Graduate Student Spotlight

This is a series of articles designed to highlight the work of Rice graduate students, who perform a remarkable breadth of research on campus. To nominate yourself or a friend to be spotlighted, fill out this form.

Current Spotlight

Name: Olivia Wolf
Department: Art History
Advisors: Shirine Hamadeh and Fabiola Lopez-Duran
Hometown: South Bend, Indiana


Olivia’s research: My dissertation focuses on the art & architecture of the Arab-speaking diaspora in Latin America’s southern cone. By conducting case studies of key monuments sponsored by this immigrant community, I illustrate how public sculpture and architecture served as a tool that enabled this diverse diaspora to reshape its shifting political identities. I also examine modern and contemporary Arab-Argentine artists, highlighting multicultural influences within a national context. My research aims to contribute to a greater understanding of diverse intercultural dialogues in Latin America, and the vital role of minority communities in the crafting of modernity.


GSA Awards

The GSA annually confers five awards in recognition of exemplary service to graduate students at Rice University. The current year’s winners are listed with their respective award.

  • Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Award – individuals who demonstrated commitment to graduate education on teaching graduate students at Rice – Junghae Suh (Bioengineering) and Loren Raun (Statistics)
  • Faculty/Staff Service Award – individuals who exemplify efforts beyond the call of duty to improve the quality of life for graduate students at Rice – Jennifer Hunter (Electrical and Computer Engineering) and Theresa Chatman (Diversity Recruitment and Engagement)
  • Robert Lowry Patten Award –  intended to honor graduate students who might NOT have been honored for their service and achievements on behalf of graduate students – David Ramirez (Electrical and Chemical Engineering), Xiang Zhang (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering), Cat Majors (Bioengineering), and Sarah Michelle Kim (Computer Science)
  • GSA Service Award – individuals who exemplify contribution of time, effort, and devoted service to the cause of improving graduate student life and education at Rice – Lynn Fahey (Sociology) and Kyle G. Sweeney (Art History)
  • “Friends of Rice Graduate Students” Award –  individuals who have significantly enhanced the lives of graduate students at Rice University in some way – Purvez Captain, Kevin Kirby, and Nikolay Kostov

The GSA awards are meant to encourage and recognize outstanding service to graduate student life and education at Rice. The award criteria were intentionally kept vague in order to permit recognition of the broadest possible range of service to the Rice graduate community.

The deadline for submissions is around April 1 of each year. The awards committee is chaired by the Parliamentarian (who takes office on April 1) and includes four other graduate students chosen at a GSA meeting, as well as the GSA faculty advisor and a member of the Rice Office of Student Activities as ex officio members.

Nominations should be submitted using the online webform or via email to the current Parliamentarian.

Outside GSA Awards for Graduate Students

The Rice University Service Award

Given in memory of Dean of Students Hugh Scott Cameron, it is awarded to as many as four individuals of the Rice student population, past and present, who have been most exemplary in rendering service to the student body. Contact the Office of Student Activities for information on nominations.

Sallyport Award

It is presented by the Association of Rice Alumni to recognize a deserving graduate degree candidate who has made contributions to the Rice community above his or her individual department and who may not otherwise be recognized. The winner will receive a silver bowl (with his/her name and year engraved on it) and a stole to wear at graduation. The winner’s name will also appear on a plaque in the Rice Memorial Center. The Student-Alumni Liaison Committee decides the recipient of this award. Therefore, please send a faculty letter of recommendation and a resume electronically to or hard copies to MS-520 to nominate a graduate student for this award. Students can also be nominated using an online form at

Graduate students also qualify for the Commencement Award and RWRC Impact Awards. More information on these awards may also be found at