The Magazine of Rice University
SAVING LIVES WITH SMART DESIGN In Malawi, simple health technologies improve the lives of newborns and mothers.
ALSO Houston’s hidden folk scene Baker Institute’s public policy advice Baseball (and more) in Cuba
The Magazine of Rice University
Contents F EATUR ES
FOLK REVIVAL BY JOHN NOVA LOMAX
A Rice librarian is working to preserve Houston’s little-known history as a folk music hub.
BREATHE EASY, REPEAT BY JADE BOYD
In Malawi, Rice students and faculty are pitting simple, effective technologies against the scourge of infant mortality.
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT Policy experts at the Baker Institute have some strategic advice for the new administration.
NIGHT OWL BY KENDALL SCHOEMANN
A decathlete jumps a new hurdle: taking his passion for playing music from hobby to career.
D EPA RTM EN TS
RE SOLV ER
An accomplished photographer, Rice Professor Luis Duno-Gottberg snapped this image while on his most recent trip to Cuba (more on Page 10). The title and concept of the photo, he noted, embodies a philosophy of life that promotes resourcefulness.
P R E S I D E N T ’ S N OT E
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 student 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.
(“Breathe Easy, Repeat”) is associate director of news and media and science editor at Rice. Last summer, he traveled to Malawi with faculty and students to document the work-in-progress of the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health. John Nova Lomax
(“Folk Revival”) was steeped in the Houston folk music scene from birth. His grandfather, John Avery Lomax Jr., founded the Houston Folklore Society and sang raw Texas folk music at concerts. His father, John Lomax III, was a friend and running buddy of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell and Steve Earle. Lomax is a senior editor at Texas Monthly. Kendall Schoemann
Global Health Projects Last summer, Tahir Malik ’17, a bioengineering major, spent two months in Malawi with a team of students as part of the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health initiative. In this half-hour video, Malik narrates the story of Rice’s decadelong partnership with Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, including its ongoing projects on behalf of neonatal health. Writer Jade Boyd dives into the big picture of global health inequities and Rice’s long-term involvement in Malawi on Page 30. VIDEO
Reflecting on 2016 Videographer Brandon Martin put together a Rice highlight reel for 2016 — and it’s mighty inspiring.
Want More Rice News and Views?
From Instagram to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and more, we document the daily goings-on about campus and far beyond. ISSUU
RICE PHOTO CORNER
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(“Mr. Mashup”) is a new staff writer at Rice. You can find her exploring Houston — and Tex-Mex food — with a camera in hand. Andrew J. Nilsen
(“Dear Mr. President”) is an award-winning illustrator, art director and motorcycle whisperer based in Oakland, Calif.
On the Cover “The best that we can be as a university. That is what I think when I see Chigonjetso, a Malawian boy who survived because of a device designed and built by Rice students. Traveling across the world to meet him and his family is an experience I will never forget.” — Brandon Martin, who took our cover photo
The Magazine of Rice University WINTER 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. Published by the Office of Public Affairs Linda Thrane, vice president EDITOR
Lynn Gosnell ART DIRECTOR
Alese Pickering CREATIVE SERVICES
Jeff Cox SENIOR DIRECTOR
Dean Mackey SENIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Jackie Limbaugh GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Tracey Rhoades EDITORIAL DIRECTOR
Jennifer Latson ASSISTANT EDITOR
Tommy LaVergne SENIOR UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHER
Jeff Fitlow UNIVERSITY PHOTOGRAPHER
Jenny Rozelle ’00 PROOFREADER CONTRIBUTING STAFF
B.J. Almond Holly Beretto Jade Boyd Jon-Paul Estrada Jeff Falk Amy McCaig Kendall Schoemann Mike Williams INTERNS
Natalie Danckers ’17 Taegan Howells ’18
Leading by Example
HIS ISSUE’S cover may be my very favorite. Our photographer seized the universal out of the particular when he captured a Malawian mother, Esther Saidi, gazing tenderly at her son, who rests snugly in a sling on her back. I wouldn’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that the child — his name is Chigonjetso — is a bit of a handful. That smile, after all, hints at a mother’s loving indulgence. Saidi was six months pregnant when Chigonjetso, now 4, was born at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. As with many preemies, his lungs were not fully developed, and he was put on a machine to help him breathe. This particular device — a simple, low-cost Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine, or CPAP — was developed by Rice students and is one of our global health program’s most successful inventions. “I was afraid that my son would not survive on the CPAP machine, looking at the state he was in at that time. He was just too small,” said Saidi, a mother of four. Now, she added, “I would advise my fellow mothers not to be afraid … I myself saw the goodness in CPAP.” Her son’s name means “God conquered for him.” Science writer Jade Boyd tells the inspiring tale in “Breathe Easy, Repeat” (Page 30).
And what would an issue of Rice Magazine be without a story about music? We spotlight Fondren Library archivist Norie Guthrie and her work to preserve Houston’s role as a folk music hub. Her participant/observer method of scholarship is paying off in a treasure trove of recordings, oral histories and ephemera from folk music’s heyday. Writer John Nova Lomax, who knows a thing or two about folk music, reports. On a different note entirely, we’ve included some advice that the experts at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy have delivered to President Trump’s transition team. In these briefs, scholars with deep expertise in their fields address a wide range of issues: health care, immigration, energy, the Middle East and more. “The Trump administration faces numerous challenges requiring urgent attention,” said Baker Institute Director Edward P. Djerejian. Rice students and faculty are also finding ways to engage with the new administration via education and activism. Some students, faculty and staff marked inauguration day with a “teach-in” to promote civic and intellectual discourse and action — and to put this election into broader historical context. “Our hope is that new ways forward will emerge,” one organizer said. One of the teach-in participants is Luis Duno-Gottberg, the subject of this issue’s “Unconventional Wisdom” profile (Page 10). Caribbean scholar Duno-Gottberg was recently named Baker College master, and he led the baseball team’s study-abroad trip to Cuba in November. While the death of Fidel Castro upended their itinerary and canceled most of their games, Duno-Gottberg made sure his students immersed themselves in this moment in Cuban and world history. In so many ways, Rice’s faculty members lead by example — with empathy, expertise, creativity and committed engagement. These are qualities for moving forward with hope. — LYNN GOSNELL
Please visit magazine.rice.edu for additional stories. m aga z i n e . ric e . e du 3
letters READER RESPONSE | FALL 2016
To the Editor I found all of the [“Gifted and Black”] stories very interesting reading. They were well written and seemed to tell the full stories of the lives of real people, complete with the challenges and victories. It was a little sad to read of Charlie Freeman’s lifelong struggles to settle in and mostly sad to hear of his untimely passing. — EARL RODD ’70 Most interesting issue yet! I entered Rice in September 1948, and things were very different then. Women weren’t really part of Rice at that time since we couldn’t live on campus and “A” House, across the street, was the only gathering place. I remember that the student body at that time thought segregation was not fair, and we petitioned to admit black students. We were told that [W.M.] Rice’s will prohibited it, end of story — until the board used racial inequality to break the will so that tuition could be charged. I had won an academic scholarship after my sophomore year but got married that summer and had my academic scholarship canceled because ... “We don’t want to encourage Rice students to marry.” I had some great and not-so-great teachers at Rice. Among the greats were Professor Davies in biology, Professor Chandler in parasitology and Colis Lyle in German, who recommended after the German II final that I take Italian for my third-year language. We won’t go into the Math 100 professor who was responsible for
me believing that I couldn’t do math until a great teacher at the UT Graduate School of Business showed me otherwise. After that, I taught remedial math for over 20 years at Austin Community College. Rice was a long time ago and most of my classmates are gone but I hope Rice will “every day in every way get better and better.” — DORIS JANE BEASLEY MARTIN ’52 After reading President Leebron’s note, I felt honored to be connected to a university that demonstrates a willingness to recognize its complicity in past injustices while simultaneously embracing the challenges necessary to move closer to justice and equality for everyone. I share President Leebron’s hope that “the arc of the moral universe” that Martin Luther King Jr. and Theodore Parker made famous bends not only toward justice but also toward “a shared joy in the diversity of humanity.” This desire reminds me of one of my most formative experiences at Rice. After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that affirmative action in higher education was unconstitutional in 1996 (Hopwood v. Texas), a decision that subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decisions invalidated, I joined with classmates and faculty to discuss how the university would respond to this ruling. All of us in attendance cherished diversity and recognized the importance of thoughtful affirmative action programs. I am delighted to see that Rice continues to take a leading role in welcoming diversity in its students, faculty, educational opportunities and public pronouncements. The decision to publish “Gifted and Black: A Half-Century of Black Undergraduate Life at Rice” as the cover story of the Fall 2016 magazine accords perfectly with that effort. — DAVID GROSSMAN ’97 See additional reader responses at magazine.rice.edu
Selected Quarterly Survey Results MOST-READ DEPARTMENTS
Sallyport News and views from campus Abstract Findings and research (and Six Degrees of Valhalla)
“Gifted and Black: A Half-Century of Black Undergraduate Life at Rice” “Fascinating. Brought back memories and provided information previously unknown to me.” — SURVEY COMMENT
Have a comment, criticism or story idea? Write to us at email@example.com. 4
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THE RICE UNIVE RSITY BOARD OF TRUSTE ES
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 firstname.lastname@example.org POSTMASTE R
Send address changes to: Rice University Development Services–MS 80 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, TX 77251-1892 ©February 2017 Rice University
DAVID W. LEEBRON
Shaping a Vision
NE HUNDRED AND NINE years ago, on Jan. 18, 1908, Edgar Odell Lovett formally accepted the offer of the Board of Trustees of the William Marsh Rice Institute to become the first president of Rice. It took about four years and eight months for the institute to open, teachers to begin to teach and students to learn. It was not simply that the campus location had to be decided, land purchased and buildings constructed. Fundamental decisions as to the nature of the institute had to be made and a plan developed on how best to execute the emerging vision. As Lovett eloquently expressed in his 1912 opening speech, “For this fair day we have worked and prayed and waited. In the faith of high adventure, in the joy of high achievement, we have asked for strength, and with the strength a vision, and with the vision courage.” Those four years were in large part years of vision and planning. It was the university’s first strategic plan. Lovett envisioned an institute of the “highest order,” one that set “no upper limit” on its aspirations. Universities cannot simply be founded, funded, constructed and launched. They are constantly evolving, setting new aspirations in light of prior achievements (and sometimes failures) and responding to the evolution of higher education and other aspects of our world. Periodically, we must pause — as an institution and a community — to engage again in the conversations that will define and redefine our future, that will build new successes on prior achievements and elaborate a vision that is both bold and true. We began such a process, which we called the Call to Conversation, 12 years ago, shortly after my arrival at Rice. That culminated in the adoption by the trustees of the Vision for the Second Century, a new mission statement and 10-point plan that would guide us and shape our goals and aspirations for the next decade. Our
mission statement evokes the high level of aspiration established at our founding:
As a leading research university with a distinctive commitment to undergraduate education, Rice University aspires to pathbreaking research, unsurpassed teaching and contributions to the betterment of our world. Why do universities engage in such an elaborate process? It is in part because the support and engagement of each element of our community is necessary to our success. We need not only their knowledge and views in formulating a strategy, but their support and enthusiasm in implementing it. Although our mission has not changed in the last decade, much in the world of higher education has. Technology that threatens to disrupt higher education, changes in the financial model and government regulation are putting great stress on institutions of higher education. Our world is increasingly competitive as universities from across the globe vie for students and research achievement. The
very nature of higher education is changing dramatically, as experiential learning has become at least as important as what takes place in our classrooms. Rice, in particular, faces challenges in continuing to achieve at the highest levels. As much as our comparatively small size is a distinctive strength of our university, it also makes it more difficult to achieve the level of recognition that we aspire to across the spectrum of our endeavors. Few would dispute that we have to make choices (often, hard choices) about where our priorities must lie over the next stage in our history. And even as we change, we seek to be true to core values, such as making it possible for all students, regardless of their means, to attend Rice and take part in the full benefits of a Rice education. Just as President Lovett had many conversations over the four years he spent planning and constructing the university, we plan to have those conversations over the next eight to 10 months. Unlike President Lovett, we already have faculty, students, staff and alumni. We have a community here in Houston that already knows what we have brought to this city. And we have friends and supporters around the globe. Today, we have many more ways to gather input, including through technology. I hope if we have an event in your city, or within a reasonable distance, you will attend and engage in one of these conversations. We are at our strongest when all parts of our community work together to define our aspirations and contribute to their achievement. Regardless of where you are around the globe, you can log into v2c2.rice.edu and give us your thoughts on the fundamental questions we face as a university, and I strongly encourage you to do so. Together we can shape a vision that, like the one launched over a century ago, will enable us to achieve goals that at our founding were scarcely imaginable. m aga z i n e . ric e . e du 5
SALLYPORT A NEW SKATE OF MIND HOLDING A CUMBERSOME prototype for a design project while skateboarding around campus with ease, Michael Moran, a sophomore, gathers a fair share of double takes. For Moran, who is majoring in computer science, skateboarding is much more than a mode of transportation. Growing up, he would stop by his neighborhood skate park before and after school, and he even wrote his Rice application essay on his passion for skateboarding. “Skateboarding is accompanied by a whole creative culture,” he said. “There’s the creativity of making the board and building the skate park as well as skate music, film and photography.” His passion for skate culture led him to develop a college course, “Skateboarding on Film,” which he’s teaching this spring for the first time. “Skating started right around the time portable cameras became affordable, so the two really evolved together,” Moran said. The class will spend ample time on their boards during skate park field trips, as well as behind the lens creating original skate films for the final exam. “Through this class, I hope to shift the perception of skateboarding on campus,” he said. “My next goal is to build a half-pipe behind Martel College and continue to encourage more of a skate culture at Rice.” Until then, you can find Moran cruising on his board around campus. — KENDALL SCHOEMANN
PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF FITLOW 6
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N e ws a n d VIEWS f ro m Ca m p u s
sa l ly p o rt
TRADITIONS | BROWN COLLEGE
Seats With a View
WHEN BROWN COLLEGE
was founded in 1965 as Rice’s second women’s college, it had one obvious rival: next-door Jones College, the first women’s college. The all-male colleges, however, didn’t see them as rivals at all — which only stoked the women’s competitive spirit. When the women were not invited by the male colleges to join Beer Bike, they launched their own race, called Tea Trike, in 1967. Although the early races were lighthearted, “the teams were seriously interested in winning,” said Martha Trammell ’68. For the first Tea Trike, Brownies had a trick up their sleeve. Brown Trike captain Perry Onderdonk ’68 bought two chaindriven tricycles big enough for grown-ups to ride. Adding a chain to transmit power to the rear wheels was roughly equivalent to replacing an airplane’s propeller with a jet engine. Brown won. By the next year, Jones had chain-driven trikes, too.
Alumnae remember Brown as a pretty buttoned-up place in the late 1960s. Frank Vandiver, the college master, resigned in 1966 because residents voted to allow alcohol in dorm rooms. A housemother monitored residents who checked in and out of the tower. “My four years at Rice saw an amazing sociological transformation — going from curfews and locked doors to Sunday afternoon open houses, and then to almost unfettered access by anybody at any time,” said Ann Patton Greene ’71. In 1987, Brown became a coed college. “These days, the rivalry with Jones is still in full force,” said Brown president Santi Avila ’18. In an arms race that would impress a Pentagon contractor, Brownies (now an experienced Beer Bike competitor) prepare for the annual Beer Bike water balloon fight by gathering more than 100 large trash cans filled with balloons — “much more than any other college,” Avila boasted. One can only assume that many of those balloons are directed at Jones. — FRANZ BROTZEN ’80
Because Houston winters are the best for outdoor lounging. 2
1. The Hangout New swaddling hammocks outside Fondren Library draw students (and faculty) in search of a cozy perch.
2. SI and Susie Morris Lounge A shaded and sinuous bench built for varying levels of reclining.
3. “45°, 90°, 180°” Aka: where students are always trying to persuade teachers to have class.
B R O W N : C S P P H OTO G R A P H Y TO P 5 : A L E S E P I C K E R I N G
The Jaume Plensa figures made of letters and numbers create interesting shadows and unconventional seating.
5. Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace A pleasantly shaded place during the day, a striking mixture of music and light at night. — TAEGAN HOWELLS ’18
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sa l ly p o rt | sy l l a b u s
ANATOMY OF A RICE CLASS
Medieval Guts and Glory Between the beheadings, the mutilations and the catapulted corpses, the conversation in Maya Soifer Irish’s Medieval Violence class could be mistaken for a “Game of Thrones” recap. But while Irish, an assistant professor of history, is grateful to the HBO series for helping make this a golden age for medieval studies, all the brutality and barbarism is just an entryway to the course’s real focus: the concentration of power in medieval society, where elaborate rules of chivalry empowered an elite group of nobles. “Violence is a window into the Middle Ages,” Irish explained. “Warfare and violence always reflect the society in which they take place.”
DESCRIPTION Students develop a critical approach to the study of violence and its function and cultural significance within medieval European society. In particular, they explore why medieval people legitimized certain kinds of violence while condemning violent acts that deviated from social norms.
How knights end up in hot water Medieval violence was highly circumscribed by the rules of chivalry. “You don’t strike an opponent who’s lying on the ground ... You treat your opponents with respect. You don’t betray your lord,” Irish explained. “What I want my students to realize is that medieval violence is not some free-for-all where anyone can kill anyone, which is an idea we get from shows like ‘Game of Thrones.’” For one thing, knights were expected to only pick on people their own rank. Violence against the lower classes could be punished harshly, as a 12th-century count demonstrated when he boiled a knight alive in his full armor for stealing two cows from a peasant.
Pictured above: Illumination of a trebuchet launching a headless corpse, from the Morgan Bible
When Got Your Nose goes too far For a research project, freshman Nikhil Chellam studied Byzantium, the Roman Empire’s Eastern successor state, where nobles had a nasty habit of mutilating their rivals, often by slicing off their noses or ears. This practice, uncommon in Europe, ensured that an
Medieval Violence (Fall 2016)
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opponent could never become emperor, since Byzantines viewed physical flaws as outward manifestations of character defects. “It’s a uniquely Byzantine concept: as God’s representative on earth, you have to be physically perfect,” Chellam explained. “Any change in your outward appearance mirrors a change in your inner persona, so mutilating someone branded them as a sinful person.” One emperor bucked the trend: Justinian II, nicknamed “the Rhinotmetos,” meaning slitnosed. After he was deposed and his nose was cut off, he returned with a solid gold prosthetic and a legion of mercenaries to retake the throne. It’s raining heads Walker Grimes, a sophomore majoring in mechanical engineering, did his research project on the evolution of siege weapons and constructed a working model of a trebuchet, or medieval catapult. Because there were no standing armies during the Middle Ages, it was nearly impossible to assemble enough soldiers to overpower a castle or
fortified city, so invaders had to wait until the people inside ran out of food and supplies. Siege weapons like the trebuchet were a way to hurry things up. The trebuchet could lob rocks large enough to make a castle wall crumble; failing that, it could send a fireball over the ramparts. Invaders were creative in their choice of projectiles. “They would throw trash, severed heads, animal corpses and human corpses, including the bodies of bubonic plague victims,” Grimes said. “They wanted to spread disease, break morale and generally make the city a really unpleasant place to be.” The more things change … Was medieval society more violent than the world is today? “My students quickly figured out that we have just as much violence: it’s just a different kind of violence,” Irish said. Some historians have even run the numbers, comparing the violent crime rate in medieval England (made possible thanks to meticulous record keeping there) to that of modern cities. “For a city like Chicago, it’s comparable,” Irish said. — JENNIFER LATSON
Groetjes uit Delft, Nederland! [Greetings from Delft!]
T RICE, I STUDIED physics and had a passion for spaceflight. Little did I know where the distribution system would take me! I first fell deeply in love with Europe during a Rice anthropology trip to Rome. After graduation, I was offered a scholarship to attend the International Space University in Beijing and Strasbourg, and I leapt at the combination of space engineering and cultural exchange. After a couple of intercontinental moves, I settled in the Netherlands and am now marketing manager for Science [&] Technology, a research and development company in Delft. I’ve married a Dutchman, learned the language, bought a house and settled in for the foreseeable future. Delft is a university town full of PHOTOGRAPH BY GUIDO BENSCHOP
LAURA GIBSON TEN BLOEMENDAL ’07 bridges and canals, located between The Hague and Rotterdam. Best known in America for its pottery, local “Delftenaars” see their city instead as a center for technological innovation dating from the days of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the “Father of Microbiology.” Delft was also the birthplace and home of painter Johannes Vermeer. Learning about the language and culture has been quite an interactive process. I credit Rice linguistic classes (which I once thought were a distraction from my real studies) for helping me pick up the language. For instance, I noticed that “lijk” was the Dutch equivalent of “ly,” and started attaching it to the end of words to create adverbs. It hasn’t always been easy, and I’ve made a few choice mistakes over the years — for example,
introducing the minister of economic affairs as the minister of economic balls, because of a mispronounced “ah” sound. My love of engineering has also served me well here. My geeking out about soldering, which I learned at Rice in Lego Lab, is a reason why the engineers here respect my questions and see me as a part of the team. Even my time in the MOB as public relations coordinator taught me to represent a wonderfully nerdy group to a larger audience. Now that I am employed on a daily basis defending and expanding investments in science and R&D projects, I feel like I am bridging the engineering communications gap with knowledge I picked up at Rice long ago. Are you a young alum living outside the U.S.? Write us a letter and tell us about your day-to-day experiences: email@example.com. m aga z i n e . ric e . e du 9
sa l ly p o rt | U nc o n ve n t i o na l wi s d o m
— professor, college master and talented photographer — manages a demanding schedule of scholarly and creative pursuits while taking an active role in Rice’s residential college system. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, he teaches the ethics, politics and visual culture of Cuba and other Caribbean locales; he also chairs the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies. Along with Rice colleague Fabiola Lopez-Duran, an art historian, he has led students and faculty on study-abroad trips to Cuba for the past eight years. LU I S DU NO - G OT T B E RG
So, when alumnus and political scientist Greg Thielemann ’86 approached Duno-Gottberg with the wild idea of taking the baseball team to Cuba, he responded enthusiastically. Baseball coach Wayne Graham, who had visited Cuba in 1960 as a minor league player, seized the idea, and he and Athletics Director Joe Karlgaard quickly went to work to clear administrative hurdles. As they announced last August, the Rice baseball team would play a series of exhibition games against teams in the Cuban Baseball Federation — and they were required to register for Duno-Gottberg’s fall class in contemporary Cuban history. In addition to baseball competition in Cuba, the team would immerse themselves in a living syllabus: walking the streets of old Havana, touring museums and visiting cultural institutions. However, baseball would be the focal point of this special course. Then Fidel Castro’s death, announced the evening after they’d arrived and played the first of five scheduled exhibition games, provided a new focus for the students, who were now playing witness to history. “After 48 hours in Cuba, this historic event happened and everything with this trip — and that nation — changed,” Duno-Gottberg said. We interviewed him both right before and right after the trip. 10
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ILLUSTRATION BY ADAM CRUFT
U nc o n ve n t i o na l wi s d o m | sa l ly p o rt
The dance of teaching
Plaza de la Revolucion
I come to the classroom with some concepts and a number of objectives I want to cover throughout the semester. But I’m also open to changing the course. A good professor will always change the path to achieve the objectives, depending on the audience. And even the objectives can shift. It’s like dancing. You’re sharing with another person, but you also follow their movements, their rhythm. I teach about the Cuban Revolution, politics, racism and other forms of violence. You have to be mindful that these are touchy subjects. People have different perspectives that could quite often be different than yours. If you don’t listen carefully, you could foreclose communication. In the metaphor of dancing, you have to move back and forth and find a place where you can exchange ideas without stepping on each other.
Baseball as class construct
LU I S D U N O - G OT T B E R G
For the fall’s Trends in Contemporary Cuba course, I used elements from the class I teach every semester but included a whole component related to baseball. The idea was to think about baseball beyond the game itself, as a social practice through which you can think about immigration, race relations and geopolitics. It was great to discuss these ideas with players who know the game and live the game but may not have thought about those social, political and economic dimensions of their passion.
The view from the only exhibition game
Los Buhos en Artemisa
The players and team had a lot of contact with the officials of the Cuban Baseball Federation and trainers, and at the end, briefly, m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 11
sa l ly p o rt | unc o n ve n t i o na l wi s d o m
Fans in Artemisa
The best thing to pack on a study-abroad trip: a flexible attitude The class [Trends in Contemporary Cuba] is always closed — students have to interview to register and talk about why they want to do this, what’s their experience traveling or dealing with challenging settings or experiences. They need to be ready for this kind of trip. I always give them a list of the things that could end up happening. “You could end up pushing the bus. You’re going to eat a lot of black beans and rice. ... You’re sure you want to do it?” And they say, “Yeah, I want to do it!” They embrace the opportunity to be pushed forward.
I always give them a list of the things that could end up happening. “You could end up pushing the bus. You’re going to eat a lot of black beans and rice ... You’re sure you want to do it?” And they say, “Yeah, I want to do it!”
On Castro’s passing Greg [Thielemann] called me and said, “Luis, we have a problem.” And I asked if something happened with a student, and he said, “No, no. Fidel died.” And I didn’t believe him. That’s the oldest joke among Cuban scholars and people who study Latin American politics. Of course, I knew it was possible. It was not unexpected, but when someone wakes you up at midnight to tell you this ... I was about to hang up. After about five minutes, I realized it was true. Other Cuban 12
friends called with the same news. Then people started piling into my room and asking questions. I said, “Go to sleep. There’s nothing we can do right now.” Of course, I was awake all night.
Everyone was in agreement that we should stay. The games were suspended, and many things were closed. Cuba, which is a place of music and excitement, was, for once, silent.
A new itinerary
The next day, we discussed how we should proceed. We asked questions. I talked to many of my Cuban contacts and evaluated everything.
Every day, we tried to develop a program in which students would achieve the established objectives. There were things that we
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wanted to do, and we had to go to plan B, C and D, and we couldn’t confirm more than an hour ahead. One day, we learned about the political economy of tobacco by visiting plantations and factories; another, we learned about sugar. And on the bus, I gave a lecture about how these two commodities produced this island through a particular economy and culture. We were able to visit historical sites, including the Museum of the Revolution; Havana Central Park; El Floridita, a bar made famous by Ernest Hemingway, and Finca Vigia, Hemingway’s house; several fortresses; the Cathedral of Havana; and La Cueva del Indio in the Valle de Vinales. We walked a lot in old Havana and learned about the colonial city. We even visited a contemporary dance studio (an event covered by Reuters). The students had an opportunity to talk to many Cubans.
Living into the moment One of the first things we did was have an in-depth conversation about what the Cuban people were feeling. There were people who were mourning (in Cuba), and there were people celebrating (in Miami). I wouldn’t underestimate that conversation — making the team aware of all the things people were feeling. This is how we decided to go about it step by step, and having tactful exchanges with the people who welcomed us in their country in such a tremendous historical circumstance. — LYNN GOSNELL For a day-to-day account of the Rice team’s trip to Cuba, see baseball.blogs.rice.edu.
LU I S D U N O - G OT T B E R G
with the players. And they talked to people in the community. It was very beautiful. There were a lot of people cheering, and the spectators were so focused. The game was fascinating [Rice won 4-0 against Artemisa], but to me what was happening among the fans was equally fascinating. The U.S. flag on one side of the field, the Cuban flag on the other.
di s pat c h e s f ro m ric e at h l e t ic s
Jimoh Returns to Rice
T AGE 10, FUNMI JIMOH PENNED a prophetic journal entry: “I’m going to go to the Olympics.” More than 20 years later, the decorated Rice alumna and former U.S. Olympian has returned to the place that helped make her wish come true. “I don’t think I would have made it to the Olympics (without Rice),” said Jimoh. “Nothing against any big school, but knowing the kind of individual I am, I don’t think I would have made it that far in a bigger situation because I had so many people kind of help guide me. You’re not just one of many. They know you. Even some of my professors were, like, ‘We’ve got your back. We’ve got you.’ The small environment at Rice is very family-oriented.” A 2015 inductee into the Rice Athletic Hall of Fame, Jimoh
PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF FITLOW
still holds the Rice record in the heptathlon and the 100-meter hurdles. She finished 12th in the long jump at the Olympic Games in 2008. This past September, she joined her former coach, Jim Bevan, as a full-time assistant for the Owls. A self-described student of the sport, Jimoh believes her experiences can help current student–athletes. “I have an idea of how I think I can really help some of these athletes, so it’s exciting to be able to teach them the things that I know can save them a couple of rough days and watch them progress,” said Jimoh. “I see the things I needed to be told at that time in order to foster good habits or do away with some bad habits. I see myself in almost every one of them.” — LEIGH GULLETT
m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 13
s c o re b oa rd
Wendy Knight SPORT
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL HOMETOWN
SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE
COMPUTATIONAL AND APPLIED MATH COACH
Last season, Wendy Knight was one of the Rice Owls’ top contributors, starting in almost every game and dominating in 3-pointers. She’s not just focused on her own stats, though: Knight aims to develop the team’s culture and presence on campus and the national stage. A San Antonio native, the Rice junior has had a basketball in her hands since the first grade and is a die-hard San Antonio Spurs fan. When she’s not on the court or in class, Knight is busy with the campus Christian organizations Chi Alpha and Fellowship of Christian Athletes and helps her fellow Lovetteers as a Peer Academic Adviser.
MONDAYS 8:15 a.m.
Wake up and eat the best meal of the day at Lovett
Lunch: Finally a chance to catch up with friends
9 a.m. Go to class: Numerical Analysis, which is “math without numbers,” and Mathematics for Under“I’m graduinterested ates, a in operations course research as a career.” focusing on proofs
“On game day, the team listens to throwbacks and hiphop.”
Weights, then ice bath and quality time with the team
7 p.m. Eat dinner back at Lovett
Go to class: Number Theory, an exploration of how numbers are created
Homework in study groups
2 p.m. Change and warm up for practice with teammates
Quick hoop-shooting session at Tudor
Practice! A time away from schoolwork spent with great teammates
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“One of the most challenging things about being a student– athlete is having to miss certain school events or holidays. However, some of the best memories with the team are from Christmas break when we get to be together without worries about school.”
TO M M Y L AV E R G N E
DAY IN THE LIFE
DON’T SLEEP ON THE OWLS. Despite an 0-6 start to the 2016 football season, followed by a 3-9 finish and a second consecutive miss on the postseason, head coach David Bailiff and Director of Athletics Joe Karlgaard believe Bailiff can turn the tide. The duo promises that substantial changes are on the way. Karlgaard recently made expectations clear in a statement released by the university’s Athletics department. “Our ambitions remain very high,” Karlgaard said. “We expect to be competitive in every game and to compete for conference championships. When nearly two-thirds of college football programs participate in bowl games every year — including slots for half of Conference USA members — bowl games should be a regular part of our seasons.” Bailiff has achieved success before. He led the Owls to four bowl berths and three bowl championships, while producing the most wins in school history over two-year (18 wins), three-year (25 wins) and four-year (30 wins) periods. Elected C-USA Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2013, Bailiff led the team to its first outright conference championship in 56 years in 2013. Winning days, according to the coach, are far from over. With changes to his staff and hopefully fewer injuries, Bailiff told the Houston Chronicle in November he fully expects to have the explosive offense and lock-down defense the team has been missing. — LEIGH GULLETT
F i n di ng s , Re s e a r c h and m o re
A N D R E W O ST R OV S KY / S H U T T E R STO C K
HE BASIC TOOLS OF MA JOR League Baseball have changed little over the years. Yet something enormous changed for the Boston Red Sox between 1918 and 2004, when they won their first and second World Series. A 21st-century innovation — logging data on players’ slugging and on-base percentages, for example — allowed managers to hire players for a winning team. The data launched a new field, sabermetrics, now nicknamed “moneyball.” This data-driven approach can be as successful in running a major city as it was for a baseball team. Michael Bloomberg pioneered the use of big data sets to meet the logistical challenges of running New York City. Big data can sharpen the games of other businesses, too, argues Rice business professor Frederick Oswald and his former graduate student Jisoo Ock ’14. Thanks to computing advances, human resource analytics are changing from gut instinct into reliable
B US IN E S S
Do the Math The strategies once used in baseball analytics are now being applied to employee management Personality traits can help predict work performance
predictions based in data. For generations, human resource analysts have used what’s known as the “big five” model to predict how personalities affect work outcomes. The model is based on the idea that personality drives five types of behaviors — conscientious work, agreeableness with others, emotional calmness, sociability, and openness to ideas and experiences. The scholars call for newer models that consider refined personality traits and types of work at the same time. To stay competitive, anyone who manages employees needs to keep an eye on the ball — constantly tracking the latest insights on people, the workplace and the whole field of employment.
This brief was published first on ricebusinesswisdom.com. Oswald is a professor in the Department of Psychology and professor of psychology and management at the Jones Graduate School of Business.
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a b s t r ac t
R E L IG IO N
EVANGELICALS ARE MORE SKEPTICAL of evolution than of climate change, according to new research from Rice. In a recent edition of the journal Environment and Behavior, Rice sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund explored the larger “anti-science” tendency that some see as related to membership in conservative religious groups such as evangelical Protestants. Using national survey data, Ecklund examined the link between evolution skepticism and climatechange skepticism while considering religion’s association with both. The study included 9,636 Americans; Ecklund said the U.S. is up to 40 percent evangelical, depending on how the term is defined. The research revealed that about 20 percent of the U.S. population is skeptical that climate change is occurring at all or that humans play a role in it, and about 45 percent views natural evolution as probably or definitely false. However, the researchers found that there is a much stronger and clearer associa-
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Almost 70 percent of evangelical Protestants who responded to a national survey said that evolution is probably false About 28 percent of evangelicals deny climate change or a human role in climate change Read more: ricemagazine.info/ evolution-climate
tion between religion and evolution skepticism than between religion and climate-change skepticism. Almost 70 percent of surveyed respondents identifying as evangelicals said that evolution is probably or definitely false, while only 28 percent of these individuals said that the climate is not changing or that humans have no role in climate change. “This is different from the popular account that the people who oppose climate-change research and the people who oppose the teaching of evolution are the same and that evangelical Protestantism is clearly linked to both,” Ecklund said. She and her co-authors hope the research will provide insight into how different science issues may or may not interact with religion and politics and help science policymakers focus their efforts to address environmental care and climate change. Ecklund is the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice and director of Rice’s Religion and Public Life Program. — AMY MCCAIG
P H OTO I L LU ST R AT I O N BY A L E S E P I C K E R I N G
Religion and Science Clash
a b s t r ac t | Re s e a r c h BrIE F s
FAC U LT Y BOOKS
Unlock the Power of Less — and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined By Scott Sonenshein (Harper Business, February 2017) ANTHROPOLOGY
“Cultures of Energy” Podcast Turns 1 A year ago, Rice anthropologists Dominic Boyer and Cymene Howe launched the podcast “Cultures of Energy.” In more than 50 episodes, available for free on iTunes, the duo mines the complex and sometimes fraught relationship between energy, the environment and the humanities. They’ve covered climate change, species extinction, carbon fuels and alternative energies through the lens of scholars, artists and writers. Each episode features a different guest, which has included climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker ’78, conservationist Bron Taylor and environmental anthropologist Anna Tsing, to name a few. Several episodes were marked “explicit,” due in part to the freewheeling conversational nature of the podcast. “The podcast is a great medium to reach people, because it can be engaged anywhere and anytime. It can make serious, complex issues seem more interesting through a livelier conversational format,” said Howe. That format has paid off. “The average podcast has maybe 200 downloads per episode, so we thought we’d be lucky to get 10,000 downloads in the first year,” Boyer said. “We actually ended up with over 35,000 downloads in 2016.” The project is part of Rice’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences, which was founded in 2013 to bring the arts, humanities and social sciences into the work of solving energy and environmental challenges. — LYNN GOSNELL To listen: culturesofenergy.com
Scott Sonenshein, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, thinks you have enough already. From physical objects to personal relationships, he argues that we should focus less on acquiring more, and draw out the full potential of what we already have. Some of the tips he shares in “Stretch,” based on his own research and recent social science findings, include:
Be a stretcher, not a chaser.
Sonenshein’s approach runs counter to many of our instincts. Instead of chasing after more resources, he urges us to consider what we could do with fewer. Stretching, in part, means to stretch your brain, asking yourself, “What would I do if I didn’t have this resource?”
Embrace constraints. Many artists have already discovered that seemingly reductive limits — whether financial, physical or selfimposed stylistic constraints — can actually enhance creativity. Sonenshein shows that the same has proved true in lab rats and elementary schoolchildren — and will work for the rest of us.
Pick your friends carefully. Since who we spend time with has a demonstrated effect on our own behavior, surround yourself with stretchers, not chasers. At work and in your personal life, aim to spend time with stretchers whom you admire.
Take a break. Being focused isn’t always a good thing, Sonenshein argues. Like constraints, distraction can also enhance creativity. And don’t work too hard coming up with the perfect break: mindless labor is as good as meditation. So clean your house, do some filing or even pick up an adult coloring book. You’ll be more productive in the long run. — JENNIFER LATSON m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 17
a b s t r ac t | Re s e a r c h Bri e f s
R AN K IN G S
We’re Number ... Better Cars Through Chemistry A SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING grant on testing they’ve done throughout the allowed a group of professors to create a building phase. course called Chemical Car Engineering “I worked on the starter for our car,” and Design, which provided a structured said senior Daniela Cleary. “And we built space for students to design, our fuel cell from individual build and test chemically powparts we’d ordered online.” Rice students ered cars. They will enter the Cleary said it was a chaldesigned and built vehicles in the American Instilenge because she hadn’t built small, chemicaltute of Chemical Engineers’ anything before. “We would powered cars Chem-E-Car regional competitroubleshoot and talk to the tion this March, with hopes of company that sold us the parts, Hydrogen made advancing to the national comand they were incredibly helpone car go; iodine made it stop petition in October. ful in giving us advice.” “This was very much a stuCleary’s team, C.H.U.C.K., dent-driven course; students was named for the man who did the research and design themselves,” helped them build the fuel cell. Their car said Rafael Verduzco, an associate professor was fueled by a hydrogen gas reaction in of chemical and biomolecular engineering, the 10-stack fuel cell and stopped by an who taught the course last fall and is teachiodine clock reaction apparatus. ing another section this semester. “Having a hands-on class like this was Two teams of eight students each built pretty cool,” said junior Margaret Roddy. the cars and created posters explaining “It was a chance to learn other disciplines, the vehicles’ capabilities. In competition, like mechanical engineering. No one on a car must stop and start based on a chemour team had built anything like this ical reaction, carry a specified amount of before.” She was part of a team called The water and go a certain distance. Teams Moving Car. are not told what weight the cars will “Lots of times, chemical engineers might carry or the distance they’re expected to be asked to design a power plant in their travel until the competition. Once they coursework, but they’re not going to be able receive the specifications from the judges, to build one,” Verduzco added. “This was teams must determine the chemical reaca way for students to take something from tion needed to power their vehicles, based idea to completion.” — HOLLY BERETTO
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Last fall, Rice jumped from No. 18 to No. 15 out of 300 universities in the 2017 U.S. News & World Reports’ “Best Colleges” guidebook rankings. Rice shares this ranking with Cornell University, Vanderbilt University and the University of Notre Dame. Rice’s other rankings in the guidebook include:
Top university in Texas
Strong commitment to undergraduate teaching
Best value among national universities
P H OTO BY J E F F F I T LO W
CHEMI CAL E NGIN E E RIN G
a b s t r ac t | Re s e a r c h BrIE F s
of backgrounds, including age, sightedness and education. To ensure the effectiveness of each science module, the researchers gathered feedback from a series of preliminary events conducted with blindfolded volunteers and BLV individuals. “While a Ph.D. student in Chicago, I was involved with the Blind Services Association and ran with a BLV individual as his guide once a week,” Ringe said. “When I got to Rice and had resources and a team at my disposal, I wanted to make
MATERIA LS SC IE NC E
BELIEVING WITHOUT SEEING
I L LU ST R AT I O N BY A L E S E P I C K E R I N G
Researchers are creating science-learning modules for people with impaired vision using tactile and audio components. TARGETING AN UNDERSERVED POPULATION, a research group in Rice’s Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering is creating science-learning modules tailored to people with blindness or low vision (BLV). The group, led by Emilie Ringe, an assistant professor in materials science and nanoengineering, is collaborating with the Lighthouse of Houston, a nonprofit that assists BLV individuals, to teach basic science concepts through short learning activities in a fun and informal environment. “Because science is traditionally taught in a very visual way, many BLV individuals haven’t participated in science education since school and have very few opportunities to stay current in the subject,” said Ringe. “My team aims to not only create educational science modules for people with visual impairments, but also to provide templates for organizations and educators to implement sessions and events on their own and increase the continuing education resources available to the BLV community.” Of the 6.7 million Americans who are visually impaired, 63 percent are unemployed and 59 percent have not pursued a secondary education. Ringe and her team had to find ways to reach and engage audiences with a variety
“My team aims to not only create educational science modules for people with visual impairments, but also to provide templates for organizations and educators to implement sessions and events on their own and increase the continuing education resources available to the BLV community.” a bigger impact for a larger audience and realized I could do so with science.” Ringe’s group invited 20 BLV adults to test four modules that used tactile and auditory approaches to convey four basic science concepts: the metric system, material strength and deformation, transparency of materials and the electromagnetic spectrum. “While we had a diverse participant group, they all shared an innate quality in wanting to learn something new,” Ringe said. “They haven’t had access to anything like this before.” Ringe and her team will host another event featuring the original modules and five new ones in May. For more information about the learning modules, go to ringegroup.rice.edu.
— KENDALL SCHOEMANN
m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 19
a b s t r ac t | Fac ult y B o o k s
Failing Families, Failing Science: Work-Family Conflict in Academic Science by Elaine Howard Ecklund and Anne E. Lincoln (NYU Press, 2016)
The Gnostic New Age: How a Countercultural Spirituality Revolutionized Religion From Antiquity to Today by April D. DeConick (Columbia University Press, 2016)
G NO S T IC S W E R E T H E N E W AG E R S of the ancient religious world. Mystical iconoclasts, they proposed that humans were manifestations of the divine, rather than fallen creatures whose only hope of salvation was strict obedience to God (and king). Their teachings, including that a spiritual union with God could be achieved through prayer and meditation alone, were subversive not just to early Christianity but to many other religions. In her latest book, DeConick, the chair of Rice’s religion department, offers a history of Gnosticism that spans ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages and the occult movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in contemporary New Age spirituality. Her focus is on the movement’s transgressive nature — the revolutionary ideas that led its scriptures to be forbidden by the early church. “The Gnostics,” she writes, “were the first to view traditional religion as the opiate of the masses, the drug that keeps people satisfied to serve the gods and their kings as obedient slaves and vassals.” It was an unpopular point of view to take when Christianity was just finding its footing. And while some scholars have argued that Gnosticism disappeared during the Middle Ages, after the Catholics burned the Gnostics’ publications and forced them into exile, DeConick argues that Gnosticism survived to re-emerge in the modern world within the tenets of New Age religion — and that its reach extends beyond New Age movements into American religion more generally. 20
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WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A SCIENTIST and a parent? Not easy, says Elaine Howard Ecklund, Rice’s Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences, in a new book co-written with Anne E. Lincoln, an associate professor of sociology at Southern Methodist University. “Failing Families, Failing Science” examines the unique difficulties academic scientists face in balancing family and work. The book, based on surveys of more than 2,000 junior and senior scientists, is the first to tackle the experiences of both men and women working in science at top U.S. universities. Women scientists meet with exceptional challenges, but men don’t have it much easier. Compounding the issue, academic scientists often marry other academic scientists, Ecklund and Lincoln observe. “While women are hit harder by the pressures of elite academic science, the institution of science — and academic science, in particular — is not accommodating, possibly not even compatible, for either women or men who want to raise families,” Ecklund says. “Perhaps most importantly, our research reveals that early-career academic scientists struggle considerably with balancing their work and family lives.” This isn’t just a concern for the scientists themselves, the authors conclude: It’s bad for all of us, since the challenges young scientists encounter may keep them from pursuing positions at top research universities — or force them out of academic science altogether, thereby depriving the rest of us of the benefits of their research. — JENNIFER LATSON
a b s t r ac t | s i x de gre e s
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.
Jia, a fourth-year doctoral student in the systems, synthetic and physical biology program, works on uncovering mechanisms underlying metastasis and cancer metabolism. Jia is a student in the lab of Herbert Levine (b. 1955).
CHEW (b. 1924) collaborated
DASHEN (1938–1995) was a
FRAUTSCHI (b. 1933) worked on theoretical predictions for how hadrons interact with increasing energy. Although he retired in 2006, he still teaches undergraduates. Frautschi worked as a postdoc in the lab of Geoffrey Chew.
LEVINE is the co-director of
Rice’s Center for Theoretical Biological Physics. His lab uses theoretical simulations to understand various phenomena at the cellular level, such as how microorganisms form colonies. Levine studied at Princeton University with Roger Dashen.
particle physicist who studied the theory behind hadrons, the particles that make up protons and neutrons. Dashen studied theoretical physics at Caltech under Steven Frautschi.
J I A : J E F F F I T LO W
D ONGYA J I A
GRADUATE STUDENT IN SYSTEMS, SYNTHETIC AND PHYSICAL BIOLOGY
with Frautschi on a model known as the “statistical bootstrap,” which concluded that no particle was elementary. Chew was a graduate student of Enrico Fermi at the University of Chicago.
contributed significantly to quantum theory and nuclear physics. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1938 and built the first stable nuclear reactor in Chicago while working on the Manhattan Project during World War II. Fermi studied in Germany under Max Born. BORN (1882–1970) was a
physicist and mathematician at the University of Göttingen. Born, along with Werner Heisenberg, established the mathematical equations describing quantum mechanics. Born later developed the equations used to predict the physical properties of atoms, which earned him the Nobel Prize in physics in 1954.
— NICHOLAS ZAIBAQ
Zaibaq is a doctoral candidate in chemistry at Rice. m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 21
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Fresh Air Photo by Jeff Fitlow
ICE STUDENTS have a new place to hang out on campus, thanks to the winners of a 2015 Rice School of Architecture minicharrette. Called The Hangout, the winning design features 12 moveable hammocks and 14 poles. The hammocks can be configured in 729 different arrangements, allowing students to adapt the space to fit their needs. The hammocks have been a hit with students and even the occasional faculty member since they debuted in October. They’ve been used for studying, outdoor teaching, or simply as a place to kick back and relax. Geneva Vest ’17, one of the eight juniors and seniors who designed The Hangout, explained that they wanted to create something that “would get people out of the airconditioning and into a more natural setting.” The installation’s spot between Fondren Library and the Humanities Building is enclosed by buildings but open to the fresh air, giving students a shady, yet accessible, place to relax. — TAEGAN HOWELLS ’18 m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 23
Norie Guthrie at Houston’s Anderson Fair 24
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FOLK REVIVAL ARCHIVIST
NORIE GUTHRIE ★★★
IS ON A QUEST
TO RECOVER AND PRESERVE HOUSTON’S ROLE AS A FOLK MUSIC HUB. DOING THAT REQUIRES A LOT OF HANGING OUT WITH THE PEOPLE AND PLACES WHO SHAPED THAT PAST (AND PRESENT).
B Y J O H N N O VA L O M A X P H O T O G R A P H BY T O M M Y L AV E R G N E
Americana legends Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Rodney Crowell, K.T. Oslin, Eric Taylor, Nanci Griffith and Lyle Lovett, among many others — and since 2016, Rice special collections librarian and archivist Norie Guthrie has been assembling a trove of vital artifacts from that often-overlooked music scene. I have had a front-row seat for that scene my entire life. My grandfather, John A. Lomax Jr. (brother of folklorist Alan and son of folklorist John Avery Lomax), helped shape it, from the 1950s until his death in 1974. My parents, the late Julia “Bidy” Taylor and John Lomax III, were friends and contemporaries of Clark, Crowell, Williams and Van Zandt, and my dad worked as manager for Van Zandt and Steve Earle. In the late 1970s
hen Houston gets its due as a music hub, you hear about its hip-hop, country, zydeco, blues, R&B, jazz, and rock ’n’ roll. And justifiably so: It’s a city where you once could have heard blues both earthy and down-home (Lightnin’ Hopkins, Juke Boy Bonner) and suave and uptown (Bobby “Blue” Bland and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown). As the city where Louisiana Creoles melded their Francophone “la la” music with blues and R&B, the Fifth Ward’s Frenchtown neighborhood is credited as the birthplace of zydeco. Some music scholars claim that the 1949 Goree Carter single, “Rock Awhile,” recorded next door to what is now Katz’s Deli on lower Westheimer, was the very first rock ’n’ roll 45 ever waxed. No other band as thoroughly Texan as Houston’s ZZ Top is so prominently enshrined in the canon of classic rock, and Houston helped give rise to psychedelic rock (the 13th Floor Elevators recorded for a local label). There was the Urban Cowboy craze, and it was Houston (not Atlanta) that put Southern hip-hop on the map via the Geto Boys. Of course, Houston launched the phenomenon that is Beyoncé. Not bad for a city most outsiders regard as a distant second fiddle to Austin. Amid all that melody, rhyme and rhythm, Houston’s stellar folk music history tends to get lost in the shuffle. All too often, artists who made their names in Houston are, thanks in no small part to numerous appearances on “Austin City Limits,” associated with the state capital. Nevertheless, it was the Bayou City, and not the Live Music Capital of the World, that served as the earliest muse for latter-day folk, country and 26
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FROM THE ARCHIVES (from top): Wheatfield: L to R: Cris “Ezra” Idlet, Bob Russell, Connie Mims and Craig Calvert, ca. 1974; Wheatfield concert flier at Baker College, March 29, 1974; Reel-to-reel of Townes Van Zandt live from Liberty Hall broadcast on KPFT, Nov. 1984
THE KTRU RECORDINGS — OFTEN GIGS AT PLACES LIKE THE BAKER COLLEGE COMMONS, RICE MEMORIAL CENTER, HAMMAN HALL AND, LATER, WILLY’S PUB — WERE THE IMPETUS FOR THE COLLECTION’S FOUNDING IN JANUARY 2016. and early 1980s, my aunts were huge fans of Shake Russell and Dana Cooper, and as music editor for the Houston Press for most of the 2000s, I was privy to the ins and outs of more recent Houston folk. The fledgling Houston Folk Music Archive is already home to an impressive collection of scrapbooks, correspondence, flyers, posters, films, photographs and hour upon hour of recordings (a great many of them live on-campus concerts broadcast by KTRU). It captures the subculture’s 1960s–1980s heyday, a time of immense creativity, when folk music was every bit as vital to disaffected
Bayou City youth as punk would become a generation later. Speaking amid boxes of archival materials at a conference table on the first floor of Fondren Library, Guthrie said that the KTRU recordings — often gigs at places like the Baker College Commons, Rice Memorial Center, Hamman Hall and, later, Willy’s Pub — were the impetus for the collection’s founding in January 2016. “Once we got the reels from KTRU, I realized we had such a great document of these interactions,” Guthrie said. “And in our collection parameters, we collect Houston materials and fine arts. So I went to Lee Pecht [university archivist and director of Special Collections at Fondren Library] and said, ‘We have all these things, why don’t we put them out there and see what happens?’ No one else was doing it. It just made sense.” With the recordings as the archive’s cornerstones, Guthrie set about laying the foundation. Top: Margaret “Mimi” Lomax, Joseph Lomax and John Avery Lomax Jr., 1949. John Avery Lomax Jr. founded the Houston Folklore Society with Ed Badeaux, Howie Porper, Chester Bower and Harold Belikoff in June 1951. Courtesy of John Lomax III m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 27
Her first email went to Craig Calvert, guitarist of the band Wheatfield (later called St. Elmo’s Fire) that almost, but not quite, made it to a major-label recording contract in the 1970s. (Wheatfield was featured on “Austin City Limits” during the program’s first season, and Calvert’s former bandmates Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet went on to form the folk/children’s music duo Trout Fishing in America.) Word got around the folkie grapevine fast. The day after Guthrie talked to Calvert, another 1970s-era folk mainstay, singersongwriter Danny Everitt, showed up at Fondren. “Danny said I needed to sell the project,” Guthrie recalled. “I wrote a blurb explaining why we started the Houston Folk Music Archive and our goal. I decided we should collect materials starting with the Great Folk Scare [that brief window in the 1960s when folk music topped the pop charts] and moving on to the 1980s, when Dana Cooper and Lyle Lovett, among others, still used Houston as their home base. Those roughly 20 years were an incredibly fruitful time,” Guthrie said. Thanks in large part to my grandfather, Houston’s folk scene had something precious few others did: a deep infusion in the realdeal blues. Pops, as he was known to his family, founded the Houston Folklore Society, and in addition to his own bass-baritone a cappella renditions of the Texas folk songs he’d learned from his dad, and the blues he’d learned from Leadbelly, the concerts he hosted in Hermann Park and at the Jewish Community Center also featured people like Third Ward blues star Lightnin’ Hopkins and Navasota blues-folk-country-ragtime guitarist Mance Lipscomb. Future folk superstars like Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark were regular attendees. “For a 21-year-old folksinger, it was heaven,” Clark told No Depression magazine in 2002. “Both Lightnin’ and Mance were brilliant guitar players, though neither were flashy, and that taught us that it’s not always the notes you play that make a difference; it’s also the holes you leave. We eventually applied that to our songwriting. You don’t want to tell the listener everything; you have to leave room for them to imagine how their grandfather would have said it. It makes them feel smart; it makes you feel smart; and everyone is happy.” Clark’s and Van Zandt’s time as full-time Houston musicians was relatively brief — but utterly vital. Before they followed fellow Houstonian, surrogate father figure and platinum-selling songwriter Mickey Newbury to Nashville, they set a world-class standard for all who would dare follow them on Bayou City stages. The Rice archive also chronicles the rise and (with one important exception) fall of Houston folk’s key venues: the Jester Lounge, Sand Mountain Coffeehouse, and downtown’s Liberty Hall and the Old Quarter. (Alone among that quartet, the Old Quarter still stands, albeit as a law office, at the corner of Austin and Congress.) 28
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Anderson Fair Retail Restaurant is the sole survivor among the venues from the Houston folk heyday, and Guthrie makes the most of its continued existence. She tends bar at the listening room in deepest Montrose and handles their social media. Serendipitous
Clockwise from top: Liberty Hall poster featuring Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat, 1973; Vince Bell photo shoot, ca. 1976; calendar drawn by Jean King from Vince Bell’s journal, 1976.
meetings with folk scene veterans tend to follow such real-world involvement, as do musical donations. Once the donations are in hand, Guthrie tries to process them and make them available as quickly as possible. “I immediately try to promote it,” she said. “I just want people to be able to look at me and say ‘Oooh, she’s active.’” As an unintended consequence, the archive binds its donors to Rice, and in a single week last fall, two luminaries of the Houston folk golden age spoke in classes: Houston-bred, Austin-based troubadour Vince Bell discussed his agonizing six-year recovery from a devastating traumatic brain injury he suffered in a 1982 car wreck, while Richard Dobson discussed the Houston folk scene as a musical subculture. I caught up with both of them on campus, and their statements
BELL SAID THAT KNOWING HIS WORK WOULD ONE DAY END UP IN THE PERMANENT COLLECTION OF A SCHOOL LIKE RICE WOULD HAVE MEANT THE WORLD TO HIM WHEN HE FIRST STRUMMED A GUITAR IN EARNEST 46 YEARS AGO. bore out something Guthrie had told me earlier: Posterity is very much on the minds of Houston folk legends, many of whom are now in their 70s. “It makes me feel great. If not immortality, it’s at least knowing that your stuff is gonna be there,” said Dobson, a former bandmate of Van Zandt’s, who co-wrote Clark’s “Old Friends” and has 23 albums under his own name. Last spring, Dobson, who lives in Switzerland, donated several boxes of correspondence, business files, journals and recordings to the archive. “It’s almost like I am looking at my life in retrospect, and that’s a little scary. So it’s a little sobering in that respect, but I’m really grateful that Norie is putting this together.” Bell said that knowing his work would one day end up in the permanent collection of a school like Rice would have meant the world to him when he first strummed a guitar in earnest 46 years ago. “This is what an author covets, cherishes: recognition,” he said. “And everything I do from here on out goes into the archive, so I have inspiration to go further.” Dobson is sending still more of his material over from his home on the banks of the Swiss Rhine, so much of it that it will necessitate shipping via the Port of Houston. To Dobson, it’s worth it. “Who’s gonna see it in Europe?” he said. “... I’ve already written two memoirs, and I don’t think I’m gonna be writing any more memoirs or autobiographies.” There is always room for more material in the archive, Guthrie said. Her wish list includes the papers and memorabilia from people like K.T. Oslin, who, before her mainstream country success in Nashville, sang folk in Houston as Kay Oslin; Nanci Griffith, who immortalized Anderson Fair in the song
“Spin on a Red Brick Floor”; Eric Taylor, Griffith’s former husband and a musical mentor to Lyle Lovett; and Lovett himself. Additional funding would be an enormous help in digitizing VHS tapes and other outdated media (and securing the server space to store them). Guthrie shares her archival discoveries on this and other projects via her blog, “What’s in Woodson.” Discovering this obscure scene was as much an eye-opener to Guthrie as this archive will be to visiting scholars and fans. “I wasn’t necessarily a fan of this kind of music when I first started,” she said. “I wasn’t against it, either. ‘Pancho and Lefty’ was one of my favorite songs growing up, but I never knew it was written by Townes Van Zandt.” Excavating further, she’s discovered treasure upon treasure deep in the Houston clay. “I didn’t know that all this music came from here, and I have become a fan,” she said. “As an archivist, I just want to preserve things. I feel like something special happened here that needs to be saved before it’s lost.” ◆
Clockwise from left: Richard Dobson concert poster from Hard Thymes; back cover of Richard Dobson’s LP “The Big Taste”; Lynn Langham from the “Through the Dark Nightly” LP cover, 1976.
BREATHE EASY, REPEAT How good design could save a million babies every year.
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By Jade Boyd Photographs by Brandon Martin
he boy was minutes old and near death. His breath came in shallow, rapid gasps. His mother, Mary Nankwenya, knew something was terribly wrong. When her labor had begun several weeks too early, she’d rushed to the nearest hospital in Zomba, a small city in southern Malawi, and given birth at midnight. But before she could even hold her baby, he was whisked away to the neonatal ward for treatment. A few hours later, at the dawn of an unseasonably warm June morning, Nankwenya’s son was breathing normally. He shared the nursery with 20 other babies, so many that Mary had to wait in the hallway and watch through glass. An air hose ran from his nose to a shoebox-sized breathing machine nearby. Malawian babies often aren’t named until they are about a month old, and thanks to the continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP [pronounced SEE-PAP], Nankwenya’s child was about three times more likely to reach his naming date. Other mothers in the hallway had told Nankwenya that the machine had saved their children. “Some are being discharged today. They have recovered. All through that CPAP machine,” she said through an interpreter. 32
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Previous spread: A Malawian mother checks on her baby at Zomba District Hospital’s neonatal ward Above: Caroline Brigham ’17, an architecture student intern with Rice 360°, at Zomba District Hospital’s neonatal ward
Zomba’s neonatal CPAP was invented 9,000 miles away, in Houston, by Rice undergraduates. It has a Malawian name, Pumani, which means “breathe easy,” and it’s saving babies today in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Pumani’s story is one of hope, perseverance and innovation in action. It’s the middle chapter of an epic 20-year quest to save the lives of a million babies every year. The protagonists are two Rice professors who’ve grown so close that their staff often call them by one name, and their quest began a decade ago in a different neonatal ward in Blantyre, Malawi, a bustling city of 1 million.
How can we help?
Bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum can vividly recall the emotions she felt when she first saw the crowded, two-room ward at Blantyre’s Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in 2006. “That visit changed my entire life,” she said. “There were 60 babies being cared for there with very minimal equipment. As a mom, it is incredibly difficult to walk into that and to see babies who are literally struggling to take every breath.” Each bassinet held three or four babies, and there was no room for all the mothers. She had to step over a dozen who sat on the floor breastfeeding, but scores more packed the hallway outside, awaiting their turn. She learned that almost one in five Malawian babies — about twice the U.S. rate — are born premature. These preemies are prone to respiratory
distress and a host of other problems; three-quarters of all newborn deaths occur in the first week of life. As a mother of six, Richards-Kortum felt for both the mothers and the doctors and nurses at Queen’s. The engineer in her noted the lack of technology: devices U.S. hospitals use to save premature babies — incubators, ventilators, monitors — were missing. “When I walked out, I didn’t yet know how we could be helpful, but shortly after that we went to the hospital’s biomedical engineering department, and I saw that there were rooms and shelves full of broken equipment,” she said. “There were 83 broken oxygen concentrators, and if any one of those had been working, it would have been in use in the neonatal unit. “When I saw those two things — the great need for equipment in the hands of these dedicated medical professionals right next to this equipment graveyard — I thought, that’s how we can help. We can develop the kind of equipment that is affordable, that is rugged and robust, that is easy for nurses and physicians to use, and that can be the difference between life and death for tiny babies.”
Richards-Kortum returned to Houston and Rice’s nationally ranked Department of Bioengineering, where she’d been championing the idea of bringing more hands-on experiences into the classroom. She’d won a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to develop a global health curriculum, and she decided to merge the two, creating a program where Rice students could minor in global health by taking a hands-on approach to solving the kinds of problems she had seen in Malawi. She soon found a kindred spirit in Maria Oden, an academic who’d come to Rice a few years earlier to start the bioengineering design course. Oden immediately bought into the idea of teaching bioengineering to conquer real-world problems. Rice’s minor in global health would culminate in a yearlong capstone project where teams of four to five undergraduates would work directly with physicians in developing countries. “The difference between working on problems that really matter versus made-up class projects is that students will put so much more energy into it and learn so much more if they care about it,” Oden said. Or as Richards-Kortum puts it, “When you learn in that environment, what you take away sticks with you so much longer than if you just learn it to get through the test on Tuesday.” The pair first traveled to Malawi
together in 2007 to scout for capstone project ideas. They went to the Queen’s neonatal ward, and Oden’s first experience there was remarkably similar to her colleague’s. “Three of my four children were in neonatal intensive care, and they wouldn’t have had the opportunities they have without the care that they got there,” she recalled thinking. “I want to provide the same opportunities to the babies I see here.”
Malawi College of Medicine Professor Josephine Langton (left) with Maria Oden and Rebecca RichardsKortum (back) in the expanded neonatal ward at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital
We can develop the kind of equipment that is affordable, that is rugged and robust, that is easy for nurses and physicians to use, and that can be the difference between life and death for tiny babies. — Rebecca Richards-Kortum
Rice 360˚ and an engineering kitchen
Rice students flocked to the new global health classes — within four years, more than 10 percent of undergraduates would take at least one. By 2007, Rice had begun work on the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, a facility Oden directs, where undergraduates could team up to work on engineering and global health projects. Richards-Kortum also founded the Rice 360˚ Institute for Global Health that year to house the global health program, raise funds and oversee a summer internship program
From left: Kinsey Dittmar ’16, Elizabeth Stone ’18, research analyst Erica Skerrett and Tahir Malik ’17 pack medical devices at the OEDK
diately chose the CPAP project. “The idea of helping babies breathe was certainly a great motivator,” Brown said. “I can’t think of a machine with a more purposeful function.” As a freshman, Brown had been intimidated by engineering as a major, but settled on bioengineering because it seemed practical, she said. It wasn’t until her junior year, in her first global health course, that everything fell into place. “I specifically remember always looking forward to the class, and never keeping track of the time passing. It just hit me: ‘This is what I’m really passionate about. I could sit in this class all day.’” In tackling the design for a simple, low-cost CPAP for Malawi, Brown and four teammates hit upon the idea of using aquarium pumps to provide the therapeutic flow to prop open babies’ lungs. The pumps were rela-
In tackling the design for a simple, low-cost CPAP for Malawi, Brown and four teammates hit upon the idea of using aquarium pumps to provide the therapeutic flow to prop open babies’ lungs. The pumps were relatively inexpensive, widely available, easy to repair and designed to run continuously for years.
that allowed up to a dozen undergraduates to take prototypes to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and get feedback from doctors and nurses. One of the first prototypes taken overseas was a battery-powered tool kit doctors could carry to villages accessible only by foot. The project, termed “Lab-ina-Backpack,” won supporting grants and was eventually deployed in several countries, including Guatemala, Ecuador, Malawi and Myanmar. Students also created color-coded plastic stoppers to ensure correct dosing of liquid HIV medications. These “DoseRight” clips wound up being used throughout Swaziland and other sub-Saharan countries. “Early on in Rice 360˚, we sent our students to lots of different countries,” Oden said. “They took technologies into schools and hospitals. It was a great system, but we gradually realized we really wanted to be able to test these technologies clinically.” The intense data collection and institutional oversight needed for clinical testing led Rice 360˚ back to Blantyre, where the University of Malawi College of Medicine had an established institutional review board. Queen’s was the country’s primary teaching hospital, and Malawi Polytechnic, the country’s premier engineering school, was right across the street. “Everything just sort of worked in Malawi, including finding the right people and partners at the right time,” Oden said.
When bioengineering major Jocelyn Brown ’10 looked through the list of global health capstone options in fall 2009, she imme34
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tively inexpensive, widely available, easy to repair and designed to run continuously for years. Their first prototype was built with a plastic shoebox from a Houston department store and cost about 30 times less than the typical commercial versions. The Queen’s staff liked it but wanted a more rugged, user-friendly design. So when the device won a $5,000 collegiate inventors award in summer 2010, Rice 360˚ went shopping for a designer. They found Robert Miros, CEO of 3rd Stone Design in California. Richards-Kortum credits Miros’ practical reimagining of CPAP as a labor of love that proved to be a key turning point for Pumani. “Companies pay tens of thousands of dollars for those kind of services, and he largely did that because of how much he believed in the project,” she said. “There’s no way we could have afforded to pay market value for that.” The next major hurdle was proving that the
CPAP worked. Brown stayed at Rice to work on the project after graduation, hiring on at Rice 360˚ as a global health fellow. She first oversaw a small clinical study at Texas Children’s Hospital, which demonstrated that the machine provided the same therapeutic airflow as $6,000 CPAPs. The big break came the following August, when the Ricedeveloped CPAP was chosen for a coveted clinical seed grant from Saving Lives at Birth, a philanthropic partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and others. The grant would pay for a one-year study at Queen’s, and Brown agreed to move there to oversee the work.
kids that had (respiratory) distress, we couldn’t escalate care. We would end up giving oxygen, and once the child deteriorated on oxygen, there was no way out,” he said. USAID agreed to fund a rollout of Pumani to Malawi’s other 27 government hospitals, and by 2013 Brown was leading a fourperson team at Queen’s. That team, along with representatives of the Malawi Ministry of Health, traveled across Malawi to bring CPAP technology to every district and regional hospital.
Paying it forward
Oden was with Brown at the hospital a few months later when the first baby was placed on the machine. After having struggled painfully with every gasp, the baby breathed easier in seconds. “We stepped outside, and I said to her, ‘This is a big move. You’re going to be here for two years. Are you sure you’re ready for this?’” Oden recalled. “She looked at me and said, ‘I’m 23 years old. Where else should I be?’” Within a few weeks, Pumani more than doubled the survival rate of newborns with severe respiratory illness — from 24 percent to 65 percent. Queen’s pediatrician Dr. George Chagaluka, who today runs the CPAP program at the hospital, recalls the helpless feeling that doctors had prior to the arrival of the CPAP. “At that time, in terms of
A student at Malawi’s Kamuzu College of Nursing learns how to use the Pumani CPAP
In its announcement of the 2013 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation, the Lemelson Foundation mentioned the following: In six years since beginning Rice’s global health program, Oden and Richards-Kortum had worked with 3,100 students to develop 58 health technologies, which collectively benefited 45,000 people in 24 countries. Upon learning that the reward came with a shared prize of $100,000, Richards-Kortum and Oden independently arrived at the same idea. “I kept thinking, this was a prize that was coming to us personally, but there were so many people that were involved in the development of CPAP, which is what we were being recognized for. I really wanted to think about a way we could use this prize to honor all of the nurses and physicians and moms and babies and students who had contributed to the development of CPAP,” Richards-Kortum said. The next day, she called Oden and told her she wanted to invest her part of the prize in a Malawi project. “I’m thinking the exact same thing!” Oden said. To the Rice 360˚ staffers who know Oden and Richards-Kortum best, these sorts of “me, too” moments are common. They don’t
The diagnostic and therapeutic equipment that the CPAP program requires — pulse oximeters, oxygen concentrators, suction machines, feeding tubes — wind up helping other babies who don’t use CPAP.
especially look alike, so the reason people often mistake them for sisters likely has more to do with how they communicate. Like siblings, they seem to convey entire thoughts with a few words or even a glance, and they sometimes finish one another’s sentences. The bond is so strong that Rice 360˚ staffers often refer to them as a single entity: MORRK. The donated prize came at a good time for the Queen’s neonatal ward, which is named in honor of Gogo Chatinkha Banda, the daughter of Malawi’s first president, and simply called Chatinkha by Queen’s staff. When MORRK called with the good news about the Lemelson prize, they learned that ELMA Philanthropies, a South African charity, had pledged funds to expand Chatinkha by building a new Kangaroo Mother Care, or KMC, facility: a place where mothers of hypothermic newborns can warm their babies with skin-to-skin contact. The KMC expansion would add more than a dozen beds where mothers could lie down while warming and feeding their babies, but the project could not move forward without a matching grant to expand the adjacent, cramped Chatinkha ward — the same one that had so inspired Oden and Richards-Kortum five years earlier. So, it was decided: The prize could cover part of the $375,000 needed for a Chatinkha expansion. Oden and Richards-Kortum decided to use their money to seed a Chatinkha funding drive at Rice. They called it the Day One Project, because the new Chatinkha would serve as more than a tertiary care facility for Malawian newborns: It would be the proving ground for Rice technologies that could help millions of sick babies survive that first, dangerous day. “Probably the most risky day of your life is your first day,” said Elizabeth Molyneux, the former head of pediatrics at Queen’s, who 36
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A mother warms her baby with skin-to-skin contact at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital’s Kangaroo Mother Care ward
served as a mentor to both Richards-Kortum and Oden. “For many babies, they don’t make it, especially in places where the resources are not there. The Day One Project is simply trying to provide the basic essentials that are needed: warmth, oxygen, glucose.”
Chatinkha construction was finished in late 2015, just as Rice completed the nationwide rollout of Pumani to all Malawian government hospitals. The new neonatal ward, which more than doubles the space for newborns, has four Pumani CPAPs. The new ward serves as the innovation hub for Rice 360˚, the place where technologies like CPAP can be refined, proven and moved into widespread implementation. Oden and Richards-Kortum call this project NEST, which stands for “neonatal essential solutions and technologies.” Clinical studies of lifesaving technologies are already underway. At a layover in Frankfurt on their way to the Chatinkha dedication, neither Oden nor RichardsKortum could recall how many times they’d
traveled together to Blantyre. Probably about 30. The trip takes two days and multiple flights each way, and they go four or five times a year. Their bond is never more apparent. They move as one through crowded terminals, and when not in motion they usually sit side by side, hunched over laptops ironing out details of the countless meetings that comprise each trip. “What truly makes them unbelievable is their perseverance and their belief that if they partner with their students and enter into conversations in Malawi and other places and really hear what the problems are, that they can find ways to connect and make a difference,” said Rice Provost Marie Lynn Miranda, a veteran of more than a decade of field research in sub-Saharan Africa, who also attended the dedication. “They never get tired of working hard on those problems.” The frequent travel is vital to maintaining the relationships that have made Pumani successful and opened the door for project NEST. Richards-Kortum said one of Molyneux’s most important pieces of advice was “the importance of embedding yourself within the local system. Not to come as someone from the outside, who’s here with their ‘amazing solution,’ but to really be part of the local system that’s trying to deliver health care.” Oden said, “There’s a trust relationship, where people can tell you things are going well or they’re not going well, and you can make adjustments.” For example, Pumani is easy to use, but nurses become far more effective at administering care with the machines after a few months of training. A policy that automatically rotates nurses between wards every six months makes it difficult to keep the best-trained nurses in the neonatal ward, but the two are working to help change that policy. “Really maintaining and growing those relationships is necessary. You can’t just do it remotely. We do a lot of it through weekly and monthly calls, but in order to really be a true partner, we need to be here,” Oden said.
Alfred Chalira, deputy manager of the Malawi Ministry of Health’s Acute Respiratory Infection program, said Pumani’s impact goes beyond babies with respiratory distress. The diagnostic and therapeutic equipment that the CPAP program requires — pulse oximeters, oxygen concentrators, suction machines, feeding tubes — wind up helping other babies who don’t use CPAP, he said. The program also sparked important conversations about the goals and management of neonatal patients. At the Chatinkha ward dedication ceremony, Richards-Kortum said, “The best moment of my professional career was walking into a neonatal unit and actually seeing a baby that was suffering from respiratory distress have access to a life-saving technology that was developed in our program. … But we’re not done. Because there are more technologies that are needed in neonatal units, and we have got to finish the job.” In other words, Pumani’s success in Blantyre points the way for a long-term involvement in Malawi and other countries where smart, low-cost health care solutions can improve maternal and child health. ◆
Chigonjetso Saidi, 3, was one of the first Malawian babies treated with Rice’s CPAP
Rebecca Richards-Kortum is the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, a professor of bioengineering and the director of Rice 360� Institute for Global Health. She is the founder of Rice’s undergraduate global health program and was recently named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow. Maria Oden is a professor in the practice of engineering education and the director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen. More info: rice360.rice.edu
Fundamentals meet achievement
There are always more needs than resources in Malawi. It’s one of the first fundamental truths that Rice 360˚ staffers learn in Blantyre. For example, due to budget shortfalls, government hospitals have been unable to hire new nurses for the past year. “The hospitals will tell you they do not have resources,” said Aba Asibon, Rice 360˚’s CPAP program manager in Blantyre. “To them, every day is a big gamble. Where are we going to put the limited resources?” As of January 2017, more than 2,200 Malawian babies had received CPAP treatment, and dozens more are being saved each month. And thanks to a $400,000 award from Save the Children, Asibon is also traveling with Malawi Ministry of Health staff to nursing schools in Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa to train nurses to use Pumani. m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 37
Dear Mr. President
ADVICE FOR THE NEW ADMINISTRATION FROM THE BAKER INSTITUTE’S EXPERTS As they’ve done for previous administrations, fellows and scholars from Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy prepared policy briefs in their fields of expertise to present to the new administration. This cycle’s 27 election briefs covered a wide range of foreign and domestic policy issues, including health care reform, energy markets, immigration, trade, relations in the Middle East, entrepreneurship, children’s health, terrorism and space exploration. They were delivered to President Trump’s transition team in December. ¶ “The mission of the Baker Institute as a nonpartisan, data-driven resource for high-quality public policy research has never been more important,” said Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, director of the Baker Institute. “The issue briefs provide policy guidance on the many challenges ahead.” Like think tanks across the country, the Baker Institute seeks to engage policymakers and provide expert analysis for the media. In 2016, the institute was ranked the fourth-best university-affiliated think tank in the world by the University of Pennsylvania’s “Global Go To Think Tank Index.” We’ve broken down some of the policy briefs here. See the full briefs and many more here: bakerinstitute.org/research/recommendations-president I L LUST R AT IONS BY A N DR E W J. N I L SE N
Reform U.S. Drug Policy WILLIAM MARTIN Director, Drug Policy Program at the Baker Institute and Harry and Hazel Chavanne Emeritus Professor of Religion and Public Policy and Sociology
KATHARINE A. NEILL
Alfred C. Glassell III Postdoctoral Fellow in Drug Policy at the Baker Institute Along with many in the medical and scientific community, Martin and Neill advocate treating substance abuse as a medical and public health issue and not a crime. This necessitates policy changes at all levels of government, including “an early emphasis on prevention over incarceration,” they said. THE CHALLENGE:
THE AUTHORS: Martin’s research covers two distinct areas:
the political implications of religion and ways to reduce the harms associated with drug abuse. He wrote the authoritative biography of Billy Graham. Katharine Neill’s research focuses on state sentencing policies for drug offenders and the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana, as well as criminal justice policy. BRIEF SUMMARY: “Just 10 percent of American adults believe the
war on drugs is a success, an all-time low,” Martin and Neill wrote, and attitudes about drug use and treatment for abuse are changing. Marijuana is allowed for medical or recreational use in a growing number of states. Opioid abuse is of growing concern. Policymakers are already calling for greater access to treatment and recovery options as an alternative to incarceration — all positive steps, the researchers said. However, they believe that “the very foundation of U.S. drug policy — prohibition — is seriously flawed, can never succeed and produces more harm than the drugs it seeks to control.” Their policy recommendations include:
» Remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.
Expand federal funding for treating opioid abuse.
research into drug policy and draw from other nations’ approaches.
Make Health Care Affordable Again VIVIAN HO Director, Center for Health and Biosciences and James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics THE CHALLENGE: To provide affordable health insur-
ance coverage to the millions of Americans who do not have access to health insurance policies via a new policy that replaces the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Ho recommends maintaining the concept of state-based insurance marketplaces with some key changes and promotes a compassionate, affordable, market-based health coverage plan. THE AUTHOR: Economist Vivian Ho’s research
examines the effects of economic incentives and regulations on the quality and costs of health care. Often cited by journalists, Ho is a widely published researcher and a founding board member of the American Society for Health Economists. BRIEF SUMMARY: According to the Kaiser Foundation,
before the ACA went into effect, more than 40 million nonelderly Americans were uninsured, a number that decreased to 28.5 million after the bill passed. (In Texas alone, the data show that about 1 million previously uninsured people gained coverage.) “While some of the ACA’s provisions were based on sound economic principles,” Ho said, “it’s also true that the law specified overly generous coverage provisions, which raised costs for taxpayers and middle-income purchasers.” Ho’s recommendations:
» Lower the premiums for younger people to entice them to enroll.
» Eliminate some preventive care coverage and reform risk adjustment formulas.
» Lift the employer mandate to firms with 100 or more (instead of 50) workers.
» Limit the scope of Medicaid expansion. m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 39
Improve the Future of America’s Children QUIANTA MOORE Baker Institute Scholar in Health Policy THE CHALLENGE: About a fifth of America’s 74 million
children live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold, and poverty puts children at risk for poorer health and reduced educational achievement. “Investments in early childhood to support healthy brain development can improve children’s health and learning, thus reducing societal costs in remediation, health care, mental health services and incarceration,” Moore said. THE AUTHOR: Moore aims to advance children’s
Define a Strategy to Defeat ISIS AMBASSADOR EDWARD P. DJEREJIAN Director, Baker Institute for Public Policy
health by developing data-driven policy recommendations. She focuses on access to care in vulnerable populations through school-based clinics, telehealth and health education and recently has worked on improving access to HIV prevention for high-risk adolescents.
THE CHALLENGE: “The Islamic State is a threat to every country
in the Middle East and to the international community at large,” said Djerejian. A coherent strategy to combat ISIS, he said, must be based on a better understanding of radical jihadist groups and “a balanced strategy that applies post-9/11 lessons to counter them.” THE AUTHOR: Djerejian, a career diplomat with deep knowledge
of the Middle East, served as U.S. Ambassador to Syria (1988–1991) and Israel (1993–1994) among numerous other appointments. BRIEF EXCERPT: “The key elements of a coherent strategy for
defeating ISIS would involve both a nearer-term coordinated counterterrorism policy with a military component and a longer-term geopolitical approach to address the underlying causes of radical jihadism in the broader Middle East. “In this latter respect, U.S. strategy should consider the geopolitical effects of the struggle against ISIS, including the role of Iran and Russia and the situation of failing states in the region. We must understand that this is a struggle between the forces of moderation and extremism primarily within the Muslim world of some 1.6 billion people. It is a struggle of ideas on what constitutes the true face of Islam and Muslim society. ISIS and other radical groups seek to establish themselves as credible participants in this debate. ... “The deficits in the region are well known: the lack of real political participation, faulty educational systems, deficient economies, systemic corruption, high rates of youth unemployment and human rights abuses. It is the primary responsibility of the region’s countries and societies to address such issues by ending civil and sectarian conflicts and establishing credible and efficient governance. Accordingly, our approach should be based on a true understanding of the forces at play in the region and a clear definition of what we support and oppose. The United States should take the lead in this international effort.” 40
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BRIEF SUMMARY: The
critical window for healthy brain development is birth to age 4 — that’s when neuronal connections are rapidly being formed, strengthened and maintained, said Moore. At this stage, the caregiver-child relationship is key. “The caregiver’s response to the child’s verbal or nonverbal communication, often called ‘serve and return,’ shapes which neuronal connections remain and which are eliminated, making the caregiver-child relationship the most significant influence on brain development,” Moore said. She recommends focusing on the caregiver-child relationship in federal policies around poverty with the following policy changes:
» Adjust federal poverty levels to a
realistic level, which would give more families access to federal programs.
» Include younger children in the Early Head-Start Program.
» Increase licensing require-
ments for child care workers.
» Fund and make mandatory parenting
classes for those enrolled in Women, Infants and Children or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Stop the Spread of Poverty-Related Diseases PETER J. HOTEZ Baker Institute Fellow in Disease and Poverty and U.S. Science Envoy THE CHALLENGE: What were once thought of as diseases of
the developing world are growing more common in the developed world. THE AUTHOR: Hotez is dean of the National School of Tropical
Medicine and professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine. BRIEF SUMMARY: “Today, a new and defining feature of the
world’s poverty-related neglected diseases is that they are no longer mostly the purview of the poorest and most devastated African nations,” said Hotez. A major tenet of this new reality, which Hotez calls “blue marble health,” is that G20 countries “now account for most of the world’s poverty-related diseases.” (For example, “the U.S. Gulf Coast states — including Texas, Louisiana and Florida — where the largest numbers of impoverished Americans live, are at risk for Zika and Chagas disease.”) After poverty, the next most important factors driving new neglected diseases may be conflict and climate change. In areas of conflict, health system infrastructures collapse, allowing viruses like Ebola to thrive. Hotez suggests the following policy changes:
Support Small Business Growth
» Use the Office of Global Health Diplomacy in the
EDWARD J. EGAN
» Create a center for excellence for neglected
THE CHALLENGE: Small business growth has slowed
U.S. State Department to drive engagement with G20 leaders. diseases in the U.S. that would boost research and development, prevention and monitoring of these diseases (12 million Americans already live with a neglected tropical disease).
» Encourage research and development of
vaccines and embrace vaccine science diplomacy.
Baker Institute Fellow and Director, McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation since the turn of the millennium, said Egan, and policymakers need to take steps to stoke this economic engine. Perhaps most urgently, small businesses need greater access to loans and to increase their capacity to finance debt. THE AUTHOR: Egan is an applied microeconomist, spe-
cializing in entrepreneurial finance, intellectual property policy and startup strategy. He founded his first high-tech startup at the age of 19 and has judged many academic and industry-sponsored business plan competitions. He also taught at the Imperial College Business School in London. BRIEF SUMMARY: Small business owners say that a
lack of debt financing hinders growth. Community banks, which are best able to assess the risks and returns of their local clients, have suffered disadvantages under regulation and were disproportionately hit by the 2008 financial crisis, Egan wrote. He recommends changing community banking regulation and reforming the Small Business Administration to enable greater access to capital. The benefit could be new levels of GDP growth from small business entrepreneurs.
m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 41
NIGHT OWL A series that profiles Owls whose work takes flight at night.
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Mr. Mashup By Kendall Schoemann | Photo by Tommy LaVergne
OASTING TWO Conference USA decathlon titles, a civil engineering degree and a thriving disc jockey career, Clayton Chaney’s ’13 varied passions might seem unrelated. In actuality, though, his education and athletic background have played significant roles in his unique, beat-filled professional path. With a shock of unruly red hair and his trademark thick-rimmed glasses, Chaney is easy to spot. Add oversized headphones, and his DJ persona is complete. How does a civil engineering graduate find himself in the world of music? “I definitely fell into the music industry,” Chaney said. “I wasn’t the kid who was obsessed with music or had posters of artists plastered on my walls.” Chaney’s introduction to the DJ world began one night at a not-sobumping college party at Wiess. Sensing that the get-together would have been livelier with better, louder music, Chaney and his roommate bought a 180-pound subbase and soon became infamous across campus as the duo who blared good music. As his interest in DJing grew, Chaney started watching YouTube tutorials and learning how to create mashups. He’d test out his mixes at parties and use the crowd’s reaction to guide the night’s selections and fuel his future creations. It didn’t take long before student groups and departments began requesting his services. With each gig, he received a handful of referrals, introducing him to private events, nightclubs and wedding entertainment. “Even though I was gaining momentum and pursuing DJing with every free moment I had,” Chaney said, “I didn’t think of it as anything more than a hobby I loved. That is, until I was offered a gig on the same day I was registered to take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam.” Considering it a sign to switch gears, Chaney took the gig but not the test, which is the requirement to become a licensed professional engineer.
After graduating in 2013, Chaney was faced with another decision. He’d earned two decathlon titles in 2012 and 2013 and had a budding DJ business but needed to decide which avenue to take. So he decided to train for the 2016 Olympic trials during the day and devote his nights to music. An injury derailed him from qualifying for Rio, so Chaney’s focus shifted solely to music. To date, he has released two mashup albums and is working on an album of original work. Creating an original production involves constructing a beat, penning lyrics and collaborating with musicians and vocalists to create a cohesive piece. “Ironically, I use an engineering approach when it comes to building songs,” Chaney said. “Songs are just formulas. I map out every part of a song, from the beat to the chorus, in a giant spreadsheet.” Despite his continued musical growth, Chaney admits that it can be hard to make it as a DJ. “I live by the motto that you must work hard to put yourself in the best situation possible to make luck happen,” he said. “Just like with sports, there’s always a bit of luck involved, but if you put in the work and the hours, you’ll be ready to seize your opportunity when the time comes.” Chaney credits little successes with keeping him motivated, like when he was invited to spin at Villanova’s 2016 Final Four pep rally. While composing music and performing gigs keep him busy, Chaney hopes to become a motivational speaker in the future. “I grew up in the small town of Bellville, Texas. I wasn’t the smartest kid or the most athletic, but I worked hard and landed a scholarship at Rice,” Chaney said. “I didn’t know anything about music when I decided to pursue DJing, but I work hard every day and don’t give up. I think that’s what sets me apart in the industry.” And for now, Chaney still has no plans to take that engineering exam.
Are you a night owl? Does your work schedule typically begin when the sun goes down? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 43
c re at i ve i de a s a n d e n de avo r s
Houston, Through Children’s Eyes N MARCH, THE RICE MEDIA CENTER
RICE MEDIA CENTER
will display photographs and artworks created by schoolchildren who participated in the Pozos Art Project, an ongoing artistic collaboration between Rice photographer Geoff Winningham, artist Janice Freeman and Houston schools. “In the Eyes of Our Children: Houston, an American City” depicts Houston’s public spaces, landmarks and cultural venues, delightfully and uniquely rendered by local elementary and middle-school students. More than 300 images from the six-year project have also been collected in an accompanying book, “In the Eyes of Our Children: Photographs and Prints by Houston School Children, 2011–2016.”
Pictured: “Judge Roy Hofheinz and His Astrodome” by Eliaz Blair, fourth grade, Wilson Montessori School. Monoprint.
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March 7–31, 2017 Free admission. To read more about the history of the Pozos Art Project, the Rice Media Center exhibition or to purchase the book, go here: pozosartproject.com
Pozos is short for Mineral de Pozos, Mexico, where Winningham and his wife, Freeman, who have a home there, began teaching printmaking to local children in 2002. Soon, Rice students got involved too, and a field classroom project was born. In 2009, the couple launched the Houston side of their project at the behest of the Houston Grand Opera’s community arts director. Rice students again got involved, and the collaboration culminated in an exhibition of photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. In 2011, a new project began in the Houston Independent School District with the goal of creating an energetic visual portrait of the city. The work is both “a celebration of Houston’s extraordinary cultural diversity and the vitality of children’s art,” Winningham said.
a rt s & L e t t e r s
F R O M TO P : PA U L H E ST E R ; N A S H B A K E R ( 2 ) ; CAT H E R I N E B O R G ; TO M E S M O C K
LeWitt Returns FOR MORE THAN 20 YEARS, the Rice Art Gallery has been the only university gallery in the nation devoted to commissioning site-specific installation art. Early-career and well-known artists have constructed temporary works, transforming the gallery’s signature 40-by-44-foot “white box” space in completely different ways. In February, Rice Gallery will come full circle by reinstalling one of its earliest pieces, Sol LeWitt’s “Glossy and Flat Black Squares (Wall Drawing #813),” 1997, as its final exhibition. LeWitt (1928–2007), a leading figure in minimalism and SOL LEWITT, a pioneer of conceptual art, “Glossy and Flat designed this wall drawing Black Squares in relation to the architec(Wall Drawing tural space and dimensions #813),” 1997. of the Rice Gallery. As with Site-specific a musical score that remains installation for soundless on paper until it is Rice Gallery. played, LeWitt’s wall drawReinstalled as Rice ing exists as a set of written Gallery’s closing exhibition. instructions that will be reOn view created through drawing Feb. 9–June 30. and painting. The exhibition will remain on view through Opening June 30, when Rice Gallery Celebration Feb. 9, 2017, at 5 p.m. will close permanently.
A sampling of past Rice Gallery exhibits (from top): Sol LeWitt, “Glossy and Flat Black Squares (Wall Drawing #813),” 1997; Henrique Oliveira, “Tapumes,” 2009; Yasuaki Onishi, “reverse of volume RG,” 2012; Stephen Hendee, “SuperThrive,” 2000; Yayoi Kusama, “Dots Obsession,” 1997 m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 45
a rt s & l e t t e r s
ALU MNI BOOKS
“Healing Art: Don’t Let Anything Ruin Your Day” by Robert Flatt (Bright Sky Press, 2016)
ROBERT FLATT ’69 spent three decades in the oil service industry before he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1999. Rather than see his diagnosis as a devastating setback, however, he took it as an opportunity to pursue his true passion: photography. “Healing Art,” in which these photographs and excerpt appear, is his newest book. He has also self-published two previous photography books, “West Boulevard Night-Herons” and “Rice’s Owls,” a chronicle of the daily life of a family of owls that took up residence on the Rice campus in 2010, and which won the 2013 IndieReader Discovery Award for photography. A number of his photographs are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
For more information, visit robertflatt.com. To buy the book, visit squareup.com/store/ robertflatt. — JENNIFER LATSON 46
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“As our bodies degenerate, due to a disease or the inevitabilities of aging, we can no longer do some things we really have enjoyed. Over ten years ago I could no longer work at my job. Then I could no longer play tennis. Now I can no longer drive a car. I will not be able to teach much longer. I have a choice: I can spend my days worrying about these changes, or I can decide not to let them ruin my day and get on with my life. It’s never too late to change your major.” — Robert Flatt in “Healing Art”
C O U RT E SY O F R O B E RT F L AT T
The Art of Positive Thinking
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ON THE BOOKSHELF L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems Elisa Gabbert ’02 (Black Ocean, 2016)
M O O DY C E N T E R BY G EO F F W I N N I N G H A M
The witty, provocative narrative voice in Gabbert’s newest book of poetry belongs to the fictional Judy, based on a character from Wallace Shawn’s play “The Designated Mourner,” which documents the dissolution of a marriage in the midst of a political revolution. Gabbert’s poems give Judy a backstory and an inner life that transcends the play’s boundaries, creating a character study of a complicated woman that is poignant, richly textured and at times bitingly funny. Gabbert’s previous book, “The Self Unstable,” was named one of The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2013. Reviewer Teju Cole called it “the most intelligent and most intriguing thing I’ve read in a while, moving between lyric poetry, aphorism, and memoir.”
S P OT L IG H T
MOODY CENTER OPENS
Cassandra and the Night Sky Amy Jackson ’05 (Bright Sky Press, 2017)
This celestial children’s book tells the story of a greedy king who steals all the stars from the night sky — and the brave princess who sets out to put them back. It’s a stargazing primer for young readers that riffs on the Greek mythology behind some of the constellations. The subject isn’t a stretch for Jackson, who studied physics at the University of Houston before earning her Master of Science degree in teaching at Rice and has long dreamed of becoming an astronaut. She’s also the founder and director of Starry Sky Austin, where she teaches hands-on astronomy classes to students of all ages.
A wide-ranging international program will inaugurate Rice’s Moody Center for the Arts when the new, 50,000-squarefoot lab for creativity opens to the public Feb. 24. From opening day through mid-May, the Moody will be filled with projects, works and events by artists, including Olafur Eliasson, Thomas Struth, Diana Thater, inaugural artistin-residence Mona Hatoum, the Tokyo-based digital “ultratechnologists” of teamLab and New York City’s Dušan Týnek Dance Theatre. The $30 million center, designed by Los Angeles-based architect Michael Maltzan, will bring the Rice community and the Houston public together to support innovative artistic work, said Alison Weaver, the Suzanne Deal Booth Executive Director of the Moody Center. It will serve as an experimental platform for creating and presenting works in all disciplines, a flexible teaching space and a forum for creative partnerships with visiting national and international artists. The center will establish a new arts district on campus, close to the Shepherd School of Music and James Turrell’s “Twilight Epiphany” Skyspace.
— JEFF FALK
m a g a z i n e . r i c e . e d u 47
Growing Rice Salvatore “Tony” Martino By Daniel Ford
N 1910, W HEN THE FIRST BR ICKS W ER E
From top: Martino with his wife; Martino in 1949; the rose garden Martino planted in front of the newly completed chemistry building circa 1926; Martino — down in the hole — planting a pecan tree on campus with Gen. John J. Pershing in 1920. 48
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Tony Martino, rotund head gardener of Rice, will complete thirty years in that office next August. During that time he has become as much a part of Rice tradition as the Campanile Tower or the Rice Fight Song. A familiar figure to all students, although unknown to some few of the uninstructed slimes, Tony — how many know he has a last name? — makes his rounds, supervising all the myriad tasks that are part of keeping the Rice campus a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
No building carries his name; instead, the mark left by Martino as Rice’s first gardener spans the entirety of campus — the singular vision of a man dedicated to cultivating beauty.
C O U RT E SY O F W O O D S O N R E S E A R C H C E N T E R
being laid for Lovett Hall, the fledgling Rice campus was little more than a Gulf Coast prairie — a scrubby field flanked by a small grove of oak trees. Salvatore “Tony” Martino, Rice’s first gardener, made it his life’s work to transform that field into the green canopied campus we know today. Born in Sicily in 1885, Martino left home at the age of 11 to apprentice in Florence as a horticulturist. His next stop was Rome, where his brother — a provincial in the Roman Catholic Church — would help the young Martino get a position as a gardener apprentice in Vatican City. After immigrating to America in 1908, he settled in Houston and took up work as — what else — a professional gardener. One patron of Martino’s green thumb was Capt. James A. Baker. Around 1914, Martino was hired to tend the grounds of the Baker home, where he made an impression as a hard worker. That reputation served Martino well when Baker personally vouched for him in a letter of reference to William Ward Watkin, the first chairman of Rice’s Department of Architecture. He was hired in 1916 and, in his 33-year-long career at Rice, left a living legacy that largely defines the campus experience: sprawling live oaks, blooming bougainvillea and Rice’s trademark hedges. He even became an unofficial mascot of the football team, regularly giving speeches at pep rallies and attending pregame bonfires as the guest of honor. In 1945, on the eve of Martino’s 30th anniversary at Rice, the Rice Thresher featured an article about his status as a beloved campus figure:
GIVE A RICE STUDENT ACCESS TO AN UNPARALLELED PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNITY
Sign up to host an Owl Edge Internship by March 31, 2017! When you establish an Owl Edge Internship at your company or organization, you put your Rice connection to work to create a potentially life-changing professional experience for students. The demand among students is high, and we want you to be the next mentor to step forward and welcome an Owl to your workplace. To discuss hosting an intern and other opportunities to provide mentorship to Rice students, please contact Mariah Lawhon â€™16, assistant director of alumni programs, at email@example.com or 713-348-5305. To learn more about the Owl Edge program and the Initiative for Students, visit owledge.rice.edu/volunteer.
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Rice University, Creative Services–MS 95 P.O. Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251-1892
Finding the Sweet Spot Photo courtesy of Peter Brown
Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Permit #7549 Houston, Texas
IN 1994, AWARD-WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER PETER BROWN SAW SOMETHING THAT MADE
him stop in tiny Tahoka, Texas. A Native American word meaning “deep water,” the town’s very name contradicted the arid countryside around it. What made Brown reach for his camera was a minuscule building that proclaimed itself “Cake Palace,” even though the weathered exterior and barren landscape suggested desert more than dessert. Brown’s lifetime commitment to his craft sharpened his vision and prepared him to capture this slice of Americana. As a community instructor at the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, where he has taught for more than 30 years, Brown is part of a dedicated group of professionals who inspire their students to see, learn and grow. Hundreds of courses offer opportunities for developing a unique vision of the world while embracing the unexpected — the ultimate sweet spot for personal and professional development. On April 8, join the Glasscock School in celebrating 50 years of helping community members chart their own paths. Learn more: glasscock.rice.edu
Published on Jan 30, 2017