Science & Technology

Hands-on learning in the greenhouse

A revamped lesson in plant diversity added a tour of the campus greenhouse for students in introductory biology courses. Greenhouse coordinator Samara Gray worked with Linda Robinson and Karl Siegert to enhance the curriculum, incorporating lessons about plant biology and taxonomy that rely on the wide range of specimens present.

Katherine Unger Baillie

Two Penn faculty named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows

Jessica Anna and Davi Maximo of the School of Arts and Sciences are among the 126 recipients of this year’s Sloan Research Fellowships, which recognize early-career researchers and scholars in North America. Each will receive a two-year, $70,000 Fellowship for research.

Erica K. Brockmeier

The flower that blooms in the winter

The witchhazel is a species of flower that blooms in cold temperatures and lives around campus, and in abundance at the Morris Arboretum. The Arboretum’s Anthony Aiello talks the ins and outs of the strange species.

Brandon Baker

Wired up at FemmeHacks

Penn President Amy Gutmann and Vijay Kumar, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, visited the all-women collegiate hackathon this weekend.

Penn Today Staff



In the News


Gizmodo

This freaky robotic fish is powered by ‘blood’

James Pikul of the School of Engineering and Applied Science co-authored a study in which researchers developed a soft, robotic lionfish powered by a blood-like compound. “This robot blood is our first demonstration of storing energy in a fluid that is normally only used for actuation,” he said.

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Scientific American

How the mind emerges from the brain’s complex networks

Danielle Bassett of the School of Engineering and Applied Science co-authored an article about network neuroscience, which allows us to see the origins of mental activity in the brain. One day, they write, “a neuroscientist who knew all the principles of brain function and everything about someone’s brain could predict that person’s mental conditions—the future, as well as the past, would be present inside the person’s mind.”

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Scientific American

Domestication made dogs’ facial anatomy more fetching to humans

James Serpell of the School of Veterinary Medicine said humans may have bred dogs to appear more infantile over time. “We are innately predisposed to respond with a kind of nurturing behavior towards certain physical characteristics,” he said. “Over time, [humans selected] for traits that satisfy that parental nurturing response.”

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The Guardian

Reversible superglue proves strong enough to hold average man

Shu Yang and colleagues from the School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a new glue from hydrogel, inspired by snail slime. “The mucus [snails] produce is a viscous liquid, but when it dries they become firmly stuck,” said Yang.

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WBUR Boston

What Puerto Rico’s monkeys post-Maria teach us about survival

PIK Professor Michael Platt joined a conversation about surviving trauma and Puerto Rico’s “monkey island.”

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Nature

A DIY approach to automating your lab

Brian Chow of the School of Engineering and Applied Science led a team of Penn undergrads in developing a low-cost plate reader for teaching labs using open-source automation software. “Philosophically, I believe in supporting the open-source-hardware community,” he said.

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Axios

A contest to beat geopolitical ‘superforecasters’

PIK Professor Philip Tetlock was cited for his “gold standard” performance in a 2015 forecasting contest. Contestants in this year’s contest will have access to all the data on Tetlock’s team’s winning methodology.

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Technical.ly Philly

Leggy bots, flying bots, building bots: Here’s what Penn’s robotics hub is up to

School of Engineering and Applied Science students past and present, including Gavin Kenneally, Daniel Mellinger, Divya Ramesh, Mickey Whitzer, and Chao Liu, were highlighted for their work at the Pennovation Center. Their efforts were showcased at Philly Tech Week.

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Vice

We are not prepared for the next generation of CGI food

The School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Chenfanfu Jiang; postdoc Ming Gao; Ph.D. students Joshuah Wolper, Yu Fang, and Minchen Li; and undergrad Jiecong Lu have developed two new approaches to animating dynamic fractures, like bread tearing or cars crashing.

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The New York Times

The microbots are on their way

Marc Miskin of the School of Engineering and Applied Science spoke about his cell-sized microbots, which may one day be used for a variety of purposes ranging from measuring brain networks to cleaning cellphone batteries.

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