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Dr. Andrew Rappe, a distinguished theoretical physical chemist who is Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, will address the graduating students in Penn’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies Class of 2015. The school-based ceremony will take place Sunday, May 17 in the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts at 4 p.m. Dr. Rappe is also Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, co-director of Pennergy: the Penn Center for Energy Innovation and founding co-director of the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) at Penn.  

Rupal Prasad (Master of Environmental Studies ’13) had been working in a neurobiology lab as a research assistant for over five years when a chance conversation sparked a new train of thought.

“One day in the lab, I was talking to a friend who was a lawyer, and he told me he’d actually gone to school for biology first before ending up as a lawyer. That’s when I realized I could also change my career, which I just hadn’t considered before.”

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Matt Sparks, 34, will be the first to tell you that he has traveled on an unusual career path. Along the way, Matt has developed considerable skills in chemistry and teaching but remained open to exploring new opportunities, regardless of their challenges.

When Chris Mustazza was researching poetry and poetics for his Master of Philosophy in Liberal Arts degree, he discovered a collection of recordings of celebrated poets, including James Weldon Johnson, Vachel Lindsay and Gertrude Stein, reading their own work. Chris, who’s also a Penn employee, is digitizing this treasure trove so any one can listen to the poets on PennSound, a Web-based site. In a newsletter about research and scholarship, the master’s student in Penn’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies shares more about the poetry recordings and their significance.

In 2010, the massive Deepwater Horizon oil spill wreaked havoc in the Louisiana Gulf. At the time, Alex Warwood (Master of Environmental Studies ’13) was serving as a marine science technician in the Coast Guard. As the severity of the spill became clear, Alex found himself assigned to the Gulf to help stem the damage.

Now based out of Atlanta, Tina Simmons was born, raised and began her career in Philadelphia. She was the manager of PECO’s call center when she considered earning a graduate degree. She thought about going for her MBA, but Tina’s colleagues told her about Penn’s Organizational Dynamics and she researched its curriculum. Intrigued, she attended an information session and determined that this professional master’s would provide her with such an interesting, exciting and creative educational experience that, in comparison, it made other master’s degree programs sound boring.


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