Marcella Durand Named 2010-2011 Fellow at Penn’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing

Jacquie Posey | | 215-898-6460
Thursday, June 24, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -– Marcella Durand has been named the 2010-2011 CPCW Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania.

Durand’s recent books include “Deep Eco Pré,” a collaboration with Tina Darragh;  “Area” and “Traffic & Weather,” a site-specific book-length poem written during a residency at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.  

Durand has collaborated on projects with a variety of artists including a recent collaboration with Karoline Schleh of New Orleans titled “Stare: What Wild New World Is This?”  Her essays and poetry have appeared in The Nation, Ecopoetics, NYFA Current, Conjunctions, The Poker, HOW(2), Critiphoria, The Denver Quarterly and others.  

At Penn, Durand will teach a Spring 2011 undergraduate seminar, “Poetry & Poetics: The Ecology of Poetry.”  The course will delve into the emerging discipline of ecopoetics.   Students will experiment with writing in forms associated with nature poetry such as the pastoral, while inventing new forms based on observations of the “world about.”

Readings will include selections from “Black Nature Poetry and The Ecolanguage Reader,” as well as a range of poetry that will expand and illuminate the potentials of ecopoetics.   Durand will also serve as a mentor for students in the class and participate in workshops and give readings, talks and presentations at the Kelly Writers House at Penn.

Marcella Durand

Marcella Durand

Penn’s Harvey Rubin to Participate in International “Peace and Security Summit” in New York

Jordan Reese | | 215-573-6604
Odelia Englander | |
Thursday, June 24, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -– Harvey Rubin, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Threat Analysis and Response at the University of Pennsylvania, will be among the international experts participating in “Peace and Security Summit” June 30–July 1 in New York.

Rubin, a charter member of ICSR, will be introducing Tzipi Livni, Israel’s opposition leader and former foreign minister, before her address on July 1.  It will be Livni’s first appearance outside Israel since the flotilla incident.

Rubin said that a remarkably diverse group of delegates from nearly 20 countries is expected to participate in panels and working sessions focused on issues ranging from domestic radicalization and violent extremism to the ongoing conflicts across the world, particularly the Middle East.

“We will not only be assessing the state of global counter-terrorism,” he said, “but we’ll explore if and how terrorism eventually ends.” 

“Can Afghanistan Be Won?”  is among the scheduled debates on June 30.  It features former Ambassador Peter Galbraith and noted writer and lecturer Christopher Hitchens.

The roster of international participants includes former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell; Abdulkarim Al-Eryani, Yemen’s former prime minister; Daniel Benjamin, counterterrorism coordinator, State Department; Noman Benotman, former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group; Hekmat Karzai, director of the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies, Kabul; Fran Townsend, former Homeland Security advisor; and David Trimble, former first minister of Northern Ireland and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

During the past two years, ICSR has developed into a premier research authority on radicalization and political violence with projects addressing online radicalization and recruitment, de-radicalization in prisons and an in-depth analysis of the differences between U.S. and European radicalization.  ICSR has also established the Atkins Fellowship program, in which young Arab and Israeli leaders spend four months in London develop approaches to further peace and understanding in the Middle East.

ICSR is a partnership of Penn; Kings College, London; The Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel; and the Regional Centre on Conflict Prevention in Jordan.

Nine from Penn Selected as American Council of Learned Societies 2010 Fellows and Grantees

Jacquie Posey | | 215-898-6460
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – Nine scholars from the University of Pennsylvania have been awarded American Council of Learned Societies fellowships and grants.

ACLS is a private, nonprofit federation of 70 national scholarly organizations.  Its mission is "the advancement of humanistic studies in all fields of learning in the humanities and the social sciences and the maintenance and strengthening of relations among the national societies devoted to such studies."

Penn fellows and grantees are:

Elisabeth Camp, assistant professor, philosophy
Program: Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships
Project: Perspectival Imagination in Perception and Thought

Urvashi Chakravarty, recent Ph.D., English literature
Program: Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships
Project: Serving Like a Free Man: Labor, Liberty and Consent in Early Modern English Drama

Peter Decherney, assistant professor, English
Program: ACLS Fellowships
Project: Hollywood’s Copyright Wars: Pirates, Plagiarists and Technophobes, from Edison to the Internet
Siyen Fei, assistant professor, history
Program: American Research in the Humanities in China
Project: Chastity and Empire: A Comparative Study of the Chastity Cult in Ming Border Areas
Ellery Elisabeth Foutch, doctoral candidate, history of art
Program: Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships
Project: Arresting Beauty: The Perfectionist Impulse of Peale's Butterflies, Heade's Hummingbirds, Blaschka's Flowers and Sandow's Body
James Ker, assistant professor, classical studies
Program: ACLS Fellowships
Project: Beginning the Day in Ancient Rome: Morningtime, City and Self

Cristina Pangilinan, faculty fellow, English
Program: ACLS New Faculty Fellows
Project: Appointment in English at Vanderbilt University for academic years 2010 and 2011

Philip Sapirstein, postdoctoral fellow, classical studies
Program: ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship
Project: The Digital Reconstruction of the Sanctuary of Hera at Mon Repos, Corfu
Thomas K. Ward, doctoral candidate, English
Program: Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships
Project: Inside Voices of the English Renaissance

Program details and the full list of 2010 awardees are available at

Penn Ranks Among Computerworld's Best Places to Work in IT

Shirley Ross | | 215-898-0091
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

PHILADELPHIA– June 22, 2010 – The University of Pennsylvania announces that IDG’s Computerworld Magazine has ranked Penn’s Information Systems & Computing organization #5 nationally and #1 in the Mid-Atlantic region in its 2010 Best Places To Work In IT survey.  This is the sixth consecutive year the organization has been ranked #1 in the Mid-Atlantic.  The survey recognizes employers that challenge their IT staff with interesting and exciting projects while providing great benefits and compensation.  Honorees are featured in Computerworld’s June 21 issue along with results from the 17th annual Best Places To Work In IT survey.

A potent combination of management styles, prudent risk taking, and close client collaboration, as well as Penn employee benefits make Information Systems & Computing a stimulating and satisfying environment.  Technology solutions are not only cost effective but deliver value clients appreciate.  Whether it’s an open source solution for Unified Communications or furthering Green IT initiatives or finding new ways to leverage previously made IT investments, Information Systems & Computing people are connected to the strategic direction of the university. 

“We are honored to have received this recognition from Computerworld,” said Robin Beck, Penn’s Vice President of Information Systems & Computing.  “Each day ISC employees collaborate with clients across Penn to create strategic, financial, and operational solutions that contribute to real business results. We in ISC are proud to contribute to Penn’s reputation for innovation and effective cost management.”

To be among the Best Places To Work In IT, it’s not enough just to seek out and hire the most talented IT people, offer them competitive pay, and provide great benefits, according to Computerworld Editor in Chief Scot Finnie.

“The organizations that made this year’s Best Places To Work list sustain a dynamic work environment in which IT professionals keep their hands on the latest technologies and work on projects that are business critical,” said Finnie.

Modular courses

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Karl Ulrich of the Wharton School’s San Francisco campus has been engaged in an experiment that has proven to him and other Wharton faculty that “modular courses” have a purpose in the curriculum. (Wharton Magazine)

Newsweek Correspondent Howard Fineman to Teach Mini-Courses at Penn

Jacquie Posey | | 215-898-6460
Monday, June 21, 2010

PHILADELPHIA – Howard Fineman, Newsweek columnist, senior editor and deputy Washington bureau chief, will teach a pair of multi-session mini-courses at the University of Pennsylvania this fall. 

Fineman will survey the history of American politics in fictional and non-fictional literature, discuss and analyze coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign and survey coverage of the 2010 midterm elections.

Three sessions for a limited number of Penn students will be held at the Kelly Writers House Sept. 27, Oct. 18 and Nov. 8. 

Fineman writes "Living Politics," a column that began on and and now also appears in the print magazine.  He is also an analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, appearing regularly on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and "Today."

He authored the national best-selling book “The Thirteen American Arguments.”

Howard Fineman

Howard Fineman

Platelet Avatars: Penn Bioengineers Create Simulator to Test Blood Platelets in Virtual Heart Attacks

Jordan Reese | | 215-573-6604
Monday, June 21, 2010

PHILADELPHIA –- A team of bioengineers from the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Medicine and Engineering have trained a computer neural network model to accurately predict how blood platelets would respond to complex conditions found during a heart attack or stroke.

Using an automated, robotic system, they exposed human blood platelets to hundreds of different combinations of biological stimuli like those experienced during a heart attack.  This was done by fingerprinting each platelet sample with 34,000 data points obtained in response to all possible pairs of stimuli.

The team applied the system to predict intracellular calcium signaling responses of human platelets to any combination of up to six different agonists used at different dosages and even applied at different times.  The model predicted platelet responses accurately, even distinguishing between 10 blood donors, demonstrating an efficient approach for predicting complex chemical responses in a patient-specific disease milieu.

The strategy involves selecting molecules that react with blood platelets under high-risk situations, such as a heart attack, measuring the cellular responses to all pairwise combinations of stimuli in a high-throughput manner and then training a two-layer, nonlinear, neural network with the measured cellular responses.  For platelets, it was discovered that the complexity of integrating numerous signals can be built up from the responses to simpler conditions involving only two stimuli.

“With patient-specific computer models, it is now possible to predict how an individual's platelets would respond to thousands of ‘in silico’ heart-attack scenarios,” said Scott L. Diamond, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and the director of the Penn Center for Molecular Discovery.  “With this information we can identify patients at risk of thrombosis or improve upon current forms of anti-platelet therapies.”

The research team developed its experimental/computational technique, called Pairwise Agonist Scanning, or PAS, to define platelet response to combinations of agonists, chemicals that bind in this case to platelet cells, initiating a cellular response. Future research would include the application of PAS to clinical stimuli that platelets encounter such as epinephrine, serotonin and nitric oxide, which would map a major portion of the entire platelet response.  The use of PAS with certain pharmacological agents would allow further assessment of individual clinical risk, or sensi¬tivity to therapy.

Platelet cells respond in a patient-specific manner to multiple signals, and their reaction to thrombotic signals is central to the 1.74 million heart attacks and strokes, 1.115 million angiograms and 0.652 million stent placements in the United States each year.  For Diamond, platelets are also ideal cellular systems for quantifying the effects of multiple signaling pathways because they are anucleate, easily obtained from donors and amenable to automated liquid handling.  Few experi¬mental or computational tools are available for building a global understanding of how the platelet integrates multiple stimuli present at varying levels.

Researchers working in systems biology seek to understand blood as a reactive biological fluid whose function changes through a variety of physical and chemical stimuli such as hemodynamics, vessel-wall characteristics, platelet metabolism, numerous coagulation factors in plasma and small molecules released during thrombosis.

Because platelet cells respond to numerous signals and chemical doses and integrate their responses to these stimuli, effi¬cient and speedy computational methods are needed to survey such high-dimensional systems. Evaluating the cellular response to merely pairs of stimuli offers a direct and rapid sampling of the cellular response, which can be built up to predict even more complex situations and may eventually lead to a predictive clinical tool for cardiovascular disease.

The study, published in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology and supported by the National Institutes of Health, was conducted by Diamond and Manash S. Chatterjee of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Jeremy E. Purvis of the Department of Genomics and Computational Biology and Lawrence F. Brass of the Department of Medicine at Penn. 

All are members of the Institute for Medicine and Engineering at Penn.


As platelets deposit from flowing blood during a heart attack, they activate by regulating their intracellular calcium (green) in response
to collagen, thrombin, ADP, thromboxane, and prostacyclin. Researchers trained a neural network to make detailed pr

As platelets deposit from flowing blood during a heart attack, they activate by regulating their intracellular calcium (green) in response
to collagen, thrombin, ADP, thromboxane, and prostacyclin. Researchers trained a neural network to make detailed predictions of platelet response to a variety of heart attack and stroke scenarios.

Andrea Mitchell, Rosemary Mazanet Named Campaign Co-Chairs of Making History at Penn

Ron Ozio | | 215-898-8658
Friday, June 18, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- Andrea Mitchell and Dr. Rosemary Mazanet have been named co-chairs of the University of Pennsylvania’s Making History: The Campaign for Penn

The announcement was made by Penn President Amy Gutmann at the June meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Mitchell and Mazanet join Campaign chair George Weiss and co-chair Robert M. Levy on the Making History leadership team.  Entering its final two years, the Campaign has raised more than $2.7 billion toward its $3.5 billion goal.

Mitchell is chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News, reporting on political, intelligence and national security issues around the globe, and hosts “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” a daily program on MSNBC featuring political news and interviews.

During her more than 30 years at NBC, she has also served as the network’s chief White House correspondent and chief congressional correspondent.  Mitchell is a frequent speaker at University events and participant in campus panels on politics, journalism and public discourse.

She has a distinguished history of volunteer leadership at Penn.  She has been a Trustee since 1992, serves on the advisory committee for the Annenberg School for Communication and was an overseer in the School of Arts and Sciences as well as a founding member of the Trustees’ Council of Penn Women. In 2002,  she received the Alumni Award of Merit, the University’s highest alumni honor.

In 2007, Mitchell and her husband, Alan Greenspan, endowed a Penn Integrates Knowledge professorship.  The Andrea Mitchell University Professorship is held by Robert Ghrist, an applied mathematician with joint appointments in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and the School of Arts and Sciences.

“Even as Andrea Mitchell has become one of the world’s most eminent journalists, she has remained deeply connected and actively dedicated to our University,” Gutmann said.  “Her professional achievements exemplify Penn’s fundamental principles of integrating knowledge with both local and global impact, and her personal commitment to our vision and mission is exemplary.  I am thrilled that she has accepted a leadership role in the Making History Campaign.”

“Penn gave me the broad liberal arts education and commitment to political engagement that inspired me to challenge myself as a journalist in an increasingly complex world,” Mitchell said.  “I can’t think of anything more rewarding than helping Penn give tomorrow’s leaders the resources to explore their own dreams and become problem solvers in our society.  That’s the ultimate goal of the Making History Campaign, and I’m honored if I can play a part.”

Rosemary Mazanet, who will also serve as chair of the Campaign for Penn Medicine, is a general partner of Apelles Investment Management in New York.  She is also CEO of DiabetesAmerica, a network of diabetes care and management centers, and a director of Cellumen Inc.  Previously, she was a general partner and chief scientific officer for Oracle Partners LP, a health-care investment firm; was founder and CEO of Breakthrough Therapeutics, a private cancer therapeutic vaccine company; and directed clinical research for the Oncology franchise at Amgen Inc.  She trained in internal medicine and hematology/oncology at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute after receiving her Ph.D. and M.D. degrees from Penn Medicine.

Mazanet has served on the Penn Medicine Board of Trustees as a member of the Executive Committee since 2002 and has served as vice chair of the Penn Medicine Campaign Cabinet since 2006.  She will now become cabinet chair.  She received the School of Medicine’s Alumni Service Award in 2006.

“Rosemary Mazanet brings the ideal combination of depth of knowledge, executive experience and love of Penn to these important leadership positions,” Gutmann said.  “Her efforts have been instrumental in advancing the Penn Medicine Campaign.  Now the entire University will benefit from her business acumen and unparalleled energy as we drive Making History to a successful close.”

“I’m excited and proud to be taking on these new challenges,” Mazanet said. “Both Making History and the Campaign for Penn Medicine have made huge strides, and success is clearly in sight.  I look forward to helping us reach the finish line and fulfilling our ambitions for Penn.”

Mazanet and her husband, John G. Stoecker III, live in Cos Cob, Conn.  Their daughter, Sarah F. Stoecker, is a rising senior at Penn in the School of Arts and Sciences.

“Andrea and Rosemary are two of Penn’s most dedicated citizens and dynamic advocates,” said Making History Campaign Chair George Weiss.  “They are just the communicators and motivators we need at this critical moment, as we forge ahead with a Campaign that is transforming the University and making a positive impact on the world.”

Additional information on the Campaign is available at

Click here to view the Making History announcement.

Dr. Rosemary Mazanet (top) and Andrea Mitchell (bottom).

Dr. Rosemary Mazanet (top) and Andrea Mitchell (bottom).

Silk Road Summer Nights Kicks Off June 23

Pam Kosty | | 215-898-4045
Friday, June 18, 2010

The sounds of summer in West Philadelphia, on Penn's campus, just got sweeter. Penn Museum's Silk Road Summer Nights music series offers city residents, commuters, and happy hour denizens an introduction to the music of the Silk Road. The Silk Road theme is offered to herald the coming of a new major exhibition from China, Secrets of the Silk Road, making its East Coast stop at the Penn Museum February 5, 2011 through June 5, 2011.

Click here to view the full release.

Musical ensemble Animus performs.

Musical ensemble Animus performs.

Penn Physicists Honored With 2010 Europhysics Prize

Jordan Reese | | 215-573-6604
Thursday, June 17, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- Charles Kane and Eugene Mele of the University of Pennsylvania are among five scientists awarded the 2010 Europhysics Prize of the European Physical Society Condensed Matter Division for the theoretical prediction and experimental observation of the quantum spin Hall effect and topological insulators. Also honored were Hartmut Buhmann and Laurens Molenkamp of Würzburg University and Shoucheng Zhang of Stanford University.

Research on the quantum spin Hall effect and a deeper understanding of the topological description of the quantum Hall state have been crucial to the development of the notion of topological insulators. 

The key breakthrough was the 2005 work by Kane and Mele. 

Taking a 2D hexagonal array of carbon atoms as an example, they predicted a class of insulators having robust gapless edge states for which the energy depends linearly on the momentum, giving rise to cone-shaped surfaces of constant energy and showing a remarkable pattern of electron spins.

Kane and Mele are professors of physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences.