Bios

City of Houston

Forthcoming

Rice University

David Alexander is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Rice Space Institute (RSI).  His primary research is solar physics and the application of space physics to planets around other stars.  In his role as Director of RSI he has engaged with the City of Houston in a number of activities.  The most notable of these include being an advisor and partner to the Houston Spaceport at Ellington Field, a founding member of  SpaceCom, the Houston based Space Commerce Conference and Exposition – he also serves as a member of the SpaceCom Advisory Board, and as the creator and host of Space4Houston a Rice event, in conjunction with the Satellite Applications Catapult and UK Consulate, that focused on connecting city planners and port of Houston leaders with space-based business solutions.  Dr. Alexander’s role with SpaceCom incorporated the creation of a series of roundtables designed to bring space, energy, medicine, communications,  transportation and advanced manufacturing technologies together to create common solutions to disparate problems.

John Anderson is the Maurice Ewing Professor of Oceanography at Rice University. His current research interests are in 1) ice sheet contribution to sea-level rise, and 2) the evolution of the US Gulf Coast and response of coastal environments to global change. He has authored and co-authored 250 refereed publications, edited 5 volumes and published two books, “Antarctic Marine Geology” (Cambridge University Press) and “Formation and Destiny of the Upper Texas Coast” (Texas A&M Press).  He has participated in 24 scientific expeditions to Antarctica countless field programs in the Gulf of Mexico and its coastal waters.  John was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2007 Shepard Medal of the Society for Sedimentary Research.

Scott P. Egan is a broadly trained evolutionary biologist who grew up in the Houston area. He received his PhD. in Biology from Vanderbilt University in 2010 followed by a dual position at the University of Notre Dame from 2010-2013 as a Faculty Fellow in Ecological Genomics in the Department of Biological Sciences and a Research Assistant Professor with the Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics Initiative. In 2013, he joined Rice University as the Huxley Faculty Fellow in Ecology and Evolution, and then in 2014, as an Assistant Professor in the Department of BioSciences, where his lab works in the field of integrative evolutionary biology. This work incorporates evolutionary approaches to many sub-disciplines of biology, ranging from studies of the evolution of new species, exploring the genetic basis of adaptation in agricultural pests, to designing field-ready tools to detect dangerous or rare species in nature. His research has been funded by the USDA BioTechnology Risk Assessment Program, the EPA, and the NSF, and he was recently awarded a 2016 Hamill Innovation Award to support work integrating computer science and evolutionary approaches to the evolution of dangerous insect pests.

Kathy Ensor is Professor of Statistics in the George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University where she serves as director of the Center for Computational Finance and Economic Systems (CoFES). She served as chair of the Department of Statistics from 1999 through 2013. Dr. Ensor, an expert in many areas of modern statistics, develops innovative statistical techniques to answer important questions in science, engineering and business with specific focus on the environment, energy and finance. She is an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has been recognized for her leadership, scholarship and mentoring. She is Vice President of the American Statistical Association and a member of the National Academies Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics. She holds a BSE and MS in Mathematics from Arkansas State University and a PhD in Statistics from Texas A&M University.

Bill Fulton is Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. He is a former Mayor of Ventura, California, and Director of Planning & Economic Development for the City of San Diego. In his career, Mr. Fulton has also served as Vice President for Policy at Smart Growth America, Principal in the California-based urban planning firm now known as PlaceWorks, and Senior Fellow at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. He is the founding editor and publisher of CaliforniaPlanning & Development Report and author of five books, including Guide to California Planning, the standard urban planning textbook in California, and The Reluctant Metropolis: The Politics of Urban Growth in Los Angeles, which was an L.A. Times best-seller.

Robert Griffin is a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, of which he currently serves as Chair.  Professor Griffin received degrees in Chemical Engineering from Tufts University (BS, 1993) and the California Institute of Technology (MS, 1997; PhD 2000, with a minor in Environmental Engineering Science).  Prior to his current position, Professor Griffin held academic positions at the University of New Hampshire and was a Research Associate in the management consulting industry.  Professor Griffin focuses his research program on issues related to atmospheric chemistry and air quality using field, laboratory, and computational techniques.  Recent work sponsored by the Houston Endowment has focused on use of a mobile air quality laboratory to characterize air pollution across the City of Houston over a two-year time period.

Lydia Kavraki is the Noah Harding Professor of Computer Science, and a professor in the department Bioengineering. Her research contributions are in robotics and biomedical informatics. In robotics she has proposed new methods for motion planning, flexible object manipulation, and assembly planning. Her work has found applications to manufacturing, space robotics, and medical robotics. In biomedical informatics, her efforts target the modeling of biomolecular systems with the goal of creating new therapeutics. Dr. Kavraki’s laboratory has made significant contributions to the open source software communities in both robotics and biomedical informatics.

Carrie Masiello is a biogeochemist whose research focuses on carbon and nitrogen cycling at the local, regional, and global scales.  Her work includes both basic science directed at improving the understanding of controls on Earth system carbon and nitrogen fluxes and applied science directed at creative solutions to environmental problems.  Research problems of interest include reducing greenhouse gas emissions in urban and rural environments, and managing algal blooms in drinking water and coastal ecosystems.

Leonardo Duenas-Osorio is Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. He develops methods for the reliability and risk assessment of interdependent utility systems subject to natural hazards, such as hurricanes and floods. His group develops analytical, numerical, and empirically calibrated models with predictive capabilities of utility system performance, restoration processes, and street-level flooding upon contingencies.

Loren Raun is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Statistics and serves as both the Interim Bureau Chief of Community and Children’s Environmental Health and Chief Environmental Science Officer at the City of Houston Health Department.  She has broad environmental and statistical research interests.  Most recently, her research has been in the domain of statistical assessment of environmental pollution data focused heavily on human health exposure to pollution and associated health effects. She is particularly interested in defining the relationship between air pollution exposure in Houston to acute adverse health effects such as out of hospital cardiac arrest and asthma and the cancer and non-cancer risk associated with metal particulate pollution exposure. She is also interested in evaluating the benefit from comprehensive care for children at high risk of poor asthma outcomes in Houston.

Ashu Sabharwal focuses on research spanning two diverse areas. First is the mHealth, with a focus on  mobile bio-behavioral sensing to simultaneously measure bio- and behavioral markers, continuously and unobtrusively, using mobile devices like smartphones and wearables. His recent innovations address (i) chronic disease management like diabetes, COPD and asthma, (ii) continuous measurement of children’s screen use and food consumption, and (iii) quantitative measurement of mental state in depression patients. The second area is the theoretical and experimental foundations of wireless communications, where he is the leading expert to develop theoretical foundations of breakthrough experimental innovations. His recent research on full-duplex wireless systems is being considered as candidate technology for next-generation wireless networks, like 5G cellular systems. His open-source project, WARP, is now in use at more than 125 universities and been used by nearly 300 papers to evaluate novel innovations in wireless technologies. 

Yousif Shamoo is the Vice Provost for Research at Rice University, and is a Professor in the Department of BioSciences.  He has a secondary appointment in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and is a member of the Institute of Biosciences & Bioengineering.  Dr. Shamoo received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale in 1988.  Dr. Shamoo did his postdoctoral training with Nobel Laureate Dr. Thomas A. Steitz at Yale before accepting his first faculty position at Rice University.  He is an expert in the development of drug resistance and has recently begun the design and construction of next generation bioreactors that will allow the development of therapeutic resistance in prostate cancer cells.

Lauren Stadler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  Dr. Stadler’s research focuses on sustainable design of biological treatment processes for resource recovery (energy, water, nutrients) from wastewater and understanding the potential human health impacts of recycled wastewater resources.  Her work employs a multi-disciplinary approach that combines microbial ecology, environmental chemistry, and sustainability assessments. Lauren received her Ph.D. and M.S. from the University of Michigan in Environmental Engineering and worked in environmental engineering consulting.

Kenneth Wolpin is Distinguished Research Professor and Lay Family Professor of Economics as well as interim chair of the department. In addition to faculty appointments at Penn, NYU, Minnesota, Ohio State and Yale, he has served as the Principal Investigator of the National Longitudinal Surveys of Labor Market Experience, a major omnibus social science survey. He has authored or co-authored over 60 professional papers. His contributions span labor economics, economic demography, development economics, health economics and empirical methodology. Since coming to Rice two years ago, Flavio Cunha and Wolpin have become involved in a number of Houston-based program evaluation projects. Currently, they have two active projects. One project involves collaboration with the Houston Food Bank and several colleges to evaluate a new and innovative program that provides free groceries to students based on their progress towards completing a degree or certificate program. A second involves the evaluation of a program in the Alief Independent School District for families with a three-year old child that teaches parents how to instruct their children in foundational skills that improve their readiness for pre-school. 

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