Harry C. and Olga Keith Wiess Professor of Natural Sciences


Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Rice University
6100 South Main
Houston, Texas 77005

Office (713)-348-4066
Home (713)-666-6538
FAX (713)-348-5232


University of Southern California, Ph.D. (Chemistry), 1957.
Augustana College, Rock Island, B.A. (Chemistry), 1954.


Professsor and Chair of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Rice University
Professor of Biology, Chemistry and Education
Co-Director, Rice University Center for Education


Professor of Biology, Chemistry, and Education, Rice University, 1993-present.
Visiting Professor, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing, China, 2000.
Adjunct Professor, University of New Hampshire, 1999-present
Acting Chair of the Department of Education, Rice University, 1995-96.
Visiting Research Scientist, NASA, Langley, VA 1988-1989.
Chairman of Biology Department, Rice University, 1981-1987.
Adjunct Professor of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 1977-present.
Professor of Biology and Chemistry, Rice University, 1975-1993.
Adjunct Professor of Biophysics, Baylor College of Medicine, 1974-1977.
Adjunct Professor of Biochemistry, Baylor College of Medicine, 1969-present.
Master, Hanszen College, Rice University, 1964 and 1966-1968.
Professor of Chemistry, Rice University, 1966-1975.
Visiting Professor of Theoretical Chemistry, Cambridge University, England, 1965.
Associate Professor of Chemistry, Rice University, 1962-1966.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Rice University, 1958-1962.
Research Fellow, Atomic Energy Commission, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Long Island, New York, 1957-1958.
Predoctoral Fellow, National Science Foundation, University of Southern California, 1954-1957.
Chemist, United States Army, Rock Island Arsenal, 1951-1954.



Work is conducted in the Wetland Center for Biogeochemical Research at Rice University. Since 1988 this group has been studying the generation of biogenic atmospheric trace gases and the biological processes in waterlogged plant-soil environments leading to their formation. These gases, principally methane and nitrous oxide are important contributors to global climate change and major components of the chemical system responsible for stratospheric ozone depletion. Our work originally focused on projects sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the tundra and boreal forest wetlands of Northern Canada and Alaska. Our current interests are in process studies of methane production and possible mitigation strategies for methane gas emissions from rice paddies and natural wetlands, the source of nearly half of all methane gas emitted annually to the global atmosphere.

Under the sponsorship of the US Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China. I traveled extensively in China to develop a cooperative effort between our laboratory and scientists in China for the study of gas emissions from Chinese and Indian rice paddies. This work began in May 1993 and has culminated in a joint research program with the National Agricultural University at Nanjing the Chinese Academy of Science Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory and the University of New Hampshire.
Major research programs at Rice University are supported by several institutes. The Wetland Center for Biogeochemical Research is part of the Energy and Environmental Systems Institute. This Institute originated in 1991 in order to coordinate energy and the environmental research in various departments of science, engineering, public policy, and computing.

Most recently I have initiated a study of science policy issues related to global, regional, and local climate change. The first project is to consider various facets of the urban heat island effect in Houston, Texas. This work is sponsored jointly in the Rice University Center for the Study of the Environment and Culture and the James Baker Institute of Public Policy.


Convenor---International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Program ACTIVITIES Committee on Trace Gas Exchange in Rice Paddies (RICE).Committee members are scientific experts on atmospheric chemistry from the United States, Germany, Australia, Philippines, China, India,Thailand, and Japan. This committee is a part of the program in International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP). The IGBP is part of the International Committee of Scientific Unions with the United States represented by the National Academy of Science. As part of this committees activities I am an editor for a book published by the Japanese National Institute of Agro-Environmental Sciences, which is the "Proceedings of CH4 and N2O Workshop" held in March,1992 at Tsukuba, Japan.

Embrapa Meio Ambiente (Embrapa Environment). Government of Brazil. Conduct workshops, train scientists, and set up experimental system to measure tracegas emissions from Brazilian irrigated rice fields.

Consultant---Advisor on Graduate Programs, The Joint Graduate School of Energy and Environment King Mongkut' s University of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand

Member---Scientific Organization Committee, Workshop on GHG Emissions from Rice Fields in Asia, Chinese Academy of Science Soil Science Institute, Nanjing, China,

Consultant---Environmental Protection Agency on Global Climate Change Issues in Agriculture. Activities I have participated in for the EPA have included workshops on various aspects of trace gas emissions, contributions to publications on atmospheric trace gases and mitigation of these gases from agricultural sources. I also serve as part of the oversight committee to monitor the EPA's program in the Philippines on the effects of increased carbon dioxide and ultraviolet radiation on agricultural crops in Asia.

Consultant---United Nations Development Program. As a member of the External Advisory Committee to the International Rice Research Institute, I monitor the inter-regional research program on methane emission from rice fields in China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand.

Lead Author---Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Co-authored the IPPC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Methane Emissions from Rice Cultivation (Reference Manualand Workbook). Also represented the OECD as an expert at the Twelfth Session of the IPCC in Mexico City, 1996.

Member---National Science Teachers Association Facilities Task Force. This committee addresses various questions of school science laboratory design and safety. It also keeps track of various regulations relating to laboratory use by students and helps teachers to be aware of them. The committee also publishes recommended designs for laboratory renovation and construction.


Center for Education

Co-director, Rice University Center for Education, 1988-date.
The Center for Education at Rice University was established in 1988 as the administrative umbrella for a number of projects in school improvement in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The mission of the Center is to improve the education of children at all grade levels by identifying, fostering, and coordinating individual projects to improve teaching and learning in pre-college environments in ways that cut across their usual isolation from each other.

Over the past several years, the Center Directors have developed several successful and ongoing programs in science, mathematics, writing, Asian and multicultural studies, early children's literacy, and in the relationships between Latino students, their families, and schools. These programs operate primarily in Houston and in some surrounding districts.


Minority Honors Pre-Med Academy Co-Director, 1988-1998.
College Board, Science Advisory Committee, Member 1989-1994.
Educational Testing Service, Chemistry Achievement Test Committee, 1988-1994
Academy of Science and Technology, Conroe, TX. Member Academy Advisory Council, 1988-1992.
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Education Effort Committee, 1988-date
Baylor College of Medicine, "Minority Research Apprentice Programs", Advisor, 1985-1987
Houston High School for the Health Professions, Science Curriculum Consultant, 1985-date
Fund for Improvement of Post-secondary Education, Consultant for the Life Sciences Program , 1984,1985
National Science Foundation Program to Train Master Teachers in Secondary Science Education, Mentor, 1983-1988
Conroe Texas Independent School District, Consultant, 1984-date.
Houston Mathematics and Science Improvement Consortium, Director, 1984,1985.


Meritorious Service Award, 2001, Association of Rice Alumni
Piper Professor for 1999, Piper Foundation, San Antonio, Texas
Citation for Excellence in Refereeing by the editors of the American Geophysical Union journals. 1998.
National Research Council Senior Research Fellow (NASA), 1988.
The Rice University Honor Certificate for Teaching, 1985.
The George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching, 1981.
The Rice University Student Association Mentor Recognition Award, 1976.
The Rice University Award of Highest Merit, 1972.
The George R. Brown Prize for Excellence in Teaching, 1967, 1969, 1970.
Salgo-Noren Distinguished Professor Award, 1966.
Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (Cambridge University), 1965.
Senior Class Teaching Award, 1964.
Atomic Energy Commission Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1957-1958.
Sigma Xi, 1957.
Phi Lambda Upsilon, 1955.
National Science Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, 1954-1957.
Phi Beta Kappa, 1954.


American Geophysical Union
National Science Teachers Association