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In the year of our 35th anniversary as a school, the George R.

Brown School of Engineering at Rice continues to grow in size as we move into our newest building, the Biosciences Research Collaborative. This beautiful building takes us to a new level of commitment to health, wellness and medicine in collaboration with our partners in the Texas Medical Center. We continue to get stronger, too, through the efforts of our outstanding faculty, students and staff, as we welcome six new faculty members this year. Our research profile continues to expand, and we congratulate our faculty and researchers on new funding through the MURI and DARPA programs. This funding significantly increases our already sizeable portfolio of research in support of national security. Critical to our research enterprise is an increase in the number of our graduate population; this year we welcome a greater number of graduate students than ever before. We are celebrating the first year of operation of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen by recognizing the ingenuity and hard work of our students, especially those whose teams won national awards for their designs. We applaud the team of Rice students that has worked so hard on its beautiful entry in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon and we wish them the best of luck in the competition. We are seeing a tremendous interest in engineering from our undergraduates, as 1/3 of Rice’s class of 2013 has entered as engineers. These students will benefit from a greater emphasis on leadership, design and communication throughout the engineering curriculum, spearheaded by the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, which we are launching this fall. With the growth in the undergraduate program, we have a 15 percent increase in international students, a development that bodes well for our goal of increasing international engineering experiences for our students. We believe that more exposure to students from other cultures will feed our American students’ interest in studying, working, or doing research abroad. As the economy has contracted and more people return to school to improve their viability in the job market, we have seen a 67% increase in the number of professional master’s students this fall. Through this program, we are working to help meet National Academy of Engineering goals for graduating more engineers with five years of schooling. In citing each of these landmarks for the school, I would like to honor the dedication and contributions of the previous Deans of Engineering, as their vision and guidance have been instrumental in bringing us these years of continued success.

Sallie Ann Keller
William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering

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New faculty Center for Leadership: The game changer Paving the way to optimization research BRC: The school of engineering expands into new territory A summer of encouraging engineering DSP, nanotech drive MURI success $16M in DARPA funding picks up the PACE Rice refines biofuels research Jim Thompson: It’s all in the data Wireless at WARP speed VIGRE reshapes the future of math research Design spotlight Awards Alumni

Mechanical Engineering Building, the first engineering building at Rice.

CONTENT

John T. McDevitt joins the Rice faculty as the Brown-Wiess Professor of Bioengineering and Chemistry, coming from the University of Texas at Austin. There, he led a large research group that published more than 160 peer-reviewed papers and secured 100-plus patents/patent applications, one of largest patent portfolios in UT history. McDevitt focuses on the development of micro-medical devices fabricated with the same methods used to make integrated circuits. They show the potential to reduce health care costs while improving treatments for cancer, stroke, heart and neurological disease patients. His group’s nano-biochip work earned the Science Coalition’s Best Scientific Advances award and Popular Science’s “Best of What’s New Award” last year. He is a founder of Labnow, which targets release of HIV immune tests in poor nations.

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John McDevitt
McDevitt is from the Silicon Valley area. He earned a chemistry doctorate from Stanford in 1987 and received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo in 1982. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The idea was inspired by nature and the behavior of bees and ants in performing individual tasks to collectively contribute to group goals. McLurkin has addressed audiences at companies and universities, including the Smithsonian Museum, Harvard University, Infosys, IBM and Honda. In 2003, he was recognized by Time Magazine as one of the nation’s five leading robotics engineers. That year, Black Enterprise magazine also ranked him as among the “Best and Brightest” under 40 years of age. A New York native, he received an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering with a minor in mechanical engineering from MIT in 1995. He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1999 and received a master’s degree in 2003 and a doctorate in computer science from MIT last year.

James McLurkin
James McLurkin joins Rice as an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science from a role as a research associate at the University of Washington in Seattle. His research interest is in developing distributed algorithms for multi-robot systems, with a focus on both algorithm and systems design. During five years as a lead research scientist at iRobot, he developed software for large swarms of autonomous robots called SwarmBots.

Deepak Nagrath joins Rice as an assistant professor in the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering after serving as a research associate in the Department of Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Nagrath’s research interests lie in the application of systems-biology approaches to human diseases. He uses transcriptional and metabolic design principles to analyze healthy and diseased biological states. His research focuses on various diseases such as metabolic syndrome, cancer, and diabetes, and potential treatments using metabolic supplementation and embryonic stem cells. Nagrath uses engineering principles such as multi-objective optimality and non-equilibrium thermodynamics for analyzing complex disease states.
RICE ENGINEERING 2009

Deepak Nagrath
Nagrath earned a doctorate in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York in 2003. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorke, India.

Her research interests are computational modeling of molecular and cellular response to hypoxia, cerebrovascular systems biology, engineering of specialized blood vessels, design and computational testing of microvascular therapies, and the integration of multiscale models. Qutub, who is from Hoffman Estates, Illinois, spent a year as vice president for administration and director of corporate partnerships for the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children in Washington, D.C. She also founded a company, B3io, Inc. in Berkeley, to provide tissue and membrane simulation tools for the pharmaceutical industry. A Rice graduate, she received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1999. She earned a doctorate in bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco in 2004.

amina Qutub
Amina Ann Qutub comes to Rice as an assistant professor of bioengineering from the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Ilinca Stanciulescu joins Rice as an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering after serving in a similar post at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests are in computational mechanics (non-linear finite elements), constitutive modelling of materials, structural analysis, and non-linear dynamics. She has co-authored a textbook, “Post-Elastic Analysis of Structures.” Stanciulescu, who is from Bucharest, Romania, previously served as a junior lecturer in the Department of Strength of Materials of the Technical University of Civil Engineering (TUCE.) in Bucharest. She also worked as a structural design engineer for two different companies.

Ilinca Stanciulescu
She earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1995 and a master’s degree in science in 1996 from the TUCE. She received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Bucharest University in 2000 and earned her doctorate in civil engineering at Duke University in 2005. She was also a post-doctoral research associate at Duke.

Rafael Verduzco
Rafael Verduzco joins Rice as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in a chair endowed by the Louis and Peaches Owen Foundation.

Most recently, Verduzco was a postdoctoral scholar in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, where he studied bent-core liquid crystals, water-soluble dendrimers for drug delivery, and conjugated olymeric materials for organic electronics. This work relies heavily on polymer synthesis, neutron and x-ray scattering, and surface characterization tools. Verduzco is from Sugar Land, Texas. He attended Rice, earning a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 2001. He earned a master’s degree in 2003 and doctorate in chemical engineering in 2007 from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
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The game changer
Major gift launches leadership center
With the establishment of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, the George R. Brown School of Engineering is poised to help transform engineering education. The center’s mission will be to ensure that students experience engineering as a transformative force on both a personal and societal level, said Sallie Ann Keller, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering at Rice. “We want engineering students to start thinking about and working on solutions to the problems facing society, from their first day to their final semester,” Keller said. “And we intend to be a beacon for other universities by thinking far outside the norm and emphasizing communication, ethics and leadership throughout the curriculum to revolutionize engineering education.” The center is being made possible through a Rice Centennial Campaign gift of $15 million from longtime benefactors and engineering school alumni John and Ann Doerr. John Doerr ’73 is a well-known venture capitalist and Ann Doerr ’75 is a longtime advocate for the environment. A matching component of the donation could bring an additional $10 million to the center. “We are grateful for this extraordinary gift, which is generous not only in amount but in vision,” said Rice President David Leebron of the Doerr’s philanthropy. “There is no limit to what talented and imaginative engineers will be able to achieve, and the education this gift makes possible will enable Rice to produce some of the great engineers who will help solve the big challenges facing our world.” The Doerrs are passionate about the need for a focus on engineering leadership to help prepare future engineers to take on roles in solving pressing global problems. Ann Doerr will serve on the center’s external advisory board to help shape its goals.

Computational and Applied Mathematics Professor Mark Embree will serve as the center’s interim director while a nationwide search is conducted to find a permanent director.

School leaders say the center and its activities will make the study of engineering even more attractive and will likely spawn an increased number of students entering engineering disciplines at Rice. The center also will help foster greater agility in developing new science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs supported by Rice resources and external grants. The center will invite leading national and international figures to speak at Rice and expose students to critically important issues, Associate Dean Bart Sinclair said. He added that the activities of the center will get students excited about engineering as a field of study that prepares them for leadership roles in addressing those issues. Plans also call for the center to coordinate interdisciplinary courses offered throughout the school of engineering. The stateof-the-art Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen will fall under the center’s organizational domain, as will additional programs in professional communications for engineers, Sinclair said. Computational and Applied Mathematics Professor Mark Embree will serve as the center’s interim director while a nationwide search is conducted to find a permanent director. “I’m grateful to Mark for providing his energy and vision to get the Leadership Center started. This allows us to get its activities underway while looking for a permanent director who will help us change the game in engineering education,” Keller said. “We are looking for a director who is committed to achieving a more diverse study body, increasing the number of industrial partners, and fostering national and international collaborations with other institutions—someone who has the determination and character to lead us in developing future engineers who will truly change the world.”

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Wotao Yin’s professional life is centered on optimization, the field in applied mathematics that modifies complex software systems to make them work more efficiently with fewer resources. “The idea,” the assistant professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics said, “is to develop ways to allow computer programs to work better and faster while at the same time using less memory storage or power.” Yin’s research involves developing more efficient algorithms for “compressed sensing” of data, or using less sensing effort to achieve equal or better results. The area has important applications for technological improvements in fields such as medical imaging, computer vision, machine learning and satellite imaging, among others, he said.

“Let’s take the example of medical applications,” Yin explained. “If we could reduce the amount of time it takes to perform an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) examination from, say, 1 hour to 10 minutes, patients who are very ill or children who couldn’t remain still could more easily be examined.” At the same time, the machines would become more efficient and could be better utilized, driving down the cost of exams while making them more accessible for treating a wider range of conditions and a larger number of patients. Yin’s optimization work doesn’t end there, but also has major national defense implications. He is part of the Riceled team that recently won $6.3 million in funding from the U.S. Army Research Office’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) for work on new techniques in opportunistic sensing. The six-institution project is led by Rice’s Richard Baraniuk, the Victor E. Cameron Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. The research could have a direct impact on the design of future military ground and aerial surveillance systems, allowing them to become more powerful, reliable and better able to distinguish friend from foe on remote, mountainous battlefields like those in Afghanistan, where U.S. forces are now fighting. “Better images equal better intelligence for commanders,” said Yin, enabling them to make decisions that would improve war-fighting capabilities while saving the lives of vulnerable troops. Yin came to Rice in 2006 from New York, after earning dual master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in operations research from Columbia University. As a student, he also worked as an optimization researcher in medical imaging and computer vision for Siemens Corporate Research in Princeton, New Jersey. Seimens’ research goes into imaging products for a number of medical uses, including oncology, cardiology, radiology, neurology and interventional medicine. Yin lauds the work environment within the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice, where he teaches introductory courses in computational engineering and linear/integer programming, and a course on convex optimization. “There’s a very good level of cooperation between various disciplines and researchers. This allows us to recruit top students who can learn and contribute in the many research projects we have under way,” he said. Yin is leading additional research using funding from a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the Office of Naval Research and the Sloan Foundation. He is also involved in the Rice-Houston Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate program, which encourages the education of women and minority graduate students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The native of China received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Nanjing University in 2001.
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Paving the way in optimization research

“[At Rice] there’s a very good level of cooperation between various disciplines and researchers.”
—Wotao Yin

Rice University is taking its long history of collaboration with the Texas Medical Center institutions to a new level with the opening of the Bioscience Research Collaborative (BRC). The university’s vision is for the BRC to become the hub of collaborative research for science and engineering in the world’s largest medical complex. “We believe that this building and the collaborative work that it will foster between Rice and other institutions of the TMC will provide a new impetus to the leadership in the medical research of the Texas Medical Center,” said Rice President David Leebron. Rice’s Department of Bioengineering, as well as faculty and researchers from the chemistry and biochemistry and cell biology departments, is moving into the building. The 477,000-square-foot, 10-story BRC was designed with inter-institutional research in mind and houses laboratories, offices and classrooms. The building features a 280-seat auditorium and a 100-seat seminar room, along with 10,000 square feet of retail space for a restaurant and shops to serve occupants. Architects designed the building with room to grow, and eventually a second research tower could be built adding up to 150,000 square feet of space.

Plans also call for a high-tech visualization center to be added, as well as an entire floor dedicated to biomedical informatics research. The building features a green roof and three levels of underground parking, and meets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. “The BRC will be at the heart of many of the current and future collaborative projects between Rice faculty and TMC researchers,” said Sallie Ann Keller, William and Stephanie Sick Dean of the George R. Brown School of Engineering. “Its presence offers exciting prospects for biomedical innovation.” In July, Texas Children’s Hospital became the first non-Rice institution to lease space in the BRC and talks with several other TMC institutions about leasing space are under way. The firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP provided architecture for the building. The Linbeck Group, a national firm with operations in Houston, was general contractor.

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ex p ands
The school of engineering

i nto new terri tory

“We believe that this building and the collaborative work that it will foster between Rice and other institutions of the TMC will provide a new impetus to the leadership in the medical research of the Texas Medical Center.”
—Rice President David Leebron

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Exploring statistics
For the seventh summer, Javier Rojo, professor of statistics, organized the Rice University Summer Institute of Statistics (RUSIS). The program brings undergraduates from around the country to campus for 10 weeks for an intensive introduction to the possibilities of a career in statistics. “As part of exposing students to careers in statistics, we take them to places like NASA and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, where they meet statisticians who describe what they do,” said Rojo, whose summer program brought 17 students to Rice. Bioinformatics is among the fields with a growing need for statisticians, said Rojo. The program is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Security Agency.

A summer of encouraging engineering
Although most students leave campus for the summer, Rice University remains a very busy place.

Mentoring students in the lab
Another summer program at Rice is aimed at students from predominantly Hispanic South Texas magnet schools and others from inner-city Houston high schools. Managed by the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and Hamill Foundation-funded program allows students to participate in bioengineering research. Jennifer West, department chair and Isabel C. Cameron Professor of Bioengineering at Rice, is the HHMI professor leading this initiative. The program uses a mentorship teaching model in which graduate students and post docs are paired with high school students in campus labs. Thirty-two high school students participated, including pupils from the Science Academy of South Texas, Milby High School, YES College Preparatory School and Harmony Science Academy. Tours of Texas Medical Center labs were also arranged, and students attended scientific demonstrations.

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Thinking about math in new ways
Summer Math Days brought 20 high school students from the Houston Independent School District to campus for three days of looking at math differently. “The idea,” said Béatrice Rivière, associate professor of computational and applied mathematics (CAAM), “is to introduce students to a variety of interesting topics in mathematics, like mathematics in art, mathematics in car racing, mathematical modeling in biology, mathematical analysis, parallel computing, knots and toys.” Faculty members and graduate students from CAAM and the Department of Mathematics gave lectures and conducted workshops. Ahmad Qamar, a junior from Debakey High School, said: “Some of the presentations were mind-bogglingly amazing, like soap bubbles. The message we got is that math is a way of thinking rather than simply a dry or rote subject matter.”

Easing into engineering
The Engineering Summer Bridge Program was established to help incoming freshmen transition smoothly into the university environment, said Carolyn Nichol, the program’s organizational director and associate director of education for the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology. Thirteen students participated in the six-week pilot program. “There were two parts to the program – Engineering 101, which is an introduction to chemistry, physics and calculus, and Engineering 102, which is an open-ended design experience,” Nichol said. Eight of the students in the program were scholarship athletes, and the others were from the greater Houston area. Several faculty members and a high school teacher conducted the classes, which included the design of a prosthetic arm using Lego’s Mindstorm.

Training teachers
At the same time, 12 high-school teachers worked in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen for two weeks, designing and building prosthetic hands as part of the Rice Engineering Design Experience (REDE). The goal of the workshop was to give teachers the skills to motivate students and encourage them to pursue studies in engineering. Rice and the Southeast Texas Regional STEM Center organized the workshop as a response to Texas’ recently enacted “four-by-four” program that requires students to take four courses in math and four in the sciences to graduate from high school. “The usual science courses—biology, chemistry and physics—account for three years,” said James Young, director of REDE and professor of electrical and computer engineering. “The fourth has to be experimental or experiential in nature, and one of the five approved courses is engineering design and problem solving. Very few high school teachers are prepared to teach engineering design.”

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Rice showed its strength as a research university recently when it won more than $9 million in research grants from the Department of Defense, or about 3.5 percent of the total funding awarded under the department’s Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. Rice is the lead institution on one MURI project and a member institution on two others. The MURI wins come in areas where the university has notable research strengths: digital signal processing, computation, nanotechnology, quantum magnetism and high-temperature superconductivity. Rice is the lead institution on a $6.3 million MURI project that aims to build upon advances in sensor design, signal processing, communications and robotics by developing new techniques for “opportunistic sensing.” The project, which is funded by the Army Research Office, is expected to directly impact the design of future ground and aerial surveillance systems, making them more powerful, more reliable and better able to distinguish friend from foe. The principal investigator on the project is Richard Baraniuk, the Victor E. Cameron Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Co-principal investigators at Rice are Lydia Kavraki, the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science and professor of bioengineering; Wotao Yin, assistant professor of computational and applied mathematics; and Volkan Cevher, research scientist in electrical and computer engineering. Member institutions are the University of Maryland, College Park, the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, Yale University, Duke University and the University of California, Los Angeles.

DSP, nanotech drive MURI success
Leading a Rice team on one of two other MURI projects is Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. He will lead Rice’s $2.2 million effort to forge new techniques for creating graphene nanodevices. The University of California, Berkeley is the lead institution for the project, which is funded by the Office of Naval Research. Rice’s co-principal investigators include James Tour, the Chao Professor of Chemistry and professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science, and Boris Yakobson, professor in mechanical engineering and materials science and of chemistry. Emilia Morosan, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is leading Rice’s $1 million effort to create new and better high-temperature superconductors. The project is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and led by Stanford University. All MURI award amounts are subject to negotiation between the academic institutions and the Department of Defense research offices making the awards. The five-year grants resulted from a highly competitive program in which the department received more than 150 proposals.

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$16M in DARPA funding picks up PACE
With $16 million in funding from DARPA, Rice’s compiler “dream team” is developing a new set of tools to improve the performance of virtually any application running on any microprocessor. The funding is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Architecture Aware Compiler Environment Program. The PACE project—short for “platform-aware compilation environment”—centers on ubiquitous computer programs called compilers. All microprocessors—not just those in PCs but also the ones powering cell phones, game systems, cars and electronic toys—have their own compilers to translate human-written computer applications into the binary 1s and 0s that a processor can execute. “To use a new computer system effectively, an applications programmer needs a high-quality compiler, one that can translate the application in a way that achieves a reasonable fraction of the available performance,” said Keith Cooper, the John and Ann Doerr Professor in Computational Engineering and a principal investigator on the PACE project. “Unfortunately, it typically takes about five years to develop a high-quality compiler for a new computer system, and because that’s longer than the effective life cycle of most microprocessors, we rarely see a case where applications make good use of a processor’s resources.” The variety of microprocessors only adds to the problem. Most electronic devices have a specialized “embedded” microprocessor. New personal computers and laptops typically contain two or more general-purpose processors on a “multicore” chip from Intel or AMD, as well as a high-performance graphics processor, a sound card processor and other specialized processors. Sony’s PlayStation 3 game system has an IBM Cell Broadband Engine that contains one general-purpose microprocessor and eight specialized processors. Cooper said the military’s interest in funding PACE stems from its heavy reliance on computing, ranging from supercomputers for global weather forecasts to portable devices used by infantry.

“Our goal is to enable PACE tools to be used as a substitute for the time-consuming human expertise that is currently needed to improve the quality of compilers for any given platform.”
—Vivek Sarkar

Krishna Palem, Rice’s Ken and Audrey Kennedy Professor of Computer Science, said, “It is a rare treat to be working with this ‘dream team’ and continue Rice’s rich tradition in compiler research. PACE involves many innovations using radical ideas intended to allow compilers to learn and adapt, much as humans do during infancy.” The PACE “dream team” includes researchers from Rice, Texas Instruments, ET International, Ohio State University and Stanford University. Rice’s team consists of five pre-eminent compiler researchers: Keith Cooper, John Mellor-Crummey, Krishna Palem, Vivek Sarkar and Linda Torczon. Vivek Sarkar, Rice’s E.D. Butcher Chair in Engineering and professor of computer science, likened PACE’s challenge to the famous test computer scientist Alan Turing posed in 1950: A computer could only be said to be truly intelligent if its actions were indistinguishable from a human’s. “This is akin to a Turing Test for compilers,” Sarkar said. “Our goal is to enable PACE tools to be used as a substitute for the timeconsuming human expertise that is currently needed to improve the quality of compilers for any given platform.”
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RIce RefINeS
ramon GONZALEZ

Turning biofuels production waste into profit
In a move that promises to change the economics of biodiesel refining, chemical engineers at Rice have developed a set of techniques for cleanly converting problematic biofuels waste into chemicals that fetch a profit. The latest research has yielded a fermentation process that allows E. coli and other enteric bacteria to convert glycerin—the major waste byproduct of biodiesel production—into formate, succinate and other valuable organic acids. “Biodiesel producers used to sell their leftover glycerin, but the rapid increase in biodiesel production has left them paying to get rid of it,” said lead researcher Ramon Gonzalez, the William W. Akers Assistant Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. “The new metabolic pathways we have uncovered paved the way for the development of new technologies for converting this waste product into high-value chemicals.” About one pound of glycerin, also known as glycerol, is created for every 10 pounds of biodiesel produced. According to the National Biodiesel Board, U.S. companies produced about 450 million gallons of biodiesel in 2007, and about 60 new plants with a production capacity of 1.2 billion gallons are slated to open by 2010. In 2007, Gonzalez’s team announced a new method of glycerol fermentation that used E. coli to produce ethanol, another biofuel. Even though the process was very efficient, with operational costs estimated to be about 40 percent less than those of producing ethanol from corn, Gonzalez said new fermentation technologies that produce high-value chemicals like succinate and formate hold even more promise for biodiesel refiners because those chemicals are more profitable than ethanol.

“With fundamental research, we have identified the pathways and mechanisms that mediate glycerol fermentation in E. coli,” Gonzalez said. “This knowledge base is enabling our efforts to develop new technologies for converting glycerol into highvalue chemicals.” Gonzalez said scientists previously believed that the only organisms that could ferment glycerol were those capable of producing a chemical called 1,3-propanediol, also known as 1,3-PDO. Unfortunately, neither the bacterium E. coli nor the yeast Saccharomyces—the two workhorse organisms of biotechnology—were able to produce 1,3-PDO. Gonzalez’s research revealed a previously unknown metabolic pathway for glycerol fermentation, a pathway that uses 1,2-PDO, a chemical similar to 1,3-PDO, that E. coli can produce. “The reason this probably hadn’t been discovered before is that E. coli requires a particular set of fermentation conditions for this pathway to be activated,” Gonzalez said. “It wasn’t easy to zero in on these conditions, so it wasn’t the sort of process that someone would stumble upon by accident.” Once the new metabolic pathways were identified, Gonzalez’s team began using metabolic engineering to design new versions of E. coli that could produce a range of high-value products. For example, while run-of-the-mill E. coli ferments glycerol to produce very little succinate, Gonzalez’s team has created a new version of the bacterium that produces up to 100 times more. Succinate is a high-demand chemical feedstock that’s used to make everything from noncorrosive airport deicers and nontoxic solvents to plastics, drugs and food additives. Most succinate today comes from nonrenewable fossil fuels. “Our goal goes beyond using this for a single process,” Gonzalez said. “We want to use the technology as a platform for the ‘green’ production of a whole range of high-value products.” Technologies based on Gonzalez’s work have been licensed to Glycos Biotechnologies Inc., a Houston-based startup company. The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Science Foundation, Rice University and Glycos Biotechnologies.

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bIofueLS ReSeaRch
pedro ALVAREZ

Will biofuels lead to a ‘drink or drive’ choice?
Rice University scientists warn that the United States must be careful that the new emphasis on developing biofuels as an alternative to imported oil takes into account potential damage to the nation’s water resources. “The ongoing, rapid growth in biofuels production could have farreaching environmental and economic repercussions, and it will likely highlight the interdependence and growing tension between energy and water security,” said a report titled “The Water Footprint of Biofuels: A Drink or Drive Issue?” The report, written by Pedro Alvarez, the George R. Brown Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and three colleagues was funded by Rice University’s Shell Center for Sustainability. The researchers asked if increased biofuel-driven agriculture will affect water-resource availability and degrade water quality. They pointed out that fuel crops require large quantities of water and that water pollution is exacerbated by agricultural drainage containing fertilizers, pesticides and sediment. “These potential drawbacks,” which the authors labeled the “water footprint,” must be “balanced by biofuels’ significant potential to ease dependence on foreign oil and improve trade balance while mitigating air pollution and reducing fossil carbon emissions to the atmosphere.” The report analyzed the amount of water needed to grow particular crops used to produce biofuels and noted that certain crops yield more biofuel energy while using less land, fertilizer and water. “Thus, from a water supply perspective,” the authors said, “the ideal fuel crops would be drought-tolerant, high-yield plants grown on little irrigation water.” To demonstrate their point, the authors estimated it takes about 50 gallons of water to produce enough irrigated-corn ethanol in Nebraska to fuel an average car for one mile. Given differing land use practices and other factors, that number decreases to 23 gallons for Iowa-grown corn and rises to 115 gallons for Texas-grown sorghum. The debate over biofuels must also “recognize the impact of increased agricultural activity on water quality as well as water consumption,” the authors said. Raising biofuel crops in some areas will require greater use of fertilizers, with the runoff affecting local aquifers and even coastal regions like the Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it warned. The report acknowledged that some biofuel sources, like switchgrass and other lignocellulosic options, can “deliver more potential biofuel energy with lower requirements for agricultural land, agrichemicals and water.” Accordingly, the authors urged that crops be chosen based on their appropriateness to the local climate and that producers raise crops that can be sustained by rainfall rather than irrigation. The report called on policymakers to evaluate the water footprint as they devise an environmentally sustainable biofuels program. “Through energy conservation and careful planning that includes adoption of agricultural practices and crop choices that reduce water consumption and mitigate water pollution from agrichemicals, and identification of the local and regional water resources that will be needed to meet the biofuel mandate,” the authors said, “we can have our drive and drink our water too.” The report was supported by a fellowship from the Baker Institute Energy Forum and by the Shell Center for Sustainability at Rice University. It is available at http:// cohesion.rice.edu/centersandinst/shellcenter/research. cfm?doc_id=11975. Alvarez’s co-authors were Susan Powers, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Clarkson University; Joel Burken, professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology; and Rosa Dominguez-Faus, a graduate student at Rice. Amy Myers Jaffe, the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow in Energy Studies at the James A. Baker III Institute, also contributed to the report.

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“Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve) was very angry when Warren Buffett called derivatives ‘economic weapons of mass destruction.’ Greenspan thought that options were terrific. I think that’s been proved to be wrong,” said Thompson.

It’s all in the data
There’s no sweet vindication in the nation’s current economic straits for James Thompson, who could be justified in saying, “I told you so.” But there are lessons to be learned, especially for those who intend to invest in a bear market. Thompson has been a chief critic of the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) for decades, and he blames money managers’ religious adherence to the theory—which he said is taught as gospel at business schools—for many of the nation’s troubles. EMH is the concept that stock markets assimilate new information quickly enough that the current trading price of a security tends to be an accurate reflection of its real value. Such a self-correcting mechanism should make it difficult for investors to beat the market, but Thompson and other nonbelievers said EMH ignores the kind of deep research, including computational, that can help investors make real gains. It also allows the kind of folly that, as Thompson wrote several years ago, “frequently required government interventions of great complexity.” “This business we’re in right now was eminently avoidable,” said Thompson, who doesn’t hesitate to let his curmudgeonly side out when talking about the economy. His work in statistics over nearly 40 years at Rice has addressed subjec ts ranging from corporate process control to cancer and AIDS research. Thompson said the financial pressures of running two wars has made the current crisis particularly acute. “I really think that’s what got us. In the fullness of time, the price of housing—which is cyclical—would have gone back up. The values would have largely been recaptured,” he said. “But the $3 trillion cost of the war is an enormous hit. It’s like a surcharge on the federal government of 15 percent a year.” Thompson and several colleagues loosed a particularly vitriolic attack in 2006 with the publication of a paper titled “Nobels for Nonsense” in the Journal of Keynesian Economics, which laid blame for the derivatives collapse on the Black-Scholes-Merton option-pricing model—“the granddaddy of all the derivative formulas”—that won a Nobel Prize for its authors in 1997.
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Greenspan was mistaken, he said, in organizing the $3.5 billion bailout of the failed Long-Term Capital Management in 1998, a hedge fund that had both Robert Merton, a Harvard professor, and Myron Scholes of Stanford listed as advisers. The similar collapse of Enron a few years later “was too large for even Chairman Greenspan to make disappear,” Thompson and his colleagues wrote in “Nobels for Nonsense.” The flaws of Black-Scholes-Merton, they wrote in another article, “gave encouragement to accounting firms to do bizarre things,” and government pressure on lending institutions to increase home ownership by selling subprime mortgages “to persons who had no reasonable hope of sustaining them” exacerbated the problem. None of the efficiency theories stands up to analysis of the long-term historical data, said Thompson, who teaches that very kind of analysis to Rice students who will not necessarily become financial wizards but instead plan careers in physics, engineering, chemistry and other professions. “A lot of people who get their degrees in theoretical physics are smart enough to think they’re never going to make a living that way,” said Thompson, noting students last spring routinely made up to 15 percent gains in their experimental portfolios. “We’re trying to teach something different from the classical finance course taught in business schools. We’re trying to let the data speak to us and to form our models from the data, as opposed to saying, ‘This is our model, and the data had better conform to it,’” he said. “This is essentially a portfolio design course, and it just takes long positions. That is to say, it just buys and sells stocks. It doesn’t short stocks or any of those nice, round, jolly games that people like to do.” Thompson said vindication will come when his kind of course is taught in finance departments and business schools. “It’s nice to know what the truth is, but it’s even better if you’re able to share it.”

Wireless at WARP speed
Nothing kills innovation like reinventing the wheel. Until several years ago, electronics researchers testing new high-speed wireless technologies had to build every test system from scratch. “It was incredibly frustrating,” said Ashutosh Sabharwal, director of Rice University’s Center for Multimedia Communication (CMC). CMC set out to change that in 2006 by creating a turnkey, opensource platform. In two years, the platform—dubbed WARP—has attracted the attention of Nokia, MIT, Toyota, NASA and Ericsson, and already it has been used to test everything from low-cost wireless Internet in rural India to “unwired” spacecraft. Sabharwal, the lead investigator on the federally funded WARP project, said he and his CMC colleagues were among the lucky few in academia who could afford the high cost of entry into wireless research in 2006. “Collectively, it was a big waste of time and effort, and there were a lot of people who simply couldn’t afford to play,” Sabharwal said. “Some of our previous research hinted at the possibilities of an open-access platform, so we had a clear goal when we made our proposal to the National Science Foundation.” WARP stands for “wireless open-access research platform,” and it resembles the guts of a desktop computer. What makes WARP boards so effective is their flexibility. When researchers need to test several kinds of radio transmitters, wireless routers and network access points, they need only to write a program that permits the WARP board to become each device. Motorola is using the system to test a new architecture for wireless Internet in rural India, and NASA is using WARP to look for ways to save weight, cost and complexity in the wiring systems in spacecraft. Making WARP a reality wasn’t easy. Students and staffers from the research groups of Sabharwal and CMC faculty members Ed Knightly, Lin Zhong, Joseph Cavallaro and Behnaam Aazhang designed the WARP hardware and built the back-end systems, tools and software that allow various components of WARP to work together. CMC was able get a version of WARP ready to release to the research community within a year of its initial NSF funding. After early success, Sabharwal spent months seeking a company to manufacture WARP boards. “Our philosophy from the beginning had been to drive the cost lower and lower, to sell the boards for as little as possible in order to get them out there,” Sabharwal said. “Everyone we contacted seemed to want just the opposite, to mark them up as much as possible and sell to the few people that could afford high prices.” With CMC researchers touting their work at conferences and workshops, colleagues around the world expressed interest in the boards. Sabharwal said CMC began producing a few, even as it was seeking a production deal with an established company. The lab wound up selling equipment to some 40 university and corporate research groups before one of the WARP architects, Patrick Murphy, founded Houston-based Mango Communications in mid-2008 to take over production of the boards. Sabharwal said CMC has NSF funding through 2010 to further develop WARP, and will put the final touches on a new set of tools that will allow researchers to control the boards remotely from any location. That will permit them to fulfill one of CMC’s longstanding goals—installing the flexible boards into existing test networks like the CMC-built high-speed network that nonprofit Technology for All operates for more than 4,000 users in Houston’s East End neighborhood of Pecan Park.
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VIGRE reshapes the future of math research
“Participating really helped me see firsthand what mathematics research was and what I could do with it.”
—Samuel Feng
Helping to change the perception of mathematicians as chalksmeared academics striving in splendid isolation, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has set out to improve how the U.S. develops math researchers. And Rice is at the forefront of the effort, which is known as VIGRE, or Vertical Integration of Research and Education. Under its auspices, the university’s mathematicians and statisticians have been working hard to change from the long-standing sink-or-swim approach found in mathematical fields to one that involves collaboration, mentoring and teamwork. The effort is working, said Steve Cox, a computational and applied mathematics (CAAM) professor and a principal investigator in the program. Faculty members in the departments of CAAM, Math and Statistics now regularly integrate their research and curricula for undergraduate students, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. They have jointly organized new courses, seminars and laboratories into every level of study, and students who might have dropped out of the various disciplines before have become excited and involved in interdisciplinary research. “In a relatively short time, we have seen a major change in the way Rice faculty, graduate students, undergrads and post-docs collaborate,” Cox said. “It seems teaching mathematicians to play well with others really does help everyone advance. It’s what we should have been doing all along.” Rice first received a $2.3 million grant in 2002 to fund five years of the VIGRE program. And last year, the program’s success was recognized by NSF officials who renewed the grant for $5 million over five more years. At the heart of the VIGRE strategy is organizing students into small, interdisciplinary teams or seminar sections called PFUGs—pronounced like the word “fugue,” and derived from that musical term, meaning an idea that is introduced by one voice and developed by others. The approach engages undergraduates in mathematical research, increasing the breadth of research activities available to graduate students, while providing post-docs with mentors and eager mentees. Students have the opportunity to practice their research presentations with their faculty advisors and professional communication coaches before presenting their work to their peers. The talks are recorded, with students receiving feedback to improve their performances. Six post-doctoral students, 18 graduate students and as many as 30 undergraduates currently participate in VIGRE at Rice, and some credit the program with helping them to decide upon a mathematics future. “Participating really helped me see firsthand what mathematics research was and what I could do with it,” said Samuel Feng, a 2007 Rice graduate now studying toward a graduate degree in computational and applied math at Princeton University. “I also built great, lasting relationships along the way.” Rice engineering sophomore Tyler Young agrees with Feng’s assessment. “I gained a ton of valuable experience in working with professors, graduate students and other undergraduates this past summer,” he said. “It taught me how to approach complicated real-life problems. I was fortunate enough to work with a great team on my project which really helped me develop my teamwork and communication skills.” The success of VIGRE at Rice has led to its principles being expanded to other areas of the engineering curriculum, said Sallie Ann Keller, William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering and professor of statistics. “The VIGRE program allows research and education to be seamlessly integrated into the educational experience, from undergraduate to postgraduate levels. We want to make it a model for others to follow.”

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Shopping for an iPod or Louis Vuitton handbag in Abu Dhabi? Not a problem. But finding a 6-foot piece of 3-inch diameter clear PVC pipe for demonstrating a pipe inspection robot? That’s a daunting task if you’re an engineering student visiting from another part of the world. And it’s just one of the challenges students faced in the iDesign project, a multi-institutional, inter-disciplinary capstone design course. Engineering students in Houston, Paris, Abu Dhabi and Tokyo spent the past academic year in long-distance collaboration, working on problems posed by Schlumberger Oil Services Inc., then met in Abu Dhabi to assemble and test the prototypes they had created. iDesign was spearheaded by Fathi Ghorbel, professor of mechanical engineering at Rice University. “My objective in all of this, in addition to developing the new technology, was to increase the learning benefits for the students,” he said. “The idea was for them to learn something in a global research setting, both industrial and academic.” Rice seniors in Ghorbel’s design course worked with students from École Centrale, École Nationale Supérieur d’Arts et Métiers (ENSAM), École Supérieure d’Électricité (Supelec), Tokyo Institute of Technology, and United Arab Emirates University (UAEU). Engineers from Schlumberger centers in Sugar Land, Texas, Paris, France, and Abu Dhabi, UAE advised the students, along with faculty members from their respective institutions.

fathi

GHORBEL

The design projects in the course addressed tough challenges the oil exploration giant Schlumberger faces in the field. “The emphasis was on innovation, creativity and decision making,” Ghorbel said. Two teams worked on pipe inspection robots capable of determining the integrity of functioning pipes. The robots were to be self-propelled and computer controlled so that they could navigate forwards and backwards inside a 30-foot long pipe that varied between 3 and 9 inches in diameter. A third team was to build a hole-finder robot that, when faced with a pipe that split into two branches, could identify and navigate a desired path. A fourth robot was to travel down a borehole, free a cable that was stuck to the hole’s surface by mud cake and take actions to prevent further sticking. Two teams were asked to design disposable logging sensors, miniature tools for measuring and recording pressure, time, temperature and velocity at the bottom of a well and delivering the information back to the surface for analysis. The devices were to be light enough to float to the surface after an exploration trip and low cost. The associated electronics were to be fast enough to meet depth resolution constraints. In the iDesign course, students learned formal design methodologies, project management and effective teamwork. The teams overcame the challenges of working in four different time zones, negotiating cultural differences, communicating across language barriers, dealing with incompatible school calendars and delivering functional prototypes under tight time constraints. Early in May, the teams converged on Schlumberger’s Middle East Learning Center in Abu Dhabi to assemble, present and demonstrate their projects to a large audience of engineers and educators from around the world. Ratna Sarkar, associate dean for global initiatives for Rice engineering attended the session. She said, “The students got a taste of working with globally dispersed team members on real-world problems . . . this is what globalization means. Those who took this course got a head start on how to solve problems and deliver results despite geographical, cultural and language barriers.” When asked about their experiences in the course, the students agreed that it was a worthwhile effort from which they grew as engineers. Keson Choy, Rice mechanical engineering student said, “This has been a great experience, and it really added another dimension to my undergraduate education.” Ahmed Haram, electrical engineering major from UAEU said, “This was an opportunity an engineer should not miss. I would recommend to it others.”

Rice capstone design goes global

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NSFCAREER

award winners
Daniel Cohan, Oleg Igoshin and Luay Nahkleh, assistant professors in the George R. Brown School of Engineering, have been awarded National Science Foundation CAREER Awards. The NSF CAREER program recognizes junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research and excellence in education. Cohan, in civil and environmental engineering, will receive $497,000 over five years for research investigating how the atmosphere responds to changes in pollutant emissions. He hopes to find new methods for quantifying emissions trends and evaluating how ozone and particulate matter respond to those trends. Cohan worked as an air-quality expert for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and was a Fulbright Scholar in Australia. He earned a doctorate in atmospheric sciences from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2004 and received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard in 1998. Igoshin, in bioengineering, will receive $640,000 over five years for research into bacteria and how they “self-organize” into swarms or biofilms. He hopes to use the grant to expand biology education and attract diverse students. “Answering complex biological questions in the post-genomic era will also require a new generation of life scientists with cross-disciplinary training in combining experimental and computational methods,” he said. Igoshin did postdoctoral work in biomedical engineering at the University of California, Davis. He earned a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a master’s degree in chemical physics from the Feinberg Graduate School at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Nakhleh, a computer scientist who works in computational evolutionary biology, will focus on the evolution of networks with his CAREER Award research. He will receive $500,000 over the next five years. Nakhleh will use the grant to develop tools for the evolutionary analysis of such interactions as those between proteins or genes. The project, he wrote, “will result in the development of new courses focused on evolutionary analysis of biological networks.” Nakhleh, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, joined Rice in 2004 and also holds appointments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Baylor College of Medicine. He received an Early Career Principal Investigator award from the Department of Energy in 2006.

daniel

COHAN

oleg IGOSHI N

luay N AHKLEH

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PA L EM
IEEE WALLACE MCDOWELL AWARD Rice University computer scientist Krishna Palem, who also heads the Institute for Sustainable Nanoelectronics (ISNE) at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, has won the prestigious 2008 W. Wallace McDowell Award for his pioneering contributions to the growing field of embedded computing. The IEEE Computer Society’s highest technical honor, the W. Wallace McDowell Award, has a list of past winners that reads like a Who’s Who of industry giants. They include Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore (1978); microprocessor inventor Federico Faggin (1994); World Wide Web inventor Tim BernersLee (1996); Lotus Notes creator and Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie (2000); supercomputer pioneers Seymour Cray (1968), Gene Amdahl (1976) and Ken Kennedy (1995), and the architect of IBM’s mainframe computer, Frederick Brooks (1970). “Krishna Palem continues Rice’s tradition of excellence in the highest international levels of computing and information technology,” said Provost Eugene Levy. “Dr. Palem’s contributions, which are helping to vastly expand the benefits of ubiquitous embedded computing, follow in the footsteps of Rice’s previous McDowell Award winner, Ken Kennedy, who helped to vastly extend the usability of computing languages. This award acknowledges Rice’s continued international leadership in information technology.” Embedded computers are special-purpose microchips. Unlike the processors in desktop computers, they are designed to carry out dedicated tasks. Embedded processors are inside thousands of consumer and industrial products, from modems and toys to automobiles and jet fighters. Palem won the W. Wallace McDowell Award “for pioneering contributions to the algorithmic, compilation and architectural foundations of embedded computing.” “It is humbling to be in the company of this group of pioneers,” said Palem, Rice’s Ken and Audrey Kennedy Professor of Computing. “As much as this award recognizes the impact of research accomplished with generations of my students, it also heralds the maturation of embedded computing founded on scholarship, innovation and societal value.” Palem joined Rice’s faculty in 2007, just months after Kennedy’s death from cancer. In late 2007, Palem announced the formation of ISNE with colleagues at NTU. A joint research initiative between Rice and NTU, ISNE aims to reduce the design, production costs and, above all, the energy consumption of embedded microchips. In February 2008, Palem’s “probabilistic” microchips—a new design that trades off computational precision for energy savings—were named to MIT Technology Review’s annual list of top 10 technologies that are most likely to “alter industries, fields of research and even the way we live.” The chips, dubbed “probabilistic CMOS,” or PCMOS, piggyback on the “complementary metal-oxide semiconductor” (CMOS) technology that chipmakers already use. The first tests of PCMOS prototypes, which were published in February, found the chips used 30 times less electricity than today’s best technology.

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Naomi Halas, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and professor of chemistry and bioengineering, has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Halas is a pioneer in the field of photonics and plasmonics whose lab deals in biomedicine, advanced display technology, solar power and other applications dependent on the nanoscale manipulation of light. Recent breakthroughs have led to human trials of a novel cancer treatment and have suggested the possibility of an “invisibility cloak.” Halas expects to attend the AAAS induction ceremony in Cambridge, Mass., in October. Among this year’s 212 new fellows and 19 foreign honorary members are Rice alumnus, John Doerr, James Earl Jones, Thomas Pynchon and Emmylou Harris. Halas earned her Ph.D. in physics from Bryn Mawr College in 1987 and joined the Rice faculty in 1989 as an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. She is the founder and director of the Rice University Laboratory for Nanophotonics. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Society for Optical Engineering and the Optical Society of America.

naomi

HALAS

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES

The Association of Computing Machinery has inducted Vivek Sarkar, the E.D. Butcher Professor of Computer Science, a 2008 ACM Fellow. Sarkar was recognized for contributions to parallel computing. He is among 44 computer scientists worldwide to receive the honor. “These men and women are the inventors of technologies that impact the way people live and work throughout the world,” said ACM president Wendy Hall. Sarkar is the creator of the Habanero project at Rice. It addresses multicore software challenges by developing new programming technologies—languages, compilers, managed runtimes, concurrency libraries and tools—that support portable parallel abstractions for multicore hardware. Before joining the Rice faculty in 2007, Sarkar was Senior Manager of Programming Technologies at IBM Research where he led research efforts in high productivity programming models and tools as part of DARPA HPCS program. His past projects at IBM include the X10 programming language, the Jikes Research Virtual Machine, the ASTI optimizer, and the PTRAN automatic parallelization system. He holds a B.Tech. degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, a master’s degree from the University of WisconsinMadison and a doctorate from Stanford University.

SARKAR

vivek

ACM FELLOW

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c. sidney

BURRUS
IEEE KILBY MEDAL
When some of us at Rice University reach for our cell phones, we know who to thank. Research by C. Sidney Burrus, dean emeritus of the George R. Brown School of Engineering and the Maxfield and Oshman Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering, helped make them possible. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has recognized Burrus’ contributions by awarding him the 2009 Jack S. Kilby Signal Processing Medal. Named after the Texas Instruments engineer and Nobel Prize-winning inventor of the integrated circuit, handheld calculator and thermal printer, the honor is among the most prestigious given by the society, which celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. The honor surprised Burrus. “I got an e-mail from the Kilby committee, and I thought, ‘Oh, they want me to write a letter of recommendation for somebody.’ Then I opened the mail, and I was shocked.” Burrus’ work at Rice, which spans 40 years as professor, researcher and dean, is notable not only for advances in the area of digital signal processing (DSP), but for his stewardship of students while he and his wife, Mary Lee, served as masters of Lovett College. Burrus earned his doctorate at Stanford University after getting his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Rice in 1957 and his master’s in 1960. He joined the Rice faculty in 1965. Burrus has researched DSP for more than 30 years, specializing in design and implementation of filters and signal-processing algorithms that led to advances in speech recognition, sonar and radar, sensor arrays, digital audio and video, seismic data gathering and biomedical systems. Burrus continues to teach one class per semester on signal processing and writes for Connexions, Rice’s open-education initiative.

IEEE FE LLOWS
Two George R. Brown School of Engineering professors, Edward Knightly and Moshe Y. Vardi, have been elected 2009 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) fellows. Knightly, a professor in electrical and computer engineering, and of computer science, was recognized for his contributions to multihop wireless networks, the IEEE board said. Knightly’s research interests are in the areas of mobile and wireless networks and high-performance and denial-of-service resilient protocol design. He leads the Rice Networks Group, whose current projects include deployment, operation and management of a large-scale urban mesh network in a Houston under-resourced community. The group is also developing a clean-slate-design hardware platform for high-performance multihop wireless. Knightly received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996 and was recognized with a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 1997. He has been a Sloan Fellow since 2001. Vardi, the Karen Ostrum George Professor in Computational Engineering, professor of computer science and director of the Ken Kennedy Institute for Information Technology, was recognized for his contributions to the development of logic as a unifying framework for modeling computational systems. He chaired the Department of Computer Science at Rice from January 1994 until June 2002. Prior to joining Rice in 1993, he was at the IBM Almaden Research Center, where he managed the Mathematics and Related Computer Science Department. Vardi’s research interests include database systems, computational-complexity theory, multiagent systems, and design specification and verification. Vardi received his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1981. He is the author or co-author of more than 300 technical papers, as well as two books, “Reasoning About Knowledge” and “Finite Model Theory and Its Applications.” He has been named co-winner of the 2006 LICS Test-of-Time Award and the 2008 Association for Computer Machinery PODS Mendelzon Test-of-Time Award.

edward

KNI GHTLY

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moshe y. VARDI

farinaz

K OUS H A NFAR
ONR YOUNG INVESTIGATOR AWARD
Farinaz Koushanfar, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and of computer science, has earned the highly competitive Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (YIP) for 2009. The YIP attracts outstanding new faculty members to naval research. It encourages their teaching and research careers by providing support for three years, with additional funding for equipment and collaborative research with a Navy lab. Koushanfar won the award for her proposal “Coordinated Statistical Modeling and Reconfiguration for Data Integrity in Cognitive Radio Networks.” Koushanfar was one of only 15 to receive the award across all engineering and science fields. Koushanfar was invited to the National Academy of Engineering’s 2009 U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium. The Academy invites a select group of young leaders in engineering from industry, academe and government labs to discuss pioneering research in various engineering fields. The symposium was held in Irvine, Calif., in September. Koushanfar’s previous awards include the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, and in 2008 she was named to MIT Technology Review’s list of the world’s 35 Top Young Innovators. Koushanfar earned the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Young Faculty Award in 2007. She is the founder of ExCel, a networking organization for ECE women that aims to provide community, mentoring and cultural enrichment for students at Rice.

ASEE CHEMSTATIONS AWARD

MI K OS

antonios

Rice professor Antonios Mikos won the prestigious Chemstations Lectureship Award given by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Sponsored by Chemstations Inc., a maker of software for chemical process and molecular simulation, the annual award goes to a distinguished engineering educator. Mikos is the Louis Calder Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and director of the John W. Cox Laboratory for Biomedical Engineering. His research focuses on the synthesis, processing and evaluation of new biomaterials for use as scaffolds for tissue engineering, as carriers for controlled drug delivery and as nonviral vectors for gene therapy. He earned his doctorate at Purdue University and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School before joining Rice as an assistant professor in 1992. “This is a great honor for me and my laboratory, and I’m delighted to have the opportunity to give a presentation about my scholarship,” Mikos said. Mikos, author of a standard textbook, “Biomaterials: The Intersection of Biology and Materials Science,” noted that the nation’s first graduate course in tissue engineering was offered at Rice. The Chemstations award honors an educator who demonstrates achievement through “the formulation of fundamental theory or principles, improvements of lasting influence to chemical engineering education … and the demonstration of success as a teacher.” “I am most thankful to Kyriacos Zygourakis for nominating me for this award,” Mikos said. Zygourakis is the A.J. Hartsook Chair and chairman of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.
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S IAM FE LLOWS
Richard Tapia and William Symes are among the 182 inaugural members of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Fellows Program. Tapia is University Professor, the MaxfieldOshman Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics and director of Rice’s Center for Excellence and Equity in Education. He is only the sixth person and the first mathematician in Rice’s history to be named University Professor, the university’s highest academic rank. Tapia, who joined Rice in 1970, is a former member of the nation’s highest scientific governing body, the National Science Board, and is the first Hispanic elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering. Symes, Rice’s Noah Harding Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics, is an internationally renowned researcher who is best known for his work in the field of computational seismology. Symes, who joined Rice in 1983, is the founding director of The Rice Inversion Project (TRIP), an industrial research consortium sponsored by firms in the oil and computer industries. Founded in 1992, TRIP aims to develop mathematical models that petroleum geologists can use to quickly and accurately interpret large seismic datasets.

richard TA PIA

william

SYM ES

SIAM fellowship is an honor reserved for the most distinguished members of the 12,000-member society, which was established in 1952. “The announcement of the first class of SIAM Fellows is an important milestone for the applied mathematics and computational science community,” said SIAM President Douglas Arnold.

SLOAN RE SEA RC H FELLO W S
Eugene Ng and Wotao Yin, assistant professors in the George R. Brown School of Engineering, have been awarded prestigious 2009 Sloan Research Fellowships. They were among 118 faculty members the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation selected this year from hundreds of nominees at more than 60 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Recipients are working on research in physics, chemistry, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, computer science, economics, mathematics and neuroscience.

eugene N G

Ng, who holds appointments in the departments of computer science and electrical and computer engineering, was recognized for developing new network models, network architectures and holistic networked systems. He hopes the work will lead to new global computer network infrastructures. Ng won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2005. He received a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Washington in 1996, and a master’s degree and doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1998 and 2003, respectively.

Yin, in the department of computational and applied mathematics, studies numerical optimization and its applications in inverse problems, such as compressed sensing, image processing, computer vision and machine learning. Yin earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Nanjing University in 2001. He received a master’s degree in operations research from Columbia University in 2003, and in 2006 was awarded a second master’s degree and a doctorate, both in operations research. While studying at Columbia, he worked as a researcher in optimization for medical imaging and computer vision for Siemens Corporation. He won an NSF CAREER Award last year.

wotao Y IN

Ng and Yin join a distinguished list of Rice faculty members who have won Sloan Research Fellowships, including Nobel laureates Robert Curl and the late Richard Smalley. Eugene Zubarev, the Norman Hackerman-Welch Young Investigator and assistant professor of chemistry, won a Sloan fellowship last year.

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Marina Vannucci, professor of statistics, has been named a fellow in the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS), a prestigious international professional and scholarly society devoted to the development, dissemination and application of statistics and probability. Vannucci was presented with the honor at the IMS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. in August, when some 5,000 statisticians, government officials and educators from across the globe convened there. The professor is being recognized by the institute for “fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of Bayesian methods for variable selection, and of wavelet-based modeling and for her mentorship of young researchers,” IMS leaders said. “This is a great honor for Marina and richly deserved,” said Sallie Ann Keller, William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering, who is also a professor of statistics. “It recognizes her many accomplishments and her devotion to developing future researchers in a highly important field.” Vannucci is also a fellow in the American Statistical Association and a member of the International Statistical Institute. She won the Mitchell prize from the International Society for Bayesian Analysis in 2003. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, including a CAREER Award in 2001. Vannucci came to Rice two years ago from the Department of Statistics at Texas A&M University where she was a full professor and co-directed the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Facility Core in the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center for Environmental and Rural Health.

VANNUCCI

marina
IMS FELLOW

A A A S FELLO W S
Jianpeng Ma and Rebecca Richards-Kortum were named 2008 fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world’s largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal Science. Ma and Richards-Kortum were among 486 members honored this year for their distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

jianpeng MA

Ma, a professor in bioengineering who also holds a professorship at Baylor College of Medicine, was selected for his work in intermediated-resolution structural biology, particularly for developing methods to analyze the ways proteins flex and bend, allowing scientists to scrutinize the active sites of proteins implicated in cancer and other diseases. “It is a tremendous honor to me, and I hope it also brings honor to Rice,” Ma said. In 2004, Ma won the Welch Foundation’s prestigious Norman Hackerman Award for Chemical Research, named for the former Rice president.

As director of Rice 360°, RichardsKortum, the Stanley C. Moore Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, is working to help developing nations achieve the health-related Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations. The association also recognized her contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in women and for her theoretical modeling using lasers. “AAAS has led international efforts to advance science and advocate for effective science education and policy, and it is a great privilege to be recognized as a fellow,” she said.

rebecca

RI CHARDS -K ORT UM

The AAAS has been naming fellows since 1874. The new fellows join 17 other Rice faculty members who have been so honored.

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IOWA STATE RESEAR C H A N D DIS C OVERY AWARD
Dean Sallie Ann Keller will be presented the John V. Atanasoff Research and Discovery Award from Iowa State University in Ames in October. Keller holds a doctorate in statistics from Iowa State. The award honors an outstanding alumnus or alumna of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State who has furthered scientific knowledge in laboratory accomplishments or management. It memorializes John V. Atanasoff, the Iowa State professor credited with inventing the automatic electronic digital computer. In research and leadership positions, Keller has championed interdisciplinary research to solve today’s complex problems. She leads Rice’s largest school with eight departments, 14 research institutes and centers, and 114 faculty members. The school has some 900 undergraduates and 600 grad students. Keller is fellow of the American Statistical Association and an associate of the National Academy of Sciences. She received the Founders Award from the American Statistical Association and Director’s Award for Outstanding Program Management at the National Science Foundation. She serves on the Committee on National Statistics, Southwest Research Institute External Advisory Board, American Association for the Advancement of Science Nominations Committee, Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics Board of Trustees, Santa Fe Institute Science Board, Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science Advisory Board, International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics Scientific Panel, Sandia National Laboratory Chair of Network Grand Challenge Advisory Board and the JASON Study Group. She is a former American Statistical Association president and chairman of the board of directors. She directed the graduate studies program at the Kansas State University Department of Statistics. She was National Science Foundation Program Director for Statistics and Probability and taught mathematics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Iowa State. She earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in mathematics from the University of South Florida.

NATIONAL SCIENCE F O U N D AT I O N GR ADUATE FELLOWSH I P REC I PI EN TS
George R. Brown School of Engineering students and recent graduates have won federally funded fellowships for graduate study. Selected to receive 2009 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship awards are: Eva Dyer, Rice graduate student, electrical and computer engineering Kiri Kilpatrick, graduate student, chemical and biomolecular engineering Emily Fortuna, ’09, computer science, to study at Stanford University Robert Horch ’04, bioengineering, studying at Vanderbilt University Neha Kamat ’08 bioengineering, studying at University of Pennsylvania Gregory Malecha ’08, computer science, studying at Harvard University Sara MacAlpine ’01, electrical and computer engineering, studying at University of Colorado Troy Ruths,* Rice graduate student, computer science Jenny Saik, Rice graduate student, bioengineering Scott Steger ’08, electrical engineering, California Institute of Technology Katherine Zodrow ’07, civil engineering, undecided Each will receive a $30,000 stipend, a $10,000 cost-of-education allowance and a one-time allowance of $1,000 for travel. Fellowships are funded for a maximum of three years over a five-year period. The NSF graduate fellowship program is highly competitive and recipients are considered among the best graduate students in the country. *In addition to the NSF graduate fellowship, Ruths was awarded a Department of Energy Computational Science Fellowship, which is among the most preeminent fellowships for computational science students. The award includes a yearly stipend of $32,400, as well as $1,000 in an allowance for other expenses and activities. The fellowship can be renewed annually for three additional years after the first year.

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G O LD WATER SC H O LA RSH I P
The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has awarded scholarships to Rice University bioengineering students Joseph Rosenthal and Thomas Segall-Shapiro and to David Ouyang, a statistics major. All are in their senior years this fall.

joseph RO SEN TH AL

The award covers the cost of tuition, fees, books and room and board, up to $7,500 per year. The trio is among 278 undergraduate sophomores and juniors selected from across the U.S. for the honor, which is in memory of the late U.S. senator from Arizona. Rosenthal is a junior in Assistant Professor Junghae Suh’s Laboratory for Nanotherapeutics Research. For two years, his research has focused on reprogramming the intrinsic properties of a small mammalian virus called the adenoassociated virus. Rosenthal won the Best Poster in Engineering Award at the annual Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium and the Brown Undergraduate Research Internship Program Award.

thomas

SEG A LL- SH A PIR O

Both Segall-Shapiro and Ouyang are also majoring in biochemistry and cell biology, and both work in Assistant Professor Joff Silberg’s biochemistry lab. The two were members of the Rice International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) group, which was mentored by Silberg. The iGem Jamboree is held annually at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This year’s team project, a genetically engineered biobeer that is programmed to produce resveratrol, captured a gold medal and second place for best presentation. Segall-Shapiro has contributed to three iGEM projects and this was the first for Ouyang. In its 21 years, the Goldwater Foundation has awarded 5,801 scholarships totaling about $56 million. Goldwater scholars are chosen from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science and engineering students nominated by the faculties of colleges and universities nationwide.

david O U YA N G

D UA RTE

melissa

ROBERTO ROCCA EDUCATION FELLOWSHIP
Melissa Duarte, graduate student in electrical and computer engineering, has received the Roberto Rocca Education Fellowship. The fellowship helps fund studies for exceptional university graduates from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Romania and Venezuela, toward the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering, at a university of the student’s choosing outside his or her home country. Born in Cucuta, Colombia, Duarte received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia, in 2005, and the M.S in electrical engineering from Rice University in 2007. She is in the research group of Assistant Professor Ashutosh Sabharwal. Her research focuses on the design and implementation of architectures for next-generation wireless communications, feedback-based multiple input multiple output antenna systems, and the development of a wireless open access research platform for implementation and evaluation of algorithms for wireless communications.

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The British government has selected Shuai “Steve” Xu for its competitive 2009 Marshall Scholarship program. Each year, about 1,000 U.S. students apply for 40 available scholarships to pursue studies at top academic and research institutions in the United Kingdom and serve as ambassadors for relations between the two countries. The Marshall Scholarship program supports two years of studies, with a possible third-year extension, toward a masters or doctorate degree. Xu has chosen attend Imperial College London for the first year where he will study biomedical engineering, and the London School of Economics/London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for the second year, where he will focus on health policy, planning and finance. Xu’s interest into the micro-to-macro scale of translating research and diagnostics has been woven throughout his undergraduate education. In 2005, he was accepted into the Rice University/Baylor Medical Scholars Program, a combined eight-year baccalaureate/M.D. program that encourages extensive study of liberal arts and other disciplines in addition to modern medical science. Xu spent three years in Associate Professor Jane Grande-Allen’s research group applying engineering analysis to the study of heart valve disease research, a major contributor to coronary artery disease, strokes, and heart failure. Other awards Xu has received while at Rice include USA Today’s All-USA College Academic First Team (2008), Barry M. Goldwater Scholar (2007), the Samuel T. Sikes Jr. Engineering Scholarship and the Dunlevie Writing Fellowship in Comparative Literature (2007).

steve

XU

MARSHALL SCHOLARSHIP

H O LM

jennifer

WHITAKER INTERNATIONAL FELLOWSHIP
Jennifer Holm has won a Whitaker International Fellowship to conduct research in the laboratories of physician scientist Michael Raghunath at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Administered by the Institute of International Education, Whitaker International Fellowships are designed to strengthen international ties through collaboration while contributing to students’ graduate studies in biomedical engineering. Holm’s research will focus on tissue engineering methods and culture conditioning efforts that involve inducing pluripotent stem cells and differentiating them into cardiomyocites. The research is a continuation of her experiences at Rice in Associate Professor Jane Grande-Allen’s group and with Antonios Mikos’ group over the past two years. Mikos is the Louis Calder Professor of Bioengineering and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Raghunath, an associate professor of bioengineering at NUS’s school of engineering and of biochemistry at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, is a distinguished scientist in the field of matrix biology and skin biology. International research is not a new track for Holm. Last year she participated in a 12-week summer internship working under Professor Abhay Pandit’s direction at the National University of Ireland. “I am excited to be a part of Dr. Raghunath’s group for one year,” Holm said. “The experience will provide me with additional cross-training research experiences, and exposure to clinical practices and industrial R & D in Singapore.”

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manjari

NA RAYAN
ANITA BORG SCHOLARSHIP
Graduate student Manjari Narayan has been awarded Google’s 2009 Anita Borg Scholarship for the 2009-2010 academic year. The Anita Borg Scholarship is awarded to female undergraduates entering their senior year or to graduate students in computer science, computer engineering, or other technical fields who have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale or 4.5 on a 5.0 scale. Scholarship recipients receive a $10,000 award for the upcoming academic year. Manjari graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, with a B.S. in electrical engineering and a minor in computer science. A member of the Digital Signal Processing group, her research is in the area of statistical image processing. She is currently working with Richard Baraniuk on understanding the asymptotic optimality of nonlocal image processing algorithms.

FULBRIGHT SCHOLARSHIP
Alicia Allen has earned a Fulbright Scholarship and will travel to Korea to teach English. Four other Rice students also won the prestigious scholarship. Allen said she’s been to Europe several times but never to Asia, and she is excited about the opportunity. She said she is especially looking forward to the intensive six-week instruction in Korean she will receive before being assigned the school where she will teach. At Rice, Allen, a double major in bioengineering and French, was steeped in research on tissue engineering in the laboratory of Jennifer West, the Isabel C. Cameron Professor and chair of the Bioengineering Department. Allen said, “We’ve been working on vascularization, particularly the formation of blood vessels.” She said the research she’s been involved in has been in two areas—working toward an application for developing smaller-diameter grafts for heartbypass patients and creating complex 3-D tissues beyond skin and cartilage. The Fulbright Scholarship program is sponsored by the U.S. State Department and allows seniors, recent graduates and graduate students to study, teach and conduct research in a foreign country. Scholars are chosen for their academic merit and leadership potential.

A L L EN

alicia

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S I G UR

wanda

christof

SP I E L E R
REA names 2009 outstanding alumni
The Rice Engineering Alumni (REA) board has announced its 2009 outstanding alumni. Wanda Sigur, vice president of engineering at Lockheed Martin, was named Outstanding Engineering Alumna. Christof Spieler, director of technology and innovation at Morris Architects, is the Outstanding Young Engineering Alumnus. Sigur, who earned a bachelor’s degree in materials science in 1979, is based in Denver and leads 7,000 engineers working on national security efforts and human space flight systems. They help develop a range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; fleet ballistic missiles and missile defense systems. Earlier, Sigur managed the space shuttle external tank program for the defense contractor, and was credited by NASA for helping return the shuttle to space after the Columbia accident. She holds high-temperature composite patents and has won prestigious NASA and civic awards. She received a Lockheed Martin Company Outstanding Leadership Award in 2006 and won a Black Engineer of the Year Career Achievement Award last year. She earned a bachelor’s degree in materials science in 1979 at Rice. Spieler works for the international firm, Morris Architects, in Houston. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering at Rice in 1997 and 1999, respectively. He leads efforts in building information modeling and sustainability for Morris and has become known as an expert on transit and urban planning. He has worked on various Houston projects like the University light rail line. He is editorial committee head and a frequent contributor to Cite Magazine, published by the Rice Design Alliance. He also teaches in the Rice School of Architecture. Earlier, Spieler worked for Matrix Structural Engineers, where his projects were featured on the covers of three national engineering magazines. He was recently named to Building Design and Construction Magazine’s “40 under 40” list.
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photo courtesy of Tom Hawk

Doerr elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
John Doerr ’73, whose devotion to Rice has been generous and long-standing, has been elected a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Doerr earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Rice and is a venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. His interests as an entrepreneur and philanthropist include innovative green technology, urban public education, fighting poverty and the advancement of women as leaders. Doerr was an early champion of Google and Amazon, among many other companies. Doerr, the commencement speaker at Rice in 2007, and his wife, Ann ’75, last year donated $15 million through their Beneficus Foundation to establish the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. The center’s mission is to broaden Rice engineering education by incorporating current and emerging crises facing society and developing personal leadership skills needed to solve pressing global problems. After leaving Rice, Doerr earned an MBA from Harvard, which recently gave him its highest honor, an Alumni Achievement Award. Doerr started his career at Intel as an engineer, marketer and sales executive. His ability to recognize and help entrepreneurs commercialize innovation into winning products and services has placed him at No. 1 on Forbes Magazine’s Midas list of the world’s top 100 tech dealmakers.

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To say Matthew Wettergreen is a Renaissance Man is an understatement.

The Rice bioengineering Ph.D. is pursuing an unconventional career path that finds him equal parts researcher, entrepreneur, music aficionado and community activist. Add in an array of other activities, including teaching for Rice, broadcasting a radio show and mentoring local musicians and, well, you wouldn’t have to be Leonardo Da Vinci to get the picture.

“I don’t ever slow down,” Wettergreen said in an interview at Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen, where he is leading a team of undergraduates in an innovative project for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. “I have to schedule time to relax.” In the course of a given day Wettergreen’s myriad interests sometimes collide, which is how he prefers it. “As I see it, all the areas I’m interested in are interconnected,” he said. “I just want to find ways to change the world a little bit for the better.” As an entrepreneur, for instance, he is a founder and director of a “coworking” business known as the Caroline Collective. The business sits in what were formerly medical offices on a tree-lined street just south of Houston’s thriving Midtown. It offers space for independently employed people—so-called “digital nomads” in fields such as writing, art and software technology—to hang their hats. Through individual toil and tribulations in a shared space, relationships blossom and people often collaborate.

a man with many MISSIONS
“What we come up with could have an impact beyond this museum and be used by many others, nationally or internationally,” said Wettergreen, adding that this fall he will teach a course around the undertaking for Rice humanities and engineering students. In the end, the project could become a technology transfer business. “The scope of what Matt is doing doesn’t surprise me,” said Gerald Graff, a professor of English and education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), who mentored Wettergreen when he was a bioengineering undergraduate there. Graff recalled how the student almost single-handedly organized an undergraduate research symposium for science and humanities students at UIC. The program is now held annually and is promoted as one of the university’s most important events. “Matt is way ahead of his time in seeing the need for bridging the divide between science and the humanities,” Graff said. Wettergreen’s zeal for the arts includes his lifelong passion: music. Although he doesn’t play an instrument himself, his love for music drives him to host a weekly radio show about the Houston art scene for KTRU 91.7FM, Rice’s radio station. Wettergreen has also been a correspondent for Chicago Public Radio and has done similar work for National Public Radio. “Radio has given me a platform to reach out to the music community and local artists to try to help them develop marketing and business skills they need to succeed,” he said. “It’s something I truly enjoy.”

“We have workshops, training sessions and social events. A real sense of community develops,” said Wettergreen of the collective’s café-like atmosphere. “There’s a free flow of projects and ideas. It stimulates energy and creativity.” Wettergreen, who lives above the collective, hopes the business can eventually sustain itself, allowing him time for other pursuits. One additional project is for the museum, with Wettergreen leading a team of four engineering students to take on a problem faced by all curators: how best to store thousands of sometimes priceless art objects. The project is sponsored by the schools of engineering and the humanities, the Rice Alliance, and the Center for Civic Engagement at the university. The team worked all summer on developing a handful of prototype storage devices—culled from 500 different ideas—and presented them to museum officials. The solution chosen could allow a move from current storage methods—plywood crates and cardboard boxes—to one that stores delicate items safely and efficiently and provides easy access.

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President-elect John Alsop EE ’78, ’83 presented

Annual picnic honors outstanding students

more than $80,000 in scholarships at the 2009 Rice Engineering Alumni student awards picnic in April. In addition to scholarships recognizing outstanding juniors and seniors, a number of endowed awards were also presented. They were:
The Buckley-Sartwelle Scholarship in Engineering Nikolay Kostov, mechanical engineering and materials science Endowed by Jack Boyd Buckley ’48 and Helen Sartwelle Buckley ’44 The Bob Dickson Endowed Prize Maggie Murphy, civil and environmental engineering Endowed by H. deForest Ralph ’55 and his wife Martha, with additional funding from Dale Dickson Johnson and others The Alan J. Chapman Award Keson Choy, mechanical engineering and materials science Endowed by Melbern G. ’61 and Susanne M. Glasscock ’62 The Thomas Michael Panos Family Engineering Student Award Kenneth Davis, mechanical engineering Endowed by Michael Panos ’52 and his sister, Effie The Franz R. and Frances Brotzen Fellowship Anubha Goyal, mechanical engineering and materials science Endowed by David Lee Davidson ’58, ’63, ’68 and his wife, Patricia The Dick and Mary Ellen Wilson Award Candase Arnold and Michael Burcham, civil and environmental engineering Endowed by Dick ’52, ’56 and Mary Ellen Wilson The Harrianna Butler Siebenhausen Award in Engineering Alison and Michael Contreras, civil and environmental engineering Endowed by C.H. Siebenhausen ’50 in honor of his wife, Harrianna Butler The Ralph Budd Prize for Best Engineering Thesis Juan Duque, chemical and biomolecular engineering In memory of Ralph Budd The Hershel M. Rich Invention Award Siddharth Gupta, Ashutosh Sabharwal and Patrick Murphy, electrical and computer engineering Endowed by Hershel M. Rich ’45, ’47 and his wife, Hilda The James S. Waters Creativity Award Joseph Chang, bioengineering Endowed by an anonymous donor in honor of James S. Waters ’17

Rice Engineering Magazine is a production of the George R. Brown School of Engineering Office of Communications at Rice University.

Dean Sallie Ann Keller Associate deans Janice Bordeaux Gary Marfin Ratna Sarkar Bart Sinclair Editor Ann Lugg Designer Donald Soward Contributing designer Lindsey Bowsher Writer Dwight Daniels Contributing writers Jade Boyd Ken Fountain Shawn Hutchins Patrick Kurp Ann Lugg Mike Williams Photography Jeff Fitlow Tom Hawk Eric Hester Tommy Lavergne Donald Soward

Send comments or letters to the editor: Rice Engineering Magazine Rice University MS 364 P.O. Box 1892 Houston, Texas 77251 or email them to: engrnews@rice.edu