Newsletter 2024


Jacqueline Couty, Chair of MCLC, 2022-present
Jacqueline Couty, Chair of MCLC, 2022-present

I'm thrilled to present the second edition of our departmental newsletter. Inside, you'll discover a comprehensive overview of the exciting progress within MCLC over the past year. As MCLC, much like Rice University as a whole, is experiencing a transformative period, our unwavering commitment to nurturing excellence among both faculty and students remains steadfast.

Jacqueline Couti, Chair of MCLC, 2022 to present

Chair's Note

“Change is the only constant in life.” - Heraclitus
“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.”
- Michel De Montaigne

As I gaze out through my office window in Rayzor Hall, I find myself reflecting on these two quotations. The transformation of the Academic Quadrangle has evolved into a poignant symbol for discussing our relationship with change and the myriad transformations that have occurred over the past academic year. Change often entails an initial phase of disorder before yielding beauty. On November 2023, President DesRoches announced the William Rice statue’s relocation and the Academic Quadrangle’s redesign. Following this announcement, safety measures were implemented by erecting construction fencing around the perimeter of the quad, and demolition started, as it must before the reconstruction can begin. Occupants of Rayzor Hall offices facing the quad have witnessed these changes at various stages. The redesign is aimed to be completed in Summer 2024.

Rice Academic Quadrangle Renovation

Similarly, the MCLC department has undergone significant changes. Dr. Beatriz González-Stephan, Lee Hage Jamail Professor, retired in July 2023, followed by Dr. Debbie Nelson Campbell’s retirement in December 2023. We also bid farewell to Dr. Esther Fernandez as she transitions from our faculty, extending our best wishes for her future endeavors. MCLC continues their dedication to collaboration across schools and units at Rice. The collaboration between Dr. Jacqueline Couti, Dr. Claire Branigan, and Dr. Mary Grayson Brook, with the Moody Center for the Artists-in-Dialogue: Conversation with Laure Prouvost exemplifies this point. This year has presented MCLC with the opportunity to recruit four new tenure-track faculty members in the Spring of 2024: one for the French program, one for Classics, and two for Latin American and Latinx (LALX). Additionally, in the Fall of 2023, we welcomed a dynamic new staff member and four lecturers, one for German, two for Spanish, and one for French, to our team. The faculty of the French program have been working together to overhaul their curriculum to better meet the needs of the new generations of students we serve. Spanish and LALX will soon follow suit with their incoming faculty members. Our faculty have demonstrated remarkable activity in their research pursuits and teaching endeavors. Some have also received accolades for their achievements: Dr. Julie Fette, associate professor of French Studies, was named a chevalier in the Ordre des Palmes académiques (French for “knight” in the Order of the French Academic Palms); Dr. Sophie Esch received the Charles W. Duncan Jr. Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty; and Dr. Esther Fernandez won the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching.

Additionally, we are committed to fostering student research and have initiated the MCLC Research Symposium, the inaugural meeting of which took place in November 2023. MCLC has also shown its commitment to community outreach by organizing events such as bringing Rice students to see Les Misérables. We strive to provide opportunities for our students to explore all that Houston and the world have to offer them. This year, an increasing number of MCLC students will be studying abroad during Summer 2024, Fall 2024, and Spring 2025. In preparing them to do so, we aim to remind students of how the humanities empower them to employ their creative minds in a global context. Despite the inevitable changes in, around, and beyond the university, our dedication to excellence remains steadfast, finding expression in a multitude of fresh avenues. Now more than ever, we are indeed committed to equipping students with the skills needed to tackle future challenges and meet them with determination and resilience. If change remains a constant in our lives, it also provides us with opportunities for self-improvement. Let me share the achievements of the MCLC faculty and students with you. Let me also introduce the new members of MCLC.

Mission Statement

We encourage responsible and inclusive citizenship in our students as we prepare them for local, international, or global careers that require an adventurous, adaptable, and creative mindset. Students learn transformative skills that enable them to better effect change in the world and create their own unconventional paths. Our programs foster an intellectually lively and culturally diverse community where teaching and research explore critical questions around aesthetics, ethics, and politics.

New Faculty

Azucena Castro Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies
Azucena Castro, Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies

Azucena Castro, Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies
Azucena Castro is a scholar of transnational Latin American cultural studies and environmental humanities, with a focus on South American cultures and environments. Beginning January 2025, she will join Rice’s Department of Modern & Classical Literatures & Cultures as an Assistant Professor of Latin American Studies. Currently, she is a Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures at Stanford University and a Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Center, Faculty of Science at Stockholm University. In 2021, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Institute of Geography, University of Buenos Aires. She earned her Ph.D. in Spanish with an orientation in Latin American literature and cultures from Stockholm University in September 2020.

Her research and teaching combine a transnational focus on Latin American cultural products ‒literature, film, visual art‒ with environmental and energy humanities, human geography, multispecies studies, sustainability, and environmental justice. She has been a Visiting scholar at the University of Pittsburgh and taught courses at Stanford University, Stockholm University, University of Buenos Aires, and Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero in Argentina. She was awarded the Dissertation Prize in Humanities Research 2020 by nomination of the Faculty of Humanities at Stockholm University for her doctoral dissertation in Latin American ecopoetry “Ecologías extrañas: Lecturas postnaturales de poemas extensos latinoamericanos del siglo XXI (Roxana Miranda Rupailaf, Daniel Samoilovich y Luigi Amara).” She is the recipient of international grants, including the Swedish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (Jan. 2022-Dec. 2024, Principal Researcher), a Research Initiation grant from the Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (transnational project with SARAS, The South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies, in Uruguay), and a Collaborative Project Grant (community-based research) from the Intersecting Energy Cultures Working Group, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities, University of Pennsylvania.

Caroline Fache, Associate Professor of French Studies
Caroline Fache, Associate Professor of French Studies

Caroline Fache, Associate Professor of French Studies
Before joining the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at Rice, Caroline Fache served as a chair of the departments French & Francophone Studies (2018-2024), Africana Studies (2016-2018), and as the Assistant Dean for Curricular Innovation (2023-24) at Davidson College, North Carolina.

She is an interdisciplinary scholar and teacher whose work examines representations of immigrant characters and their children in films, on TV, and in literature. Her current book project, Immigration Comedy: Framing race-relations in France, looks at immigration comedy as a subgenre in French film and, more specifically, at the evolution of the representation of immigrants from tragic figures to comedy agents. Her most recent scholarship focused on francophone film production with her latest articles “Beur and banlieue TV comedies: new perspectives on immigration” (2018) and “Dis-integration: New Identity Formation Processes in 30° Couleur” (2020), and she has published on Métissage and gender identity, immigration, and memory, and co translated Boris Diop’s Africa Beyond the mirror.

Her teaching interests include courses on Black Paris, Africa Shoots Back (on West African Cinema), France: the Soccer Empire, and Translation. Fache has also been very involved with study abroad programs, taking students to France, Morocco, and Reunion Island.

Starting July 1, 2024, she will start her two-year term as the International Council for Francophone Studies President.

She is looking forward to joining the Rice community.

Paula Park, Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies
Paula Park, Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies

Paula Park, Associate Professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies
Paula Park was born and raised in Santiago, Chile, by Korean parents, and earned her PhD in Spanish at UT-Austin. Her research and teaching interests are Latin American, US Latinx, and Hispanophone and Anglophone Philippine literature and cultural productions from the nineteenth century to the present. Park’s book, Intercolonial Intimacies: Relinking Latin/o America to the Philippines, 1898-1964 (U of Pittsburgh P 2022), reexamines the geographically bound and politically charged definitions of Latinidad and Hispanidad by analyzing the work of twentieth-century Filipino and Latin American writers, cultural critics, and diplomats. Her current book project focuses on modern Latin American and Caribbean literature and diplomatic archives on the Pacific Islands. She is excited to return to Texas and join Rice University.

Susannah Wright
Assistant Professor of Classical Studies and Roman History

Susannah Wright joins MCLC as an Assistant Professor of Classical Studies and Roman History. She will also be an affiliated faculty member in the Department of History. Her research centers on the intersections between poetic tradition and cultural values in Latin and Greek epics from antiquity to the Middle Ages, with areas of special interest including representations of grief, ideas of appropriateness, and the interplay between history and myth. Further fields of focus in her research and teaching include women in antiquity, politics and literature in late republican and imperial Rome, and ancient and medieval histories of the Trojan War. Together with Scott McGill, Wright is currently completing a verse translation of Virgil’s Aeneid, which will be published by Norton next year. She has also published on medieval Irish texts that adapt classical epic into cyclical chronicles.

Susannah Wright Assistant Professor of Classical Studies and Roman History
Susannah Wright
Assistant Professor of Classical Studies and Roman History

Wright is a Rice alumna (B.A. in Classical Studies and Medieval and Early Modern Studies) and will return to us with a Ph.D. in Classical Philology from Harvard University. She looks forward to teaching a wide range of courses on Greco-Roman antiquity and its afterlives in the Middle Ages and the modern world. In Fall 2024, she will offer “CLAS 238: Special Topics – Epic Journeys,” which traces the paradigm of the heroic journey in ancient, medieval, and modern sources ranging from the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Odyssey to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (and beyond!).

New Staff

Erika Espinoza, Program Administrator
On April 9th, 2024, Erika made 6 months with Rice and the MCLC department. She has enjoyed her time with MCLC and continues to do so. Her favorite pastime at work is interacting with the students who stop by to grab snacks by her office.

Faculty News

Claire Branigan, Lecturer
Claire Branigan, lecturer in Spanish and Latin American Studies, co-edited a new compilation titled "Towards a Future without Femicide" (Hacia un Futuro sin Femicidio, Teseo Press). The volume is the result of collaboration and dialogue between academics and activists from diverse parts of the Americas. The authors are united by the desire to share reflections, critical interventions, experiences of activism, documentation methodologies, and multidisciplinary research on femicide/feminicide. The aim of the book is to show the diversity of conversations that are currently taking place in the region. The volume is made up of twelve chapters that address femicide from different perspectives, disciplines, positions and languages. Contributions come from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Uruguay. This work comes out of the Red Interamericana Anti-Femicidio (Inter-American Network against Femicide), more information about the network can be found at

José Cicerchia, Lecturer
Jose Cicerchia had an article written on him by the Rice Thresher. Read Professor Cicerchia's article >

Jacqueline Couti, Laurence H. Favrot Professor — Department Chair — Program Advisor, European Studies
Jacqueline Couti served as a guest editor alongside Jennifer Boittin (Penn State) for the SPECIAL ISSUE: STANDING UP & DETERMINED: BLACK WOMEN ON THE MOVE, BLACK FEMINISMS IN FRENCH (POST)IMPERIAL CONTEXTS, featured in the award-winning Journal of Women’s History. The issue, released on August 2023, is available in both French and English versions, with the French version accessible via open access at Additionally, Jacqueline contributed to several collaborative texts within these special issues:

  • Introduction: Debout & Déter / Standing Up & Determined: Black Women on the Move, Black Feminisms in French (Post)Imperial Contexts, co-authored with Jennifer Anne Boittin, published in Journal of Women's History, Volume 35, Number 3, Fall 2023, pp. 9-18.
  • Roundtable: Women’s Traversing Paths: Forms of Political Engagement and Production of Knowledge, featuring Jocelyne Béroard, Jacqueline Couti, Bintou Dembélé, Joëlle Kapompole, Rose Ndengue, Fania Noël, published in JWH, Volume 35, Number 3, Fall 2023, pp. 154-162. DOI:
  • Interview: “Interview of Michèle Magema, Mixed-media Artist,” conducted by Jacqueline Couti, published in JWH, Volume 35, Number 3, Fall 2023, pp. 146-153. DOI:

Christian Emden, Frances Moody Newman Professor
On March 29, 2024, Christian Emden presented a lecture titled "Hegel's View on the Importance of Welfare State for Democracy and Poverty" at the Normativity and Ethics Seminar held at the University of Houston.

Christian has recently published an article titled "The Political Romanticism of the Common" in MLN 139 in 2024. Additionally, he has contributed a new book chapter called "Naturnotwendigkeiten: Nietzsche über die metaphysischen Bedingungen der Normativität" in the book "Nietzsches Naturen" edited by Vanessa Lemm and Antonia Ulrich, published by DeGryuter in 2024.

Sophie Esch, Associate Professor – Program Advisor, Latin American and Latinx Studies
Sophie Esch has been busy. In the Fall of 2023, the book she edited, Central American Literatures as World Literatures, came out, and she founded and hosted the Third Coast Central America Collaborative at Rice University. In Spring 2024, she was awarded funding, together with colleagues Laura Correa-Ochoa (History) and Leslie Schwindt-Bayer (Political Science), for the foundation of a Center of Latin American and Latinx Studies from Rice University, and she spent several months in Berlin on the third leg of her Humboldt fellowship to write her book on multispecies narratives of war and revolution in Africa and Latin America. She was also awarded the Charles W. Duncan, Jr. Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty.

Esther Fernandez, Associate Professor – Resident Associate, Wiess College
Esther Fernandez has been selected as a winner of the George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching. This award is a recognition of her outstanding contributions to teaching at Rice University. It is a wonderful compliment and an acknowledgment of her dedication to her students. Unsurpassed teaching is central to the university's mission, and the Award Committee deeply appreciates Esther's contributions to helping Rice achieve this goal.

Julie Fette, Associate Professor – Program Advisor, French Studies
Julie Fette has been awarded a grant from Rice's Arts Initiative Fund, which will allow her to bring a French comic strip artist, Cheyenne Olivier, to conduct a student workshop in her new course, "French Comics," in Fall 2024. Cheyenne Olivier is a graduate of both the École Estienne in Paris and the Haute École des Arts du Rhin in Strasbourg. She is also an illustrator of a 10-book children's series written by Nobel Prize winner Esther Duflo about poverty for Seuil Jeunesse.

The grant is intended to promote experimentation and collaboration in creativity and the arts across the campus. Julie Fette and Cheyenne Olivier will guide students in the French Comics course to research, invent, and draw an original 8-case comic strip written in French, dealing with universal themes of our times.

Luis Duno-Gottberg:, Lee Hage Jamail Professor
Luis Duno-Gottberg wrote “The Mythological Machine and The Revolutionary Remains of Hugo Chávez. Reflections on Memorialization and Conservative Returns.” Which is forthcoming in the Exhumed Corpses and Specters of Latin American Modernity, Hispanic Cultural Studies Journal. Luis also wrote two other articles for a printed book and online portal organized by the art collective DEMOCRACIA in Madrid. Those articles are “Y nos vamos todos juntos: Migración y resistencia indígena en el contexto de la hegemonía neoliberal” and “Casas de cartón: cantos de contienda para una modernidad desigual”.

On March 8th, 2024, Luis co-curated “La furia del viento” (Luis Duno-Gottberg, Luis and Claudia Arcos (Curators)). It was a Catalog and Exhibition of 100 years of photographic archives and contemporary work on natural disasters in Cuba. You can find the press reviews for that event here:

  1. Más de 120 años de imágenes de desastres naturales en Cuba en una exposición”, Dean Luis Reyes.
  2. Desastres en la retina: fotógrafos cubanos capturan paisajes ciclónicos”, Ángel Marqués Dolz.
  3. La furia del viento desde la dramaturgia de la imagen”, Roberto Pérez León.
  4. Exposición colectiva “La furia del viento.”

Graduating Seniors

William Tsai, '24
William Tsai, ‘24

William Tsai, ‘24
Triple-majored in ‘Political Science’, ‘German Studies’, & ‘French Studies’
Minored in ‘Politics, Law and Social Thought’
Certificate in French and German Languages

I appreciate how tight-knit the MCLC department is, especially the professors. Everyone has students' best interests in mind and will go out of their way to help students, whether this be course recommendations or opportunities outside of Rice. The smaller class sizes offer immense flexibility, and the content of what is taught in the classrooms is also very important. Rather than pure content-focused curricula, MCLC classes have the unique ability to teach students how to think, not what to think. My experience through taking classes ranging from Nietzsche's philosophy to societal issues in contemporary France has given me a breadth of knowledge and trained my mind to think critically in evaluating arguments. I would recommend taking an MCLC course to any Rice student who has not done so already. Not only will you hopefully learn about a new subject, you will develop speaking and writing skills that you can transfer into any field of study.

My favorite memory has to be learning traditional dance from Dr. Couti in her course, ‘Major Literary Works and Artifacts of the Francophone World.’ As someone who did not grow up in an environment where dance was a common form of artistic expression, I found this to be a fascinating lesson in physical movement and cultural values.

I plan to take a year or two to work before applying for law school.

Sriya Kakarla, ‘24
Sriya Kakarla, ‘24

Sriya Kakarla, ‘24
Double-majored in ‘Spanish and Portuguese Studies’ & ‘Health Sciences’
Minored in ‘Medical Humanities’
Certificate in Spanish Language

Being a Spanish major and immersing myself in MCLC coursework has been an incredible experience in the Spanish language, literature, and culture and in enhancing my critical thinking skills. The program's collaborative nature sharpened my leadership and allowed me to understand how to have constructive discussions across various viewpoints. Before my time at Rice, I had no idea that the Humanities and language studies could be so versatile in almost every field. My advice to those who are thinking about taking a course is to take the leap! The department is incredibly welcoming to everybody regardless of their experience and interests, so often, the only requirement is to have an open mind.

My favorite memory within the MCLC department has to be my first "hard-core" Spanish literature course I took with Dr. Esther Fernandez, examining the novel "Don Quijote." My professor helped bring the course to life through images, imaginative discussions and puppets, and readings, which helped me fall in love with the subject area and inspired me to continue taking Spanish and Portuguese classes.

I plan on going to medical school after graduation.

I am truly grateful to the MCLC department for offering me a world-class education that has melded so incredibly well with my aspirations to become a physician. Although language and the Humanities are not considered traditional ways to engage with STEM, I believe that the critical thinking/reading, discussions, group work, and cultural competence taught in the courses are critical to healthcare and have no doubt that they will make me a better physician in the future.

Student Spotlight

Student SpotlightStudent Spotlight

Alumni News

Dan “Wally” Upp
Dan “Wally” Upp

Dan “Wally” Upp
Mba’echapa! My name is Dan “Wally” Upp, and I am a ’02 Rice alumnus with majors in Linguistics and Spanish. I attended Rice through a Naval ROTC scholarship, which I have turned into a 21-year-and-counting active-duty career in the Navy, much to my own surprise at times. After graduation, I began my career as a traditional Surface Warfare Officer, part of the personnel who form the “heart of the Navy” by serving on warships sailing on the seven seas. I had a lot of amazing experiences around the globe and have had numerous occasions to speak Spanish through joint exercises and operations with other navies, as well as during some incredible port calls throughout Latin America. However, after I got married, the long deployments and time away from home started to lose appeal. Fortuitously, around that same time, the Navy announced that they were seeking applications for a new single-track community called Foreign Area Officers to be the Navy’s international relations experts. The instant I heard about this opportunity, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do with my life.

Fast forward about 18 years, and I am currently working on the staff of the Inter-American Defense College in Washington DC, where I interact with my colleagues and students from 18 countries in at least three languages every single day (four if I happen to chat to the Paraguayan student in Guaraní). I have been stationed in five overseas countries (Japan, Honduras, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Chile) and traveled to dozens more. I have worked closely with Admirals and Ambassadors from many countries, sorting out high-level issues of international cooperation, joint exercises, and humanitarian response. As a linguistic bonus, the Navy also paid for me to learn Portuguese along the way. Not only has the promise of “Join the Navy and see the world” been fulfilled many times over, but my wife and children have been able to come with me everywhere that I have been sent. I truly believe that I have the best job in the Navy and I am proud of the service I have given to my country and the impact that I have had in international relations around the Western Hemisphere.

Event Highlights and Community Outreach

A Student’s Guide to Studying Abroad in Paris – Created by William Tsai

A Student’s Guide to Studying Abroad in Paris – Created by William Tsai
William Tsai

“Having never stepped foot in France before my study abroad experience, I had very little idea of what to expect aside from the information that had been given to me by the study abroad office. Upon my arrival, there were so many intricate details that I had to learn, which could sometimes be stressful and confusing. While my experience of overcoming those obstacles was invaluable, I wanted to consolidate all of that newfound knowledge so that future generations of study-abroad students would not have to make the same learning mistakes I did. What initially began as a couple of bullet points in my note’s app grew to become a full-fledged guide. When I proposed this to the MCLC department as a potential independent study project, they were ecstatic. With the support and encouragement of Dr. Wood, Dr. Couti, and Dr. Fette, I began my work—which culminated in a 50+ page comprehensive guide covering everything from the visa application to the best spots to eat at. My hope is that the guide will be a living document that is continually updated as policies change and new classes of study-abroad students contribute. I would like to extend once more my gratitude to the MCLC department, the study abroad office, and Sciences Po for helping me throughout my time in France.” – William Tsai.

William’s guide can be found here:

Rice Undergraduates Shine During Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures First Research Symposium

Rice Undergraduates Shine During Modern and Classical symposium

The Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures (MCLC) hosted its inaugural undergraduate research symposium where students presented their semester-long projects.

‘This symposium highlighted students’ research, celebrated the way they tackled topics and ideas, and demonstrated how they found ways to answer critical questions,’ said Jacqueline Couti, the Laurence H. Favrot Professor of French Studies and department chair. ‘They demonstrated a development of critical skills. It’s not about just content; they’re thinking through problems and finding solutions.’” – written by Sam Byrd
Read more about Sam Byrd’s coverage of the research symposium here:

Les Mis Week with Zach Zelman and Jacqueline Couti

Nick Cartell and Haley Dortch from the National Tour Les Misérables
Nick Cartell and Haley Dortch from the National Tour Les Misérables

The Rice community was given the opportunity to enjoy the touring production of Les Misérables at the Hobby Center, thanks to the hard work of French Club President Zach Zelman and the Chair of the MCLC department/French professor Jacqueline Couti. Additionally, to delve into the differences between Victor Hugo's Les Misérables novel and the modern musical adaptation, MCLC's French professor Philip Wood delivered a Humanities NOW lecture arranged by the School of Humanities.

To learn more about the musical experience and lecture, please visit the following link:

Study Abroad Awards and Fellowships

Once again, owing to the generosity of donors and Friends of the Humanities and Arts, MCLC has been able to award fellowships to many students to study abroad and travel the world.

French Studies – Bull Fellowship
Summer 2024

  • Sutter Armistead, IES Arles
  • Will Marsden, minor, IES Paris
  • Blaire Sheftel, major, AIU Internship Aix,
  • Kaira Sheth, IAU Aix, essay in French
  • Maggie Tsyganova, SIT Geneva

Fall 2024

  • Carolina Signoret, Sci Po exchange,
  • Izzy Gutierrez, IES Paris
  • Maddie Jeffery, Madagascar SIT

Spring 2025

  • Skyler Zinker, Sciences Po Paris Exchange

German Studies – Leipzig Fellowship
Summer 2024

  • Catherine Cook
  • Zichen Huang
  • Hazel Landers
  • Claire Morton

Madrid Study Abroad
Summer 2024

  • Jasmin Hunter
  • Josefina Nieto Sarrate Paz
  • Alma Torres
  • Camile Neal-Harris

Study Abroad Adventures

Student Experiences:

Sophia Brandon Double major in ‘Psychology’ and ‘History’ Minors in ‘Politics, Law and Social Thought’ and ‘French Studies’
Sophia Brandon Double major in ‘Psychology’ and ‘History’ Minors in ‘Politics, Law and Social Thought’ and ‘French Studies’

Thanks to the French department's Clyde Ferguson Bull Fellowship, I was able to live and study in Paris. I took French immersion courses on French history, political science, art history, and French language. Over the semester, I was also able to visit 9 countries while in Paris and over 30 museums in Paris and in Europe.

Isabelle Ong (with the white pants) Double major in ‘Biosciences, Cell Biology & Genetics Concentration’ and ‘French Studies’
Isabelle Ong (with the white pants)
Double major in ‘Biosciences, Cell Biology & Genetics Concentration’ and ‘French Studies’

My summer internship brought together two seemingly unrelated fields: medicine and French studies. Through my research at the Wehrens Lab at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, I found an opportunity to conduct cardiology research in Paris at the Université Paris-Saclay with support from Rice’s HEDGE Fund Scholarship, working with leading researcher Dr. Ana Maria Gomez in the field of heart diseases. I specifically focused on a rare and fatal inherited heart disease called catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT). Over two months, I shadowed Ph.D. students on their research projects, taking over portions of their project and learning a variety of techniques and knowledge that I now apply to my work in Houston. This experience forced me out of my comfort zone; being in a city completely alone for the first time and having to converse in French with natives was initially daunting. A missed train and a few wrong buses later, this internship turned out to be one of my most rewarding and valuable experiences during my time at Rice. Inspired by this internship, I pursued an independent research course with Dr. Jacqueline Couti, delving into the theorized mechanisms of CPVT, in order combat the disease with better treatments.

Madrid Summer 2024

Old historic Madrid

Old historic Madrid with an architect: from the Arabs to the Bourbons dynasty, through the splendor of the Habsburg period.

On our second day, we drove to Granada to learn about the heritage, history, and culture of al-Andalus, the Islamic Andalusia of the 8th to 15th centuries. Flamenco is a concept that includes different arts; for this reason, the only way to describe it is as a proper culture: the baile (dancing), the cante (singing), and the toque (the way of clapping hands while dancing and singing) are easily recognizable, but they include lots of different variations. The Andalucían city of Granada is known as one of the birthplaces of flamenco and makes for an excellent place to see a performance, which we did!

Old historic Madrid

I would like to express my gratitude to Leticia and Erika, our department and program administrators, as well as the MCLC program advisors, who did an excellent job recruiting and advising students this year. Last but not least, I want to extend my gratitude to Dr. Branigan for her outstanding work on social media, promoting MCLC, its students, and faculty.

Faculty and Staff of MCLC, Stay in Touch

Stay in Touch

Do not hesitate to contact us to let us know what you have been doing since you graduated from Rice.
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