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The Office of Public Affairs bimonthly measurements and metrics
–August 2022
Big Stories

Rice Engineers Reanimate Dead Spider Legs

Wind Farm off the Texas Coast

The Conversation on Clean Energy

Media Highlights

Rice Engineers Reanimate Dead Spider Legs

When Rice researchers brought new life to dead spiders, the news captured the public’s imagination. Daniel Preston, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and graduate student Faye Yap figured out a way to use the legs of dead spiders as miniature grippers, not unlike those found in arcade claw machines. The story was carried by more than 2,500 media outlets — from CNN to USA Today to the Daily Mirror of London — and part of the video produced by Rice Public Affairs aired on the “Late Show With Stephen Colbert."

Wind Farm off the Texas Coast

The Biden administration announced plans to build the Gulf of Mexico’s first wind farms off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, with one of the farms located off the coast of Galveston expected to cover an area larger than the city of Houston. Reporters seeking perspective on the project contacted Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and interviewed Ken Medlock, adjunct assistant professor of economics, and Jim Krane, the Wallace S. Wilson Fellow for Energy Studies, who spoke to outlets as varied as the Texas Tribune and ABC News. Interviews about the Biden wind farm proposal accounted for more than 1,000 Rice citations on media outlets across the nation.

The Conversation on Clean Energy

The Inflation Reduction Act offers new subsidies for a wide array of clean energy initiatives. Rice engineering professor Daniel Cohan wrote an opinion piece arguing that financing technology is just one step toward solving the climate change problem. His piece on this subject was published in about 50 news outlets nationwide as one result of Rice’s newly established affiliation with the Conversation, an independent news organization that circulates authoritative articles written by academic experts to news outlets connected with the general public. This relationship provides Rice faculty with a new medium for distributing articles and opinion pieces to editorial pages and other media across the nation.

For a full list of July and August media stars
please see the last section of this report. 
Government Relations

Government Relations Prepares for JFK Moon Speech Celebration and Continued Partnership With NASA

A good deal of time was spent this summer planning the 60th anniversary of President Kennedy’s 1962 moon speech in Rice Stadium. Government Relations worked to finalize the weekend’s festivities which feature JFK speech-themed events preceeding the Sept. 12 anniversary. The event complements our broader efforts to deepen Rice’s research relationship with the NASA. As part of this, Government Relations and Wiess School of Natural Sciences Dean Tom Killian are co-coordinating an effort styled Texas’ Next Giant Leap, which would — if fully realized in the years ahead — provide Rice with opportunities to engage and uniquely partner with the Johnson Space Center on astromaterials and other research critical to NASA missions.
Government Relations also traveled to Washington in July to conduct an extensive round of meetings to support Rice’s annual federal appropriations priorities. We met with eight different offices on Capitol Hill, including the chief of staff for Rep. Kay Granger, R-TX, ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee.

In August, Government Relations helped arrange two unique interactions with members of the Texas congressional delegation. In early August, Rep. August Pfluger, R-TX, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, met virtually with Anna Mikulska, nonresident fellow in energy studies for the Center for Energy Studies at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, for a lengthy conversation about Russia’s war in Ukraine and its implications on European energy security and U.S. natural gas export opportunities. Later in the month, we facilitated a lunch conversation between Rep. Randy Weber, R-TX, a member of the House Science, Space and Transportation Committee, and multiple fellows from the Baker Institute’s Center for Energy Studies. Topics discussed ranged from natural gas and critical minerals to battery lifecycles and strategic global energy security concerns involving China and Russia. Both congressmen committed to further engagement with our policy experts as these topics continue to evolve.
University Relations

University Relations Readies for JFK event

In July and August, University Relations prepared for a busy new academic year by working on plans for the October inauguration of Rice’s eighth president, updating displays of Rice and NASA history in preparation for the September commemoration of President Kennedy’s 1962 “moon shot” speech, preparing to launch the university’s annual Rice United Way campaign, hiring student tour guides for the Rice Welcome Center and installing new “Be the I in RICE” letters in front of the Welcome Center’s Brochstein Plaza on the Inner Loop Road.

In preparation for the September commemoration of the JFK speech anniversary, the permanent exhibit of Rice and NASA history, displayed on the ground floor of Fondren Library, was updated to add two new “Rice Stuff” alumni: astronaut candidate Nichole Ayers ’13 and former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine ’97.

The lectern at which President Kennedy gave his historic Rice Stadium address (on loan to Johnson Space Center’s visitor center) will be relocated to the Waltrip Indoor Training Center, along with other space industry exhibits, during three days of public commemoration of Kennedy’s 1962 Rice Stadium speech in September.

The NASA Ambassador of Exploration Award, which contains an actual lunar sample presented posthumously to President Kennedy on the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, will be displayed at a private breakfast hosted for the current NASA administrator and other VIP guests during the September speech commemoration event.

In time for inauguration festivities and the new school year, the Welcome Center’s popular “photo op stop” got a fresh new look.

Creative Services

Rice Magazine – Summer 2022

The summer issue of Rice Magazine, produced by Creative Services, was the first ever “research issue,” which focused on how Rice is pursuing big questions related to discovery; innovation and problem-solving; stories focused on projects; and research helmed by faculty, staff and students. Contributors took readers through the fields of bioscience, public policy, earth science, applied physics, African American studies, astronomy, materials science, sociology, and architecture, examining how Rice is living up to its mission to aspire to pathbreaking research, unsurpassed teaching and contribution to the betterment of our world.

Promoting Humanities

As a project for the School of Humanities, Creative Services printed 750 copies of 20 card designs for the school’s various centers, departments and programs. The cards, which were distributed during O-Week to prospective students, provide general information, including details about majors, minors and degree requirements as well as course information for the fall semester.

New brochure designs

To celebrate the launch of two new tracks in the professional master’s program in the School of Engineering, Creative Services designed and produced two brochures that promote data science and engineering management and leadership. In addition, the Creative Services team assisted the Shepherd School of Music by producing their 2022 ad series — Shepherd School of Music: Opera America — which will appear in an array of peer institution communications. 
Multicultural Community Relations

New Students Get Acquainted with Rice and Houston

As part of the Responsibility, Inclusion and Student Empowerment (RISE) program, Jan West ’73, assistant director of Multicultural Community Relations (MCR), joined Constance Porter, associate clinical professor of marketing and associate dean of diversity, equity and inclusion, in the Jones Graduate School of Business in a panel discussion July 13. They shared their experiences as undergraduates attending predominantly white universities. West described life for Black students during the early years of integration at Rice and the positive impact a Rice education had on her life. RISE students used the opportunity to ask questions and get information about the next steps in their academic journeys. RISE is a 10-day residential pre-term program designed to acquaint humanities, social sciences, business and architecture students with Rice and Houston.

Welcoming New Students of Color to Campus

MCR was instrumental in organizing the annual new student receptions for the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice (HACER) and the Rice Black Student Association (BSA). Both events drew capacity crowds to Herring Hall Aug. 13. President Reginald DesRoches, Vice President for Enrollment Yvonne Romero de Silva, professors Richard Tapia and Jose Aranda, Rice Police Chief Clemente Rodriguez and MCR director David Medina ’83 were among the speakers at the event. Rice’s own Mariachi Luna Llena closed the gathering with a rousing performance as students and parents clapped and sang along.
At the evening BSA event, Cortlan Wickliff ’10, associate vice provost for academic affairs and strategic planning, wowed the crowd with his amazing story of acquiring so many academic degrees at a young age. He gave the new students his book on how to achieve their goals. Attending the event were Jamila Nelson Mensah ’00, president of the Association of Rice University Black Alumni, Monique Shankle ’86, immediate past president of the Association of Rice Alumni (ARA), and Toya Bell ’87, current ARA president.

Rice Honored at Engineers Scholarship Banquet

MCR supported Joshua Gray, Rice engineering professor and president of the National Association of Black Engineers (NSBE) Houston chapter, in recruiting attendees for the August NSBE scholarship banquet. Guests included Rice engineering students, alumni and faculty. Fred Higgs, vice provost for academic affairs and director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership, accepted NSBE Houston’s Strategic Partner of the Year award.
Marketing and Digital Communications

Visits to the homepage increased during July and August, with the beginning of the fall semester, the call to action and subsequent webpage commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy Speech (which has had over 3,500 page views since Aug. 1), and students and faculty returning to campus. Total page views were 425,997, with visitors spending an average time of 3 minutes, 35 seconds on the site, which continues to reveal that they are finding the information they need.
Page views: 425,997
Average time on page: 3 minutes, 35 seconds
Bounce rate: 70.10%
Public Affairs and the Office of Information Technology have successfully launched 280 Drupal 8 websites as of Aug. 31. The Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences website ( launched Aug. 15 in the Rice-branded Drupal theme, which completed the main departments of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences' migration into Drupal. The new Office of Finance and Administration website ( launched Aug. 22, in advance of the new vice president for finance and administration, Kelly Fox, joining Rice.
The two departments are also collaborating on an additional 31 new websites that have come into the Rice-branded theme. Some of the websites currently under development are:
  • AGEP PRIMED Alliance
  • Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning (CERCL)
  • Curriculum Management (Office of the Registrar)
  • Environmental Science
  • Events **
  • Genetic Design and Engineering Center
  • Geofluids Lab | Helge Gonnermann
  • Innovation at Rice (VP of Innovation)
  • National Network of Education Research-Practice Partnerships (NNERPP)
  • Office of Faculty Development (OFD)
  • Organization & Workforce Laboratory (OWL)
  • Professional Science Master's Program (PSMP) **
  • RICE 360°
  • School of Social Sciences - Strategic Plan
  • Scientia / De Lange Conference
  • The Chemistry of Art
  • The Kinder Institute for Urban Research
** Website restructure and content update.

Social media

Impressions: the number of times the content was seen.
Total Audience: the number of people who follow or like the main Rice accounts.
Engagements: the number of interactions (likes, love, shares, comments, clicks, etc.) on a post.

Social media channel overview for July and August:

  • Total net audience growth: 7,073 followers
  • Total impressions: 3,643,289
  • Total engagements: 257,027
  • Engagement rate per impression: 7.1%
  • Post link clicks: 17,195*
  • Total audience across platforms: 261,037
*The number of times users clicked on links from posts. 

Performance summary overview: 

Impressions were down during the two summer months compared with the two prior months due to May numbers including students still in class, plus graduation events. Impressions rose significantly as O-Week began and remained higher through the end of the month of August. Engagements reflected the same overall pattern as impressions, with numbers climbing significantly as O-Week kicked off the fall semester. Engagement rate per impression showed increases across individual platforms, with the exception of a slight decrease on LinkedIn.

Audience showed steady, consistent growth throughout the summer reporting period.



Total followers: 43,322
Gained: 786 followers 
Top post: Rice ranks as one of the nation’s top 10 universities in the latest ratings 
Second highest: The Princeton Review recently released their annual Best Colleges lists


Total followers: 61,949
Gained: 655 followers
Engagement rate per impression: 7.6%
Total published posts: 99
Top Post: Rise and shine, Owls! It’s move in day and the first day of Rice O-Week!
Second highest: We love our Owls…welcome to the family!


Total followers: 106,688
Gained: 4,287 followers
Engagement rate per impression: 3.7%
Total published posts: 51
Top Post: Rice ranks as one of the nation’s top 10 universities in the latest ranking
Second highest: The Princeton Review recently released their annual Best Colleges lists


Total followers: 49,005
Gained: 1,426 followers
Engagement rate per impression: 8.1%
Total published posts: 73
Top Post: We love our Owls…welcome to the family!
Second highest: Rise and shine, Owls! It’s move in day and the first day of Rice O-Week!


Total views: 352,244
Subscribers: 31,900
Top video for July: Lab manipulates deceased spiders’ legs
Top video for August: Rice welcomes Class of 2026 with open arms

Key Takeaways:
  • Summer audience engagement rate and impressions are historically lower for higher education social media platforms, however engagement rate per impression showed good increases. Fall engagement is ramping up with students returning to campus.
  • Post link clicks showed decline, due to video links now launching automatically without action by viewer.
  • O-Week posts had high engagement rate, with good interaction through comments by followers.
  • Number of published posts across all platforms increased, contributing to increase in number of followers.
Media Stars
Vivian Ho, the James A. Baker III Institute Chair in Health Economics at the Baker Institute for Public Policy's Center for Health and Biosciences, had the highest number of media mentions — 1,526 — during July and August, mainly for comments about credit bureaus removing paid-off medical debt from people’s credit reports. Below are members of the Rice community who were mentioned in the media 10 or more times in July and August.
Vivian Ho 1,526
Daniel Cohan 1,409
Jim Krane 1,167
Mark Jones 804
Mark Finley 787
Daniel Preston 700
Michelle Michot Foss 630
Faye Yap 587
Douglas Brinkley 160
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen 152
Bing Deng 151
Kirsten Siebach 107
John Diamond 101
Tony Payan 101
Ken Medlock 99
James Tour 92
James Elliott 89
Brielle Bryan 80
Jim Blackburn 59
Anoop Rajappan 58
Kanisha Feliciano 56
Katie Hogan 54
Michael Wong 53
Pulickel Ajayan 52
Lesa Tran Lu 52
Natasha Kirienko 51
Lydia Beaudrot 48
Mike Bloomgren 46
Reginald DesRoches 46
Weiyin Chen 44
Anand Puthirath 44
Hanyu Zhu 44
C. Fred Higgs III 42
Rachel Shveda 37
Richard Stoll 36
Omid Veiseh 35
Evan Fricke 33
Isaac Hilton 33
Kaiyuan Wang 33
Madeleine Cluck 30
Mario Escobar 30
Jacob Goell 30
Jing Li  30
Barun Mahata 30
Spencer Shah 30
Samira Aghlara-Fotovat 25
Amanda Nash 25
Bruce Weisman 24
Jacob Beckham 22
Adrian Duhalt 22
Naomi Halas 22
Nghi La 22
Peter Nordlander 22
Jianan Xu 22
Francisco Monaldi 21
Satish Nagarajaiah 21
Sylvia Dee 20
Jauhara Ferguson 20
Lawrence Alemany 19
Sergei Bachilo 19
Yang Gao 19
Daniel Gorczynski 19
Patrick Hartigan 19
Shikai Jin 19
Wei Meng 19
Ashish Pal 19
Anna Reed 19
Peter Wolynes 19
Aaron Wyderka 19
Anthony Pinn 18
Anshumali Shrivastava 18
Li Chou 17
Aditya Desai 17
Mikki Hebl 17
Ramamoorthy Ramesh 17
Rodrigo Salvatierra 17
Rui Xu 17
Richard Baraniuk 16
Zhihua Cheng 16
Lizzy Gaviria 16
Selena Guo 16
Matthew Jones 16
Chelsea Li 16
Karen Lu 16
Ebrahim Nabizadeh 16
Gargi Samarth 16
Beck Miguel Saunders-Shultz 16
Paul Cherukuri 15
Francois St-Pierre 15
Loren Hopkins 14
Christopher Johns-Krull 14
Anna Mikulska 14
Lydia Kavraki 13
David Satterfield 13
Gabriel Collins 12
Grant Belton 11
Mac Carr 11
Utpal Dholakia 11
Anna Rhodes 11
Adrienne Correa 10
Ed Emmett 10
Ikenna Enechukwu 10
Valerie Payre 10
The chart below shows Rice’s media mentions since 2007. The green column reflects the number of mentions through Aug. 31, 2022.
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