Rice Academy of Fellows aims to boost research profile

10 faculty named fellows; 5 postdoctoral fellows to be recruited

A new universitywide scholarly consortium of faculty fellows and distinguished postdoctoral fellows has been created to significantly raise Rice’s overall research profile by fostering intellectual exchange and advancement of research. Provost Marie Lynn Miranda announced the formation of the Rice University Academy of Fellows in a letter to faculty Oct. 31.

“This inaugural program of the Rice University Academy of Fellows signals our ambition to engage the most challenging research questions, create the best possible environment for inquiry and innovation, and further elevate the research enterprise across Rice,” Miranda said.

photo of 10 faculty named to Rice Academy of Fellows

The ten faculty who have been named Rice Academy Faculty Fellows are (top row from left) Bonnie Bartel, Katherine Ensor, Vivian Ho, Prashant Kale, Rachel Kimbro, (bottom row from left) K.C. Nicolaou, Kirsten Ostherr, Rebecca Richards-Kortum, David Wetter (director) and Sarah Whiting.

Ten acclaimed faculty members have been named Rice Academy Faculty Fellows. They will meet regularly with the first cohort of five Rice Academy Postdoctoral Fellows and their mentors. The Academy Postdoctoral Fellows will be recruited from around the world to conduct research with faculty here for two years beginning Sept. 1, 2016.

The academy is a component of the $150 million investment announced in September to increase research competitiveness broadly across the university. In addition to enhancing the research profile of Rice as a whole, the academy will stimulate interdisciplinary exploration and inquiry leading to innovative research programs and external funding opportunities. It also will create and reinforce multidisciplinary and, where appropriate, multi-institutional collaborative communities that will be sustained beyond the two-year residency of each cohort of postdoctoral fellows.

Miranda said the first group of postdoctoral fellows will focus on scholarship and creative activities broadly related to health and noted that the faculty fellows have expertise relevant to scholarship on health. “For subsequent cohorts, we will seek input from the faculty community more widely regarding foci of broad interest and urgency to the entire campus community,” she said.

David Wetter, the Elma W. Schneider Chair in Psychology, professor of psychology and chair of the Department of Psychology, is one of the 10 Rice Academy Faculty Fellows and will serve as director of the academy.

“The Rice Academy is an incredibly exciting new initiative that will bring together some of the best young minds from around the world with some of Rice’s most creative scholars,” Wetter said. “Our hope is that the diversity of perspectives and experience will foster innovation and collaborative scholarly communities that build upon and extend Rice’s tradition of excellence in interdisciplinary research. The academy’s initial focus on health provides a unique opportunity to build even more bridges to the Texas Medical Center and to non-academic organizations and communities.”

The other Rice Academy Faculty Fellows are:

* Bonnie Bartel, the Ralph and Dorothy Looney Professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology.
* Katherine Ensor, professor of statistics.
* Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and professor of economics.
* Prashant Kale, associate professor of strategic management.
* Rachel Kimbro, associate professor of sociology.
* K.C. Nicolaou, the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Chemistry.
* Kirsten Ostherr, professor of English.
* Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the Malcolm Gillis University Professor, professor of bioengineering, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering and of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies.
* Sarah Whiting, dean of the Rice School of Architecture and the William Ward Watkin Professor of Architecture.

The postdoctoral fellows will be able to build collaborative relationships with the faculty fellows, and each postdoctoral fellow will develop a close, mentored relationship with two specific faculty members whose research is relevant to theirs.

The Rice Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship also offers regular opportunities for intellectual exploration with a diverse group of other postdoctoral fellows at Rice; activities to promote professional development, including a focused plan to pursue a National Institutes of Health Pathway to Independence Award (aka K99) and other relevant early career awards.

“We will need your help in securing an illustrious inaugural class of five Rice Academy Postdoctoral Fellows to arrive at Rice in September 2016 for a two-year residency,” Miranda told faculty in her letter. She encouraged faculty to share the postdoctoral fellows announcement with colleagues nationally and internationally. Applicants must have earned a doctoral degree between Sept. 1, 2012, and Aug. 31, 2016; there are no restrictions on the applicants’ field of study.

For more information on the Rice University Academy of Fellows, visit www.riceacademy.rice.edu/.


About B.J. Almond

B.J. Almond is senior director of news and media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.