Benson, Teele Are Named Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professors

Etienne Benson, Assistant Professor of History and Sociology of Science, and Dawn Teele, Assistant Professor of Political Science, have been named Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professors in the Social Sciences.

Benson is an accomplished scholar of the history of technology and the environment, whose research explores the history of relationships between humans and animals and the history of environmentalism and the environmental sciences. His book Wired Wilderness: Technologies of Tracking and the Making of Modern Wildlife focuses on the development and use of surveillance technologies to track and understand wildlife.

Benson is currently serving as director of the undergraduate Science, Technology, and Society program, and has served as a member of the Fellowships and Awards selection committee of the Penn Humanities Forum and as co-convener of the Environmental Humanities Faculty Working Group. Before joining Penn in 2013, he was a Ziff Environmental Fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and a research scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

Teele’s research, which examines the causes and consequences of voting rights reform, forms of bias in politics, and social science methodology, has won several prizes and awards, including the Women and Politics Research Section's award for the best paper presented at the American Political Science Association Conference in 2016, and the Gabriel Almond Award for Best Dissertation in Comparative Politics from the APSA. Teele has published in a variety of academic journals, is the editor of a volume on field experiments, and is finishing a book about the practical politics of women’s suffrage.

Since joining Penn in 2015, Teele has served as a faculty advisor for University Research Scholars and as a member of the Fulbright Committee.  She holds a B.A. in economics from Reed College and a Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.

Janice and Julian Bers established these chairs in 1972 to recognize assistant professors who demonstrate outstanding promise as teachers and scholars in the social sciences. The late Janice Bers graduated from Penn with an education degree in 1939. Her husband, the late Julian Bers, graduated from Wharton in 1931. He received Penn’s Alumni Award of Merit in 1968, and served as a trustee of the University, while Janice Bers served as president of her class and on the 50th reunion gift committee.

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