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Brains in a Bar Series

About "Brains in a Bar"

The Association of Rice Alumni “Brains in a Bar” series mixes socializing and learning in a fun and casual environment.  With a discussion led by an expert in a particular discipline at one of Houston’s hottest venues, join fellow Owls, grab a drink, and experience learning like never before.

Upcoming Brains in a Bar

Henry VIII: Terrible Tyrant of Populist Prince?
October 19, 2017 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Black Labrador

Aysha Pollnitz

Henry VIII was one of the largest characters to strut upon the world's stage. He initiated ‎massive political and religious change in the name of the people and cultivated popularity with tournaments, invasions of France, the printing press, and acts of liberality. Nevertheless his unpredictable temper, laziness, and capacity for cruelty kept his court in a state of tension. Join Rice Alumni and Aysha Pollnitz in the pub to talk about populism, past and present.

Dr. Pollnitz is an early modern historian whose research focuses on the transmission of knowledge and ideas in Europe and the Atlantic.  Her first book on Princely education in early modern Britain shows how humanist education transformed political and religious culture by contributing to the growth of royal power and significant opposition to it in Tudor and Stuart Britain. Dr. Pollnitz is currently researching the translation of liberal education to the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.  She is particularly interested in the classical schooling of indigenous elites in New England and New Spain and the contribution of the liberal arts and sciences to discourses of empire and social mobility in the New World. Learn more at her Rice faculty page.

Past Speakers

Cin-Ty Lee

Cin-Ty LeeCin-Ty is a professor and department Chair of Rice’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. He is a geologist, petrologist, and geochemist who investigates how our planet has evolved with time, from the deepest parts of the Earth’s mantle to the continental crust and to the atmosphere. He is currently studying the geochemical interactions between the deep earth and oceans/atmospheres in order to better understand what controls long-term climate evolution. Professor Lee recently hosted a Traveling Owls trip to the Galapagos Islands and, in 2018, will be leading a trip to Churchill. Learn more at his Rice faculty page.

Stephen Klineberg

For 36 years, the annual Kinder Houston Area Survey (1982–2017) has been measuring the continuities and changes in demographic patterns, life experiences, attitudes and beliefs among successive representative samples of Harris County residents. No other metro area in the nation has been the focus of a long-term longitudinal research program of this scope. Few other cities more clearly exemplify the three remarkable trends that are refashioning the social and political landscape across all of urban America. Learn more about Stephen.


Michael Guston

Dr. Michael Gustin is an award-winning Professor of biochemistry and cell biology. He strives to create a unique approach to traditional material by fusing creativity with his teaching. A six-time award winner of George R. Brown teaching awards, Dr. Gustin also served as master of Wiess College from 2006-2011. Outside of the classroom, Gustin’s research centers on questions concerning how host-resident microbes respond to stress and generate dynamic communities. His research group recently discovered a mechanism by which some of the bacteria normally present in humans help fight off fungal infections. Learn more about Dr. Michael Gustin.

Brock Wagner ’87

Rice alumnus Brock Wagner ’87, the owner and founder of Texas’s oldest craft brewery, took attendees on a journey through the world of beer making at the Beer Hall at Saint Arnold Brewing Company during a talk about beer making and hops from around the world.

Brock Wagner has a long history with beer. In fact, it starts before he was born. His great-great-great grandfather came from Alsace in the mid-1800's and opened Wagner's Beer Hall in San Francisco (now the oldest existing bar in the city, renamed The Saloon.) Brock grew up in Cincinnati and Brussels, both big brewing towns, where he was exposed to many of the beer styles of the world. Then in college at Rice University, fate (and a friend) introduced him to homebrewing. This love of beer and brewing was what eventually led him to the inevitable: opening a microbrewery. Learn more about Brock.

Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu

Rice professor Sayuri Guthrie Shimizu gave an enlightening talk at Willy's Pub about the history of baseball before the Rice Owls took on Old Dominion at Reckling Park.  

Shimizu is a historian of the United States’ relations with the wider world with research interests cutting across historiographical and national boundaries, including the history of U.S.-Japanese relations, comparative colonialism, the transpacific world, sports in international relations and global governance. She has written several books on baseball’s role in history including "Transpacific Field of Dreams: How Baseball Linked the United States and Japan in Peace and War." She will also be hosting our Traveling Owls trip this July to the Great Lakes. Learn more about Professor Shimizu.

Lisa Balabanlilar

We were pleased to feature Professor Lisa Balabanlilar, Ph.D. as our debut speaker as she gave an engaging talk titled "A World Tour of Pleasure Gardens." She led a casual talk about gardens from around the world while showing breathtaking photos about these places and how they have influenced the world.  

Balabanlilar received her doctorate from The Ohio State University in 2007. She is a favorite faculty among alumni, having led numerous Traveling Owls trips around the globe and speaking at past Classroom Connect programs, as well as being named the winner of the Brown Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014. Balabanlilar is currently working on a biography of the seventeenth century Mughal Emperor Jahangir and is developing a textbook for the comparative study of imperial pleasure gardens. Learn more about Balabanlilar.

Arthur Gottschalk

Professor Art Gottschalk of the Shepherd School of Music gave a talk about the history of jazz and blues. He was joined by jazz pianist and local musician, Paul English, whose musical stylings brought the lecture to life. 

Arthur Gottschalk serves as a professor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. Gottschalk served for many years as the department chair for music theory and composition. In addition, he founded and directed the university’s electronic and computer music laboratories until 2002. Gottschalk has worked in many areas of music, including recording studio management, commercial writing and arranging, record production, music publishing and artist management. As a film and television composer he counts six feature films, twelve television scores and numerous industrial films and commercials among his credits. He continues to work as an expert in music copyright cases and as a forensic musicologist. Gottschalk's teaching specialties include music business and law, film music, music theory, music composition and counterpoint. Learn more about Professor Gottschalk.

Douglas Schuler

Homecoming & Reunion 2016 kicked off with a Brains in a Bar co-sponsored by the Association of Rice Alumni and Rice Entrepreneurship. “Square Pegs into Round Holes: Fitting Social Entrepreneurs into Challenging Business Environments,” looked at the match between social interventions and the business, social, and political environment. Professor Doug Schuler walked guests through several examples of failed social interventions – including one of his own! He also introduced some social interventions currently occurring in Houston’s food deserts and one he is developing for low-resource medical services in Malawi. 

Douglas Schuler is an associate professor of business and public policy and serves as a faculty member for the Entrepreneurship Initiaive at Rice. Professor Schuler’s principal research interests are corporate political activity, public policy, corporate social responsibility and non-profit organizations. Schuler also researches the introduction of health technologies into low resources developing markets. A member of the Jones School faculty since 1992, he has taught many courses, most recently business-government Relations, globalization of business, social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. He has received several teaching and service awards, including the 1997 JGS Award for Teaching Excellence, 1997 Rice Graduate Students Association Teaching Award and the 2006 Rice Graduate Students Association Faculty/Staff Service Award. Schuler serves on the executive committee for Rice 360 Institute for Global Health Technologies. Learn more about Professor Schuler.

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