Natural Sciences Ombudsperson

What does an ombudsperson do?

  • Listen, answer questions, help analyze situations
  • Suggest referrals to other campus resources
  • Identify options to help resolve problems
  • Report trends to the Dean of Natural Sciences, recommend changes in policies and procedures to the Dean

What does an ombudsperson not do?

  • Take sides or determine outcomes. The ombudsperson is neutral and impartial.
  • Offer legal advice or psychological counseling
  • Mandate policy changes, make or change rules
  • Conduct investigations or file formal grievances
  • Tell people what they should do

Why talk to the School Ombudsperson?

  • You want to talk confidentially about a situation
  • You need help facilitating communication with someone at the University
  • You believe you have been treated unfairly
  • You are having a conflict with a professor, advisor or another student
  • You aren't sure where else to go for help


You are welcome to discuss issues with classes, professors or other students without that information leaving the office. The ombudsperson will not share any information without your permission except in cases of serious threat to life or property or as otherwise required by law. As a responsible employee, the ombudsperson must report any incident of sexual assault, harassment, relationship violence, stalking, or another non-consensual interpersonal behavior to Rice Title IX personnel. Read more about the Mandated Reporter Policy 830.

About the Ombudsperson

Lauren Kapcha is the Assistant Dean for Communications, Development and Student Programs for the School of Natural Sciences. She received a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin and also completed a post-doctoral fellowship there. Lauren moved to Rice in 2014, first as a research scientist and then as the Director of Communications for the School of Natural Sciences before moving into her current position. In addition to her work in the Dean's Office, Lauren also co-teaches a seminar course on public science communication each spring.

To set up a meeting with Lauren, please send her an email with your availability. She will schedule a meeting with you as quickly as possible.