OURMA Staff - University of Houston
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  • Stuart Long

    Associate Dean 
    Undergraduate Research and the Honors College

    Stuart Long is the associate dean of undergraduate research and the Honors College and is the academic advisor for all Honors students majoring in electrical and computer engineering. Additionally, he regularly teaches the honors section of the undergraduate introductory course in electromagnetic waves. He has mentored over 90 undergraduate students in his research during his 44-year career at the University of Houston. He holds a doctorate in applied physics from Harvard University, and his research involves antenna design, wireless communications and applied electromagnetics. 

  • Ben Rayder

    Executive Director

    Ben Rayder is an instructional assistant professor in the Honors College and the executive director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards. Prior to joining the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards in 2017, he worked as the assistant director in the fellowships office at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Rayder holds a doctorate in comparative politics from the University of Bamberg and a master’s in modern European studies from the University College London. He earned a bachelor’s in political science and German from the College of the Holy Cross.

  • Rikki Bettinger


    As the director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards, Rikki Bettinger supports students across the university as they pursue undergraduate research, directly overseeing programs including the Mellon Research Scholars and Senior Honors Thesis programs. She received her doctorate in Latin American history from the University of Houston in 2018. She specializes in 19th century transnational Latin American and Caribbean women’s histories with an emphasis on travel writings in the Americas. She also completed a master’s degree in history at The University of Texas at San Antonio and holds a bachelor’s degree in history secondary education from the University of Northern Colorado. Prior to pursuing graduate studies, she taught high school history in San Antonio.

  • Livia Garza

    Livia Garza

    Program Manager

    Livia Garza is a program manager for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards, coordinating the Provost's Undergraduate Research Scholarship (PURS) and office records/data management. An Honors College alum, she earned bachelor's degrees in Economics and Liberal Studies from the University of Houston. She also received a master's degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Katie Welsh

    Katie Welsh

    Program Manager

    Katie Welsh is a program manager for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards, overseeing the Houston Early Research Experience (HERE), the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), and office communications. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Strategic Communication with a concentration in Public Relations from The University of Houston.

  • Kalena Holeman

    Kalena Holeman

    Undergraduate Advisor

    Kalena Holeman is the undergraduate advisor for the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English literature with a minor in creative work. A Mellon Research Scholar, FrameWorks Fellow, and PURS recipient, she knows firsthand the difference co-curricular programs can make for young researchers. She assists with programming for the FrameWorks Program and Mellon Research Scholars and provides administrative support for OURMA. Her research interests center on receptions of antiquity and the premodern in 20th-century Black diasporic literature. After graduation, she plans to further pursue her research interests through a Ph.D. in literature.