Symposium ‘PIKs’ the brains of Penn professors

Five Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) Professors will gather in the Smilow Center for Translational Research’s Rubenstein Auditorium on Tuesday, Oct. 25, to share their research on how the brain shapes human behavior toward others, followed by a discussion about the ways in which their work converges to create new knowledge. The event will run from 4 to 6:15 p.m. 
The idea for this symposium was born in London’s Heathrow Airport when Andrea Mitchell University Professor Robert Ghrist and Daniel S. Och University Professor Shelley Berger ran into each other while waiting for the same delayed flight back to Philadelphia.
“So, of course we passed the time by talking about research,” Ghrist says.
The conversation sparked a series of informal PIK Professor dinners, and after a particularly insightful evening of conversation about the brain—a topic that threads through work conducted by much of the group—they decided to open the discussion to a broader public in the form of a symposium. 
Penn Provost Vincent Price, who will be making introductory remarks, says the symposium “exemplifies two of Penn’s most fundamental values: the power of integrating knowledge and the importance of bringing that knowledge to bear on essential global challenges. 
“It is especially exciting that it will offer multiple perspectives on a critical area—research about the brain—that holds so much promise for a wide range of diverse disciplines,” Price adds.
James S. Riepe University Professor Michael L. Platt, who is speaking at and moderating the event, will frame the discussion in its broadest terms, then discuss his work on the neurobiology of social behavior and social connection. 
Berger will talk about her work transforming the behaviors of mice and ants by manipulating their brains in very simple ways. Ghrist will address the role of mathematics in understanding how brains and other complex systems are wired, and Perry University Professor Adrian Raine will present his research on the criminal brain and ensuing societal implications. 
David and Lyn Silfen University Professor Jonathan D. Moreno will address the ethics of applying brain science to the issue of national security. 
“We’ve planned it in a way to move from the sublime to the ridiculous,” says Raine, “starting from intricate basic science models of life to audacious social implications. I think it will be a lot of fun.”
The event is free and open to the public. It will also be available via Live Stream using a PennKey login and via UPenn Facebook Live. Details for these viewing options will be sent out the day before the event to all who have registered.
To register, and for more information, visit PIKing on the Brain.
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