Wiess School of Natural Sciences
#sliderCaption1 #sliderCaption2 #sliderCaption3 #sliderCaption4 #sliderCaption5 #sliderCaption6 #sliderCaption7 #sliderCaption8 #sliderCaption9 #sliderCaption10 #sliderCaption11 #sliderCaption12 #sliderCaption13 #sliderCaption14
Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Earth Science
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Physics & Astronomy


1980 - 1989

Timeline 1980-1989


King Walters is appointed dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences.


The Woodson Research Center in Fondren Library becomes the repository of NASA Johnson Space Center's archives, which are returned to JSC in early 2000.


The Geology Department changes to Geology & Geophysics.


Smalley, Curl and visiting Rice scholar Harold Kroto announce the discovery C60, a soccerball-shaped carbon molecule that Smalley names buckminsterfullerene in honor of architect and geodesic dome inventor Buckminster Fuller. The discovery shocked the scientific world because carbon was one of the most-studied elements in nature, and buckyballs represented a new molecular form of carbon that was distinct from graphite and diamond. Buckyballs were eventually found to be just one of a family of carbon molecules that are known collectively as fullerenes.


George Erik Rupp is named the fifth president of Rice. Former dean of Harvard Divinity School and a professor of religious studies, he is the first nonscientist president of Rice. Rupp took office July 1, 1985 and was formally inaugurated on October 25, 1985. He was the Lord O'Brian Professor of Divinity and Dean of the Divinity School at Harvard University before accepting the Rice presidency. He earned his A.B. at Princeton University, his B.D. at Yale University and his Ph.D. at Harvard University.


Neal Lane is recruited back to campus as provost after serving two years as chancellor of University of Colorado – Colorado Springs.


Rupp establishes the Institute of Biosciences and Bioengineering (IBB) to foster cross-disciplinary research and education programs encompassing the biological, chemical and engineering disciplines. The Institute serves as an administrative bridge between faculty from the departments of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Bioengineering, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering. George Schroepfer is appointed chair.


Jim Kinsey '56 (Ph.D. Rice 1959) becomes dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences.


The Department of Biochemistry becomes the Department of Biochemistry & Cell Biology.


The Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology is formed from the former Biology Department.


Paul Harcombe becomes the first chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology where he served on the faculty until 2007. He is a forest ecologist specializing in forest communities of the southeastern United States.