For your winter break reading pleasure: Our favorite stories from 2023

The staff at Penn Today share a list of features that we think warrant a second (or a third or a fourth) glance. Enjoy!

Kariko and Weissman at Nobel celebration
Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó after earning a Nobel Prize in October. We covered a Penn Medicine celebration for the duo in our story titled “A booster for all of us.”

A nearly 300-year-old University, the institution’s commitment to teaching, education, and research endures, and Penn Today has remained dedicated to telling those stories. In fact, our writers, photographers, videographers, web designers, and editors worked together—sometimes into the wee hours—to publish more than 1,200 original, timely, and significant stories in 2023.

We detailed the Nobel Prize win for Penn Medicine giants Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó, documented an inspirational Commencement and Convocation, and even dove into what it was like when Penn Founder Benjamin Franklin first arrived in Philadelphia. Our curiosities were piqued and our horizons expanded when we learned, from the brightest minds, all about a new way to target solid tumors, what makes baseball’s mud “magic,” how robots made of sticks can break barriers, and so much more.

Around this time every year, we put together a list of our favorite articles. No easy feat, we also list some honorable mentions. We hope that you enjoy a second (or a third or a fourth) read on the features below, which showcase a glimpse into the people and programs that make Penn the extraordinary institution it is.

Postdoctoral researcher Shravan Pradeep of Penn Engineering studying baseball mud
We told the story of how and why researchers, including Shravan Pradeep of Penn Engineering, are conducting experiments to understand the flow and grip properties of the Major League Baseball’s “magic mud.”

Through the lens: A digital depiction of dyslexia

Artist-in-residence and visiting scholar Rebecca Kamen blended AI and art to produce animated illustrations representing how a dyslexic brain interprets information.

The psychology of playing the fool

Law professor Tess Wilkinson-Ryan’s book “Fool Proof: How Fear of Playing the Sucker Shapes Ourselves and the Social Order―and What We Can Do About It” explores the psychology of fools, dupes, cons, and morality.

Laurie Olin teaches final-semester Weitzman School of Design students the art of sketching
Penn Today joined famed landscape architect Laurie Olin and his art of sketching class at The Woodlands cemetery in the spring. 

A rare rediscovery revealed

An oil painting by 19th-century French artist Gustave Courbet that was found in the School of Dental Medicine’s storage was on view at the Arthur Ross Gallery.

How have women in the workforce fared, three years into the pandemic?

Despite hopeful signs that this demographic is returning to work, certain female-dominated sectors, like the care economy, still haven’t recovered, signaling there’s more to learn about COVID-19’s full effect.

WXPN’s Black Opry Residency reclaims Americana as the inclusive genre it can be

In collaboration with Black Opry, WXPN invited six Black Americana musicians to participate in a weeklong residency in Philadelphia.

Drawing on nature

Famed landscape architect Laurie Olin taught final-semester Weitzman School of Design students the art of sketching.

Virtual reality in an ancient world.

Students created films to document the reimagining of the Penn Museum’s Ancient Egypt and Nubia galleries.

On a different wavelength, Nader Engheta leads a community in light

2023 Franklin Medal winner Engheta is one of the world’s biggest names in wave physics. The Penn Engineering professor is renowned for his unique approach to science, combining technical brilliance, creativity, and care.

Seeking solutions to a shortage of educators

Penn’s Graduate School of Education contributed to the conversation about the scarcity of Black men as K-12 teachers.

Desmond Patton and the science of being human

Penn Integrates Knowledge University professor Desmond Upton Patton discussed his research in social media and violence, finding an interdisciplinary career in social work, communication, data science, and psychiatry, and why his open-mindedness never stops.

Students review film in warehouse where artifacts are being conserved
Students in a course taught by Peter Decherney produced virtual reality films on Penn Museum conservators, curators, and archivists. Here, we photograph as students review footage taken at a warehouse where monumental Egyptian artifacts are being conserved. 

Social ecology and community work in the Galápagos

Undergraduate and graduate students spent two months on San Cristóbal Island this summer, doing research on antibacterial resistance, vectors of disease, climate change adaptation, and the impact of climate change on mental health.

People and Places at Penn: College Houses

College Houses model lifelong learning and provide a home away from home. Three house directors discussed their distinctive roles. (Another favorite People and Places at Penn was published in April and featured makerspaces on campus.)

Out this week: Emily Wilson’s ‘The Iliad’

After years in the making, Wilson’s translation of ‘The Iliad’ was released in September.

Over the summer we profiled Nader Engheta, who is known as the founder of optical nanocircuits, a field that integrates nanoelectronics and nanophotonics. His work has opened many new frontiers, such as nanoscale optical computation and scattering control for cloaking and transparency. 

Milestone Penn versus Brown matchup marks 50 years

The 1973 Penn versus Brown football game at Franklin Field was the first in Ivy League history to feature two African American starting quarterbacks.

Two Penn schools partner with Camden County to launch virtual reality Narcan training

The Annenberg School for Communication and School of Nursing continued their efforts to train as many people as possible on administering the lifesaving overdose reversal medication.

Penn’s ‘long tradition’ as a center for the study of African American history

New hires like Marcia Chatelain and Vaughn Booker in Africana Studies and William Sturkey in the History Department are bolstering Penn’s position as one of the best places for the field of African American history.

Honorable mentions go to the following stories: Kayla the magnificent; Climate scientist Michael Mann makes a home at Penn; Archiving the creation of a memorial; Natural structures can give rise to stronger, lighter systems; ‘A booster for all of us’; Filipino language and culture; What’s That? Fisher Fine Arts Library windows; Decentralizing cancer screenings; Locust walks: Making connections and bridging differences