Rice Awards Expanding Horizons Scholarships to nine graduate students

Award amounts range from $2,000 - $6,000 and will support research

Rice University

The Rice University Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) is proud to announce that nine Rice University graduate students have been awarded the Expanding Horizons Scholarships to continue their research.

Generously funded by Rice alumnus Dr. Walter Loewenstern, the Expanding Horizons Fellowship provides students the opportunity to conduct research-related future travel that will benefit the local communities connected to their research while expanding the student's knowledge and experience. The Rice Graduate Council grants the awards to students who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and promise in their research.

You can read about each of the award winners and their projects below. Applications open in early February; graduate students interested in applying for the next cycle can find more information here. For questions, email the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

Nicholas Banerjee, Psychology

Banerjee’s research hopes to examine South African jobseekers' resilience in the job search process. Banerjee hopes to share the research findings with jobseekers, local businesses, and community leaders in a simple, professional report. 

Maria Barra, Bioengineering

Barra’s research project would provide cervical cancer screening and treatment for the local population at Hospital Central de Maputo in Mozambique. Volunteers enrolled in their study provide self-collected cervicovaginal swab samples which are tested on the gold standard HPV test. Women who are HPV positive receive treatment to prevent progression to cervical cancer. The same samples tested on the gold standard will then be tested on their own HPV test.

Qinyou Hu, Economics

The Expanding Horizons Fellowship will fund Hu’s trip related to his research on the causes and solutions to the severe bullying phenomenon in China. Hu will investigate these research questions by conducting and evaluating a four-month-long parental involvement program on empathy education in two middle schools in a suburban county in China. This study affects the local community because baseline data shows that almost 51% of students have been involved in at least one bullying incident in the past semester. The fellowship will assist Hu’s research trip for the follow-up data collection. With the data collected, Hu can evaluate the program’s effectiveness in reducing bullying. The results from this study will help inform policymakers on cost-effective bullying prevention in the local community, as well as informing other societies.

Laurin Baumgardt, Anthropology

Persistent colonial and apartheid infrastructures continue to make Cape Town one of the most segregated and unequal cities in the world. Based on long-term ethnographic field research in the city, Baumgardt’s dissertation examines how groups of architects, design and planning professionals, community leaders, housing activists and residents, and non-governmental agencies navigate and negotiate around these past legacies of segregation and racialized inequality, housing and land policies, and continuous threats of violence and dispossession. Baumgardt has a particular research interest in the various types of pedagogies, design initiatives, knowledge formations, and materialities these groups of architectural professionals, residents and organizers draw upon and how they understand their daily work practices using methods and tools such as participatory planning, infrastructure upgrading, and community engagement. He investigates the limits and potentials of these participatory methods and practices that aim at co-creating and imagining alternate urban futures and improved infrastructural conditions in South Africa. During his follow-up ethnographic research in Cape Town, Baumgardt will continue participating in project initiatives that assist and directly benefit organizations and respective communities which challenge the persistent social injustices and entrenched inequalities of South Africa.

Carly Karrick, BioSciences

As a coral reef biologist, Karrick’s research has broader impacts by promoting and optimizing conservation and restoration initiatives of threatened coral reefs, which are important ecosystems for both the organisms that inhabit them and the human communities that rely on them. In many coastal areas and small island communities, humans rely on coral reefs for food, revenue, and cultural identity. As such, their research will have long-term benefits to the local community in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), where Karrick will undertake the proposed research. Karrick also plans to work directly with the community while in the USVI to enhance their outreach efforts by hosting educational events for local children and presenting their research to the public. These efforts will promote engagement with marine science and strengthen the connection between the local communities in the USVI and the reefs they rely on.

Lorraine Kung, Architecture

For the Expanding Horizons Fellowship, Kung will travel to Manchester, UK to study its architecture and urban infrastructure as historic artifacts that clue us into how the social fabric and culture change due to drastically altered urban infrastructure. Manchester was once England’s main textile manufacturing center, but was marked by the decades-long process of deindustrialization and migration. After many recent attempts at urban revitalization, it has not only redefined itself as an attractive location for corporate headquarters, but a new vibrant cultural scene. Throughout these changes, the scenography has had a front row seat. Not immune to the impact, it too has also changed with the times. In Manchester, Kung propose to primarily analyze and document:

  • The Lowry Centre: derelict docks turned into theater and gallery complex
  • Imperial War Museum North: museum that explores the impact of modern conflicts on people and society, while overlooking a heavily bomb-target
  • WWII industrial center Hulme City Challenge: wasteland turned into one of the largest urban regeneration
  • Projects Hacienda Club: warehouse turned nightclub, turned, private flats.

With this fellowship, Kung hopes to travel to Manchester to document and develop a critical method of analyzing its built environment, to start the physical community building work they are currently pursuing in the North End, and to also bring this methodology forward with them in their career to lead the architecture industry to a more community participatory future.

Abha Lal, Anthropology

Lal’s proposed summer research project is about the resumption of iron ore mining in Goa after almost a decade of mining being made illegal due to its devastating ecological consequences. As part of Lal’s research, they will organize three focus group discussions between people who are pro and anti iron-ore mining. Lal’s hope is that facilitating dialogue between pro-mining people in the Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF), environmental activists and people living in mining affected areas who have not taken a position one way or the other will help all Lal’s interlocutors gain a broader perspective on debates about mining. People who are pro and anti iron-ore mining in Goa are rarely having the same conversation: those who are anti-mining emphasize the ecological destruction that results from open cast mining, while people who are pro-mining talk about the capital that they have already spent on things like trucks to transport iron that has caused economic devastation in their lives from mining activity coming to a halt. Lal’s aim is to create space for all parties to air grievances to each other on their own terms and try to come up with solutions for Goa’s resource management problems that may shape people’s values and voting behaviors in the future.