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Associates

Every residential college at Rice has an associates program, where faculty, staff, and community members support students in their intellectual, cultural and social lives through providing mentorship, guidance and support.

Peter and Cheryl Loewen

Career/Profession: Associate Professor of Musicology, Shepherd School of Music; Cheryl Assistant Director of the Moore Memorial Public Library in Texas City

Bio: Peter Loewen is Associate Professor of musicology at Rice University where he specializes in Medieval and Renaissance music. His research interests concern vernacular song, religious drama, intellectual history, music and preaching, and the Franciscans. Peter Loewen was born in Uganda to naturalized Canadian citizens who, in their youth, had emigrated from Ukraine after WWII. Cheryl Loewen was born in Dauphin, Manitoba, Canada. She has a Bachelors degree in Commerce from the University of Manitoba and a Master degree in Library Science from UNT. Peter and Cheryl have 4 children ages 15-23.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: At the moment, Game of Thrones.

Hobbies: Beer Brewing

Fun Fact: Peter may be a citizen of Uganda.

Michelle Passo

Career/Profession: Center for Career Development (Rice University)

Bio: This is my 10th year in the CCD! Through the years, I've worked in different roles from managing the Owl Edge Externship Program to helping employers recruit Rice talent, to working with students as they create their resumes and practice their interviewing skills. My husband and I are huge college hoops fans. Our daughter loves having dinner with the 'Rice kids' at Associates Night(s)! We have a rambunctious dog named Cubbie (after the Chicago Cubs, of course).

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Edward Scissorhands and Moulin Rouge

Hobbies: Basketball spectating (college and NBA), running, yoga

Fun Fact: I used to work in the Commissioner's Office at the National Basketball Association (NBA) in New York City

Emily Houlik-Ritchey

Career/Profession: English Department, Rice U.

Bio: I teach and research the literature of the Middle Ages written in medieval English and Spanish, studying the interaction of these cultural traditions with the wider medieval Mediterranean world. I am originally from Colorado, and my family (including a husband and two spunky kids) travel back there regularly to hike, ski, and see family.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Foyle's War; Jane Austen film adaptations; Rogue One

Hobbies: Raising my kids; Reading for fun; Hiking

Fun Fact: Periodically (as they migrate through Houston) I foster monarch butterfly caterpillars through their metamorphosis into butterflies.

Dereth Phillips

Career/Profession: Rice University, Lecturer

Bio: I have worked as a lecturer in the Rice BioSciences (Biochemistry & Cell Biology) department since 2000 and have been a member of the McMurtry family since 2010. My day job is advising Natural Sciences students interested in finding and succeeding in undergraduate research opportunities on campus and elsewhere in Houston. I am a terrible but devoted ukulele/banjolele hobbyist.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Freaks and Geeks

Hobbies: Cooking, ukulele, playing other odd instruments, singing

Fun Fact: Rice has a lot of cool nature. Take a look at the lizards around McMurtry. The brown ones with diamonds are invasive Cuban anoles. The green (sometimes plain brown) ones are native.

Zoë Wool

Career/Profession: Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, CSWGS, and Medical Humanities

Bio: I’m a native New Yorker and erstwhile Torontonian still getting used to Houston’s car culture and the fact that people put blankets on their lawns when there is a frost warning. My resarch and teaching are at the intersections of medical anthropology, disability studies, queer theory, and STS, and most of my ethnographic resarch is with injured US soldiers and veterans of the post-9/11 wars.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: I don’t like to pick favorites (but maybe Startrek TNG)

Hobbies: Making meals, making mischief.

Fun Fact: I usually ride my bike to work and have been known to yell at my students who ride theirs without a helemet.

E. Kate Abad

Career/Profession: Student Center Director, Rice

Bio: E. Kate Abad has worked at Rice University for ten years, where she currently serves as the Student Center Director with oversight for the Student Run Businesses, Facilities and Events, and Student Activities. Kate has a passion for developing student and professional leaders through coaching, leadership development and advising. As a hobby she loves anything related to journaling and is always willing to help aspiring journal writers get started!

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Game of Thrones

Hobbies: Journaling - bullet, art, classic

Fun Fact: I grew up in Japan and on Guam

Norma Torres Mendoza & Placido Andres Gomez

Career/Profession: Norma (MBA Candidate at Rice Business School) Placido (Senior Associate at Safal Partners)

Bio: Norma and Placido have been married for three years and live in Houston, TX. Both of them are Rice undergrads (they met at Urban Immersion) in 2013. They both then attended Harvard for their Masters. Placido has a background in politics and education and Norma has focused on the intersection of business and the public sector.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Black Mirror

Hobbies: Tennis, cooking, traveling, and reading at different coffeeshops

Fun Fact: Plaz is a great tennis player (state champion from New Mexico) and Norma appeared in the Barney and Friends show (you know, the purple dinosaur)

Nicole Van Den Heuvel

Career/Profession: Executive Director -Center for Career Development

Bio: '81 Rice alumna - Love being back at Rice and helping our students find their career paths and gain confidence in their career development process.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Parent Trap

Hobbies: Horseback riding, travel, museums

Fun Fact: From Aruba. Lived in 8 different countries. Went to 13 schools in 12 years.

Mark Krouskop

Career/Profession: Production Manager/Lecturer for Theater, VADA

Bio: I design scenery for theater productions. I have worked with many different theater companies around Houston and the country. Before being a scenic designer, I worked for engineering, architectural, and design firms. For Rice I work as the Production Manager for the Theater track of VADA. I also serve as the Rice Player's faculty mentor.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Whatever I am binge watching at that moment

Hobbies: Collecting Toys and pop memorabilia, playing video games.

Fun Fact: I have 2 visually impaired Great Danes

Cassandra Diep & Jeffrey Yeung

Career/Profession: Assistant Teaching Professor, Kinesiology Department (CD); Senior Accounting & Business Analyst, Controller’s Office (JY)

Bio: Cassie and Jeff grew up in Houston and attended the same middle and high schools, but they didn’t start dating until they were both in graduate school at Texas A&M. Cassie is an Owl-Aggie (Rice for undergrad and A&M for grad school), and Jeff is a full-blown Aggie. They have been married since 2013 and have two young children: Alex, who loves superheroes and all things that go, and Alyssa, who loves all things that her brother loves. Cassie currently teaches and advises in the Health Sciences program within Kinesiology, while Jeff is involved with various aspects of Rice’s accounting.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Stranger Things

Hobbies: Arts and crafts, baking (CD); Cars, cooking, shoes (JY)

Fun Fact: Cassie and Jeff “swam” with dolphins while honeymooning in Hawaii (well, Jeff swam, while Cassie stood in the water nearby).

Jennifer Zinn-Winkler

Career/Profession: Department Administrator - Department of Kinesiology at Rice University

Bio: I have been in my position at Rice since moving to the Houston area in 2012. Originally from Austin, I received my BS degree in Kinesiology from UT Austin. My husband Lance & I have a toddler daughter who keeps us on our toes. Oh and...McMurtry is the BEST college on campus!

Favorite Movie/TV Show: The Holiday

Hobbies: Photography, arts & crafts, puzzles with my daughter

Fun Fact: I've met Matthew McConaughey twice & have two pictures with him. He's so awesome!

Catherine Evans

Career/Profession: Attorney

Bio: I grew up in New Orleans but moved to Houston in 1997 to attend law school and never left. I'm Board Certified in Criminal Law and have been working in the local criminal justice community for 20 years. My husband Jim graduated from Rice, so we've always lived nearby and enjoy going back on campus whenever possible. We have a ping-pong table and our kids would welcome the challenge from any students looking to get off-campus for a few hours!

Favorite Movie/TV Show: West Wing

Hobbies: Gardening

Fun Fact: We currently have a 16 year old exchange student from Turkey living with us for the year.

Krista Kobylianskii

Career/Profession: Assistant Teaching Professor in Chemistry

Bio: I've been teaching Chemistry at Rice since 2019 and I primarily teach the General Chemistry Laboratory course. I live just outside of Houston with my husband, son and cat. Before coming to Houston, I lived and researched in San Francisco, Zurich (Switzerland), Melbourne (Australia) and Victoria (Canada). So, if you need any travel tips, just ask!

Favorite Movie/TV Show: British TV show "Taskmaster"

Hobbies: Strategic board games and travelling

Fun Fact: No one in my family has the same citizenship. I am Canadian, my husband is Russian and my son is American!

Tawfik Jarjour

Career/Profession: Strategy Consultant

Bio: Tawfik is a Consultant at Accenture who focuses on helping High Tech and Software companies thrive in a post-covid, purpose filled, and value driven world by leveraging the best of Accenture. Tawfik serves his alma mater Rice University through his work on standing committees and the CCD Advisory Board. He is a fan of cooking, hiking, traveling, and meeting great people around the globe.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Ted Lasso

Hobbies: Cooking, Hiking, Soccer

Fun Fact: I've worked in 11 different countries in a 12 month period

Lena Silva

Career/Profession: Civil Litigation Attorney

Bio: Proud OG McMurtry alum! And happy to be back home in Houston after graduating from Rice in 2013, teaching 9th grade English in Southeast Houston for two years, then spending three years in Austin at UT Law, followed by clerking for a U.S. District Judge in El Paso for two years. I am happy to advise students on all thing law school, LSAT, pre-law, as well as taking time off after Rice before doing any of the above! I majored in The Study of Women, Gender, & Sexuality, as well as Psychology and would love to talk about my experiences in these studies.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise

Hobbies: Salsa & Bachata dancing, Yoga, Rock Climbing, Camping

Fun Fact: I have competed and performed stand up comedy all over Houston.

Manny De la Mora

Career/Profession: After physically altering them I apply heat, fat, acid as well as other compounds to change the chemical and physical nature of inert organic flora and fauna.

Bio: I attended Rice with the intention of going to medical school. After my junior year I decided that medical school was not the right career path for me so I decided to go to culinary school instead. I think I can really help students that are unsure of what they want to do or had an idea but might want to make a change.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Braveheart / Cowboy Bebop

Hobbies: Video Games, Smoking/BBQ, Reading

Fun Fact: I am from Mexico and did not learn to speak English until I was about 4 years old.

Iska Wire

Career/Profession: Rice University, Talent Management and Development

Bio: I grew up in Houston and attended Trinity University. I've been in fundraising for 17 years and currently do talent management for Development and Alumni Relations. I am divorced and have two children - Elsie (12) and Wyatt (11) who are both in Scottish arts (highland dancing and bag piping) at their school plus a Siamese cat named Wooley.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: An Ideal Husband

Hobbies: Scrapbooking, Photography, Girl Scouts, Rodeo and country and western dancing

Fun Fact: I was a Gold Award Girl Scout and as a kid, sold over 2000 boxes of cookies each year.

Theo Mallinson

Career/Profession: Oil and gas industry as an engineer

Bio: Graduated from Rice in 1995, have worked in oil and gas since then. Several stints overseas, but back in Houston now for two kids to go through school. Live near campus with family and currently three chickens.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: The Neverending Story

Hobbies: Soccer, swimming, gardening, video games.

Fun Fact: I enjoy low environmental impact home 'systems' and am currently trying to perfect a kind of urban mini farm at our house.

Alese Pickering

Career/Profession: Rice Magazine (part of Public Affairs at Rice)

Bio: I am a graphic-designing, food-loving, cat-mothering, native Houstonian.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Murial's Wedding

Hobbies: Cooking, photography, reading magazines, collecting art

Fun Fact: I love driving long distance. Road trips are the best.

Laura S. Kabiri

Career/Profession: Lecturer - Department of Kinesiology

Bio: Hello from the Department of Kinesiology at Rice! I primarily teach human anatomy and physiology courses while my research focuses on pediatric health and wellness. I am also a licensed physical therapist, wife, and mom of 3 (but one of them has four paws and a tail).

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Frasier

Hobbies: Eating

Fun Fact: I completed undergrad as a music major (piano and choir) before going on PT school and have volunteered with the Houston Food Bank, Houston Rodeo, and Faithful Paws Animal Therapy Group.

Kurt and Stephanie Kasper

Career/Profession: The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston

Bio: Kurt Kasper earned a doctorate in bioengineering from Rice University and a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering (magna cum laude) from Case Western Reserve University. He served on the faculty of the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University for six years prior to transitioning to the Department of Orthodontics at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston in July 2014. Kurt’s research applies fundamentals of engineering, materials science, and the biosciences toward the development and evaluation of biomaterial-based technologies to meet clinical needs. Outside of the laboratory, he enjoys engagement in outreach activities through service with the You Be the Chemist Challenge program of the Chemical Educational Foundation, as well as service to the greater Houston community in various capacities, including past service as a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Rice Alumni.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Waiting for Guffman

Hobbies: Parks, museums, and cycling with my family

Fun Fact: I applied to Rice for undergraduate studies but was not accepted!

Ozge Gurcanli, Simon Fischer-Baum, Masal Baby-Murt

Career/Profession: OG & SFB: Department of Psychology, Masal: Unicorn Land

Bio: We both work in Department of Psychology and we teach Psychology and Cognitive Science courses. We lived in McM as RAs for 4 years, students named our child Baby-Murt, and we are so proud of all McM students.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: OG: Marvellous Miss Maisel, SFB: Russian Doll, Masal: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Hobbies: OG: Photography, SFB: Cooking, Masal: Acting, scooting, and drawing

Fun Fact: OG loves tea! A lot. Also sewing. We all love art work with tactile materials.

Keri Bas

Career/Profession: I teach sewing & textile arts, often with a non-profit working in schools & shelters.

Bio: After years in professional marketing and web design, I now split my time between sewing/quilting and working with private tech/web support clients. I share my house with my parents and two cats. I serve on the board of a local arts non-profit and lead several groups of creatives. I'm an interfaith minister, ordained in New York in 2005 - ask me about it sometime.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Good Omens, The Princess Bride, Ladyhawke, Iron Man, The Lion in Winter, Harvey, Moana / Babylon 5, Star Trek, Midsomer Murders, Bob's Burgers, Brooklyn 99, Vera

Hobbies: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons; making & drinking fine teas; arguing about Marvel & Harry Potter & scifi movies over coffee late into the night; reading; writing; painting; drawing; traveling when the budget allows

Fun Fact: I was on a TV game show in the early 00s when I lived in New York; people still text me when they catch the re-runs.

Lauren Stadler

Career/Profession: Assistant Professor, CEVE

Bio: I am an environmental engineer and my research and teaching focus on biological water treatment processes and the microbes in our water systems. I am a mom to one toddler and two sweet but poorly behaved doggies.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Friday Night Lights

Hobbies: Biking, soccer, eating ice cream

Fun Fact: I kill most plants that I try and grow.

Danielle King

Career/Profession: Rice University, Assistant Professor in Psychological Sciences

Bio: I started at Rice in 2018, after completing my undergrad training in Psychology at Spelman College and my MA and PhD in Organizational Psychology at Michigan State. I am originally from New Orleans, LA. I started the WorKing Resilience Research Lab at Rice because I am passionate about understanding how we can foster resilience and wellbeing in employees and organizations.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Black Panther. The Notebook. Big Bang Theory. Good Trouble.

Hobbies: Traveling. Trying new workouts. Painting.

Fun Fact: I love adventure: I went skydiving in New Zealand and swimming with sharks in Belize.

Geoff Wehmeyer

Career/Profession: Assistant Professor Rice Department of Mechanical Engineering

Bio: I'm a mechanical engineer, and my research focuses on understanding heat transport at the nanoscale. I was born in Dallas, went to undergrad at UT Austin, and came to Rice in 2018 after finishing my Ph.D. at Berkeley. My wife Lauren is also a mechanical engineer from Texas, and we love spending time with our niece and nephews in San Antonio and exploring Houston.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: The Sopranos

Hobbies: Hiking, camping, reading fiction, going to shows

Fun Fact: At one point, I could throw a javelin >130 feet

Margaret Beier

Career/Profession: Professor

Bio: I am a psychology professor at Rice from Minneapolis who is a proud retired McMurtry Magister! I love McMurtry!!!! We lived on campus from 2015 to 2020 (my daughters, Lucy, Liza, my husband, Chris, and our dogs, Oscar and Felix)

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Mary Poppins/Mary Tyler Moore

Hobbies: Reading and cooking

Fun Fact: I love Prince.

Chan Pham

Career/Profession: Research Administrator

Bio: I've been with Rice (BIOE department) since 2008 and my daughters graduated from Rice. My one advises for students to take advantage of all the resources Rice offers.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: I like all movies except scary ones

Hobbies: travel, read, try new restaurants

Fun Fact:

Elizabeth Festa

Career/Profession: Proposal Development Specialist/Office of Research

Bio: I help faculty members in crafting proposals for federal funding for their research; my job affords me the pleasure of engaging with research across all disciplines and schools at Rice. I have worked at Rice in various capacities for 14 years (13 years as a faculty member) and am familiar with most offices/student services at Rice. My hometown is Chantilly, Virginia (Wash. D.C. metropolitan area). I can advise students on research proposals (NSF, Fulbright etc. ) and graduate school/professional school applications.

Favorite Movie/TV Show: all international crime dramas

Hobbies: museums, documentary films, reading, walking on Memorial Trails and going to the arboretum. I aspire to more hobbies on the long-term--I'd like to get back into English saddle horseback-riding at some point.

Fun Fact: I have two very loud pets--a Siamese and a Min. Schnauzer

Grace Weng

Career/Profession: Campus Minister

Bio: McMurtry Class of 2015; Majors: English, VADA (Theatre), ELA 7-12 Teaching Cert.; Assistant Director of Rice Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship

Favorite Movie/TV Show:

Hobbies:

Fun Fact:

Laura Kabiri

Career/Profession: Assistant Teaching Professor; Sports Medicine & Exercise Physiology

Bio: I'm an EXCEPTIONALLY excited faculty associate and the NSCI DA for McMurtry! I teach human anatomy and physiology and I like free hugs, good humans, and puppies of all kinds. I am Texas born and bred and love wearing dresses and western boots. With a background in healthcare, I am always happy to talk about careers in medicine, how to survive adulting, or just the meaning of life :)

Favorite Movie/TV Show: Books. The kind with real paper.

Hobbies: Woodworking, reading, food, music

Fun Fact: Our family motto is 'Be weird, but wonderful!'. I'm KILLING it.