Penn Arts and Sciences Names 2017 Dean’s Scholars

February 17, 2017

Penn Arts and Sciences has named 20 students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, and the Graduate Division as Dean’s Scholars. This honor is presented annually to students who exhibit exceptional academic performance and intellectual promise. The 2017 Dean’s Scholars will be formally recognized as part of the Levin Family Dean’s Forum on February 23.


College of Arts and Sciences

Isabella Auchus (Psychology) is a senior praised by her department for her maturity, independence, and drive. While conducting research in the laboratory of Associate Professor Ayelet Ruscio, Isabella led a student team which took an unusual approach: looking at behavioral responses to stress rather than the customary self-reporting. Isabella carried out statistical analyses comparing depressed and non-depressed participants on these behaviors, and her first-authored research submission was accepted for presentation at a premier conference for clinical scientists.

Kevin Chen (Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Physics) is a junior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in the Molecular and Life Sciences and a submatriculant for a master’s in physics. While conducting research with Professor Yale Goldman at the Center for Engineering Mechanobiology, Kevin identified an alternative method to compact the mono-layer of polymer spheres. His method has now been adopted by the laboratory. Kevin is a recipient of the Vagelos Science Challenge Award, as well as a Goldwater Fellow and a University Scholar.

Jordan Doman (Biochemistry) is a senior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in the Molecular Life Sciences and a recipient of a Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Challenge Award who will submatriculate for a master’s in chemistry. An active member of Professor of Chemistry Ivan Dmochowski’s research group since her sophomore year, Jordan has made major contributions to the synthesis of two-faced guest molecules that enable the detection of protein analytes via the application of an ultrasensitive Xe-129 NMR methodology known as Hyper-CEST. A co-authored article stemming from her work has been published in Angewandte Chemie.

Jaron Ma (Earth and Environmental Science) is a senior in the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER) who has been conducting research in the laboratory of John Henry Towne Professor of Mechanical Engineering Robert Carpick and working with Senior Lecturer Jane Dmochowski in Earth and Environmental Science. He has proven himself to be a “self-starter, excellent problem solver, and a great team player” on both sets of projects. Professor Carpick was impressed with Jaron’s research using atomic force microscopy (AFM) to explore the tribological properties of industrial lubricant additives at the nanoscale. Jaron’s research contributions have led to publication-quality results, and he is a first author on a manuscript about to be submitted to a peer-reviewed international journal for publication.

Darby Marx (Biological Basis of Behavior) is a senior who has worked in the laboratory of Dr. Yael Mossé at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia since 2015, conducting important experiments on neuroblastoma, a rare but often-lethal childhood cancer. According to Dr. Mossé, Darby “has quickly evolved into a lynchpin of the lab and is developing into an outstanding young scientist who is key to many of the most important projects in the lab.” The results of her research project are at the core of a project grant recently submitted by the laboratory, and were also selected for oral presentation at the international Advances in Neuroblastoma Research meeting. Darby is the editor-in-chief of the undergraduate Penn Bioethics Journal.

Sheridan Small (Anthropology) is a junior with a stellar reputation as a future archaeologist and anthropologist. Sheridan helped gather important data related to the destruction of heritage in Iraq with Professor Richard Leventhal. She has worked in the field and in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Megan Kassabaum on archaeological excavations at the Smith Creek site, a Native American mound site in rural southern Mississippi, as well as on subsequent analysis of the excavated materials at the Penn Museum. Her conduct in the field has been praised as exemplary.

Chunzi Song (Biochemistry and Biophysics) is a senior in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in the Molecular and Life Sciences. As a submatriculating student in chemistry, Chunzi will complete her master’s thesis in the laboratory of Professor Kazuko Nishikura of the Wistar Institute, where she has been conducting research since 2014. Chunzi is corresponding author of a review article that will be published next year in Genes, and she is currently preparing a first-authored research article on her work in the Nishikura lab. Chunzi is a recipient of the Vagelos Science Challenge Award.

Kaitlyn Ugoretz (East Asian Languages and Civilizations) is a senior who has not only pursued the highly intense dual concentration in Chinese and Japanese within the major, but has also successfully submatriculated into the department’s master's program. For the focus of her post-graduate research, Kaitlyn has chosen Chinese linguistics and gender issues. Kaitlyn won an Undergraduate Paper Prize for a paper presented at the Greater Philadelphia Asian Studies Conference.

Sarah Wilson (English and History) is a senior and a University Scholar described by Anthony DeCurtis of Penn’s Creative Writing program as “a superb, intently observant writer as well as a rigorous, original thinker.” A practitioner of narrative journalism, Sarah is interested in unpacking media representations. Her oral history project connects Polish, African-American, and the more recently arrived Muslim communities of Hamtramck, Michigan, through shared histories embodied in their individual stories. Determined to return their stories to the community from which they issued, she is making them accessible both digitally and through a local community event.


College of Liberal and Professional Studies – Undergraduate Program

John Grisafi (East Asian Languages and Civilizations and History) is a senior who, in addition to his excellent academic record, has distinguished himself through service to the University community. Having previously served in the U.S. Army as a linguist and analyst, John has a leadership role in the Penn Student Veterans Association, as well as a role as a Major Advisory Program advisor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations and History, and as associate editor for the Penn Asian Review. John has undertaken research on the American military experience in the Philippines and its influence on the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans, and is currently working as director of intelligence for the website NK News. Post-graduation, John plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Korean and Asian Pacific Studies.


Professional Master’s Programs

Adam Serlin (Master of Public Administration) has worked throughout his career to reconcile his need for creativity with a desire to make an impact through public service. Adam sought out and excelled in a wide range of heavily quantitative courses despite a humanities background, earning high praise from his professors. One faculty member called Adam "two standard deviations above all other graduate students in my experience, including doctoral students." Outside the classroom, Adam is Director of Court Services at NorthEast Treatment Centers, which aims to improve the lives of young people involved in the juvenile justice system.


Graduate Division – Doctoral Programs

William Beck (Classical Studies) has distinguished himself as an extraordinary literary scholar who has worked hard to develop an impressively wide range of skills and awareness of all aspects of the ancient Graeco-Roman world. Working primarily on narrative technique in Homer, William has won a Fulbright Fellowship at Oxford University to continue his studies of the “scholia,” a resource which has been markedly underutilized by modern scholarship, as well as a scholarship to spend a year in Greece at the American School of Classical Studies to pursue intensive study of ancient Greek material culture and topography.

Lauren Grant (Chemistry) is a third-year doctoral student whose research is focused on titanium nitride chemistry. Presidential Term Professor Daniel Mindiola, in whose laboratory she works, notes that “Lauren stands out as one of the most focused students at such an early stage in her career.” The recipient of a pre-doctoral National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, Lauren has already accumulated five research articles, of which she is first author on four, as well as two research-based talks at local and national meetings of the American Chemical Society. In addition to her exceptional performance as a student, Lauren won a teaching award from the Department of Chemistry and served as a Teaching Assistant Trainer for the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Carlo Lanfossi (Music) studies opera with emphases on dramaturgy, production, and social relevance of 17th- and early 18th-century operas and romantic Italian works by Rossini and Cavalli. The recipient of Fellheimer and Penfield Fellowships, Carlo's research activity has resulted in several recognitions outside Penn, including awards from the Handel Research Institute in London and the American Handel Society, as well as the highly competitive research and travel grant for Opera Studies from the American Musicological Society (William Holmes and Frank D’Accone Endowment).

Maria Pape (Comparative Literature) works on Latin American avant-gardes in the context of global avant-gardes. Her early dissertation work is facilitated by her advanced knowledge of Spanish and of Portuguese, which she learned entirely on her own initiative. Her research promises to make an important contribution to Latin American literary and cultural studies, putting Latin American modernism into a global context in ways that have not yet been done. Maria's academic record is superb, providing her with the intellectual training and rigor to carry out this large enterprise successfully.

Jordan Paul (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations) is a third-year doctoral student of modern Hebrew literature. Her exceptional talent for languages is evident in her comfort in reading relevant materials in four languages, an ability that enriches her scope of study tremendously. She is the recipient of the Margaret Schoenfeld Falk Graduate Fellowship and the Ezra Pound Prize for Literary Translation, awarded by the Penn Creative Writing Program. Praised as “an extraordinarily conscientious and gifted teacher,” Jordan has also completed the Center for Teaching and Learning teaching certification.

Juliet Sperling (History of Art) studies print constructions in the vernacular visual culture of the 19th century. She is recognized by her department as “outstanding in every respect,” having won an impressive number of fellowships supporting her dissertation, including the Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship in the American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Mellon Scholars of Critical Bibliography Fellowship, and the Luce Foundation Fellowship. She has also demonstrated abundant skill in teaching, having received both the Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students and the School of Arts and Scientists Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching by Graduate Students.

Brooke Stanley (English) has been, as one professor notes, “an intellectual and institutional leader from the moment she arrived” at Penn. Brooke’s scholarly promise has been confirmed by her teaching, presenting, and publishing in the burgeoning fields of environmental humanities and ecocriticism of the global south. Her work has been recognized with fellowships from the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and the Foreign Language and Area Studies program, which allowed her to study Afrikaans at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. In addition to her highly lauded research, Brooke is currently serving as President of the Graduate English Association.

Nicole Welk-Joerger (History and Sociology of Science) demonstrates extraordinary breadth, depth, and originality as a scholar, complementing her strong anthropological training with an immersion in the history of science, technology, medicine, and environment. In response to these new perspectives, she has both sharpened and expanded her interests in fascinating ways. Her dissertation focuses on the science and practice of animal feed in the United States in the 20th century. Her research, which uses a combination of ethnographic and historical methods, promises to provide rich insights into how Americans have determined what counts as good food and good farming.