Weitzman School of Design’s Three Endowed Professorships
The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design recently announced that three members of the standing faculty have been awarded endowed professorships: Lisa Servon, Kevin and Erica Penn Presidential Professor; Ken Lum, Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor; and Sean Burkholder, Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor.
Dr. Servon, professor and chair of city and regional planning, is the inaugural endowed Kevin and Erica Penn Presidential Professor. Dr. Servon conducts research in the areas of urban poverty, community development, economic development, and issues of gender and race. Specific areas of her expertise include economic insecurity, consumer financial services and financial justice. She is the author of Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology, Community, and Public Policy (Wiley, 2002), Bootstrap Capital: Microenterprises and the American Poor (Brookings Institution, 1999), Gender and Planning: A Reader (Rutgers, 2005) and The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). Dr. Servon has contributed to The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The Wall Street Journal.
Ken Lum, professor and chair of fine arts, is the inaugural endowed Marilyn Jordan Taylor Presidential Professor. Mr. Lum is internationally known for his conceptual and representational art in a variety of media. His installations often deal with individual and social identity formation in the context of historical trauma and the complications of official and non-official memory. He is co-curator of Monument Lab: A Public Art and History Project, which began as a city-wide art public art exhibition in Philadelphia and has become a referent for other cities in dealing with the problems of controversial monuments and statues. This project led to a book edited with Paul M. Farber entitled Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia (Temple University Press, 2019).
Sean Burkholder, assistant professor of landscape architecture, is the inaugural endowed Andrew Gordon Assistant Professor. Mr. Burkholder’s research considers the way ecology influences the urban landscape. His work has largely focused on the Great Lakes region in collaboration with the Ohio EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers. He co-directs the Healthy Port Futures project, which stresses the inherent value of landscape design research in the process of maritime infrastructure projects. Mr. Burkholder also serves as a design critic internationally and his work has been published widely in books and journals.
Penn Engineering’s Four New Scholarly Chairs
Penn Engineering recently announced four scholarly chairs: Danielle Bassett, Russell Composto, Boon Thau Loo and Mark Yim.
Dr. Bassett has been named the J. Peter Skirkanich Professor of Bioengineering. Dr. Bassett is a professor in the department of bioengineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She holds a PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge and completed her postdoctoral training at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before joining Penn in 2013.
Dr. Bassett has received numerous awards for her research, including an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and, most recently, an Erdos-
Renyi Prize in Network Science, to name a few. She has authored over 190 peer-reviewed publications as well as numerous book chapters and teaching materials. She is the founding director of the Penn Network Visualization Program, a combined undergraduate art internship and K-12 outreach program bridging network science and the visual arts.
Dr. Bassett’s research is in the area of complex systems and network science, with applications to biological, physical and social networks. She examines dynamic changes in network architecture, the interaction between topological properties of networks, and the influence of network topology on signal propagation and system function.
The J. Peter Skirkanich Professorship was established to honor J. Peter “Pete” Skirkanich, an alumnus, trustee and member of the School of Engineering and Applied Science Board of Overseers who also served as co-chair of Penn Engineering’s Making History through Innovation capital campaign and was a member of the University’s Making History steering committee. His generous support for Penn Engineering paved the way for Skirkanich Hall.
Dr. Composto, a professor in the department of materials science and engineering at Penn Engineering, has been named the Howell Family Faculty Fellow. He joined Penn in 1990 after an appointment as a Research Scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts. He is an alumnus of Cornell University, where he received his doctoral degree in 1987.
Dr. Composto is a member of a number of centers and institutes and is the director of Research and Education in Active Coatings Technologies (REACT) for human habitat, a Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE) project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Composto is a previous recipient of the Provost’s Award for Distinguished PhD Teaching and Mentoring. He also serves at the associate dean for undergraduate education.
Dr. Composto’s research is in the area of polymer science and biomolecular engineering. His interests extend to polymer surfaces and interfaces, adhesion and diffusion, and nanocomposite polymer blend and copolymer films. His biomaterials work centers around manipulating the surface of polymers to elicit control over protein adsorption, as well as cell adhesion, orientation and function. He has an active research program at the interface of polymer science and biomolecular engineering, which combines block copolymer self-assemble as a basis for orienting stiff biological molecules.
The Howell Family Faculty Fellow was established to provide financial support to a faculty member in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. This faculty fellow helped launch the dean’s strategic goal to increase the School’s number of named, endowed faculty positions.
Dr. Loo has been named the RCA Professor of Artificial Intelligence in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
Dr. Loo is a professor in the department of computer and information science at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He earned a PhD in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley and conducted postdoctoral research at Microsoft Research before joining Penn in 2007.
Dr. Loo is the recipient of numerous awards, including the NSF CAREER award, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Award, and Penn’s Emerging Inventor of the year award. He currently serves as Penn Engineering’s associate dean for master’s and professional programs.
Dr. Loo’s research focuses on distributed data management systems, Internet-scale query processing and the application of database technologies to networked systems. He is particularly interested in developing information-centric network architectures that can be easily extended, composed and formally verified. His recent projects include applying declarative networking techniques in the areas of dynamic network composition, adaptive mobile ad-hoc networks and scalable knowledge-based networks. He is also exploring novel database-inspired techniques for diagnosing, securing and verifying network protocols. Dr. Loo is an active entrepreneur and has founded and helped start several new companies.
The RCA Professorship was established with the support of RCA, originally the Radio Corporation of America, which was one of the earliest and most successful consumer electronics companies, known for nearly 100 years of innovations in wireless communication, radio, audio and television.
Mark Yim has been named the Asa Whitney Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Dr. Yim is a professor in the department of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics at the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He earned a PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and was a senior researcher at the Palo Alto Research Center for several years before joining Penn in 2004.
Dr. Yim is the recipient of several awards, including the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He is a World Technology Network Fellow, was inducted into MIT’s TR100 in 1999 and was named a National Academy of Inventors Fellow in 2018. He is also the director of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory at Penn Engineering.
Dr. Yim’s research expertise centers on the design and building of modular self-reconfigurable robots. His most recent project is SMORES-EP, a modular robot that can reconfigure itself into different shapes depending on the task and environment at hand. His other research interests include product design, reactive art and architecture, snake locomotion, flying robots and self-assembling floating structures. He has been issued over 40 patents for his work.
The Asa Whitney Professorship was established to honor Asa Whitney, benefactor of Penn’s first endowed professorship, whose bequest established the Asa Whitney Professor of Dynamical Engineering in 1877.
Ritesh Agarwal, Liang Feng: $1.98 Million NSF Grant
In 2016, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released a list of 10 Big Ideas—areas where innovative research could help catapult the country’s future forward. Now, in 2019, the NSF has begun enabling those ideas by awarding grants to bright minds in fields like engineering, including a $1.98 million grant received by a Penn-led team to work on the NSF’s Quantum Leap initiative.
Ritesh Agarwal, professor of materials science and engineering in Penn Engingeering, is heading the research team and is working with Liang Feng, assistant professor of materials science and engineering and of electrical and systems engineering, as well as researchers from the City College of New York and Texas A&M University.
The team will be working to engineer proof-of-concept quantum circuits that incorporate two-dimensional quantum materials. Photonic computing, an area in which Dr. Agarwal has previous research experience, will also be an integral part of their circuit system. The quantum photonic circuits to be designed for this project could eventually be incorporated into quantum computers that will revolutionize computing, sensing, and communication technologies.
Dr. Agarwal and Dr. Feng are also collaborating on another NSF project that is part of the Quantum Leap initiative. They are one of eight teams selected for its Research Advanced by Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering —Engineering Quantum Integrated Platforms (RAISE-EQuIP) grant program.
US News & World Report 2020 Rankings
In the newly released 2020 US News & World Report ranking of United States universities, Penn was ranked #6, tied with Stanford and the University of Chicago. This is Penn’s highest position in the rankings since 2013. Penn was also ranked #15 in Best Value Schools and #27 for Most Innovative Schools.
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has retained its #1 post as the best undergraduate business program in the country, which it has held for many years. It is also ranked #1 in two specialties: finance and real estate; ranked #2 in management and marketing; #3 in production/operation management and quantitative analysis; #5 in entrepreneurship and insurance; #6 in international business; and #7 in accounting.
Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science was listed #20 (tied with Duke University, Rice University, University of California–San Diego and University of Washington), and #10 in the biomedical specialty, for undergraduate engineering programs at schools whose highest degree is a doctorate.
Mohamed A. El-Erian: Lauder Institute Senior Global Fellow and Part-Time Professor of Practice at Wharton
Mohamed A. El-Erian has been named a Senior Global Fellow at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies and part-time professor of practice at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The appointment, effective July 1, 2019, was announced by Martine Haas, Anthony L. Davis Director of the Lauder Institute and professor of management. Dr. El-Erian has joined the Penn community thanks to the generous support of Rene M. Kern (G’90, WG’90).
As part of the Senior Global Fellows Program at the Lauder Institute, Dr. El-Erian will leverage his distinguished experience in global affairs, policy and business to contribute to the curriculum and serve as a mentor to the student community.
“We are simply delighted to have professor El-Erian at the Lauder Institute as an esteemed member of our faculty,” said Dr. Haas. “His reputation precedes him as a thought leader of global renown. His impressive teaching, research and global profile will advance Lauder’s work to develop citizens into decision makers who change the world.”
“Leadership is at the heart of Lauder and Wharton. And at its core, leadership is experiential. Mohamed’s extraordinary career exemplifies both leadership and excellence in the era of globalization,” explained Geoffrey Garrett, Dean of the Wharton School. “He is a real trailblazer whose incredible insight and experience will inspire our students to think and act globally.”
A widely followed leader in economics and finance, Dr. El-Erian is chief economic adviser at Allianz, senior advisor at Gramercy, and the incoming president of Queens’ College at the University of Cambridge effective fall 2020. His previous appointments include chairman of President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council, CEO of the Harvard Management Company, deputy director of the International Monetary Fund, and CEO/co-CIO of PIMCO.
In addition to being a contributing editor at the Financial Times, columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and author of two New York Times best sellers, he was named four years in a row to Foreign Policy’s list of Top 100 Global Thinkers. He is credited with identifying and coining the concept of the “New Normal” in 2009 to describe the likely sluggish economic performance of advanced economies after the 2008 global financial crisis, and for pointing out in 2016 the limitations to protracted and sole reliance on central bank policies.
Dr. El-Erian earned his MPhil and PhD in economics from the University of Oxford in 1982 and 1985, respectively, and he received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Cambridge in 1980.
“The opportunity to support bringing professor El-Erian to the Lauder Institute is a true privilege,” said Mr. Kern. “He is a celebrated global leader whose knowledge and insight will be eye-opening for our students, enriching their learning experience and the international skillset they carry with them out in the world. We’re delighted to welcome professor El-Erian to the Lauder community.”
A dedicated leader in the Lauder Institute, Mr. Kern serves as vice chairman of the Lauder Board of Governors and as a member of the Lauder Advisory Council, and is a proud Lauder alumnus and Penn parent. In addition to his support of this professorship, he established the Kern Family Fellowship, an endowed fund to provide financial support to Lauder Institute students. Mr. Kern is an advisory director of General Atlantic, a leading global investment firm, where he has served for 22 years, establishing the firm’s business in Europe, opening its London office, leading the firm’s financial services sector and serving as head of its Resources Group. Previously, Mr. Kern worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and as a management consultant at Bain & Company.
Morris Arboretum: $1.5 Million to Endow Chief Arborist Position
Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania announced that it has raised $1.5 million to support and endow a critical position at the Arboretum, that of the Paul W. Meyer Chief Arborist. The position is expected to be filled at the beginning of 2020.
“Funding the chief arborist position is something that we have been working towards for several years. It is remarkably gratifying to have secured the funding that will allow us to fill this critical Arboretum role. I am so grateful to the McCausland Foundation and to Janet and John Haas for making this a reality,” said Anthony Aiello, the Gayle E. Mahoney Director of Horticulture and Curator. The chief arborist will report to the director of horticulture.
Elizabeth McCausland Salata, Arboretum board member and Director at The McCausland Foundation, remarked that “The McCausland Foundation is so grateful to Paul Meyer, who inspired so many with his message of the great value of trees in urban environments. It is our great privilege to have helped establish and name the Chief Arborist position in Paul’s honor.”
Janet Haas, Arboretum board member emerita, echoed these sentiments, noting that “Paul is a regional hero for his work over decades educating our community, and those far beyond it, about trees. We cannot imagine a more fitting way to honor his legacy than to ensure that he is associated in perpetuity with the chief arborist position.”
Mr. Meyer, the former F. Otto Haas Executive Director of Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, retired last spring after 43 years of service, during which time the Arboretum grew and flourished (Almanac March 26, 2019).
Morris Arboretum’s tree collection is a defining feature of the garden and is a fundamental aspect of its mission. Of the 11,985 accessioned plants throughout the Arboretum (not including those in the greenhouse), 4,127 of these are classified as trees, ranging from small, recently-planted seedlings, to vigorous teenage and maturing trees to impressive veteran specimens.
As a museum, Morris Arboretum’s tree collection is insured, and based on a valuation that was conducted in 2013, it has a total estimated value of $25 million, making the tree collection one of the top assets of the Arboretum.
It is essential to preserve, maintain and grow this collection in order to achieve Morris Arboretum’s goals of research, horticulture and education.
The continued efforts to focus and improve Morris Arboretum’s tree care ensures that this resource continues for future generations. Adding the chief arborist will be a great addition in allowing the Arboretum to care for its trees while also strengthening the arboriculture education and outreach programs.
Morris Arboretum is one of more than 30 Philadelphia gardens in America’s Garden Capital. This 92-acre horticultural display garden features a spectacular collection of mature trees in a beautiful and colorful landscape. The official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, effective 1988, Morris Arboretum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and accredited by the American Association of Museums.
The 2020 Models of Excellence Award Call for Nominations
There are many words Penn staff have used to praise their colleagues’ work. Extraordinary, innovative, impactful and transformative are just a few. Now’s your chance to turn these compliments into campus-wide recognition by participating in the 2020 Models of Excellence Call for Nominations process.
Each year, at the Models of Excellence Awards ceremony, Penn showcases individual staff members and teams, revealing their remarkable contributions to the University. Nominations for fiscal year 2020 are open now through October 25.
The online nomination form and guide are available at www.hr.upenn.edu/models This year you can also refer to the Quick Start Guide to Submitting a Nomination to make navigating the nomination process even easier.
The Models of Excellence award program celebrates the outstanding achievements of full- and part-time staff members and teams throughout the University’s schools and centers. Awards are presented in three categories:
Models of Excellence Award—recognizes staff member accomplishments that reflect initiative, leadership, increased efficiency and a deep commitment to service.
Model Supervisor Award—honors supervisors who are effective and productive leaders for the University.
Pillars of Excellence Award—recognizes the important support Penn’s weekly-paid staff members provide to promote the University’s mission.
Models of Excellence, Model Supervisor and Pillars of Excellence award recipients each receive $500 and a symbolic award. Nominees selected for honorable mention receive $250 and a symbolic award. Awards will be presented at the Models of Excellence ceremony on April 28, 2020 at 4 p.m. at Irvine Auditorium. The entire Penn community is invited to attend.
Need Help to Complete a Nomination?
Learn how to write a stellar nomination that magnifies the exceptional work of your colleagues by attending a How to Nominate information session. Two sessions will be held on:
Monday, September 30, 3-4 p.m.
Thursday, October 10, noon-1p.m.
Both sessions will take place at Suite 1A South, 3624 Market Street.
Register at www.hr.upenn.edu/models-infosession or firstname.lastname@example.org Your co-workers can’t receive honors without your nomination, so your participation is key.
For more information about the Models of Excellence staff recognition program, visit www.hr.upenn.edu/models or contact Human Resources at email@example.com
—Division of Human Resources