Victoria Arbizu-Sabater has taught at schools and universities in Europe and America for over 30 years. She earned her Ph.D. in Spanish Linguistics at the University of Seville, Spain, and one of her M.As in Spanish Literature from Rice University where she also served as a Senior Lecturer in Spanish for almost eleven years. She is a former president and current member of La Casa de España in Houston, where she has enthusiastically worked to introduce and educate the Houston metro area on the cultures of her native Spain. She is currently an independent researcher on the history of the Spanish Language of the early Anglophones in Texas. She is also preparing a historical edition of the Secret Prison Diary of Stephen F. Austin, which was written mostly in Spanish.
Helga Kessler Aurisch was born in Germany but moved to New York with her family at the age of ten. She attended Smith College and subsequently pursued graduate studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, and at the University of Freiburg, Germany, where she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in art history. She began her career at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with the exhibition The Imperial Style: Fashions of the Hapsburg Era. In 2000 she co-organized the exhibition of German paintings from Houston’s sister city of Leipzig, entitled Romantics, Realists, Revolutionaries at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
She joined the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2004 and has brought numerous exhibitions to Houston, including, The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1800-1920, German Impressionist Landscape Painting: Liebermann – Corinth – Slevogt, and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Washington. Her most recent projects were Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River and High Society: The Portraits of Franz X. Winterhalter, which is currently on view at the Château de Compiègne, near Paris.
She has published widely and is a frequent lecturer on 19th century painting.
Claudia I. Baba received B.A. and M.A. degrees in Political Science from the University of Houston where her research focused primarily on comparative politics, political theory, and American politics. Active in education, politics, and art, she is a former high school social studies teacher and director of education outreach at the World Affairs Council of Houston, where she coordinated programs like the World Cultures Summit and Global Issues In-Depth. She has worked on local, state, and national political campaigns and was field organizer for the Arab American Institute, a Washington based nonpartisan national leadership organization. She served on the executive committee of the award-winning Houston Palestine Film Festival and was local liaison for the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Since 2012, she has served as an officer for the Arab American Educational Foundation which was formed in Houston in 1985 to promote understanding of Arab culture and history through the endowment of university chairs, sponsoring academic programs, lecture series, cultural performances, scholarships, and research. AAEF has established Endowed Chairs in Modern Arab History at both Rice University and the University of Houston. She currently teaches International Politics and Intercultural Issues at the University of St. Thomas.
Joe Barnes is the Bonner Means Baker Fellow at the Baker Institute. Since coming to Rice University in 1995, he has written extensively on international economics, with a focus on the geopolitics of energy. In addition to numerous institute studies, Barnes’ work has also appeared in The New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, Survival, Oil and Gas Journal, Energy Markets, the Newsletter of the Royal United Services Institute, the SAIS Policy Forum Series and the National Interest. He is a contributor to three volumes: “Energy in the Caspian Region” (Palgrave Press), “United States Tax Reform in the 21st Century” (Cambridge University Press) and “Natural Gas and Geopolitics from 1970 to 2040” (Cambridge University Press).
Barnes is also faculty advisor to the Baker Institute Student Forum. From 1979 to 1993, he was a career diplomat with the U.S. State Department, serving in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. His last assignment in the State Department was with the Policy Planning Staff. Joe Barnes is a graduate of Princeton University.
Hannah M. Biggs received her B.A. in English Literary Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Otterbein University, and she is currently a PhD candidate in English at Rice University. Her research interests include 20th-century rural and farm writing, agricultural studies, modernism, Midwestern regionalism, the history of veterinary medicine, and human-animal studies. She has published on the works on Louis Bromfield, wrote the critical introduction to the re-release of Irvin S. Cobb’s The Abandoned Farmers, and writes extensively on literary agrarianism. She is the proud doggy parent to four rescue dogs and is an avid equestrian.
Jim Blackburn has been a practicing environmental lawyer and planner since 1973. He is a Professor in the Practice of Environmental Law in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at Rice University, where he teaches courses in sustainable design and advanced sustainable design and is the Director of the Undergraduate Minor in Energy and Water Sustainability. Blackburn is the Co-Director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disasters (SSPEED) Center at Rice. He is also a Rice Faculty Scholar at the Baker Institute and is the owner of a planning firm called Sustainable Planning and Design. Blackburn authored “The Book of Texas Bays”, published in 2004 by Texas A&M Press, and he has written a new book, A Texan Plan for the Texas Coast, scheduled for publication by Texas A&M Press in the fall of 2017. He has also authored numerous legal papers and has received several local, state and national awards for environmental advocacy.
Eric C. Botts, Adjunct Professor of International Studies at the University of St.Thomas and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Houston Downtown, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from St. Mary’s University and Master of Security Management from the University of Houston Downtown. After service for 31 years in the U. S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer (Santa Domingo, Seoul, Dublin, and Nassau), Assistant Director of Houston Passport Agency and an Information Systems Security Officer, Mr. Botts retired to work in the private sector. During his federal career he served as Program Chairman of the Gulf Coast Federal Safety Council and as a member of the Federal Executive Board. He is a founding board member of the Foreign Policy Alliance and has spoken on foreign policy issues to civic groups, colleges, and the media. He works as a Security Project Manager Consultant for Swailes & Co. Inc. specializing in cyber security, risk management, business continuity, due diligence, travel security, and investigations. In the cyber security community, he is on the Secure World Advisory Council and served on the Executive Board of the IT Summit.
David Brauer is the former head of the History of Art Department of the Glassell School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and is a native of Scotland. He was educated in England at the Sir Christopher Wren School and St. Martin’s School of Art from which he received his degree. After extensive travel in Europe, Russia, Turkey, and North Africa, Mr. Brauer returned to England where he worked at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, and taught at the North Oxfordshire College of Art and Technology. Since moving to Houston, he has curated numerous art exhibits: Houston Art in Norway in 1982; Artists’ Progress: Seven Houston Artists 1943-1993 in 1993; Landscape without Figures in 1994; and Images from Space, 1995; Charles Schorre 1925-1996: A Retrospective, 1997, which opened at the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi and traveled to several Texas museums; and he co-curated a Pop Art exhibition at the Menil Collection in 2001. He has taught at the University of Houston and Rice University, and has guest lectured at Columbia University, University of Notre Dame, and the University of Texas at Austin, the San Antonio Art Museum, the World Business Council’s conference in Brussels, and the Anderson Ranch in Aspen, Colorado.
B. Jill Carroll, Ph.D., a noted expert on issues of religious tolerance and the philosophy of religion, served as Executive Director of the Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance at Rice University for five years. She holds a doctorate in religious studies from Rice and she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theological and historical studies from Oral Roberts University. She has taught classes and lectures on religion, philosophy, and humanities at Rice University, the University of Houston, and the Jung Center, Houston. Her recent book A Dialogue of Civilizations: Gulen’s Islamic Ideals and Human Discourse was a Publishers Weekly bestseller in religion. A frequent guest on radio and television programs, she has been interviewed by the New York Times, PBS, and “Good Morning America.”
Artist/philosopher Fernando R. Casas is a native of Bolivia. In 1968 he arrived in the USA with a LASPAU scholarship. In 1970 he received his BA in Philosophy from Colorado College graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa and receiving the Hastings Prize for a paper in Philosophy. He continued his studies at Rice University receiving his MA in 1972 and his PhD in Philosophy in 1978. Casas has exhibited his works of art in numerous group and solo exhibitions in commercial galleries and museums in cities such as Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Florence, Lima (Peru), La Paz (Bolivia) and Santiago (Chile). In 2003 he was awarded the Premio alla Carriera at the Florence Biennale. Since the 1980s, Casas has taught and lectured at several universities in South and North America. His longest association is with Rice University where he has taught in Humanities and Philosophy as Distinguished Lecturer for about 20 years. Among his publications are The Limit of The Visual World (1990), Polar Perspective: A Graphical System for Creating Two-dimensional Images Representing a World of Four Dimensions (1984), and Flat-Sphere Perspective (1983).
Ruth Chow-Kneese is a private clothing stylist. She focuses on organizing her clients’ closets as well as dressing them for their every day lives. The ability to pack for a trip with one piece of carry-on luggage is her specialty. She is the former owner of a retail store in Houston that she sold in 2004. She received her degree from Tobe-Coburn School of Fashion in New York and was a member of the Executive Training Program at Joske’s of Houston (now Dillards).
Sarah Cortez, a Councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters and Fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, has poems, essays, book reviews, and short stories anthologized and published in journals, such as Texas Monthly, Rattle, The Sun, Pennsylvania English, Texas Review, Louisiana Literature, Arcadia, Langdon Review of the Arts, Midwest Quarterly, Southwestern American Literature, and Post Road. Winner of the PEN Texas Literary Award, her debut poetry collection is How to Undress a Cop. Her books have placed finalist in the Writers’ League of Texas awards, Los Angeles Book Festival Awards, and the PEN Southwest Poetry Awards. An anthologist of eight volumes, she has won the Southwest Book Award, multiple International Latino Book Awards, and the Skipping Stones Honor Award. Her most recent anthology is Vanishing Points: Poems and Photographs of Texas Roadside Memorials, already a designated 2016 Southwest Book of the Year and won first place in the Press Women of Texas annual awards.
Roberta M. Diddel Ph.D., is the founder and Executive Director of Disability 101, a non-profit organization providing high quality, consistently available programs to help people with disabling medical conditions and their families learn to adapt and thrive. She also teaches part-time in the Psychology Department at Rice University and at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. As a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Houston, she helps patients meet the challenges of major life transitions, loss and bereavement, chronic illness, brain injury, chronic pain and other disabling conditions. Dr. Diddel received her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and her PhD. in clinical psychology from Boston University.
Terrence Doody received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1970 and joined the faculty of Rice University where he is now a professor in the Department of English and teaches courses in modernism, the novel, and contemporary literature. His publications include Confession and Community in the Novel (Louisiana State University Press, 1980) and Among Other Things: A Description of the Novel (LSU Press, 1998) as well as recent essays on Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, architectural theory, and the poets Eavan Boland and Robert Hass. He is the recipient of grants from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a eight-time winner of a George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching. In 1997 he was also voted the Outstanding Associate of Lovett College and he was awarded the Allison Sarofim Distinguished Teaching Professor for 2002-2003. He has taught for many years in Rice’s program of Continuing Studies and at the Women’s Institute of Houston since 1973.
Sarah Foltz is an art historian and fine art appraiser, specializing in 19th and 20th century Texas art. She is co-owner of William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art– a gallery in Houston, Texas dedicated to the promotion of Texas art. She completed her M.A. in Art History at Southern Methodist University where she focused her thesis research on Texas regional and Latin American art within the Texas post-war art scene; prior to this, she received her B.A. in Photojournalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Her background includes New York University’s Fine and Decorative Art Appraisal Studies program, as well as the Provenance Research Training Program in Zagreb, Croatia, which focused on restitution of Nazi era looted cultural property. She is passionate about educating people on the importance and history of the evolving art scene in Texas during the late 19th and 20th century, and celebrating those artists whose achievements marked and set apart the Texas art community within the field of American art.
William E. Frisco, CPA, Certified Financial Planner®, is a Senior Vice President at one of the world’s largest global asset management firms. He has more than 20 years of experience managing growth and retirement portfolios for individuals, trusts, corporations, and foundations and is a retirement consultant for 401(k)s and other corporate retirement plans. Mr. Frisco is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Financial Planning Association. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University and an M.B.A. from Tulane University.
Nancy P. Geyer, novelist and playwright, is the author of two novels, Flying South (Scribner) and Frailties (Little, Brown). Sonia and Suzy, the national winner of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea Festival of Firsts Playwriting Competition was presented at Houston’s Country Playhouse during its 2010-2011 season. All the Pretty Little Horses, one of three plays selected for the debut of Wordsmyth Theatre Company’s annual Playwrights Reading Series, was presented to a capacity audience at Houston’s Stages Repertory Theatre in 2009. I Would Give You Violets, received not only from Live Oak Theatre, an equity theatre in Austin, the New Play Award for the Best American Play but also an option contract for a Broadway production. Versus was one of three finalists in the national 50th Anniversary Stanley Drama Competition and Dust was one of three winners in The Festival of Southern Theatre Competition.The Reflection Pool received a reading by NY Artists Unlimited. Ms. Geyer, who has taught in the English department of the University of Houston and Rice’s Schools of Continuing Studies, received two master’s degrees from the State University of New York. She has also edited a newsletter for a professional theatre, produced and anchored in-house television programs for a major energy corporation, developed and written informational material for a maritime museum, served as a consultant on award-winning scripts for a major symphony orchestra, created and taught in a government-funded program for gifted children, and conducted seminars for lawyers, civic and social groups, and hospice volunteers.
George S. Glass is a medical doctor and Board Certified Psychiatrist and Addictionologist. He graduated from Northwestern University Medical School, trained at the Yale University Department of Psychiatry, and set up the United States Navy’s Alcohol Treatment Program at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He has been a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the UTMH, and Cornell Medical Schools. He is one of the few physicians in the country to evaluate pilot’s for the airlines and the FAA, and does independent assessments for the Texas Board of Medical Examiners, the Texas Bar Association, and various companies and unions. Dr. Glass has written more than 30 psychiatric papers, 2 books, and given presentations at local, regional, and national meetings. He has been quoted and appeared in local and national media. He has been an expert witness throughout the country on psychiatric and addiction issues, and has evaluated, or treated more than 40,000 individuals in his career. He is in practice in Houston and he and his wife Donna have five children.
Barry Greenlaw is a private consultant, appraiser and lecturer specializing in the decorative and fine arts of England and America. He received his undergraduate degree from Bates College and his master’s degree from the University of Delaware as a Winterthur Fellow. Before coming to Houston in 1974 as Curator of the Bayou Bend Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, he served as Curator of Furniture and Assistant Director of Collections at Colonial Williamsburg. For three years he was a dealer in antique maps and prints. Mr. Greenlaw has lectured throughout the United States and has taught at several institutions including the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to the publication of numerous articles, he is the author of New England Furniture at Williamsburg.
Jade Hagan received her B.A. in English literature from Tulane University and her M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is currently a fifth-year Ph.D. student in English literature at Rice University, where she specializes in the intersection of Romanticism with the ecological and spiritual movements of the twentieth century. She is also the book review editor for the journal SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900. When she is not working on her dissertation or at SEL, she enjoys cycling, gardening, writing poetry and short fiction, and exploring Houston’s vibrant art scene.
Matthias Henze was born and raised in Hanover, Germany. In 1992 he earned a Master of Divinity in Protestant Theology from the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and moved to the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in Harvard’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. After completing his doctorate in 1997, Dr. Henze joined Rice’s department of religion, where he is now the Isla Carroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism. Dr. Henze has lectured in North America, South America, Europe, and Australia. In 2009-10 he was a Fellow-in-Residence at The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in Wassenaar, The Netherlands. In 2016 he was the Mandelbaum Scholar in Residence at the University of Sydney, Australia. While at Rice he has won five teaching/mentoring awards including the Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize (2003), the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching (2009, 2010, 2015), and the Graduate Student Association Teaching/Mentoring Award (2015). He was also named a founding fellow of Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence. In 2009 he founded Rice’s Program in Jewish Studies, of which he continues to serve as director.
J. Dennis Huston received his B.A. from Wesleyan University (Connecticut) in 1961, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Before coming to Houston in 1969, he was Assistant Professor of English at Yale. Dr. Huston is Professor of English at Rice University where he has four times won the George R. Brown Superior Teaching Award and where in the fall of 1989 he was named Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. he is an occasional participant in dramatic productions and is the author of a book on Shakespeare.
Victoria Jones has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, as well as a Master’s degree in Education—Counseling Psychology. She is the co-founder of Psynergy Psychological Associates, a group practice providing support and education to therapists. She works in private practice with individuals, couples, families, and groups. She leads workshops on topics including trauma, happiness, relationships, and mindfulness. Collaborative work with physicians has furthered her understanding of the intricacies of healing the mind and the body. She has advanced training in EMDR and Somatic Integration, as well as Dissociation and Trauma. In her first career, Victoria worked with Donald Barthelme as the founding editor of Gulf Coast literary magazine and has had short stories and reviews published in the Denver Quarterly and Houston Press. She is the founding Director of Writers In The Schools (WITS) and has fostered similar programs across the country. She has taught creative writing in classrooms as well as in museums, hospitals, and juvenile probation facilities; and, she has created curriculum that builds resilience through the arts. She has also worked as an editor and a consultant for Houston non-profits.
Raised on a farm in rural western Massachusetts, Justin Kelley studied Environmental Economics as an undergraduate at Tufts University. He subsequently spent ten years living in and around Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal, studying the Tibetan language, Buddhist philosophy, and meditative practices. In 2015, he began his doctoral work in Rice University’s Department of Religion with Dr. Anne C. Klein, professor of Religious Studies. His general interests include meditative and philosophical systems in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, phenomenology, and educational theory. His research focuses on the psychophysical transformation that occurs within religious practice, and the associated epistemologies that are both utilized while approaching this goal and born from such transformation. During the 2016/17 school year, he taught two undergraduate courses at Rice, entitled Buddhist Art and Literature and Tibetan Language, Literature, and Culture. He currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Religion’s mentorship program and is in his third year of coursework.
Lynda Harper Kelly received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in French from Rice University. In 1974 her doctoral dissertation received Rice’s Gardner Award given to the graduate student doing the best piece of research and writing in the humanities and social sciences. Her romance with France began in 1961 when she spent a summer in Paris studying at the Alliance Française School and she later returned to Paris for a year to study at the Sorbonne. She and her husband, architect Frank Kelly, return to France almost every year to explore and photograph different regions. They have given many lectures on their travels at the Alliance Française de Houston. Dr. Kelly has taught French at Southern Methodist University, Houston Community College, and Rice University. In 1995 she organized and conducted a six-week travel/study program in Burgundy for Rice University. She also loves French cuisine and has studied at both the Cordon Bleu and the Ecole Ritz in Paris.
Luisa Kluger holds an undergraduate degree in English Language and Literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a Master’s degree in Spanish from Rice University and a Ph.D. in Hispanic Sociolinguistics from the University of Houston. A native of Buenos Aires, she has studied and worked in Argentina, Israel, England, Spain and the United States. In Houston, she has taught Spanish, Hebrew and Sephardic studies at Rice University. She specializes in the teaching of foreign languages and Sephardic Culture.
Dr. Louis Markos Is a professor of English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University and holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities; his books include The Dreaming Stone, From Achilles to Christ, Apologetics for the 21st c., Restoring Beauty, Literature: A Student’s Guide, Heaven and Hell, and On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis. www.louismarkos.com
Ursula Muenzel, Ph.D., a native of Germany, received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Würzburg with a dissertation on the process of emancipation and integration of Jews in 19th century’s Germany. She worked at the prestigious Leo Baeck Institute in New York – the research institution, archive, and library for the German-speaking Jewry – and the Historic Department of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin. After moving to Houston in 2005, she taught in the Continuing Studies Program of Rice University, at the Center for International Studies at St. Thomas University, and at the Women’s Institute. A prolific writer, she published two books on Jewish History, and numerous essays and articles on the same topic as well as on international relations. She lectures frequently on a variety of historic and current political topics. Licensed as realtor in Germany and Texas she joined the company of Beth Wolff four years ago, specializing in residential and commercial real estate.
Carol Louise Munn lives and writes in Houston, Texas where she teaches English at Awty International School. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan where she received an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Michael R. Gutterman Award for Poetry, the Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship, as well as the Colby Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The GSU Review (Georgia State University), So to Speak (George Mason University), Fugue (University of Idaho), WomenArts Quarterly Journal, Midwest Quarterly, and other journals. Her work has been anthologized in A Bird in the Hand: Risk or Flight, the Middle School literature textbook Stories from Where We Live: The Gulf Coast and also in Houston Poetry Fest Anthologies 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011. She was a finalist in the Atlanta Review Poetry Competition, the Artlines Ekphrastic Poetry Competition in conjunction with the MFAH, the Southern Writers Symposium, the Dallas Poets Community International Poetry Contest, the Marlboro Review poetry contest, the San Francisco International Dancing Poetry Contest, and the Barbara Bradley Award, sponsored by the New England Poetry Club. Her flash-prose memoir “Roosters” was a finalist in the Writer’s Advice Fourth Annual Flash Prose Contest. She has given many public poetry readings and radio interviews in Houston and throughout the country.
Richard W. Murray is a native of Louisiana with B.A. and M.A. degrees in government from Louisiana State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and has taught at the University of Houston since 1966 where he is currently Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Public Policy. His principal academic interests are in political parties, campaigns and elections, public opinion, and interest groups. The author of numerous articles and books, Dr. Murray’s most recent book isProgrowth Politics: Change and Governance in Houston. Professor Murray consulted in over 200 political campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s (he has since given up the sport) and has conducted over 50 polls for local media. In addition he is a political analyst for Channel 13.
Kate Emery Pogue received her undergraduate degree in Theatre from Northwestern University and her master’s from the University of Minnesota. She was founder of the drama program and writer of the theater curriculum for Houston Community College where she taught for over 20 years. During this time she was the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare by the Book Festival in Fort Bend County and a founder and Artistic Director and Resident Librettist for Opera To Go, the educational outreach performance company for Houston Grand Opera. Both a stage director and librettist, she has directed plays for numerous organizations and colleges and has had commissions for writing the librettos for several opera companies. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A frequent lecturer on Shakespeare, her research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and her books on Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Friends (Praeger, 2006) and Shakespeare’s Family (Praeger, 2008) have established her as a world authority on Shakespeare’s private life. She currently teaches at UH Downtown.
David Rainbow is an Assistant Professor in the Honors College at the University of Houston. He teaches and writes about modern Russian and Eurasian history. Prior to coming to Houston in 2015, he held postdoctoral fellowships at Columbia University and New York University, and was a writer in residence at the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia at NYU. He holds an M.A. in European intellectual history from Drew University, and a Ph.D. in Russian history from New York University (2013). Before becoming a historian, he worked as an engineer aboard a merchant ship on the Pacific, a rancher in western North Dakota, and has lived in Russia and Siberia several times.
Jesse Rainbow is an assistant professor in the Honors College at the University of Houston, where he teaches courses in ancient Near Eastern history, religion, and medicine. He received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations from Harvard University, where he was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. He has written on topics such as scribal culture in the ancient Near East, ancient Jewish and Christian interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, and the place of magic and divination in the Bible. He regularly leads archaeological study trips to Israel, Turkey, and Italy.
Laura Richardson is a postdoctoral fellow with Rice University’s Program in Writing and Communication. She earned her BA from Vanderbilt in 2007 and her PhD in English from Rice in 2015. Laura has been teaching literature, writing, and film at Rice since 2013, and in 2016 she became a Resident Associate at Rice’s Lovett College. Laura’s areas of research include modernism, poetics, literary theory, contemporary literature, and science fiction. She is an avid reader and karaokist, as well as a budding soccer fan.
Dominique Royem is the Music Director of the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra. An active guest conductor, she has worked with ensembles such as the Ukrainian State Orchestra (Kiev, Ukraine), Plevin Philharmonic (Plevin, Bulgaria), Galveston Symphony, Moores Opera Center, Sugarland Opera, HBU Opera Theatre, and the Houston Civic Orchestra, and was Music Director for Houston Grand Opera’s Opera to Go! during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons. She is also the Resident Conductor of Bayou City Concert Musicals and was the Conducting Fellow for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-2013 season. She currently serves on the board of the Conductors Guild, a national organization dedicated to the art of conducting. She has a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Houston Moores School of Music.
Charles Schmidt is a fourth-year Ph.D. student of New Testament and Early Christian Studies in the Department of Religion at Rice University. He currently serves on the Graduate Advisory Board for Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence and is a copy editor for Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies. He arrived at Rice after earning an M.A. in New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke University. His research is focused on ancient Mediterranean religion in the Greco-Roman period, with particular interests in medical theory and physics, freelance ritual experts, and the Romanization of Christianity. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlesJSchmidt for news in Religious and Biblical Studies, Classics, Pedagogy, and politics.
Anna Tahinci, Ph.D., is Professor and Area Coordinator of Art History at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. A native of Greece, she studied History and Archaeology in Athens, and spent a total of eleven years in Paris, where she studied Art History and Comparative Literature at the Sorbonne (Ph.D. on Rodin’s collectors), and Museum Studies at the Ecole du Louvre. She has worked at the Musée Rodin, the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre and the Harvard Art Museums. She has taught at Boston University Paris, at the University of Minnesota, at Macalester College, and at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She co-curated the sculpture exhibition that was organized in Athens for the Olympic Games in 2004 and the exhibition Rodin and America at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University in 2011.
Chase Untermeyer is a 1968 Graduate of Harvard College with honors in government. He has been an international business consultant since returning in 2007 from Qatar, where he served three years as United States ambassador. Ambassador Untermeyer was a member of the Texas House of Representatives, elected from a district on the near west side of Houston. He left the legislature in 1981 to go to Washington as executive assistant to then-Vice President Bush. He was Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower & Reserve Affairs for President Reagan and in 1989 Director of Presidential Personnel for George Bush. In 1991 he was appointed Director of the Voice of America. Ambassador Untermeyer is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and is currently chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission. He also chairs the advisory board of The Soufan Group, which provides strategic security intelligence services to governments and multinational organizations.
Melanie R. Urban received her Diploma in Asian Art from the Royal Holloway College of the University of London/British Museum. A graduate of Purdue University, she received he J.D. from Louisiana State University and practiced law with the federal government for 15 years before moving to Singapore. While in Singapore, Mrs. Urban began her studies in Asian culture, history, and art; she traveled extensively throughout regions from Central Asia to China, from Tibet to Viet Nam, and points in between.
Hector Urrutibeheity has a B.A. in English Literature from the National University of La Plata, Argentina, and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Stanford University. He is a Professor Emeritus from Rice University, where he taught Spanish, Romance Linguistics, and foreign language methodology in Spanish and French. He also served as chairman of the Department of Hispanic Studies for 15 years. He is currently an adjunct professor of Spanish and French at the University of St. Thomas. He is the co-author of The Lexical Structure of Spanish, Mouton, The Hague, two college Spanish textbooks, Peldanos and Tierra del Feugo,and the French series entitled “Echelons.” He recently completed a book on French phonetics entitled La prononciation du français contemporain.
Liz M. Weiman has trained thousands of individuals since the early 1990s in computer/digital software, and has additionally created instructional/technical manuals, e-learning modules, and Web content for Hewlett-Packard and other companies. Ms. Weiman is also the author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Concordance published in 2010 by the American Bar Association. In addition she served as a fiction reviewer for the Houston Chronicle and other national newspapers, and as senior editor of Southwest Art Magazine. She has worked as a journalist, editor, instructional designer, and technical writer. She is also a healing arts provider – Reiki master, Healing Touch energy worker, and Pranic healer, and additionally teaches classes on spirituality and self-development. Ms. Weiman, a Boston University graduate, provides private instruction on iPhone/iPad/Macs, Windows computers, and more.
Susan Briggs Wright holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stanford University and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her facility with business and personal stories reflects her strong background of award-winning TV journalism, public relations, and corporate communication. She produced radio and TV News programs at WOR in New York, and at KPRC-TV in Houston, covered consumer affairs, medicine and courts. Ms. Wright was a journalism instructor at University of Houston, a columnist for The Houston Business Journal, and managing producer/anchor of On The Record, a documentary-style weekly show on Houston Public Television. Recently, as editor, she led a memoir-writing group to produce Coping With Transition: Men, Motherhood, Money, and Magic—Memoirs From the Lives of Professional Women, published by Texas Review Press. She delights in the growing number of books fostered by this class that adorn her bookcase.