The Communication Factor

Supporting excellence in communication

Riordan To Visit Cain Project in Spring



she voluntarily mentored students in both the practice of laboratory techniques and communication of scientific results. She was honored by the department in 2004 for her teaching contribution.

She enters the Cain Project with a full appreciation of the value of the support provided by her new peers. As a graduate student at Rice, she attended Cain Project workshops, met with presentation mentors, and participated in a thesis writing group. This gives her a unique double-sided perspective when working with students.

After meeting with Dr. Eich, Rice University’s first iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machines) team traveled to MIT for oral and poster presentations. “I saw the team make huge improvements in their presentation visuals that led to confidence in their delivery. I am very proud of their accomplishments,” Dr. Eich commented as the team prepared for the trip to MIT. Despite being a new team with only a few months
to design and complete their
research project, the professionalism the Rice iGEM team displayed during their presentation was commented on by respected professionals at the conference.

Table of Contents
Riordan to Visit Cain Project
New Cain Project Member
Preparing Bioscience
Undergraduates to Write and
Speak Biology
CPTSC Posters Shine
Odell Visits from Rensselaer

Dr.Dan Riordan

Dan Riordan, Professor of Technical Communication and Director of the University of Wisconsin-Stout teaching and learning center, will be a visiting professor with the Cain Project this spring. During the final three semesters of its life, the Project will focus on materials development and preparing faculty to take over communication instruction in their own courses. Dr. Riordan will be an enormous help to science and engineering faculty who want to examine their teaching, integrate communication instruction into their courses, and imagine how course outcomes can be captured and assessed in students’ written work and oral presentations.

Dr. Riordan’s philosophy emphasizes student engagement and independent problem solving. He argues that with many topics, student action produces more permanent understanding than faculty lecturing. Naturally, team problem solving ranks high in both industry and academia. As a result, collaborative writing and presenting also help science and engineering students prepare for the transition to professional careers or graduate school.

Dr. Riordan is the author of a well-established technical communication textbook, Technical Report Writing


Today, now in its 8th edition. He has won awards from the Council for Programs in Technical and Scientific Communication and the Association of Teachers of Technical Writing.

During the semester Dr. Riordan is expected to offer several workshops for faculty and for graduate students and post-docs. Be on the lookout for a topic that could enrich your teaching and your students’ learning.

Cain Project
Welcomes Dr. Eich

Dr. Elizabeth Eich

Dr. Elizabeth Eich (formerly McCormack), joined the Cain Project as a communication coach this fall. She provides communication support for the BIOS courses. She also has an appointment as an Assistant Lab Coordinator for Biochemistry and Cell Biology.

Dr. Eich received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice in 2005. During her graduate studies,


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