Dateline Rice for Dec. 8, 2017


Allan Greenberg-designed music building breaks ground at Rice University
Rice’s Shepherd School of Music held a ceremonial groundbreaking Dec. 7 for a new music building that together with Alice Pratt Brown Hall and adjoining plaza will form the Rice University Music and Performing Arts Center.
Architect Magazine

Fingerprint for alien life may be hiding in Earth’s atmosphere
Nature whispers its stories in a faint molecular language, and Rice scientist Laurence Yeung and colleagues can finally tell one of those stories, thanks to a one-of-a-kind instrument that allowed them to hear what the atmosphere is saying with rare nitrogen molecules. Yeung, assistant professor of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences, is quoted.
Newsweek (This article also appeared at


Argentine ex-president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner charged with treason
Mark Jones, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies, professor of political science, fellow in political science at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and fellow at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, is quoted in an article on the indictment of former Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on treason charges over allegations she covered up possible Iranian involvement in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Jones also is quoted in stories on a Texas gubernatorial run by Democrat Andrew White and the political landscape in the state ahead of midterm elections.
Washington Post
Another Democrat enters the gubernatorial race: Does the son of a former governor have a chance? (This article also appeared at KERA News.)
KUT-AM (Austin, Texas) (Click the audio button to listen to the broadcast.)
KLBJ-AM (Austin) (Click the audio button to listen to the broadcast.) (Click the audio button to listen to the broadcast.)
Filing deadline turns talk to midterms
Cleburn Times-Review

Liquefied gas proving to be a natural for energy firms
Peter Hartley, the George and Cynthia Mitchell Chair in Sustainable Development, is quoted in an article on an expected rise in demand for liquefied natural gas.
Yahoo Finance (This Agence France-Presse article appeared in more than 20 media outlets.)

Study: Public schools aren’t participating in family/community engagement
Although schools’ family and community engagement is the top driver of overall satisfaction among parents, public schools nationwide get poor marks for it, according to a new study by scholars at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business. Vikas Mittal, the J. Hugh Liedtke Professor of Marketing, is quoted.
New York Amsterdam News

How new furniture materials are transforming home interiors
An article on furniture materials mentions scientists at Rice developed a way to change the properties of cement in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of concrete.
South China Morning Post


With federal aid short, Houston looks for flood prevention money
Jim Blackburn, a professor in the practice of environmental law and the co-director of Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center, is quoted in an article on Houston’s efforts to find funding for flood prevention measures. Phil Bedient, the Herman Brown Professor of Engineering and director of the SSPEED Center, is mentioned.
Houston Chronicle (Subscription is required. This article appeared on the front of the Business section in the Dec. 8 print edition with a different headline, “Flood control: Who pays?”)

UH’s medical school partnership is ‘a win-win’ for all parties
Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and professor of economics, is quoted in an article on the planned University of Houston College of Medicine’s proposed partnership with Hospital Corporation of America Gulf Coast Division.
Houston Business Journal (Subscription is required.)

Houston Music Highlight — ‘Christmas Concerto’
Houston-based chamber orchestra Mercury will perform Dec. 9 at Stude Concert Hall.
Houston Public Media

Researchers study deepwater gas formation to prevent accidents
Rice is a partner in an effort to develop new ways to predict when a drilling rig is at risk for a catastrophic accident.
University of Houston (A similar article appeared at OEDigital.)

UHD researcher among recipients of Spencer Foundation grant
Adem Ekmekci, director of research and evaluation for the Rice University School Mathematics Project and clinical assistant professor of mathematics, led a team of RUSMP researchers awarded a one-year grant worth $34,805 to fund investigation into the factors affecting students’ motivation for STEM fields.
UHD News

Houston’s new In-N-Out Burger looks like one big tease
Graduate student Eric Lewis is quoted.


‘The Matt Townsend Show’
Michael Byrne, professor of psychology, discusses his research on voting system usability.
BYU Radio


Rice University researchers — Rules for superconductivity mirrored in ‘excitonic insulator’
Rice physicists dedicated to creating the working components of a fault-tolerant quantum computer have succeeded in creating a previously unseen state of matter. The “topological excitonic insulator” was observed in tests at Rice by an international team from the United States and China. Study co-authors Rui-Rui Du, professor of physics and astronomy, and alumna Lingjie Du ’14 are quoted.
Textile World (This article was featured at Science360 News and also appeared at

Callon Petroleum appoints James Ulm as chief financial officer
Alumnus James Ulm ’70 was named senior vice president and chief financial officer of Callon Petroleum, effective Dec. 11.
Yahoo Finance

Helping hands guide robots as they learn
Like toddlers, robots can use a little help as they learn to function in the physical world. That’s the purpose of a Rice program that gently guides robots toward the most helpful, human-like ways to collaborate on tasks. Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science Marcia O’Malley and graduate student Dylan Losey, who have refined their method to train robots by applying gentle physical feedback to machines while they perform tasks, are quoted.
Space Daily (A similar article appeared in Outlook Series.)

Nature’s toughest substances decoded
How a material breaks may be the most important property to consider when designing layered composites that mimic those found in nature. A method by Rice engineers decodes the interactions between materials and the structures they form and can help maximize their strength, toughness, stiffness and fracture strain. In a study that required more than 400 computer simulations of platelet-matrix composite materials like mother-of-pearl, Rouzbeh Shahsavari, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and of materials science and nanoengineering, and visiting scholar Shafee Farzanian developed a design map to help with the synthesis of staggered composites for applications at any scale, from microelectronics to cars to spacecraft, where lightweight, multifunctional structural composites are key.
Space Daily

Printed schwarzites retain their strength at any scale
Rice engineers are using 3-D printers to turn structures that have until now existed primarily in theory into strong, light and durable materials with complex, repeating patterns. The porous structures called schwarzites are designed with computer algorithms, but Rice researchers found they could send data from the programs to printers and make macroscale, polymer models for testing. The Rice lab of materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Engineering and chair of the Department of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, is mentioned, and postdoctoral researcher Chandra Sekhar Tiwary and graduate student Peter Owuor are quoted.
Metal Powder Report
Tech Talk: The impact on facilities

Another twist in marine toxin’s structural saga
K.C. Nicolaou, the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Chemistry, is quoted.
Chemical & Engineering News


A full-scale Venezuelan default could push up oil prices
Francisco Monaldi, a fellow in Latin American energy policy at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, is mentioned in an article on Venezuela’s debt crisis.
The Wired Journal

Nearly 100 Chicago artists receive $330,000 in unrestricted awards through 3Arts
Pianist Mabel Kwan ’03 was among 10 grant recipients at the 3Arts Awards in Chicago.
The Chicago Crusader

10 great leadership books to help you succeed
“Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less — and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined,” authored by Scott Sonenshein, the Henry Gardiner Symonds Professor of Management at Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, is on a list of recommended books.
Explain Everything

Live holiday music at San Bernardino Public Library
Violinist Laura Rosky-Santoni ’85 will perform with the San Bernardino Symphony Orchestra Dec. 12 and Dec. 14 in San Bernardino, Calif.
Highland Community News

The 7 most underrated law schools
Alumnus Kevin Moscon ’11 is quoted.
BYU News


New Rice coach wants old-school, hi-tech football
New Rice head football coach Mike Bloomgren is featured. Athletic director Joe Karlgaard is quoted. Players Sam Stewart, Nahshon Ellerbe, Emmanuel Esukpa and Aston Walter are mentioned.
Houston Chronicle (Subscription is required.)
KRIV-TV (Houston)
Bloomgren will serve as Stanford University’s offensive coordinator for the Cardinal’s bowl game. (Click the video button to watch the broadcast.)
Mike Bloomgren talks Rice, Stanford and intellectual brutality

MT football named an academic award recipient
An article on Middle Tennessee State’s football team being a co-recipient of the American Football Coaches Asso­­ciation’s 2017 Aca­demic Achieve­ment Award mentions Rice is recognized for graduating 75 percent or more of its players.

Passion powers New Pal senior to excel
Former Rice volleyball player Kristina Dennemann ’09 is mentioned.
Daily Reporter

Gausman honors Halladay by switching to No. 34
A story on Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman planning to wear No. 34 next season to honor former pitcher Roy Halladay, who died in a plane crash in November, mentions Rice assistant baseball coach Paul Janish was the last Oriole to wear the number.


Baker, Kinder institutes’ paper: On flooding, Houston needs an ‘informed, flood-literate and engaged populace’
If many of the flooding-related problems in Houston and Harris County are to be fixed, the region needs “to have an informed, flood-literate and engaged populace,” according to a paper by an environmental expert at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The paper, “Living With Houston Flooding,” was authored by lawyer Jim Blackburn, professor in the practice of environmental law at Rice, Baker Institute Rice Faculty Scholar and co-director of Rice’s Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters Center. It is a joint publication of the Baker Institute and Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Rice U. holds ceremonial groundbreaking for new music building
Rice’s Shepherd School of Music held a ceremonial groundbreaking today for a new music building that together with Alice Pratt Brown Hall and adjoining plaza will form the Rice University Music and Performing Arts Center. The 84,000-square-foot facility will house a three-tiered, 600-seat, European-style theater with an orchestra pit for 70 musicians. The first theater with this particular configuration among U.S. universities and conservatories, it will offer premium performance space for opera and chamber music, meet the growing need for rehearsal and practice space and provide a hallmark venue to attract and host high-profile speakers.

About Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is a senior editor in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.