Marija Drndic and Andrew Rappe to Endowed Chairs in SAS

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • News
  • print

Dean Steven J. Fluharty is pleased to name two faculty members to endowed chairs in Penn Arts and Sciences.

Marija Drndic has been named the Fay R. and Eugene L. Langberg Professor of Physics. Dr. Drndic is a leading nanoscientist who developed a novel method, Transmission Electron Beam Ablation Lithography (TEBAL), for fabricating sub-nanometer devices such as transistors and nanopores. Allowing for the manipulation and analysis of individual molecules, these devices hold great potential for rapid sequencing of DNA and extremely sensitive detection of proteins, among other applications. Her other groundbreaking basic research on optical and electrical transport effects in semiconductor quantum dots has implications for rapidly detecting trace amounts of contaminants and for developing a replacement for light-emitting diodes, photodetectors and other nanoelectronic applications.

The impact and promise of Dr. Drndic’s early work at Penn has been recognized by a Presidential Early Career Award, the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, a DARPA Young Faculty Award and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. In addition to her service as Graduate Chair of Physics and Astronomy, Dr. Drndic is committed to science education, creating research opportunities for high school students in her lab as part of the Penn Summer Science Academy and doing physics outreach education at the Albert M. Greenfield Elementary School. She is also a recipient of the School’s Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

The Langberg chair was established through the bequest of Eugene L. Langberg, CCC’42, G’45.

The late Mr. Langberg was an electrical physicist who held positions at the US Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC, and at the Franklin Institute. He later was elected as a commissioner of Upper Gwynedd Township, Pennsylvania.

Andrew M. Rappe has been named the Blanchard Professor of Chemistry. Dr. Rappe is a renowned theoretical chemist whose research has advanced and shaped developments in energy, electronics, sensors and catalysis. His pioneering theoretical and applied research in the fields of photovoltaics, catalysis science and ferroelectrics has led to the development of enhanced materials and accelerated the pace of discoveries that hold great promise, particularly in fields related to sustainable energy.

Dr. Rappe is a fellow of the American Physical Society and founding co-director of the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) and Pennergy. His record of service also includes chairing the University’s Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility and the Penn Arts and Sciences Planning Committee on Energy, Sustainability and the Environment. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, the University’s Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (Almanac April 10, 2012) and the College Alumni Society’s Charles Ludwig Distinguished Teaching Award.

The Blanchard Chair was endowed in 1907 with a gift from Anna, Harriet and Maria Blanchard to advance research and study in the department of chemistry.

Michael Nutter: Senior SP2 Executive Fellow at Penn IUR

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • News
  • print

The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) and Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) are pleased to announce that former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, W’79, will serve as Senior SP2 Executive Fellow at Penn IUR and will be active in ongoing discussions about poverty and prosperity in contemporary society.

A non-residential appointment, this post will allow Mayor Nutter to engage Penn students, faculty and alumni on a regular basis on issues related to analyzing and addressing deep poverty in Philadelphia and beyond. Starting this spring, Mayor Nutter will also assist the Penn community in considering ways to further its continuing institutional investment in research, teaching and policy around poverty.

“Mayor Nutter is someone who has devoted his career of public service to the idea of making sure that citizens have their needs addressed and their interests protected,” said SP2 Dean John L. Jackson, Jr. “He is also someone who has long been passionate about issues of poverty. Indeed, he couldn’t be an effective mayor of a city like Philadelphia, with one of the highest rates of deep poverty in the country, if he didn’t think about the lives and life chances of poor citizens. It’ll be valuable to have Mayor Nutter’s expertise, insights, and public service background at the table as we think about issues of poverty in the 21st century.”

Before becoming the 98th Mayor of Philadelphia in 2008, Michael Nutter served as a member of the Philadelphia City Council and as a Democratic Ward Leader. From 2012 to 2013, he also served as the President of the United States Conference of Mayors, the official non-partisan organization of almost 1,300 US cities with populations of more than 30,000 people. Mr. Nutter will continue to serve as the David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

“I am honored by the opportunity to work with Dean Jackson, and Penn IUR Co-Directors Dr. Eugenie Birch and Dr. Susan Wachter on the important work of reducing poverty and utilizing the full capacity of the University of Pennsylvania to solve various public policy challenges that Philadelphia and many other cities face in America,” Mr. Nutter said. 

The newly created role that Mr. Nutter will fill has been made possible in part by the generous support of Barry A. Porter, W’79.

“Penn IUR is looking forward to collaborating with the School of Social Policy & Practice on this important appointment,” Dr. Birch said. “We praise Dean Jackson for his foresight and wisdom in making it possible for Penn students and faculty to share the experience of Mayor Nutter, who has translated theory into practice and leadership into action. We feel that having Mayor Nutter as the Senior SP2 Executive Fellow at Penn IUR is the perfect expression of President Gutmann’s aim to have impact on our community.”

“Mayor Nutter was a transformative leader for Philadelphia, and under this partnership, he will help inform decisions for a more sustainable, inclusive urban future in the US,” Dr. Wachter added.

Making the Museum Accessible: Penn Museum Finds New Ways to Serve Diverse Audiences

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • News
  • print

In 2016, the Penn Museum, home to a renowned collection of art and artifacts from around the world, completed construction on a long-awaited ramp leading up from the sidewalk to the elevated Warden Garden and main Kamin Entrance. First opened in 1899, this stately museum entrance became accessible to people using wheelchairs and pushing strollers for the first time in the Museum’s history.

“Wheelchair accessibility for our entrances and galleries has been a high priority for our Museum, but it is by no means the only kind of accessibility we are concerned with,” said Julian Siggers, Williams Director of the Penn Museum. “With our Digital Penn Museum, we are opening our doors virtually to anyone with computer access. With our Museums for All and ACCESS card programs, we are working to eliminate financial barriers to visiting. Increasingly, we are developing diverse programs to welcome guests with special needs.”

Inside the doors of the Museum, the concept of “accessibility” is expanding, as new programs for adults and children with disabilities—and now families with special needs—are being developed and incorporated into programming for the public. In the last few years, the Museum has developed Touch Tours, now offered in conjunction with Philly Touch Tours (PTT), for groups of people with blindness or low vision; has delivered training sessions for sighted arts staff to learn tactile and verbal description methods through PTT; and has piloted audio description at a popular lecture series. In addition, the Museum worked with the Penn Memory Center to create programs for adults with dementia and developed school programs for children with diverse special needs, including students with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Several new programs for families with special needs kick off this winter and spring.

Ellen Owens, Merle-Smith Director of the Museum’s Learning Programs department, explained the focus on special needs: “We are responding to museum visitors with vastly different interests and needs—one approach does not fit all. A program could be educational, social, inspiring, and fun, but most of all, it needs to be friendly and considerate of our audiences.”

According to the US Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey, 16% of people in Philadelphia County have some form of a disability and nearly 20% of Americans have a disability—about one in five people. “The museum sector now places a major focus on inclusive practices, and we are proud to offer programs that fulfill that initiative,” Ms. Owens said. “Our goal is to make a Penn Museum experience welcoming and meaningful on more levels, [and] to more guests.”

A growing number of specially-designed accessible programs are open to adult and school groups and can be scheduled in advance, with program information available online. The majority of the new accessible programs are developed by Megan Becker, Access Program Specialist and GRoW Annenberg Educator, the Museum’s first Special Education-certified staff member. Ms. Becker can be reached at Kevin Schott, the Education Programs Manager, long engaged in the Touch Tour program, is spearheading newly-designed programming for people who are blind or have low vision and their families. He can be reached at

New public programs designed with families in mind: Evening Expeditions, a new Homeschool Family Day with a focus on autism, and Tactile Trip Around the World, a program for people with visual impairments are scheduled in March. A sensory-friendly cool down space will be available to visit for the duration of the event. These activities are similar to those offered at the popular 40 Winks with the Sphinx program.  Admission: $30 first participant ($25 for each additional participant), $15 adults. Email or call Megan Becker at or (215) 573-5309 with any questions about the event. Advance registration

• Wednesday, March 8, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Homeschool Family Day: Special Focus on Emotions and AutismFace-to-Face with World Cultures: A Special Archaeological Adventure

Families are invited to visit the Penn Museum for an exploration of emotions across cultures, inspired by this year’s One Book, One Philadelphia’s reading selections. Geared towards both children on the autism spectrum and those who are not, this weekday program includes a reading of My Cousin Momo  and an interactive gallery tour that celebrates differences. Through close looking, role playing, and drawing activities, children explore the different ways we use and read facial expressions to convey and understand emotions today and in cultures from the past. Participants can also partake in art-making activities, storytelling, and a hands-on artifact conservation workshop focusing on Native American cultures. Admission: $12 per child/adult; one adult per family free; children under 3 free. Register online  at

• Saturday, March 18, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Tactile Trip Around the World

With this new program, the Penn Museum invites visitors who are blind or visually impaired and their companions to explore the Museum’s galleries through touch and verbal description. The program will feature touch experiences in eight of the Museum’s galleries, including the Sphinx in the Egypt Gallery and the Quilin in the China Gallery. Museum staff will be stationed at each location to guide those with low vision or blindness through the tactile experiences, give verbal descriptions, and offer assistance with wayfinding. The program is drop-in, with visitors welcome to experience the Museum at their own pace. Visitors with vision loss who require or prefer sighted guides are encouraged to bring an assistant or companion. The program is included with regular Museum admission (one sighted companion per visitor receives free admission). No pre-registration is required, but RSVPs to are strongly encouraged.

In the future? The Artifact Loan Box program, allowing schools and centers to rent sets of teaching objects, will release tactile Egypt and Rome options that include raised maps and Braille translation; the Penn Memory Center will return for another special touring opportunity; and Museum educators will travel to Philadelphia School District classrooms to teach in the extended school year for special needs students. Philly Touch Tours, with the Museum, will release a new Rome Touch Tour, allowing visitors that are blind or partially-sighted to touch select objects in our Rome Gallery. 

“We will continue to test and develop programs to make the Museum and its mission—to transform understanding of the human experience, throughout the ages— accessible to more people,” said Ms. Owens. “The accessible opportunities for schools have really grown – we worked with 1,660 students in 226 classrooms over the last two years. Our hope is that more and more people will look to us for meaningful programs that respect differences and accommodate diverse special needs. The true impact is when you see the kids respond to the lesson – when they count coins in a simulated Roman marketplace or identify the facial expressions on our sculptures.  There’s a real joy in seeing the practical connections made between the past and present with this incredible and often-overlooked group of students.”


Nina Auerbach, English

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Deaths
  • print

Nina J. Auerbach, professor emerita of English at the University of Pennsylvania, died on February 3 at age 73.

Dr. Auerbach earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a doctorate in English literature from Columbia University. She taught at Hunter College and at California State University in Los Angeles before joining Penn’s department of English in 1972 as an assistant professor. She received Guggenheim and Ford Foundation fellowships and in 1983, she received a Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching (Almanac April 19, 1983). Dr. Auerbach was named the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History and Literature in 1991, a position she held until her retirement (Almanac April 30, 1991). In 2000, she received the annual Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association of the Fantastic in the Arts.

She retired and was named professor emerita in English in 2010. 

Dr. Auerbach published several books and articles and delivered lectures in the fields of Victorian literature, theater, cultural history, horror fiction and film. Dr. Auerbach’s book, Daphne du Maurier, Haunted Heiress inaugurated the University of Pennsylvania Press series, Personal Takes. She also was co-editor of the Norton Critical edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Prior to her death, Dr. Auerbach had been working on a study of ghosts titled Lost Lives. She had recently completed an essay on the 1940 film adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray, set for publication by Oxford University Press as part of a collection in 2018.

She is survived by her brother, Andrew; her cousins, Deborah Offner, David Eliscu, James Rubin, Patricia Sacks and Jane Hoffman; and her beloved dog, Mickey.

A memorial at Penn is planned for April 18. Gifts can be made to the Nina J. Auerbach Scholarship Fund to provide fellowships for graduate students interested in studying Victorian Literature, by mailing a check payable to: Trustees, University of Pennsylvania, with a memo line specifying The Nina J. Auerbach Scholarship Fund. Checks can be mailed to: Jean-Marie Kneeley, School of Arts & Science, University of Pennsylvania, 3600 Market St., Suite 300, Philadelphia, PA 19104-3284.


To Report A Death
Almanac appreciates being informed of the deaths of current and former faculty and staff members, students and other members of the University community. Call (215) 898-5274 or email

However, notices of alumni deaths should be directed to the Alumni Records Office at Room 517, Franklin Building, (215) 898-8136 or by email at


Faculty Senate Executive Committee Agenda

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Governance
  • print

The following agenda is published in accordance with the Faculty Senate Rules. Any member of the standing faculty may attend SEC meetings and observe. Questions may be directed to Patrick Walsh, executive assistant to the Senate Office, either by telephone at (215) 898-6943 or by email at

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Agenda
Wednesday, March 15
3-5 p.m.
Van Pelt Library, 2nd Floor Meyerson Conference Room

  1. Approval of the Minutes from the SEC Meeting of February 15, 2017 (1 minute)
  2. Chair’s Report (4 minutes)
  3. Past-Chair’s Report on Academic Planning & Budget, Capital Council, and Campaign for Community (4 minutes)
          C4C applications are being accepted at
  4. Provost’s 2017 “Inclusion Report” (45 minutes)
          Discussion with Vice Provost for Faculty Anita Allen
  5. 2017 Report on the Economic Status of the Faculty (45 minutes) 
  6. Discussion with Co-Chairs of the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty, Susan Margulies (SEAS/Bioengineering) and Robert Stine (Wharton/Statistics)
          Discussion on Upcoming Senate Activities (20 minutes)
  7. New Business (1 minute)

Related: Seeking Faculty Participation: Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Government Engagement

Seeking Faculty Participation: Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Government Engagement

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Governance
  • print

The Faculty Senate has established an Ad Hoc Committee on Government Engagement. The committee is charged with proposing to the Senate Executive Committee (SEC) ways that the Senate can advocate for faculty at Penn and nationwide to government representatives. The committee will be chaired by a SEC member and will be comprised of Standing Faculty members who have knowledge and interest in public policy and governmental affairs.

Please send nominations (including self-nominations) by email to the Senate office.

Related: Faculty Senate Executive Committee Agenda


February 22 Council Coverage

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Governance
  • print

At the February 22 University Council meeting, Online Learning Initiatives at Penn were discussed. Provost Vincent Price introduced the topic, noting that there have been tremendous strides since the 2012 launch of Coursera; since then all 12 schools at Penn have gotten involved; Penn added the edX platform in 2015. All of this is transforming teaching on campus as well as online.

Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein then gave an overview of Online Learning Initiatives at Penn (OLI) starting with the launch of MOOCs on Coursera in 2012 with 10 courses to the current 117 offerings from Penn, involving some 130 Penn faculty and more than 5.8 million enrollments. She described the current landscape where there are partnerships between OLI, the Center for Learning Analytics, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Library. The Learning with MOOCs Conference: Being and Learning in a Digital Age was held at Penn last fall and is available online at

New programs are being created such as the Master of Health Care Innovation (PSOM with Wharton, Law, Nursing and LDI) and Robotics MicroMasters (SEAS) as well as a new “How to Apply to College,” just launched by Undergraduate Admissions. For more about Penn’s initiatives see

Ryan Baker from Penn’s Center for Learning Analytics — which was established last fall — described his attempt to get a scientific understanding of how to enhance the educational practices through the use of state-of-the-art methods in learning analytics, educational data mining and quantitative field observation.

SEAS Dean Vijay Kumar discussed how online learning can complement classroom teaching or synchronous learning.

Susan Meyer from SAS discussed leveraging MOOC teaching in on-campus classes that become more interactive.

The Open Forum portion of the meeting began with a graduate student’s comments about mental health and wait times for appointments at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS); he asked what updates there are from the Task Force that was reconvened last year. The second speaker was a student from Fossil Free Penn who wanted a public discussion based on logic and facts about Penn’s endowment and climate change. The next student spoke about how Penn should be training thinkers who will speak out rather than issuing partisan statements concerning the Executive Order. Then, a representative of GAPSA’s IDEAL (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Leadership) Committee spoke about wanting a central diversity office. A FGLI student wants application and SAT fee waivers.

COUNCIL: Call for Volunteers for 2017-2018 Committee Service: March 22

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Governance
  • print

To:      Members of the University Faculty, Penn Professional Staff Assembly, and Weekly-Paid Professional Staff Assembly

From: 2016-2017 University Council Committee on Committees

RE:     Volunteers Needed for Committee Service

The University Council’s 2016-2017 Committee on Committees invites you to nominate yourself or others for service on one of the University Council’s standing committees. Council committees serve as advisory bodies in shaping academic/administrative policy. Please consider this unique opportunity to have input into the University’s decision-making processes.

Membership on these committees is open to all faculty and staff, including those who have not previously served. We invite individuals who have previously served to volunteer again in order to achieve a mix of new ideas and committee experience. Most committees also are open to students; their participation is already being solicited through other channels.

Please submit your nominations by March 22  using the form below.

Council committees typically meet for one-to-two hours per month during the academic year. To support staff participation, offices are strongly encouraged to provide flexibility and release time to the greatest extent possible so that staff members may fully participate. We encourage staff and supervisors to work together to arrange release time in recognition of the operational needs of their school/center, and we encourage staff members to provide as much notice as possible in scheduling time for attendance at these meetings.

Please review committees’ recent annual reports for more information on the specific nature of its work. These reports are published in Almanac and can be accessed via the University Council website:

2016-2017 University Council Committee on Committees

Chair: Santosh Venkatesh (SEAS, Faculty Senate Chair-Elect)

Faculty: Mitchell Berman (Law)
Eileen Lake (Nursing)
Michael McGarvey (PSOM)
Laura Perna (GSE, Faculty Senate Chair)
Reed Pyeritz (PSOM, Faculty Senate Past Chair)
Melissa Wilde (SAS)

Students: TBD (Graduate Student)
David Scollan (C’17)

PPSA: Heather Kelley-Thompson (Future of Penn Nursing Scholars Program)

WPPSA: Loretta Hauber (Weingarten Learning Resources Center)

Staff to the Council Committee on Committees: Joseph Gasiewski (Office of the University Secretary) 
Patrick Walsh (Office of the Faculty Senate)

Committees And Their Work

Academic and Related Affairs has cognizance over matters of undergraduate recruiting, admissions, and financial aid that concern the University as a whole or those that are not the specific responsibility of individual faculties; of all programs in recreation, intramural and club sports, and intercollegiate athletics; and of all matters of policy relating to research and the general environment for research at the University, including the assignment and distribution of indirect costs and the assignment of those research funds distributed by the University. The Committee considers the purposes of a university bookstore. It advises the administration on policies, developments and operations of the bookstores and libraries; in such areas as international student services, foreign fellowships and studies abroad, exchange programs, and cooperative undertakings with foreign universities; on athletic operations and recommends changes in policy when appropriate; and on those proposals for sponsored research referred to it because of potential conflict with University policy.

Campus and Community Life has cognizance over the University’s electronic and physical communications and public relations activities; advises on the relationship of the University to the surrounding community; has cognizance of the conditions and rules of undergraduate and graduate student life on campus; and considers and recommends the means to improve safety and security on campus.

Facilities keeps under review the planning and operation of the University’s physical plans and all services associated therewith, including transportation and parking.

Honorary Degrees is charged with soliciting recommendations for honorary degrees from faculty, staff and students and submits nominations to the Trustee Committee on Honorary Degrees.

Personnel Benefits has cognizance over the benefits programs for all University personnel. Special expertise in personnel, insurance, taxes or law is often helpful.

Diversity and Equity aids Penn in fostering and taking full advantage of its diversity as well as in strengthening ties across all boundaries to enrich and enliven the campus community. The Committee advises the offices of the president, provost, and the executive vice presidents on ways to develop and maintain a supportive atmosphere on campus for the inclusion and appreciation of diversity among all members of the University community. The Committee reviews and provides advice regarding the University’s equal opportunity and affirmative action programs and policies. The areas in which the Committee reports to the Council include diversity within the educational and work settings, integration of staff and faculty into the larger campus community, and ways to foster a campus environment that is inclusive and supportive of difference.

NOTE: Faculty who wish to serve on the Committee on Open Expression also may use the form below. Nominations will be forwarded to the appropriate Faculty Senate committee. Please forward names and contact information to Patrick Walsh, Faculty Senate Office, Box 12 College Hall/6303, tel. (215) 898-6943; fax (215) 898-0974 or email at


Please respond by March 22, 2017.

For FACULTY volunteers, mail the form to: Patrick Walsh, Faculty Senate Office, Box 12 College Hall/6303, tel. (215) 898-6943; fax (215) 898-0974 or email at

For PENN PROFESSIONAL STAFF ASSEMBLY volunteers, mail to Heather Kelley-Thompson, Future of Nursing Scholars Program, Suite 303, 418 Curie Blvd./4217, tel. (215) 898-9836; or email at

For WEEKLY-PAID PROFESSIONAL STAFF ASSEMBLY volunteers, mail to Loretta Hauber, Weingarten Learning Resources Center, Ste 300, 3702 Spruce St./6027, tel. (215) 573-9235; or email at

Committee(s) of interest:___________________________________________________

Candidate:  _____________________________________________________________

Title or Position: _________________________________________________________

Department:  ____________________________________________________________

Campus Address (including mail code): _______________________________________

Campus Phone and Email: _________________________________________________

Please specify if you think that you or your nominee are especially qualified for or 
interested in serving on a particular committee.  ____________________________



SENATE: Executive Summary of the 2017 SCESF Report on the Economic Status of the Faculty

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Supplements
  • print

Download the supplement as a PDF.



Annual Phoebe S. Leboy Lecture: Feminism in the Age of Trump

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Events
  • print

The Penn Forum for Women Faculty is hosting an upcoming lecture: the annual Phoebe S. Leboy Lecture on Friday, March 17, at 3 p.m. in the Bodek Lounge of Houston Hall. Named after the late Phoebe S. Leboy, professor emerita of biochemistry in the School of Dental Medicine, scientist and tireless advocate for women in science and engineering (Almanac July 17, 2012), this lecture is awarded annually to an outstanding scholar who catalyzes opportunities for women in academia. A reception and book signing will follow.

The talk, Feminism in the Age of Trump, will be delivered by Anne-Marie Slaughter, the president and CEO of New America and the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. From 2009-2011 she served as the director of policy planning for the United States Department of State, the first woman to hold that position. She has written or edited seven books, including The Chessboard and the Web: Strategies of Connection in a Networked WorldUnfinished Business: Women Men Work Family; and A New World Order, and is a frequent contributor to a number of publications.

Expanding Earth: Travel, Encounter and Exchange: Penn Libraries

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Events
  • print

Expanding Earth: Travel, Encounter, and Exchange, is on exhibit through May 19 in the Goldstein Family Gallery, sixth floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library.

Globalization is no recent phenomenon. People, ideas and objects have always been on the move, encountering and changing one another as a result. This exhibit presents some of the textual and material residues of these encounters and travels, characteristic of past as well as present human activity and curiosity. Focusing on the years 1400 to 1800, the exhibit examines and looks beyond familiar Eurocentric ideas of exploration, conquest and “discovery.” Using manuscripts, printed books, drawings, maps and artifacts, Expanding Earth highlights the movements of peoples, ideas and goods across the world in their own words and in material objects. 

2017 Jay. I Kislak Program: March 2-4: 
To the Ends of the Earth

Keynote and Exhibition Reception Thursday, March 2, 5:30 p.m., Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, sixth floor.

Conference Friday, March 3-Saturday, March 4, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, sixth floor.

Celebrating the themes of their newest exhibition, Expanding Earth, this conference will explore the transmission and translation of material and cultural practices, cartography, exploration, migration (forced and voluntary) and the changing geographies of liminal spaces. A group of international scholars from several disciplines will examine topics including textual production from early modern Italy to 20th-century Africa, as well as the racialization of space from Victorian England to 19th-century California. The keynote address will be given by Michael A. Gomez, New York University, a leading scholar of Africa and the African Diaspora.

For the schedule and additional information see


Christopher Elias Heiss, engraved portrait of Abba Gorgoryos in Hiob Ludolf’s Historia Aethiopica (Frankfurt, 1681).

Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Related: Poetry of Painting and Stillness: Burrison Gallery

Human Resources: Upcoming Programs

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Events
  • print

Professional & Personal Development Programs

Improve your skills and get ahead in your career by taking advantage of the many development opportunities provided by Human Resources. You can register for programs by visiting or contacting Learning and Education at (215) 898-3400.

Coaching Skills for Managers; 3/2; 9 a.m.-noon; $75. An organization’s success relies on the performance of every employee and it is important to foster an atmosphere that allows for employees to grow with the organization. The key to this is guidance. Coaching Skills for Managers recognizes the need for employees to feel committed to their work and is designed to help managers encourage individual performance as a means for increasing engagement and ultimately productivity rather than to use the traditional “command and control” method.  In this workshop, participants learn the key elements of building a successful coaching relationship and how to best implement them using a step-by-step coaching process; in addition, how to help an employee implement a development plan to individually improve their success as well as how to apply effective strategies for overcoming common coaching challenges.

Participating in Performance Appraisals for Staff; 3/7; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Join this workshop to understand the performance appraisal process and learn how you can prepare to have a productive review session.

Communicating More Effectively Using LIFO; 3/8; 9 a.m.-noon; $90. LIFO is an assessment tool that can help individuals gain a better understanding of their own work styles and the work styles of those around them.

Career Focus Brown Bag—Resume Writing Secrets; 3/8; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Resumes and cover letters are your tools to market yourself for your next position. Do you wonder how to create an effective, dynamic resume?  Workshop topic includes effective resume styles and format. We’ll discuss how to focus on the employer’s needs versus your own; how to use powerful assertions; how to inspire and excite the employer; and buzz words to include to catch the employer’s attention.

TED Talk Tuesday: Adam Grant, “Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers”; 3/21; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Organizational psychologist and Wharton professor Adam Grant believes that “originals,” the unconventional thinkers who drive radical change, don’t behave as you would expect. In fact, he has isolated three startling traits that originals share: They procrastinate, they experience self-doubt and fear, and they have lots of bad ideas.

Effective Performance Reviews for Managers; 3/22; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Conducting annual performance reviews is a task many managers are not comfortable with. This workshop provides them information, tips and applications that will make the process easier, more comfortable and more effective in producing real employee performance improvement.

Managers and supervisors will discover how to give effective feedback, understand the difference between standards and goals, why interim reviews are critical to the review process, the right way to document employee performance and many more invaluable tips and techniques for completing effective performance reviews.

AMA: Doing It All: How to Stay Focused & Engaged; 3/23 & 3/24; 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; $75. For many of us, our “new normal” job means that we’ve inherited work from others and are multitasking 24/7. Many times, we’re expected to produce positive results with fewer resources. It’s not surprising that maintaining focus and staying engaged can be a major hurdle. With so many simultaneous demands on your time, sustaining focused energy is no longer an option. It’s a “must have” skill for doing your job, and doing it well.

In this seminar you will get your work world into clear focus and in sync with those around you. You will learn tools that help you get into productive flow whenever you need to and how to get back on track when you are thrown off course. You will leave with tools that help you make the best of your innate strengths, mitigate your challenges, and stay focused. You will also learn how to stay in focus and on a productive course when others around you are throwing distractions and barriers your way.

Brown Bag: Learning with Lynda–Embracing Change; 3/29; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. In this short course, author and business coach Todd Dewett explains how you can harness the power of change and benefit those around you by avoiding quick reactions, adopting a positive attitude, and developing a 30-day plan to integrate change.

Learning with Lynda utilizes the University’s enterprise-wide license of to provide a blended learning solution to the Penn campus.  Prior to attending the in-class session it is strongly recommended that you take the online Lynda module.  During the classroom session we apply the concepts from the online module.

Quality of Worklife Workshops

Dealing with the demands of work and your personal life can be challenging. These free workshops, sponsored by Human Resources and led by experts from Penn’s Employee Assistance Program and Quality of Worklife Department, offer information and support for your personal and professional life challenges. For complete details and to register, visit or contact Human Resources at (215) 573-2471 or

New and Expectant Parent Briefing; 3/2; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. This is an introductory briefing designed for expectant parents and those who are new to parenting or child care. Participants will learn about local and university childcare and parenting resources including breastfeeding support and the nursing mothers program, childcare locators, back-up care, adjusting to new schedules, flexible work options, among other topics. The presentation will include Q&A with an FMLA specialist and participants will also have the opportunity to network with other expectant and new parents.

Guided Meditation: Take a Breath and Relax; 3/10; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Practice mindful breathing that focuses your attention on the present moment with kindness, compassion, and awareness. Self-massage and gentle mindful movements that promote relaxation and reduce stress may also be included in the workshop. No experience necessary.

Mindfulness Monday; 3/20; 12:30-1:30 p.m.; free. Mindfulness is “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” according to Jon Kabat-Zinn. Mindfulness practice develops awareness of your present thoughts and feelings to help you manage different situations. In this once-a-month experiential workshop, you’ll see how mindfulness can help you become more engaged and effective both at home and in the workplace. No prior meditation experience necessary.

Guided Meditation: Take a Breath and Relax; 3/28; noon-1 p.m.; free. Practice mindful breathing that focuses your attention on the present moment with kindness, compassion and awareness. Self-massage and gentle mindful movements that promote relaxation and reduce stress may also be included in the workshop. No experience necessary.

The Power of Positive Thinking; 3/30; 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.; free. Positive thinking is more than being happy. Positive thoughts can help with handling stress at home and at work in a more constructive way. This session will provide steps and advice to identify and overcome negative thinking and focus on positive thinking.

Healthy Living Workshops

Get the tools you need to live well year-round. From expert nutrition and weight loss advice to exercise and disease prevention strategies, we can help you kick-start your body and embrace a healthy lifestyle. These free workshops are sponsored by Human Resources. For complete details and to register, visit or contact Human Resources at (215) 573-2471 or

March Wellness Walk (Indoors); 3/3; noon-1 p.m.; free. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “food is fuel for your body” and are familiar with the idea that you can help your body work and feel its best by feeding it the most nutritious fuel. However, did you also know that how, when, why, and where we eat are just as important as what we eat? March is National Nutrition Month, and the theme for 2017 is Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. Meet the Center for Public Health Initiatives staff inside the Palestra and walk a one-to-two mile route while chatting about nutrition and how you can develop a mindful eating pattern that includes nutritious and flavorful foods. We hope you will be able to join us. Bring your water bottle and don’t forget your sneakers!

Gentle Yoga; 3/7; noon-1 p.m.; free. Let your body reward itself with movement! Join us for this Gentle Yoga session and explore the natural movements of the spine with slow and fluid moving bends and soft twists. During this session, you will flow into modified sun salutations that loosen those tightened muscles and joints of the lower back, neck, shoulders and wrists. And as an added bonus, you’ll get a workout in the process. Mats and props will be provided.

Fitness 101: Back to the Basics Workshop; 3/8; noon-1 p.m.; free. Have you always wanted to start an exercise program but don’t know where to begin? Janna Rothschild and Devon Vicari, campus recreation’s fitness professionals, both hold advanced degrees and certifications in fitness and will lead a complex discussion regarding fitness programming. This workshop is perfect for anyone new to the fitness field or who just wants a refresher in fitness basics. Join them to learn how to create a personalized program to help you reach your goals. Topics such as physical/mental benefits, finding your target heart rate, and exercise for specific goals will be covered. Feel free to bring your lunch, with demonstrations and Q&A at the end of the workshop.

Be in the Know Spring Biometric Screenings; 3/13-3/23; 9 a.m.-1 p.m.; free. Start this year’s Be in the Know campaign and sign up for a free and confidential biometric screening, which measures your blood pressure, blood sugar (glucose) and non-fasting cholesterol (total and high density lipoproteins). Biometric screenings are conducted by AREUFIT Health Services, an experienced worksite health promotion company. These screenings should only take 20 minutes. On the spot, you’ll receive your screening results and learn what they mean from an AREUFIT health educator.

Visit to learn about the full campaign, including complete details regarding this year’s Core Activities (biometric screening and online health assessment), Bonus Actions, three participation tracks and new options to receive the full amount of your incentives. Get started today and earn up to $200 (less applicable payroll taxes) and be entered into exciting prize drawings!

Relax with Free Yoga; 3/19; 3-4 p.m.; free. Open to all levels: Join Campus Recreation and Campus Health in a 50-minute yoga practice to calm your mind and strengthen your body through movement and breath. A limited amount of mats will be provided so we encourage you to bring your own! Registration opens 15 minutes prior to class. Free to all faculty and staff; no membership required. Bring your own yoga mat. For location updates follow @healthypenn and @pennrecreations

Gentle Yoga; 3/21; noon-1 p.m.; free. Let your body reward itself with movement! Join us for this Gentle Yoga session and explore the natural movements of the spine with slow and fluid moving bends and soft twists. During this session, you will flow into modified sun salutations that loosen those tightened muscles and joints of the lower back, neck, shoulders, and wrists. And as an added bonus, you’ll get a workout in the process. Mats and props will be provided.

—Division of Human Resources


Weekly Crime Reports

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Crimes
  • print

The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Community Crime Report

About the Crime Report: Below are all Crimes Against Persons, Property and Crimes Against Society from the campus report for February 13-19, 2017View prior weeks' reports.—Ed.

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 February 13-19, 2017. 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.

02/14/179:40 AM51 N 39th StOther OffenseMale wanted on warrant/Arrest
02/14/1711:57 AM3400 Spruce StTheftWallet taken from vehicle
02/14/173:35 PM3409 Walnut StTheftMerchandise taken without payment/Arrest
02/15/1711:28 AM3700 Locust WalkSex OffenseConfidential
02/15/1712:56 PM3400 Spruce StTheftCanvas bag with laptop taken from auto
02/15/174:01 PM4133 Chestnut StTheftUnsecured cell phone taken
02/16/172:47 AM3400 Spruce StTheftUnsecured wristlet taken
02/16/176:51 PM3400 Spruce StTheftUnsecured wallets (3) taken
02/17/1711:55 AM4000 Chancellor StTheftBackpack with contents taken from auto
02/17/174:13 PM3935 Walnut StOther OffenseMale wanted on warrant/Arrest
02/18/178:29 AM4001 Walnut StVandalismMale broke window with shopping cart
02/18/1712:50 PM313 41st StBurglaryiPad and various items taken
02/18/171:04 PM3802 Chestnut StFraudOffender attempted to make unauthorized withdrawal/Arrest
02/18/177:48 PM4000 Walnut StOther OffenseMale wanted on warrant/Arrest
02/18/1710:09 PM3400 Spruce StOther AssaultComplainant receiving threatening texts
02/19/171:23 AM4000 Walnut StDrunkennessIntoxicated male cited
02/19/174:28 AM4000 Pine StOther OffenseMale wanted on warrant/Arrest
02/19/177:04 AM3400 Spruce StOther AssaultMale made threats by phone
02/19/173:56 PM4205 Spruce StTheftUnknown males too tricycles
02/19/174:24 PM4000 Irving StDrunkennessIntoxicated male cited
02/19/1712:29 PM400 S 41st StAuto TheftVehicle taken prior to being reported/Arrest
02/19/1710:00 PM51 N 39th StTheftCurrency taken

18th District Report

Below are the Crimes Against Persons from the 18th District: 4 incidents with 2 arrests (3 robberies and 1 rape) were reported between February 13-19, 2017 by the 18th District covering the Schuylkill River to 49th Street & Market Street to Woodland Avenue.

02/13/1711:55 PM4000 Spruce StRobbery/Arrest
02/14/171:58 PM4608 Osage AveRobbery
02/16/1712:20 PM4800 Ludlow StRobbery/Arrest
02/19/178:57 PM3400 Civic Center BlvdRape


Spring Break Schedule

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Bulletins
  • print

Spring Break: There is no issue of Almanac next Tuesday, March 7, during Spring Break.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Bulletins
  • print

Thanks: The following pantries benefitted from the University’s Annual Food Drive: People’s Emergency Center, West Philadelphia High School, Comegys Elementary School, Project HOME, Philadelphia Dr. Martin Luther King Association for Nonviolence and Enon Tabernacle Food Pantry.

Thank you to all the special persons for their kindness that made a remarkable difference in the lives of our neighbors.

— Isabel Sampson-Mapp, Associate Director, Netter Center for Community Partnerships

Upcoming Change Drive: March 1–March 17

Change Drive will benefit a graduating high school student accepted at an accredited college or university.

This is a non-tuition scholarship donation given to graduating high school students accepted at an accredited college or university. The program has been in existence for over 20 years and has made a difference in many students’ lives. They were able to use the funds to buy books and the many other items needed to make a home away from home.

The following sites are available for your convenience to make your donation:

President’s Office100 College HallBrenda Gonzalez 898-0447
Provost Office353B 3401 Walnut StreetSusan Curran898-6841
Museum Reception Desk Near Kress Gallery Bonnie Crosfield898-4001
Human Resources538A 3401 Walnut StreetSyreeta Gary898-6018
Netter Center111 S. 38th Street - 2nd FloorIsabel Sampson-Mapp898-2020
Wharton1000 Steinberg Hall-Deitrich HallJennifer O’Keefe898-1092
ISC203A Sansom WestKathie Ritchie573-3561
Research ServicesP-221 Franklin Bldg.Lauren Oshana573-6710
Comptroller’s Office312 Franklin Bldg.Celestine Silverman898-7593
FRES3101 Walnut StreetCarole Mercaldo573-8795
Abramson Family Cancer Inst508 Biology Research Bldg II-III      Joanne Gorman746-5550
Physics & AstronomyDavid Rittenhouse Laboratory 2E5Michelle Last898-5954
Nursing3rd & 4th Flr. Mailroom Fagin HallPat Adams573-1630
African American Res. Ctr.3643 Locust WalkColleen Winn898-0104

Contact Isabel Sampson-Mapp at for additional info.

Reorganizing?  Do you have furniture no longer needed by your department? Local nonprofits are in need of your items! Had a conference? Do you have leftover bags, T-shirts, tchotchkes? Need to empty out your storage space? Please donate them to Penn VIPS.  We will put them to great use by donating them to community members, many of the students we work with, and we will also use them to say thank you to our many volunteers. Contact Isabel Sampson-Mapp at to donate your items.

The West Philadelphia Alliance for Children is systematically reopening school libraries in Philadelphia. They do this through volunteer manpower and donated books. Although they have some large group service projects throughout the year, their greatest need is for regular weekly volunteers in school libraries.

Volunteering for a WePAC library means being part of a team of caring people passionate about sharing the love of reading with the children of Philadelphia. Together, each library team plans read-aloud sessions that help spread the joy of reading. Central to these programs are checkout times for children to explore the library and pick a book to borrow.

The volunteers see classes on a regular basis, coordinated with each school’s schedule and hold library programs in the school libraries that they maintain. They are responsible for the appearance and organization of the libraries. They decorate the library, catalogue donated books, check books in and out and reshelve them. They draw on the diverse skills of their team to nurture literacy in the children.

WePAC asks volunteers to commit to coming in weekly on a set day and time, for at least two hours per week. Please email the days of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday) and times of day that you have availability. Contact: Rachel George, library and literacy program manager, West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) office: (215) 452-0333, cell: (267) 622-0047. 

Join Penn VIPS Drives Committee: Penn volunteers provide a drop off location to collect the many donated items we receive during our annual drives.

A variety of drives are conducted during the course of the year to partner with and help support local schools, families and agencies. Dropsite volunteers are located throughout campus. Volunteers post the events, set up collection sites and help select the recipients for the donations. They also participate in an annual thank you luncheon.

Drives are held during the following times:

School Supplies Drive August
Food DriveAugust
Gift/Toy Drive December
Coat Drive  December
Change Drive March

Contact Isabel Sampson-Mapp at for additional info.

Donate to the Fairytale Prom-Ject Event: This organization is hoping to provide new and gently used prom clothing for students in the Fishtown area. Items are being collected through April 1. Please contact: Aikia Gilliard at (267) 444-6851 or Renew Clothing at (215) 739-1969 for additional information.

—Isabel Sampson-Mapp, Associate Director, Netter Center for Community Partnerships

One Step Ahead: Take Control of your Directory Listing

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Bulletins
  • print

Another tip in a series provided by the 
Offices of Information Systems & Computing 
and Audit, Compliance & Privacy.

Using your ability to edit your own listing as it appears in the University’s Online Directory can make it easier for your Penn colleagues to quickly recognize and reach you, while also protecting your privacy with a global audience.

Your Online Directory presence contains two types of listings:

• Your public profile, or information that can be seen by anyone visiting the Online Directory

• Your Penn profile, or information that can only be seen after a visitor authenticates (by logging in) with an active PennKey username and password

Reviewing and updating your Directory listing permits you to take advantage of many customization options, including:

• Displaying a more familiar version of your name, rather than a formal legal name

• Remaining searchable by a previous surname

• Providing alternate contact information (e.g., mobile phone number)

• Sharing a link to a departmental or personal website

• Minimizing information seen outside the Penn community

Guidelines on minimum information requirements for your respective profiles are detailed at

Your Online Directory account is also where you can enroll in and manage your preferences for the UPennAlert service, which enables the University to quickly notify you of critical information during a major emergency. You can remain enrolled in UPennAlert while opting out of receiving nighttime and weekend alerts, a useful setting for those only on campus during standard business hours.

To customize your information and notification options, visit the Online Directory at, then click the “My Profile” link in the upper right portion of the screen. After agreeing to the Usage Statement, click the tabs directly beneath the Penn Directory logo to manage your Public profile, your Penn profile, and your UPennAlert contact information.


For additional tips, see the One Step Ahead link on the Information Security website:

Talk About Teaching & Learning

Mentor the Researcher, Not the Research: An Essay on PhD Mentoring

  • February 28, 2017
  • vol 63 issue 25
  • Talk About Teaching & Learning
  • print

by George J. Pappas

During my Penn career, I have mentored more than 30 students and postdocs and almost all of them have become professors, matching their professional aspirations before joining Penn. While there are many approaches to PhD mentoring, I would like to offer three fundamental aspects of my mentoring philosophy.

Student-Centric Mentoring

There are two primary models of PhD student mentoring: project-centric mentoring and student-centric mentoring. In project-centric mentoring, the professor has a research project from a sponsor and then recruits graduate students specifically for that project. The project is well defined, has clear scientific objectives and deliverables (depending on sponsor), and the PhD student performs research toward realizing the goals of the project. This model serves many PhD students and their mentors extremely well and may be ideal for mentoring undergraduate research.

For my PhD students, however, I have always chosen student-centric mentoring, where the primary mentoring emphasis moves from the research project to the doctoral student, from the research to the researcher. While the project-centric approach emphasizes the research project and meeting deliverables and deadlines, which are critical to the sponsor and research supervisor, the student-centric approach focuses on reaching the maximum potential of every individual PhD student.

I have adopted a student-centric mentoring philosophy for two reasons. First, every doctoral student is different. Some are more theoretical, some more experimental, some more creative, some more organized and some more collaborative. Hence, getting the most out of every PhD student requires finding the right project for the student, not the right student for the project. This approach has worked particularly well for my group, which has about 15 members and is well funded from various agencies. Having a variety of qualitatively different projects is perfect for student-centric mentoring as I can focus on which research area (or combination of areas) can best develop the unique strengths of every student.

Second, while project-based mentoring focuses on producing great research, student-based mentoring focuses on educating great researchers, with great research being almost a byproduct. This approach ensures that the student will be producing great research after their doctoral thesis. Student-centric PhD mentoring is the ideal integration of education and research, which should be our focus in premier research universities.

Of course, it is entirely appropriate to consider more hybrid models in which a mentor begins with a more project-centric approach before transitioning to a more student-centric approach as the mentor comes to know more about the student’s technical strengths and intellectual interests.

Promote Research Independence

Promoting research independence for PhD students is related to the previous point but it deserves to be explicitly discussed. It is possible for mentors to present their student with a research problem and allow the student to work toward a solution and present that solution to their mentor who can then set new goals for the student until enough progress results in a doctoral dissertation.

While this process may result in great research, the student has not learned to set their own research goals or to choose or formulate novel problems on their own. This inability may prevent students from becoming future research leaders. In my view, PhD students should graduate not when they can solve their mentors’ research problems but when they can define (and solve) their own novel research problems. 

Independence is a critical aspect of my mentoring philosophy because many members of my group want to pursue an academic career. Therefore my mentoring objective is to prepare them to think like leading academics after they graduate. To take on the role of research leader, they must learn to define their own research problems and chart their own research agenda.

Problem formulation is a difficult skill. Younger PhD students tend to quickly skip problem formulation so that they can proudly present their latest brilliant solution. Students are surprised to find out that most of my questions focus on problem formulation, model justification, relationship to existing literature, changing assumptions, or connections to more distant fields. Then I frequently ask, “Who cares?” so that students develop a sense of how to choose a direction that will have impact. Once I am convinced about problem formulation, novelty and importance, then I am more than happy to discuss technical approach and results. Over time this style results in the student inheriting a taste for research problems from their advisor. This is one of the finest and most gratifying moments of PhD mentoring.

Faculty are not just mentors of doctoral students, they are also researchers themselves. Frequently, these two sides of every faculty member can be in conflict. In many meetings with doctoral students, faculty discuss a research problem and, because they are experienced researchers, already have a good idea of how to proceed. While giving students a research problem and roadmap will be great for the research to progress, it would not be the best mentoring strategy for the students’ career. Allowing PhD students to find their own answers can be frustrating for faculty if the research is time-critical, or needs to meet tight conference deadlines or program deliverables, or if the idea is so exciting that the faculty is personally eager to complete the research. In this conflict, I have always chosen in favor of the doctoral student and being patient, even if this means missing a conference deadline. I have always mentored the researcher, not the research.

Create an Intellectual Environment

While one-on-one meetings between the doctoral student and the faculty advisor are important, they should not be the only source of mentoring. Mentoring also happens when the advisor creates a vibrant intellectual environment. Doctoral students learn a lot from senior PhD students, postdocs, peers, collaborators, program managers, and visitors. Hence, frequent group meetings, seminars, social gatherings, conferences, collaborations with other faculty and students, and discussions with industry and government leaders all shape the research personality of every PhD student.

My group is predominantly theoretical but we collaborate closely with experimentalists, industrial researchers and other theorists. Given the nature of our research, I am a strong believer in research centers with shared space where many students across many groups constantly collaborate. I have been very fortunate that the GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception) lab, one of the premier robotics labs in the world, has provided such an intellectually nurturing environment for my research group.

Many great research ideas have originated in the GRASP lab corridors where students and faculty meet face-to-face for intellectual exchange. The best part of my day is when, after a corridor discussion, two or three group members have a fantastic idea and demand to see me immediately and discuss it. All my former students are now trying to recreate the magic of such space in their institutions.

It is important to acknowledge that there is no single mentoring philosophy that is ideal across different research areas, group sizes, funding profiles, or academic age. What I have described has worked very well for me, and more importantly, for my students. What pleases me most is when I see my former students approaching PhD mentoring in a similar manner as academics themselves. This is, after all, the biggest influence my PhD advisor had on me.

George J. Pappas is the Joseph Moore Professor and chair of the department of electrical and systems engineering in the 
School of Engineering and Applied Science. He also holds secondary appointments in the School’s departments of 
computer & information sciences and mechanical engineering & applied mechanics.


This essay continues the series that began in the fall of 1994 as the joint creation of the
College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Teaching and Learning and the Lindback Society for Distinguished Teaching.
See for the previous essays.