Interdisciplinary Endeavors

We must invest in a select number of interdisciplinary endeavors that will enable us to leverage our own strengths as well as the strengths of potential collaborators.

The scope of interdisciplinary endeavors spans all of Rice, where our small size compels us to be more strategic and opportunistic in collaborating across departments and schools. We have numerous new research programs, centers and institutes that draw on faculty teaching and research, while new interdisciplinary majors and minors are enhancing the academic experience and fostering new ideas and creativity in students. Some recent interdisciplinary themes are energy, entrepreneurship, global health, nanotechnology and cultural studies. The Rice 360º Institute for Global Health is one such example of interdisciplinary impact. Students with science and engineering interests have the opportunity to do research at the BioScience Research Center and to design medical devices at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.

Examples of V2C Progress:

Energy and the Environment — The Energy and the Environment Initiative (EEI), launched in 2012, draws experts from every corner of the university — from biomanufacturing to energy humanities to high performance computing — to work with industry and overcome barriers to energy sustainability. The Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT), a component of EEI, leverages several departments at Rice and expertise at other universities to develop off-grid water treatment systems. EEI also complements other university energy initiatives at the Jones Graduate School of Business, the Baker Institute for Public Policy and the School of Humanities.

Entrepreneurship Initiatives — The Entrepreneurship Initiative at Rice generated new learning opportunities that involve several academic and research programs. The Baker Institute for Public Policy's McNair Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation serves as the research-oriented cornerstone of a larger, nationwide consortium of McNair Foundation-funded centers devoted to entrepreneurship education. This research effort is complemented by the programs offered through the Jones Graduate School of Business, which was ranked No. 3 for graduate entrepreneurship by Princeton Review/ Entrepreneur Magazine. The Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Lilie) features new undergraduate courses, programs, faculty and a startup mentorship network that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation training for undergraduates. Rice Alliance, which has been organizing business plan competitions for 15 years, has grown from nine teams competing for $10,000 in 2001 to 42 teams from around the world competing for more than $1 million in cash and prizes.

Sciences and Engineering — The BioScience Research Collaborative is an innovative space where scientists, educators and students from Rice and other Texas Medical Center institutions work together to perform leading research that benefits human medicine and health. The Rice 360º Institute for Global Health, which engages students in the design and implementation of new technologies that solve real global health challenges, offers a minor in global health technologies, a master's of bioengineering, and local and international partnerships with academic, industry and healthcare providers. The Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen brings together teams of students from all engineering disciplines to solve a problem through hands-on design challenges.

Nanotechnology — In addition to the Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) mentioned above, the Smalley-Curl Institute was created in 2015 from a merger of the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Rice Quantum Institute. This stronger institute assists its members in forging cross-cutting and interdisciplinary research.

Humanities and Social Sciences — The Humanities Research Center has a long history of identifying and funding innovative research, and two new programs in Cultural Heritage and Medical Humanities illustrate how the center continues to evolve and engage with colleagues in both social and natural sciences. The Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS), a component of Rice’s Energy and Environment Initiative, leverages faculty across departments to pioneer the field of interdisciplinary energy humanities. The T.T. and W.F. Chao Center for Asian Studies has a teaching and research mission that incorporates scholars from the Baker Institute, social sciences and humanities. The new Moody Center for the Arts provides a cross-disciplinary focal point that allows students in all majors, both in the humanities and beyond, to participate in the arts.