This year is one that could never be simply defined. Faculty, staff, and students at Penn emerged from the thick of a pandemic and online learning, showcased our adaptability, and whole-heartedly immersed ourselves into a new normal—one with its fair share of ups and downs, but an undoubted appreciation for the power of community.
The writers and editors at Penn Today, alongside our dedicated photographers, videographers, designers, and web developers, worked each day of 2022 to bring the stories of Penn to life. In total, we produced well over 1,000 original stories that touched on the arts, humanities, and social sciences; education, business, and law; health sciences; science and technology; sports; and campus and community writ large.
We unveiled the intricacies of scholars’ life-changing research, we untangled important current events, we showcased our inspiring students, and we documented monumental happenings on campus (including not one, but two Commencement celebrations), while saying farewell to Penn’s longest-serving president and warmly welcoming our ninth.
Narrowing down our 15 favorite stories from 2022 was no easy feat, but we provide an attempt below. Give each piece a well-deserved second read over break, and don’t sleep on our honorable mentions, either.
From a pandemic, scientific insights poised to impact more than COVID-19
Pivoting to study SARS-CoV-2, many scientists on campus have launched new research projects that address the challenges of the pandemic but also prepare us to confront future challenges.
Empowering refugees through education
The student-led group Penn for Refugee Empowerment offers tutoring and helps refugee-resettlement organizations with after-school programming, childcare, home setup, and event assistance.
Tangen Hall brings together aspiring entrepreneurs across the University
At seven stories and 68,000 square feet, the Wharton-led Tangen is the largest student entrepreneurship hub in the world.
The changing face of portraiture at Penn
Efforts around campus aim to diversify those honored in portraits and rethink how to approach representation through art.
The future of forests
With a warming climate, trees face an onslaught of changes—heat, drought, fire, flood, pests, and disease. How will they respond?
The return of the Penn Relays, directed by Steve Dolan
Dolan, the Frank Dolson Director of the Penn Relays, discusses the resumption of the world-famous meet after a two-year break, notable athletes who will be competing, new programming and features, and what makes the Relays so special.
The fossil hunter
Claire Conklin Sabel, a doctoral student in Penn’s History and Sociology of Science department, uncovers the findings of 18th-century amateur naturalist Elizabeth Thomas, along with artist and illustrator Alix Pentecost-Farren, who brings Thomas’ work to life.
Shapeshifting microrobots can brush and floss teeth
In a proof-of-concept study, researchers from the School of Dental Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science show that a hands-free system could effectively automate the treatment and removal of tooth-decay-causing bacteria and dental plaque.
Inside the Quaker’s head
Sophia Zehler recently earned her master’s degree from the Fels Institute of Government. The first-generation Cuban American also spent the year as Penn’s mascot, her third mascotting position in five years.
At the Annenberg Center, 50 years of experimentation
The Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new season and a planned building expansion. Penn Today looks back at the Center’s history—and where it’s going under Penn Live Arts.
Bolstering environmental education in Cobbs Creek
Through a Projects for Progress award and other University support, students in West Philadelphia are gaining greater access to STEM learning resources at the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Center.
Iran protests, explained
Historian Firoozeh Kashani-Sabet, an expert on modern Iran and gender in the School of Arts & Sciences, discusses what sparked the protests and why they’re important.
Making Mask and Wig history
The 133-year-old comedy troupe becomes gender-inclusive, opening auditions to all undergraduates this fall, recruiting 20 new members, 14 of them female-identifying.
A ‘new beginning’ for Penn
The University celebrated the inauguration of Liz Magill, its ninth president, on Friday, Oct. 21.
At COP27, Penn showcased its diverse climate expertise on the world stage
More than 30 representatives from the University traveled to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for two weeks of negotiations at this year’s United Nations climate change conference.
Honorable mentions go to the following stories:
Mentor support for the first-generation college experience; The ‘music’ of one poet’s words, translated; Q&A with Penn’s Interim President Wendell Pritchett; SARS-CoV-2 is moving between humans and wildlife; Inspiring the next generation of archive scholars; Nine questions for Penn’s ninth president; Exploring Mongolia with an insider’s view, no luggage necessary; Can nature-inspired designs affect cognition and mood?; A robot made of sticks; and Turning carbon emissions into rocks