Congratulations to Penn Arts and Sciences Dean’s Scholars

January 30, 2014

The School of Arts and Sciences has named 20 students from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, and the Graduate Division as 2014 Dean’s Scholars. This honor is presented annually to SAS students who exhibit exceptional academic performance and intellectual promise. The 2014 Dean’s Scholars will be formally recognized as part of the Levin Family Dean’s Forum on February 6.

College of Arts and Sciences

Michael Boreen (Biochemistry and Chemistry) is a junior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in the Molecular Life Sciences and a recipient of a Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Challenge Award. Faculty members describe Michael’s performance in both the laboratory and the classroom as outstanding and original. His research in Professor Eric Schelter’s lab includes synthesizing molecules for extracting rare earth elements essential to solar cells, batteries, and other electronic items. Michael has co-authored an article in the Journal of Organic Chemistry, and has many others in preparation.

Christina Economy (International Relations and Economics) is a senior whose outstanding scholarly abilities have resulted in numerous awards, most recently as a Truman Scholar. As team leader for a Latin America research project in Dr. James McGann’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies program, Christina motivated her team to produce a report of professional quality. She developed briefings on the political situation in Cuba and Venezuela as a research intern at the Center for Democracy in the Americas and completed an internship at the U.S. Embassy in Bolivia.

Rachel Eisenberg (Religious Studies), a junior, is a Benjamin Franklin Scholar who has excelled in the College’s Integrated Studies Program. She combines her interests in religion, philosophy, and psychology to pursue her ambitious cross-disciplinary studies. Rachel is known for being passionate, reasoned, and thought-provoking. As one professor describes her, she is one of the “brightest and most interesting students” he has encountered. Her research includes work on medieval Buddhist philosophy and the ascetic traditions she encountered in Professor Justin McDaniel’s rigorous seminar on the contemplative life.

Vinicius Ferreira (Chemistry) is a junior who is described by his research mentor, Professor Tobias Baumgart, as exceptionally “self-driven.” Other faculty credit his ability to do graduate-level work to his speed of learning, passion for trying new things, and exceptional analytical and critical thinking skills. Vinicius has participated in several research endeavors including the Penn Undergraduate Research Mentoring program. A “rising star” in the Chemistry department, Vinicius’ performance as the peer-leader/house manager of the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program was characterized as “fantastic” and “inspiring.”

Ben Freedman (Biological Basis of Behavior), a senior, is described by faculty as having a strong passion for the life sciences. He was first author on a poster presented to the American Academy of Ophthalmology on the quality of life repercussions of pediatric glaucoma, and his work in the Behavioral Genetics Laboratory at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine on sleep-like behavior in the model organism C. elegans resulted in Ben’s inclusion as third author of an article published in the peer-reviewed journal Sleep.

Aleksandra (Sasha) Igdalova (Visual Studies) is a senior who excels at integrating research in the sciences, arts, and humanities. In her senior thesis, “Neural Mandalas: Why the Brain Uses Geometry to Order,” Sasha combines cultural and philosophical studies with research in Jungian archetypes, neuroscience, and brain imaging to examine the geometric patterns that appear in visionary art from many different periods and cultures. Instead of attributing the striking similarities to a collective unconscious as Jung did, she is seeking evidence of a neurobiological basis.

Dahlia Klein (Biophysics, Chemistry, and Physics), a junior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in the Molecular Life Sciences, is well on her way to completing a triple major while submatriculating into the Master’s program in Chemistry. A recipient of a Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Challenge Award, her research in the laboratory of Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor Chris Murray focuses on nanocrystals. Professor Marsha Lester has described Dahlia as “the most amazing undergraduate I have taught in my 30+ years at Penn.”

Ting Cho Lau (Philosophy and Political Science) is a senior who has worked as a research assistant for faculty in two departments while also pursuing his own multiple research interests. He has presented a critical discussion of Sandel’s critique of Rawls’ liberalism at a research conference at the University of North Carolina and is completing his senior thesis on moral philosophy with Professor Jeffrey Green in Political Science as well as an honors thesis with Professor Adrienne Martin of Philosophy on the evaluative presuppositions of meta-ethical inquiry.

Rosaline Zhang (Biology and Urban Studies) is a senior and a Benjamin Franklin Scholar with a passionate commitment to the Netter Center for Community Partnership’s model for civic engagement and scholarly work. Described by one of her faculty mentors as a “remarkable citizen scholar,” Rosaline is recognized as the driving force, both intellectually and organizationally, behind an innovative program to involve Penn College, Nursing, and medical students in supporting West Philadelphia high schoolers in learning the skills necessary to become medical technicians, thereby increasing access to career ladders in health and medicine.

College of Liberal and Professional Studies – Undergraduate Program

Darren Finn (Biology) conducts cancer research at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Under the mentorship of Dr. Eric Brown, Darren is leading a study to investigate specific mechanisms that maintain genome integrity/stability during DNA replication, focusing on how suppression of signaling pathways in tumor cells could inhibit cancer development. Although further testing is required, preliminary findings reveal significant reductions in the tumors of post-treatment test-group subjects.

Professional Master’s Programs

Jenna Shweitzer (Master of Environmental Studies) is pursuing dual graduate degrees in Law and Environmental Studies. She co-chairs the student-run Environmental Law Project, and she is Senior Editor of the Journal of Law and Social Change. In internships at the Environmental Protection Agency and a leading environmental and energy law firm, Jenna drafted memoranda on environmental and criminal law, analyzed regulatory documents, and wrote client alerts. Her capstone examines liability of local governments failing to adapt adequately to climate change as individuals seek to recover costs after storms like Hurricane Sandy.

Graduate Division – Doctoral Programs

Margaret (Meg) Andrews (Art and Archaeology in the Mediterranean World) is already regarded both nationally and internationally as a rising star in archaeology. Meg’s research focuses on the slums of Rome during the first millennium of the current era. Her early achievements—including conference presentations, publications, and the receipt of prestigious international honors—led Professor C. Brian Rose to note that, “She has already accomplished more as a graduate student than many professors have achieved at the tenure stage.”

Guzmán Castro (Political Science) has been described by faculty as a careful and original thinker whose scholarship is marked by energetic attention to empirical detail. He studies the regulation of "vice" by the state and its significance for state-society relations, social practices, and the changing nature of governmental techniques. In his dissertation research, Guzmán explores these topics through a study of the transformation of drug policies in Latin America in the last 50 years.

Allegra Giovine (History and Sociology of Science) possesses what faculty describe as “all the best qualities of a young and rising scholar” in her research and teaching. She draws on and contributes to the discourse in economic history, area studies, and imperial and post-colonial studies in her research on the use of economic geography in early 20th-century England and Burma. Allegra’s dissertation is expected to add crucial analysis to both South East Asian history and to broader questions of modern nations, economies, and the systems that link them.

Adam Goodman (History) has mined archives in the United States and Mexico, conducted oral interviews, and gained access to crucial documents in pursuit of his research on the deportation of Mexicans from the U.S. from the 1940s to the early 21st century. “The result,” according to Professor Ben Nathans, “is an extraordinary series of publications in academic and popular journals and online platforms.” Adam is also recognized for his teaching, and he is making a name for himself as a public intellectual, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, where he has been interviewed on national television.

Alessandra Mirra (Romance Languages) has what Professor Fabio Finotti describes as a “truly exceptional” record of research and publication. She has published two books, one on the 19th-century Italian poet Giacomo Leopardi, the other an annotated edition of short stories by 20th-century Italian author Bruno Cicognani. Alessandra has been invited to present her research at an international conference and to participate in a related lexicographic project, and her outstanding teaching has been recognized with a departmental Excellence in Teaching award.

Jill Portnoy (Criminology) is on an academic career path that Professor Adrian Raine describes as taking “an upward trajectory.” Expanding on work she began at Cambridge University, Jill is filling a critical gap in criminology research by investigating a mechanism that could underlie the association between low heart rate and high levels of antisocial behavior. She is also studying the biological correlates of psychopathic personality, crime, and cheating. By integrating biological and social perspectives, Jill is among those taking the next step in advancing the study of crime.

Jerome Robinson
(Chemistry) works on aspects of rare earth chemistry as well as asymmetric catalysis. From his years as an undergraduate, he brought with him a successful record of publication, which he continues at Penn, with over a dozen publications in leading journals. In addition to his strong scholarly production, Jerome is recognized by faculty and students alike for his outstanding teaching—for which he has received the Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students, among many other awards—and his service to the Department of Chemistry.

Madeleine (Maddie) Stone (Earth and Environmental Science) has published her research on the response of soil enzymes to warming and nitrogen addition to hardwood forests as well as her investigation into linkages between microbial communities and biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus in tropical soils at the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory in Puerto Rico. Maddie has also worked to integrate science education and outreach into her graduate career, leading children’s workshops on soils and microbes at the Philadelphia Waterworks Museum and helping local residents test their soil for heavy metals.

Dmytro Yeroshkin (Mathematics) focuses his research on topological spaces known as positively curved symmetric orbit manifolds, or orbifolds, an example of which is the surface of a football, which is smooth except at its two end-points. In two research papers, Dmytro makes significant contributions to the study of geometry by examining four- and five-dimensional aspects of orbifolds. In his department, Dmytro is known as an excellent motivator for his fellow graduate students and an outstanding calculus teacher among undergraduates.