Penn Current | Top Stories en-us Penn Current: News, Ideas, and Conversations from the University of Pennsylvania 140 46 A more perfect criminal justice system America’s system of criminal justice is supposed to be equal, exact, and colorblind, but it is not without its flaws. Created by human beings, it is at the mercy of human error, usually made in good faith, although occasionally with ill intent. The National Registry of Exonerations maintains a list of nearly 1,500 people who were wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all charges. The Registry catalogs exonerations only since 1989, leaving potentially thousands of other innocent people languishing in prison while the truly guilty roam scot-free. Greg Johnson 2014-12-18T00:00:00 Looking for sewage on the waterfront Philadelphia is home to many beautiful waterways, from the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers to the Wissahickon and Cobbs creeks. A visit to their banks affords city dwellers a chance to escape the concrete jungle to fish, hike, picnic, or let their dogs romp and roam. Yet after a heavy rainfall, these may not be the safest places for urbanites to get their nature fix. The reason? Sewage. Katherine Unger Baillie 2014-12-18T00:00:00 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 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 Staff Q&A with Sue Sproat and Chris Hyson Sue Sproat and Chris Hyson come from different professional backgrounds: Sproat is a human resources and benefits veteran, and Hyson, a wellness programming specialist. Maria Zankey 2014-12-18T00:00:00 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 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 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 People of Penn 2014-07-17T00:00:00 Q&A with Charles Kane Charles Kane’s world is filtered through a geometric lens. He calculates and stores information in a mental grid, sorting each bit away in pictures that blend together as beautifully as they do harmoniously. Maria Zankey 2014-12-18T00:00:00 Penn adds Native American studies minor In the northern and southern hemispheres of the Americas, there are more than 600 Indigenous nations—also called Indians, American Indians, and First Nations—each with distinct tribal identities, forms of kinship relations, and social and political alliances with other groups. Sarah Welsh 2014-12-18T00:00:00 Wharton prof gives advice on integrating work and life Twenty-four hours does not seem like enough time for people to juggle their professional responsibilities while also raising their children, engaging with the community, and taking care of themselves and their home. The population at large, in the United States and abroad, finds it increasingly difficult to manage their work and private lives, and achieve harmony between the two. Greg Johnson 2014-12-18T00:00:00 ICA commission shows increased understanding of HIV/AIDS The first clinical observation of AIDS occurred in 1981, a time when very little about the disease was understood by medical professionals, and public misconceptions were rampant. After more than three decades of research, medical advances, and general public awareness, understanding of the disease has drastically changed since the early days of HIV/AIDS. Maria Zankey 2014-12-11T00:00:00 Penn Vet researchers take step toward reversing blindness For the millions of people around the world with inherited forms of blindness, the path toward a gradually dimming world may seem inexorable. But a new therapy that melds chemical and genetic approaches offers hope for restoring vision, even in patients whose world has gone dark. The treatment has already allowed once-blind mice to regain some vision, and shows promise in dogs, whose eyes share many similarities with those of humans. Katherine Unger Baillie 2014-12-11T00:00:00 Engineering with a side of origami Origami is capable of turning a simple sheet of paper into a pretty paper crane, but the principles behind the paper-folding art can also be applied to making a microfluidic device for a blood test, or for storing a satellite’s solar panel in a rocket’s cargo bay.    A team of Penn researchers is turning kirigami, a related art form that allows the paper to be cut, into a technique that can be applied equally to structures on those vastly divergent length scales. [youtube][/youtube] Evan Lerner 2014-12-11T00:00:00 #PennCraves Food Truck serves hot and fresh meals-to-go As temperatures get colder and bellies get a little grumblier, a new Penn food truck is crafting hot and fresh meals-to-go that aim to satisfy even the most persistent cravings. The new, aptly named #PennCraves Food Truck is now serving up seasonal, artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches, soups, and more at Pennovation Works (formerly known as the South Bank) at 3401 Grays Ferry Ave. Maria Zankey 2014-12-04T00:00:00 Penn's Nonprofit Institute trains charitable leaders United in their desire to make a difference in the world, more than 25 men and women are gathering on campus to attend Penn’s Nonprofit and Communities of Faith Nonprofit Institute, which runs through Dec. 12. Jacquie Posey 2014-12-04T00:00:00 Try Penn+Box, a file-sharing service for the Penn community Students, particularly grade schoolchildren, are absolutely overjoyed with snow days and the “staycation” they bring from classwork, pop quizzes, and homework. Adults may not share the same sense of glee, as they know that, snow or no snow, office work must still be completed.  In the event of a snow day and the rare instance when Penn closes due to weather, the University provides a number of services that make it fairly easy for employees to work remotely from home. Jacquie Posey 2014-11-20T00:00:00 Africana studies prof gives brief history of American slavery Heather Andrea Williams, a Presidential Professor and professor in the Department of Africana Studies in the School of Arts & Sciences, opens her latest book, “American Slavery: A Very Short Introduction,” in 15th century Portugal during the reign of Prince Henry. Greg Johnson 2014-11-20T00:00:00 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 Q&A with Antonia Villarruel Antonia Villarruel was in eighth grade when she made a decision that would shape her entire professional life: She decided she was going to be a nurse. Heather A. Davis 2014-11-20T00:00:00 Arthur Ross Gallery unveils ‘12@12’ lecture series Billed as “a tasty art nugget in 12 minutes flat,” the new Arthur Ross Gallery (ARG) program “12@12” aims to whet the public’s appetite for art through quick, informal talks with curators, artists, and gallery staff. ARG Gallery Coordinator Sara Stewart says that the title is more than just a catchy phrase. “How could you forget ‘12 @12’?” she says. “It’s a 12-minute program that starts promptly at 12 noon.” Jacquie Posey 2014-11-13T00:00:00 Student Spotlight with Joyce Kim EARLY ELECTION DAYS: In elementary school, College senior Joyce Kim got her first taste of running for student government when she was elected historian. Heather A. Davis 2014-11-20T00:00:00 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 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. Greg Johnson 2014-10-16T00:00:00 New website highlights PIK professors A recently launched website,, provides a way to stay updated with the ongoing, world-changing work of the University’s 15 Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professors—a figure Penn President Amy Gutmann plans to grow as part of the Penn Compact 2020 initiative. 2014-09-11T00:00:00 Student Spotlight with Alex T. Williams DREAM TEAM: Alex T. Williams, from Arlington, Texas, is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Annenberg School for Communication. Greg Johnson 2014-10-16T00:00:00 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 professor pieces together jigsaw puzzle of violence Adrian Raine, a Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Perelman School of Medicine, has been conducting groundbreaking resear Christina Cook 2014-10-30T00:00:00