Phi Beta Kappa honored the City of Houston as an Arts & Sciences City of Distinction on April 17, 2018. This award showcases metropolitan areas with exceptional artistic vitality, cultural vibrancy and scientific engagement.  


(En)Lightning Talks Houston, a series of electrifying five-minute talks by local experts in the arts and sciences hosted by Ernie Manouse, took place on April 17, 2018. 
"Social Sculpture: The Shaping of a Community"
Rick Lowe is a Houston-based artist who develops projects nationally and internationally including Project Row Houses, a community platform enriching lives through art in Houston’s Third Ward. A MacArthur fellow and former National Council on the Arts member, Lowe is an associate professor of art at the University of Houston

"We, Too, Sing America"
Chitra Banjaree Divakaruni is the McDavid Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Houston. An award-winning author, poet, and activist, her work has appeared in the Atlantic MonthlyThe New Yorker, and Best American Short Stories. Two of her books, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, are acclaimed films

"Houston, We Have A Plan: NASA's HERA Has The 'Right Stuff' For Isolation Research in Space And On Earth"
Patrice O. Yarbough is a senior scientist employed by KBRwyle and contracted to NASA’s Human Research Program.  At Johnson Space Center, she is principal investigator for the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). Experienced in human immune systems and viral infections, she currently manages research that explores how humans behave in confined isolation in preparation for long-duration missions.

"The Border Trilogy: Three Myths About The U.S.-Mexico Border"
Tony Payan is the Francoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies and director of the Mexico Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute. An expert in border studies, his research focuses on border governance, flows, immigration, security, and organized crime.  

"When Artists Become Mathematicians"
Fumiko Futamura is an artist and associate professor of mathematics at Southwestern University, specializing in the intersection between mathematics and the arts. Her research focuses on projective geometry, exploring the power of mathematics as an artistic medium to brings deeper insight into how we see the world

Ernie Manouse is a ten time Emmy Award winning TV anchor, producer and host, known for the Houston Public Media produced series: InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse; the arts magazine show Arts InSight; and the nationally syndicated, top rated Downton Abbey inspired talk show, Manor of Speaking. He holds the title of “Ultimate Interviewer” from the Houston Chronicle
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Phi Beta Kappa recognized the innovative efforts of the City of Houston Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, led by Deborah McNulty, and four exemplary local organizations that build creative exchanges with new and diverse audiences in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences or mathematics. 

The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) develops policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors, and leverage private investment. It helps the public and City departments realize cultural projects that advance their goals and benefit the city’s 2.2 million residents and nearly 17 million annual visitors.

Harvey Arts Recovery Fund (HARF) supports the disaster recovery needs of the Greater Houston arts, culture, and creative community in a 10-county region. As a collaborative effort of Houston's arts services sector, its focus is rebuilding and restoring smaller arts and culture nonprofits and aiding individual artists by providing them with recovery and funding information. 

Multicultural Education and Counseling through the Arts (MECA) is committed to the healthy development of individuals through arts and cultural programming, academic excellence, support services and community building. MECA provides arts education, support services, and multicultural artistic performances and events to over 4,000 students and their families each year, helping to build discipline, self-esteem, and cultural pride. 

Cougars and Houston Area Math Program (CHAMP) is a mathematics outreach program for middle and high school students from underserved communities surrounding the University of Houston. CHAMP puts students from the local community into direct contact with faculty and students from the University of Houston to create pathways for success in mathematics and address the critical issue of underrepresentation

Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) is a research archive at Rice University’s Chao Center for Asian Studies that fosters a deeper understanding of Houston’s immigrant history by conducting oral histories and preserving materials. HAA also facilitates grassroots engagement by offering tools and resources for investigating community histories and works to interrogate critically what race, ethnicity, identity, and community mean.

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