When Brown College junior Jasmine Manansala was participating in the Jeopardy! National College Championship last November, one of the implications she was pondering was the potential for her future career. She said she has made many great connections and received a lot of attention for her stint on the gameshow, which started running Feb. 8.
During winter recess the Rice campus is probably at its emptiest, as students living in the residential colleges must leave shortly after the fall semester ends. But the past two winters have not been normal, and for the second time, students with approval from the Dean of Undergraduates’ office were permitted to remain in their dorms over the recent winter recess.
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.
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.
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.
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.
sAfter 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.
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.
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.