We also presented awards to two members of our faculty at RISE Day.
The first is the Malcolm Gillis Award for Distinction in Undergraduate Teaching in Economics.
Malcolm Gillis was not only an outstanding scholar in our department, an accomplished
advisor to a multitude of governments and private entities, and an exemplary teacher, but
also served as the President of Rice University from 1993 to 2004. Malcolm was incredibly
committed to fostering excellent undergraduate teaching at Rice, and this award is a fitting
tribute to his commitment.
The winner of the Malcolm Gillis Award for Distinction in Undergraduate Teaching in
Economics this year is Michele Biavati, who is a senior lecturer and has been at Rice since
2013 and is a faculty associate at Will Rice College. Michele is eminently deserving of
the Gillis Award, as he has always been an outstanding instructor in all of his courses, but
we especially want to recognize his performance in his often over-subscribed Behavioral
Economics course, where his outstanding lectures inevitably win accolades from his students.
And Michele is extremely popular among our undergraduates, which in itself is quite a feat, as
he also has the truly thankless task of being in charge of all undergraduate transfer credits.
Our second faculty prize is the Ralph O’Connor Award for Distinction in Teaching and
Research in Economics. This award honors Ralph O’Connor, who was one of the founding
members of the RISE Council, and played a huge role in shaping Rice over the years, serving
on the university board of governors and as a trustee, helping to establish Martel College,
and earning the first Chairman’s Award, the highest award for service given by the university,
as well as the Rice Alumni Association’s Gold Medal. The award is made possible by a gift
from Rob Ladd, who has been the chair of the RISE Council since it inception; Rob is also
the incoming Chair of Rice’s Board of Trustees.
The winner of this year’s Ralph O’Connor Award for Distinction in Teaching and Research in
Economics is assistant professor Rossella Calvi. Rossella has been one of our best teachers
since the day she arrived on campus and she continues to improve, receiving her best teaching
effectiveness score on student evaluations in her most recent offering of her undergraduate
course on economic development. Even more impressive is that in her graduate course in the
same subject she has received a perfect 1.00 both times she has offered the course, an amazing
accomplishment. And Rossella is a top-notch researcher as well. In fact, she just had her paper
on “Why Are Older Women Missing in India? The Age Profile of Bargaining Power and Poverty” accepted in one of the top three journals
in our profession, the Journal of Political Economy. We are delighted to present her with the O’Connor Award for Distinction in Teaching
Finally, we would like to mention a non-RISE
Day prize awarded recently to one of our faculty
members. A few weeks ago, Associate Professor
Mallesh Pai won the 2020 award for the best paper
published in the prestigious American Economic
Journal: Microeconomics. And we would be remiss
if we didn’t mention that, amazingly enough, this
same high-profile award was won last year by
another one of our faculty members, Yinghua He.
We would like to offer our heartiest congratulations
to both young scholars on their impressive