Three University of Pennsylvania Professors Awarded 2016 Guggenheim Fellowships

University of Pennsylvania political scientist Diana Mutz, music professor Timothy Rommen and theoretical chemist Joseph Subotnik have won 2016 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships

They are among 178 scholars, artists and scientists selected from nearly 3,000 applicants from the United States and Canada. 

The new fellows were chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise. 

Mutz, who has dual appointments in the School of Arts & Sciences and the Annenberg School for Communication, will use her Guggenheim in conjunction with her fall sabbatical so that she can work on a study of American attitudes toward globalization over the next academic year. 

“The central focus of this project,” said Mutz, “is the social psychology underlying the formation of attitudes toward globalization. Given that mass attitudes toward globalization are affected very little by economic self-interest, how do people form their views about their own country’s relationship with the rest of the world?” 

Mutz teaches and does research on public opinion, political psychology and mass political behavior, with an emphasis on political communication. She holds the Samuel A. Stouffer Chair in Political Science and Communication and serves as the director of the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics, a non-partisan research institute at Penn, whose purpose is to promote research on the many ways in which citizens interact with the political world. 

Rommen, a professor of music and Africana studies, specializes in the music of the Caribbean with research interests that include folk and popular sacred music, popular music, critical theory, ethics, tourism, diaspora and the intellectual history of ethnomusicology. 

"Cadence-lypso and bouyon are Dominican genres that have shaped the sound of popular music throughout the English- and French-speaking Caribbean since the 1970s, but very few people have written about or engaged with these sounds. The Commonwealth of Dominica more generally remains marginal within academic inquiry in the region,” Rommen said. “Rethinking centers and peripheries has been a major part of my intellectual project throughout my career, and the popular musics of Dominica offer me an opportunity to critically engage with these relations in a small place that is actively rethinking the whole region through sound.”

He will use his Guggenheim to complete a book, “Sounding a Borderless Caribbean: The Creole Geographies of Dominica’s Popular Music.” 

Subotnik, an associate professor of chemistry, will use his award to further fundamental understanding of electrochemistry, the study of chemical reactions that involve the transfer of electrons at metal surfaces. These reactions are critical to the operation of catalysts, batteries, photovoltaic cells, and many other energy-related devices. 

“Electrochemistry is probably the nastiest subject you can find in the physical sciences,” Subotnik said. “It’s on the borders of physics, chemistry, materials science and engineering. In the back of our heads, we have a big picture understanding of what’s going on in electrochemical reactions. But there’s no microscopic understanding and that’s really the goal here. If we understand what individual atoms are doing, then you can design better, more efficient catalysts and batteries.”    

Subotnik will collaborate with Stanford University’s Todd Martinez, as well as other theorists there, to make faster, more detailed computer simulations of these reaction dynamics.  

More information about the 2016 Guggenheim Fellows is available at