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Honors and Other Things

February 1, 2011, Volume 57, No. 20


Dr. Brinster: ISTT Prize
Dr. Ralph L. Brinster, Richard King Melon Professor of Reproductive Physiology, will be awarded the 8th ISTT Prize presented by the International Society for Transgenic Technologies (ISTT) at its international meeting in October. Dr. Brinster is being honored for his pioneering work in establishing, developing and advancing animal transgenesis methods and principles. This seminal work, often done in collaboration with Richard Palmiter, laid the foundations for the field and greatly advanced the understanding of gene regulation. Dr. Brinster will also present the keynote address at the meeting and will be given a lifetime honorary membership in the ISTT.

Dr. Caplan: Biomedical Ethics Prize
Dr. Arthur L. Caplan, the Emmanuel and Robert Hart Director of the Center of Bioethics and Sydney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics, was selected to receive the Patricia Price Brown Prize in Biomedical Ethics by the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. The $10,000 prize, given every two years, was established to honor the Oklahoma City community leader Patricia Price Brown, by selecting an individual who “demonstrates the highest standards in the medical or professional ethics fields.”

Dr. Ellenberg: Statistical Board
Dr. Susan Ellenberg, professor of biostatistics in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology and associate dean for clinical research in the School of Medicine, was elected by the National Institute of Statistical Sciences (NISS) to be the new chair of the Board of Trustees. Her term will run from July 1, 2011 to June 30, 2012. The NISS was established to identify, catalyze and foster high-impact, cross-disciplinary and cross-sector research involving statistical sciences.

Mr. Flegenheimer: Nora Magid Prize
The Nora Magid Mentorship Prize for 2011 has been awarded to Matt Flegenheimer, C’11, studying economics, history and journalistic writing. He has been a regular contributor to   The Philadelphia Inquirer. He began his journalistic career as a Daily Pennsylvanian sportswriter and editor and has contributed to the New York Times and Obit Magazine.

The prize is a $1,000 stipend to be used for transportation, lodging and meals as the student travels to develop professional contacts.

SEAS Device: First Prize at Software Competition
AutoPlug, an embedded systems device developed in the laboratory of Dr. Rahul Mangharam, Stephen J. Angello Term Assistant Professor in the department of electrical and systems engineering (ESE) in SEAS, won first prize at the 2010 World Embedded Software Competition held in Seoul, Korea.  The device was ESE junior Kevin Conley’s summer research experience as part of the Rachleff Scholars Program and was developed in collaboration with team members Teddy Zhang, a junior in ESE; Gabe Torres, a senior in ESE and CIS; and Madhur Behl, a doctoral student in ESE.

AutoPlug is an open system and network architecture for Plug-n-Play services for third-party hardware devices and software modules. It allows vehicles to become extensible, customizable and more integrated with evolving technology over the lifetime of the vehicle.

NSF Career Awards for Two in SEAS

Haeberlen Sarkar

Andreas Haeberlen, the Raj and Neera Singh Assistant Professor in the department of computer and information science, has received a NSF CAREER award for his proposal, “Evidence in Federated Distributed Systems.”

Casim Sarkar, assistant professor in the departments of bioengineering and chemical and biomolecular engineering, has received a NSF CAREER Award for his proposal, “Engineering Biomolecules and Cells for Oral Protein Delivery.”

Dr. Haeberlen’s research involves distributed systems, networking and security. He is particularly interested in large-scale distributed systems that span multiple administrative domains, such as cloud computing platforms or the Internet’s interdomain routing system. Recently he has been working on accountability for distributed systems, differential privacy, and Internet access networks.

The proposed research will strive to develop a reliable and general way to generate and verify evidence of misbehavior in federated systems, i.e., in systems that are operated jointly by multiple different organizations or individuals. In such systems, the interests of the participants are often highly diverse and/or in conflict with one another; for example, participants may be business competitors or based in hostile nations. This makes these systems inherently vulnerable to insider attacks. If evidence of misbehavior can be generated reliably, it becomes possible to handle such misbehavior by leveraging techniques from the ‘offline world’, e.g., by holding the participants accountable for their actions.

The project is integrated with Penn’s new undergraduate program in Market and Social Systems Engineering. It will produce and freely distribute software that can be used to defend federated systems against attacks and malicious insiders.

Dr. Sarkar strives to elucidate fundamental principles that underlie individual biomolecular interactions and molecular networks within cells and to apply this knowledge to the design of new molecular and cellular therapeutics. His research couples techniques from the fields of molecular biology, protein biochemistry, microbiology and mammalian cell biology with mathematical modeling, engineering analyses and synthetic biology to develop quantitative, predictive frameworks for the biological processes that he interrogates. Current thrusts in Dr. Sarkar’s laboratory include designing novel protein therapeutics, engineering cell biosensors and dissecting signaling networks implicated in cell decision making.

Dr. Sarkar’s CAREER proposal will establish a method to orally deliver recombinant forms of critically important therapeutic proteins. The idea of orally delivering such proteins is extremely attractive because this mode of administration is noninvasive, has higher patient compliance, and, in some cases, can more accurately mimic native physiology. The specific application will be to create novel proteins and cells that can be used to orally regulate glucose levels in diabetic patients. These same protein engineering and synthetic biology approaches will also form the basis for a broadly reaching educational and training platform.

The CAREER award is the NSF’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

Dr. Drndic: Research Grant
Dr. Marija Drndic, associate professor of physics, was one of three awarded a $200,000 grant from the University City Science Center. In addition to the financial award, Dr. Drndic will receive one year of continued business guidance to help bring her technology to market. She is developing a “lab-on-a-chip”  tool for measuring micro RNA molecules in a biological sample.

Dr. Deutschman: President-Elect of SCCM
Dr. Clifford S. Deutschman, professor of anesthesiology and critical care, attending physician on the Surgical Critical Care Service at HUP, and an internationally known sepsis investigator, has been elected the president-elect of the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM), the leading international organization dedicated to ensuring excellence and consistency in the care of critically ill and injured patients. SCCM is devoted to the advancement of multi-professional intensive care through excellence in patient care, professional education, public education, research and advocacy.

Bassini Writing Apprenticeships
The Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing announced this year’s Bassini Writing Apprenticeships. They are Jessica Yu and Katie Sanders. Ms. Yu is a senior English/creative writing major. Ms. Sanders is a junior majoring in urban studies with a creative writing minor. Ms. Yu will be working with Senior Lecturer Paul Hendrickson, on the processing of “making a book” (the myriad steps entailed in moving a new book through final publication), while Ms. Sanders, working with Lecturer Stephen Fried, will be helping with book proposals, paperback publication, planning a new publishing company venture, and research for magazine features.

Wharton Team Wins Case Competition
The team from Wharton won first place at the Ninth Annual 2010 National Real Estate Challenge hosted by the University of Texas at the McCombs School of Business. The six-person Wharton team included class of 2011 member David Beznos, and class of 2012 members Josh Abramson, Jared Halperin, Alan Heck, Victoria Ornstein and Amol Tripathi.

The teams were asked to develop a restructuring plan that aligned both the real estate private equity sponsor and lender’s interests on two distressed loans related to an office development and raw land.


Almanac - February 1, 2011, Volume 57, No. 20