The Wiess School of Natural Sciences is an academic school at Rice University in Houston, Texas. It comprises the departments of BioSciences (a merging of Biochemistry and Cell Biology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology), Chemistry, Earth Science, Kinesiology, Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy. Rice is well known for its groundbreaking research in nanotechnology. As well as undergraduate departments, the school supports the professional science master's program. One of Rice's greatest minds and pioneers of the field was Richard Smalley, the Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Physics and Astronomy. Smalley received the Nobel Prize (along with Robert Curl) in 1996 for the discovery buckminsterfullerene, an allotrope of carbon commonly referred to as "buckyballs".
The four founding departments of Rice (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics) are still a part of the Wiess School, which has historically been known for its strength in the sciences. Its Department of Space Science was established in 1963. The land on which the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center was built was donated by Rice University. Following this, President John F. Kennedy made a speech at Rice Stadium calling on the United States of America to develop its space program further.
Rice is also known for its emphasis on undergraduate education. The Wiess School of Natural sciences offers research experiences for its students. The premedical students in particular benefit from the nearby Texas Medical Center which offers many opportunities for research.
The Dean of the school is Peter Rossky, taking over for Dan Carson in 2014. Prior to his position as the current dean of the school, Peter Rossky headed two research centers at The University of Texas at Austin. The Associate Dean for Research is George Phillips, the Associate Dean for Administration is Kenton Whitmire and the Assistant Deans are Rachel Miller and Mary Widner.
The BioSciences department was created in July 2014 upon the merging of the Biochemistry & Cell Biology (BCB) department with the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) department.