Six members of the University of Pennsylvania faculty have been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. They are Cristina Bicchieri and Michael Hanchard of the School of Arts & Sciences, Vijay Kumar, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Stanley Plotkin and Kenneth Zaret of the Perelman School of Medicine, and Sarah Tishkoff, a Penn Integrates Knowledge professor with appointments in Penn Medicine and Penn Arts & Sciences.
They join more than 250 new members honored in 2021, recognized for their work to “help solve the world’s most urgent challenges, create meaning through art, and contribute to the common good.”
Cristina Bicchieri is the S. J. Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics in the School of Arts & Sciences. She is also a professor of legal studies at the Wharton School. She is the director of the Center for Social Norms & Behavioral Dynamics and founding director of the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences program.
Her research sits at the intersection of philosophy, game theory, and psychology, with a primary research focus on judgment and decision-making, as well as on how expectations affect behavior. Bicchieri’s work also examines the nature and evolution of social norms, how to measure them, and what strategies are necessary to foster social change.
Her most recent book is “Norms in the Wild How to Diagnose, Measure, and Change Social Norms” (Oxford University Press, 2016). In addition to this most recent honor, she was elected to the German National Academy of Sciences.
Michael Hanchard is the Gustav C. Kuemmerle Professor of Africana Studies and professor of political science in the School of Arts & Sciences. He also serves as director of the Marginalized Populations Project, a collaborative research initiative designed to explore political dynamics between populations with unequal, minimal, or non-existent state protections and national governments.
His research and teaching interests combine a specialization in comparative politics with an interest in contemporary political theory, encompassing themes of nationalism, racism, xenophobia, and citizenship.
His most recent book is “The Spectre of Race: How Discrimination Haunts Western Democracy” (Princeton, 2018).
Vijay Kumar is the Nemirovsky Family Dean of Penn Engineering with appointments in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer and Information Science, and Electrical and Systems Engineering.
He is an internationally recognized robotics expert who specializes in multi-agent systems, teams of robots that can cooperate to complete a task. Kumar’s research on new ways for these teams to sense their environments and communicate will help them collaborate on tasks that no single robot could do on its own, whether splitting up to count oranges in an orchard or coming together to lift a heavy payload.
In addition to holding many administrative positions at Penn, Kumar has served as the assistant director of robotics and cyber physical systems at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. His lab has founded many startups in robotics, and he is the founder of Exyn Technologies. In addition to this most recent honor, he is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society.
Stanley Plotkin is an emeritus professor of pediatrics and microbiology at the Perelman School of Medicine, an emeritus professor of virology at the Wistar Institute, and former director of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).
Plotkin has spent his career focused on developing vaccines for diseases like rubella, polio, rabies, varicella, and cytomegalovirus. He is a past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Infectious Diseases and of the former AAP Task Force on Pediatric AIDS. He is also a founding member of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society.
In addition to this most recent honor, among many others, Plotkin received the Richard D. Wood Distinguished Alumni Award from CHOP for “internationally renowned research” in immunology and infectious diseases and the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor insignia from the president of France for his role in vaccine development. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and is a fellow of the International Society for Vaccines, AAP, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Plotkin is a consultant to Aventis Pasteur, Paris, for which he has served as medical and scientific director.
Sarah Tishkoff is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in Genetics and Biology, holding appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and School of Arts & Sciences. She is also director of the Penn Center for Global Genomics and Health Equity. Tishkoff studies human genetic diversity, specifically that of African populations, blending field, lab, and computational approaches.
Her work has not only elucidated African population history but also how genetic variation affects traits such as disease susceptibility or ability to metabolize drugs.
In addition to this most recent honor, Tishkoff is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of an NIH Pioneer Award, a David and Lucile Packard Career Award, a Burroughs/Wellcome Fund Career Award, an American Society for Human Genetics Curt Stern Award, and a Penn Integrates Knowledge endowed chair.
Kenneth Zaret is the Joseph Leidy Professor in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the Perelman School of Medicine. He is also the director of Penn’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Zaret joined Penn in 2009, where he served as associate director of IRM and co-director of the Epigenetics Program until 2014. He is also a member of the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Program.
The Zaret Lab focuses on understanding how genes are regulated to allow one type of cell to change into another type, “cell type control” that occurs in embryonic development and tissue regeneration. Understanding this is crucial to being able to generate new cells at will for therapeutics and for generating experimental models to unveil the basis of and cures for human disease.
In addition to this most recent honor, Zaret’s awards include, among others, a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health, election as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award.