Brannon and Todd Named to Endowed Term Chairs in Penn Arts and Sciences

Dean Steven J. Fluharty is pleased to announce two endowed term chair appointments in Penn Arts and Sciences.

Elizabeth Brannon, professor of psychology, has been named Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in the Natural Sciences. Brannon, who came to Penn from Duke University in 2015, is a prolific and renowned researcher whose work focuses on the evolution and development of quantitative cognition in non-human primates and humans. Employing research methodologies that range from behavioral techniques and event-related potentials to functional magnetic resonance imaging and single-unit physiology, she studies how number, time, and spatial extent are represented by adult humans, infants, young children, and nonhuman animals without language. Brannon’s current research into how training the primitive number sense might facilitate mathematical abilities in children and adults has potential application in guiding educational interventions at a young age that could substantially improve mathematical cognition later in life.

Brannon serves as associate editor or on the editorial board of several leading journals and has received numerous awards and honors, including a Society for Experimental Psychology Young Investigator Award, a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a John Merck Scholar Award, and a James McDonnell Scholar Award.

Petra Todd has been appointed Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Economics. Todd is a highly regarded econometrician, labor economist, and development economist whose main fields of research are social program evaluation, dynamic modeling of individual and household behaviors, and microeconometrics. Her work addresses problems in the estimation of effects of social programs that arise in the presence of nonrandom program placement and self-selection of program participants. She is widely recognized for the significant improvements her approaches bring relative to standard methods used in the field. Todd has published papers on the determinants of cognitive achievement, testing for discrimination in motor vehicle searches, sources of racial wage disparities, school voucher programs, sexual behavior after HIV testing, and methods for evaluating and optimally designing conditional cash transfer programs. She is currently working on analyzing data from a large-scale randomized school incentive program in Mexican high schools, on assessing the effects of government regulation on the operation of the privatized pension market in Chile, on examining how personality factors shape educational and labor market choices in Australia, and on a book on impact evaluation in developing countries.

Todd is a former editor of the American Economic Review, the International Economic Review, and the Journal of Human Capital, and a current editor of Quantitative Economics. She is a research associate at Penn’s Population Studies Center, IZA, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. She has served on the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty, the Penn Arts and Sciences Personnel Committee and Curriculum Committee, and as Undergraduate Chair of the Department of Economics.

The Kahn endowed term chairs were established through a bequest by Mr. and Mrs. Edmund J. Kahn. Mr. Kahn was a 1925 Wharton graduate who had a highly successful career in the oil and natural gas industry. His wife, a graduate of Smith College, worked for Newsweek and owned an interior design firm. The couple supported many programs and projects in the University including Van Pelt Library, the Modern Languages College House, and other initiatives in scholarship and the humanities.

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