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A unique but exemplary academic year: 2020-21 in review

A challenging yet successful year—Penn’s exceptional community of dedicated students, faculty, and staff overcame the world’s most significant obstacles to flourish, from outreach locally through volunteerism, to helping the world globally with mRNA technology. The 2021 academic year highlighted the best of Penn.

Tina Rodia

Inside Penn

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U.S. News & World Report

Teens who get while driving may take other risks behind the wheel

Research from the Annenberg Public Policy Center and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia finds that young adults who use the phone while driving are more likely to engage in other behaviors associated with car crashes. “It may be useful to treat cellphone use while driving as part of a group of risky driving behaviors, such as driving while impaired by alcohol,” said the APPC’s Dan Romer.


The New York Times

Netanyahu, ‘King of Israel,’ exits a stage he dominated

Ian Lustick of the School of Arts & Sciences described Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the Oslo accords, a pair of agreements between the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Netanyahu’s approach appears to be an intentional effort “to destroy Oslo by treating it not as a partnership with the P.L.O. but as a very hard-bargaining contract, in which he didn’t really want the other side to fulfill the terms,” said Lustick.


The New York Times

COVID-sniffing dogs are accurate but face hurdles for widespread use

Cynthia Otto of the School of Veterinary Medicine said that before the U.S. deploys COVID-sniffing dogs on a large scale, clear training and performance standards need to be set.


NBC News

There are too few Latino nurses. COVID showed how important they are

Dean Antonia Villarruel of the School of Nursing, spoke about the structural barriers that prevent many Latino students from pursuing nursing and the important role Spanish-speaking nurses have played during the pandemic.


MIT Technology Review

These creepy fake humans herald a new age in AI

Aaron Roth of the School of Engineering and Applied Science spoke about synthetic data and privacy concerns. “Just because the data is ‘synthetic’ and does not directly correspond to real user data does not mean that it does not encode sensitive information about real people,” he said.


Los Angeles Times

What’s size got to do with it? Mocking a man’s manhood spurs a reverse #MeToo in South Korea

Jinsook Kim, a postdoc in the Annenberg School for Communication, spoke about the backlash against feminist activism in South Korea. “The younger generation suffers from frustration and economic precarity,” Kim said. “The problem is, these young Korean men, they ascribe their sense of victimhood or precarity not to government or policies but to women who they see as preventing them from receiving their due.”



A link between COVID-19 vaccination and a cardiac illness may be getting clearer

Paul Offit of the Perelman School of Medicine said the CDC could increase parental confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine by providing more updates on the potential side effect of myocarditis in adolescents. Still, he said, “I would vaccinate my teenager in a second. This is an extremely rare risk.”



Workers sue over vaccine mandates

Eric Feldman of the Law School discussed the lawsuits filed by workers against employers’ COVID-19 vaccine requirements. “There’s a distinction that’s not drawn in this lawsuit between mandatory vaccination and compulsory vaccination,” he said. “Compulsory vaccination is literally holding people down and jabbing a needle in their arm and forcing them to get vaccinated against their will; mandatory vaccination isn’t forcing anyone to get vaccinated.”


Philadelphia Inquirer

Hospital doctors are seeing far fewer COVID-19 patients now. That feels good

George Anesi and Benjamin Sun of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about the decline in coronavirus patients since the vaccines became more widely available. Anesi said, of the few current cases at Penn Medicine, “the strong, strong majority are unvaccinated. That’s very discouraging for us because almost all of those are preventable.”


Philadelphia Inquirer

Homicides are up, but GOP misleads with claims about blame

David Abrams of the Law School spoke about fluctuating crime rates during the pandemic. “Any theory explaining the rise in homicides would also have to explain why we haven’t seen a spike in other kinds of crimes,” he said.