Nonya Grenader (2019-2022)

Professor in the Practice, Architecture

Nonya Grenader is a Professor in the Practice of Architecture at Rice University. She served as Associate Director of the Rice Building Workshop (RBW) from 1996-2016, and during that time, RBW design/build projects received the NCARB Prize for the Integration of Practice and Education, the Collaborative Practice Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), and the ACSA/AIA Housing Design Education Award. Her current seminars focus on the intersection of architecture, art, adaptive re-use, and community engagement. 

As a registered architect, she has received design awards from AIA Houston, Preservation Houston, and the Urban Land Institute. She was elevated to AIA’s National College of Fellows in 2000 for her work to “advance the science and art of planning and building by advancing the standards of education.” She is the recipient of AIA Houston’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2017) and the Texas Society of Architects award for Outstanding Educational Contributions (2018).



Balaji Koka (2018-2021)

Associate Professor of Strategic Management, Jones Graduate School of Business
Curriculum Vitae |

Balaji Koka is an associate professor in the area of strategic management. He joined the Jones School in 2008 from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He teaches in the Executive MBA and Full-time MBA programs and received the Teaching Excellence Award from the EMBA program in 2014. Professor Koka received his BE from Madurai Kamaraj University in India, his MBA from Indian Institute of Management in India and his PhD in strategic management from the University of Pittsburgh.



Z. Maria Oden (2019-2022)

Full Teaching Professor, Bioengineering
Curriculum Vitae | OEDK Website | Bioengineering Website |

Z. Maria Oden is a Full Teaching Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, Director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen at Rice University and co-director of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health.

Awards: George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching (2012, 2016), Fred Merryfield Design Award by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for national excellence in teaching engineering design (2012)


Renata Ramos (2017-2020)

Associate Teaching Professor, Bioengineering
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Engineering
Director, Bioengineering Undergraduate Studies
Curriculum Vitae | Website |

Renata Ramos is director of undergraduate studies in bioengineering and associate dean of academic affairs for the George R. Brown School of Engineering. She received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tecnologico de Monterrey in Mexico and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Arizona. She currently teaches several project-based courses in biomedical instrumentation, mechanical testing, medical device instrumentation, systems physiology, and fundamentals of bioengineering.

Teaching Awards: Two-time winner of the George R. Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching (2014, 2017), American Society for Engineering Education Biomedical Engineering Division Teaching Award (2014), Department of Bioengineering Teaching Award (2013)


Devika Subramanian (2018-2021)

Professor, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
Curriculum Vitae | Website |

Dr. Subramanian received her PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1989. She held a faculty appointment at Cornell University before joining Rice in 1995. Her research interests are in artificial intelligence and machine learning and their applications in computational systems biology, neuroscience of human learning, assessments of hurricane risks, network analysis of power grids, mortality prediction in cardiology, conflict forecasting and analysis of terrorist networks, and analysis of unstructured text data.


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Lisa Balabanlilar (2019-2022)

Faculty Chair, CTE Fellows
Associate Professor, History
Director of Undergraduate Studies, History
Curriculum Vitae | Website |

Lisa Balabanlilar is an Associate Professor of History at Rice University. The focus of her research is the Timurid-Mughal dynasty of Central Asia and India, sixteenth-century empire builders who were descended from Chingis Khan and Timur (Tamerlane).  Her broader research interests encompass comparative imperial court culture, movement and procession, power and the landscape. She received her PhD in 2007 from The Ohio State University.  Her first book, Imperial Identity in the Mughal Empire: Memory and Dynastic Politics in Early Modern South and Central Asia, a study of the Central Asian legacy of the Mughal dynasty of India, was published by I.B. Tauris/Palgrave in 2012.  Her second book, The Emperor Jahangir: Power and Kingship in Mughal India, will be published in the spring of 2020, also with I.B. Tauris (now Bloomsbury). She is currently developing a textbook for the comparative study of imperial pleasure gardens.

Dr. Balabanlilar has been teaching at Rice University since 2007. Her classes include a history of South Asia, a global history of imperial pleasure gardens, a history of the Mongol Empire in Central Asia, and a comparative study of early modern Islamic empires: Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal.  She has won four teaching awards while at Rice, including the 2016 the George R. Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching. 


Esther Fernández (2017-2020)

Assistant Professor, Spanish Peninsular Literature and Culture
Curriculum Vitae Website |

Esther Fernández is Assistant Professor at Rice University. She is the author of Eros en escena: Erotismo en el teatro del Siglo de Oro [Eros on Stage] (2009) and co-editor of Diálogos en las tablas: Últimas tendencias de la puesta en escena del teatro clásico español [Dialogues on the Stage] (2014). Dr. Fernández’s teaching and research interests have principally attended to eroticism and the Spanish comedia; visual and material culture; and performance analysis of classical theater’s most contemporary adaptations. Dr. Fernández’s current work includes coordinating a volume that explores Anglo-Spanish relations vis-a-vis the contentious image of Elizabeth I in Early Modern Spain, as well as a new monograph, Material Performances: Staging the Divine and the Spectacular in Early Modern Iberia, on animated props in ceremonial and theatrical contexts, where material representations of religious and ‘non-religious’ worlds took place in pre-modern Iberia.

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Lisa Lapinski (2018-2021)

Assistant Professor, Sculpture
Curriculum Vitae |

Lisa Lapinski is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the Visual and Dramatic Arts Department in the School of Humanities.  Her artwork has been exhibited in venues including Richard Telles Fine Art (Los Angeles, CA),  Johann König (Berlin, Germany), UCLA Hammer Museum (Los Angeles, CA), Studio Guenzani (Milan, Italy), Kölnischer Kunstverein (Cologne, Germany) and Taka Ishii (Kyoto, Japan).  In 2008 she presented the solo exhibition The Fret and its Variants at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.  She participated in the 2006 Whitney Biennial and in 2004 was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Her most recent projects include a solo exhibition at Kristina Kite Gallery, Los Angeles, and a group exhibition at The Moody Center for the Arts, Houston.

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Scott McGill (2018-2021)

Professor, Classical and European Studies
Curriculum Vitae |

Scott McGill is the author of Virgil Recomposed: The Mythological and Secular Centos (Oxford, 2005) and Plagarism in Latin Literature (Cambridge, 2012).  His current projects include a translation in blank verse of Juvencus' Evangeliorum libri IV, the first Christian epic in the western tradition, and a commentary on Virgil's Aeneid XI.  For the Juvencus project, he received an NEH fellowship for 2012-13.  He teaches courses on Latin language and literature and on Roman history and culture. 


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Anthony Brandt (2018-2021)

Professor, Composition and Theory
Curriculum Vitae |

Anthony Brandt is a Professor of Composition and Theory at the Shepherd School and Artistic Director of the contemporary music ensemble Musiqa, winner of two Adventurous Programming Awards from Chamber Music America and ASCAP.  His compositions includes two chamber operas, and works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, voice, choir, dance, television, theater, and art installations.  His honors include a Koussevitzky commission from the Library of Congress, and grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Houston Arts Alliance, and the MacDowell and Djerassi Arts Colonies.  He and neuroscientist David Eagleman have co-authored The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World (Catapult, 2017). Dr. Brandt has also co-authored several papers on music cognition and a chapter on music’s role in early language acquisition in the upcoming Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology.  Dr. Brandt has organized three international conferences on Exploring the Mind through Music at Rice.



Beth Beason-Abmayr (2019-2022)

Teaching Professor, Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Curriculum Vitae |

Beth Beason-Abmayr is a Full Teaching Professor of BioSciences at Rice University. She earned a B.S. in Microbiology from Auburn University and a Ph.D. in Physiology & Biophysics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She teaches multiple courses, including course-based undergraduate research experiences (CUREs) and a student-centered course in comparative animal physiology, and is a co-PI on the Rice REU in Biomolecular Networks. With support from the Rice Office of Undergraduate Research and Inquiry, she and her colleagues focus on mapping, implementing, and enhancing inquiry in the Biochemistry and Cell Biology curriculum. A founding leader of the Rice iGEM team, she has been a faculty advisor since 2006. Beth has been judging iGEM since 2011, including co-head judge at two regional jamborees, and has served on the Executive Judging Committee since 2014. She is co-chair of the American Physiological Society – Institute of Teaching and Learning (APS-ITL) and is an Associate Editor for Advances in Physiology Education.

Awards: National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences (2011-2012), BEN Scholar (2012), iGEM 2012 World Championship Jamboree Inaugural Judges’ Prize, George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching (2017), Teaching Award for Excellence in Inquiry-Based Learning (2019), National Academies Education Mentor in the Life Sciences (2012-2020)

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Lesa Tran Lu (2018-2021)

Lecturer, Chemistry
Curriculum Vitae |

Lesa Tran Lu is a Lecturer of Chemistry. She received her B.S. (2007), M.A. (2009), and Ph.D. (2012) in Chemistry from Rice University. She currently teaches General Chemistry I and II and has been developing in the courses a form of structured inquiry-based learning model known as the Student-Centered Active Learning at Rice (SCAL@R) method. With her colleagues, Tran studies the impact of the SCAL@R method on student learning, study habits, and attitudes towards learning. Tran also teaches the Chemistry of Cooking, an elective course taught in collaboration with Rice Housing & Dining and Houston-area chefs and business owners. In recent years, Tran has managed the Chemistry Undergraduate Research Program and has taught other courses including the Chemistry of Art.


Anthony Várilly-Alvarado (2017-2020)

Professor, Mathematics
Curriculum Vitae | Website |

Anthony Várilly-Alvarado's research interests lie at the interface of algebraic geometry and number theory.  He studies the fundamental arithmetic properties of solutions to systems of polynomial equations in several variables, especially those systems whose geometric avatars are four-dimensional spaces.  Before joining Rice, Várilly-Alvarado received an A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard University, he completed Part III of the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge, and obtained a Ph. D. in Mathematics from UC Berkeley.  He has taught a variety of courses, ranging from introductory courses like Single Variable Calculus and Honors Linear Algebra through to advanced graduate courses on Elliptic Curves and Algebraic Surfaces.

Awards: National Science Foundation CAREER award, George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching (2016), Sophia Meyer Farb Prize for Teaching, Phi Beta Kappa (2013)


James N. Brown (2019-2022)

Professor, Economics
Curriculum Vitae |

James Brown received his PhD from the University of Chicago and has previously held academic positions at Princeton University and SUNY Stony Brook, as well as a visiting position with the President's Council of Economic Advisers. His area of expertise is labor economics. 

Teaching Awards: George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching (2004, 2006, 2007, 2013), George R. Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009),  Finalist, George R. Brown Teaching Award (2012), the Sarah A. Burnett Teaching Prize in the Social Sciences for 2010-2011

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Jeffrey Fleisher (2018-2021)

Associate Professor, Anthropology
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Anthropology
Curriculum Vitae |

Jeffrey Fleisher is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University.  He received his BA, MA and PhD (2003) from the University of Virginia.  He is an anthropological archaeologist whose regional specialty is on the ancient Swahili coast of eastern Africa, focusing on rural and non-elite residents in and around first and second millennium urban centers.  His current research focuses on the use of open and public space at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Songo Mnara in southern Tanzania, and on issues of mobility in Iron Age Zambia.

Awards:  Sarah A. Burnett Teaching Prize in the Social Sciences (2017), Charles Duncan Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement (2014)


Mikki Hebl (2017-2020)

Martha and Henry Malcom Lovett Chair, Psychology
Curriculum Vitae | Website |

Mikki Hebl (Dartmouth College, Ph.D) is the Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Chair of Psychology, Professor of Management. Dr. Hebl’s research focuses on diversity and discrimination-related issues. In 2014, Dr. Hebl received the Sage Award for Scholarly Contributions from the Academy of Management for her lifetime research on gender and diversity in organizations.

Awards: Jones School of Business MBA for Executives Award for Teaching Excellence (2017), Cherry Professor of the Year Award Winner (2016), George R. Brown Certificate of Highest Merit (2015), Sarah A. Burnett Superior Teaching in the Social Sciences (2015), George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching (2014, 2012, 2005, 2004, 2002), George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2010, 2003); Charles W. Duncan Jr. Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty (2008), Nicolas Salgo Distinguished Teacher Award (2008), Society of I-O Psychology Distinguished Teaching Contributions Award (2008), Julia Miles Chance Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2005), Piper Foundation Teaching Award (2004), Graduate Student Association’s Faculty Teaching / Mentoring Award (2003), Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize (2000)


Karim Al-Zand (Music)

Margaret Beier (Psychology)

Marcia Brennan (Religion and Art History)

Dan Cohan (Civil and Environmental Engineering)

Steven J. Cox (Computational and Applied Mathematics)

Kate de Luna (History)

Reto Geiser (Architecture)

Jane Grande-Allen (Bioengineering)

Bridget Gorman (Sociology)

Michael Gustin (BioSciences; Chair, 2016-19)

Jason Hafner (Physics and Astronomy)

Matthias Henze (Religion)


John Hopkins (Art History)

Rachel T. Kimbro (Sociology)

Kathy Matthews (BioSciences; Chair, 2013-14)

W. Caleb McDaniel (History)

Al Napier (Jones School of Business)

Marcia O’Malley (Mechanical Engineering)

Barbara Ostdiek (Jones School of Business)

Ann Saterbak (Bioengineering)

Scott Solomon (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology)

Ric Stoll (Political Science)

Bob Westbrook (Jones School of Business)


Faculty Fellows are appointed to the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) by the Provost based on outstanding teaching, often reflected in the receipt of teaching awards, nomination for prizes, and input from Deans and the Office of the Provost. Nominations will be invited from deans, chairs, and CTE Fellows in the Spring of each year, and these nominations will then be submitted to the Chair of the CTE Fellows. Nominations will be reviewed by the current CTE Fellows and recommendations made to the Dean of Undergraduates, who forwards them to the Provost.

The number of Fellows appointed in a specific year will be determined by the number of new appointments and reappointments required to maintain a steady-state of 15 Fellows. Three Fellows will be appointed from each of the Schools of Engineering, Humanities, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences, and three Fellows will be appointed from the combined Schools of Architecture, Business, and Music.