Congratulations to Our Dean’s Scholars

The School of Arts and Sciences has named 20 students from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, and the Graduate Division as 2013 Dean’s Scholars. This honor is presented annually to SAS students who exhibit exceptional academic performance and intellectual promise. The 2013 Dean’s Scholars were formally recognized as part of the Levin Family Dean’s Forum.


PRIYANKA ANAND (Physics and International Studies) is a senior pursuing a dual degree in the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. She has a stellar academic record and a strong commitment to both research and international projects. Her course load has consistently reflected her skills and interest in subjects as diverse as advanced Japanese, emerging economies, and quantum physics. Priyanka has engaged in internships with groups ranging from Human Rights Watch in New York City to companies in the Philippines and in Japan. 

CHRISTOPHER BURCHERI (Music) is a junior and a University Scholar whom faculty describe as “a student of the highest caliber, able to distill overarching concepts of many musical genres, composers, and historical implications into a coherent examination of philosophical, emotional, and logical reasoning.” He brings well-contextualized critical reactions to class discussions, and he has been both a member and a manager of the University of Pennsylvania Choir, the most challenging vocal ensemble in the Department of Music.

COLIN FADZEN (Biochemistry and Physics) is a senior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences and a recipient of a Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Challenge Award. He will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and physics and multiple minors and, as a submatriculant, a Master’s degree in chemistry. Based on his research in Professor James Petersson’s lab, Colin is co-author of a paper submitted to the preeminent Journal of the American Chemical Society.

SARAH FOSTER (Biochemistry and Physics) is a junior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences and a recipient of a Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Challenge Award. She consistently takes the most challenging classes, not only in her double major, but also in mathematics and the humanities. As a submatriculating student of chemistry, Sarah will complete her Master’s thesis in Professor Brian Gregory’s lab, where she has been conducting research since she arrived at Penn as a freshman.

KENNETH GINSBURG (History) is a junior and a Benjamin Franklin Scholar who is pursuing a dual degree in the College and Wharton. Having conducted serious historical research since he was a freshman, he is currently working on an immigration and urban revitalization project with Professor Michael Katz. Kenneth is analyzing a wealth of quantitative data that he amassed, focusing in recent months on real estate dynamics in cities.

VINAYAK KUMAR (Biochemistry) is a senior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Scholars Program in the Molecular Life Sciences. Vinayak has been working in Professor Mark Kahn’s lab at the Perelman School of Medicine, researching factors that affect the development of organ structure. He has also published an article in the Penn Bioethics Journal and serves as a research peer advisor for the Penn Undergraduate Chemistry Society and as the CEO of a multi-national, student-based non-profit organization that creates and implements projects to improve the quality of life in communities in need.

MARGUERITE LEONE (Anthropology and Classical Studies) is a senior whose projects consistently draw praise from faculty. As a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, she made highly accurate 3-D digital recreations of pottery from a Penn archaeological dig in Peru in 1896. Marguerite has also created a database of objects, recordings, archives, and images for use in a Cherokee-language school and museum, curated an exhibit about the traditional Cherokee game of stickball, and presented a formal paper on her research as an Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Fellow.

JAMES SADLER (Political Science) is a senior who has been involved in education research and activism since he came to Penn. Inspired by his Academically Based Community Service classes and a summer internship with the Philadelphia School District, James wrote a senior thesis that investigates notions of successful performance in Philadelphia high schools. In addition to minoring in urban studies and Hispanic studies, James has taken on leadership roles in many student groups that work to improve educational opportunities for low-income students in Philadelphia.

KAIWEN ZHU (Cognitive Science) is a junior who presented her research on the role of oxytocin in the neural and behavioral aspects of schizophrenia at the Society of Neuroscience meeting, the largest general conference in the field, and she is currently preparing a manuscript for publication in the Society’s journal. After learning the core techniques in neurophysiology in Professor Greg Carlson’s laboratory at the Perelman School of Medicine, Kaiwen initiated a new direction of research into the role of the amygdala in schizophrenia.


ANDREW BORSTEIN (Psychology) is a senior who, while pursuing his career goal of facilitating change for adults with autism and their families, has taken on independent research outside the classroom and served on the LPS Student Association’s board. Andrew has collaborated with Professor Melissa Hunt to investigate the effect of mass-media messages on beliefs and behaviors about germs, and he is currently working as a research assistant at the Center for Autism Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


JAIVIME EVARISTO (Master of Science in Applied Geosciences), who will matriculate into the Ph.D. program in earth and environmental science, has published research synthesizing potential geologic, economic, social, and political factors relating to the production of phosphorus, which is crucial to animal and plant life. He is also preparing two papers summarizing his work at the Luquillo Critical Zone Observatory in Puerto Rico on cloud forests and will be speaking at the international HydroEcology Conference. 


ANANYA DASGUPTA (South Asia Studies) applies a diverse set of analytical skills in literature, history, and area studies, along with solid training in three South Asian languages—Bengali, Hindi, and Urdu—to her investigations into the interplay of economics, Islamic identity, and nationhood in colonial and post-colonial India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Having spent 14 months poring over unique primary sources in archives in Kolkata, Dhaka, West Bengal, and Bangladesh, Ananya is broadening the contexts in which these areas are studied.

DANIEL DIMASSA (Germanic Languages and Literatures) works at the intersection of literature, aesthetics, and religious studies, advancing understandings of Dante and Early German Romanticism. His work has been well-received by senior scholars at the North American and European Goethe Society conferences, and he expects to be published in an upcoming issue of a leading Germanics journal in the U.S. In addition to his research and his highly lauded teaching, which consistently receives excellent evaluations from his students, Dan serves as editorial assistant for the international journal Word & Image.

MATTHEW FARMER (Classical Studies) has distinguished himself as an outstanding teacher, linguist, and scholar. He has what faculty have recognized as a remarkable fluency in Latin and Greek and a strong commitment to spirited scholarly dialogue. Completed and successfully defended months ahead of schedule, Matt’s dissertation on the relationship of Athenian tragedy and comedy has been called “an excellent, original, and admirably thorough contribution to current scholarship… in ancient drama, which is close to being publishable as a monograph already.” 

JACOB GOLDBERG (Chemistry) has been called “an exceptional young chemist, on a trajectory to become a leader in the field.” Working in Professor James Petersson’s lab, Jacob develops novel methods to spectroscopically probe changes in proteins. Among his publications, Jacob has three first-author contributions in prestigious and widely recognized journals in chemistry. He has presented his research at international meetings of the American Chemical Society, the Protein Society, and the Biophysical Society, and earned recognition and acclaim for his teaching at Penn.

MARINA ISGRO (History of Art) is breaking new ground with her dissertation, the first historically and theoretically informed interpretation of the Kinetic and Op Art collectives that emerged in mid-20th-century Italy—artists’ groups whose works have heretofore been overlooked or subsumed in the examination of their peers in other parts of the world. Marina has also worked as a curatorial assistant on a forthcoming exhibition on Italian Futurism at the Guggenheim, an opportunity which earned her a rare invitation to write an essay for the exhibit catalog.

WHITNEY LAEMMLI (History and Sociology of Science) demonstrates extraordinary breadth, depth, and originality as a scholar, exploring subjects as diverse as Simian languages, gender and disability studies, engineering ethics, and the history of technology. When characterizing her impact as a researcher, an already nationally recognized author, and a much sought-after teaching assistant, faculty in her department cite her “complete mastery of the subject, and [her] surprising and original take that brings complex matters into focus.”

SAM LIN (Anthropology) has been recognized by his Ph.D. advisor, Professor Harold Dibble, as a “research powerhouse,” with several excavations, first-author publications, and conference presentations to his credit, and a reputation as a gifted teacher who has mentored students on campus and on digs in France and Morocco. Sam focuses his research on assessing variability in stone artifacts of the Middle Paleolithic period in southwestern France and also studies artifacts in Africa, China, Australia, and the Americas.

PHILLIP MACIAK (English) is recognized in his department and beyond as an exceptional young scholar. In addition to being invited to present at academic conferences, writing articles and reviews for several renowned publications, and recently serving as president of the Graduate English Association, Phil is currently completing what faculty have called “an exciting dissertation that could easily be a landmark study in the field of American literary and cultural studies,” in which he challenges the idea that religious belief is at odds with modernity and modern secularism. 

ERIN WILEY (Biology) seeks to answer questions about the interplay between tree evolution and climate change, focusing particularly on trees’ use of carbon. In addition to her exceptional performance as a student and teacher, Erin is gaining recognition beyond Penn for her published research. In 2012 several national and international senior scientists volunteered to speak at the oral session Erin organized at the Ecological Society of America’s annual meeting, where a primary topic of discussion was her highly influential first paper on tree growth limitation.

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