Penn Current | Top Stories en-us Penn Current: News, Ideas, and Conversations from the University of Pennsylvania 140 46 Staff Q&A with Ana-Rita Mayol In her career, Ana-Rita Mayol has worked to get students from middle through graduate school excited about science. She’s developed science education programs and mentorships, as well as programs to train teachers so they’re better equipped to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers. Heather A. Davis 2015-02-19T00:00:00 HR online portal welcomes new employees to Penn Almost every other Monday, the Division of Human Resources (HR) formally welcomes the newest members of the University community at the HR New Staff Orientation Program, a three-hour, in-person introduction to Penn that is open to all benefits-eligible employees. Greg Johnson 2015-02-19T00:00:00 Q&A with Ezekiel Dixon-Román Ezekiel Dixon-Román, an assistant professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), had an adventurous high school career, attending four different schools in three different states. He started out at Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., the city where he was born and raised. His mother, who worked for IBM, was transferred to Austin, Texas in 1993, where Dixon-Román attended Round Rock High School. Greg Johnson 2015-02-19T00:00:00 Nursing prof’s project fights HIV and mental illness Unsafe sexual behaviors, such as having unprotected sex or multiple sex partners, greatly increase the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), such as HIV—the virus that causes AIDS. Greg Johnson 2015-02-19T00:00:00 Student Spotlight with Rutendo Chigora [youtube][/youtube] SUNSHINE CITY: From Harare, Zimbabwe, Rutendo Chigora, 22, is a senior double majoring in international relations and political science, and minoring in English. In December, she was awarded a non-U.S. Rhodes Scholarship and will study at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Greg Johnson 2015-02-19T00:00:00 Latest Working Dog Center grads embark on new careers A new crop of graduates from the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Working Dog Center (WDC) is entering the workforce, benefiting society with their special skills and, especially, their highly tuned noses. Last week, Quest and Logan, both German shepherds, became part of the SEPTA Police’s K9 unit. They followed in the footsteps of WDC alumni Ronnie and Kaiserin, who joined SEPTA’s police force one year ago. Katherine Unger Baillie 2015-02-05T00:00:00 Penn exhibit revisits White Tower fast-food chain An exhibit in Penn’s Architectural Archives showcases the architectural styles of the pioneering White Tower restaurant chain and its role in shaping fast-food culture in America. Founded in 1926, the company operated 350 restaurants at its peak before shutting down in the 1980s. Jeanne Leong 2015-02-05T00:00:00 Penn Libraries exhibit highlights Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation Penn Libraries is showcasing some rare items concerning the Emancipation Proclamation in its new exhibit, “The Great Emancipator and the Great Central Fair,” which highlights the document and its role in the abolition of slavery. Jeanne Leong 2015-01-29T00:00:00 11th PennApps hackathon sees highest attendance ever Coding may be a way of life for top collegiate hackers, but even the best of the best are pushed to their limits during PennApps, the nation’s premier student-run hackathon. The bi-annual, 36-hour code-fest held in the School of Engineering and Applied Science’s quad marked its 11th edition recently, bringing together more than 1,300 student hackers from across the world. Madeleine Stone 2015-01-29T00:00:00 Wharton program helps close America’s vast racial wealth gap Keith Weigelt, the Marks-Darivoff Family Professor at the Wharton School, aims to help reduce the “racial wealth gap” by teaching financial literacy classes to people in Penn’s surrounding community. The “Building Bridges to Wealth” program, a Wharton initiative, is currently offered to high school students and adults in underserved communities. Jeanne Leong 2014-12-11T00:00:00 Penn Vet research helps keep dog and human hearts ticking February is American Heart Month, a time for focusing on cardiovascular health. Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of American men and women. But humans aren’t the only species affected; dogs also develop cardiovascular problems. Katherine Unger Baillie 2015-02-26T00:00:00 Penn writing group offers support for women Ph.D. students Writing a dissertation may be a marathon rather than a sprint—but that doesn’t mean the process of sitting down to write needs to be the equivalent of a solitary run. In the Women Who Write group, the process is more like a cross-country team experience, explains Andrea Kauffman-Berry, a Ph.D. student studying sociology in the School of Arts & Sciences, with members supporting one another throughout the lengthy writing and rewriting process. Heather A. Davis 2015-02-26T00:00:00 The nuts and bolts of design and construction Every two weeks, high school students don hard hats for a construction site tour, pour over blueprints to a building, or fashion an architectural model out of gumdrops and uncooked spaghetti. These students are learning about the nuts and bolts of design and construction through the ACE Mentor Program, which stands for Architecture, Construction, and Engineering. In the nationally run program, which reaches more than 8,000 students annually, students are grouped into small teams and are mentored by industry experts. Heather A. Davis 2015-02-19T00:00:00 Studying microbes in health and disease When you look in the mirror, your gaze takes in a human form. Yet the human body is comprised of 10 times more microbial cells than human ones. These single-celled organisms inhabit our skin, mucous membranes, and gut, and while they can often promote health, they can also lead to disease. Katherine Unger Baillie 2015-02-19T00:00:00 The ever-unpredictable teenage brain For years, the conventional wisdom within the field of neurology was that the adolescent brain was every bit as developed as the adult brain—and that, by extension, teenagers were every bit as equipped to deal with the stresses and dramas of their lives as their parents. Tim Hyland 2015-02-19T00:00:00 SciCheck speaks truth to public science claims Last week, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Annual Meeting in San Jose, Calif., Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson participated in a panel titled, “Scientists Communicating Challenging Issues.” There, she gave advice for breaking the deadlock around scientific issues, such as global climate change. Evan Lerner 2015-02-19T00:00:00 PennDesign prof helps save West Philly church from demolition A 115-year-old church in West Philadelphia that was days away from being demolished by the city was saved by the efforts of neighborhood resident and PennDesign assistant professor Aaron Wunsch. Jeanne Leong 2015-02-12T00:00:00 Penn Museum explores Jim Thorpe remains controversy Jim Thorpe is remembered as one of the 20th century’s greatest athletes. He was an Olympic gold medalist for the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912 and played professional American football, baseball, and basketball. What’s less well-known is the controversial story behind how a town in northeastern Pennsylvania came to bear Thorpe’s name. Upon Thorpe’s death in 1953, the remains of the Native American athlete, an enrolled member of the Sac and Fox Nation, were moved from the tribe’s location in Oklahoma to Pennsylvania. Heather A. Davis 2015-02-12T00:00:00 Penn students launch University-wide PennMobile app A group of students at Penn Labs have joined forces with the Undergraduate Assembly (UA) to bring to the students of Penn something they’ve never had before—a University-wide app. PennMobile is a brand-new app that allows users to access course schedules, Penn Transit maps, and more, all from their mobile devices. Sarah Welsh 2015-02-12T00:00:00 Y-Prize winners set sights on fracking safety The third annual Y-Prize was awarded on Wednesday, Jan. 28, to seniors Teddy Guenin, a student in Penn’s Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology, and Ashwin Amurthur, a dual-degree student studying in the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Sarah Welsh 2015-02-05T00:00:00 Coding at PAS A group of students at Penn Alexander are hacking parents’ classic warning that video games turn brains to mush. In a course developed by Yasmin Kafai, a professor of teaching, learning, and leadership at the Graduate School of Education (GSE), a group of 12 sixth to eighth graders are working not only to understand how video games work, but to actually create the games themselves. Maria Zankey 2015-01-22T00:00:00 Student Spotlight with Sydney Stipanovich SHOOTING STARS: Skimming sophomore women’s basketball center Sydney Stipanovich’s resume, it’s difficult to believe she’s only been at Penn for less than two years. Maria Zankey 2015-01-22T00:00:00 New Penn MOOC provides intro to American law It is next to impossible to open a newspaper, browse the web, or watch television without coming across an item of consequence related to the law. Be they criminal laws and civil laws, contracts and expiring contracts, property and deeds, marriages and divorces, or lawsuits and custody disputes, the law is pervasive in American life, even if not always overtly, and decides some of society’s most central issues. Greg Johnson 2015-01-22T00:00:00 Penn's electric racecar revs up Philly Auto Show Electric cars may be the future of driving, but first, the vehicles need to spark excitement among the general public. That’s why Penn students have been working hard for the past two years to build one of the world’s first electric racecars. Madeleine Stone 2015-02-05T00:00:00 HUP dept. delivers precious bundles of joy The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) delivers more than 4,100 babies each year, slightly less than its older sibling, Pennsylvania Hospital. Obstetricians and perinatologists at HUP are in charge of deliveries, and provide expecting mothers with state-of-the-art prenatal care, expertise during labor and delivery, and comprehensive post-delivery care for moms, newborns, dads, and families. Greg Johnson 2014-12-18T00:00:00 Penn Engineering plan filters wastewater produced by fracking Contaminated wastewater produced during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a major environmental concern associated with natural gas extraction. Fracking involves pumping large amounts of water into underground rocks to release the natural gas stored within. When this water returns to the surface, it brings with it contaminants, including oils, salts, and heavy metals. Natural gas companies typically deal with wastewater by pumping it back into the ground, but this process is expensive and raises concerns about geologic instability. Madeleine Stone 2014-12-04T00:00:00 Student Spotlight with Erica Ball [youtube][/youtube] EARLY START: Erica Ball was just 3 years old when she begged her parents to let her play the piano. Ball doesn’t remember exactly what sparked her interest, but she says her fluency grew quickly as she progressed from playing on a tiny keyboard to a baby grand by middle school. Ball, now a fourth-year graduate student in composition in the Department of Music, also plays the violin. “I learned to read music probably a few months before I learned to read words,” she says. Heather A. Davis 2014-12-18T00:00:00 Penn Vet looking for volunteers to babysit newborn horses This past March, tens of thousands of people around the world tuned in to the School of Veterinary Medicine’s “foal cam” to welcome Boone, a leggy colt born to mare My Special Girl at the New Bolton Center campus in Kennett Square, Pa. For these viewers, watching over the internet was the next best thing to being in the stall. But for animal lovers wanting to get more up close and personal, there is an opportunity to do so this spring. Katherine Unger Baillie 2014-12-04T00:00:00 Penn Museum program takes Philly students back in time for hands-on tour of ancient world Seventh-grade students across the School District of Philadelphia can travel back in time and explore Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt through the Penn Museum’s new “Unpacking the Past” program. Greg Johnson 2014-10-30T00:00:00 WDC alum Bretagne begins new career as diabetes alert dog November is American Diabetes Month—a time to raise awareness about the chronic disease, which is one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States, affecting one in 12 Americans. For Bretagne—the first diabetes alert dog to come from the Penn Vet Working Dog Center (WDC)—her new career has instilled constant vigilance of the potential pitfalls of the disease. Maria Zankey 2014-11-13T00:00:00