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Wednesday, October 27, 2021 — Houston, TX °

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Looking back and looking forward: lessons from the pandemic

(04/28/21 3:39am)

The Rice community is eagerly anticipating a return to some kind of normal in the fall semester. Still, it’s clear that not everything will be the same as before the pandemic — but maybe for good reason. While the past year has been undeniably difficult, the Rice community can leave it with important takeaways. We asked administrators, faculty and student leaders what they have learned and what they envision for Rice when distancing, masking and virtual interactions are not the default procedures of the campus experience.


The state of energy in Texas: A conversation with Daniel Cohan following ERCOT’s energy conservation appeal

(04/28/21 3:33am)

On April 13, a mild spring afternoon, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas announced they may begin emergency operations and called for energy conservation from Texans. Four hours later, ERCOT ended the appeal, but questions about Texas’s energy situation remain. Since extreme weather and an ensuing power crisis struck the state over two months ago, many media outlets, including the Thresher, have gone to Rice civil and environmental engineering professor Daniel Cohan for an expert explanation. The Thresher caught up with Cohan for a follow-up conversation.


MECH students and faculty express concerns about undergraduate expansion in town hall

(04/21/21 2:43am)

If the mechanical engineering undergraduate population grows alongside the recently announced 20 percent student body expansion, the department will need more faculty, more teaching and grading support, greater classroom capacity and additional funds for equipment, according to the Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Advisory Board. The Undergraduate Advisory Board discussed the state of the MECH department and its future at their town hall on April 14. 


“Untold histories” get told in this year’s Rice Historical Review

(04/14/21 4:44am)

Last semester, when McMurtry College senior Joy Wang was researching the bubonic plague in medieval Spain, she started by looking for cross-century comparisons and insight into how people experienced and moved on from a pandemic. According to Wang, she found parallels between the attacks on the Jewish community during the Black Death and xenophobia and hate toward the Asian and Asian-American community during the COVID-19 pandemic.


A year into the pandemic, research goes on — but not without changes

(03/31/21 3:03am)

After doing a computational chemistry project remotely while campus access was limited last summer, Will Rice College junior Hallie Trial returned to campus lab work in August. At the Ball Lab, where she investigates the synthesis of boronic acids and water, Trial is masked, physically distanced from fellow researchers and, sometimes, reusing gloves — a practice not normally recommended, she said, but necessitated by pandemic shortages of personal protective equipment.


Flooding, insurance and holes in the ceiling: Off-campus students talk lingering effects of the winter storm

(03/10/21 5:06am)

Although Rice campus emerged mostly unscathed from the Feb. 15 winter storm, some students living off campus are among the tens of thousands of Houston residents who dealt with the effects of home damage after the week of extreme weather.


Pandemic Picks: Professors talk favorite TV and film to watch during quarantine

(03/10/21 4:09am)

It’s been about a year since COVID-19 turned our lives upside down. And national reckonings in different spheres have shaped the months following the beginning of quarantine. In these strange times, watching on-screen content has been a quintessential activity for many — not just students. The Rice Thresher asked professors from different disciplines to share the films or series that have been keeping them entertained, encouraged or engaged.



Rice alumna blasts off on historic SpaceX flight

(11/18/20 5:57am)

Shannon Walker, Baker College ‘87, MS ’92, Ph.D. ‘93 is one of the four astronauts on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station. The Crew Dragon spacecraft launched on Sunday evening and arrived on Monday night at the ISS, where the crew will spend the next six months, according to NASA. This is Walker’s second space flight to the ISS.



Rice physics professor appointed to Vatican science academy

(11/11/20 5:56am)

Rice professor José Onuchic has been appointed by Pope Francis as one of the 80 members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences based in the Vatican. The scholars of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences advise the Catholic Church on scientific matters such as climate change and technology, according to Raymond Cook, chaplain and director of the Rice Catholic Student Center and Campus Ministry.



Students chat with Leebron in new lunchtime series

(10/07/20 1:13am)

A new series of noon discussions hosted by President David Leebron for small groups of undergraduates began on Zoom last week. Dubbed “Lunch with Leebs” by presidential intern and program supervisor Michelle Fokam (Baker College ’20), the discussions are opportunities for students to learn about Leebron and discuss a predetermined topic of interest with him, according to Fokam.


Hanszen quad fills with music and community in new evening concert series

(09/23/20 4:17am)

Masked musicians, small groups and livestreaming equipment, all outdoors — the inaugural concert of the Hanszen Family Heart Chamber Music Festival showed us what performance looks like in a pandemic. The concert, held last Friday, Sept. 18 in Hanszen College’s quad, was the first in a series planned to recur on the third Friday of each month this semester, according to festival organizer and horn player Shawn Zheng.



Meet the presidents: College presidents prepare for a year like no other

(09/02/20 1:47am)

Wielding power in their respective commons and in the Student Association Senate, college presidents are perhaps the most visible faces of the student leadership that is essential to the Rice experience. But just a few weeks after this year’s cohort began their terms, their communities dispersed as students were sent home to study online. Now, the presidents must lead their colleges amid conditions completely unknown to all who came before: distancing rules, a ban on mass gatherings, students who may never actually be on campus and other pandemic-related changes. They may not have signed up for these new challenges, but they are surely stepping up to face them.