Rice LIFT: 61 presentations make for ‘inspiring afternoon’

What big endeavors should Rice undertake?

That question was posed by the Rice Leading Innovation through Faculty Thought (Rice LIFT) project, and the answer came in the form of 61 presentations made by faculty during a 4 ½-hour symposium May 2.

“This is a very exciting day for Rice,” Board of Trustees Chair Bobby Tudor ’82 said in his welcoming remarks to the crowd that filled Duncan Hall’s McMurtry Auditorium. “I think that as the university embarks on the next phase of our growth and expansion and strategy, the best ideas almost always come from our single best asset of the university – the faculty.”

Photo of audience at Rice LIFT symposiumIn addition to Tudor, trustees Patti Kraft ’87, Rob Ladd ’78, Amy Sutton ’89 and Scott Wise ’71 turned out to hear the proposals, along with President David Leebron, deans, vice presidents, vice provosts, faculty, staff and Provost Marie Lynn Miranda, who organized the project.

Faculty had been asked to submit “creative and innovative ideas for energizing Rice’s future” on the Rice LIFT website. The proposals had to come from a team of at least three faculty members, and one member from each team was invited to present a three-minute talk about their proposal during the symposium.

The 61 proposals represented the work of 559 team members, some of whom were faculty who served on multiple teams and postdocs, research scientists and other staff members.

The submitted proposals were organized into three groups of presentations that were introduced by Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Seiichi Matsuda, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Paula Sanders and Vice Provost for Research Yousif Shamoo. Comment forms were available for audience members to provide feedback to the presenters.

“I want to thank all the participants who gave presentations and the people who worked on the proposals and may not have presented,” Miranda said at the end of the symposium. “And everybody who stayed and listened to all of these wonderful talks today.

“The presentations and proposals and all the conversations that are going on will be incredibly helpful to us in the strategic planning process,” she said. “I have never been more inspired by a group of faculty than today. It’s just been absolutely amazing.”

Leebron commended Miranda for “having the vision and confidence in the faculty” to pursue this project. “It was truly an inspiring afternoon,” he said. “It’s important for us to come together and be inspired by each other. That is what makes our university great.”

Leebron noted that Rice LIFT was part of a comprehensive strategic planning process. “It is important that we engage in strategic planning,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for us to periodically refresh our ambitions for the university.” He noted that 40 percent of the faculty was not at Rice 10 years ago, so the “faculty itself is being constantly refreshed.”

Leebron said the information presented at the symposium will be used “very quickly” because he will be meeting soon with the senior leadership and then the Rice Board of Trustees to develop a draft strategic plan that will be shared with faculty, students, alumni and other constituencies for input. “We hope to increase support of proposals and bring attention to those who are interested in your projects so we can realize many of the ambitions that we heard about today.”

Leebron said the Rice LIFT symposium was “a validation of our confidence in each other about what this university can achieve in the years ahead.”

The symposium was followed by a reception that Miranda said was “funded anonymously by a wonderful friend of the university.”

Miranda gave special thanks to her staff — Jana Callan, who oversaw the logistics for the entire process, and Gloria Carrera, Colleen Morimoto and Diana Heard – for handling “a thousand details” to ensure the event’s success. Leebron also commended the provost’s office on the “superb and detailed execution” of Rice LIFT.

Below are photos from the symposium and a list of the presenters with the titles of their proposals.

Presentation Name Department
Pushing Rice University To Be a Leader in Quantitative Physical and Systems Biology Cecilia Clementi Department of Chemistry
Education Without Barriers: Rice Commits to Comprehensively Demolish Obstacles to Access for Diverse Groups Mike Wolf Department of Mathematics
Rice Architecture Paris Urban Research Center Sarah Whiting Rice School of Architecture
Rice Center for Global Antiquity Michael Maas Department of History
Full STEAM Ahead! Expanding the Master of Science Teaching Program Patricia Reiff Department of Physics and Astronomy
To Better Know All Things: Extending the Reach of Rice Mathematics Mike Wolf Department of Mathematics
Humanities at Rice Predoctoral (HARP) Fellowships Lora Wildenthal Department of History
Cancer Precision Medicine — Leveraging Expertise in Modeling and Optimization to Customize Treatments Marek Kimmel Department of Statistics
Rice Architecture Incubator Andrew Colopy Rice School of Architecture
Center for Personalized Computational Rehabilitation Medicine Marcie O’Malley Department of Mechanical Engineering
Music, Creativity, Cognition and Learning Through the Lenses of Brain Modularity and Flexibility Anthony Brandt Shepherd School of Music
Environmental Projects Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) Carrie Masiello Department of Earth Science
Synthetic Biology Jeffrey Tabor Department of Bioengineering
Establishing an Organic Synthesis Core at Rice K.C. Nicolaou Department of Chemistry
Department of History and Philosophy of Science Christian Emden Department of Classical and European Studies
The 100 MM Tonnes Project James Blackburn Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
CREATE: Consortium for Research on Education and Teaching Excellence Beth Beason-Abmayr Department of BioSciences
Field Station for Research and Education Tom Miller Department of BioSciences
Global Health & Health Equity Education Rebecca Richards-Kortum Department of Bioengineering
From Protoplanetary Disks to Habitable Planets: Origin, Distribution and Evolution of Life-Essential Elements Andrea Isella Department of Physics & Astronomy
Biomanufacturing for Deep-Space Exploration Ramon Gonzalez Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Rice Center for Transforming Data to Knowledge Genevera Allen Department of Statistics
Natural Gas-based Industrial Biomanufacturing: The Future of Chemical Production Ramon Gonzalez Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Brown School of Engineering: Rebuilding the Foundations Moshe Vardi Department of Computer Science
Rice Initiative for Politics, Law and Society Aysha Pollnitz Department of History
Toward an Integrated Science of Cognition, Neuroscience, and Affect: Implications for Health Christopher Fagundes Department of Psychology
Social Sciences Data Applications Platform (SSDAP) David Alexander Department of Physics and Astronomy
Rice Humanities Weekend — A Conference for Selected High School Juniors Lora Wildenthal Department of History
Rice Robotics Institute (R2i) Marcie O’Malley Department of Mechanical Engineering
The Nexus Institute Linda Driskill Department of English
Patient-Centered Medical Technology Gang Bao Department of Bioengineering
Rice Institute for Advanced Research Sonia Ryang Chao Center for Asian Studies
eSchool Alan Levander Department of Earth Science
The Rice Center for Personalized Manufacturing Fred Higgs Department of Mechanical Engineering
Strategy to Enhance Research Productivity and Scope in Natural Sciences: Named Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Kathleen Matthews Department of BioSciences
Rice Arts and Culture Consortium John Hopkins Department of Art History
Bio-Behavioral Sensing Ashutosh Sabharwal Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Metadata: Reconfiguring Global Historic Knowledge Kerry Ward Department of History
Transforming the Materials Paradigm — From the Quantum to the Complex Qimiao Si Department of Physics and Astronomy
Rice University Conference Center Elias Bongmba Department of Religion
Bioelectronics Joff Silberg Department of BioSciences
A Publishing Studio @ Rice Farès El-Dahdah Humanities Research Center
Engineered Emergence Julia Saltz Department of BioSciences
Rice to Rural Community Connection (R2C2) Sarah Bengston Department of BioSciences
Transforming Ecology, Environment, and Sustainability at Rice Jane Grande-Allen Department of Bioengineering
Integrating Medical Humanities into Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Architecture and Math (STEAM) Kirsten Ostherr Department of English
Strategic Program on Recruiting Talented Students to Rice Engineering and Science PhD Programs Illya Hicks Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics
Research Infrastructure for Collaboration Enhancement (RICE) Lisa Biswal Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Center for Computational Plasma Science Frank Toffoletto Department of Physics and Astronomy
Molecular Nanotechnology 2.0 Mike Wong Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Smart Cities of the Future: Environment, Infrastructure, Inhabitants Jamie Padgett Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Biohacking: Re-Engineering Living Systems for Improved Human Health and Performance Jane Grande-Allen Department of Bioengineering
Destination Rice: Rice, Houston, We Have a Problem! We Are Not an Academic Destination Keith Cooper Department of Computer Science
Rice Center for Spectroscopic Imaging Jason Hafner Department of Physics and Astronomy
Internationalization of the Rice Undergraduate Experience: Rice in Country Study Abroad Student Scholarship Fund Rafael Salaberry Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication
The Origins Institute David Alexander Department of Physics and Astronomy
Rice Urban Prototypes: Native Models of Density for Houston Jesús Vassallo Rice School of Architecture
Eliminating Preventable Newborn Death in Africa Rebecca Richards-Kortum Department of Bioengineering
SSP@RC: Social Sciences Pipeline @ Rice Coalition Ashley Leeds Department of Political Science
Rice Institute of Earth, Energy and Environment Cin-Ty Lee Department of Earth Science
Carbon Zero Institute Matteo Pasquali Department of Chemistry

About B.J. Almond

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