’77

Selected Survey Results: Winter 2017 TOP-READ DEPARTMENT

Abstract Reader comment: “Science and religion do not clash; people clash.”


“Breathe Easy, Repeat: How Good Design Could Save a Million Babies Every Year”

Have a comment, criticism or story idea? Write to us at ricemagazine@rice.edu. 4

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Robert B. Tudor III, chairman; Edward B. “Teddy” Adams Jr.; J.D. Bucky Allshouse; Doyle Arnold; Nancy Packer Carlson; Albert Chao; T. Jay Collins; Mark Dankberg; Ann Doerr; Doug Foshee; Lawrence Guffey; James T. Hackett; Patti Kraft; Robert T. Ladd; Charles Landgraf; David Rhodes; Ruth Simmons; Jeffery Smisek; Amy Sutton; Gloria Meckel Tarpley; Guillermo Treviño; Randa Duncan Williams; Scott Wise; Huda Zoghbi. ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE RS

David W. Leebron, president; Marie Lynn Miranda, provost; Kathy Collins, vice president for Finance; Klara Jelinkova, vice president for IT and chief information officer; Kevin Kirby, vice president for Administration; Caroline Levander, vice president of Strategic Initiatives and Digital Education; Chris Muñoz, vice president for Enrollment; Allison Kendrick Thacker, vice president for Investments and treasurer; Linda Thrane, vice president for Public Affairs; Richard A. Zansitis, vice president and general counsel; Darrow Zeidenstein, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations. E DITORIAL OFFICES

Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 Phone: 713-348-6768 ricemagazine@rice.edu POSTMASTE R

Send address changes to: Rice University Development Services–MS 80 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 © May 2017 Rice University

president’s note DAVID W. LEEBRON

Educating for a World of Change


S A LIFELONG TRAVELER to countries around the world, I often provide students with the following advice: “Travel as soon as you have the time and money, because two things happen. The world changes, and you change.” Today, the borders and constructs (e.g., “Iron Curtain”) and even some countries that I confronted as a teenager traveling around Europe in the 1970s no longer exist. The China I explored in early the 1980s, where everyone wore a tunic in one of two colors, has little resemblance to the bustling China of today. And although the barns I slept in during a trek in the Himalayas in 1980 may be little changed, my willingness to sleep in such places has. Of course, this observation about change is not limited to travel. When it comes to technology and means of communicating, for example, the world has experienced a revolution in the last 15 years. The employment opportunities of today little resemble those that our graduates faced at the beginning of this century. And yet many of those midcareer graduates are now turning to those new opportunities. Some, as they change and as the world also changes, develop new passions and seek to match their professional lives with those passions. In this issue, we explore a few of those stories. Oren Hayon ’94 majored in English at Rice and went to Hollywood to be a writer and producer. But ultimately his passions evolved; he became interested in religion and studied to become rabbi. Now, as the chief rabbi of Congregation Emanu El, he finds himself just across the street from Rice, where his fascination with delving deeply into words and their meaning began. MJ Kwan ’10 studied architecture at Rice and then moved to Beijing, where she was engaged with large-scale modern projects. But ultimately she was moved by her passion for music toward an old profession: that of luthier, a crafter of violins. Ariana Myers, who graduated from Rice in 1992, started out studying engi-

neering but ended up a linguistics major. With that degree, she wound up working in finance in London, went to business school, worked in commercial real estate finance, climbed mountains and then started a business in home health care. What all of these Rice grads have in common, and in common with so many others, is that Rice was only the beginning of their explorations of the world and its possibilities, and of themselves and their passions. We’re told that in the midst of all the changes in our world, today’s graduates will have seven careers over their lifetime. I’m not sure that’s true, but it’s very likely to be more than one or two. How do we prepare our students for that? We do it by developing their intellectual curiosity and breadth. We expose them to new things that might develop into their passions. We instill the capability for deep and critical thinking. We train them to bring perspectives and insights not only from within their discipline, but from other areas as well. These are some of the core aspirations underlying a liberal arts education. Our students must be able to draw broadly from different aspects of human knowledge and experience if they are going to be able to confront this world of change. And that brings me to the importance of art — on our campus and in our education. I confess I have a bias here. As an undergraduate, I studied the history of chemistry, and in particular its evolution in the latter part of the 19th century. It was during that time

that scientists developed a three-dimensional understanding of the arrangement of atoms within molecules. That required a lot of creative thinking and imagination, and scientists drew on shapes and patterns that sometimes had more in common with artistic thinking. Even our own discovery of the structure of carbon 60 relied on drawing a connection between the artistic and architectural conceptions of Buckminster Fuller — think of the geodesic dome —and the possibilities for chemical structure: hence, buckminsterfullerene. The Moody Center for the Arts is intended to draw across the disciplines and provide opportunities both for students committed to the arts as their primary endeavor and those seeking new ways of understanding and portraying the world within the context of other disciplines. Here’s what John de Menil said on the subject of science and art in an interview with film director Roberto Rossellini: “[I]t’s a common saying that science and art are two different worlds, but it just isn’t so, it isn’t true. Art thrives on great civilization and great civilizations are based on scientific accomplishment, on scientific supremacy. And the idea of an educated person that would know only about science or know only about art is just the wrong idea; you have to have both. And one supports the other.” The building, which opened in February, itself represents boldness and change on our campus. That does not mean we have any less commitment to the coherent historic center of our campus and its traditional Mediterranean Byzantine design. The choice to make the Moody Center a bold building was deliberate, a symbol that we must bring new creativity and innovation to all we do, even while incorporating key elements of tradition. And while it is the responsibility of all of us to preserve the very best things about Rice, the things that make us distinctive, it is equally our responsibility to seek progress and innovation and inspire our students to embrace the world of change they will confront. m aga z i n e . ric e . e du



N e ws a n d VIEWS f ro m Ca m p u s

VESPERTINE AWAKENINGS AFTER A WEEKLONG residency at the Shepherd School of Music, the Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre premiered “Vespertine Awakenings” Feb. 27 at the James Turrell Skyspace. The performance was part of the opening celebration of Rice’s new Moody Center for the Arts. The commissioned dance work was presented with an original music score by Rice’s Kurt Stallmann. “I wanted to create a work where I mix colors similar to the way Turrell blends four colors of light to create all of the amazing hues for his shows,” Stallmann said. “In this piece’s sound recording, each singer was given the freedom to enter and exit the texture at their own pace. This had the effect of smearing harmonies and creating many different sound colors.” Visit moody.rice.edu. — KENDALL SCHOEMANN


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Tuned In WHEN MARTEL COLLEGE opened in 2002, it was the first new college at Rice in more than 30 years. Because its benefactor, Speros P. Martel, was a Greek immigrant, it made perfect sense to honor him with a Greek-themed party. Erin Sozanski ’07 recalled the first “Greek week” tradition in 2005. “We had light pink and blue T-shirts, a toga party and a Mr. Martel pageant.” Her favorite event was the Mr. Martel competition, where contestants showed off such unconventional talents as dancing, falconry and poetry recitation. All colleges celebrate Beer Bike in their own unique ways, but beginning in 2012, Martel sought to outdo rival colleges with the construction of massive sets known as “builds.” The first build was a 35-foot-high temple called “Alepocalypse: The End is Beer.” “It was a riff on the popular mythology that the Mayans believed 2012 would mark the end of the earth,” said Helene Dick ’14, who served as a Beer Bike coordinator. In 2013, the build was a two-story pineapple house inspired by the cartoon “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

The following year, Martel builders constructed an elaborate life-size replica of the board game Candy Land (dubbed, naturally, “Brandyland: Case Race to Rumdrop Mountain”). The final product, according to Justin Montes ’14, featured “a realistic peanut brittle cottage, a fourstory facade of King Candy’s Castle, a small Gumdrop Mountain, a pleasant Plum Tree, a two-story, freestanding Licorice Castle and a set of colored tiles with 30 spaces from the beginning to Rumdrop Mountain. There’s a highbrow element to the college’s traditions as well. In fall 2005, Ralph S. O’Connor, Karen Mathews and Karen Ostrum George ’77 — Martel associates and longtime Rice benefactors — donated a piano to the college. Zach Averyt ’08 recalled that he and other Martelians wanted to express their thanks to the donors, “and we decided that the best way to do that would be to showcase the instrument in performance.” Averyt and Karen Jeng ’08, both music students, put together a program that ran from Chopin to Prokofiev. The recital has become an annual event, usually held in February, said Maria Byrne, Martel College coordinator. From piano concertos to big builds, Martel is tuned in to college traditions. — FRANZ BROTZEN ’80



A lot of work went into ensuring that Rice’s 1,923 seniors and graduate students got their diplomas May 12 and 13, 2017. We talked with Hannes Hofer, facilities project manager with Rice’s Department of Facilities, Engineering and Planning, for the numbers.

8,000 chairs placed in the academic quad


hours of labor invested by FE&P personnel


two-way radios for commencement marshals


days to build the platform in the quad


5,434 Junior Andrew Supron plays the piano at Martel College.

people who can fit in Tudor Fieldhouse (the rain location)


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sa l ly p o rt | sy l l a b u s


The Art of Telling Tales Justin Cronin’s fiction writing class is based on the premise that the best way to write a novel is to write. Cronin would know: He’s the author of five novels, including the Passage Trilogy, his best-selling postapocalyptic vampire series. And while his novels have been both commercially successful and critically acclaimed (he’s won the PEN/Hemingway Award, the Stephen Crane Prize and the Whiting Award), he urges his students to keep their eyes off the prizes and to start at the beginning. “The best advice I can give any young writer is to write something you would actually want to read and to aim toward a genre that you like simply because you like it,” he instructed his students. “Do not try to impress anyone (least of all me) with your highbrow tastes, even if you have them.”

ENGL 401

Advanced Fiction Writing (Spring 2017)

DEPARTMENT English DESCRIPTION Each student will design the entirety of an original novel in the genre of his or her choice and write the first 80–100 pages of the text. There is no expectation that the work that students produce will be especially literary (whatever that means) or, for that matter, successful (i.e., “good”).


Democracy in Action While the class is small — only eight students — it’s by no means elitist. The students voted on its reading list, which includes young adult literature, science fiction, fantasy and horror. “It’s their class,” Cronin said. “I told them they’re probably not going to write ‘Moby Dick,’ so let’s not read Melville. You’re modeling books that you like, that you know. As a consequence, we’ve had an obscure Soviet science fiction title and a YA fantasy novel — it’s aimed at 16-year-old girls, but why not? I don’t have to like it. But to the young woman who picked it, that novel was a touchstone.” Worlds Apart The reading for one class was a 1971 Russian novel, “Roadside Picnic,” in which aliens have visited Earth and left behind mysterious artifacts that have terrible effects on the people

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who find them. Not everyone in the class enjoyed the book, but they agreed it was unsettling, which seemed to be the point. “Science fiction is not afraid to lose a reader,” Cronin said. Some students complained that it was distracting to keep up with the details of the sci-fi setting. “When I was writing ‘The Passage,’ I created a document describing [the fictional world] for the reader in advance of actually going there, and I still got complaints,” Cronin said. Family-Size Fantasy Knowing it would be a challenge didn’t stop Cronin’s students from creating elaborate fictional worlds, however. Sophomore Erika Schumacher’s novel centers on three siblings who are fleeing their war-torn homeland when the eldest winds up in a magical coma, and the younger two must find a way to heal him. Interwoven with the main

conflict is a secondary story about a man on a quest to stop a doomsday curse. “It’s a story with alternating perspectives that are on differing timelines, and it’s also a family drama in a fantasy package,” Schumacher explained. How to Write Some of Cronin’s writing lessons apply to any genre. His main advice: Set time aside to write, use that time to write and keep writing. “A book is a person sitting in a room trying to do some work,” he said. “It doesn’t come from outer space. It doesn’t emerge out of whole cloth. It’s a daily job.” The only way to finish the job is to get to the end — and that means not getting sidelined by your inner critic along the way. — JENNIFER LATSON

To read an excerpt of Erika Schumacher’s novel, go to magazine.rice.edu/2017/05/es.


Greetings from Seoul 서울에서 띄우는 편지 TREY O’NEILL ’10


URING MY SECOND week living here in Seoul, I ate a tuna’s eye the size of a gumball because my new Korean colleagues insisted that it would bring me strength and good luck. The eye wasn’t pleasant, but I certainly hope it was worth it. Experiences like that one are what have made my time living in Seoul so fascinating. Every day brings new tastes, sights and sounds. While missing important events back home has been difficult, Seoul’s unceasing activity keeps me occupied. I tell people that Seoul is just like New York, but everything is an adventure: the PHOTOGRAPH BY JUN MICHAEL PARK

noise, lights and food are all unfamiliar. There is a ’90s K-pop club and more “tteokbokki” (spicy rice cakes) street vendors on my block than I know what to do with. All of the neon streetlights, board game cafes and soju (a Korean rice-based alcohol) add to the excitement. I speak English at work and many of my friends are expats, so my Korean language skills plateaued early, frequently leaving me without a clue as to what was going on. Once, I took a visiting friend to a restaurant and ordered sannakji, which is live octopus that’s still wriggling when you eat it. It had always come prechopped when I ordered it before, so when the waitress explained something I couldn’t understand, I just nodded. She then brought out a plate of noodles with a live octopus that was trying to escape, and handed me a pair of scissors. I handed the scissors back and she helped us, but it was a very scary meal. Believe it or not, soju-fueled Scrabble tournaments are not what brought me to

Seoul. I work as a consultant in Samsung’s Global Strategy Group, an opportunity that came after I got my MBA from a business school called INSEAD. My work requires organizational leadership and teamwork, which are skills that I learned at Rice by managing Willy’s Pub and helping to found The Hoot [a late-night, student-run café]. One of the best parts of my current job is working with colleagues who hail from many countries. When I’m not at work, I spend my time training for marathons and hiking in Bukhansan National Park, which is about an hour outside the city. After a year of living here, I’ve adopted some Korean customs. For example, I no longer allow people to wear shoes in my home, and I eat kimchi whenever I have the chance. I feel lucky to have been able to live in Seoul, a great city that I had never even considered visiting, much less living in. Maybe the tuna eyeball made good on its promise. — AS TOLD TO NATALIE DANCKERS ’17 m aga z i n e . ric e . e du


sa l ly p o rt | U nc o n ve n t i o na l wi s d o m

The People Builder

Soon after earning her Ph.D. in psychology from Dartmouth College, M I K K I H E B L found herself choosing between jobs at Rice University and Davidson College. “In graduate school, my dream job was Davidson, because it focused on teaching and not research, and I didn’t think I wanted much of a research career,” she said. But Rice turned out to be the perfect fit. Twenty years into a rewarding career as an applied psychologist, Hebl finds that her research enlivens the classroom experience, and vice versa. In her study of gender, diversity and discrimination, Hebl and her students mine the subtle, yet pervasive, ways in which people discriminate, as well as how individuals and organizations can remediate discrimination. Because she has received so many George R. Brown teaching awards, Hebl is now part of an exclusive club of Rice professors who are no longer eligible for the honor. A 2016 recipient of the prestigious Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, given annually by Baylor University, Hebl just wrapped up a semester teaching in Waco. We caught up with her in her bright and airy Sewall Hall office. ON DI S C R I M I NAT ION

In my lab and in the field, we examine the overt as well as the more subtle types of discrimination and argue that subtle forms of discrimination can be just as pernicious. My research blends social, interpersonal and organizational perspectives to examine both kinds of discrimination. I S I T M E? I S T H AT P E R S ON RU DE OR ... P R E J U DIC E D?

With more overt types of discrimination, targets of discrimination can clearly 10

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U nc o n ve n t i o na l wi s d o m | sa l ly p o rt

identify that the problem lies outside of themselves. That is, if people say, “I don’t like you because you are ‘X’,” then it becomes clear that this is prejudice, plain and simple. However, if someone displays more subtle discrimination, targets often experience the rudeness, unfriendliness or negative behaviors as ambiguous. They may spend enormous amounts of time and energy trying to figure out intent. “Was the person being rude?” or “Are they prejudiced?” or “Was it something I did?” This thinking can eat up cognitive resources and take attention away from more important things in the interaction — it can be exhausting. The disadvantage created and maintained by these seeming molehills of subtle discrimination can result in mountains of disparity. ON E P OW E R F U L WAY T O A DDR E S S S U B T L E DI S C R I M I NAT ION

There are many strategies we can use. One is to stand up and say, “Hey, I’m one of these people, and when you discriminate, you discriminate against people like me.” Obviously, there’s potential for backlash, but it also identifies that the population is larger than people think. That can be really powerful.

our actors in both the short- and long-term results. “Majority” or “high status” individuals are particularly good allies as they are better able to persuade other majority members. HOW OR GA N I Z AT IONS E NAC T S O C I A L C H A NG E

There are examples of how organizations act as microcosms of society and can direct policies at more national levels. For instance, with respect to LGBT rights, many organizations took it upon themselves to offer same-sex partner benefits or have a zero tolerance LGBT discrimination policy at their

If you visit one of my classes, you will note I’m an active learning task devotee. Active learning tasks keep students’ attention and helps them learn better by doing. institutions. Essentially, then, organizations can help enact social change.


People we call allies can play an incredibly powerful role in reducing discrimination. In one of my studies, we examined when “confederates” (actors playing the role of research participants) condoned or condemned discrimination and found that unknowing participants were very likely to mimic

are actually not willing to try, pickled pig’s feet. I might ask students to repeat a story several times in a row to each other to demonstrate how much their stereotypes influence their memories. Or I might manipulate one student to be “innocent” and one to have “murdered Violent Rose, the partner of Hershel Big Foot, the dance hall Romeo” and ask the students to use law and psychology-related strategies to act as jury members in deciding guilt and innocence. I might ask students to come up with their own active learning tasks and then have them demonstrate, collect data on and publish with them. It’s not just fun and games. You


If you visit one of my classes, you will note I’m an active learning task devotee. Active learning tasks keep students’ attention and help them learn better by doing. I might demonstrate how students say they will try, but

have to set the tone and you have to tell them what they’re going to learn or what you’re trying to do in the exercises. TEACHING AT BAYLOR AFTE R WINNING THE ROBE RT FOSTE R CHE R RY AWAR D

This semester I taught at Baylor. Yes, Baylor is a religious institution, so I was amazed at my first faculty meeting when an administrator asked, “Can I get a

hallelujah?” and “Can I get an amen?” It’s been a very positive force in making me reflect upon and practice my own faith more. It also encouraged me to step outside the “Rice bubble.” And I think it is critical to my understanding and research to see how other people view diversity and discrimination, too. In Waco, my family is not with me, so I’m taking in a lot more of the college environment. I’ve been to a basketball game, a theater performance, trivia night at the pub, a religious event and a fraternity-sorority sing-off. Taking part in these Baylor traditions makes me eager to attend more Rice events, especially the ones that make Rice “Rice.” That’s just another way that Baylor has been a gift to me. M A R AT HONS I N 50 S TAT E S + S E V E N C ON T I N E N TS = A M A R AT HON I NG L I F E

I always say, marathoning is a good metaphor for life. For example, there have been some rough miles — when your baby has colic, when you have unexpected surgeries or when relationships don’t work out the way you expect them to. But these hard miles make you aware of the easy ones — the relationships that do work out, the miracle of children, the ability to walk (or run) a part of life with students, and just the general knowledge that you picked a career that fits pretty darn well with your personality. — INTERVIEW BY LYNN GOSNELL

To see an expanded version of this interview and a video of Hebl in the classroom, go to magazine.rice.edu. m aga z i n e . ric e . e du


di s pat c h e s f ro m ric e at h l e t ic s


Leaving it All on the Court

ENIOR GUARD MAYA HAWKINS (shown here, being hugged by a smiling senior forward Jasmine Goodwine) had lots to celebrate after cinching the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI) tournament’s MVP title. “As a senior, your ultimate dream is to win your final game,” Hawkins said. “I think that’s what made our win and championship run so special — not only did we win our last game, but we were able to do so on our home court in front of our fans, friends and family.” While the WBI championship was a highlight for the team,


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the 22–13 season wasn’t without its challenges — from travel issues and personal struggles to serious injuries, including a concussion endured by Goodwine, a starter and leading scorer. “You can’t just wish your way to a championship. You work, you cry and you fight through tons of adversity, and you do it all together. That’s what makes you stronger,” said Tina Langley, the Rice women’s basketball head coach. “Our seniors poured their hearts and souls into this program, and we will proudly hang the WBI championship banner in their honor.” — KENDALL SCHOEMANN



Zachary Esquivel









Zachary Esquivel started playing baseball when he was 3 years old, and 17 years later, he is still playing — now as a Rice Owls’ pitcher. As of press time, he shares the team lead in wins and has played the most innings. However, the sophomore pitcher doesn’t only work hard on the baseball field. “I am constantly having to miss either lab or practice to fit in both academics and athletics,” he said. Still, through careful planning and communication with coaches and professors, Esquivel manages to remain an active part of the baseball team while tackling challenging courses. MONDAYS 6:45 a.m.


5:30 p.m.

Alarm goes off; hit the snooze button

Lunch at Sid Rich for grilled-cheese Monday

Head to the bull pens for batting practice

8 a.m.

1 p.m.

6:30 p.m.

Class: General Chemistry

Lift weights at Tudor

Go to chemistry lab

“Grind to get the extra credit point of the day!”

“Time for pitchers to show their real athleticism.”


10 a.m. Class: Mechanics of Solids

“Don’t blow anything up.”

9:30 p.m. 3:30 p.m. Practice: Pitcher fielding defense and bunt coverage

Head to Chick-fil-A for dinner

The Rice Owls football team will open its 2017 season facing the same opponent it met in the 2016 season finale — but this time in Australia. Rice and Stanford will meet in the second annual Sydney Cup Aug. 26 (Aug. 27 in Sydney). It will mark the first time the Owls have played a football game outside the United States as well as their earliest season opener. Rice and Stanford met for the first time since 1964 to close out the 2016 regular season, with the Cardinals winning 41–17. “This is a unique opportunity for us, one that I’m not sure we will have again in the near future,” said Joe Karlgaard, Rice’s director of athletics. “For our football players, many of whom have never been abroad, this trip will be as much about experiencing a new culture as it will be about the game itself.” Anthony Travel, the fan travel partner for the Sydney Cup, is offering travel packages. — CHUCK POOL Interested fans can visit sydneycuptravel.com/rice, or call 877-260-0645. For all ticketing information, go to ticketek.com.au. m aga z i n e . ric e . e du


F i n di ng s , Re s e a r c h and m o re

Lydia Kavraki


Bridging the Gender Gap in Computing Worlds


H E N A L L ISON H EAT H ’04 WAS A SOPHOMOR E at Rice, she received an email from Computer Science Professor Lydia Kavraki asking if she was interested in an undergraduate research opportunity for the summer. That summer sowed the seeds of her Ph.D. and started a journey of mentorship under Kavraki. One of Rice’s most prolific researchers in computational robotics and biomedicine, Kavraki has been the base from which many students — especially women — have launched successful careers. In her home country of Greece, Kavraki was one of the few women studying in a prestigious computer science department at the University of Crete — and one of its


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first graduates. At the time, she didn’t give much thought to why there were so few female computer science students. “We took it for granted and moved along,” she said. It was only later that she realized that the lack of women in computing and technology was not an accident — in fact, she maintains, it’s a result of entrenched biases that preclude women from making certain career choices. Her presence at Rice is a reassuring one to female students. “When you know that your adviser is a superstar in her field who gets awards every year, you feel like it’s normal for women to excel,” said Sarah Kim, a fourth-year Ph.D. student and one of Kavraki’s advisees. At the national level, only 18 percent of computer science majors are women. But Rice is bucking the trend: in 2014, 30 percent of Rice’s computer science graduates were female. For the last 10 years, Kavraki has been the sponsor of CSters (pronounced sisters), a group of Rice women in computing founded by undergraduate students in 2002. The group stays active, organizing trips to conferences, inviting speakers to Rice and visiting potential employers. “It’s very important to have good mentors,” Kavraki said. “Moshe Vardi (professor of computational engineering) helped me a lot when I started working at Rice.” Kavraki’s influence is not lost on her former students either. Heath, now the director of data technology and innovation at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, remembers a particular moment that highlighted Kavraki’s dedication to her students. “I had a paper accepted to one of the top computational biology conferences, but I was very nervous about giving a talk. Lydia took several hours of her evening to go over it with me multiple times. The next day, I gave a solid talk. Looking back to that moment, I realize just how far I have come thanks to Lydia’s mentorship.” On April 26, Kavraki received the Association for Computing Machinery’s Athena Lecturer Award, honoring women researchers who make fundamental contributions to computer science. — SUKHADA TATKE




designed by students at Rice lets people with diabetes see into the future and know that without proper care, the future does not look good. The educational tool was developed by a team of students working on behalf of the Rice 360˚ Institute for Global Health. The glasses will help doctors show patients how their vision could deteriorate over time due to diabetic retinopathy, an eye disease that can result from uncontrolled diabetes and lead to blindness. They hope the tool will encourage patients to follow their doctors’ protocols.

“Retinopathy is not curable,” said senior psychology major Anna Klineberg, who worked on the project with her teammates at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. “A lot of people with diabetes get retinopathy, and a lot of them have never even heard of the disease. So we’re targeting these patients early and have either health care providers or retinopathy specialists show them that if they’re not careful, this is what could happen.” The lenses show them how retinopathy progressively damages a patient’s vision. Though the glasses are geared specifically to low-resource settings like those served by Rice 360˚, they hope anyone who works with diabetics will find them helpful. — MIKE WILLIAMS


Children’s Asthma and Poor Neighborhoods

African-American and poor children in the United States suffer disproportionately from asthma. A new study from Rice sociologists finds that this may be a result of social inequalities. R I C E R E S E A R C H E R S recently found that of the more than 12,000 children in Houston who have asthma, the chronic disease of airways in the lungs is more prevalent among African-American children than white children and occurs most often among African-American children living in poor neighborhoods. The researchers also found that children of all races and ethnicities, including white children, have a greater risk of developing asthma when they live in poor neighborhoods, compared with children living in middle-class or affluent neighborhoods. “We set out to find out if there is a concentration of children in different neighborhoods that was more likely to have asthma,” said lead author Ashley Kranjac, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Sociology and the Kinder Institute Urban Health Program at Rice. “We found, as others have, that asthma is more widespread among AfricanAmerican children and children in poor neighborhoods. But in addition, we found that African-American children suffer disproportionately in every kind of neigh-

borhood, from the poorest to the wealthiest.” “Higher levels of income and higher levels of education go hand in hand,” Kranjac said. “It may be that parents with more education have greater access to information on poor air quality and its effects on asthma. These individuals may not only be more likely to know how to access information on air quality but also decide to have their children play inside or be able to travel outside of their community on poor air quality days.” Kranjac said that it is equally concerning that African-American children, even in the wealthiest neighborhoods, are disproportionately suffering from asthma. “The drivers of those differences are not likely physiological, but rooted in social and racial inequalities,” she said. Kranjac and her co-authors hope the research will lead others to treat social and racial inequalities as central drivers of the asthma gap in children. — AMY MCCAIG

The study is online at ricemagazine.info/NCBI and was funded by Houston Endowment. Read more at ricemagazine.info/asthma.

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a b s t r ac t | Re s e a r c h BrIE F s


It’s a Wasp-Eat-Wasp World

Evolutionary biologists at Rice discovered a new wasp species that feeds on other wasps.


GALL WASPS INFEST OAK TREES for Florida in summer 2014 before finding it in EMERGES THROUGH shelter and sustenance, but their wasp enemy trees at Rice and in an oak tree in his front yard. THE HOST’S has an even more insidious agenda, according As part of this study, E. set has now been found HEAD. in Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. to Rice scientists. The wasp known as Euderus set, or E. set, deposits an egg in the developing gall The researchers hope to discover how E. set wasp’s woody home. The young E. set eventually chews its way triggers the change in Bassettia’s behavior. “One hard thing to freedom — through its host’s head. is that we can’t see what’s happening until they come out,” Rice evolutionary biologists Kelly Weinersmith and Scott Egan Weinersmith said. “We’re talking to people to see if we can CAT recently published their research on the species and its ghoulish scan the branches in various stages.” survivor skills. The discoverers named their wasp for Set, the Because close to 600 species in the Eulophid family, which Egyptian god of evil and chaos who trapped his brother Osiris in includes these parasitic wasps, are found in North America, and a crypt, killed him and then cut him into little pieces. many attack or serve as biocontrol agents for agricultural pests, the The tiny, iridescent parasite hijacks its host, Bassettia pallida, researchers would also like to know if E. set’s manipulations are more common. “That’s what I love about parasite manipulation of which would normally mature inside the the gall and tunnel its way out to freedom in the spring. A female E. set deposits an egg host behavior,” Weinersmith said. “So many of the stories that have into the crypt, where it manipulates the growing gall wasp, typibeen uncovered are just as cool as the coolest science fiction movie.” cally making its emergence hole too small. When the wasp tries to Egan is an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary escape, its head lodges in the hole. E. set can then consume the gall biology at Rice. Weinersmith is an adjunct faculty member and the former Huxley Fellow in Ecology and Evolution at Rice. wasp’s internal organs and emerge, “alien”-like, from its head case. Egan originally discovered the wasp on the Gulf Coast of — MIKE WILLIAMS

Euderus set manipulates the gall wasp into making and plugging a tunnel. The parasite bursts out of the crypt through its head.


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Re s e a r c h BrIE F s | a b s t r ac t

chemicals that coat it with oxygen. When contaminated water runs over a column full of OMC, the oxygen groups help the carbon attach to atoms of cesium and strontium, much as activated charcoal absorbs organic poisons. Its performance is particularly impressive with cesium. Like sodium, the cesium atom carries a single charge, but it’s so outnumbered by the sodium atoms in seawater that sorting it out can be difficult. For some reason, though, cesium sticks to the OMC better than sodium does. After filtering dirty water, OMC can be incinerated, leaving a small volume of waste that is far easier to store. Fukushima isn’t the only place OMC could be useful — legacy nuclear sites all




Rice chemists have developed a method that uses carbon to filter and clean radioactive water from nuclear plant disasters or industrial mining. SIX YEARS AFTER THE FUKUSHIMA nuclear disaster, hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water are still stored on site, too “hot” to flush into the ocean. Cleaning up this dangerous water, which is full of long-lived cesium-137 and strontium-90, would be extremely expensive, and the necessary materials are hard to generate at this scale. A new method might change that. Rice Chemistry Professor James Tour and his former postdoc Ayrat Dimiev discovered that filtering water through a chunk of carbon studded with oxygen molecules is enough to remove over 90 percent of both cesium and strontium. A few passes through such a filter would leave Fukushima water clean enough to return to the ocean, according to Tour. He and Dimiev, who is now a research professor at Kazan Federal University in Russia, published their results in January in the journal Carbon. Called oxidatively modified carbon (OMC), their material is made of coke, the cheap, abundant residue left over after valuable fossil fuels are extracted from crude oil. The researchers ran coke through a bath of inexpensive

Rice Chemistry Professor James Tour and his former postdoc Ayrat Dimiev discovered that filtering water through a chunk of carbon studded with oxygen molecules is enough to remove over 90 percent of both cesium and strontium. over the world store contaminated water. Mining the crucial rare-earth elements that power smartphones and computers also generates radioactive waste, and the cost of dealing responsibly with that radiation is so high that the U.S. has ceased to mine these elements. China now mines most of the world’s rare-earth elements, adding to its great global market power, but it pays a steep environmental price. Tour believes the OMC purification method could actually help the U.S. begin again to mine its own rare-earth deposits. — JENNY BLAIR Read more: ricemagazine.info/CleanWater

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a b s t r ac t | Fac ult y B o o k s

Hollywood Made in China by Aynne Kokas (University of California Press, 2017)

Memory’s Encouragement A Memoir by Tony Gorry (Paul Dry Books, 2017)

T ON Y G OR RY, T H E F R I E DK I N Professor Emeritus of Management at Rice, was one of MIT’s first computer science Ph.D.s, and he spent much of his career doing research on artificial intelligence. Now in his 70s and undergoing treatment for leukemia, he turns back to basics in a quest for meaning. In “Memory’s Encouragement,” he explores the recollections of his early years and the wisdom of ancient texts, after picking up Greek late in life to be able to read Homer in the original. Early in the book, he discusses his newfound interest in the literature and technology of the past, acknowledging his own high-speed, high-tech career. “Digital technology has thrust us into the fast lane. While I have been excited to be a guest in what David Brooks calls ‘the greatest cocktail party ever,’ lately I’ve been nostalgic for times and places past.” The book examines the way memory can carry the past into the present. In recalling adventures of old, Gorry identifies with that epic adventurer, Odysseus. “I imagine myself a wanderer, one who has hurried along earlier pathways and now nears the end of his journey. ... I take more breaks to ponder where I’ve been, to reflect on beautiful vistas of the past as well as rocky stretches, slippery crossings and my wanderings off course — and the people I have met along the way. Remembrance pushes the present aside.” 18

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THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC of China is taking a lead role in Hollywood film production, Aynne Kokas notes in “Hollywood Made in China.” Kokas, an assistant professor of media studies at the University of Virginia and a nonresident scholar in the Baker Institute’s China Studies Program, studied the cultural, political and economic implications of U.S. media investment in China as it becomes the world’s largest film market. The book explores the complicated dynamics that are emerging as China’s state-run media industry takes an approach-avoidance attitude toward collaborating with Hollywood on big-budget films. It’s an uneasy alliance, but one that both sides see strong incentives to pursue, according to Kokas, who writes that “… the Chinese box office is becoming ever more essential for recuperating the costs of global blockbuster production. ‘Jurassic World’ broke opening weekend records for June 2015 in large part because of the contribution of Chinese box-office receipts. … Hollywood is increasingly building its products in China and for the Chinese market first.”

Love Among the Archives Writing the Lives of Sir George Scharf, Victorian Bachelor by Helena Michie and Robyn Warhol (Edinburgh University Press, 2015)

WHAT SHE FIRST LEARNED about Sir George Scharf convinced Rice English professor Helena Michie that he was a boring man whose greatest talent was scrapbooking. She stumbled on Scharf’s 19th-century homage to his own social life in the archives of London’s National Portrait Gallery, of which Scharf was founding director. “It was just this enormous book with invitations and menus pasted on it,” said Michie, the author of five books on Victorian studies and the study of gender and sexuality. “Some of these invitations fold up into cute little boxes, and there are pages and pages of adorable cardboard things with these descriptions of these long, 20-course meals from the biggest and most famous country houses in England.” But as Michie and her colleague Robyn Warhol, an English professor at The Ohio State University, combed through 50 years’ worth of Scharf’s diaries, they discovered a surprising fact about the Victorian bachelor: he’d been passionately involved with a younger man, who had broken his heart by marrying a woman. Their 17 years of research culminated in a rich study of Scharf’s loves and losses, debts and dinner parties. The book received the Best Book of the Year Award from the North American Victorian Studies Association in 2016.

s i x de gre e s | a b s t r ac t

SIX DEGREES OF VALHALLA is inspired by Stanley Milgram’s experiments in social networks; actor Kevin Bacon’s eponymous parlor game; the stellar academic genealogies of Rice graduate students, alumni and faculty; and the enduring awesomeness of Valhalla, Rice’s graduate student pub.



Agerton, a doctoral student, studies dynamic optimization problems that happen outside of centralized markets. Agerton’s adviser is Peter Hartley.

HARTLEY (b. 1952) is the George



METZLER (1913–1980) worked on international trade theory; the Metzler paradox is named after him. It states that imposing tariffs on imports could actually hurt the industry competing with the imported goods. Metzler received his Ph.D. from Harvard, where he befriended Paul Samuelson.

LUCAS (b. 1937) contributed to the theory of rational expectations: using what is known to make predictions about the future. He won the Nobel Prize in economics in 1995 for introducing a new approach to macroeconomics. Lucas received his Ph.D. under Arnold Harberger at the University of Chicago.



SAMUELSON (1915–2009) was



LEONTIEF (1906–1999) also won the Nobel Prize in economics (in 1973) for his work on inputoutput tables, which illustrate how one sector of the economy can affect other areas. Three of Leontief’s doctoral students, including Samuelson, became Nobel laureates.

and Cynthia Mitchell Professor of Economics and has studied energy economic issues pertaining to electricity, oil and gas, and renewable energy for 35 years. Hartley studied at the University of Chicago with Robert Lucas Jr.

HARBERGER (b. 1924) mainly studied the economics of taxation and worked on international economic development; he spent most of his career at the University of Chicago and was a mentor to many Latin American economists. He studied under Lloyd Metzler.

one of the most influential economists of the late 20th century. He was the first American to win the Nobel Prize, in 1970; was an adviser to presidents Kennedy and Johnson; and received the National Medal of Science in 1996. Samuelson studied under Wassily Leontief while at Harvard.


Zaibaq is a doctoral candidate in chemistry at Rice.

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Artful Opening Photo by Jeff Fitlow


N FEB. 24, RICE celebrated the opening of the Moody Center for the Arts, a 50,000-squarefoot space designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration through the arts. “The Moody is an experimental space for both fabrication and exhibition, with an equal emphasis on process and presentation,” said Alison Weaver, the Suzanne Deal Booth Executive Director of the Moody, who welcomed Houston civic officials, leaders of fellow cultural institutions, donors, artists, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the public to the ceremony. “It’s an extraordinarily flexible teaching space to encourage new modes of making, learning and presenting. And it’s a forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists, as well as the Houston arts community,” she said. Indeed, the Moody’s inaugural season features exhibitions and artists’ talks, dramatic and dance performances, and an artist-in-residence program and provides space for campus classes and collaborations. “The Moody Foundation realized that the center for the arts fills a need that existed at Rice,” said Ross Moody, chairman of the Moody Foundation. Designed by architect Michael Maltzan, the distinctive gray brick and glass-walled structure located on the west side of Rice’s campus has already been recognized by Architectural Digest as one of the best new university buildings in the world.

Video: ricemagazine.info/MoodyVideo 20

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MAP OF HARRIS COUNTY glows on Kelsey Walker’s computer screen. The arbitrary political boundaries of the county show up as thin black lines, containing the infinity loops of Houston’s freeways and the scratchy paths of its bayous. Most maps might stop here. Flat. Static. Passive. But Walker’s map, when activated by the clicks of her mouse, becomes almost a century long and a dozen layers deep, fed by a vast cache of data that she mined from the Harris County Appraisal District’s nearly 2 million property tax records. The map allows her to visualize the history of housing in the city. With a click, she can see where single-family homes have been built. From there, she — or any other researcher with access to these tools — can start to ask questions about sprawl, gentrification or deed restrictions. A former staff researcher in urban development, transportation and placemaking with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, Walker said that mapping has become no less than a new way to think. “I use maps all the time as ways to generate hypotheses,” she said. “They get the wheels turning a lot faster. I can


see a million housing units in a way I can’t understand a table with a million rows.” Walker earned an economics degree from Rice in 2015. As an undergraduate, she developed an interest in GIS, or geographic information systems, and the computer programs — ArcGIS, StoryMap, Juxtapose, Timeline — that support it. In her sophomore year, she took a workshop through the Humanities Research Center (HRC) that introduced her to the intricacies of what’s becoming an increasingly popular, and increasingly useful, set of skills for scholars and researchers like her in the social sciences and humanities. This is especially true at Rice, where the so-called “spatial humanities,” which incorporate new geographical technologies into disciplines like history, art and literature, are enjoying an ascendance. Though mapping itself is as old as the

desire to explore, the kinds of tools Walker uses now are changing the way research and scholarship are done, opening up possibilities for collaboration across these disciplines. One of the first projects to put Rice on the cartography map is “imagineRio,” an open-ended, web-based “cartographic platform” of the populous Brazilian city. The platform was co-created by professors Alida Metcalf, chair of the history department, and Farès el-Dahdah, director of the HRC, where Walker got her start. “The project began with the idea for an exhibit: pictures on a wall,” Metcalf said. In 2011, while teaching a course in Brazilian social history and architecture, the two profesThis map of housing units sors found that their students, in Harris County was created many of whom could not read by Kelsey Walker ’15. or speak Portuguese, could Each property has been work successfully with digicolor-coded by year built: tal primary sources. That led pre-1945 housing is maroon, to the assignment of research 1945 to 1982-built housing projects that had the stuis orange and newer condents learn how to geolocate struction is green. The map high-resolution imagery and allows researchers to visualprepare visual arguments. ize the history of housing in (Geolocate means to digitally the city, asking questions assign information, such as about sprawl, gentrification latitude or longitude coordior deed restrictions. nates, to an address, a person or an object.) “These projects helped us envision how to design ‘imagineRio’ so that it can be used by students and scholars,” Metcalf said. Today, “imagineRio” is an expanding archive poised at the intersection of space and time. It uses GIS to geolocate city plans, architectural drawings (both of realized buildings and abandoned projects), archival images from Brazil’s national library and scanned maps from the entire course of the city’s history, from 1500 to today. It looks as simple as a Google map, but that apparent simplicity belies its power. As with Walker’s map of Harris County, “imagineRio” users can single out geographic features, such as rivers or beaches, buildings and streets, or even iconography such as watercolors, sketches or paintings. A slider at the top of the map allows users to speed forward or backward in time. If you wanted, you could study the evolution of a single marsh over the course of 516 years. Or you could watch where Rio developed its cemeteries, parks or hospitals. Metcalf’s research into the social history of Rio examines the way the movement and management of water has perpetuated institutions such as slavery. Building this platform was, for her, the best way to answer her questions. “We needed to create this space where we could start to approach this new kind of history of the city,” she explained.

Right: Rice postdoc Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi created this map of colonial Lagos, Nigeria. The tools of mapping “shaped my questions” about Lagos’ spatial history.


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M A P S BY A D I M E D E A D E LU S I -A D E LU Y I ( L E F T ) A N D S H A N N O N D U G A N I V E R S O N ( R I G H T ) ; P H OTO BY S H A N N O N D U G A N I V E R S O N

Top: Detail of a As “imagineRio” handmade miniature continues to expand depicting an Aztec — by building its colcodex. Shannon lection of imagery Dugan Iverson, a and inviting Brazilian Rice postdoctoral scholars to collabofellow, is translatrate on the project ing these codices — so does its influence. into digital formats. Postdoctoral fellow and Middle: Iverson’s historian Ademide interactive digital Adelusi-Adeluyi credmap of Central Mexico sheds light its it with heightening on ancient Aztec her sense of the possibilities of GIS and maps for teachers and researchers in the humanities. Her own work uses colonial maps to tell a new spatial history of Lagos, Nigeria. At first, she admitted with a laugh, she thought “maps were there for decoration.” But she learned some of the same tools that Walker learned and that el-Dahdah and Metcalf have incorporated into their project, and “the tools shaped my questions,” she said, adding that she realized “I can do more than write. I can also draw.” Along with anthropologist and HRC postdoctoral fellow Shannon Dugan Iverson, Adelusi-Adeluyi is teaching a new Rice course in the spatial humanities. The students, who include an urban planner, an economist, a political scientist and a civil engineer, have developed research questions they can answer by creating a map. They are practicing not only how to put data to use — and learning the technology required — but how to read and think critically about maps. “There are these ideas [about cartographic practices] that come from colonialism of completeness, accuracy, control,” said Iverson, who carries in her bag a handmade miniature of a 500-year-old Aztec codex that documents a history of migration she is translating into digital form. “Territory is seen as a static thing that never changes and is never in conflict.” In response, Iverson and Adelusi-Adeluyi stress the creative, pushing their students to retain what they say the humanities have always been about: storytelling.



TO P M A P : I M AG I N E R I O.O R G ; A L L OT H E R I M AG E S : I M AG I N E R I O.O R G V I A S H A R E D S H E L FC O M M O N S .O R G

“ImagineRio” is a robust and growing cartographic platform of the populous Brazilian city. Created by Rice professors Alida Metcalf and Farès el-Dahdah, the digital archive visualizes Rio’s history from 1500 to today. The digital map features a slider that users maneuver to see various features of Rio — its architecture, structure, natural history — even historic drawings and paintings of city life. Left: Historical and digital maps show Rio as it appeared in 1831. The “imagineRio” website allows researchers to overlay maps and imagery. Below: Select images from “imagineRio” of the city in 1831.

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RACIAL POLITICS AND HOUSTON’S RED LIGHT DISTRICT I N T H E E A R L Y 1 9 0 0 s , the city of Houston wanted to clean up its downtown. An informal Red Light District known as Happy Hollow, where the Theater District now stands, was rife with sex, drugs and gun violence. In 1910, at the urging of business owners, a formal Red Light District was established just west of downtown in Freedmen’s Town — home to some of Houston’s first African-American property owners. Though this relocation might be considered an improvement for downtown, Brian Riedel is interested in the impact it had on Freedmen’s Town. Riedel received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Rice in 2005 and now is a humanities professor and assistant director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality. He’s wondering how the city’s decision affected property values and displacement in that historic neighborhood. To answer his question, Riedel turned to GIS. Creating maps that pull from census data and church records, Riedel is discovering who was living in the newly formed district and whether — and how — they resisted the change. Did their property values drop? Did they move or did they stay? How did that decision affect the composition of the neighborhood going forward? “Racial politics and sexual propriety have left an indelible mark on the city,” he said, “and here’s the scar.”


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BY T H E EN D OF T H E 1950s, American life expectancy was up and infant mortality was down, according to Wright Kennedy, a doctoral candidate in history at Rice. There was more economic prosperity for more people than ever before. These conditions were lumped into a kind of progress narrative referred to as the “mortality transition.” It indicated, or seemed to indicate, “that the rising tide lifts all boats,” Kennedy said. Kennedy questioned that. Could it be true for everyone, everywhere? He had previously studied the yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, using GIS to map incidences of the spread of the disease throughout the city and to show its impact on public health. Now, he has turned his attention to turn-of-the-century New Orleans. Narrowing his inquiry to the period between 1880 and 1915 and pulling from fire insurance maps, property tax records and hand-recorded demographic data from 200,000 death certificates, Kennedy has created a fine-grained picture of mortality in the Crescent City. His maps show the ethnicity of each person who died. They show the “intensity” of mortality in

African-American neighborhoods compared with white neighborhoods. They even show the rate of death by tuberculosis. These maps, some of which Kennedy has published online, allow him to refuse to take the mortality transition for granted and to show how it unfolded in a particular place and time. “I’ve always been a visual person,” he said. And he’s interested in the ways these visuals open up so many possibilities, both as tools for researchers and as means of communication with broader audiences. They embody “the connection between quantitative and qualitative frameworks,” for one, he said, but they also allow other researchers to come in, after the fact, and ask even more questions across many disciplines. ◆

B L AC K I N FA N T M O RTA L I T Y N E W O R L E A N S , 1915


M O RTA L I T Y I N T E N S I T Y N E W O R L E A N S , 1915


French Quarter

Mortality Intensity Low



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S. Wright Kennedy, 2017

W H I T E I N FA N T M O RTA L I T Y N E W O R L E A N S , 1915



Central City White Infant Mortality

Black Infant Mortality Low





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N E W O R L E A N S P R O P E RT Y TA X A S S E S S M E N T B Y B L O C K , 1915




Lower 9th

French Quarter

Central City

Property Value (decile)

Garden District Uptown

$1901 - $4000 $4001 - $8200



h hC


$0 - $1900

$8201 - $14000 $14001 - $19600 $19601 - $25500 $25501 - $32900 $32901 - $42800


$42801 - $61650

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S. Wright Kennedy, 2017

Kennedy’s maps reveal that neighborhoods in New Orleans with lower property values had disproportionately higher incidents of mortality. In 1915, the densely settled French Quarter had the highest levels of overall mortality (Map A), but both black and white infant mortality, while spatially separated, aligned with areas of lower land values. Black residents of the Central City neighborhood, an area that bordered swampland only a decade earlier, grappled with high levels of infant mortality in 1915 (Map B). Italian and Irish immigrants living in the Bywater and Irish Channel neighborhoods, respectively (Map C), suffered through high levels of infant mortality as well. Compared to the infant mortality patterns of earlier years, by 1915 infant mortality unequally affected lower-income neighborhoods, both black and white.




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S. Wright Kennedy, 2017

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gs, n i n n i g e b new d n a e m i t g hei r n i t r s p u s l f l o e t it ls to w O n I n the spi r e z o d halfnd a A o . t n t o i u t o n e d v e rei n e f i l we reach d n a nses. er o e p r s a e c r f f o o s iety r storie a v e h t h o n; ed w it m t h m g o i c l e n i d e e e littl v we wer a h y a m ind f y e d h n t a , y k l e l e e to s r i I n di v i du a s e d a e s har y e h t , life. y l g e n i v i y t f c s i e t l a l s co c and i t n e h t u a a m ore

by Sarah Bronson ‘09 Photograph by Lucy Hewett

g n i k Ma c i s u M A

fter training as an architect at Rice, Mary Jane

“MJ” Kwan ’10 joined a firm in Beijing, where she helped build large projects. Today, she’s still a builder, though on a much smaller scale, as a maker of violins. Both jobs require a keen sense of design and space. The skills in digital representation and modeling that Kwan learned as an architect now help her document the exact shapes of rare instruments and visualize the geometry of violin bows. Kwan has always liked to draw and to think in three dimensions. “When we were kids, one of my sisters and I would draw floor plans, trade them and imagine the spaces we created,” she said. Grand works of architecture always moved her. The study of architecture had seemed like a fit. But working at a couple of different firms in Beijing was demanding and less creative than she’d hoped, Kwan said. Her work seemed disconnected from its results. “The culture of working from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. did not encourage us to investigate how the people we were designing for actually lived,” she said. However, living in China for the first time emboldened Kwan to be assertive enough to try new things. “You know the idea of America as the land of opportunity? When I was in China, when people had an opportunity, they really went for it. And so I learned to do that, too,” she said. 32

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For example, there was a piano shop in the Beijing building where she worked. Kwan was a music lover with a classical piano and cello background who no longer had much time for music, but she did enjoy hanging out in the shop, playing the pianos and interacting with the owners and families passing through. “It was like a musical oasis,” she said — as well as a way to gain perspective about other people’s lives. She ended up joining an amateur orchestra in Beijing, where she performed a few piano concertos. Those performances gave Kwan the final push to leave architecture and become a music teacher full time, teaching kids to play piano and cello. Teaching music lessons brought her back in touch with a pursuit she had dabbled in during her undergraduate days: lutherie, or the making of stringed instruments. In one Rice class, she had learned to make musical instruments in order to understand what was involved in building a guitar factory. “That turned into a huge mandolin-making project,” Kwan said. Outside of class, she even made a bass guitar. “I didn’t find [lutherie] irrelevant to architecture at all. I like technical things, and I like design and I like working with my hands.” She applied to the Chicago School of Violin Making, began studying there in 2013 and finished the three-year program last year. She anticipates soon landing work in violin-making or repair. “I’m very grateful that I’ve been so scatterbrained — or that I’ve had so many interests and pursued so many things, because they do come together quite nicely,” Kwan said. Her craft lets her spend time on the analytical details she relished obsessing over as an architect; what’s more, “you can see what you’ve accomplished.”


s brought n o s s e l ic s u Teach ing m h w ith a c u o t in k her bac bbled in a d d a h e pursu it sh e ergraduat d n u r e h during making e h t r o , ie r days: luthe struments. in d e g in r t of s

A Higher Callback


Hollywood production lot may not have much

in common with a synagogue, but Rabbi Oren Hayon ’94 saw each as a stage where stories come to life. As an undergraduate at Rice, Hayon studied English for the same reason that he later went into the rabbinate. “I am drawn to, fascinated by, the alchemy of the written word,” he said. He focused on dramatic literature and the theater, working closely with Dennis Huston, now-emeritus professor of English, and directing, writing and performing with the Rice Players and BakerShake, the annual spring festival of student-acted and produced Shakespearean works. He also studied Renaissance drama and performance in England for a year. Shortly after graduation, Hayon headed to Hollywood, to “get to the place where words became stories, and the place where stories transformed people and communities and lives.” There, he worked for a major entertainment production company, writing and doing production work as well as occasionally acting in and directing independent projects. Over time, Hayon realized that “the people I shared my work with weren’t as enchanted by the process of crafting and delivering transformative stories [as I was],” he said. In fact, the people whose values most resonated with his own were outside the studios and in the

began rabbinical studies in Jerusalem. His studies, first in Israel and then for four years back in the United States, renewed his love of academic inquiry and community service — “a combination of the head and the heart and the hands,” he said. He went on to serve in a synagogue in Dallas and then ran a Jewish student organization in Seattle. But he’s found his best match so far at Congregation Emanu El, the synagogue near Rice, where he’s been the senior rabbi for the past two years. “It’s really fulfilling to know that I’m coming to work just across the street from the place that meant so much to me when I was an undergrad.” How does his background in entertainment influence his perspective as a rabbi? His time as a lover of literature has given him “comfort with audacious interpretation,” he said. “You feel a bit more liberated to be creative with the text, but at the same time you have a much deeper, more profound appreciation and love for it.” Hayon sees parallels between his previous and current work. “Spending time analyzing, parsing, preaching about religious text becomes a devotional activity, just like an actor getting to know his script or a literary critic getting to know the manuscript,” he said. “That becomes a devotional activity that is an expression of your relationship with the divine.”


h imself He fou n d weeken ds, o t d r a w r loo king fo ork in the w d l u o c w hen he ity an d n u m m o c h Jew is eligious r in f l e s im im merse h tion. contem pla faith community, where Hayon became more and more involved. Eventually, the force pulling him to the faith community won out. He found himself looking forward to weekends, when he could work in the Jewish community and immerse himself in religious contemplation. “Once I realized that what I thought I always wanted was not what I wanted anymore, then the jump wasn’t painful at all,” he said. After five years in Los Angeles, he m aga z i n e . ric e . e du


f o s t r o P g n i l l Ca


ome people hit a bump in the road on the way to a

goal. For Chris Blache ’97, a native of New Orleans, that bump was more of a sandbar, and the road a fabled river. For a time, he was stranded there, between his parents’ dreams for his future and his own longing for open waters. At Rice, Blache lived in Sid Rich, studied psychology and played club rugby. He loved college life so much that he decided to pursue a graduate degree and become a professor. For a time, he settled in at the University of Northern Iowa to study and teach organizational psychology. “I was doing well; it was OK,” Blache said, “but I didn’t feel challenged in school or life.” What he knew for sure was that he wasn’t happy. While Blache was in graduate school, his dad, Greg, was coaching the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. His son would attend home games, driving over from Iowa when he could. It was at a game against the New Orleans Saints that Blache glimpsed a different future for himself. His uncle, C.J. Blache, a prominent attorney and lobbyist in Louisiana, had brought a group of Mississippi River pilots to the game. The tight-knit and highly skilled pilots operating on the Mississippi River are recruited mostly from families who go back generations in the profession. At the time, only one of the approximately 200 licensed river pilots was African-American, and they were under pressure to diversify their ranks. Blache had visited with the pilots when he was still at Rice, and they knew his uncle well. They wondered if this young Rice grad had any interest in learning their trade. “I saw what my parents wanted me to do but realized I was at a point where I could make my own decisions,” Blache said. After finishing the semester, he drove home and signed on as a cadet officer on a Greek merchant vessel. 34

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For room and board and little else, Blache spent 13 months traveling the world and learning about ships and navigation. Upon returning to New Orleans, he became an apprentice Mississippi River pilot. “I just loved being on the water,” he said. Blache is a “bar pilot,” guiding ships from the Gulf of Mexico to Pilottown, La. Crossing from the Gulf into the river is the trickiest part of a winding 30-mile stretch. “You don’t want to hit another vessel, and you don’t want to get stuck in the mud,” he said. The stakes are high. In terms of tonnage, south Louisiana is the busiest port in the nation. Every kind of ship goes up the Mississippi, from small cargo carriers to Navy vessels and cruise ships. They carry grain, coal, oil, chemicals, finished goods — and people, in the case of cruise ships. The pilots board in all kinds of weather during their two-week shifts. The boarding routine — jumping from one moving boat to another at speeds of about 10 to 12 mph — requires finesse. “We climb on the top of our [pilot] boat and then time our jump across to the ship’s rope ladder,” said Blache. “Some days, it can get quite hairy.” After 2012’s Hurricane Isaac, a cruise ship limped into port, its passengers desperate to get home. “A cruise ship has so much freeboard [ship sticking out of the water], it’s like a giant sailboat,” Blache said, remembering the high winds and waves in the Gulf that buffered the ship. Getting on board took an hour. Adrenaline flowing, Blache steered the ship to port. After Hurricane Katrina, it was the port pilots in Houston who took them in, temporarily providing housing and an administrative home. “They helped us in so many ways. … It’s a very small fraternity. And they’re like family.”



o a rd a n d b d n a m o For ro 3 he spent 1 c a l B , e s l little e the world g in l e v a r m o nt h s t sh ips an d t u o b a g in an d learn return ing n o p U . n io navigat e , he becam s n a e l r O to New M ississippi e ic t n e r p p an a . river pilot

Found in Space



ifelong Houstonian Amanda Humphrey ’07 spent

some years teaching science to high schoolers. Now, the Rice chemistry major helps astronauts track down missing gadgets on a space station. Humphrey finds chemical reactions fascinating, thanks to an engaging high school science teacher and a father who “used to do little chemistry experiments with me and my brother when we were young.” While teaching wasn’t her ultimate goal, she preferred the classroom to the laboratory. “I had worked in a lab before, and doing the same tests over and over probably wasn’t going to be my cup of tea,” she said. So she taught chemistry — and piloted a forensic science program — at Cypress Falls High School in northwest Houston. Over the course of seven years, however, she realized that the nature of teaching didn’t suit her. “I wanted to be the person who was doing stuff, rather than teaching people how to do stuff.” Her first foray into another career was something a little different: applying to become a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, an idea she’d had for some time. She got to the first phase of testing for the position but then had to quit because of a medical condition. Her next move was pursuing a master’s degree to follow another longtime interest, and Rice was again the place to do it. “I’ve always been interested in the space industry and space in general,” she said, recalling trips to NASA’s Space Center Houston as a kid. “I don’t know how people don’t love space.” Once she was the student and not the teacher, Humphrey enjoyed the allspace schedule and learning from people who had worked in the industry, like astronaut Leroy Chiao, who commanded the International Space Station on his last expedition in 2005. While interning at the Johnson Space Center, she worked on a system that would reclaim water from wastewater brine. At last, she has her dream job, working in the human spaceflight program at the Johnson Space Center. Her title is flight controller, specifically an inventory

et the l ’t n a c u o hool, y th e s a m e “ In h igh sc d n A . k c a r e you c situation d students se a b a it h ue if you th ing is tr ou have to Y . l o r t n o c in m ission cool.” keep your and storage officer. Her team keeps the International Space Station organized throughout continual crew rotations with cargo shipments to and fro and a tendency for objects to float away. There’s a special urgency to locating objects on a space station. “The problem is that the crew can’t do repair activities or science experiments or any activity if they can’t find the items they need,” Humphrey said. When something gets lost or misplaced, she helps create a “wanted poster” that includes a picture of the object and a list of possible locations. Her different experiences have intersected in unexpected ways, she said. “I don’t naturally get up in front of people and start talking to them, but in teaching you have to do that every single day. And a lot of that comes into play in being a flight controller. You have to get up and talk to the flight director and say ‘Hey, I need the crew to do this.’” “The other thing is not to freak out, to keep your game face when things go wrong,” she added. “In high school, you can’t let the students see you crack. And the same thing is true if you hit a bad situation in mission control. You have to keep your cool.” m aga z i n e . ric e . e du


f o t i m Sum Success A

riana Myers ’92 spent more than a decade in finance,

living in Europe and working as an investment banker. A period of reckoning and a journey up a mountain brought her from Moscow to Marin in California, where Myers has built a more human-oriented career in home care. At Rice, Myers initially studied engineering, but then a linguistics class drew her interest. “I found it really fascinating, the cognitive elements of linguistics,” she said. She wound up majoring in linguistics, studying Russian and spending a semester in Moscow. Although Myers didn’t have a business background — she edited technical manuals in her first job out of college — she ended up in the financial sector at Enron, working from the company’s London office. After earning an MBA from Columbia in 2002, she returned to London and switched to commercial real estate finance. By 2007, the global financial crisis was looming. Feeling qualms about how her employer was handling the economic climate, she left to work in private equity with a client in Moscow. But she was already starting to feel 36

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the pull toward a new direction — something with more than a financial bottom line. “I was moving money in circles, and I couldn’t look at what I was doing and feel that there was real value to it. I also knew I needed to make a break to make a change.” So in 2010, Myers quit her job and set out on a new, adventurous quest — to summit the world’s highest mountains. She chose Mount Kilimanjaro as her first summit and next climbed Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Russian and in Europe. “The metaphor is obvious,” she said, “aiming for something higher, going where the air is clear.” Her next challenge was Mount Aconcagua in Argentina. During the climb she struck up a friendship with a fellow climber, Chuck Nuzum, who was from the Bay Area. “Our first date was summiting the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere.” Myers soon moved to the Bay Area to join Nuzum, and the two were married in 2012. In California, the couple started a business helping seniors and people with disabilities keep living in their own homes. A year later, their Right at Home franchise was thriving. It’s work that Myers finds deeply meaningful. “Every day I know I’m helping people — our clients, our caregivers and our office team — and this is the value I was searching for.” Her newfound success and fulfillment represent a summit moment for her, culminating in the birth of their daughter in 2016. The metaphor has held up as she looks back on the tough moments in climbing. “You think, can’t do it, can’t do it, can’t go any further, and then you just go, you just do it anyway, you take another step,” she said. “You feel like you can’t go on, and then you just keep going, and then you get there, and it’s amazing.”


circles, in y e n o ing m “ I w as m ov at w hat k o o l ’t n d a n d I co u l feel that d n a g in o I w as d alue to it. v l a e r s a there w d to make e d e e n I w I also kne a change.” e k a m o t k a brea

Reinventing Life


o be a good police officer,

you have to be very aware of details, like the color of a bruise. You have to be highly attuned, intuitively, to body language, to everything from how they use their eyes to the dirt under their fingernails. Each and every detail could help you solve a crime or save your life.” That’s how you describe working in law enforcement when you’re also a poet. Sarah Cortez’s circuitous career path began in the realm of the humanities, with a double major in psychology and religion at Rice in 1972, followed by a master’s in classical studies at the University of Houston, which let her ponder ancient beginnings and study old languages. With that background, she began teaching high school Latin. But Cortez found it difficult to support herself in that job and decided to switch to a business career. She earned a master’s in accounting and worked in corporate finance for more than a decade. At the same time, she diligently nurtured her love of language. “All those experiences and knowledge from my psychology degree and my classics degree were going right along with me. It was in my heart, my mind,” she said. In her spare time, she volunteered for a civic group trying to fight crime in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. As a leader in the Neartown Association in the 1980s, she got to know and respect a number of police officers. “I started meeting more police officers and doing ride-alongs,” she said. “And I just fell in love with the idea of becoming a police officer.” So she quit her corporate job and became one. Police work coincided with a blooming literary career. Her years as a police officer fueled writerly contemplations about the messiness of life. “There’s a lot of sadness, and there’s a lot of dirt [in police life],” Cortez said. “I mean physical

d rien ces an e p x e e s o “All th ychology s p y m m o fr e know ledge ssics degre a l c y m d degree an ith me. w g n o l a g right were goin .” t, my m in d r a e h y m It was in

dirt. People with lice, people with tuberculosis, people who may only bathe once a month. People who may be physically clean, but man their lives are a mess. ... There’s just a lot of things that for whatever reason have spun out of control in somebody’s universe, and that tends to be when police officers are called.” Her writing drew accolades, and in 2000 she accepted a position as a visiting scholar in the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican American Studies, teaching creative writing. She now works as a memoirist, fiction writer, poet and editor as well as a teacher, offering intensive writing classes out of her home. She remains a reserve police officer. Cortez describes her path of constant reinvention as a long process of gaining selfknowledge. “I had to know myself extremely well to be able to know that I could be a police officer, that I could save a life and lose my own, or that I could take a life and save someone else,” she said. For Cortez, the hard work of knowing oneself “takes your whole lifetime.” ◆ m aga z i n e . ric e . e du


NIGHT OWL A series that profiles Owls whose work takes flight at night


By Jenny Blair Photos by Rick Fienberg


ICK FIENBERG ’78 HAS A DAY JOB as press officer for the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in Boston. But on Fridays, when the sun goes down, he’s long gone to New Hampshire and his telescopes. Fienberg has his own observatory there, and sometimes he stays up all night stargazing. “When I’m out under the sky, it tends to help clear my head,” Fienberg says. “It makes me feel connected to it all and [gives] a sense of peace and quiet that I don’t get during the day.” A native of Los Angeles, Fienberg traces his interest in space to the missions that took place when he was a kid. In 1968, at age 12, he saw the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” discovered Isaac Asimov and got his first telescope. What with LA’s pollution, it was a struggle to see much with his telescope besides the moon. But Fienberg was already a goner for space. “I don’t remember after that year ever thinking that I wanted to do anything else except work in space one way or another,” he recalls. He settled on becoming a scientist and wound up at Rice 38

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after hearing it was in Houston — music to any space geek’s ears. Rice had only recently established the country’s first department of space science. Arriving in 1974, Fienberg studied the aurora borealis. He joined a space interest group and got to meet astronauts. He even worked on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Viking Mars mission through an internship program coorganized by an astronomer named Carl Sagan. (“He wasn’t world-famous yet.”) Near the end of his internship, Fienberg watched the first images from the Martian surface appear on screens in the control room. His best memory of college: seeing the space shuttle arrive (piggybacked to a 747) and land near NASA’s Johnson Space Center after a test flight. Fienberg married Susan Tresch ’78, and the couple went on to Harvard, where she earned a master’s in theology and he a Ph.D. in astronomy. In addition to working with the state-of-the-art 16-by-16-pixel digital astronomical cameras of the day, Fienberg sometimes looked at the sky with the school’s rooftop telescope. Yet, dark skies continued to elude him.

After graduation, he landed a job at the magazine Sky & Telescope, where he eventually became editor in chief. In 2009, he joined the AAS staff. His wife is a senior vice president at Jewish Family & Children’s Service. In 2000, the Fienbergs bought land in New Hampshire, where he spent months building a cabin and observatory for weekend getaways. Later, after the couple upgraded to a larger property nearby, Fienberg had a bigger observatory built. Now, at the end of the work week, he photographs and observes the beauty of the sky. If the weather’s fair, Fienberg says, “Susan understands that I’m going to be sleeping until noon.” It’s a show worth staying up for. He’s watched dust storms on Mars and seen Jupiter’s moons lined up in all their majesty. And then there are the stars and galaxies. “A star cluster looks like a little splattering of diamond dust on a black velvet cushion,” Fienberg says. “The Orion Nebula is so bright and so intricate with its dust lanes and little globules and all kinds of wisps of gas. ... The light we’re seeing from those

structures left well before we were born.” A roll-off roof in the observatory makes it easy to stargaze at a moment’s notice, and the telescopes are set on their own concrete foundations. “You isolate the telescope gear from the rest of the building, so that if you’re dancing around in the building you don’t shake the telescopes,” he explains. Unlike many amateurs’ setups, Fienberg’s isn’t automated. That means if he’s got a project going, like measuring an asteroid’s rotation (which can provide valuable information for professional astronomers), he’s at the telescope all night, preceded by naps and accompanied by coffee: “I like to be with the equipment, and I like to be under the sky.” More often, though, because of his weekday job, Fienberg is limited to an evening or a few of the wee hours. That still leaves him needing to nap. So he’s looking forward to the time when he can pull as many all-nighters as the weather permits. “My intention is to use it more and more,” he says of his observatory, “and then, when I eventually retire, really become a night owl again.” m aga z i n e . ric e . e du


c re at i ve i de a s a n d e n de avo rs


Print Show RT I S T JO H N A L E X A N D E R visited

the Rice printmaking studio March 28–30 as part of a collaborative printmaking project. During the residency, he created monotypes with the assistance of three accomplished printmakers: Patrick Masterson of Burning Bones Press; Karin Broker of Rice; and Patrick Palmer of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Glassell School 40

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about the artists involved in this unique collaboration: ricemagazine.info/ printmaking Pictured: Alexander paints an image on the metal sheet before the printers transfer the image onto paper.

of Art. Alexander created a series of prints documenting stages of his drawing process by painting directly onto metal plates, which were printed onto paper and pulled by the printmakers. Houston artists, Rice students and visitors were invited into the studio to see the process unfold. The monotypes will be shown at Houston’s McClain Gallery (mcclaingallery.com) throughout May. — TAEGAN HOWELLS ’18 PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF FITLOW

a rt s & L e t t e rs

Bringing Grammy Home Shepherd School grad Shawn Conley contributes music that’s both contemporary and traditional to Silk Road recordings AS A MEMBER OF CELLIST YO-YO MA’S SILK ROAD

E N S E M B L E : S U S A N A M I L L M A N ; S H AW N C O N L E Y: JA S O N LO N G

Ensemble, Shawn Conley ’05 took home a 2017 Grammy Award for “Best World Music Album.” The album, “Sing Me Home” was the seventh released by the famed music collective, which was founded in 2000 to advance global understanding and promote innovation via the arts. The ensemble is made up of performers, composers and singers representing more than 20 countries (and an array of instruments). A bassist with the ensemble for more than two years, Conley moved to New York City in 2008 after earning his master’s degree in music at the Shepherd School. Initially pursuing a career as a jazz performer, he realized he didn’t want to play just one type of music. He found a community that supports his wide range of musical genre interests in the Silk Road Ensemble. “I didn’t realize how much Rice prepared me for a life of playing all different kinds of music until I talked to people from other institutions,” Conley said.

“Professor Paul Ellison encouraged me to be open to whatever excites me, which as someone drawn to all kinds of music, was such an amazing setup.” “It’s an honor to get to know [the musicians] on every level, from sharing the stage to going out for ramen afterward,” Conley said. “We share a passion for expanding the horizon of everyone’s world outlook.” Ellison, Rice’s Lynette S. Autry Professor of Double Bass and chair of strings, also encouraged Conley to study in Paris for a year under Francois Rabbath, a Syrian-born musician and mentor. “I love discovering music from people who are from other places,” Conley said. He is married to Megan Levin Conley ’05, a harpist for the Houston Symphony, whom he met on his first day at the Shepherd School. They split their time between New York City and Houston and are expecting their first child in May. — KENDALL SCHOEMANN

The Silk Road Ensemble’s production of “Layla & Majnun,” with Conley on bass.

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a rt s & l e t t e rs

Author Q&A

or flat-topped white asters. If that food isn’t available, there are no butterflies of that species. NABA runs the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, with hundreds of species of plants native to Texas that are important for butterflies. We went from having no butterflies to having 250 different kinds.

“A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America” (Princeton University Press, 2017)

How has butterflying evolved over the years?


called “the founder of modern butterflying,” and for good reason. He’s had his eyes trained on butterflies since he was 5, and he’s seen the world of butterflying transform from a small, insular group of enthusiasts to a flourishing population that more closely rivals the birding community — although the two groups, he notes, overlap in membership. After co-establishing the New York City Butterfly Club in 1984, Glassberg spent his time in law school creating a butterfly field guide. (He got the law degree but never practiced.) He went on to found the North American Butterfly Association (NABA), which works to conserve butterfly populations, and has just published the second edition of the butterflier’s bible: “A Swift Guide to Butterflies of North America,” a comprehensive field guide to the continent’s most beloved insects.

Why should we care about butterflies?

Butterflies play a number of essential roles in the environment. They’re important pollinators, first off. They’re also an important part of the food chain. The caterpillars of butterflies and moths are the most important food source for North American songbirds — that’s what the nesting young survive on. But butterflies are also closely connected to humans for other reasons. They speak to people because of their beauty, their 42

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gracefulness, the ephemeral nature of their lives, and this magical transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly. This transformation, and the possibility of change it implies, has captured the imaginations of people for centuries. Separate civilizations — including the ancient Greeks and the Aztecs, which had no other connection to each other — saw butterflies as the repository for human souls. The Greek word for butterfly is psyche, which is the same word they used for soul. They believed that before they were born, people’s souls took the form of butterflies.

Tell me a fun fact about butterflies.

A lot of butterflies smell through their feet. Most butterflies can only eat one kind of plant, or a very small number of related plants. So the female has to know where to lay her eggs, because if it’s not the right plant, her caterpillars are just going to die. She scrapes the leaf with her feet, and she can smell what it is; if it’s not the right plant, she won’t lay her eggs. This ends up being a critical point for butterfly conservation. For example, monarchs feed only on milkweeds; other species will only eat roundleaf ragwort

For a very long time, birds and butterflies were kind of viewed similarly, and there were roughly the same number of people interested in both. [John James] Audubon, in the early days, went out with a shotgun and shot birds and then painted them to show people what they looked like. At that point, shooting birds was the only way to know what was there. People wanted a closer look at butterflies, too, but instead of shooting them, which didn’t work as well, they used nets and killed them. After binoculars became cheaper and more available, around the end of World War I, you didn’t have to shoot birds anymore to get a good look at them. But butterfliers basically stayed with nets until the ’80s, when we found binoculars that worked for things that were close up — like, within 6 feet. Now, camera equipment is so advanced that even with a cell phone, you can get a picture of a butterfly that will at least let you identify what it is.

So are the days of catching butterflies in a net and pinning them to a board behind us?

There are still people pinning butterflies. It made sense a long time ago, and if you’re doing a particular scientific experiment, there are times when you need a specimen. But in terms of a hobby, going around killing things and putting them in boxes doesn’t make sense.


a rt s & L e t t e rs


Shadow Patterns: Reflections on Fay Jones and His Architecture Edited by Jeff Shannon ’73 (University of Arkansas Press, 2017)

Colonialism and Modern Architecture in Germany Itohan Osayimwese ’01 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017)

As the birthplace of Bauhaus — and of many of the pioneers of modern architecture — “Germany is sacrosanct in architectural history,” Itohan Osayimwese writes. In her book, the Brown University history of art and architecture professor examines the way Germany’s modern architectural roots stretch to the colonies it acquired during the 19th century, when financial constraints forced architects practicing in these far-flung lands to abandon Germany’s traditional, highly ornamental style and look to materials and technologies better suited to the colonial environments, such as prefabrication. Thanks to books, articles, lectures and international exhibitions — including world’s fairs — these styles and structures influenced architects and designers well beyond Germany and its colonies.

There’s a strong Rice undercurrent running through Jeff Shannon’s collection of essays and reflections on the architect Fay Jones ’51. Although Jones, like Shannon, was an Arkansas native who practiced in his home state for much of his career, both built a foundation at Rice. After all, it was in Houston, while a student at Rice, that Jones met his mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright. “Shadow Patterns” explores Jones’ rich architectural legacy, which earned him the prestigious Gold Medal award from the American Institute of Architects in 1990. The essays range from observations by scholars to personal reflections by clients and friends. Arkansas writers Roy Reed and Ellen Gilchrist, who each live in homes Jones designed, describe what it’s like to live in and manage the quirks of a “house built by a genius,” where “light is everywhere … Everything is quiet, and everything is a surprise,” as Gilchrist says. Shannon is an architecture professor and the former dean of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas.


Science Meets Storytelling

A captivating tale of a boy growing up genetically different

ELI IS A SPECIAL LITTLE BOY. He loves coloring, meeting new people and adores his mom. He’s warm, affectionate and loving — perfect in so many ways, but genetically Eli is different from most people. Eli’s friendliness barometer is broken. Or, rather, he simply doesn’t have one. Eli is missing more than 20 genes on his seventh chromosome. The result is a sweet boy with elfin features and a heart bursting with love. The disorder leaves him earnest, caring and deeply vulnerable: In a way, everyone is his friend and, yet, no one is. Author Jennifer Latson spent three years shadowing Eli and his mother, Gayle, as they navigated the struggles and joys of growing up with Williams’ Syndrome. Latson weaves a true, poignant coming-of-age story about a boy whose friendliness has no boundaries and a mother’s determination to protect him from his uncontrollable urge to trust, love and befriend everyone he encounters. “The Boy Who Loved Too Much: A True Story of Pathological Friendliness” is not only a beautiful, sympathetic rendering of life with a little-known genetic disorder, but also a gripping look at what it means to be human. Eli’s compelling story sheds light on the genetics of behavior and the quirks of human nature. Latson, a former journalist with an MFA in creative nonfiction writing, is an assistant editor and staff writer for Rice Magazine in the Office of Public Affairs. She lives in Houston with her partner, David Brooks ’07. — ARIE WILSON PASSWATERS m aga z i n e . ric e . e du



Hulen was known for his belief in the power of education. In fact, he helped the locals organize schools, assigning soldiers as teachers and frequently stopping by to teach English. “[He] is looked to with respect and warm regard by the seasoned warriors of the U.S. Army, and the name ‘Capt. Oohlan’ is to this day, a by-word for kindliness and benefaction in many a Filipino home,” wrote a reporter in a 1916 Houston Post article. While fighting Filipino insurrectionists in the jungles of northern Luzon from 1899 to 1901, the captain developed such a deep bond with Fernandez that he asked his grandmother if he could adopt him and bring him to the United States. Fernandez came to Texas in 1901 and was educated through the public school system, graduating from Houston High School in 1908. Not much is known about his time at Rice, other than his inclusion in a Menorah Society group photo in a 1916 Campanile, adding another level of mystery to his story, considering that he was educated by a Franciscan priest and that his adoptive father was Episcopalian.

A Blend of East and West

Rudolfo Hulen Fernandez (1890–1960)

Above left: Fernandez pictured in the 1916 Campanile. Left: Fernandez, far left, back row, pictured with the Menorah Society.

By Kendall Schoemann


ICE’S FIRST ASIAN GRADUATE entered with the school’s very first class. Rudolfo Hulen Fernandez, who graduated 100 years ago, followed a highly unusual path from the Philippines to Houston and eventually Rice. Fernandez was born in 1890 and raised by his maternal grandmother after his parents died. His father was one of the few Filipinos permitted by the King of Spain to practice law in the islands. His grandmother saw that his early education was conducted by a Franciscan priest who taught him Spanish grammar, handwriting and arithmetic. As a young boy, he learned the Ilocano dialect and more than a dozen others of the tribes in surrounding provinces. In 1898, shortly after the start of the Spanish-American War, Fernandez’s grandmother enrolled him in a special boys’ school run by the bishop of Vigan. During the war, Fernandez acted as an interpreter of native dialects for Capt. John A. Hulen of the 33rd U.S. Infantry, stationed at Narvacan. 44

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As a Rice senior, Fernandez wrote a romantic story, “Blending of East and West,” for the Texaco Star, a monthly journal for employees of the Texas Company (the forerunner of Texaco). “I feel that there is no great difference between the East and the West, if viewed from one human heart to another. It seems to me that they are in a process of blending,” he wrote in the short story, about an American educator who fell in love with and then married one of his Filipino students. After graduating from Rice, he reunited with his adoptive father, who was then Brig. Gen. Hulen, by enlisting with the American Expeditionary Forces in France and serving as his liaison. Fernandez was discharged in 1919. While his life after the service is not well documented, it appears his romantic story for the Texaco Star proved fortuitous. In late 1919, he created his own blending of East and West and married Katharine Lefevre, who was the daughter of Texaco Star editor Arthur Lefevre.

Mel Hildebrandt ’55 and his wife, Margaret, came to Rice by different paths, but they are united in their motivation to support the university. That common love has inspired them to transform their charitable gift annuity — originally designed to benefit Rice in the future — into a generous outright gift to the Rice School of Architecture. Above: Mel and Margaret on campus, 1955. Right: At Rice’s Cohen House, 2017.

TO RICE BE TRUE, the flagship initiative for gift planning at Rice, calls us to think more boldly and take our generosity to the next level by making commitments that will last beyond our lifetimes. Learn more at giftplan.rice.edu.

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

Brain Food Photo by Jeff Fitlow


of college food. Today, the chef-prepared dining options in Rice’s serveries include Thai-chili meatballs, chorizo tacos, watermelon beet salad, hoisin-glazed eggplant and homemade desserts — like these chocolatedipped donuts with toasted meringue. Our summer issue will be dedicated to Rice’s influence on Houston’s burgeoning food scene and the campus’s own dining revolution. Donuts by Chef Telly De Santiago Chen.

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