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SA, GSA hold first research mixer

By Kevin Lin     10/21/10 7:00pm

Hungry for research? Rice's first-ever Research Mixer spiced things up with representatives from more than 40 labs manning booths alongside $2,000 worth of food from Thai Village.The research mixer, held Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. on the Central Quad, was a joint operation between the Student Association and the Graduate Student Association, organized by SA President Selim Sheikh and GSA President Corinne Allen.

"We started building a relationship with the GSA executives last year," Sheikh, a Martel College senior, said. "I met with the GSA president over the summer and we basically brainstormed a couple of ideas. This was the first idea we wanted to put on for the fall."

Sheikh said the focus of the mixer was to expose both undergraduates and graduates to some of the research taking place in labs around campus.

"I was thinking 'How we can create some sort of laid-back, more relaxed atmosphere where people can find out what sort of research is going on?'" Sheikh said. "Instead of having it in the Grand Hall or some sort of formal presentation, why not have it over food?"

The mixer was set up after a series of talks with the administration, including Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson and Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Paula Sanders. Sanders volunteered to have Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies pay for all of the food after hearing about the idea, Sheikh said.

Hutchinson attributed the success of the mixer to the persistence of the student organizations.

"This was really an initiative from the SA and the GSA working together," Hutchinson said. "The Graduate Studies, Paula Sanders and I were happy to support in all ways that we could, but they did all the leg work to make this happen."

Booths from various labs and research groups around campus covered the Central Quad.

"The fact that you look around and there's rarely a table without students [at] it is very encouraging," Allen said.

While the mixer was meant to expose students to the research opportunities on campus, some students, like Duncan College junior Salman Eraj, felt like more could still be done.

"You can find most of the stuff online," Eraj said. "I don't know how much you'll get just talking to the grad students out here."

McMurtry College freshman Max Ingraham-Rakantansky said he was interested in research to do with political science and found three labs that matched his interest.

"I loved it," Rakantansky said. "They seem to have a lot of good food and a lot of good booths."

This was the first year a research mixer was held, but Sheikh said he hoped that it won't be the last.

"I really hope this is the start of a tradition," Sheikh said. "It's about collaboration between the SA and the GSA and bringing the academic side of Rice all together.

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