Science & Technology

A second life for leaves

Taking a scientific approach to managing campus land, Facilities and Real Estate Services is partnering with soil scientists and ecologists to study how mulching plots with leaves fares for soil health and biodiversity.

Katherine Unger Baillie

Mentoring circles support a journey through STEM

An initiative of the Biomedical Postdoctoral Council Diversity Committee has established an informal network of “mentoring circles” for postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates in STEM, with a particular emphasis on including participants from underrepresented backgrounds.

Katherine Unger Baillie

Robots to the rescue

Penn researchers created a fleet of robots to navigate unknown underground environments as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Subterranean Challenge.

Erica K. Brockmeier



In the News


Mashable.com

Experts warn smartphone voting is ‘extremely risky,’ yet here it comes

Matt Blaze of the School of Engineering and Applied Science weighed in on a Washington state district’s plans to implement smartphone voting. “This extremely risky decision runs counter to the findings of the authoritative National Academies ‘Securing the Vote’ study, which represents the consensus of experts,” he said.

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The Hill

Critics fear Facebook fact-checkers losing misinformation fight

Eugene Kiely of the Annenberg Public Policy Center spoke about Factcheck.org and how the site manages Facebook content for review.

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Scientific American

Artificial intelligence is rushing into patient care—and could raise risks

PIK Professor Ezekiel Emanuel and Saurabh Jha of the Perelman School of Medicine spoke about the potential hazards of using artificial intelligence in medicine.

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The New York Times

Shuttered Philadelphia refinery may get new life after fire

Mark Alan Hughes of the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy spoke about the possibility of converting the old Philadelphia refinery into a hybrid plant that also produces renewable fuels. “They’re predicting a steadily declining place for things like the refinery that was,” he said. “The kind of mix that tries to lower the profile of fossil fuel activity is, I think, the most likely outcome.”

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The New York Times

How Narwhal the ‘unicorn’ puppy may have grown a tail on his head

Margret Casal of the School of Veterinary Medicine explained that the puppy with a tail on its face that went viral is likely the result of another embryo that didn’t fully separate in utero.

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Forbes

The real story about organoids: What you should know about ‘brains in a dish’

Hongjun Song of the Perelman School of Medicine explained how brain organoids were developed. “In the last five years scientists figured out how to turn stem cells into 3D cell structures, and eventually [developed] so-called brain organoids, which look like not only cell types in the brain but also cell architectures,” he said.

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The New York Times

You got a brain scan at the hospital. Someday a computer may use it to identify you

Aaron Roth of the School of Engineering and Applied Science commented on research that paired MRI scans with facial recognition software. “It is clear that eventually this will be a worrying attack” on stored medical data, he said.

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Inside Higher Ed

Twitter’s gender imbalance

Rachel Werner of the Perelman School of Medicine authored a study that found that while men and women use Twitter at equal rates, the site has not reduced gender disparities in academia overall.

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PBS

Study finds kittens bond with their human caregivers like babies do

Carlo Siracusa of the School of Veterinary Medicine advised readers to keep in mind that while babies and kittens are similar, they’re not analogous; scientific findings about one may not hold true for the other. “We should be open-minded about the idea that there are other variables [at play],” he said.

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Smithsonian Magazine

Women scientists were written out of history. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s lifelong mission to fix that

M. Susan Lindee of the School of Arts and Sciences praised academic Margaret Rossiter’s research on women’s contributions to science. “We have to look at her past work carefully,” said Lindee, “and re-examine all those brilliant strategies that women used to contest institutional power, which was oriented around preventing them from succeeding.”

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