SAS Dean’s Blog

Celebrating Our Accomplishments

Steven J. Fluharty

Steven J. Fluharty

Dean and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience

Whenever I meet with alumni and friends and want to highlight recent goings-on at Penn Arts and Sciences, my main challenge is choosing which of hundreds of initiatives and accomplishments to talk about on any given day. In just the past two weeks, for example, we saw a wealth of undergraduate research showcased during Family Weekend. These fascinating presentations show our students engaging in meaningful research in a full range of disciplines: studying the intellectual history of divination in antiquity; looking at Equador’s May Revolution of 1944 through the lens of gender, antifascism and democracy; observing social environment and cortisol levels in owl monkeys; or examining beneficial mutations in populations of E. coli. The presentations reflect not only the talent and excitement of our students, but also the great commitment of our faculty to inspiring and mentoring undergraduates.

As part of Family Weekend, we welcomed College alumni back to campus to speak at an annual program called “You’re Majoring in What?!” Every year our panelists discuss the path that they took from their work as undergraduates in the arts and sciences to successful and fascinating careers: people like this year’s guests, Iman Martin, C’03, who started with majors in health and societies and African studies and is now a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology; and Hayley Boesky, C’88, who graduated from the College with majors in mathematics and astronomy and is now Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s vice chairman for global markets.

Our faculty likewise demonstrate every day the substance and impact of pursuits in the arts and sciences. They publish groundbreaking research findings, provide expert analysis on critical issues, and win top honors--including the MacArthur “genius” award that Associate Professor of Psychology (and Penn Arts & Sciences doctoral alumna) Angela Duckworth took home last month, awarded in recognition of her work on the role of grit and self-control in educational achievement. Justin McDaniel, from the Religious Studies department, received a major grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to fund the Digital Library of Northern Thai Manuscripts project—an initiative that will make approximately 7,000 primary sources freely available for study via the Internet. And the recent dedication of the Singh Center for Nanotechnology was an opportunity for us to celebrate great accomplishments yet to come from our faculty in chemistry, physics, and biology, as they take advantage of this cutting-edge facility to advance one of today’s most exciting areas of discovery, in collaboration with colleagues from across Penn and beyond.

It’s a thrill for me to be able to share stories like this with everyone I meet. I can’t think of any more effective way to convey the message of impact and what the arts and sciences are all about.