Hanszen and Lovett announce new masters
Jose Onuchic is the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor in Physics and Astronomy, the Co-Director of the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics and a professor of chemistry
Mayra Onuchic is the program administrator of Brazil Programs for Brasil@Rice.
Rice Thresher: How did you get involved with Lovett College?
Mayra Onuchic: It was a wonderful surprise. As soon as Jose came to Rice, he was invited to become an associate with Lovett, and he started going to the events. Once I moved here, I also started participating and becoming involved and hosting dinners.
What are some traditions that you like?
Jose Onuchic: We liked everything. We like the students and the faculty. The college government tries to be as independent as possible, and you're much more in an advisory role than actually deciding details all the time, which we felt would match for us. I think we felt the residential college system at Rice is a great tradition, and I think there are lots of very interesting activities like Beer Bike that create a lot of spirit.
Do you plan on going to the track when Beer Bike happens?
Mayra: Oh, definitely. [laughs]
Jose: We'll be there. We want to change our lives a little bit.
What do you hope to bring to Lovett?
Jose: I have been very involved in science in my life. So I think I can create a lot of good academic tradition and help students in terms of doing these things. I think a great part of being a master is that you hope to advise and teach them and help them but hope they do the same thing to you; that they teach you, they advise you and you learn from the new generation.
Mayra: In terms of coming from a diverse background, we are bringing a lot more diversity, a lot of different culture and different languages.
Jose: We haven't yet decided if Portuguese will become the official language of Lovett.
Do you have any pets, children or other family members that will be joining you at the master's house?
Mayra: Yes, one of my sons will joining us. My oldest son is a student at St. Thomas now, and he'll be coming to live with us over here at Lovett. We also have three boys. Right now, the three of them are here. My middle son teaches math at the Kinkaid School here in Houston. I think they all, when they're around, will be very involved with the college. And we have an English bulldog. His name is Rei, which means "king" in Portuguese.
What do you do for fun?
Mayra: I really enjoy the outdoors. I used to do a lot of hiking. I'm getting familiar with some of the trails, some of the places here. I enjoy reading. I enjoy biking.I really try to also spend some time listening to music. I really enjoy Brazilian pop music. And I also enjoy cooking.
Jose: I like the outside like she does. Basically, we love, every morning, to go running or walking around the campus, or at least four or five days of the week. I used to love travel, but now I travel so much for business that I love to stay home. We also like to entertain people. We love social events. That's one that makes us excited to become masters because that's something we can also be involved in.
What are some of your favorite activities at Rice?
Jose: I love teaching undergrads, and I have been teaching the lower division; that's why I'm teaching PHYS 125 and 126. But what I really like is staying in my lab working on research. That's something I really like to do, and I think being a master, now I can avoid the awful administration jobs.
Mayra: I really enjoy my interaction with the students here at Rice. I do a lot of support for the Brazilian students. And because my office is like an umbrella of the Office of International Students and Scholars, I really get a chance to interact with a lot of international students and the entire OISS staff.
What are some Lovett traditions you are looking forward to?
Jose: There are many traditions that Lovett helped to create. I don't know all the details of them, but I think they have a special way of interacting with the community by having strong associates that get involved. I see at associates' nights, there's always a special occasion, a special show and stuff like that that you want to do. I want to be involved with all the sports activities; I really just want to be around the students and the cheering and play because it creates a good spirit, not only of interacting with students of Lovett, but alsow with students of other colleges.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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