Illustration by Paddy Mills

In late September, most Rice classes returned to an in-person format after beginning the semester online due to surging rates of the COVID-19 delta variant within the community and region. The change in teaching formats has been gradual, with classes whose enrollment is 50 or less returning to in-person instruction after Labor Day. Rice continues to run a robust testing program and to publish the results at coronavirus.rice.edu. While campus vaccination rates are above 90%, an indoor masking policy remains in effect. COVID-19 numbers in Houston are showing signs of improvement. The situation remains fluid, but that has not kept Rice’s campus from bubbling over with energy and liveliness at the beginning of a new academic year.

In this issue’s features, we’re back to meeting up with faculty scholars whose research expands knowledge about evolution in the most fascinating ways (“A Fish Tale”); to engaging questions about consciousness and the cultural meaning of inexplicable phenomena (“The Truth Is Right Here”); and to supporting the work to create a richer, more complete record of Rice’s history via an unfolding archive of historical discovery (“Paging Through History”). 

While campus vaccination rates are above 90%, an indoor masking policy remains in effect. COVID-19 numbers in Houston are showing signs of improvement. The situation remains fluid, but that has not kept Rice’s campus from bubbling over with energy and liveliness at the beginning of a new academic year.

We’re back to sharing stories about an energetic campus life, to welcoming new leadership in our academic colleges and to keeping up with the exploding (sometimes literally) campus construction projects. And while we never put off sharing the stories of some amazing students and alumni, in this issue, we get to highlight three whose Olympic aspirations were finally realized in Tokyo.

Rice Magazine has some new energy, too. This fall, we welcomed two interns — Mabel Tang, a Hanszen College junior, who is majoring in biochemistry and cell biology with a minor in medical humanities, and Emma Korsmo, a Lovett College sophomore, who is majoring in English and visual and dramatic arts. After serving as O-Week advisers, they jumped right into magazine assignments — see their bylines throughout Sallyport. 

As a campus community, we haven’t returned to whatever normal was before the pandemic, but in small, quotidian ways — long lines at Coffeehouse, an uptick in (always the wrong way) skateboard traffic, lights shining from the architecture studios at night, sidewalk crowds, in-person meetings — definitely, we’re back.

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