Dr. Jenifer L. Bratter is a Professor of Sociology at Rice University and the founding director of BRIDGE (Building Research on Inequality to Grow Equity). Her current research explores the growing complexity of race and ethnicity in the 21st century and its bearing on the formation of families, identity, and social inequality. She has authored several peer-reviewed articles and co-edited Un Making Race and Ethnicity (with Michael Emerson and Sergio Chavez). Through the Kinder Institute, Dr. Bratter has organized several events including “Having the Talk: Teaching Race in the Undergraduate Classroom” and “Measuring the Multiple Dimensions of Race”. She was awarded the 2009 Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation for Career Enhancement to study patterns of residential patterns of mixed-race families.
Dr. Carrie Masiello has been a professor in the Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences since 2004 and is jointly appointed in the departments of Chemistry and Biosciences. She is part of a team of scientists working to harness the tools of synthetic biology to address theoretical problems in carbon and nitrogen cycling. Applied aspects of the Masiello group work include contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms controlling charcoal’s ability to sequester carbon and alter agronomic processes. She is committed to creative teaching and outreach designed to make science accessible to everyone. Dr. Masiello holds the W. Maurice Ewing Chair at Rice, is a Faculty Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, and is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America.
Dr. Leonardo Duenas-Osorio is a Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University. He obtained his Master degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2001, and Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2005, both in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He received the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) award in 2005 for the paper entitled “Interdependent Response of Networked Systems”, the Best Ph.D. Thesis Award in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2006 for his work on interdependent infrastructure performance modeling and prediction, the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award in 2008 to investigate risk mitigation principles for smart utility systems, and the Outstanding Earthquake Spectra Paper of 2013 by the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI) for his contribution entitled "Calibration and Validation of a Seismic Damage Propagation Model for Interdependent Infrastructure Systems” published in the August 2013 issue of Earthquake Spectra.
Dr. Nicole A. Waligora-Davis is an Associate Professor of English at Rice University. She specializes in late-nineteenth and 20th-century African-American and American literary and cultural criticism, with particularly emphasizing intellectual history, black internationalism, legal studies, critical race theory, and visual culture. She is the author of Sanctuary: African Americans and Empire (Oxford University Press, 2011). An associate editor of the award-winning Remembering Jim Crow (New Press, 2001), Waligora-Davis’s essays have appeared in numerous publications including the Cambridge History of African American Literature, the Cambridge Companion to American Literature after 1945, Centennial Review, African American Review, Modern Fiction Studies, and the Mississippi Quarterly. She is currently working on a book-length study titled, The Murder Book: Race, Forensics and the Value of Black Life.
Dr. Alexander Byrd was appointed Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in July 2020. In that role, Byrd provides high-level strategic leadership for diversity initiatives and coordinates offices across the campus to help create one point of responsibility for all programs and efforts around diversity. Byrd also is an associate professor of history. He began his career as a student of free and forced transatlantic black migration in the era of the American Revolution, and his book Captives and Voyagers was awarded the 2009 Wesley-Logan prize in African diaspora history. Dr. Byrd’s current research is focused at the intersection of urban history and the history of education. He recently presented aspects of this work-in-progress (on the efficacy of black teachers in black schools, and on diversity as a kind of white privilege) as the 54th Annual Furniss Lectures at Colorado State University. He is currently shepherding a collection of essays on the historical significance of race and place in Houston, Texas.
Dr. Weston Twardowski is a performance scholar and artist whose research investigates how we survive in precarious places. Dr. Twardowski holds a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University and is currently writing a monograph that focuses on the role of performance in community recovery and urban adaptation in post-Katrina New Orleans. A part of this project, entitled “Moving Together: Creating Solidarity Through Placemaking Performance in Post-Katrina New Orleans,” is forthcoming in Performance Research. TDR has published Dr. Twardowski’s research: The Drama Review, Ecumenica, and the Annals of Political Science. His performance and book reviews have appeared in Theatre Journal and Theatre History Studies. Dr. Twardowski serves as Program Manager of the Diluvial Houston Initiative and is a Lecturer in Theatre and Environmental Studies.
Dr. Joseph Campana is a poet, arts writer, and scholar of the literature and culture of early modern England. He holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University. His early modern scholarship begins with an attention to poetry and the forms, poetics, and aesthetics of pain, gender and sexuality, iconoclasm, childhood, natural history and the environment. He is the author of The Pain of Reformation: Spenser, Vulnerability, and the Ethics of Masculinity (Fordham UP, 2012), the co-editor of Renaissance Posthumanism (Fordham, 2016), and the co-editor of two volumes of essays on insect life: Lesser Living Creatures of the Renaissance: Insects and Lesser Living Creatures of the Renaissance: Concepts (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2023). Campana serves as the William Shakespeare Professor of English, the Director of the Center for Environmental Studies, the co-director of the ENST minor, and a co-PI on the Mellon Foundation-funded Diluvial Houston grant.
Dr. Amarilys Estrella is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and a faculty affiliate for the Center for African and African American Studies at Rice University. Her research interests broadly focus on the intersections of race and gender within transnational movements, Black Latin American and Latinx identity, as well as human rights and anti-racist activism. Her first book project investigates how Blackness and Black identity, is produced, employed and transformed through everyday encounters among stateless Black grassroots activists of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic. Estrella is also working on an edited book volume with Dr. Melissa Maldonado-Salcedo which seeks to explore and engage the many voices of Mujerismos, disrupting the silences and making visible the ways in which “genealogies of power” get mapped through and because of the body. This book volume engages multiple genres, including poetry, visual art, and scholarly essays. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from New York University.
Dr. Victoria M. Massie is an Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology and a Faculty Affiliate for the Center for African and African-American Studies, the Medical Humanities Program, the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, and the Science & Technology Studies Program at Rice University. Her research and teaching broadly focus on the history of anthropological thought, medical anthropology, political anthropology, race & racialization, biocapitalism, Black Feminist Science Studies, and experimenting with ethnographic form to reimagine key ideas around embodiment and the biological sciences in the 21st century from genetic ancestry testing to chronic racialized stress. Her areas of focus include West and Central Africa, specifically Cameroon, as well as the United States. She received her Ph.D. in Sociocultural Anthropology with a Designated Emphasis in Science & Technology Studies and her M.A. in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Kirsten Ostherr, MPH is the Gladys Louise Fox Professor of English and founding Director of the new Medical Humanities Research Institute, one of the only research institutes in the world solely dedicated to advancing translational research on human experiences of health and illness. She is also the founding Director of the Medical Humanities program (2016-present) and the Medical Futures Lab (2012-present) at Rice University. Ostherr is the author of Medical Visions: Producing the Patient through Film, Television and Imaging Technologies (Oxford, 2013) and Cinematic Prophylaxis: Globalization and Contagion in the Discourse of World Health (Duke, 2005). Kirsten is currently writing two books with grant support from the National Library of Medicine and the National Endowment for the Humanities: The Visual History of Computational Health and Virtual Health. Ostherr received her PhD in American Studies from Brown University. With the support of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship, she completed a Master of Public Health degree in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences at the UT-Houston School of Public Health.
Dr. Keisha Ray earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Utah. She is currently an associate professor with tenure with the McGovern Center for Humanities & Ethics and serves as the Director of the McGovern Center’s Medical Humanities Scholarly Concentration. Before joining the McGovern Center, she was an assistant professor of philosophy at Texas State University, a postdoctoral fellow with the McGovern Center, a lecturer at various universities in Texas and Utah, and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of South Carolina. Most of Dr. Ray’s work focuses on the social, political, and cultural determinants of Black people’s health, integrating race education into medical school curricula, and the ethics of biomedical enhancement. She has contributed to peer-reviewed journals like the Journal of Medical Humanities and Pediatrics, as well as edited volumes, and textbooks. Dr. Ray also serves as an associate of the American Journal of Bioethics blog site to which she is a regular contributor. Her book Black Health was released in 2023 by Oxford University Press.