News

Stephen A. Levin Building: A Hub for the Neural and Behavioral Sciences

  • April 26, 2016
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The University of Pennsylvania officially opened the Stephen A. Levin Building with a dedication ceremony on April 14. The six-story, $68.6-million, 78,000-square-foot building integrates psychology, biology and behavioral sciences under one roof with research laboratories, teaching facilities and space for students to collaborate and study.

“The completion of the Stephen A. Levin Building positions Penn to become a leader in the interdisciplinarity of brain and human behavior research,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “This magnificent building will bring together eminent Penn researchers in biology and psychology with state-of-the-art laboratories and facilities. It will enable our faculty and students to make a substantial contribution to what we know about the brain. We are so grateful to alumnus Stephen Levin for his generous philanthropy that will help us realize our vision to both advance basic discovery and the application of those discoveries to improve society.”

caption: President Gutmann and SAS Dean Fluharty

The Stephen A. Levin building was made possible by a $15 million gift by Stephen A. Levin, a member of Penn’s College of Arts & Sciences Class of 1967, who made the gift in honor of his upcoming 50th reunion. Mr. Levin has supported Penn Arts and Sciences for decades, including establishing the Levin Family Dean’s Forum and endowing the Stephen A. Levin Deanship of the College of Arts & Sciences.

caption: Stephen Levin

“I am proud to support Penn Arts & Sciences’ strategic initiative to advance the neurosciences by naming the Stephen A. Levin Building,” Mr. Levin said. “It is my hope that the research and learning undertaken in this building will impact our world for generations to come.”

Located between the Leidy Labs at 3740 Hamilton Walk and the Carolyn Lynch Labs at 433 S. University Avenue, the Stephen A. Levin Building constitutes the second, and final, phase of Penn Arts and Sciences’ life sciences expansion project, which began with construction of the Lynch Laboratories. The Stephen A. Levin Building is strategically located among the group of research buildings that includes the Richards Medical Research Laboratory and Goddard Laboratory, designed by Louis Kahn, and the historic Leidy Laboratory and Kaskey Park. 

Steven J. Fluharty, dean of Penn Arts & Sciences, said, “Deciphering the complex relationship between brain activity and the vastness of human intelligence and behavior is one of today’s most daunting and important scientific challenges. The Stephen A. Levin Building completes a contiguous brain and psychology ‘zone’ at the southwest edge of campus. These contiguous facilities will be used to promote intellectual synergies and serve as a dedicated home for shared instrumentation and collaborative laboratory facilities.” 

Presenting a new public façade to University Avenue, the Stephen A. Levin Building serves as a highly visible representation of Penn’s commitment to the sciences, to teaching and to research and creates a new gateway linking the campus on the south and west to the surrounding community.   

“The Stephen A. Levin Building is a great example of good urban and campus design integrating form and function,” said University Architect David Hollenberg. “Serving the academic mission, there are dynamic spaces and labs designed for interchange and collaboration side by side with inviting public green spaces built around sustainable landscaping.” 

The Stephen A. Levin Building design team is led by SmithGroupJJR Architects and Engineers. P. Agnes, Inc. is the construction manager.

As with every new building on Penn’s campus, the project is targeting a LEED Silver rating or higher. Sustainable elements include a green roof and a south garden that provide both a separation from the traffic of University Avenue and a park-like setting. A bioswale crossed by a footbridge is the centerpiece of the garden, with seating, stone paving and a lawn making up the rest of the area. The south garden also provides for environmental storm-water management. Bicycle parking will be available at the building’s west entrance off of University Avenue.

Mr. Levin is former chairman of the board of the Quantum Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in Palm Beach County, Florida. He serves on the board of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, California, and was presented with their National Community Service Award in 1999. He is a former vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Anti-Defamation League, and in 2004 was awarded the Haym Solomon Award, its highest honor. He is also former vice president of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County and a former member of the Board of Directors for the county’s Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and has served on the Vanderbilt University Law School Advisory Board. He was vice-chairman of the board of JFK Hospital, Atlantis and also served as president of Temple Emanu-El, Palm Beach. He is a director of the Palm Beach Police Foundation, chairman of the board of MorseLife, Inc., a nationally recognized provider of health care, housing and support services for seniors and their families in Palm Beach County, and chairman of MorseLife Capital Campaign.

Mr. Levin was honored by the Northwood University Board of Trustees with the Outstanding Business Leader award in 2011 and currently serves as a member of the Outstanding Leaders Association Executive Committee. In 2013, Northwood University awarded Mr. Levin an honorary doctorate degree in law. He is married to Petra Levin, a noted Miami philanthropist, and has five children, including Eric, C’92, and Andrew, C’14, and five grandchildren.

caption: The building’s design reflects its function in the ornate aluminum sunscreen with cutouts on the southern façade. The pattern of the sunscreen is designed to convey the branching and network structures found at all scales of biology and to resonate in psychological, linguistic and cognitive models. The sun screen also provides an element of sustainability, offering an expected minimal 50 percent reduction of solar heat gain during summer months.

Inaugural President’s Innovation Prize Winners at Penn

  • April 26, 2016
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caption: Left to right: Sade Oba, Alfredo Muniz, William Duckworth and Aaron Goldstein

University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann announced the selection of four undergraduates as the inaugural President’s Innovation Prize recipients. To be awarded annually, the Prize is intended to help Penn students design and undertake innovative, commercial ventures that make a positive difference in the world.

The recipients of the 2016 President’s Innovation Prize are Sade Oba and Alfredo Muniz for their project, XEED, and William Duckworth and Aaron Goldstein for their project, Fever Smart. 

“XEED and Fever Smart are on the vanguard of innovation; they are disruptive, ingenious and pioneering,” President Gutmann said. “Both of these projects have the potential to fundamentally alter the way distance monitoring can improve healthcare. From helping Parkinson’s patients, therapists and families to fighting and mitigating disease at home and abroad, XEED and Fever Smart embody the ability of Penn students to do good in the world.”

Each of the President’s Innovation Prize teams will receive $100,000 to implement their projects as well as a $50,000 living stipend per team member. Winners will also receive dedicated space at the Pennovation Center, as well as continued mentorship from the Penn Center for Innovation.  

The student winners will spend the next year implementing their projects. 

Seniors Folasade (Sade) Oba and Alfredo Muniz of the School of Engineering & Applied Science will help Parkinson’s disease patients and therapists through XEED, a network of wearable devices that tracks the movements of limbs, syncs the data to a smart phone and compares the results to benchmarks set by therapists. XEED will enable patients and their families to access accurate, up-to-date data as they actively fight against Parkinson’s. XEED provides a unique quantitative window into Parkinson’s and has the potential to improve the lives of millions affected by the disease. Ms. Oba and Mr. Muniz, who are both from Houston, Texas, are being mentored by Jonathan Smith, the Olga and Alberico Pompa Professor of Engineering & Applied Science.

Seniors William Duckworth of Penn Engineering and Aaron Goldstein of the Wharton School will continue and extend their work with Fever Smart, a simple yet powerful medical device and cloud information system that addresses a problem faced in many areas of medicine: monitoring core body temperature over time. Fever Smart enables patients and healthcare providers to monitor a patient’s temperature in real time and receive alerts when their temperature begins to rise to unsafe levels. The President’s Innovation Prize will be a catalyst over the next year as they introduce their product into a clinical setting. Mr. Duckworth, who is from Lake Forest, Illinois, and Mr. Goldstein, who is from West Palm Beach, Florida, are being mentored by Matthew Grennan, assistant professor of healthcare management in Wharton.

The President’s Innovation Prize strengthens Penn’s commitment under the Penn Compact 2020 to innovation both inside and outside the classroom. The President’s Innovation Prize is the commercial analogue to the annual President’s Engagement Prizes, which were awarded in March (Almanac March 29, 2016).

The inaugural Selection Committee was chaired by Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli and included Osagie Imasogie of the Board of Trustees, alumni representative and First Round Capital partner Josh Kopelman, Vice Provost for Research Dawn Bonnell, Larry Gladney of the School of Arts & Sciences, Laura Huang of Wharton, Arjun Raj of Penn Engineering and Therese Richmond of the School of Nursing.

Penn Engineering 2016 Teaching Awards

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The recipients of the annual Penn Engineering teaching and advising awards are selected directly by Penn Engineering students after thoughtful consideration. The School is filled with gifted educators who inspire students with their dedication and excellence.

The S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award

caption: Brian Chow

Brian Chow, an assistant professor in bioengineering, has been awarded the S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award, which is presented annually by the undergraduate student body and the Engineering Alumni Society in recognition of outstanding service in stimulating and guiding the intellectual and professional development of undergraduate students.

Dr. Chow received his bachelor of science in chemistry in 2001 from Stanford University. He then went on to earn a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Laboratory.

“Dr. Chow’s ‘learn by doing’ philosophy pushed me to gain a much deeper understanding of both synthetic biology and the research process in general,” one of his students remarked. “He has always made me feel that I had potential, even when I couldn’t see it in myself.” 

Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising

caption: Andreas Haeberlen

Andreas Haeberlen, the Raj and Neera Singh Assistant Professor in Computer & Information Science, has been awarded the Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising. The award recognizes dedication to helping students realize their educational, career and personal goals. 

Dr. Haeberlen received his graduate degree from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, in 2003. He then went on to earn his PhD from Rice University in 2009.

“He is an engaging lecturer who makes these complex topics easy to understand and consistently has students working on real applications,” one of Dr. Haeberlen’s students noted. “Every homework assignment is a major web project accomplished, and the group finals give excellent opportunity to practice engineering team skills.”

Hatfield Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Lecturer and Practice Professor Track

caption: Graham Wabiszewski

Graham Wabiszewski, a lecturer in mechanical engineering & applied mechanics, has been awarded the Hatfield Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Lecturer and Practice Professor Track. The award recognizes outstanding teaching ability, dedication to innovative undergraduate instruction and exemplary service to the School in consistently inspiring students in the engineering and scientific professions.

Dr. Wabiszewski earned his bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his PhD in mechanical engineering & applied mechanics in 2013 from Penn.

One student, referring to Dr. Wabiszewski’s Introduction to Computing course, wrote, “Dr. Wabiszewski has found a balance between giving challenging lectures that dive into complex problems and being humorous and approachable. As a consequence, he has been able to challenge students to explore above and beyond the course material. He is flexible and responsive to student suggestions which motivates students to take the time necessary to code exciting things.”

Penn GSE 2016 Teaching Award

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Mike Nakkula, practice professor and chair of the Applied Psychology & Human Development Division at Penn’s Graduate School of Education, has received the 2016 GSE Excellence in Teaching Award.

This award, given annually to an outstanding member of the teaching faculty, is an honor bestowed by the GSE student body. Recipients have a strong commitment to teaching and learning and are known to challenge their students intellectually and imaginatively.

Dr. Nakkula’s teaching and research focus on the development of resilience and the promotion of possibility development among low-income children and youth. He is particularly interested in the integration of counseling, mentoring and educational processes in urban schools to create contexts that allow students to thrive in school and during their transition to higher education and career opportunities.

Described as a patient teacher, Dr. Nakkula is both eager and willing to give his students ownership of different research projects, challenging them to step out of their comfort zones and try new things. He also helped develop and actively participates in a student-led group that advocates against human trafficking.

Addressing the Mental Health Needs of our Community

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We are reaching out to you to solicit your support in addressing the mental health needs of our community.

As many of you are aware, our Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare concluded its year-long study in 2015 (Almanac February 17, 2015), and we have implemented its recommendations. The President has asked the chairs of the Task Force, Rebecca Bushnell and Anthony Rostain, to immediately reconvene the Task Force to determine as expeditiously as possible what additional steps can be taken to help ensure the health and well-being of our students. In the interim, we have extended the hours of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) in the evenings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we have lent additional support to Student Intervention Services and the Student Health Service for case management, triage and depression screening.

We are heartened by the extraordinary partnership of many student groups, such as Penn Wellness, Active Minds, Penn Benjamins, RAP Line and the organizers of this year’s inaugural all-Ivy Mental Health Conference, among others. We appreciate as well the constructive engagement of the Faculty Senate, and our staff across the schools and centers, in gathering as a community around the mental health challenges we face. 

Here are a few important steps you can take to help:

• Become familiar with the resources available on campus, be alert to any signs of student distress and help guide students to the assistance they need. A guide for Penn faculty and staff, What Can I Do?, is being mailed to all faculty and staff for desk reference.

• If you or a student ever need immediate assistance, remember that we have a 24/7 University help line: 215-898-HELP.

• If you are holding class or meeting with students, please take some time now to let them know that we, and you, are here to support them. Encourage them to talk about their concerns, be attentive and share with them what you know about resources available to them.

• Consider contacting the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life or CAPS to participate in training programs or become a VPUL Wellness Partner. Faculty who would like to serve as Wellness Ambassadors (a pilot program being launched on the recommendation of the Faculty Senate, with a training session scheduled for May 4) may contact the Vice Provost for Education.

The health and well-being of our students are paramount. We are committed to do all that we possibly can to ensure that students have the support they need and to build a community where we look out for one another. We hope you will join us in making Penn a model for advancing student mental health.

—Vincent Price, 

Provost

—Craig Carnaroli, 

Executive Vice President

Amy Bennett: Executive Director, Online Learning Initiative

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caption: Amy Bennett

Amy Bennett has been named the executive director of the Online Learning Initiative (OLI), effective May 2. Ms. Bennett, who has served since 2013 as the director of the OLI, was selected following a national search. 

Ms. Bennett will oversee the strategic planning and day-to-day activities of the Initiative, as it continues to evolve in the rapidly changing area of online learning and technologically enhanced instruction. OLI is responsible for the development of massive open online courses at Penn, including relations with Coursera and edX. The Initiative also works with schools and other offices at Penn to develop online certificate and degree programs, to bring technologically enhanced instruction to campus courses, and to facilitate research on online teaching and learning. 

“I’m delighted that Amy has agreed to take on this new role, and I look forward to working with her. She has proven herself to be creative, hardworking and efficient in pursuing OLI’s goals,” said Stanton Wortham, the OLI faculty director and Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor in the Graduate School of Education. 

Ms. Bennett has an MBA from Wharton, an MS from Penn Engineering in product design and a BA from Penn in Japanese. She is currently a lecturer at Wharton. Prior to Penn, she was vice president of operations at Traffipax and the US Green Building Council, leading large project management and client services teams in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. She spent seven years with Prometric running project management teams to deliver global testing services and also worked as an executive for organizations in consumer products and services.

Two Green Fund Grants: Goats at Arboretum and Drying Racks in Dorms

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Targeted Goat Grazing Project: To help manage invasive plants at Morris Arboretum in an environmentally sustainable way, a herd of goats will be introduced to the property in May 2016. Arboretum intern Willa Rowan will evaluate the use of targeted goat grazing as an alternative to herbicides and power equipment for the control of invasive species in disturbed habitats. Goat grazing is one of several invasive plant control methods being tested by Ms. Rowan in a habitat restoration project at an oak grove at the Morris Arboretum’s Bloomfield Farm, where the ground cover is completely choked out by poison ivy and invasive plants. The invasive plants are harmful to the ecological value and biodiversity of this habitat, and the Targeted Goat Grazing Project offers the opportunity to explore the effectiveness and value of using goats in addressing the control of invasive plants. If the goat grazing project is successful, recommendations will be made for expanded use of goats at other affected areas at the Arboretum, and, capitalizing on the cost and staff savings associated, will free up resources for other sustainable land management initiatives.

A new laundry option in Harnwell College House: Skipping the dryer when doing laundry is now an easy option for residents of Harnwell College House, thanks to Harnwell Eco-Reps Elena Crouch (C’17) and Michael Shu (C’17). The Eco-Rep team has been awarded a Green Fund grant to provide drying racks in the College House laundry rooms. With these racks, students can air dry their clothing without using the dryers, saving significant energy. In addition, the project provides a handful of drying racks that students can sign out from the Harnwell information desk for use in their own rooms. Ms. Crouch and Mr. Shu will evaluate the success of this project by keeping track of the frequency with which the drying racks are used, and by polling residents about their usage.

Members of the Penn community with a great idea for sustainability at Penn who would like to be considered for a Green Fund Grant are encouraged to visit the Green Campus Partnership website at https://www.sustainability.upenn.edu/get-involved/green-fund

Nominations for the Green Purchasing Award: June 30

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Purchasing Services, in conjunction with the Engineering Student Activities Council (ESAC) Purchasing Subcommittee and the Green Campus Partnership, is pleased to announce that nominations are now open for this year’s Green Purchasing Award (GPA). This award recognizes the leading actions of any individual and/or team that advance the development of sustainable purchasing practices at Penn. It is an opportunity to spotlight those who are championing sustainability across campus, as well as to celebrate key projects that are contributing to a more sustainable future. 

Visit www.upenn.edu/purchasing to review the nomination guidelines and information about the submittal process. Nominations remain open until Thursday, June 30. Award recipients will be honored at the Penn Purchasing Supplier Show on Wednesday, September 28.

Governance

April Council Coverage

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At the outset of the final Council meeting of the semester, Penn President Amy Gutmann noted that Penn is committed to doing everything possible to ensure the mental health and well-being of the University’s students and will not let resources stand in the way. She said that as the University community continues to mourn the death of Olivia Kong, who died April 11, the hours for CAPS have been extended and the Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare that issued its report in February 2015 has been reconvened (see page 3) to determine what more Penn could do at this time. Dr. Gutmann then announced the inaugural winners of the President’s Innovation Prize (see page 1). She said that while originally there was to have been one winner, there were two equally eminent deserving teams, so there are two winners this year.

The bulk of the meeting was devoted to the summary reports by the chairs of the University Council committees. Each one briefly outlined what areas their committee focused on during this academic year, what their recommendations are based on their findings and what they propose should be considered by next year’s committee. (See the Council supplement in this issue for the annual reports of the standing committees.) The next Council meeting will be held in the fall semester on October 5.

Supplements

Honors

Honors & Other Things

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Cecil Balmond: 2016 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal

caption: Cecil Balmond

Cecil Balmond, professor of practice in architecture at PennDesign, is the recipient of the 2016 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. This medal is the highest honor bestowed by the  University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello.

Mr. Balmond, an internationally renowned artist, architect, writer and structural engineer, is among four honorees recognized in architecture, law, citizen leadership and global innovation. As part of the award, he gave a public talk followed by a reception and book signing earlier this month at the University of Virginia. At Penn, he founded the Non-Linear Systems Organization, a material and structural research unit. He also designed the Weave Bridge pedestrian overpass at Penn Park. 

Marge Bruchac: Mellon Foundation Fellowship

caption: Margaret Bruchac

Margaret M. Bruchac, assistant professor of anthropology and coordinator of Native American & indigenous studies at Penn, received a prestigious fellowship funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty is intended to increase the presence of minority and other faculty members who are “committed to eradicating racial disparities, and breaking down stereotypes and promoting cross-racial understanding in core fields in the arts and sciences.”

Dr. Bruchac will be on sabbatical leave for the 2016-2017 academic year, composing a series of publications based on findings from her research projects, including On the Wampum Trail (funded by the Penn Museum) and The Speck Connection (funded by the University Research Foundation).

Sona Dadhania: 2016 Science Ambassador Scholarship

Sona Dadhania, a Penn freshman, was chosen from among more than a thousand applicants to receive the Cards Against Humanity 2016 Science Ambassador Scholarship. The scholarship is intended “to raise visibility of women in science.” Ms. Dadhania has won a full scholarship to study materials science & engineering.

As part of the application process, students submitted personal videos explaining topics in science. Ms. Dadhania’s video on nanotechnology was selected by an advisory board of over sixty women who hold higher degrees and work in science fields.

Josep Dalmau: 2016 AAN Cotzias Lecture and Award

caption: Josep Dalmau

Josep Dalmau, an adjunct professor of neurology and founder and director of the Penn Center for Autoimmune Neurology in the Perelman School of Medicine, received the American Academy of Neurology’s (AAN) 2016 Cotzias Lecture and Award at the organization’s 68th annual meeting last week in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

Dr. Dalmau is a world authority on autoimmune and paraneoplastic disorders affecting the nervous system. His Cotzias Lecture, “Antibody mediated disorders of the synapse,” included a discussion of advances in these diseases, particularly anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune neurological disease first identified by Dr. Dalmau and colleagues at Penn in 2007.

Goldwater Scholarships

Penn students Elyse Chase, Kevin Chen and Jordan Doman have won Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, awarded annually to juniors and sophomores interested in careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering research. They are among 300 sophomores and juniors selected. The scholarship will provide a maximum of $7,500 annually to fund as many as two years of undergraduate study.

Ms. Chase, a junior in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, is majoring in mechanical engineering & applied mechanics. She is a member of the Haptic Lab of Katherine J. Kuchenbecker, the Class of 1940 Bicentennial Endowed Term Chair Associate Professor, focusing on implementation of touch feedback in the da Vinci robotic surgical system. She plans to pursue a PhD in mechanical engineering.

Mr. Chen, a sophomore studying physics, biophysics and biochemistry in the School of Arts & Sciences, is a member of physiology Professor Yale Goldman’s lab in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, focusing on developing zero mode waveguides for studying single molecule dynamics. He plans to pursue a doctorate in biophysics.

Ms. Doman, a junior, will earn both a bachelor’s in biochemistry and a master’s in chemistry when she graduates next year. Her master’s thesis, under the direction of Ivan Dmochowski, professor of chemistry, focuses on the synthesis of biosensors to be used in conjunction with a new kind of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging for the ultrasensitive detection of proteins implicated in cancer and other diseases. She plans to pursue a PhD in chemical biology.

Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowships

Nine early-career artists have been named as the recipients of grants from the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing and Visual Arts, which awards $50,000 a year for up to two years to help promising individuals make a breakthrough in their artistry, broaden their skills and achieve professional success. The Fund is administered by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at Penn. Fellowships totaling $450,000 were awarded to violinist Robyn Bollinger; bass-baritone Brandon Cedel; actors Jeremie Harris, Miriam Hyman and David Pegram; cellist and conductor Nico Olarte-Hayes; visual artist Nyugen Smith; ballet dancer Devon Teuscher; and musician and musicologist Daniel Walden.

Rahul Mangharam and Aaron Roth:  Presidential Early Career Awards

caption: Rahul Mangharamcaption: Aaron Roth

Rahul Mangharam, an associate professor in the departments of electrical & systems engineering and computer & information science, and Aaron Roth, the Raj and Neera Singh Assistant Professor in the department of computer & information science, both in Penn Engineering, are recipients of the 2016 Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). This is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Dr. Mangharam’s research focuses on merging computing, communications and the physical world into integrated cyber-physical systems, enabling seamless communication with and control of objects such as smart buildings, the human body and automobiles in the physical world.

Dr. Roth’s interests lie in designing new algorithms for querying large datasets that protect an individual’s personal information while leading to more reliable outcomes. He and his colleagues are developing a “differentially private” approach that allows a company like Google to examine consumer trends in data while ensuring that individual information is not revealed.

Mitchell Orenstein: Alfred Rubin EPIIC Colloquium Award

caption: Mitchell Orenstein

Mitchell Orenstein, a professor in the department of Slavic languages & literatures at Penn, has received the Alfred Rubin Education for Public Inquiry and International Citizenship (EPIIC) Colloquium Award of the Tufts University Institute for Global Leadership. He is recognized for teaching an intensive, condensed course covering the state of Russia and Europe in international affairs to students in a year-long colloquium program at Tufts during an Outward Bound weekend retreat.

During the modified course in January, Dr. Orenstein covered the basics about the European Union, Russia’s domestic and international politics, how Russia differs institutionally from the European Union and a bit of background about the current state of Ukraine.

Penn IUR’s Urban Leadership Awards

The Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) announced the recipients of its 12th annual Urban Leadership Awards, which recognize leaders who are guiding cities toward a sustainable and vibrant future. The 2016 awardees are Angela Glover Blackwell, president & CEO of PolicyLink, and Jeremy Nowak, president of J Nowak and Associates. They were honored earlier this month at Penn IUR’s 12th annual Urban Leadership Forum.

Ms. Blackwell started PolicyLink in 1999 and continues to drive its mission of advancing economic and social equity. Under her leadership, PolicyLink has become a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education and infrastructure.

Dr. Nowak operates a consulting firm that specializes in social investment, urban policy and strategy. In 2011 and 2012, he was president of the William Penn Foundation, where he developed the blueprint for their current grant making. He is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a scholar at Penn IUR and former chair of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Penn Nursing: QS World University’s #1 Nursing School

The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing is the number one nursing school in the world, according to QS World University Rankings. The rankings highlight the world’s top universities in 42 different subject areas based on academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact. The rankings by subject are compiled using global surveys of academics and employers, which are used to assess institutions’ international reputation in each subject, and research impact, based on research citations per paper and h-index in the relevant subject. This year’s rankings were based on responses from 77,000 academics worldwide.

Penn Vet’s 2016 Student Inspiration Awards

Jane Karpowicz, W. Wendy Kuo and Ellen Lapuck received Penn Vet’s prestigious Student Inspiration Awards for 2016. Launched in 2008, the award is presented annually to Penn Vet students who demonstrate the potential to significantly advance the frontiers of veterinary medicine and expand the profession’s impact on the wellbeing of animals and society.

Ms. Karpowicz and Ms. Lapuck, both second-year students, received $25,000 for their winning proposal, “A Focus on Poultry: Reducing Morbidity and Mortality for Smallholder Farmers in Uganda.” The funds will be used to develop a program in Uganda to train poultry farmers and implement a vaccine campaign against the Newcastle Disease virus. The program will provide farmers with training and resources on basic poultry husbandry. 

Ms. Kuo, also a second-year student, received $25,000 for her winning proposal, “Little Biota, Big Data.” The funds will be used to compile microbiome data representative of a healthy baseline for different food animal species. Based on the compiled data, visualization and analysis tools will be developed, and the data and analysis will be incorporated into a central repository. The project aims to rapidly detect emerging antibiotic-resistant microbes by recognizing patterns in changing communities of the microbiome of food animals.

2016 Thouron Prize Winners 

Three Penn sophomores received John Thouron Prizes to pursue summer studies at Pembroke College, Cambridge University. The Prize, awarded each year to nine undergraduate students from Harvard University, Yale University and Penn, covers tuition, room and board and travel for the eight-week summer study program.

Isabella Cuan is majoring in biological basis of behavior (BBB). She will study classical British architecture and medicine and disease in European history and conduct independent research in neuroscience.

Emily Hoeven is majoring in English. She will study international law, 18th century English literature and art history and conduct an independent research project in literature.

Justin Hopkins is majoring in political science. He will study international law and warfare and Western national security and pursue an independent research project in social sciences.

UCD: Win-Win Challenge Grant 

The Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN) selected University City District (UCD) to receive a $300,000, two-year implementation grant through its Win-Win Challenge. The funds will be used to launch Green City Works, a new social enterprise that will provide high-quality groundskeeping services while developing job skills and advancement opportunities for low-income workers interested in landscaping trades. Green City Works is an extension of UCD’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative program.

In addition to grant funding, UCD will receive peer support and technical assistance, access to the National Fund for Workforce Solutions annual meeting, programmatic evaluation and case studies, one-on-one support from JOIN staff and consultants, and opportunities to share learnings and results with media and policy, program and philanthropic leaders.

The 2016 Newly Retired Faculty

The following faculty members were accorded emeritus status during the 2015-2016 academic year.  Those marked with an asterisk (*) have elected not to use the emeritus title modifier. The year each one joined the Penn faculty ranks is noted in parentheses.

Sherrill Adams, Professor Emerita, Biochemistry, Dental Medicine (’79)

Jay Amsterdam, Professor Emeritus C-E, Psychiatry, PSOM (’79)

Steven Arnold, Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry, PSOM (’90)

Judith Aronchick, Associate Professor Emerita C-E, Radiology, PSOM (’83)

Jaclyn Biegel, Professor Emerita C-E, Pediatrics, PSOM (’90)

Stanley Caroff, Professor Emeritus C-E, Psychiatry, PSOM (’81)

Theodore Cheek, Associate Professor Emeritus C-E, Anesthesia, PSOM (’82)

Mortimer Civan, Professor Emeritus, Physiology, PSOM (’72)

George Day, Professor Emeritus, Marketing, Wharton (’91)

L. Henry Edmunds, Jr., Professor Emeritus, Surgery Administration, PSOM (’73)

*Dean Foster, Professor, Statistics, Wharton (’92)

Nigel Fraser, Professor Emeritus, Microbiology, PSOM (’81)

Thomas Gerrity, Professor Emeritus, Management, Wharton (’90)

Eduardo Glandt, Professor Emeritus, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, SEAS (’73)

Prabodh Gupta, Professor Emeritus C-E, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, PSOM (’88)

Trevor Hadley, Professor Emeritus C-E, Psychiatry, PSOM (’88)

William Hamilton, Professor Emeritus, Management, Wharton (’67)

Lothar Haselberger, Professor Emeritus, History of Art, SAS (’91)

Ronald Heppenstall, Professor Emeritus, Orthopaedic Surgery, PSOM (’69)

Loretta Jemmott, Professor Emerita, Family & Community Health, Nursing (’95)

Arthur Johnson, Professor Emeritus, Earth & Environmental Science, SAS (’75)

Mary Keenan, Professor Emerita C-E, Orthopaedic Surgery, PSOM (’03)

Ellen Kennedy, Professor Emerita, Political Science, SAS (’89)

Lawrence Levin, Associate Professor Emeritus C-E, Oral Surgery and Pharmacology, Dental Medicine (’92)

Irwin Lucki, Professor Emeritus, Psychiatry, PSOM (’84)

Reynold Panettieri, Professor Emeritus, Pulmonary, Allergy & Critical Care, PSOM (’84)

Robert Perelman, Professor Emeritus, English, SAS (’90)

*Andrew Porter, Professor, Education, GSE (’07)

*Michele Richman, Professor, Romance Languages, SAS (’74)

Richard Ross, Professor Emeritus C-E, Psychiatry, PSOM (’84)

Susan Ross, Professor Emerita, Microbiology, PSOM (’94)

*Paul Rozin, Professor, Psychology, SAS (’63)

Jitendra Singh, Professor Emeritus, Management, Wharton (’87)

Larry Sneddon, Professor Emeritus, Chemistry, SAS (’74)

Jonathan Steinberg, Professor Emeritus, History, SAS (’00)

Peter Steiner, Professor Emeritus, Slavic Languages & Literatures, SAS (’78)

David Stern, Professor Emeritus, Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, SAS (’84)

Hugh Sweeney, Professor Emeritus, Physiology, PSOM (’89)

*David Weiner, Associate Professor, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, PSOM (’86)

Kenneth Wolpin, Professor Emeritus, Economics, SAS (’94)

Research

Research Roundup

  • April 26, 2016
  • vol 62 issue 32
  • Research
  • print

Penn Study: In-Car Breathalyzers for DUI Offenders Curb Drunk-Driving Deaths by 15%

State laws that require drivers who have been convicted of drunk driving to pass a breathalyzer-type test before starting their cars saved an estimated 915 lives between 2004 and 2013, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The findings represent a 15% reduction in drunk driving-related deaths compared to states without legislation requiring DUI offenders to use “mandatory ignition interlock.”

The research, led by Elinore J. Kaufman, a student in Penn’s Health Policy master’s degree program and a resident at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical College, used National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data to compare alcohol-related crash deaths in the 18 states that required ignition interlocks for all those convicted of DUI as of 2013 with the number of alcohol-related crash deaths in states without mandatory interlocks. 

States with mandatory interlock laws saw a 0.8 decrease in deaths for every 100,000 people each year—which is comparable to lives shown to have been saved from mandatory airbag laws and the 21-year minimum legal drinking age combined (0.9 and 0.2 lives saved per 100,000 people, respectively).

Car crashes involving alcohol make up 30% of vehicular fatalities, resulting in 11,000 deaths each year. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates that for each of the million drunk driving convictions each year, there are 88 previous instances of drunk driving.

“These laws are proven feasible and effective, and they are low-hanging fruit for the remaining half of states, including Pennsylvania, that don’t have this protection in place yet,” Dr. Kaufman said.

Following increasing support for interlock laws in other states, Pennsylvania’s House of Representative’s Transportation Committee is considering legislation (SB 290) that would require first-time DUI offenders with a blood-alcohol content of .10 or higher to install these devices.

“Our findings show that by preventing intoxicated drivers from starting their vehicles, these ignition interlock laws can directly prevent drunk driving and save lives,” Dr. Kaufman said. “We are encouraged by growing public and governmental support for expansion of interlock programs and innovative ways to use this technology to prevent more lives lost resulting from drunk driving.”

Penn English Professor Studies Sexuality by Looking at Renaissance Love Lyrics

Expressions of unrequited desire quoted in romantic comedies and in poems of everlasting devotion read at weddings have their roots in centuries-old texts. Melissa E. Sanchez says a careful look at the language and history of 16th- and 17th-century poetry provides insights on issues of gender, sexuality and romance, both past and modern-day. 

Dr. Sanchez, associate professor of English in the School of Arts & Sciences and core faculty of gender, sexuality & women’s studies at Penn, says that reading Renaissance texts enriches understanding of both the historical insights about the period when the literature was written, and about current cultural conditions.

Typically, Dr. Sanchez says, this poetry is read with the assumption that the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century gave rise to normative thinking in the Western world that sex in marriage is healthy and good and sex outside marriage damnable and dangerous. But, looking at poetry from the period, Dr. Sanchez says, marriage was not idealized as it is today. Rather, poets such as Philip Sidney, William Shakespeare and Katherine Phillips considered the consequences of the early Protestant conviction that, even within marriage, sexual desire is dangerous because it represents the irrational and uncontrollable human will more generally.

“One of the poets I work with, John Donne, who was married and by all accounts very much in love with his wife, wrote in a poem,” Dr. Sanchez says, “...that it’s good that she’s with God now, but also that her death is good for Donne because now his love for her—itself a part of the world, flesh and devil—is not tempting him to forget his relationship with God.”

Dr. Sanchez conducts research on 16th- and 17th-century literature and focuses on gender, sexuality and politics in early modern England. 

“I try not to come to texts with preconceived notions of what someone writing in the 16th or 17th centuries would have meant. I linger over the points where I’m surprised or stumped: that’s strange, it doesn’t fit into the narratives we have, what do I make of it? One poet appears to be endorsing promiscuity, another is saying that he’s glad that his wife is dead, still another is writing love poems to both men and women.”

Dr. Sanchez had been at Penn for five years when her first book was published in 2011. Erotic Subjects: The Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature examined the works of politically active 16th- and 17th-century writers from Philip Sidney to John Milton, looking at their use of erotic violence and cross-gender identification.

Renaissance poetry, says Dr. Sanchez, has been too easily shoehorned into a simplified narrative about the rise of marriage. By widening the context to understand what marriage meant to the culture as well as thinking about what the poems actually say about desire that doesn’t fit a married or monogamous model, readers can rethink some of their assumptions of what is normal and good when it comes to desire and gender roles. 

Dr. Sanchez has presented her research on non-normative constructions of womanhood, sexuality and identity at numerous conferences and symposia nationally and internationally. She says that the state of the field of Renaissance literature is at an interesting place, with much debate about historicist methods, how much scholars should contextualize literary work within its historical moment and what can be learned about a moment in history based on non-literary writing, political pamphlets, laws or medical books, as well as how early literature can help theorize issues of gender and desire more generally.

Tapping into Twitter to Help Recruit Cancer Patients into #ClinicalTrials

Twitter may be an effective, untapped resource to stimulate interest in cancer clinical trials and boost enrollment, physicians at the Abramson Cancer Center (ACC) of the University of Pennsylvania suggest in a new research letter in JAMA Oncology. Analyzing thousands of lung cancer tweets on the social media site revealed that a surprisingly large number were about clinical trials, particularly ones on immunotherapy, although none were used for recruitment. 

Enrollment into clinical trials can provide promising, new treatment options for patients. But only about 5% of adult cancer patients participate in these studies. 

“This is an unsolved societal problem,” said Mina S. Sedrak, a fellow in the division of hematology/oncology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and ACC, and lead author of the study. “Twitter provides a promising and novel avenue for exploring how cancer patients conceptualize and communicate about their health, and may have the potential to promote much-needed clinical trial recruitment.” 

In the pilot study, Dr. Sedrak and his co-authors analyzed a randomly chosen sample of 1,516 tweets out of a total of 15,346 unique tweets that contained “lung cancer” from January 5-21, 2015. Although the majority of tweets analyzed (56%) focused on psychological support or dialogues about prevention, the study found that nearly 18% of tweets were about clinical trials, 42% of which were tweeted by individuals (including self-identified patients, health professionals, advocates and non-health users).

“We were surprised to see that after dialogues concerning support and prevention, the next largest category of tweets were about clinical trials,” Dr. Sedrak said. The majority of these clinical trial tweets were about human research involving a drug or a device, and quite a number were focused on the excitement around immunotherapy, which was still investigational at the time of the study. Among the therapeutic clinical trial tweets, 79% (144 of 183), in fact, concerned immunotherapy and 86% (158 of 183) had embedded links directing users to relevant news articles.

What the study also uncovered was that virtually none of these tweets were used for recruitment, nor did they provide links to enrollment websites. Only one tweet linked to a patient recruitment website. 

Although this work adds to the emerging literature and helps us understand how the public uses Twitter to get information about lung cancer, further efforts are needed to see if Twitter may be a viable method of disseminating health information, which may not only improve treatment and support for cancer patients and survivors, but also enhance public awareness of and enrollment into cancer clinical trials, the authors said. 

What’s more, social media patient recruitment and retention programs may pose some new challenges to institutional review boards (IRBs) with respect to both non-coercive content and the assurance of privacy. IRBs will need to contemplate appropriate policies on how to review social media recruitment campaigns and address emerging ethical dilemmas inherent to the use of social media and research, the authors said.

“We need to learn more about the ecology of social media, because it is clearly not consistently directing patients to the right places,” Dr. Sedrak said. “Social media may provide an infrastructure for cancer centers, researchers and physicians to interact with the public in new and productive ways, including stimulating interest in new clinical trials with targeted messages that connect patients, caregivers and families with trial enrollment websites. This potential remains largely untapped.”

Penn co-authors of the study include Roger B. Cohen, a professor of medicine in hematology/oncology, Raina M. Merchant, an assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of the Penn Social Media & Health Innovation Lab, and Marilyn M. Schapira, an associate professor of medicine in the department of internal medicine.

AT PENN

Events

PASEF Lecture and Luncheon

  • April 26, 2016
  • vol 62 issue 32
  • Events
  • print

On Tuesday, May 3, Roger Allen, the Sascha Jane Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics Emeritus in the department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, will speak about The Islamic State: Background and Implications.

His talk will be given from noon-1:30 p.m. in the Hourglass Room at the University Club at the Inn at Penn.

Dr. Allen has been president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America; has worked steadily to increase the academic, scholarly and personal contact between Western and Arab writers and critics, and has had numerous publications on Arabic literature in journals and books. In 2010, he was awarded a Medal of Honor by the Kingdom of Morocco for his contributions in the field of arts and sciences. 

At the ICA

  • April 26, 2016
  • vol 62 issue 32
  • Events
  • print

Descent (above) animates alternative modes and materials of inheritance across generations of families, artists and artworks. It will be one of two new exhibits opening at the ICA on April 29 with a Spring Opening Celebration including a 5 p.m. members’ pre

Crimes

The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Community Crime Report

  • April 26, 2016
  • vol 62 issue 32
  • Crimes
  • print

About the Crime Report: Below are all Crimes Against Persons or Crimes Against Society from the campus report for April 11-17, 2016. Also reported were 36 Crimes Against Property (14 liquor law violations, 13 thefts, 4 other offenses, 1 burglary, 1 case of disorderly conduct, 1 fraud, 1 case of vandalism and 1 weapons charge). Full reports are available at: www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v62/n32/creport.html Prior weeks’ reports are also online. —Eds.

This summary is prepared by the Division of Public Safety and includes all criminal incidents reported and made known to the University Police Department between the dates of April 11-17, 2016. The University Police actively patrol from Market Street to Baltimore Avenue and from the Schuylkill River to 43rd Street in conjunction with the Philadelphia Police. In this effort to provide you with a thorough and accurate report on public safety concerns, we hope that your increased awareness will lessen the opportunity for crime. For any concerns or suggestions regarding this report, please call the Division of Public Safety at (215) 898-4482.

 

04/12/16    5:31 AM    3400 Spruce St    Complainant struck by offender/Arrest

04/12/16    4:45 PM    3900 Locust Walk    Confidential Sex Offense

04/17/16    2:05 AM    3900 Walnut St    Confidential Sex Offense

04/17/16    4:26 AM    3900 Walnut St    Confidential Sex Offense

04/17/16    4:50 PM    3900 Chestnut St    Confidential Sex Offense

04/17/16    10:45 PM    3932 Market St    Complainant struck by known male

 

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 6 incidents with 0 arrests (3 rapes and 3 robberies) were reported between April 11-17, 2016 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

 

4/11/16    9:22 PM    244 S. Melville St    Robbery

4/17/16    2:08 AM    3900 Walnut St    Rape

4/17/16    3:52 AM    433 S 46th St    Robbery

4/17/16    4:26 AM    3900 Walnut St    Rape

4/17/16    4:50 PM    3900 Chestnut St    Rape

4/17/16    11:50 PM    4322 Market St    Robbery

Bulletins

Penn Bookstore’s Annual

  • April 26, 2016
  • vol 62 issue 32
  • Bulletins
  • print

The Penn Bookstore’s Annual Faculty/Staff Appreciation Sale offers 20 percent off on a wide selection of merchandise now through May 21. Check your office mail box for your coupon and treat yourself to books, gifts, greeting cards, music and Penn apparel. The Bookstore is also the perfect place to shop for graduation gifts.

Open Enrollment Ends April 29

  • April 26, 2016
  • vol 62 issue 32
  • Bulletins
  • print

Penn Benefits Open Enrollment ends this Friday, April 29. This is your chance to make changes to your health care elections for the 2016-2017 plan year. To review your coverage and make changes, log in directly to Penn’s secure enrollment website at www.pennbenefits.upenn.edu

To review your benefits options, visit the HR website at http://www.hr.upenn.edu/openenrollment  There, you can also get more information about changes in the new plan year. These changes and your coverage elections will be effective as of July 1, 2016. If you don’t make changes during Open Enrollment, you’ll keep the same coverage you currently have. New rates for all plans will be reflected in your July 2016 paycheck.  

If you have questions, encounter problems enrolling online or would like to enroll by phone, contact the Penn Benefits Center at 1 (888) PENN-BEN or 1 (888) 736-6236 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday (EST). 

—Human Resources

Talk About Teaching & Learning

The Magic of the Encounter: Teaching and Learning in the Penn Museum-Anne Tiballi

  • April 26, 2016
  • vol 62 issue 32
  • Talk About Teaching & Learning
  • print

Objects have the power to engage students because they make the abstract concrete, and the impersonal personal. This power can be an important tool for all kinds of teaching, not just for those disciplines that study the ancient world. The Penn Museum is the largest academic museum in the United States, and while its impact on the University has been deep, its reach has often appeared to focus only on disciplines directly related to its collections—history of art, anthropology, classics and the area studies of East Asia and the Near East. For the past three years, we at the Museum have been working hard to expand the museum’s reach to as many Penn classes as possible, transforming the Museum from an academic resource for content specialists into a laboratory for all types of learning. I’d like to take this opportunity to showcase three classes that have experienced the Museum’s galleries, laboratories and collections in ways that move beyond our traditional content and show how objects are particularly powerful tools for teaching students.

Objects engage students because they are real 

What happens when you use the “real thing” instead of a photo? Seeing the value of exposing his students to the deep history of human technology, Etienne Benson, assistant professor of history and sociology of science, assigned an object-based exercise that sent his “Technology and Society” students into six of the Museum’s galleries. They were asked to choose one object from each gallery that pointed to connections between technology, social structure and cultural practice, and then choose one from their list to explore more fully in a written assignment. This short essay encouraged the students to consider the agency of the artifact, the way that it played a part in ancient social hierarchies and power relationships, and to identify how this agency was rooted in the materiality of the artifact’s manufacture and use. Now, you might argue that the same ends could have been achieved by presenting the students with a link to the objects on our online database, but there are important elements of the student experience that would be missed. First, contextual information provided in the object label and in the association of the object with others in the same case and gallery directly affected the students’ understanding of how that particular object connects with its larger culture. Second, seeing the object in person allows the student to have a deeper comprehension of the haptic dimensions of the object, the size, the shape and the way that the technology would have literally “fit to hand.”

Objects inspire students to make new connections 

Sally Willig asked the students in her Environmental Studies graduate course on Wetlands to choose from a list of Museum objects from wetland contexts all over the world, including fragments of a 6,000 year old textile preserved in the anaerobic environment of a Swiss lake, a Lenape rattle made from the shell of a box turtle and the abstracted forms of a line of flamingoes dancing across an ancient Egyptian jar. The students researched their object before the class meeting, and presented their object in person during their meeting in the Collections Study Room. Though they were not prompted to do so, it became clear through the presentations that students had selected an object that ‘spoke’ to them because of a connection with their own research interests, whether in resource exploitation or river deltas. During their presentations, students used the object to create connections between themselves and the scientific content of their coursework, their classmates and peoples living in wetland areas in the past.

Objects represent shared experience and provide students with a common ground to practice communication 

My final example of a class using the Museum for non-traditional learning comes from the Penn Language Center. Though we have enjoyed visits from a handful of language classes in the past—Spanish, Arabic and Turkish in particular—this semester we began a targeted outreach program to encourage all language faculty to bring their classes to the Museum. Because our collections are focused on non-European peoples, we can easily pull together a selection of Filipino cooking pots or Yoruba figurines that help students of those languages develop their speaking skills while immersing them in the material culture of the original speakers. Beyond the direct cultural parallels, gathering around an object or set of objects makes abstract vocabulary and concepts concrete in a way that is not often experienced in the intensely textual or aural language classroom. The very materiality of the object provides opportunities for description, questions and collaborative discovery in the new language that greatly enhance the learning experience. 

But what about the languages that aren’t represented in the collection—Swedish, Ladino, German, etc.? Could an Italian class effectively utilize the Chinese gallery to develop its facility with color words? This challenge was put to the test earlier this semester when students of American Sign Language came to the Museum galleries. In pairs, the students filmed their conversation about a particular artifact. After a brief presentation of the cultural and physical characteristics of their artifact, each student answered questions posed by their partner, and made sure to employ Descriptive Classifiers (signs that describe a person or object) and Instrument Classifiers (signs that employ the hands or other body parts to manipulate an “object,” such as motioning “hammering a nail”).

Objects teach students new ways of thinking and seeing 

In each of these examples, Penn students used the Museum as a laboratory for learning, not because they were directly studying ancient artifacts, but because those artifacts were put to use in making abstract concepts—the relationship between technology and social power, resource extraction in a wetland environment, and that most abstract of concepts, language—concrete. It is also important to note that each of these learning experiences began as a connection between an individual student and an object that sparked the student’s desire to learn more, the “magic of the encounter” that is a museum’s purview. The task of choosing an object from the galleries or a collections list becomes an active learning experience, where students make connections between the object and their own knowledge, construct new interpretations, and analyze information in light of the reactions and questions of their classmates. Active learning has been shown to result in deeper, longer-lasting memories so that perhaps in 50 years, these students will look back on their visit to the Museum and easily recall the sign for “paint,” the name of a Swiss lake village or the glint of a Chinese bronze mirror.

 

 1. Fortney, Kim, and Beverly Sheppard, eds. An Alliance of Spirit: Museum and School Partnerships, p. 1. Washington: American Association of Museums, 2010.