Penn Current | Top Stories en-us Penn Current: News, Ideas, and Conversations from the University of Pennsylvania 140 46 NASA funds Penn research testing rules of gravity in space One of the biggest mysteries in modern science is the speed at which the universe is expanding. Galaxies that have been moving apart since the Big Bang billions of years ago should be slowing down due to gravity, but instead, they are accelerating. The search for so-called “dark energy” is one part of the potential explanation for this phenomenon, but while hidden forces may be at play, human understanding of gravity itself may be incomplete at these cosmological scales. Evan Lerner 2014-10-23T00:00:00 Staff Q&A with Elsa Amaral Some might consider Elsa Amaral’s role as a physical therapist at Penn to be an accidental career. In 2001, while living in Hoboken, N.J., and working for Macy’s in Manhattan, she injured herself during a skiing trip and wound up in physical therapy. Maria Zankey 2014-10-16T00:00:00 Penn community to plant campus orchard at Penn Park Members of the Penn community will soon be able to quite literally enjoy the fruits of their labor. On Thursday, Oct. 23, Facilities & Real Estate Services (FRES) will bring together University students, staff, faculty, and friends to plant a campus orchard on the southernmost edge of Penn Park. Maria Zankey 2014-10-16T00:00:00 Q&A with Dorothy Roberts When Dorothy Roberts was 3 months old, she moved with her parents from Chicago to Liberia, where her mother, Iris, had worked as a young woman after leaving Jamaica. It was the first of Dorothy’s many trips abroad, and one during which her father, Robert, took a bunch of photographs and filmed home movies with his 16-millimeter camera. The Roberts family moved back to Chicago when Dorothy was 2, and she can recall weekly screenings of the 16-milimeter reels from Liberia in the living room. Greg Johnson 2014-10-16T00:00:00 Prepping the best to learn and lead Growing up in Brooklyn, Collin Williams got plenty of attention for being a smart, motivated student. Sometimes, that attention wasn’t great: Being a self-described kid who “had all the answers” got him bullied by his classmates. Heather A. Davis 2014-10-16T00:00:00 Penn celebrates its robust innovative spirit Intellectual light bulbs are known to illuminate across academic disciplines at Penn, igniting new approaches to innovation and technology transfer while powering valuable real-world applications. On Friday, Oct. 31, Penn students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends are invited to honor the University’s culture of innovation at “Celebrating Innovation at Penn,” a University-wide gathering at the future home of the Pennovation Center from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the South Bank, 3401 Grays Ferry Ave. Maria Zankey 2014-10-16T00:00:00 Penn urges students, faculty, and staff to get out and vote on Election Day Penn is encouraging greater participation by students, faculty, and staff in the electoral process. The Penn Voter Education Task Force, an initiative of the Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA), aims to increase voter registration, as well as provide reminders to go to the polls or vote by absentee ballot. Jeanne Leong 2014-10-09T00:00:00 Penn's new AddLab boasts 3-D printers for a 3-D world Thanks in part to an anonymous $250,000 gift, Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science is opening the AddLab, a new facility that will feature a suite of state-of-the-art 3-D printing tools. The “add” in AddLab is for “additive manufacturing,” a catch-all term that encompasses the different techniques now available for making three-dimensional objects by building them layer by layer.   Evan Lerner 2014-10-02T00:00:00 Threads for Teens boosts wardrobes and self-esteem Like many children coming of age, Wharton sophomore Allyson Ahlstrom didn’t care for hand-me-downs. But instead of simply following the latest fashion trends, at age 14, Ahlstrom decided to blend her love of fashion with her desire to help others. She founded Threads for Teens, a nonprofit organization that provides new, donated clothes to 13- to 18-year-old girls in need. Jacquie Posey 2014-09-25T00:00:00 PHOS expands boundaries for forgivable loan program Penn Home Ownership Services (PHOS) has extended the boundary of its Forgivable Loan Program to include a wider section of West Jeanne Leong 2014-09-18T00:00:00 Chaplain's Office counsels and cares—and does weddings, too As University Chaplain, the Rev. Charles “Chaz” Howard is often recognized for his presence at formal Penn events such as Convocation, Baccalaureate, and Commencement. Maria Zankey 2014-10-23T00:00:00 Nominate superstar staffers for a Models of Excellence Award Know any superstar staff members at Penn? Then nominate them in the Models of Excellence Award program, which honors University staff who have gone above and beyond in their job responsibilities to create positive change on campus. The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, Nov. 3.Since 1999, the Models program, which is run through the Division of Human Resources (HR), has honored more than 750 staffers for their achievements. Heather A. Davis 2014-10-23T00:00:00 Dalits overcome caste barriers to become self-made entrepreneurs The dehumanizing system of racial segregation that flourished in the American South from the end of Reconstruction through the 1970s has a friend in the former caste system in India. Both were callous, heartless, and cruel, and marginalized an oppressed people. Greg Johnson 2014-10-16T00:00:00 Reinventing the language of coastal resilience When Anuradha Mathur and Dilip da Cunha, professor and adjunct professor of landscape architecture, respectively, at Penn’s School Christina Cook 2014-10-16T00:00:00 Rethinking STEM courses REINVISIONING STEM: Penn is one of more than 30 colleges and universities tasked with rethinking the way science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses are taught in the classroom, especially at the introductory collegiate level, by replacing lectures with active student engagement in discovery and problem so Maria Zankey 2014-10-16T00:00:00 'Hush-Puppy' device rewards dogs for quiet time For many dog owners, incessant barking is the bane of their existence. Some resort to using “shock collars” that deliver a jolt when their animal barks. The brainchild of a School of Veterinary Medicine student, however, may one day help pet lovers quiet their pets using positive reinforcement in the form of food rewards. Katherine Unger Baillie 2014-10-09T00:00:00 Fun and games galore at Penn Family Day On Saturday, Oct. 18, the Division of Human Resources (HR) and Penn Athletics will once again join forces to host Penn Family Day, providing full- and part-time staff, faculty, and post-doctoral fellows with a day of free, fall fun. Maria Zankey 2014-10-09T00:00:00 Penn expands campus dining and retail options Several leading Philadelphia retail stores—a ramen noodle restaurant, a gift boutique, and a coffee house that also sells clothes—have expanded or relocated their businesses to Penn. Nom Nom Ramen now has an outpost in the food court at 34th and Walnut streets. Nom Nom specializes in authentic, Japanese-style ramen noodles, pork buns, and shaved ice. The Center City-based restaurant won a 2012 “Best of Philly” award for ramen. Jacquie Posey 2014-10-09T00:00:00 Penn symposium to tackle microbes in health and disease They live on our skin, in our guts, in our bathtubs, and in the soil. They can keep us healthy, and they can kill us. We know a lot about them, but we’ve only scratched the surface. Katherine Unger Baillie 2014-10-01T00:00:00 Writers House names 2015 Fellows Now in its 16th year, the Kelly Writers House (KWH) Fellows program continues to provide Penn students and other members of the University community with opportunities to actively engage with acclaimed authors and gain insight into their work in and outside of literary contexts. Christina Cook 2014-10-02T00:00:00 Penn criminologist demonstrates wearable gunshot detection Community-based offenders, such as those on house arrest or out on bail or parole, account for a disproportionately large share of the perpetrators of fatal and non-fatal shootings. Detecting and deterring shootings among this population can be challenging in the absence of reliable evidence that a particular community-supervised offender illegally used a firearm. Jacquie Posey 2014-09-18T00:00:00 Steig, Tehon, and the magic of making children’s books A dash of Picasso, a dose of William Blake, a formative boyhood in the Bronx, and a never-ending imagination stirred with artistic vigor formed William Steig, one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed cartoonists and children’s book authors. Greg Johnson 2014-09-11T00:00:00 International hackers come to campus for PennApps Each semester, top collegiate hackers from around the world convene in Penn’s Engineering quad for a weekend of nonstop coding. PennApps, the nation’s largest and most prestigious student-run hackathon, marked its 10th edition on Sept. 12-14, with more than 1,200 student hackers. Madeleine Stone 2014-09-25T00:00:00 Saving Syrian history in the middle of a civil war Syria’s Great Mosque of Aleppo, or Umayyad Mosque, was built in the eighth century in the Ancient City of Aleppo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Sacked by fire, conquerors, and earthquakes, the Great Mosque was rebuilt several times, and is believed by some Muslims to contain the remains of the Prophet Zakariya, father of the Prophet Yahya, whom Christians call John the Baptist. Greg Johnson 2014-09-11T00:00:00 Q&A with Wendy White From her light-filled office atop 113 S. 36th St., Wendy White jokes about the stresses of being a lawyer. It’s different day-to-day and week-to-week, she says, and a particularly difficult issue she’s working on in the morning often turns into a completely different obstacle by lunchtime. Maria Zankey 2014-09-11T00:00:00 Student Spotlight with Sarah Lindstedt Greg Johnson 2014-09-11T00:00:00 Food truck vendors redefine fine dining at Penn From hot dogs to haute cuisine, the food trucks and carts on and around Penn’s campus offer menus to please even the most discerning palates. Food Network programs have showcased several of the University’s street food purveyors, including Magic Carpet food cart owner Dean Varvoutis. He’s been at the vanguard of the street food movement since 1984 when he wheeled his first cart to the corner of 36th and Spruce. Jacquie Posey 2014-08-07T00:00:00 Construction projects keep campus buzzing over the summer Even in the relative quiet of June, July, and early August, some parts of Penn’s campus were humming with activity. Construction crews remained hard at work during the summer months, tackling both long- and short-term facilities projects. Heather A. Davis 2014-08-28T00:00:00 Penn employee transforms health due to ‘Be in the Know’ The Division of Human Resource’s (HR) “Be in the Know” campaign is a program designed to give Penn faculty and staff better insight into their health status—as well as a $100 incentive, less applicable payroll taxes. Maria Zankey 2014-08-07T00:00:00 Introducing the Penn Center for Innovation Scientific research is one of the main drivers of technological innovation. Whether it is a drug for treating cancer or a new material for building solar panels, every new invention owes its existence to fundamental discoveries about the workings of the world. The boundaries of this sphere of knowledge are principally pushed in the labs and workshops of research universities like Penn.    Evan Lerner 2014-06-05T00:00:00