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Rice professors discuss research in campus TEDx event

Photo by Frankie Huang | The Rice Thresher

Rice bioengineering professor Rebecca Richards-Kortum presents at TEDx RiceU about her research in the field of health and poverty.  TEDx RiceU was hosted by Rice Catalyst, Rice's undergraduate science research journal.

By Jieya Wen     4/15/14 3:39pm

Rice Catalyst, the Rice University undergraduate science research journal, hosted the fourth annual TEDx RiceU at Herring Hall 100 on Saturday, April 12.

Rice Catalyst, the Rice University undergraduate science research journal, hosted the fourth annual TEDx RiceU at Herring Hall 100 on Saturday, April 12. The speakers included Rebecca Richards-Kortum, professor of bioengineering, David Dickman, adjunct professor of psychology, Cyrus Mody, assistant professor of history, Junghae Suh, assistant professor of bioengineering, Charles Chang, lecturer of linguistics, and Nathan Jones, postdoctoral research associate of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

“[TEDx RiceU is an] independent TED Talk,” Amber Mirajkar, Rice Catalyst co-editor in chief, said. “It is usually hosted officially by individual organizations. [The talks] are 15 minutes long about any ideas that are worth spreading. We, as an organization, host TED by ourselves, but we are under their umbrella. We have the same format, a general theme, the same amount of time. Our theme is sharing the vision.”

According to Mirajkar, a Duncan College senior, hosting TEDx RiceU is in accordance with Catalyst’s mission of making science and research accessible.

“We want for Rice students to get exposed to more professors on campus because, [most] of the time, not all professors’ research is known to Rice students,” Mirajkar said. “Especially for those freshmen and sophomores who would like to get into a lab, this is a very good venue to learn a little bit.”

Rice Catalyst Co-Editor in Chief Julia Zhao said the videos of the talk will be posted on the TEDx YouTube channel and will be available to everyone in the upcoming weeks. 

“[Uploading videos] is part of the requirements on hosting TEDx talks,” Zhao, a Lovett College junior, said. “We just want to highlight the really awesome stuff that Rice professors are doing to all the people who participate and watch our TEDx videos. They’ve got a pretty large audience.”

Dickman, professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and the Director of the Neuroscience Program at Rice University, said he enjoyed talking at TEDx RiceU, and he would like to get involved in future TEDx events to promote discussions on neuroscience. His topic in TEDx was about how animals use the earth’s magnetic field for special location and magnetoreception.

“In fact, to prepare for this talk, I have probably watched 50 to 60 TEDx talks to see what I should be doing,” Dickman said. “I’d love to get involved with Catalyst. One of the things we need to do to promote neuroscience is to make the public more aware of the breadth and the various aspects of neuroscience and how it pertains to your everyday life.”

Dickman said attending TEDx talks helps in understand cutting-edge research 

“[TEDx talks] are providing the most cutting-edge knowledge that we have,” Dickman said. “[These are] very interesting concepts that are challenging us today.”

Duncan College freshman Sam Shadwell said he went to TEDx RiceU because he wanted to know more about the research that is going on at the university level. 

“I think [TEDx] will be a good way to see the more interesting research projects that are going on at Rice,” Shadwell said.

Shadwell said he thinks the quality of the talks vary in TEDx RiceU. 

“I feel the first talk [by Dr. Richards-Kortum] is a recycle,” Shadwell said. “I feel I have heard that before. The second one [by Dr. Dickman] was interesting. I actually wished it was longer.”

Physics graduate student Apiwat Wisitsorasak said TEDx is a good way to know about research fields that he is not familiar with. 

“I saw an announcement in the BRC building, and I saw the speaker profile, and I felt very interested,” Wisitsorasak said. “I wanted to know what kind of history research [Dr. Mody] works on because I have no idea of history.”

According to Mirajkar, apart from hosting TEDx RiceU, Rice Catalyst also released its annual publication on April 9. Rice Catalyst is also working on an international journal with other universities. 

“We are also doing an international journal now with Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Duke, Harvard and Washington University in St. Louis,” Mirajkar said. “It is going to be online. Our online edition will be coming out in late summer. All the journals will submit their best work.”

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