Penn Grad Talks features TED Talk-style presentations by Penn Arts & Sciences graduate students representing the Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Professional Master’s programs as they compete for first place within their category.

Penn Grad Talks are:

  • An in-person gathering of Arts & Sciences graduate and professional master’s students
  • A chance to practice describing your research to a general audience and to get feedback and a video for your portfolio
  • An opportunity to win cash prizes!

Build your professional portfolio and get a shot at a $500 cash prize (or two).
Apply Here

What is it?
An afternoon of 8-minute TED Talk-style presentations by Penn Arts & Sciences graduate students Who is eligible to enter? Students who are enrolled in the spring of 2024, in a doctoral or master's program through the School of Arts & Sciences Graduate Division, or in a master's program in the School of Arts & Sciences College of Liberal and Professional Studies.

Why would I do this?

  • Practice describing your work to general audiences.
  • Get an edited recording of your talk and feedback from our judges
  • Did we mention there are cash prizes?

When and where?
Friday, February 23, 2024
Widener Lecture Hall, Penn Museum

How do I enter?
Submit an abstract of no more than 200 words describing your proposed topic by February 1.

We will select up to five finalists in each of four categories: Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Professional Masters. Finalists will be notified on February 6. All applicants will need to indicate that they agree for their talks to be posted online.

Click HERE for more information on Penn Grad Talks, including winning presentations from previous years. 


Professional Master's 
Edward Johnson, International Studies, The Lauder Institute
The Battle for Africa’s Sporting Heart: Can Basketball Overtake Football’s Popularity? 

Social Sciences
Amber Mackey, Political Science
Racial Policy and Agenda Instability: Measuring Legislative Attention to Race

Natural Sciences

Mark Giovinazzi , Physics and Astronomy
From Zero to Five Thousand: The Current Census of Exoplanets


Kyle West, Ancient History
Aging Virtuously: Cicero on Old Age, Disability, and Character

Audience Choice Winner
Valerie Averia, Applied Positive Psychology
Savoring the Shared Life: Strengthening Marriages Through Collaborative Legacy Writing


Professional Master's
Yansong Li
, Environmental Studies
Witnessing Circularity: Circular Economy Lessons from Amsterdam (video)

Social Sciences
Charlotte Williams, Anthropology
Harvesting Heritage: The United Fruit Company and Corporate Labor in 20th-Century Archaeological Science (video)

Kimberly St. Julian Varnon
, History
Black Like Us: African American Encounters With Soviet Central Asia (video)

Natural Sciences
Luella Allen-Waller
, Biology
Deadbeat Dinoflagellates: Symbiotic Cooperation Breaks Down After Coral Bleaching (video)

Audience Choice
Chad Payne
, Lauder Institute
Web 3.0: Embracing the Future of Internet Technologies on the African Continent (video)


Professional Master's 
Ashley Session, Public Administration
My Soul Is Anchored: How African American Women Have Carried Elections and the Political Movement Forward, and How We Can Take Our Power Back  (video)

Social Sciences
Sarah Carson, Anthropology
The New Girls' Club: Political Party Culture and the Women Changing the Face of Politics (video)

Sara Purinton, Philosophy
Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS): Challenges to Identity, Agency, and Belonging (video)

Natural Sciences
Lisa Yankowitz, Psychology
Goo Goo Ga Ga: Can Baby Sounds Help Improve Early Detection of Autism? (video)

Audience Choice
Sara Purinton, Philosophy
Medically Unexplained Symptoms (MUS): Challenges to Identity, Agency, and Belonging (video)


Group Presentations
Cameo Hazlewood and Justin Thompson, Behavioral and Decision Sciences
Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Increase Concussion Symptom Reporting Among High School Athletes (video)

Professional Master's 
Darlene Marshall, Master of Applied Positive Psychology
Building the Self So You Can Give It Away - The Upward Cycle of Self-Improvement (video)

Social Sciences
Nicole Welk-Joerger, History and Sociology of Science
It's Not Easy Eating Green (video)

Johanna Kaiser, Classical Studies
Making Scents of Ancient Rome in the Epigrams of Martial (video)

Natural Sciences
Michael O'Shea, Earth & Environmental Science
Urban Road Dust: Investigating Philly's Street Gunk as Both Source and Sink for Pollutants (video)

Audience Choice
Darlene Marshall, Master of Applied Positive Psychology
Building the Self So You Can Give It Away - The Upward Cycle of Self-Improvement (video)


Professional Master's
Connor Joyce, Behavioral and Decision Sciences
To Fear or Not To Fear Automation: A Review of Research Covering Artificial Intelligence's Effect on Work (video)

Social Sciences 
Yun Cha, Sociology
Who Do Graduate Degree Holders Marry? How the Separation of Advanced Degrees Affects Our Understanding of Trends in Educational Homogamy (video)

Gregory Callaghan
, Ancient History
If You Can't Walk the Walk, Then Talk the Talk: Status and International Relations in the Hellenistic World (video)

Natural Sciences
Paul Masih Das, 
Physics and Astronomy
Quantum Materials: Making Smartphones "Cool" Again (video)

Audience Choice
Lorena Levano,
Behavioral and Decision Sciences
Sexual Harassment in High Schools From a Social Norms Perspective (video)



Professional Master's 
Patrick Osei, Master of Applied Geosciences
Groundwater Contamination on Obuasi, Ghana (video)

Social Sciences 
Rebecca Umbach, Criminology
Aggression and Sleep: A Daylight Saving Time Quasi-Experiment  (video)

Kendra Grimmett, History of Art
Looking at Art with Your Body in Mind  (video)

Natural Sciences
Kieran Dunne
Mud and the Shape of Rivers (video)

Audience Choice
Garrett Meccariello and Tobias Nasgarde, Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences
The Marketer's Antagonist: Leveraging Behavioral Science to Reduce Unnecessary Spending Behavior in Cashless Environments  (video)



Mary Zaborkis
 Age Drag  (video)

Natural Sciences
Jonathan Johnnidis
 Stem Cells Lead the Way to More Graceful Aging (video)

Professional Master's/Other Category
Bryan Currinder
 Conserving Freshwater Systems in Bangladesh and Bhutan through Biomonitoring  (video)

Social Sciences and Audience Choice Award
Haley Pilgrim
Accidentally Passing: The Identity Choices of Phenotypically White-Black Multiracials  (video)