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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.


Mobility Houston, Roosevelt Institute, and the CCL team up to host policy challenge

Feb. 15, 2016

MobilityHouston, the Roosevelt Institute, and the Center for Civic Leadership are partnering to host the upcoming MobilityHouston@Rice Policy Challenge on Tuesday, March 22, which will give Rice undergraduates the opportunity to generate new, innovative solutions to the mobility issues facing the Houston community.

The MobilityHouston@Rice event is limited to 10 student teams and registration is on a first come, first serve basis. Students may apply here.

Leading up to the event, teams will work to research and outline their policy ideas. During the policy challenge, teams will have the opportunity to speak with relevant stakeholders from around the Houston area to receive feedback on their proposal. The stakeholders include elected officials, representatives from city departments, non-profits, and commercial firms - all of whom have deep knowledge and interest in Houston's mobility policies.

The teams will then present their proposals to a panel of judges who will evaluate the proposals and award a prize of $1000 to the highest performing team.

The CCL will be holding an information session to answer questions about the event at 12:10 PM on Tuesday, February 23rd on the 2nd floor of the RMC in the CCL Conference Room.


CCL raises a glass to community partners

Feb. 12, 2016

On Tuesday, January 26, Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership (CCL) honored local leaders in city government, nonprofits and the private sector who work with the Center to provide experiential learning opportunities for Rice students during an event called "The Brew."

More... »


Voting is now open for the 10 Rather Prize finalists

Jan. 27, 2016

The Rather Prize was created in partnership with former CBS News anchor Dan Rather and his grandson, Rice University freshman Martin Rather, the Center for Civic Leadership, Austin-based Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, and SXSWedu. 

Concerned about Texas public school rankings and the current quality of education in the state where his grandfather attended school, Martin came up with the idea for an award that would recognize original and innovative ideas to improve public education.

Voting is now open to the public, and you can cast your vote for the best idea here.

More press coverage of the Rather Prize can be found here, and more information about the Prize can be found at www.ratherprize.org.


Rice senior Isabel Scher is selected as 2017 Schwarzman Scholar

Jan. 11, 2016

It was announced today that Rice University senior Isabel Scher was selected as 1 of 111 Schwarzman Scholars. Recipients of the scholarship will travel to Beijing in 2017 for a one-year Master's Degree program. Read more in Rice News.

Students interested in applying to the Schwarzman may contact the CCL for advising and information on writing a successful application.

More press coverage of Schwarzman Scholars can be found in The New York Times, and you can meet the inaugural class in a video produced by the Schwarzman scholarship program here.

Schwarzman Scholars was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, which was founded in 1902 to promote international understanding and peace, and is designed to meet the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. Blackstone Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman personally contributed $100 million to the program and is leading a fundraising campaign to raise an additional $350 million from private sources to endow the program in perpetuity.

The $450 million endowment will support up to 200 scholars annually from the U.S., China and around the world for a one-year Master’s Degree program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China’s most prestigious universities and an indispensable base for the country’s scientific and technological research. Scholars chosen for this highly selective program will live in Beijing for a year of study and cultural immersion, attending lectures, traveling, and developing a better understanding of China. Admissions opened in the fall of 2015, with the first class of students in residence in 2016.

Learn more at www.schwarzmanscholars.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SchwarzmanScholars and on Twitter at @SchwarzmanOrg.


Upcoming Due Dates

Jan. 6, 2016

Please note the following due dates for scholarship and program applications. 

Houston Internship Program application

Friday, January 8

Contact: Jesse Hendrix

Udall Scholarship application

Tuesday, January 19

Contact: Danika Brown

Wagoner Scholarship application

Wednesday, January 20

Contact: Madalina Akli

Beinecki Scholarship application

Monday, January 25

Contact: ccl@rice.edu

Leadership Rice Mentorship Experience (LRME) application

Monday, February 1

Contact: Michael Domeracki or Thasha Uche

CD Broad application

Friday, February 5

Contact: ccl@rice.edu

Undergraduate Conference Funding 

Thursday, February 11

Contact: Michael Domeracki


CCL Newsletter

Jan. 4, 2016

Happy 2016!  The first issue of our newsletter focuses on our work with community partners. We hope you enjoy reading highlights of some of the projects accomplished in 2015 through collaboration, and we look forward to working with you in the New Year. Download our newsletter as a PDF.


Rice alumnus Ibrahim Khan is awarded Marshall Scholarship

Dec. 9, 2015

Rice alumnus Muhammad Ibrahim Khan is one of 32 U.S. students who has won the distinguished Marshall Scolarship for 2016. The scholarship funds American students pursuing graduate studies in the UK. Marshall Scholars are selected based on academic merit, leadership potential, and ambassadorial potential. 

Ibrahim graduated in 2013 from Rice with a B.A. in English and cognitive science, and is currently a graduate student at Dartmouth College. With the Marshall Scholarship, he will undertake a graduate degree in philosophy in Islamic studies and history at Oxford University. Read more at Rice News.

Graduating students interested in applying to the Marshall Scholarship for study in 2017 may contact the Center for Civic Leadership for advising and resources on writing a successful application. In order to be eligible for the Marshall, students must have graduated by the fall of the academic year that they take up their scholarship.

For more information on fellowships advising for the Marshall and other scholarships, visit our Fellowships page.


HART project leads to exhibit at Fondren Library

Nov. 25, 2015

On View:

“Convict Leasing in Sugar Land - Featuring the Research Collection of Reginald Moore”

December 2015

Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library

Over the summer of 2015, a group of Rice undergraduate students collaborated on a project through the Center for Civic Leadership’s Houston Action Research Team (HART) program to archive materials related to convict leasing in Sugar Land. The materials archived in that project are now part of an exhibit, “Convict Leasing in Sugar Land - Featuring the Research Collection of Reginald Moore,” at Rice University’s Fondren Library. The exhibit was curated by Amanda Focke, Assistant Head of Special Collections.

The HART team, composed of students Breland Coleman, Ryan Deal, and Alexandra Franklin, created a digital archive which highlights the advocacy work of the Texas Slave Descendant’s Society (TSDS) and its chairman, Reginald Moore, who seeks to educate the public about the history of convict leasing in Texas. After slavery was abolished in the United States, forced labor continued in the form of convict leasing. Convicted men, predominantly African-American, could be sentenced to labor and their labor then “leased” by the state to businesses, including sugar plantations in Sugar Land.

With technical assistance from Amanda Focke, the HART team also created an online exhibit (which can be viewed here) that provides information about convict leasing in the Fort Bend County area.

Dr. Lora Wildenthal in the Rice History Department served as faculty advisor for the project; Dr. Alan Steinberg, Associate Director of Houston Programs and Partnerships, served as CCL advisor; and graduate student Jason Ford provided support and guidance.

The digital and physical materials -  a collection of papers, photographs, and other historical materials gathered by TSDS and Reginald Moore -  will now be housed at the Woodson Research Center in Fondren Library.

The exhibit will be on display in Fondren Library for the month of December. Please check library.rice.edu for visitor hours and information.

You can also read more about Reginald Moore’s work and this HART project in the Houston Chronicle.


Rice senior Tom Carroll wins Rhodes Scholarship

Nov. 24, 2015

Rice senior Tom Caroll is one of 32 American students awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Winners were announced on Sunday by the Rhodes Trust. Rhodes scholars, who require endorsement from their university and at least five letters of recommendation, may study any full-time postgraduate course offered by the University of Oxford in England.

"As a result of coursework and research in the sciences and humanities and participation in co-curricular opportunities, Tom possesses the intellectual rigor and leadership skills necessary to make a distinctive impact upon the field of cancer research," said Caroline Quenemoen, Executive Director of the CCL and one of Tom's recommenders. Read more at Rice News.

Students interested in applying to the Rhodes Scholarship for study in 2017 may contact the Center for Civic Leadership for advising and resources on writing a successful application.

For more information on fellowships advising for the Rhodes and other scholarships, visit our Fellowships page.


Upcoming HART project aims to determine how local officials make decisions in emergencies

Oct. 16, 2015

Two Houston Action Research Teams (HARTs) will be working with Dr. Leonardo Duenas-Osorio, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Houston Office of Emergency Management during Summer 2016 and Summer 2017 to determine how local officials make decisions in emergency situations.   

HART students will attend simulations where they will collect data on emergency decision making practices.   Data from these exercises will be used to identify patterns in emergency decision making.  The goal of this project is to better understand the underlying rules of practice employed in emergencies by those charged with their management. The work of the HART students, as well as the larger 2-year project, is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Critical Resilient Interdependent Systems and Processes (CRISP) initiative.


Houston air quality event connects research findings to action in local communities

Oct. 5, 2015

"Bringing Houston Air Pollution Research to Local Action: Acute Health Effects for Vulnerable Populations" on Friday, September 25th brought together city leaders, community voices, and researchers for a series of moderated discussions that connected research findings to action on air quality issues in Houston.

Panel discussions focused on vulnerable populations in the city of Houston. David Persse, EMS Director and the Public Health Authority for the City of Houston, presented research on the  effects of pollution and  poor air quality on public health (namely, asthma attacks and cardiac arrests). Reactors on the panel discussed how socioeconomic issues and lack of access to needed resources can further exacerbate public health concerns in underserved communities. Audience comments emphasized the need to engage research to address known problems, and to work with communities experiencing acute health effects firsthand.

Reactors on the panel were: Stephen Williams, Director for the Houston Health Department; Elena Marks, President and CEO of the Episcopal Heath Foundation; Juliet Stipeche, HISD Trustee for District VIII; Hilton Kelley, Founder and CEO of Community In Power and Development Association; Israel Anderson, Associate Director in the Office of Environmental Justice and Trivial Affairs at EPA Region 6; and Juan Parras, Director of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (T.E.J.A.S).

Researchers represented Rice University, University of Houston and nonprofit advocacy groups: Katherine Bennett Ensor, Professor of Statistics at Rice University;  Loren Raun, Senior Environmental Analyst in the Houston Health Department Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention and Research Faculty in the George R Brown School of Engineering Department of Statistics at Rice University; Robert Griffin, Professor and Chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University; Justin Denney, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Director of the Kinder Institute Urban Health Program at Rice University; Dan Price, directs the Data Analytics in Student Hands Program (DASH) at the University of Houston's Honors College and the Houston Clean Air Network; and Marcelo Norsworthy, Transportation Research Analyst at Environmental Defense Fund.

The Houston air quality event was put on in collaboration with the Houston Endowment, Air Alliance Houston, and the Center for Civic Leadership. 


International Day of Peace panel focused on community activism

Sept. 29, 2015

The Center for Civic Leadership and several leaders within the Houston community came together last Thursday, September 24th to host an International Day of Peace panel discussion. This panel discussion was part of a week-long series of talks that revolved around the International Day of Peace. This year's theme was Partnerships for Peace: Dignity for All, and the event brought together panelists and an audience from Rice University, Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M, Houston Baptist University, Sam Houston University, University of Houston, and community members, leaders, and activists from several neighborhoods in Houston. 

The panel discussion focused on how we can build better coalitions, learning from other generations and other communities. Each panelist addressed the issues of violence and peace from their perspectives in the work that they do. The discussion included exploring what violence and peace looks like, the obstacles that have prevented groups from working together, and how we can come together across age, race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality (and other intersections of difference) to build a more peaceful world.

The panel was moderated by Jenna Christian, doctorial candidate in the departments of Geography and Women's Studies at Penn State, and Jesse Hendrix, Assistant Director of Programs and Partnerships with the CCL. Panelists were:

  • Brandon Mack - Rice University, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions 
  • Blaque Robinson - Rice University, Sociology, Senior
  • Christina Hidalgo - Sam Houston University, Psychology, recent graduate
  • Fizza Raza - University of Houston, Political Science, recent graduate
  • LaToya Smith - Prairie View A&M, BS Psychology, MA Human Science, graduate student 

The International Day of Peace is a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples, beginning with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, and has been celebrated every year since, on September 21st. More information about the week-long series can be found here.