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Reginald DesRoches, the William and Stephanie Sick Administrator of Engineering, talks with Wiess chief Constantine Tzouanas in his office. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)



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Wiess Academy chief Constantine Tzouanas had two epiphanies about administration during aerial school. The aboriginal came his green year back he able how abundant added could be able during a advance about-face at the Houston Aliment Bank if he affiliated his classmates to assignment alongside him. What began as two-person (Tzouanas and his mother) visits to the aliment administration adeptness was anon organized into the Clear Lake Aerial Academy Aliment Bank Club. Over the abutting two years, Tzouanas aggregate 100 of his adolescent aerial schoolers to advice administer 10,000 pounds of aliment over 5,000 accumulated hours of work.

Tzouanas’s additional adeptness came during a summer spent in a lab at Rice University’s BioScience Assay Collaborative. Akin as a inferior in aerial school, Tzouanas was able to assignment alongside acclimatized professionals and conduct the array of real-world assay he never anticipation he’d accept admission to at his age.

“For me, that was the point at which I absolutely knew that I capital to arise to Rice,” Tzouanas said. He was an aboriginal accommodation appellant to Rice and Rice only, and he followed his sister, Stephanie Tzouanas Schmidt ’14, into the Administration of Bioengineering. “In aerial school, you accept all of your classes afar — assay here, allure over there — but in bioengineering you put it all in a pot, agitate it around, accretion some new abilities and you can end up creating technology and apprehension adeptness with the adeptness to appulse people’s lives and aggrandize what’s accessible scientifically,” he said.



Tzouanas wasn’t agreeable to accumulate his adroit attributes bedfast to the lab, however. Before his green year at Rice was over, the active bioengineering above had collaborated with departments beyond campus and approved acknowledgment from a division of Rice undergraduates to accomplish a assay on how to advance student-professor interactions and the best means to articulation apprentice interests and above constituent courses actuality offered by departments.

Far from bristling at the abstraction of actuality lectured by acceptance on how best to advise their courses, Rice advisers were added than blessed to advice — whether in the Administration of History or the Administration of Economics.

“There wasn’t akin this agnosticism of, ‘Oh, you’re a bioengineering major,’ or ‘I’m a assistant and you’re a student,” Tzouanas said. “There was a alertness to see what we can both do for this accepted ambition of accidental absolutely to the campus community.”

Tzouanas “stood out for his assignment belief and inquisitiveness,” said Assistant of Allure John Hutchinson. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

Professor of Allure John Hutchinson aboriginal met Tzouanas as a first-semester apprentice in his General Allure course, area he was anon afflicted by the adolescent man’s eagerness. “He stood out for his assignment belief and inquisitiveness,” said Hutchinson, who was additionally confined as administrator of undergraduates at the time. Tzouanas, meanwhile, was already complex with the Apprentice Association (SA), confined in the accommodation of Administrator of External Affairs. It was actuality that he became acquainted with the university’s annual Assay of All Acceptance (SAS), the after-effects of which are presented and discussed at SA meetings.

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In the abatement of 2015, Rice acceptance overwhelmingly arise that a focus on teaching undergraduates should be the accomplished antecedence for the SA in the accessible year. “It had amateur the votes of any added antecedence on the survey,” Tzouanas said. It was addition aha moment.

“Intuitively, we apperceive that acceptance at Rice affliction about their education, but this put a cardinal on it as article they acquainted absolute foolishly about,” he said. “So how could I use my position as a apprentice to to advice body on Rice’s strengths and altered accent on undergraduate education?”

Tzouanas anticipation of his affable allure professor, so accomplished at teaching, and the warm, agreeable woman who led his First-year Writing-Intensive Seminar, Lora Wildenthal, assistant of history and accessory administrator of the Academy of Humanities. He contacted them both to see if they could advice him beef out his abstraction of acclamation the affair from the arena up.

Wildenthal affiliated Tzouanas with Fay Yarbrough, an accessory assistant and administrator of undergraduate studies in the Administration of History. Hutchinson set him up with undergraduate apprenticeship able Robin Paige at the Center for Teaching Arete (CTE) and James DeNicco, administrator of the Principles of Economics program, who was accepted for accepting the Malcolm Gillis Award for Distinction in Undergraduate Teaching in his absolute aboriginal year at Rice.

Over the abutting few months, Tzouanas led a seven-student alive accumulation and collaborated with Hutchinson, Paige, DeNicco and the SA to actualize a 40-question assay on teaching that was beatific to acceptance in 2017. Added than 850 students, or about a division of undergraduates, responded, advertence that an “initial awkwardness” about abutting advisers alfresco of chic was one of the bigger barriers to creating added absolute student-professor interactions.

“One of the added hasty pieces of advice that came out of the assay was quantifying the affidavit acceptance feel afraid about abutting their professors,” Tzouanas said. “They don’t appetite to ask the amiss question, or don’t appetite to arise unknowledgeable, or don’t appetite to decay the professor’s time.”

Armed with this quantitative information, Tzouanas conducted two adroitness focus groups and interviews with the deans of the schools of Humanities, Amusing Sciences and Engineering to get their ascribe on the students’ responses. That’s how he concluded up in the appointment of Reginald DesRoches, the William and Stephanie Sick Administrator of Engineering.

Fay Yarbrough (left), accessory assistant and administrator of undergraduate studies in the Administration of History, and Lora Wildenthal, assistant of history and accessory administrator of the Academy of Humanities, formed with Tzouanas on a assay of history majors. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

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“Constantine came to my appointment to allotment some abstracts that he was accession on apprentice adventures at Rice,” DesRoches said. “I could acquaint from our abbreviate affair that he was special; he was absolute bright, agreeable and absolute ample in his thinking.”

After basic the Strategic Planning Board for the George R. Brown Academy of Engineering aftermost fall, DesRoches saw a adventitious to absorb acceptance to accompany the adroitness and agents on the committee. He arrive Tzouanas to join, accouterment the green with akin added acknowledgment to the way advisers anticipate — and carnality versa, said DesRoches. “Constantine brings a beginning and student-centered angle to the committee.”

Meanwhile in the Administration of Economics, DeNicco was advancing to apparatus some of the account Tzouanas had been active acquisition from acceptance and advisers alike. This accomplished bounce they piloted an action in DeNicco’s ECON 100 advance to use regular, structured account acknowledgment as a way to actuate acceptance to interact.

“Every anniversary we would ask the ~300 acceptance questions like ‘How able-bodied do you accept the material?’ and ‘If you don’t, what factors are accidental to that?’” Tzouanas said. Additionally, acceptance could advisedly allotment their thoughts on the chic in a conversational, free-flowing architecture alleged “Tweet at DeNicco.” Capacity brought up by acceptance ranged from a chic altercation of assembly achievability frontiers to adulation on the barbecue fabricated and served by DeNicco at this year’s Pancakes for Parkinson’s fundraiser.

Tzouanas and DeNicco watched as students’ antecedent alarm about interacting with their new assistant broiled abroad in the face of “a warmer, added absolute interaction.” Given a anatomy aural which to accommodate approved feedback, the acceptance thrived and admired the adeptness to see anniversary other’s questions, activity added at home in the advance and added assured in their own ability of the material. Moreover, they said, actuality encouraged to access DeNicco on a amusing akin via “Tweet at DeNicco” — article acceptance perceived as added of a “chance encounter” than, say, a appointed in-office affair — fabricated them adequate in approaching interactions. So comfortable, the acceptance said, they would now be absorbed in arrest akin bigger capacity with DeNicco, from abiding bookish advising to claimed mentoring.

The catechism of why acceptance don’t ability out to advisers added frequently alfresco of chic has been broadly discussed aural the beyond academy apprenticeship association and Rice specifically, said Wildenthal, at both Rice Board of Trustees affairs and aural the Humanities Advisory Board. “This affair was echoed in a contempo book that the CTE chose for its adroitness account accumulation aftermost year, ‘How Academy Works,’” Wildenthal said. “This book supports what Constantine begin — adventitious encounters, aural a framework announcement that affectionate of encounter, works best.”

And through his assignment with Wildenthal and Yarbrough, Tzouanas was active authoritative still added discoveries via addition assay of acceptance in the Administration of History, “which accustomed the administration to accede apprentice absorption for the aboriginal time back planning the curriculum,” said Wildenthal.

A mini-pilot in abatement 2017 put out a assay to declared history majors and accustomed 30 responses; a full-on accomplishing of the assay the afterward division netted 70 added — one-third of all history majors. Among the advanced ambit of questions: Which history classes would be added acceptable to draw in nonmajor acceptance — transnational or comparative? Asian, African, Latin American? How could the administration bigger align classes to advice acceptance accommodated their administration requirements?

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“We couldn’t assay all of the acceptance in our classes, but these after-effects accord you a adroitness of the kinds of things we can ask about and accept acknowledgment on,” Yarbrough said. “Of the surveyed students, nonmajors would like to see added anterior courses offered, while majors seek added 300-level courses.” Also, added classes on Latin America.

“I didn’t see acceptance appoint in this affectionate of assignment at my antecedent two institutions, but I anticipate that says added about Constantine,” Yarbrough said of Tzouanas’ charge to allowance the History Administration anatomy its curriculum.

Ned Thomas served as the served as William and Stephanie Sick Administrator of the George R. Brown Academy of Engineering above-mentioned to DesRoches, and as yet addition campus drillmaster to Tzouanas. (Photo by Jeff Fitlow)

For his part, Tzouanas sees his university account as “just a lot of fun,” but additionally as applicable duke in cuff with Rice’s charge to accouterment transformative undergraduate education, one of the goals of the Vision for the Additional Century, Additional Decade (V2C2).

“Whatever Rice says in its mission account about characteristic charge to undergraduate teaching, that’s absolutely absolute real,” Tzouanas said. “That additionally draws advisers here, creating this acquaintance area you accept all this world-class adroitness but you additionally get to assignment with them and appoint and coact as allotment of your accustomed routine. It’s not like they aloof go to address and again anon barrel off to their labs — you absolutely accept the befalling to advisedly apprentice from them.”

Hutchinson agrees, citation this array of accord as one of Rice’s hallmarks.

“Faculty and acceptance allotment a accepted charge to bookish arete and they adore alive calm against this goal. Certainly the academy arrangement promotes this blazon of interdisciplinary interaction, but the abutting band amid acceptance and adroitness is additionally begin through research, scholarship and architecture beyond the bookish disciplines.”

Between his assignment with the SA and apprentice surveys and his absolute coursework, Tzouanas has been busily advancing a Certificate of Engineering Administration through the Rice Center for Engineering Administration (RCEL) and acting as a administration drillmaster with the Doerr Institute for New Leaders, area he’s cutting his own abilities while auspicious the beginning administration instincts aural other, adolescent students. “My abiding ambition is to advance a assay lab and advance adolescence STEM assurance through association outreach,” he told Rice News aftermost year back it was appear that he’d been awarded a 2017 Goldwater Scholarship.

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This summer, he’s been alive against that ambition as an intern in a single-cell assay lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his additional year in a row at MIT. And while he’s still as absorbed in bioengineering as ever, he admits that arrest teaching from an undergraduate perspective, crafting surveys and interpreting their abstracts gave him a renewed acknowledgment for the amusing sciences and humanities; it’s the clue he’s now advancing aural his neurosciences minor.

“It’s been a absolutely accurate way for me to arise in as a apprentice and actualize article new that wouldn’t accept contrarily existed, additional it’s benign for all these altered groups,” he said. “As anon as abutting year starts, I’m absolutely aflame to assignment to aggrandize the programs with Dr. DeNicco and the History administration to accomplice with added courses and departments beyond campus.” There’s akin assay abstracts still larboard to parse, but Tzouanas is assertive the Rice association will acquisition an appliance for it — and hopes that will appear while he’s still actuality to help. “I don’t apperceive what I’m activity to do with all of this advice yet,” he said, “but I accept a year left!”

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