The 2012 Dean's Scholars

The School of Arts and Sciences named 20 students from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, and the Graduate Division as 2012 Dean’s Scholars. This honor is presented annually to SAS students who exhibit exceptional academic performance and intellectual promise. The 2012 Dean’s Scholars were formally recognized as part of the Levin Family Dean’s Forum.

College of Arts and Sciences

Robert Berg (Biochemistry) is a junior Benjamin Franklin Scholar who has impressed faculty members in both the sciences and the humanities with his creative ability to integrate ideas across disciplines. Pursuing challenging concepts in the demanding field of biochemistry, he is also doing high-level work in both music and linguistics.

David Dunning (English and Math) is a senior described as a “real power house” doing “astute and probing critical” analysis in two disciplines that are not often combined. One of a small number of students awarded Phi Beta Kappa membership as a junior, he is a Benjamin Franklin Scholar who has been awarded several research grants and is a submatriculant for a master’s degree in Math, as well as a member of the Penn Undergraduate Humanities Forum Steering Committee.

Anna Dusenbery (Biology) is a senior who has impressed several faculty in her department, particularly those who lead a National Science Foundation-funded research project in Mongolia. Commenting on her excellence as a research scholar at both Penn and the “very remote” site in Mongolia, faculty describe her work as “brilliant” and “highly motivated.” Praised as a “model student for representing Penn internationally,” she plans to attend medical school.

Matthew Klein (Economics and Math) is a junior who has since his freshman year performed at an exceptionally high level in some of Penn’s most rigorous courses. He is doing graduate-level work in mathematics and is actively involved in research with faculty in the economics department. His mentors in economics talk of his “stellar credentials” and “sophisticated skills” that are comparable to those of a graduate student. He will receive one of two Simon Kuznet Fellowhips in Economics to support his senior year research.

Shirley Leung (Biology and Earth Sciences) is a senior who was one of the few juniors named to Phi Beta Kappa last year. She is described by faculty mentors as “an innovative, thoughtful scientist” who “is on her way to taking the science world by storm.” She is a submatriculant in the Master of Applied Geoscience program, pursuing her interests in ecology and particularly the issues of sustainability and erosion. She is the co-author of a paper entitled, “Using Meteoric Beryllium-10 to Understand Anthropogenic Influences on Soil Erosion and Deposition Rates.”

Michael Masciandaro (English and History), a senior, is a University Scholar who was praised by faculty in his major departments as an “inspiration in class” and one of the “absolute best” students they have taught. In describing his senior thesis on the movement of philosophical debates from formal philosophy to literature in the late 17th century, his mentor described it as “rigorously researched, wholly original in its conception” and “quite brilliantly written.”

Michael Morse (Political Science) is a junior University Scholar who was described by two faculty members in almost identical terms “as not only a joy to teach but also a challenge and an inspiration.” Early in his career at Penn he became interested in questions around felon disenfranchisement and has pursued the topic with a persistence and creativity that has impressed experts in the field. Members of his department praised his “amazing” tracking of data, his high-level negotiation skills that gained him access to critical data, and his sophisticated use of statistical reasoning and software, as well as his writing style.

Ashley Reichardt (Physics and Astronomy), a senior, is a Benjamin Franklin Scholar and recipient of a Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Challenge Award. She is submatriculating for a master’s degree in physics and astronomy and has been involved in two prestigious summer research programs, one at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Germany and the other at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Virginia. As part of Professor Marc Devlin’s research group she has participated in an array of experiments and is currently completing her senior thesis in his lab on a NASA-funded project using bolometric detectors to make polarized measurements of star-forming regions of our galaxy.

Nicholas Rosculet (Biophysics) is a junior who is described as “exceptional” with “unabashed enthusiasm and skill” in quantitative analysis. Building upon his strong foundation in math, biology and physics, faculty in all three fields expect “great things” from a student all see as able to “rise to intellectual challenge.”

College of Liberal and Professional Studies – Undergraduate Program

Michael S. King (English) is a member of the English Department’s Undergraduate Advisory Board and a 2010 Mellon-Mays Fellow—a distinction that Penn awards to a small cohort of humanities and social sciences undergraduates. Michael has also had a short story published in Peregrine, Penn’s creative writing journal. He plans to pursue a doctorate in English following his graduation from Penn.

Professional Master’s Programs

Caroline D’Angelo (Master of Environmental Studies) is pursuing an individualized concentration in sustainability, policy and business. A recipient of the Society of Women Environmental Professionals graduate student scholarship, Caroline has served as a graduate intern for the Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership at Wharton and a Reporter in Residence for the Oikos International Students for Sustainable Economics and Management. She is also co-founder and chair of wH2O, Penn’s journal on women, water and sanitation issues.

Graduate Division – Doctoral Programs

David Alff (English) is completing his dissertation on “British Writing and the Culture of Projection, 1660-1790,” an analysis of writings involving proposals for activities intended to improve the nation, or what he describes as a “cultural history of scheming and dreaming.” His work is already beginning to establish such “project writing” as a distinct genre. David has published four articles and chapters in peer-reviewed publications, has contributed book reviews and conference papers, and has organized a professional conference.

Luigi Bocola (Economics) is an empirical macroeconomist whose research interests include applied econometrics and macroeconomics of financial markets. His research, which has been presented at major conferences, includes the papers “Identifying Technology Shocks in Models with Heterogeneous Inputs” and “A New Class of Nonlinear Times Series Models for the Evaluation of DSGE Models.” He also serves as a student research assistant with the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.

Peter Sachs Collopy (History and Sociology of Science) is writing a dissertation examining the relationship between communications technologies and democratic participation. He is also engaged in work on the political and religious history of evolutionary biology, focusing on theistic evolutionism and scientific ideas about race. Peter has delivered presentations at various conferences on topics ranging from “Cybernetics and the Human Sciences in the Counterculture” to Darwinism and religion in 19th-century America and the politics of Facebook.

Jessica Ho (Demography) is a third-year student whose research interests include socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities, health and aging, medical sociology, and health and development. She has been a key collaborator on a National Academy of Science report on the effects of obesity on U.S. mortality and health. Jessica has published articles in leading journals on topics including the determinants of U.S. mortality, the effectiveness of the U.S. health care system, and the mortality of U.S. troops in Iraq.

Heather Hughes (History of Art) focuses on Northern Renaissance art and is studying how issues of race, ethnic identity, gender, and social status are expressed through costume. She co-authored a chapter for an exhibition catalog and was instrumental in conceptualizing the exhibit “Archaeologists and Travelers in Ottoman Lands,” which appeared at the Penn Museum and the Pera Museum in Istanbul.

Julia Lehman (Chemistry) is an experimental physical chemist who investigates reactions of the hydroxyl radical, a key player in the chemistry of the earth’s atmosphere with implications for understanding ozone depletion and climate phenomena. Her research accomplishments have resulted in two papers, with several others in preparation. Julia has been selected to lead a workshop for graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at the 2012 Gordon Conference and she also leads the Women in Chemistry Group at Penn.

Ian MacMillen (Music) studies ethnomusicology and is writing his dissertation on the politics of exclusion and reconciliation among Croatian, Romany, and Serbian tambura musicians in post-conflict areas of Croatia and Serbia. Ian has also written and presented on fascination in the tourism of Bulgarian traditional music festivals, analytical approaches to South Slavic popular music, popular music in an African American masjid, and other topics. In addition, Ian is writing on the scoring of Soviet political animated film after World War II, a collaborative project that was funded by Penn's GAPSA-Provost Award for Interdisciplinary Innovation.

Zeljko Rezek (Anthropology) studies archaeology with a focus on paleolithic archaeology and paleoanthropology in North Africa and the Near East. His dissertation research examines using the vertical distribution of artifacts to define archaeological assemblages—an innovative methodological advance in the field. He has established his own project site in Jordan and his work has resulted in five publications and several conference presentations.

Elizaveta Strakhov (Comparative Literature and Literary Theory) is a medieval studies scholar whose research focuses on Chaucer and his French contemporaries. For her dissertation, Elizaveta is studying a 14th-century manuscript in the Penn collection known as Penn French 15—an anthology of francophone verse including several poems that have been attributed to Chaucer. She has published several papers and presented at major international venues in Medieval Studies including the London Chaucer Conference.

Previous Dean’s Scholars

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