Quality of Life Research with Rice University

Through an ongoing relationship with Rice University’s School of Social Science, the West Houston Association has engaged students in research projects to explore quality of life factors across the greater West Houston region. Over the last four years, WHA has engaged with 56 students through 17 projects. Students work with WHA members and other community partners on semester long projects culminating in presentations to stakeholders. These projects provide students with the opportunity to develop skills in project management, research design, data analysis, and communication while learning about factors that contribute to quality growth across the greater West Houston region and beyond.

We currently have four series of projects: Place Based Research, Quality of Life Metrics, Return on Investment of Sustainable Infrastructure, Revitalization and Redevelopment.

  • Place Based Research uses an Asset Based Community Development approach to identify ways to improve quality of life in a particular area. These projects are often done in partnership with the local communities based on their interests. So far projects have included focusing on Katy, Cypress, Jersey Village, Hempstead, and Alief.
  • Quality of Life Metrics projects work to identify what metrics might be able to quantitatively measure the concept of “quality of life.” This line of research is leading to ways to better model how various forms of development can impact quality of life.
  • Return on Investment of Sustainable Infrastructure refers to the financial benefits and value generated by investments in projects or developments that prioritize environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Beyond this triple bottom line approach, these projects focus on tangible returns that could encourage developer investments in sustainable elements.
  • Revitalization and Redevelopment examine both specific areas as well as specific types of developments. These projects emphasize infrastructure changes to existing communities that better meet the current needs and standards through restoring the vitality of a place and/or rebuilding existing structures.


Place Based Research

Students presenting their work to the Hempstead Commerce & Civic Association

Generating Cultural Appeal in Katy, Texas (Fall 2020)
Trisha Gupta, Alicia Wu, Grace Wei

Recommendations for Best Practices to Improve the Music Scene in Cypress, Texas (Spring 2021)
Christi Nguyen, Jennifer Jia, Adam Oscislawski

Hitting it out of the Park: What Baseball Can Do for Jersey Village (Fall 2021)
Brianna Bennion, Pahola Canavati, Ana Hogan

Making Hempstead “Cooler” (Spring 2022)
Isis Burgos, George Huang, Chrystal Hughes, Miguel Luna

Dog Park for Alief (Fall 2023)
Elizabeth Quach, Ben Teddlie, Genesis Hahn

Alief Dog Park – Cost Analysis (Spring 2024)
Karla Vasquez, Ian Wright

Alief ISD Family Resource Centers (Spring 2024)
Maya Gerke, Duc Anh Nguyen, Maciej Koszut, Stuti Jain


Students presenting their research to a group of WHA members and community stakeholders

Quality of Life Metrics

Quantifying the “Cool Factor” of the Greater West Houston Region (Fall 2021)
Naman Dandia, Austin Escamilla, Stephanie Kwak

Quantifying the “Cool Factor” of the Greater West Houston Region – Part 2 (Spring 2022)
Joyce Li, Jordan Ngo, Hitesh Vavilapalli

Identifying what Locations, Attributes, and Factors recognized as “Cool” (Fall 2022)
Ellie Bichelmeyer, Grant Levesque, Cameron Valentine


Return on Investment of Sustainable Infrastructure

Understanding the Economic Benefits of Sustainable Infrastructure (Spring 2023)
Ruoqing Wang, Emma Chen, Berkan Gedik, Stuti Jain

Analyzing Sustainable Solutions for Houston (Fall 2023)
William Grayer, Eliza Jasani, Amber Liu, Sienna Tu

Analyzing Returns on Sustainable Infrastructure Investment (Fall 2023)
Sofia Dzodan, Tyler Field, Arielle Hayon, Matthew Hong

Demonstrating Triple Bottom Line Returns from Public Sector Investments in Bus Service Frequency (Spring 2024)
Andrew Kim, Lenita Lyu

Revitalization and Redevelopment

Rice students presenting to developers on neighborhood revitalization

Neighborhood Revitalization: Focus on Alief & Gulfton (Fall 2022)
Andrew Murray, Emery Engling, Jonathan Cheng

Shopping Mall Renewal and Redevelopment (Spring 2023)
Erica Friedman, Bianca Chen, Pablo Solano, Guangshun Chen

Shopping Mall Repurposing (Spring 2023)
Kaylah Cantu, David Davisson, Connor Hughes, Christia Westheimer