Houston is home to two of the highest-ranked schools in the country. Photo via Getty Images

Two Houston high schools are dominating U.S. News and World Report's prestigious annual list of the country's best public high schools.

The 2024 rankings from U.S. News, released April 23, put Houston ISD’s Carnegie Vanguard High School at No. 31 nationally (up from No. 35 last year and No. 40 in 2022) among the country’s best high schools. The school also ranks No. 248 nationally among the best STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) high schools and No. 12 among the best magnet high schools.

Meanwhile, DeBakey High School for Health Professions ranks No. 70 nationally among the best high schools (down from No. 66 last year and No. 50 in 2022) and No. 19 among best magnet high schools. DeBakey ranked No. 426 nationally among best STEM high schools.

Topping the national list for 2024 is the BASIS Peoria Charter School in Peoria, Arizona.

Each year, U.S. News evaluates about 18,000 high schools on six factors: college readiness, reading and math proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates.

“The 2024 Best High Schools rankings offer a starting point for parents to understand a school’s academic performance, whether it’s a prospective school or one that their child is already attending,” said LaMont Jones, Ed.D., the managing editor of education at U.S. News, in a release. “Accessible data on our high schools can empower families across the country as they navigate today’s educational environment and plan for the future.”

Elsewhere in Texas
Around the state, these Texas high schools also made it into the top 100 nationally:

  • Dallas ISD's The School for the Talented and Gifted, No. 6 (unchanged from last year). No. 21 nationally among the best STEM high schools, and No. 3 among the best magnet high schools.
  • Dallas ISD's Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, No. 23 (down from No. 18 last year) and No. 10 nationally among the best magnet high schools.
  • Dallas ISD's Science and Engineering Magnet School, No. 29 nationally among the best high schools (down from No. 23 last year), No. 37 nationally among the best STEM high schools, and No. 11 nationally among the best magnet high schools.
  • Grand Prairie ISD's Collegiate Institute, No. 30 (up from No. 188 last year). No. 6 nationally among best charter high schools.
  • Austin ISD’s Liberal Arts and Science Academy, No. 38 (down from No. 32 last year and No. 34 in 2022). No. 34 nationally among the best STEM high schools.
  • BASIS San Antonio - Shavano Campus, No. 64 (up from No. 81 last year and No. 77 in 2022). No. 76 nationally among the best STEM high schools and No. 13 nationally among the best charter high schools.
  • Brownsville ISD's Early College High School, No. 71 (up from No. 229 last year).
  • Dallas ISD’s Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, No. 85 (up from No. 93 last year and No. 48 in 2022) . No. 21 nationally among the best magnet high schools.

When broken down just to Texas schools, Houston's Carnegie Vanguard High School (No. 5) and DeBakey High School for Health Professions (No. 8) are both in the top 10 best-rated public high schools in Texas this year, U.S. News says.

Other Houston-area schools that rank among Texas' 100 best are:

  • No. 24 – Kinder High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Houston ISD
  • No. 25 – Challenge Early College High School, Houston ISD
  • No. 29 – Young Women's College Prep Academy, Houston ISD
  • No. 32 – Eastwood Academy, Houston ISD
  • No. 37 – Harmony School of Innovation - Katy, Katy
  • No. 40 – Kerr High School, Alief ISD, Houston
  • No. 43 – Houston Academy for International Studies, Houston ISD
  • No. 47 – East Early College High School, Houston ISD
  • No. 59 – Clear Horizons Early College High School, Clear Creek ISD, Houston
  • No. 61 – Seven Lakes High School, Katy ISD
  • No. 63 – Early College Academy at Southridge, Spring ISD, Houston
  • No. 68 – KIPP Houston High School, Houston
  • No. 70 – North Houston Early College High School, Houston ISD
  • No. 71 – Victory Early College High School, Aldine ISD, Houston
  • No. 75 – Tompkins High School, Katy ISD
  • No. 76 – Clements High School, Fort Bend ISD, Sugar Land
  • No. 82 – Sharpstown International School, Houston ISD
  • No. 85 – Tomball Star Academy, Tomball ISD
  • No. 89 – Westchester Academy for International Studies, Spring Branch ISD, Houston
  • No. 95 – Harmony School of Innovation - Sugar Land, Sugar Land
  • No. 97 – Harmony School of Discovery - Houston, Houston
  • No. 98 – Energy Institute High School, Houston ISD

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice University, University of Houston, and two other schools made this year's ranking of top grad schools. Photo via Rice.edu

4 Houston universities earn top spots for graduate programs in Texas

top schools

Houston's top-tier universities have done it again. U.S. News and World Report has four Houston-area universities among the best grad schools in the state, with some departments landing among the top 100 in the country.

U.S. News publishes its annual national "Best Graduate Schools" rankings, which look at several programs including business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, and many others. For the 2024 report, the publication decided to withhold its rankings for engineering and medical schools. It also changed the methodology for ranking business schools by adding a new "salary indicator" based on a graduate's profession.

U.S. News also added new rankings for doctoral and master's programs in several medical fields for the first time in four years, or even longer in some cases. New specialty program rankings include audiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, nurse midwifery, speech-language pathology, nurse anesthesia, and social work.

"Depending on the job or field, earning a graduate degree may lead to higher earnings, career advancement and specialized skill development," wrote Sarah Wood, a U.S. News Education reporter. "But with several types of degrees and hundreds of graduate schools, it can be difficult to narrow down the options."

Without further ado, here's how the local schools ranked:

Rice University's Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business maintained its position as No. 2 in Texas, but slipped from its former No. 24 spot in the 2023 report to No. 29 overall in the nation in 2024. Its entrepreneurship program tied for No. 8 in the U.S, while its part-time MBA program ranked No. 15 overall.

Houston's University of Texas Health Science Centerearned the No. 3 spots in Texas for its masters and doctorate nursing programs, with the programs earning the No. 31 and No. 45 spots overall in the nation. The school ranked No. 25 nationally in the ranking of Best Public Health schools, and No. 36 for its nursing-anesthesia program.

Prairie View A&M University's Northwest Houston Center ranked No. 5 in Texas and No. 117 in the nation for its master's nursing program. Its Doctor of Nursing Practice program ranked No. 8 statewide, and No. 139 nationally.

The University of Houstonmoved up one spot to claim No. 4 spot in Texas for its graduate education program, and improved by seven spots to claim No. 63 nationally. Its graduate business school also performed better than last year to claim No. 56 in the nation, according to the report. The University of Houston Law Center is the fifth best in Texas, and 68th best in the U.S. Most notably, its health care law program earned top nods for being the seventh best in the country.

Among the new specialty program rankings, UH's pharmacy school ranked No. 41 nationally, while the speech-language pathology program earned No. 44 overall. The graduate social work and public affairs programs ranked No. 67 and No. 76, respectively, in the nation.

The full list of best graduate schools can be found on usnews.com.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston is home to a few of the highest-ranked high schools in the nation. Getty Images

3 heroic Houston high schools rank among top 100 in America, says U.S. News

super schools

Three Houston high schools are continuing their streak of top appearances on a prestigious annual list of the country's best public high schools.

The 2023 rankings from U.S. News & World Report, released August 29, put Houston ISD’s Carnegie Vanguard High School at No. 35 nationally (up from No. 40 last year) among the country’s best high schools. The school also ranks No. 248 nationally among the best STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) high schools and No. 12 among the best magnet high schools.

Also in the top 100 are two other Houston ISD high schools.

DeBakey High School for Health Professions ranks No. 66 nationally among the best high schools (down from No. 50 last year) and No. 18 among best magnet high schools for the second consecutive year.

Young Women's College Prep Academy comes in No. 94 nationally among the best high schools (up from No. 148 last year), and No. 26 among best magnet high schools.

Topping the national list for 2023 is the Early College at Guilford in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Each year, U.S. News evaluates about 18,000 high schools on six factors: college readiness, reading and proficiency, reading and math performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth, and graduation rates.

"Having access to a strong high school program is paramount for students as they face an ever-changing world," said U.S. News' managing editor of education Liana Loewus in a release. "Making data on our high schools available helps parents ensure their child is in the educational environment that best sets them up to thrive."

Elsewhere in Texas
Around the state, these Texas high schools also made it into the top 100 nationally:

  • Dallas ISD's The School for the Talented and Gifted, No. 6 (up from No. 8 last year and No. 13 in 2021). No. 8 nationally among the best STEM high schools for the second consecutive year and No. 2 among the best magnet high schools (up from No. 4 last year).
  • Dallas ISD's Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women's Leadership School, No. 18 (up from No. 20 last year) and No. 8 nationally among the best magnet high schools for the second consecutive year.
  • Dallas ISD's Science and Engineering Magnet School, No. 23 nationally among the best high schools (down from No. 22 last year), No. 24 nationally among the best STEM high schools (down from No. 7 last year), and No. 2 nationally among the best magnet high schools (up from No. 10 in 2022).
  • Austin ISD’s Liberal Arts and Science Academy, No. 32 (up from No. 34 last year and No. 41 in 2021). No. 34 nationally among the best STEM high schools (up from No. 70 in 2022).
  • BASIS San Antonio - Shavano Campus, No. 81 (down from No. 77 last year and No. 102 in 2021). No. 41 nationally among the best STEM high schools (down from No. 25 in 2022) and No. 17 nationally among the best charter high schools.
  • Dallas ISD's Trinidad Garza Early College at Mt. View, No. 91 (up from No. 118 last year).
  • Dallas ISD’s Judge Barefoot Sanders Law Magnet, No. 93 (down from No. 48 last year and No. 59 in 2021) . No. 25 nationally among the best magnet high schools (down from No. 17 in 2022).
  • Austin ISD's Richards School for Young Women Leaders, No. 95 (up from No. 128 last year).

When broken down just to Texas schools, Houston's Carnegie Vanguard High School (No. 5), DeBakey High School for Health Professions (No. 6), and Young Women's College Prep Academy (No. 10) are all in the top 10 best-rated public high schools in Texas this year, U.S. News says.

Other Houston-area schools that rank among Texas' 100 best are:

  • No. 12 – Kinder High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Houston ISD
  • No. 21 – Challenge Early College High School, Houston ISD
  • No. 24 – Kerr High School, Alief ISD, Houston
  • No. 29 – Eastwood Academy, Houston ISD
  • No. 37 – YES Prep - Southwest, Houston
  • No. 39 – Harmony School of Innovation - Katy, Katy
  • No. 40 – North Houston Early College High School, Houston ISD
  • No. 42 – Clear Horizons Early College High School, Clear Creek ISD, Houston
  • No. 46 – Seven Lakes High School, Katy ISD
  • No. 53 – Victory Early College High School, Aldine ISD, Houston
  • No. 54 – YES Prep - Southeast, Houston
  • No. 57 – East Early College High School, Houston ISD
  • No. 58 – Houston Academy for International Studies, Houston ISD
  • No. 64 – YES Prep - East End, Houston
  • No. 69 – Tomball Star Academy, Tomball ISD
  • No. 72 – Early College Academy at Southridge, Spring ISD, Houston
  • No. 73 – Tompkins High School, Katy ISD
  • No. 75 – Clements High School, Fort Bend ISD, Sugar Land
  • No. 82 – YES Prep - North Central, Houston
  • No. 83 – Sharpstown International School, Houston ISD
  • No. 93 – YES Prep - North Forest, Houston
  • No. 95 – YES Prep - West, Houston
  • No. 97 – High School for Law and Justice, Houston ISD

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston didn't even crack the top 100 in the new list. Photo by Alisa Matthews on Unsplash

Houston again plummets on list of best places to live in new national report

yikes

In a surprise turn of events, Houston has fallen from grace in U.S. News and World Report's "Best Places to Live" ranking for 2023-2024.

Last year, Houston ranked No. 59 on the annual report — not surprising, considering all the Newstonians. However, the Bayou City plummeted to a shocking No. 140. Two years ago, the city ranked as No. 39, so this year's report represents a series of slips for Houston.

But why? According to the report: "A paycheck goes further in Houston than it does in other major metro areas, with affordable housing and free or cheap attractions like biking along Buffalo Bayou and exploring the 7,800-acre George Bush Park. The affordability of this region, which is located in southeastern Texas and home to more than 7 million residents in the metro area, is attracting new people from across the country and around the world."

The report takes a look at several different metrics to determine their rankings, including quality of life, housing affordability, desirability, and job market strength.

Somehow, Houston scored a mere 5.6 out of 10 in the livability score. By the numbers (and out of a perfect 10), Houston scored a 6 for desirability, 6.3 for value, 5.5. for job market, a surprising 5 for quality of life, and 5.9 for net migration.

It gets worse: Houston ranks as only No. 10 on the report's Best Place to Live in Texas list for 2023.

Texas overall saw a major drop. Austin, previously the No. 1 place to live in America for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019, lands at No. 40 overall this year. Austin managed to hang on to its title of the Best Place to Live in Texas for 2023, with San Antonio at No. 2, and Dallas-Fort Worth taking No. 3. Rounding out the top five is Killeen in No. 4, and El Paso at No. 5.

Here's how other Texas cities faired in 2023's Best Places to Live report:

  • No. 103 – San Antonio, down from No. 83 last year
  • No. 113 – Dallas-Fort Worth, down from No. 32 last year
  • No. 122 – Killeen, down from No. 108 last year
  • No. 128 – El Paso, down from No. 124 last year
  • No. 131 – Beaumont, down from No. 109 last year
  • No. 132 – Corpus Christi, up from No. 133 last year
  • No. 134 – Brownsville, unchanged from last year
  • No. 137 – McAllen, up from No. 138 last year
  • No. 140 – Houston, down from No. 59 last year

The full report can be found on U.S. News and World Report's website.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Rice University's Jones School of Business ranked No. 2 in Texas and No. 24 overall. Photo courtesy of Rice University

3 Houston universities score top spots for gra​d programs in Texas, new national report says

TOP-TIER EDUCATION

The 2023 results are in, and U.S. News and World Report has deemed three Houston universities among the best grad schools in the state, with some of its departments landing among the top 70 in the country.

Rice University's Jones School of Business ranked No. 2 in Texas and No. 24 overall in the nation, while the Brown School of Engineering earned the No. 30 spot among engineering schools, and third best program in Texas. Additionally, the university's department of psychology landed the No. 1 spot for its industrial and organizational psychology program.

Houston's University of Texas Health Science Center earned the No. 3 spots in Texas for its masters and doctorate nursing programs, with the programs earning the No. 28 and No. 33 spots overall in the nation.

The University of Houston earned the No. 5 spot in Texas for its graduate education program, and No. 70 nationally. It is the No. 63 best business school and No. 69 best engineering school in the nation, according to the report.

U.S. News publishes its national "Best Graduate Schools" rankings every year, which looks at several programs including business, education, engineering, fine arts, health, and many others. For the 2023-2024 report, the publication decided to withhold its rankings for law and medical schools, which will be published later this year. It also changed the methodology for ranking education and business schools by focusing on outcome rather than a program’s reputation and selectivity.

“When prospective students are considering their options for graduate school, the Best Graduate Schools rankings are designed to help them identify schools that excel in the program they want to study,” said LaMont Jones, senior editor of Education at U.S. News. “With many options available, U.S. News provides a wealth of data in an easy format to help each student make the best decision.”

Some category rankings have not been released for the 2023-24 school year, but the Baylor College of Medicine ranked No. 1 in Texas in the “Best Medical Schools: Research” and “Primary Care” categories for 2022. Additionally, the University of Houston Law Center, South Texas College of Law, and Texas Southern University Marshall School of Law previously ranked No. 3 (tied), No. 6, and No. 8 respectively in Texas for the 2022-2023 academic year.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Here's what Houston-based online programs are ranked as best in the country. Photo by Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

Houston university's online MBA program rises in the ranks of newly released report

A for improvement

Rice University's online MBA program has something to brag about. According to a new report, the program has risen through the ranks of other online MBA curriculums.

MBA@Rice, the online program at the Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice, has ranked higher in four categories in the latest edition of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Online Programs. The report evaluated schools based on data specifically related to their distance education MBA programs, and U.S. News has a separate ranking for non-MBA graduate business degrees in areas such as finance, marketing and management. The MBA list focused on engagement, peer assessment, faculty credentials and training, student excellence, and services and technologies.

“We use the same professors to deliver the same rigorous, high-touch MBA in our online MBA as we do in all our campus-based programs,” said Rice Business Dean Peter Rodriguez. “The strong national rankings recognize our success in reaching highly talented working professionals who don’t live near enough to our campus or for whom an online program is the best option.”

Rice's virtual MBA program ranked No. 12 (tied) in the 2023 list, which was up several spots from its 2022 ranking, which was No. 20. Additionally, Rice stood out in these other three categories:

  • Best Online MBA Programs for Veterans: tied for No. 10 (No. 14 last year).
  • Best Online Business Analytics MBA Programs: tied for No. 10 (tied for No. 12 last year).
  • Best Online General Management MBA Programs: tied for No. 7 (tied for No. 11 last year).

Rice recently announced a hybrid MBA program that combines online instruction with in-person engagement. The first cohort is slated to start this summer.

The MBA@Rice program is the top-ranked Texas-based program on the virtual MBA list. Several other programs from the Lone Star State make the list of 366 schools, including:

  • University of Texas at Dallas at No. 17
  • Texas Tech University at No. 33
  • Baylor University, University of North Texas, and West Texas A&M University tied for No, 65

U.S News & World Report ranked other online programs. Here's how Houston schools placed on the other lists:

  • The University of Houston tied for No. 10 in Best Online Master's in Education Programs and tied for No. 75 in Best Online Master's in Business Programs
  • Rice University, in addition to its MBA ranking, tied for No. 27 on the Online Master’s in Computer Information Technology Programs ranking after being tied for No. 49 last year
  • University of Houston-Downtown ranked No. 26 in Best Online Master's in Criminal Justice Programs and tied for No. 55 in Best Online Bachelor's Programs

The full list of best online higher education programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report is available online.

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Houston-based cleantech unicorn named among annual top disruptors

on the rise

Houston-based biotech startup Solugen is making waves among innovative companies.

Solugen appears at No. 36 on CNBC’s annual Disruptor 50 list, which highlights private companies that are “upending the classic definition of disruption.” Privately owned startups founded after January 1, 2009, were eligible for the Disruptor 50 list.

Founded in 2016, Solugen replaces petroleum-based products with plant-derived substitutes through its Bioforge manufacturing platform. For example, it uses engineered enzymes and metal catalysts to convert feedstocks like sugar into chemicals that have traditionally been made from fossil fuels, such as petroleum and natural gas.

Solugen has raised $643 million in funding and now boasts a valuation of $2.2 billion.

“Sparked by a chance medical school poker game conversation in 2016, Solugen evolved from prototype to physical asset in five years, and production hit commercial scale shortly thereafter,” says CNBC.

Solugen co-founders Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt received the Entrepreneur of The Year 2023 National Award, presented by professional services giant EY.

“Solugen is a textbook startup launched by two partners with $10,000 in seed money that is revolutionizing the chemical refining industry. The innovation-driven company is tackling impactful, life-changing issues important to the planet,” Entrepreneur of The Year judges wrote.

In April 2024, Solugen broke ground on a Bioforge biomanufacturing plant in Marshall, Minnesota. The 500,000-square-foot, 34-acre facility arose through a Solugen partnership with ADM. Chicago-based ADM produces agricultural products, commodities, and ingredients. The plant is expected to open in the fall of 2025.

“Solugen’s … technology is a transformative force in sustainable chemical manufacturing,” says Hunt. “The new facility will significantly increase our existing capabilities, enabling us to expand the market share of low-carbon chemistries.”

Houston cleantech company tests ​all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology

RESULTS ARE IN

Houston-based clean energy company Syzygy Plasmonics has successfully tested all-electric CO2-to-fuel production technology at RTI International’s facility at North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.

Syzygy says the technology can significantly decarbonize transportation by converting two potent greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, into low-carbon jet fuel, diesel, and gasoline.

Equinor Ventures and Sumitomo Corp. of Americas sponsored the pilot project.

“This project showcases our ability to fight climate change by converting harmful greenhouse gases into fuel,” Trevor Best, CEO of Syzygy, says in a news release.

“At scale,” he adds, “we’re talking about significantly reducing and potentially eliminating the carbon intensity of shipping, trucking, and aviation. This is a major step toward quickly and cost effectively cutting emissions from the heavy-duty transport sector.”

At commercial scale, a typical Syzygy plant will consume nearly 200,000 tons of CO2 per year, the equivalent of taking 45,000 cars off the road.

“The results of this demonstration are encouraging and represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Syzygy,” says Sameer Parvathikar, director of renewable energy and energy storage at RTI.

In addition to the CO2-to-fuel demonstration, Syzygy's Ammonia e-Cracking™ technology has completed over 2,000 hours of performance and optimization testing at its plant in Houston. Syzygy is finalizing a site and partners for a commercial CO2-to-fuel plant.

Syzygy is working to decarbonize the chemical industry, responsible for almost 20 percent of industrial CO2 emissions, by using light instead of combustion to drive chemical reactions.

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This article originally ran on EnergyCapital.

Houston family's $20M donation drives neurodegeneration research

big impact

Neurodegeneration is one of the cruelest ways to age, but one Houston family is sharing its wealth to invigorate research with the goal of eradicating diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This month, Laurence Belfer announced that his family, led by oil tycoon Robert Belfer, had donated an additional $20 million to the Belfer Neurodegeneration Consortium, a multi-institutional initiative that targets the study and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

This latest sum brings the family’s donations to BNDC to $53.5 million over a little more than a decade. The Belfer family’s recent donation will be matched by institutional philanthropic efforts, meaning BNDC will actually be $40 million richer.

BNDC was formed in 2012 to help scientists gain stronger awareness of neurodegenerative disease biology and its potential treatments. It incorporates not only The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, but also Baylor College of Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

It is the BNDC’s lofty objective to develop five new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders over the next 10 years, with two treatments to demonstrate clinical efficacy.

“Our goal is ambitious, but having access to the vast clinical trial expertise at MD Anderson ensures our therapeutics can improve the lives of patients everywhere,” BNDC Executive Director Jim Ray says in a press release. “The key elements for success are in place: a powerful research model, a winning collaborative team and a robust translational pipeline, all in the right place at the right time.”

It may seem out of place that this research is happening at MD Anderson, but scientists are delving into the intersection between cancer and neurological disease through the hospital’s Cancer Neuroscience Program.

“Since the consortium was formed, we have made tremendous progress in our understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of neurodegenerative diseases and in translating those findings into effective targeted drugs and diagnostics for patients,” Ray continues. “Yet, we still have more work to do. Alzheimer's disease is already the most expensive disease in the United States. As our population continues to age, addressing quality-of-life issues and other challenges of treating and living with age-associated diseases must become a priority.”

And for the magnanimous Belfer family, it already is.