SSPB graduate students currently have a one semester teaching requirement as part of their academic training. To support experience in their subject of interest, students are given the opportunity to request that specific courses fulfill this requirement. Students submit their request at the end of the second year, and they typically fulfill the requirement during the third year. Students interested in future academic career are welcome to participate in teaching another course to develop their pedagogical skills, although they must have the consent and support of their thesis advisor.
Mentoring Undergraduate Research
Graduate students interested in developing their teaching skills in the laboratory can serve as mentors for undergraduates through two mechanisms. First, SSPB students can serve as research mentors for undergraduates doing research for credit during the academic year. In addition, SSPB students can serve as mentors during the summer through programs like the Bionetworks REU and BioXFEL REU programs, which bring students to Rice for a ten-week immersion experiences. REU students come from diverse undergraduate institutions, including those that lack research opportunities like community colleges.
Mentoring High School Students
Graduate students who are interested in outreach and mentoring high-school students can serve as summer mentors for the IBB Summer Academy. Each summer, this program brings students from the Science Academy of South Texas to Rice to learn about the college experience and academic paths in science in engineering. There are also opportunities to contribute to the Rice IBB Girls Summer Initiative program, a preparatory program designed to immerse economically disadvantaged female high school rising sophomores in biological research, through activities during sequential summers.
Advocacy and Public Policy
As cells are increasingly engineered for practical applications, issues of environmental deployment and public policy are becoming more important. Graduate students with an interest in policy can take courses on this topic through the Baker Institute for Public Policy, which houses the Center for Health and Biosciences. Among the policy courses offered, Science Policy and Ethics provides an introduction to policy, politics, and legal issues related to science and technology through case studies.
Graduate Student Association
Graduate students who have an interest in supporting and promoting other students also have opportunities to lead through the Rice Graduate Student Association, which current goals are improving wellbeing, inclusion and advocacy on campus. This association has opportunities for students to lead by organizing community service, advocating for sustainability, supporting career development, and outreach.
Rice University IGEM Team
Graduate students with an interest in synthetic biology can support education in this area by serving as a graduate mentor for the Rice University IGEM Team, which competes annually at the International Genetically Engineered Machine competition. SSPB graduate students frequently serve as mentors and some travel to the annual jamboree in Boston each year to support the students that they mentor.
Graduate students with an interest in learning how to integrate primary literature into their teaching have the opportunity to volunteer and serve as lead instructors in Freshman Seminar in Local Research (BIOC 115). This activity is distinct from the teaching requirement, because graduate students serve as course instructors of record in a mentored format over seven weeks, and they receive official Rice teaching evaluations. Student instructors must have the consent and support of their thesis advisors to participate.