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Annise Parker Impact through Public Service Award

May 15, 2019

Devoting yourself to public service while completing a rigorous Rice education is no small task. Last weekend, Navya Kumar and Sonia Torres received the Annise Parker Impact through Public Service Award for doing just that.

Each year, the university honors a graduate who exemplifies the values and ideals of the commencement speaker. This year’s speaker was Annise Parker ‘78, Houston’s mayor from 2010-16, who graduated from Rice with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, psychology and sociology.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Goldwater Scholarships

May 6, 2019

Two Rice University undergraduate students have been awarded Goldwater Scholarships for the 2019-20 academic year — and the fact that they happen to be buddies is no coincidence.

“It’s funny that Sahil Patel and I both won because we’re great friends,” said Jones College junior Takuma Makihara. Both Makihara and Patel were nominated by Rice and selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,280 natural sciences, mathematics and engineering students nationwide.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Houston Action Research Teams (HART)

May 3, 2019

Not everyone visiting the Houston Arboretum on a recent Saturday morning wanted to have their birdwatching or nature-walking interrupted by a survey-taker with a clipboard. Some people gave a quick “no” when approached, but others eagerly tackled the survey’s four pages.

This is how Rice senior Ramee Saleh and her fellow students on this Houston Action Research Team (HART) spent their last semester, trekking along the trails and gathering survey data on visitor experiences for the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Giving to Learn Award Ceremony

May 2, 2019

For the third year in a row, students in the Philanthropy in Theory and Action course ended their semester by handing out giant checks to deserving nonprofits in the greater Houston area. Taught by Vida Avery through Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership, the class gives students an understanding of the history, philosophy and practice of philanthropy.

Students in the class learn about ethics and the importance of community investment while working with local nonprofits including Plant It Forward Farms, The Beacon and Children at Risk. This year, these and six other nonprofits were awarded $50,000 in grants by Rice students at an April 18 ceremony and reception in the Anderson-Clarke Center at the Glasscock School for Continuing Studies. 

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Center for Civic Leadership’s annual Service Awards

May 1, 2019

Community service is a mission Rice students take seriously, especially those honored at the Center for Civic Leadership’s (CCL) annual Service Awards luncheon. Held April 22 in Farnsworth Pavilion, the event recognized undergraduates and grad students alike whose commitment to service goes above and beyond.

“What’s going on at Rice (is) kind of amazing,” said John Collier, executive director of Caring Friends In Deed, which provides one of the annual service scholarships through the CCL. “We see this tremendous energy from these extremely bright students who are giving 10, 15, 20 — we have even seen 30 — community service hours a week, and we wonder how you have time to go to school.”

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE


April 20, 2019

The Arctic Circle. The border between El Paso and Juarez. Tokyo.

These are the far-flung destinations three Rice students will be heading to this year as the university’s newest recipients of a trio of travel fellowships.

Lia Pikus, a Baker College sophomore who’s double-majoring in music and political science, won the Arthur and Shelley Gottschalk Traveling Grant for Musicians, which awards up to $2,000 to a student enrolled in Rice’s Shepherd School of Music. It’s a brand-new award established by Arthur Gottschalk, professor of composition and theory, who founded the university’s electronic and computer music laboratories.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

April 15, 2019

Two Rice seniors have won a 2019 Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, a highly competitive award that provides $30,000 for a year of international travel and research following graduation.

Baker College senior Eliza Martin and Wiess College senior Ilana Nyveen are two of 40 Watson Fellows chosen from more than 150 candidates nominated at select private liberal arts colleges and universities across the United States.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Houston Centered Policy Challenge

April 10, 2019

Houston’s affordable housing crisis impacts people across a broad spectrum of backgrounds and socioeconomic levels, in neighborhoods across the city. That’s why the Rice students participating in this year’s Houston-Centered Policy (HCP) Challenge approached the topic with an array of potential solutions. 

Eight teams of students pitched a panel of experts their ideas in Farnsworth Pavilion Feb. 21, offering policy proposals that ranged from financial incentives for landlords aimed at decreasing discrimination against those with housing vouchers; intergenerational housing for elderly people struggling to get by; transit-centered development that recognizes cheaper housing often means a longer, tougher commute to work; healthy housing metrics that show developers the true cost of building in polluted areas; and ordinances aimed at creating more mixed-income housing by requiring builders to set aside a certain percentage of units as affordable. 

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Houston Centered Policy Challenge

Feb. 8, 2019

One of Houston’s most pressing civic issues will be investigated by the young minds at Rice University.

The Houston Centered Policy (HCP) Challenge, a yearly event hosted by the Center for Civic Leadership (CCL), asks students to tackle citywide problems from a public policy perspective, crafting proposals that are presented to a panel of politicians, civil servants and other area experts. This year’s competition will focus on affordable housing.

“In recent years, housing prices in Houston have risen significantly, while the housing stock has shrunk following Hurricane Harveyand other flooding events,” said Elizabeth Vann, director of programs and partnerships for the CCL. “City, county and community leaders in Houston recognize the urgency of this issue and are looking for ways to address it.” This concern and attention made affordable housing an ideal topic for Rice students to tackle, she said. 

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News HERE

Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium

Jan. 16, 2019

Rice students will have an opportunity to present their work or research to a communitywide audience April 10 at the annual Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS) in Tudor Fieldhouse.

Now in its 17th year, RURS is the leading event for undergraduates across all disciplines to present their projects and compete for recognition from schools and research centers at Rice.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News  HERE

Urban Immersion 2018

July 30, 2018

Urban Immersion 2018 introduces incoming Rice students to more than just service work in the city

This summer, 47 incoming Rice freshmen and one transfer student were introduced to Houston in one of the most immersive ways possible.

During the Center for Civic Leadership’s (CCL) annual weeklong Urban Immersion program, they visited the East End and the Third Ward, Chinatown and Pasadena; they took Metro buses throughout the city to reach each daily destination and slept in downtown’s Christ Church Cathedral each night. Each day was designed to tackle a different social justice issue while taking the students on a tour of their new city: Tuesday’s topic was gentrification and community development during a volunteer shift with the Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance and a tour of Project Row Houses; Wednesday’s visit to Finca Tres Robles and a “toxic tour” of the Second Ward provided by Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS) illuminated issues of environmental justice.

View full story by Katharine Shilcutt of Rice News here.

Alternative Spring Break 2018 in the news

July 5, 2018

To Rice University Students, Texas' Maternal Mortality Is A 'Social Justice Issue'

A group of students at Rice University embarked on a trip to Austin last spring to study maternal mortality in Texas. The students say health disparities and social justice issues are at the core of why some women are dying while pregnant or shortly after giving birth.

Listen to the full interview, by KUT's Ashley Lopez, here.

Houston-Centered Policy Challenge

Feb. 16, 2018

More... »

KHOU highlights HART team findings on pollution in Houston

May 11, 2016

A Houston Action Research Team's (HART) findings on pollution in Houston was featured on local news station KHOU. You can watch the video here.

The Center for Civic Leadership's HART program consists of small, interdisciplinary teams of Rice students who work together with city offices and community organizations to address issues and challenges facing Houston and its residents. This particular HART project, the Bridge to Clean Air project, is a multi-year collaboration between Rice University and Air Alliance Houston to create a relatively inexpensive air treatment system to reduce vehicle pollution at a prominent traffic hotspot in Houston. The project aims to design and build a stationary air treatment system that would remove air pollution from a portion of US 59 at the Hazard St. Bridge.

In the spring, a team of HART students conducted Phase 1 of the project, working with Dr. Loren Raun in the Statistics department and representatives from the City of Houston’s Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention to sample air and test for ambient levels of PM, VOCs, and NOx. Team members prepared and analyzed the data to: (1) characterize pollution at the site in order to determine the appropriate treatment equipment and strategy, and (2) record background levels of pollution to measure the impact of the project.

Members of the HART team were: Vera Liu (Statistics), Will Deaderick (Mathematics), Ryan Saathoff (Policy Studies and Political Science), and Bilan (Jackie) Yang (Mechanical Engineering). Rice graduate student Taylor Barnum (Environmental Analysis and Decision Making) served as team coach. The results of the team’s work will serve as the air pollution benchmark for the project and will be compared to air samples taken once the air treatment system has been installed to determine the system’s effectiveness. 

Rice students win Fulbright Scholarships

May 10, 2016

7 Rice University students have received Fulbright Scholarships, which will give them the opportunity to study, teach, and conduct research abroad.

“The students who receive a Fulbright grant have a strong academic background, leadership potential and a passion for expanding mutual understanding among different nations and cultures,” said Madalina Akli, Associate Director for Global Engagement with the Center for Civic Leadership. “We are excited and honored to have seven Fulbright winners at Rice in one year.”

Students interested in applying to the Fulbright for next year should contact Dr. Akli for advising.

Read more about this year's winnners in Rice News, here.

Anjali Bhatla selected as 2016 Truman Scholar

April 25, 2016

Anjali Bhatla, a Rice junior majoring in health sciences and policy studies, is one of 54 college students in the U.S. selected to be a Truman Scholar. Recipients of the highly competitive scholarship are awarded up to $30,000 to be used for graduate study in the U.S. or abroad. Scholars are selected based on their strengths in leadership, public service, and academic achievement.

Students interested in applying for the Truman Scholarship for 2017 should contact Danika Brown, Director of Curriculum and Fellowships in the Center for Civic Leadership.

Read more about Anjali in Rice News, here.

HART students win awards at RURS

April 21, 2016

The Center for Civic Leadership (CCL) annually sponsors an Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS) open to students from all disciplines. The symposium offers students an opportunity to showcase their research, develop professionally, and compete for prizes. This year, the CCL Houston Action Research Teams (HART) had the opportunity to present their research concerning issues and challenges facing Houston and its residents. Three of the HART teams were awarded prizes for their hard work and dedication to the Houston community.

The Park Improvement Preferences of Under-Surveyed Populations team won the Shell Center for Sustainability Award. The team was comprised of Sally Hodges-Copple, Lucy Matveeva, Emily Jacobson, and Tanvi Sharma.

The Dynamic Role of Libraries: How do Customer and Library Characteristics Drive Houston Public Library Usage? won first prize from the School of Social Sciences. The team, which included Tiffany Tang, Melanie Zook, Shaan Patel, and Madeleine Tibaldi, focused on public library usership in the Houston area.

The Effects of Local Library features on the Distance Travelled to Houston Public Libraries team also tied for first prize from the School of Social Sciences. The team consisted of students Derek Holliday, Benjamin Hamm Conard, Jena Lopez, and Natalie Polacek.  

The full list of 2016 RURS winners can be found here.

HART students co-author paper on Houston parks planning

March 28, 2016

recent article in CityLab referenced a paper, "More Inclusive Parks Planning: Park Quality and Preferences for Park Access and Amenities" co-written by a Houston Action Research Team (HART) that was published in the academic journal Environmental Justice.

In Spring 2015, on behalf of the Houston Parks and Recreation Department (HPARD), a team of Rice undergraduates sought a greater representation of user improvement preferences for public parks, focusing on Hispanic and African-American communities in Houston  The HART students designed and conducted a survey targeting minorities at parks on the east side of the city.

Along with Alan Steinberg, Associate Director of the CCL, and graduate student Kevin Smiley, the HART students, Tanvi Sharma, Sally Hodges-Copple, Emily Jacobson and Lucy Matveeva co-authored a paper based on the survey data that was published in the February 2016 volume of the academic journal Environmental Justice.

According to the article's abstract:

"Parks are increasingly viewed as places that prompt environmental justice analysis. While these studies have focused on inequalities in access to parks and amenities within parks, we offer a third important topic of study: the opinions and preferences of minorities with regards to park usage. We link empirical environmental justice analysis on parks with the core environmental justice belief that marginalized communities must have a voice in planning processes. Using data from two surveys conducted in Houston, Texas, we analyze the park preferences of these communities ... Overall, we highlight the importance of integrating community voices into parks planning."

You can read the published paper in its entirety here.

Rice undergrads compete to create policy ideas for MobilityHouston@Rice

March 24, 2016

MobilityHouston@Rice Policy Challenge, which was held on the evening of Tuesday, March 22nd, gave Rice undergraduates the opportunity to generate innovative solutions to the mobility issues facing Houston, and to receive feedback from Houston mobility stakeholders. Student teams worked to create policies relating to topics of accessibility, congestion, and public transit, and then pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

In order to host the event in collaboration with the Center for Civic Leadership, MobilityHouston, and the Roosevelt Institute, Rice junior Madhuri Venkateswar received funding from the Hilda and Hershel Rich Family Endowment for Student Community Service. The Endowment supports projects that are intended to make a distinctive impact upon society, raise awareness among the Rice community, and foster and encourage leadership and creativity among Rice students.

Read more about the event and the winning team here in the Houston Chronicle, here in Rice News, and also here on the January Advisors' blog.

Recent alum Nathan Truong ('14) wins Luce Scholarship

March 2, 2016

Nathan Truong, who graduated from Rice University in 2014 with a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology, has been selected to be a Luce Scholar and will spend the next year working in Asia.

Nathan is a current Instructor of Physics and AP Statistics, and a Teach for America Corps Member at YES Prep Public Schools. Read more in Rice News.

According to the Luce Foundation, the intent of the Luce Scholars program is to provide an immersion experience in Asia for an outstanding group of young Americans who would not otherwise have the opportunity to come to know Asia intimately.To be successful, candidates must demonstrate an outstanding capacity for leadership, have a record of high achievement, and have mature and clearly defined career interests with evidence of potential for professional accomplishments.

Current Rice students interested in the Luce Scholarship should contact the Center for Civic Leadership for advising. Eligible candidates must have received a Bachelor's degree before their year in Asia.