Four Penn scholars awarded Fellowships

Four members of the Penn community were recently honored with the distinguished Guggenheim Fellowship, an annual award given by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to accomplished men and women who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or extraordinary creative ability in the arts.

At the 85th competition for the United States and Canada, the Foundation bestowed 180 Fellowships to artists, scientists and scholars, out of nearly 3,000 applicants.

The Penn winners are: David Wallace, the Judith Rodin Professor of English; Anna Weesner, an associate professor of music and director of undergraduate study in the Department of Music; Susan Cotts Watkins, a professor of sociology; and Alexi Worth, an artist and senior critic in PennDesign.

Guggenheim Fellowships are research grants presented to selected individuals for a six- to 12-month term. The amounts of the grants vary, but in 2008, the average amount given to Fellows in the United States and Canada was roughly $43,200.

Weesner, a composer, says she is looking forward to using the grant to focus on her creative work. She plans to compose new pieces. “I’m also planning to work on a recording project, putting together a CD of recent chamber music,” she says.

Watkins, who has conducted extensive research on the AIDS epidemic in Africa, will continue to study AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa. Wallace, a medievalist with an interest in the early modern period, will investigate the literary history of Europe from 1348-1418.

Worth, a painter, will use his grant to make larger, more expansive wall-size paintings instead of the medium-size canvases he now creates. He also says the grant will aid his continuing work.

“Especially in this economic climate, art sales are down and so it’s especially useful and important to have a little cushion so that I can hire models, which I use,” he says.

The Fellowships are given without any special conditions and may be used in any manner Fellows deem necessary for their work.

For a complete list of winners, past and present, visit the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation website at:

Originally published on April 23, 2009