Tagged: University of Pennsylvania Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 1:55 pm on April 14, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "To improve climate models an international team turns to archaeological data", LandCover6k, University of Pennsylvania   

    From University of Pennsylvania via phys.org : “To improve climate models an international team turns to archaeological data” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    via

    phys.org

    April 14, 2021

    1
    Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain.

    Climate modeling is future facing, its general intent to hypothesize what our planet might look like at some later date. Because the Earth’s vegetation influences climate, climate models frequently include vegetation reconstructions and are often validated by comparisons to the past. Yet such models tend to get oversimplified, glossing over or omitting how people affected the land and its cover.

    The absence of such data led to LandCover6k, a project now in its sixth year that includes more than 200 archaeologists, historians, geographers, paleoecologists, and climate modelers around the world.

    Led by archeologists Kathleen Morrison of the University of Pennsylvania, Marco Madella of the Pompeu Fabra University [Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) (ES), and Nicki Whitehouse of the University of Glasgow (SCT), with data expertise from Penn landscape archaeologist Emily Hammer and others, LandCover6k’s goal is to aggregate archaeological and historical evidence of land-use systems from four slices of time—12,000 years ago, 6,000 years ago, 4,000 years ago, and around the year 1500—into a single database that anyone can comprehend and use.

    The project offers what the researchers hope will become a tool to improve predictions about the planet’s future, plus fill in gaps about its past. “Understanding the human impact on the Earth is more than looking at past vegetation. It’s also important to understand how humans used the land and in particular, the relationship between human land use and vegetation,” Morrison says.

    Though current Earth system models suggest that human activity during the past 12,000 years influenced regional and global climate, Madella says, “the models do not capture the diversity and intensity of human activities that affected past land cover, nor do they capture carbon and water cycles.”

    Archaeology provides important information around land use that “helps reveal how humans have affected past land cover at a global scale,” adds Whitehouse, “including the crops and animals being farmed, how they were being farmed, and how much land was needed to feed growing populations.”

    In a new PLOS ONE paper, the team provides a detailed introduction to LandCover6k’s land-use classification system and global database.

    Creating a common language, system

    To share such data meant first creating a common language that scientists across disciplines could understand. It’s a task more fraught than it might sound, Morrison says. “Classification means putting hard edges on something. That’s very challenging, as archaeologists are often much more comfortable with narrative.”

    Partially because of a lack of shared terminology, archaeologists have not tried to aggregate and compare data on a global scale, something the project’s paleoecologists and modelers had already been doing, she adds. “We spent years consulting with colleagues around the world, discussing all the different types of land use and developing a communication system—the same language, the same terminology—that could be used anywhere.”

    Because such categories historically have had different meaning depending on place, context, and time period, some archaeologists initially balked at committing to single definitions for each. Hammer offers the concept of “farming” as an example. “The line between what is called ‘farming’ and what is considered small-scale food production by hunter-gatherers really varies across the world,” she says. So, how could the field fairly judge when the actions of hunter-gatherers managing wild plant and animal resources became “farming”?

    Questions like these prompted the LandCover6k team to create a hierarchy within the classification system, with an upper-level category capturing an idea at its broadest and several distinct sub-categories funneling down from there. In the farming example, the research team created a sub-group—low-level food production—which could include the work of the hunter-gatherers. The hope was to offer enough nuance for the archeological community yet still make the data accessible to climate modelers.

    In addition to this flexible hierarchy and the uniform terminology, the final classification has three other principal features. It is scale- and source-independent, meaning it accounts for the myriad ways something can be studied. It “takes the perspective of land rather than people,” as the researchers write in PLOS ONE, and it employs a consistent 8×8 kilometer grid scale. “That’s quite large, from an archaeological perspective,” Hammer says, “but we did that so that one person isn’t drawing something very small and another person very large.”

    Concrete examples

    To showcase how the classification works, the researchers offer the example of the Middle East 6,000 years ago. This region, the area represented by modern day Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Yemen, was home to some of the earliest agriculture in the world. Using the new classification and database, project participants built a regional land-use map, despite data availability differing from one spot to the next.

    “Mesopotamia has been studied since the mid-19th century so there’s a lot of data and a lot of syntheses to rely on,” Hammer explains. “Arabia has not been nearly as well-studied. There are only a couple of data points, particularly for this period, and because of climatic events, the data are even rarer than for other periods. We wanted to illustrate the approach you would take in a situation where you have a lot of data versus a place with just a little.” The new map of Middle Eastern land is proof of concept for the project, showing the contrast between the settled farms of Mesopotamia and the more sparsely settled lands of Arabia.

    The researchers don’t see information gaps, like those of Arabia, as problematic. Rather because the land-use database also records data coverage and quality, it can highlight areas needing more research. “Humans have transformed landscapes for thousands of years,” Morrison says. “But we can’t just say that. We have to demonstrate it.”

    And that’s just what LandCover6k aims to do, merging what archaeologists have gleaned about human land use from different times and places into a single, accessible database for climate modelers—and each other. “This project is really about translating what we do,” Hammer says, “not only about the standardization of the terminology so we can talk at a global scale, but also about weaving together the narratives of the past.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

    The University of Pennsylvania(US) is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The university claims a founding date of 1740 and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn’s founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

    Penn has four undergraduate schools as well as twelve graduate and professional schools. Schools enrolling undergraduates include the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Wharton School; and the School of Nursing. Penn’s “One University Policy” allows students to enroll in classes in any of Penn’s twelve schools. Among its highly ranked graduate and professional schools are a law school whose first professor wrote the first draft of the United States Constitution, the first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), and the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881).

    Penn is also home to the first “student union” building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896), the first Catholic student club in North America (Newman Center, 1893), the first double-decker college football stadium (Franklin Field, 1924 when second deck was constructed), and Morris Arboretum, the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was developed at Penn and formally dedicated in 1946. In 2019, the university had an endowment of $14.65 billion, the sixth-largest endowment of all universities in the United States, as well as a research budget of $1.02 billion. The university’s athletics program, the Quakers, fields varsity teams in 33 sports as a member of the NCAA Division I Ivy League conference.

    As of 2018, distinguished alumni and/or Trustees include three U.S. Supreme Court justices; 32 U.S. senators; 46 U.S. governors; 163 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; eight signers of the Declaration of Independence and seven signers of the U.S. Constitution (four of whom signed both representing two-thirds of the six people who signed both); 24 members of the Continental Congress; 14 foreign heads of state and two presidents of the United States, including Donald Trump. As of October 2019, 36 Nobel laureates; 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences(US); 64 billionaires; 29 Rhodes Scholars; 15 Marshall Scholars and 16 Pulitzer Prize winners have been affiliated with the university.

    History

    The University of Pennsylvania considers itself the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, though this is contested by Princeton University(US) and Columbia(US) Universities. The university also considers itself as the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.

    In 1740, a group of Philadelphians joined together to erect a great preaching hall for the traveling evangelist George Whitefield, who toured the American colonies delivering open-air sermons. The building was designed and built by Edmund Woolley and was the largest building in the city at the time, drawing thousands of people the first time it was preached in. It was initially planned to serve as a charity school as well, but a lack of funds forced plans for the chapel and school to be suspended. According to Franklin’s autobiography, it was in 1743 when he first had the idea to establish an academy, “thinking the Rev. Richard Peters a fit person to superintend such an institution”. However, Peters declined a casual inquiry from Franklin and nothing further was done for another six years. In the fall of 1749, now more eager to create a school to educate future generations, Benjamin Franklin circulated a pamphlet titled Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania, his vision for what he called a “Public Academy of Philadelphia”. Unlike the other colonial colleges that existed in 1749—Harvard University(US), William & Mary(US), Yale Unversity(US), and The College of New Jersey(US)—Franklin’s new school would not focus merely on education for the clergy. He advocated an innovative concept of higher education, one which would teach both the ornamental knowledge of the arts and the practical skills necessary for making a living and doing public service. The proposed program of study could have become the nation’s first modern liberal arts curriculum, although it was never implemented because Anglican priest William Smith (1727-1803), who became the first provost, and other trustees strongly preferred the traditional curriculum.

    Franklin assembled a board of trustees from among the leading citizens of Philadelphia, the first such non-sectarian board in America. At the first meeting of the 24 members of the board of trustees on November 13, 1749, the issue of where to locate the school was a prime concern. Although a lot across Sixth Street from the old Pennsylvania State House (later renamed and famously known since 1776 as “Independence Hall”), was offered without cost by James Logan, its owner, the trustees realized that the building erected in 1740, which was still vacant, would be an even better site. The original sponsors of the dormant building still owed considerable construction debts and asked Franklin’s group to assume their debts and, accordingly, their inactive trusts. On February 1, 1750, the new board took over the building and trusts of the old board. On August 13, 1751, the “Academy of Philadelphia”, using the great hall at 4th and Arch Streets, took in its first secondary students. A charity school also was chartered on July 13, 1753 by the intentions of the original “New Building” donors, although it lasted only a few years. On June 16, 1755, the “College of Philadelphia” was chartered, paving the way for the addition of undergraduate instruction. All three schools shared the same board of trustees and were considered to be part of the same institution. The first commencement exercises were held on May 17, 1757.

    The institution of higher learning was known as the College of Philadelphia from 1755 to 1779. In 1779, not trusting then-provost the Reverend William Smith’s “Loyalist” tendencies, the revolutionary State Legislature created a University of the State of Pennsylvania. The result was a schism, with Smith continuing to operate an attenuated version of the College of Philadelphia. In 1791, the legislature issued a new charter, merging the two institutions into a new University of Pennsylvania with twelve men from each institution on the new board of trustees.

    Penn has three claims to being the first university in the United States, according to university archives director Mark Frazier Lloyd: the 1765 founding of the first medical school in America made Penn the first institution to offer both “undergraduate” and professional education; the 1779 charter made it the first American institution of higher learning to take the name of “University”; and existing colleges were established as seminaries (although, as detailed earlier, Penn adopted a traditional seminary curriculum as well).

    After being located in downtown Philadelphia for more than a century, the campus was moved across the Schuylkill River to property purchased from the Blockley Almshouse in West Philadelphia in 1872, where it has since remained in an area now known as University City. Although Penn began operating as an academy or secondary school in 1751 and obtained its collegiate charter in 1755, it initially designated 1750 as its founding date; this is the year that appears on the first iteration of the university seal. Sometime later in its early history, Penn began to consider 1749 as its founding date and this year was referenced for over a century, including at the centennial celebration in 1849. In 1899, the board of trustees voted to adjust the founding date earlier again, this time to 1740, the date of “the creation of the earliest of the many educational trusts the University has taken upon itself”. The board of trustees voted in response to a three-year campaign by Penn’s General Alumni Society to retroactively revise the university’s founding date to appear older than Princeton University, which had been chartered in 1746.

    Research, innovations and discoveries

    Penn is classified as an “R1” doctoral university: “Highest research activity.” Its economic impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 2015 amounted to $14.3 billion. Penn’s research expenditures in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.442 billion, the fourth largest in the U.S. In fiscal year 2019 Penn received $582.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health(US).

    In line with its well-known interdisciplinary tradition, Penn’s research centers often span two or more disciplines. In the 2010–2011 academic year alone, five interdisciplinary research centers were created or substantially expanded; these include the Center for Health-care Financing; the Center for Global Women’s Health at the Nursing School; the $13 million Morris Arboretum’s Horticulture Center; the $15 million Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at Wharton; and the $13 million Translational Research Center at Penn Medicine. With these additions, Penn now counts 165 research centers hosting a research community of over 4,300 faculty and over 1,100 postdoctoral fellows, 5,500 academic support staff and graduate student trainees. To further assist the advancement of interdisciplinary research President Amy Gutmann established the “Penn Integrates Knowledge” title awarded to selected Penn professors “whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge”. These professors hold endowed professorships and joint appointments between Penn’s schools.

    Penn is also among the most prolific producers of doctoral students. With 487 PhDs awarded in 2009, Penn ranks third in the Ivy League, only behind Columbia University(US) and Cornell University(US) (Harvard University(US) did not report data). It also has one of the highest numbers of post-doctoral appointees (933 in number for 2004–2007), ranking third in the Ivy League (behind Harvard and Yale University(US)) and tenth nationally.

    In most disciplines Penn professors’ productivity is among the highest in the nation and first in the fields of epidemiology, business, communication studies, comparative literature, languages, information science, criminal justice and criminology, social sciences and sociology. According to the National Research Council nearly three-quarters of Penn’s 41 assessed programs were placed in ranges including the top 10 rankings in their fields, with more than half of these in ranges including the top five rankings in these fields.

    Penn’s research tradition has historically been complemented by innovations that shaped higher education. In addition to establishing the first medical school; the first university teaching hospital; the first business school; and the first student union Penn was also the cradle of other significant developments. In 1852, Penn Law was the first law school in the nation to publish a law journal still in existence (then called The American Law Register, now the Penn Law Review, one of the most cited law journals in the world). Under the deanship of William Draper Lewis, the law school was also one of the first schools to emphasize legal teaching by full-time professors instead of practitioners, a system that is still followed today. The Wharton School was home to several pioneering developments in business education. It established the first research center in a business school in 1921 and the first center for entrepreneurship center in 1973 and it regularly introduced novel curricula for which BusinessWeek wrote, “Wharton is on the crest of a wave of reinvention and change in management education”.

    Several major scientific discoveries have also taken place at Penn. The university is probably best known as the place where the first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was born in 1946 at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. It was here also where the world’s first spelling and grammar checkers were created, as well as the popular COBOL programming language. Penn can also boast some of the most important discoveries in the field of medicine. The dialysis machine used as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function was conceived and devised out of a pressure cooker by William Inouye while he was still a student at Penn Med; the Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines were developed at Penn; the discovery of cancer’s link with genes; cognitive therapy; Retin-A (the cream used to treat acne), Resistin; the Philadelphia gene (linked to chronic myelogenous leukemia) and the technology behind PET Scans were all discovered by Penn Med researchers. More recent gene research has led to the discovery of the genes for fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, a disorder marked by progressive muscle wasting; and Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the hands, feet and limbs.

    Conductive polymer was also developed at Penn by Alan J. Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, an invention that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. On faculty since 1965, Ralph L. Brinster developed the scientific basis for in vitro fertilization and the transgenic mouse at Penn and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010. The theory of superconductivity was also partly developed at Penn, by then-faculty member John Robert Schrieffer (along with John Bardeen and Leon Cooper). The university has also contributed major advancements in the fields of economics and management. Among the many discoveries are conjoint analysis, widely used as a predictive tool especially in market research; Simon Kuznets’s method of measuring Gross National Product; the Penn effect (the observation that consumer price levels in richer countries are systematically higher than in poorer ones) and the “Wharton Model” developed by Nobel-laureate Lawrence Klein to measure and forecast economic activity. The idea behind Health Maintenance Organizations also belonged to Penn professor Robert Eilers, who put it into practice during then-President Nixon’s health reform in the 1970s.

    International partnerships

    Students can study abroad for a semester or a year at partner institutions such as the London School of Economics(UK), University of Barcelona [Universitat de Barcelona](ES), Paris Institute of Political Studies [Institut d’études politiques de Paris](FR), University of Queensland(AU), University College London(UK), King’s College London(UK), Hebrew University of Jerusalem(IL) and University of Warwick(UK).

     
  • richardmitnick 1:24 pm on April 1, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Developing a new platform for DNA sequencing", , , University of Pennsylvania   

    From University of Pennsylvania : “Developing a new platform for DNA sequencing” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    March 31, 2021
    Erica K. Brockmeier

    1
    Using silicon nitride membranes with nanometer-level control of pore geometry, diameter, and thickness, a team of Penn researchers found that individual DNA strands could be distinguished between two pores that were housed on a single membrane. Credit: Patrick Lane/ScEYEnce Studios.

    New research from the lab of Marija Drndić showcases a potential new platform for parallel DNA sequencing. Published in The Journal of Chemical Physics, the study uses state-of-the-art fabrication and analytical techniques and demonstrates a path to how solid state materials can be further developed for high-throughput sequencing. The research was conducted by Drndić, Ph.D. candidate Yung-Chien Killian Chou, undergraduate research assistant Joshua Chen, and postdoc Chih-Yuan Lin.

    Many current DNA sequencing platforms rely on protein nanopores, biological constructs that can read single strands of DNA without PCR-based amplification. The use of nanopores has helped reduced the cost and increase the speed of DNA sequencing since they were developed nearly 10 years ago. Protein nanopores, however, are sensitive to degradation.

    Relying on their group’s expertise on solid-state nanopores, ones made from silicon-based constructs instead of proteins, the researchers wanted to see if they could create a device with more than one pore that would still allow them to electrically differentiate individual DNA signals. While there had been numerous experiments on devices with single pores, the researchers wanted to expand their knowledge of these single-pore systems to see how they could scale up the number of DNA strands that could be read at one time using the simplest electrical setup.

    Using state-of-the-art solid state fabrication techniques at the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, the researchers were able to thin out specific parts of a silicon nitride membrane using a focused beam of electrons to pattern custom shapes onto the material’s surface. They were able to create sets of 3-nanometer-diameter nanopores, cylinders etched through the membrane, with varying degrees of thickness and depths. They placed the nanopores far enough away from each other so they would not interact, and also created devices with different combinations of pore thickness, including slabs with one thin and one thick pore and controls chip with two equally thin pores.

    Using these precise devices, made with nanometer-level control over pore geometry, diameter, and thickness, the researchers found that individual DNA strands could be distinguished between two pores in the silicon nitride membranes. By changing the depth of the pores by adding “trenches,” they could also vary the DNA signals and translocation times through pores with varying thickness.

    The researchers were also able to figure out which DNA strands travelled through specific pores, work that was made possible by an automated data analysis improved by Chen. This allowed the researchers to comb through tens of thousands of current spikes and to group individual signals into categories that correspond to DNA going through a specific pore. “We are actually able to map back to which pore they are from,” explains Chou. “The analysis that Josh did is to find out what data is coming from what pore.”

    Another advantage of silicon nitride over the protein nanopores is that this platform is more robust and can be reused, the researchers say. While DNA in both systems can get “stuck” to individual pores and clog them, it would allow sequencing to continue without interruption because this system has multiple pores. The researchers saw this natural blockage in several of their experiments, with the overall signal reduced by half when one of the two identical pores was blocked, further evidence that the pores work identically and also don’t interfere with one another.

    This work builds off many years of study by her group and others, says Drndić, and was made possible thanks to a thorough understanding of how single-pore systems work. “This is a nice example of a result that comes from a series of concrete improvements in previous papers, like the electronics, the fabrication, in really understanding how one pore works,” she says.

    Chou sees this work as putting them “one step closer towards parallel reading of DNA translocation in nanopore sequencing,” with numerous potential avenues for further study. One of particular interest to the group is the use of different coatings and surface modifications, chemical changes that could allow the researchers to control how well DNA sticks onto the material; it could also make the pores more robust against damage. “We can also extend that to three or more different pores, doing different thicknesses, different surface treatments; that’s something I would love to do more,” says Chou.

    “You start to appreciate the physical parameters we can play with using a solid state approach: the diameter, the thickness, and the arrangement of the pores,” says Drndić. “What’s very powerful with the solid state is that here we have really sorted out the equations. We are more mathematical, so we can mix and match. This is a showcase of the best of everything combined that you can have, and the fact that it worked had to do with the precision.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

    The University of Pennsylvania(US) is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The university claims a founding date of 1740 and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin, Penn’s founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum.

    Penn has four undergraduate schools as well as twelve graduate and professional schools. Schools enrolling undergraduates include the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Engineering and Applied Science; the Wharton School; and the School of Nursing. Penn’s “One University Policy” allows students to enroll in classes in any of Penn’s twelve schools. Among its highly ranked graduate and professional schools are a law school whose first professor wrote the first draft of the United States Constitution, the first school of medicine in North America (Perelman School of Medicine, 1765), and the first collegiate business school (Wharton School, 1881).

    Penn is also home to the first “student union” building and organization (Houston Hall, 1896), the first Catholic student club in North America (Newman Center, 1893), the first double-decker college football stadium (Franklin Field, 1924 when second deck was constructed), and Morris Arboretum, the official arboretum of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was developed at Penn and formally dedicated in 1946. In 2019, the university had an endowment of $14.65 billion, the sixth-largest endowment of all universities in the United States, as well as a research budget of $1.02 billion. The university’s athletics program, the Quakers, fields varsity teams in 33 sports as a member of the NCAA Division I Ivy League conference.

    As of 2018, distinguished alumni and/or Trustees include three U.S. Supreme Court justices; 32 U.S. senators; 46 U.S. governors; 163 members of the U.S. House of Representatives; eight signers of the Declaration of Independence and seven signers of the U.S. Constitution (four of whom signed both representing two-thirds of the six people who signed both); 24 members of the Continental Congress; 14 foreign heads of state and two presidents of the United States, including Donald Trump. As of October 2019, 36 Nobel laureates; 80 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences(US); 64 billionaires; 29 Rhodes Scholars; 15 Marshall Scholars and 16 Pulitzer Prize winners have been affiliated with the university.

    History

    The University of Pennsylvania considers itself the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, though this is contested by Princeton University(US) and Columbia(US) Universities. The university also considers itself as the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.

    In 1740, a group of Philadelphians joined together to erect a great preaching hall for the traveling evangelist George Whitefield, who toured the American colonies delivering open-air sermons. The building was designed and built by Edmund Woolley and was the largest building in the city at the time, drawing thousands of people the first time it was preached in. It was initially planned to serve as a charity school as well, but a lack of funds forced plans for the chapel and school to be suspended. According to Franklin’s autobiography, it was in 1743 when he first had the idea to establish an academy, “thinking the Rev. Richard Peters a fit person to superintend such an institution”. However, Peters declined a casual inquiry from Franklin and nothing further was done for another six years. In the fall of 1749, now more eager to create a school to educate future generations, Benjamin Franklin circulated a pamphlet titled Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania, his vision for what he called a “Public Academy of Philadelphia”. Unlike the other colonial colleges that existed in 1749—Harvard University(US), William & Mary(US), Yale Unversity(US), and The College of New Jersey(US)—Franklin’s new school would not focus merely on education for the clergy. He advocated an innovative concept of higher education, one which would teach both the ornamental knowledge of the arts and the practical skills necessary for making a living and doing public service. The proposed program of study could have become the nation’s first modern liberal arts curriculum, although it was never implemented because Anglican priest William Smith (1727-1803), who became the first provost, and other trustees strongly preferred the traditional curriculum.

    Franklin assembled a board of trustees from among the leading citizens of Philadelphia, the first such non-sectarian board in America. At the first meeting of the 24 members of the board of trustees on November 13, 1749, the issue of where to locate the school was a prime concern. Although a lot across Sixth Street from the old Pennsylvania State House (later renamed and famously known since 1776 as “Independence Hall”), was offered without cost by James Logan, its owner, the trustees realized that the building erected in 1740, which was still vacant, would be an even better site. The original sponsors of the dormant building still owed considerable construction debts and asked Franklin’s group to assume their debts and, accordingly, their inactive trusts. On February 1, 1750, the new board took over the building and trusts of the old board. On August 13, 1751, the “Academy of Philadelphia”, using the great hall at 4th and Arch Streets, took in its first secondary students. A charity school also was chartered on July 13, 1753 by the intentions of the original “New Building” donors, although it lasted only a few years. On June 16, 1755, the “College of Philadelphia” was chartered, paving the way for the addition of undergraduate instruction. All three schools shared the same board of trustees and were considered to be part of the same institution. The first commencement exercises were held on May 17, 1757.

    The institution of higher learning was known as the College of Philadelphia from 1755 to 1779. In 1779, not trusting then-provost the Reverend William Smith’s “Loyalist” tendencies, the revolutionary State Legislature created a University of the State of Pennsylvania. The result was a schism, with Smith continuing to operate an attenuated version of the College of Philadelphia. In 1791, the legislature issued a new charter, merging the two institutions into a new University of Pennsylvania with twelve men from each institution on the new board of trustees.

    Penn has three claims to being the first university in the United States, according to university archives director Mark Frazier Lloyd: the 1765 founding of the first medical school in America made Penn the first institution to offer both “undergraduate” and professional education; the 1779 charter made it the first American institution of higher learning to take the name of “University”; and existing colleges were established as seminaries (although, as detailed earlier, Penn adopted a traditional seminary curriculum as well).

    After being located in downtown Philadelphia for more than a century, the campus was moved across the Schuylkill River to property purchased from the Blockley Almshouse in West Philadelphia in 1872, where it has since remained in an area now known as University City. Although Penn began operating as an academy or secondary school in 1751 and obtained its collegiate charter in 1755, it initially designated 1750 as its founding date; this is the year that appears on the first iteration of the university seal. Sometime later in its early history, Penn began to consider 1749 as its founding date and this year was referenced for over a century, including at the centennial celebration in 1849. In 1899, the board of trustees voted to adjust the founding date earlier again, this time to 1740, the date of “the creation of the earliest of the many educational trusts the University has taken upon itself”. The board of trustees voted in response to a three-year campaign by Penn’s General Alumni Society to retroactively revise the university’s founding date to appear older than Princeton University, which had been chartered in 1746.

    Research, innovations and discoveries

    Penn is classified as an “R1” doctoral university: “Highest research activity.” Its economic impact on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 2015 amounted to $14.3 billion. Penn’s research expenditures in the 2018 fiscal year were $1.442 billion, the fourth largest in the U.S. In fiscal year 2019 Penn received $582.3 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health(US).

    In line with its well-known interdisciplinary tradition, Penn’s research centers often span two or more disciplines. In the 2010–2011 academic year alone, five interdisciplinary research centers were created or substantially expanded; these include the Center for Health-care Financing; the Center for Global Women’s Health at the Nursing School; the $13 million Morris Arboretum’s Horticulture Center; the $15 million Jay H. Baker Retailing Center at Wharton; and the $13 million Translational Research Center at Penn Medicine. With these additions, Penn now counts 165 research centers hosting a research community of over 4,300 faculty and over 1,100 postdoctoral fellows, 5,500 academic support staff and graduate student trainees. To further assist the advancement of interdisciplinary research President Amy Gutmann established the “Penn Integrates Knowledge” title awarded to selected Penn professors “whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge”. These professors hold endowed professorships and joint appointments between Penn’s schools.

    Penn is also among the most prolific producers of doctoral students. With 487 PhDs awarded in 2009, Penn ranks third in the Ivy League, only behind Columbia University(US) and Cornell University(US) (Harvard University(US) did not report data). It also has one of the highest numbers of post-doctoral appointees (933 in number for 2004–2007), ranking third in the Ivy League (behind Harvard and Yale University(US)) and tenth nationally.

    In most disciplines Penn professors’ productivity is among the highest in the nation and first in the fields of epidemiology, business, communication studies, comparative literature, languages, information science, criminal justice and criminology, social sciences and sociology. According to the National Research Council nearly three-quarters of Penn’s 41 assessed programs were placed in ranges including the top 10 rankings in their fields, with more than half of these in ranges including the top five rankings in these fields.

    Penn’s research tradition has historically been complemented by innovations that shaped higher education. In addition to establishing the first medical school; the first university teaching hospital; the first business school; and the first student union Penn was also the cradle of other significant developments. In 1852, Penn Law was the first law school in the nation to publish a law journal still in existence (then called The American Law Register, now the Penn Law Review, one of the most cited law journals in the world). Under the deanship of William Draper Lewis, the law school was also one of the first schools to emphasize legal teaching by full-time professors instead of practitioners, a system that is still followed today. The Wharton School was home to several pioneering developments in business education. It established the first research center in a business school in 1921 and the first center for entrepreneurship center in 1973 and it regularly introduced novel curricula for which BusinessWeek wrote, “Wharton is on the crest of a wave of reinvention and change in management education”.

    Several major scientific discoveries have also taken place at Penn. The university is probably best known as the place where the first general-purpose electronic computer (ENIAC) was born in 1946 at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering. It was here also where the world’s first spelling and grammar checkers were created, as well as the popular COBOL programming language. Penn can also boast some of the most important discoveries in the field of medicine. The dialysis machine used as an artificial replacement for lost kidney function was conceived and devised out of a pressure cooker by William Inouye while he was still a student at Penn Med; the Rubella and Hepatitis B vaccines were developed at Penn; the discovery of cancer’s link with genes; cognitive therapy; Retin-A (the cream used to treat acne), Resistin; the Philadelphia gene (linked to chronic myelogenous leukemia) and the technology behind PET Scans were all discovered by Penn Med researchers. More recent gene research has led to the discovery of the genes for fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited mental retardation; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, a disorder marked by progressive muscle wasting; and Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the hands, feet and limbs.

    Conductive polymer was also developed at Penn by Alan J. Heeger, Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, an invention that earned them the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. On faculty since 1965, Ralph L. Brinster developed the scientific basis for in vitro fertilization and the transgenic mouse at Penn and was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2010. The theory of superconductivity was also partly developed at Penn, by then-faculty member John Robert Schrieffer (along with John Bardeen and Leon Cooper). The university has also contributed major advancements in the fields of economics and management. Among the many discoveries are conjoint analysis, widely used as a predictive tool especially in market research; Simon Kuznets’s method of measuring Gross National Product; the Penn effect (the observation that consumer price levels in richer countries are systematically higher than in poorer ones) and the “Wharton Model” developed by Nobel-laureate Lawrence Klein to measure and forecast economic activity. The idea behind Health Maintenance Organizations also belonged to Penn professor Robert Eilers, who put it into practice during then-President Nixon’s health reform in the 1970s.

    International partnerships

    Students can study abroad for a semester or a year at partner institutions such as the London School of Economics(UK), University of Barcelona [Universitat de Barcelona](ES), Paris Institute of Political Studies [Institut d’études politiques de Paris](FR), University of Queensland(AU), University College London(UK), King’s College London(UK), Hebrew University of Jerusalem(IL) and University of Warwick(UK).

     
  • richardmitnick 4:41 pm on February 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , "Researchers explore using light to levitate discs in the mesosphere", A film made of carbon nanotubes, , At mesospheric altitudes the air is too thin for airplanes to fly or for balloons to reach., Earth and weather scientists would like to be able to send sensors higher up into the atmosphere than is now possible., It is possible to levitate very thin discs in conditions that mimic the mesosphere using laser light., , , The area of interest is the mesosphere a part of Earth's atmosphere at approximately 50 to 80 kilometers above the surface., The levitation was not due to a push from the laser but to the heat created as the laser struck the nanotubes., University of Pennsylvania   

    From University of Pennsylvania via phys.org: “Researchers explore using light to levitate discs in the mesosphere” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    via


    phys.org

    February 15, 2021
    Bob Yirka

    1

    A team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania has found that it is possible to levitate very thin discs in conditions that mimic the mesosphere using laser light. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their research involving a possible way to allow flight at very high altitudes and how well it worked.

    Earth and weather scientists would like to be able to send sensors higher up into the atmosphere than is now possible. Doing so would allow for monitoring airflow and perhaps improve weather predictions. The area of interest is the mesosphere, a part of Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 50 to 80 kilometers above the surface. At these altitudes, the air is too thin for airplanes to fly or for balloons to reach—the only options right now are satellites and rockets. But even those approaches have a problem—the air is too thick. Friction and heat would make long-duration flights impractical. In this new effort, the researchers explored a new way to address the problem—using light from below to keep very light craft aloft.

    The approach by the team in Pennsylvania involved constructing very thin discs out of mylar, each, just 6 millimeters in diameter. They then coated the bottom of the discs with a film made of carbon nanotubes. The researchers tested their idea by placing the discs in a vacuum chamber with pressures that simulated those in the mesosphere. They found that firing lasers or reflected sunlight up at the discs pushed them into the air a small distance, and that they could direct the discs by adjusting the laser light.

    The researchers explain that the levitation was not due to a push from the laser but to the heat created as the laser struck the nanotubes. They note that some of the heat was absorbed and some was not. The heat striking the bottom of the discs transferred heat in a way that resulted in more downward-moving molecules gaining velocity than did molecules gaining an upward velocity. The result was upward movement of the disc.

    The researchers acknowledge that their work is preliminary—it is not known if the approach would work for discs dropped into the mesosphere. Also, more work is required to see if the discs can be scaled up to a size that would be useful.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:18 pm on February 8, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New warm-Neptune exoplanet discovered", , , , , , , The newfound exoplanet designated HD 183579b (or TOI-1055b)., University of Pennsylvania   

    From University of Pennsylvania via phys.org: “New warm-Neptune exoplanet discovered” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    via


    From phys.org

    February 8, 2021

    1
    Phase-folded transit light curve of HD 183579b (TOI-1055b) as observed by TESS. Credit: Palatnick et al., 2021.

    By analyzing archival radial velocity data, astronomers have detected a new warm-Neptune alien world. The newfound exoplanet, designated HD 183579b (or TOI-1055b) is about three and a half times larger and almost 20 times more massive than the Earth. The finding is detailed in a paper to be published in The Astrophysical Journal.

    Although thousands of new exoplanets have been found using the transit method, this technique has one major weakness—a planet-like transit can be caused by numerous false positives.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames.

    Therefore, astronomers also perform radial velocity (RV) measurements in order to confirm the planetary nature of a transit signal.

    Radial Velocity Method-Las Cumbres Observatory, a network of astronomical observatories, located at both northern and southern hemisphere sites distributed in longitude around the Earth.


    Radial velocity Image via SuperWasp http http://www.superwasp.org-exoplanets.htm

    With that in mind, a team of researchers led by Skyler Palatnick of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, has analyzed archival RV surveys over the last two decades of the northern and southern skies. They have now confirmed one of the candidate exoplanets. It is an object first spotted by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which received designation TOI-1055b (TESS Objects of Interest).

    NASA/MIT Tess

    NASA/MIT Tess in the building.


    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets.

    TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Center for Astrophysics – Harvard and Smithsonian in Cambridge; MIT Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.

    “One exhibits an RV signature that has the correct period and phase matching the transiting planetary candidates with a false-alarm probability of less than 1%. After further checks, we exploit this fact to validate HD 183579b (TOI-1055b),” the astronomers wrote in the paper.

    HD 183579b turns out to have a radius of about 3.55 Earth radii and is approximately 19.7 times more massive than our planet. It orbits its host every 17.47 days at a distance of around 0.13 AU from it. The planet’s temperature was estimated to be 769 K. All in all, the parameters of HD 183579b allowed the researchers to classify it as a so-called “warm Neptune.”

    The parent star HD 183579 is a bright solar analog star of spectral type G2V. It is only about three percent more massive than the sun and has a radius of approximately 0.985 solar radii. The star is about 2.6 billion years old, has an effective temperature of 5,788 K and a metallicity at a level of some -0.023. The planetary system is located about 186 light years away in the Telescopium constellation.

    Given its small size and excellent observability, HD 183579b is among the most accessible small transiting planets for future atmospheric characterization. This could be done by space observatories like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).

    According to the astronomers, their study shows how important could be the investigation of archival datasets for confirming planetary status of some objects.

    “Our work highlights that the efforts to confirm and even precisely measure the masses of new transiting planet candidates need not always depend on acquiring new observations—that in some instances these tasks can be completed with existing data,” the authors of the paper concluded.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:04 pm on January 22, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Caitlin Clements, , University of Pennsylvania,   

    From University of Pennsylvania: Women in STEM-“A Spectrum of Possibilities” Caitlin Clements 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    January 16, 2020
    Karen Brooks

    A doctoral candidate in psychology, puts autism-related lore to the test.

    1
    Caitlin Clements, a doctoral candidate in psychology

    2
    U Pennsylvania OMNIA-All things Penn Arts and Sciences

    “Is this my fault?”

    It’s the question Caitlin Clements has heard more than any other since she began studying autism a decade ago. Currently completing a year-long clinical internship at SUNY Upstate Medical University, the Ph.D. candidate in psychology counsels families with children who have developmental or psychological disorders.

    “When I see parents going through the early diagnostic process for autism, so often, they ask me why this happened and what they did wrong,” Clements says. “While we know they are not to blame, there is so much we don’t know. I wish I could give them more concrete answers—that’s what motivates me to keep working.”

    Before beginning her undergraduate degree at Yale, Clements had only known one person with autism: a family friend’s son. The child’s behavior had seemed different for years, and she jumped at the opportunity to learn more about it by working in an autism-focused lab. Her commitment to exploring the condition hasn’t wavered since.

    Supervised by faculty advisor Robert Schultz—scientific director of the Center for Autism Research, a collaboration between Penn and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia—Clements has studied the relationship between IQ and autism across patients of varying ages and abilities. Recently, she has examined whether common cognitive tests like the Differential Ability Scales-II (DAS-II) test, which were developed based on neurotypical children, accurately assess the intellectual capacities of autistic children.

    “When using the DAS-II with autistic kids, clinicians sometimes place a greater emphasis on nonverbal scores, thinking that maybe their verbal scores are not as meaningful because they often have lower language levels than expected for their age,” Clements says. “This seems like good intuition, but as clinicians, we have made these judgments without having real data to support them.”

    Clements accessed data from the 2,000 neurotypical children used in the development of the DAS-II as well as from a study applying the test to 1,200 children with autism. In comparing their verbal and nonverbal subtest scores, she discovered that the “rule of thumb” that a child with autism has stronger nonverbal than verbal skills is, in fact, a bit of medical lore.

    “It turns out that both verbal and nonverbal subtests work really well in autistic populations and capture the same things as in the normative sample. A higher nonverbal than verbal score barely predicts autism better than chance,” she says.

    The study revealed another unexpected finding: Performance patterns on the test’s spatial components differed significantly between children with and without autism. Those with the condition excelled at pattern construction—an exercise in which they copied a pattern using colored blocks—but struggled with recall of design, an exercise that involved remembering and reproducing abstract designs.

    “We are in the process of analyzing what these results mean and looking at whether there is a bias, and if that bias is an overprediction or underprediction of these kids’ abilities,” she explains.

    Although autism is her primary focus, Clements also maintains an interest in depression—a condition she studied in 2018 as a Fulbright Scholar at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. Working under psychiatrist Mikael Landén, she aimed to identify genetic causes for severe depression.

    “Like with autism, there are a lot of individual differences in clinical presentation among people with depression. A general label of ‘depression’ doesn’t capture these important differences, just like a general label of ‘autism’ doesn’t, either,” she says. “People with severe symptoms could have very different underlying biology than those with milder symptoms.”

    To ensure a sample of individuals with truly severe depression, Clements, Landén, and their team selected those who had received electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a “last-ditch” treatment used only with patients who had not responded to any other therapies. They then performed a genome-wide association, an approach that involves scanning markers across many complete sets of DNA to pinpoint genetic variations associated with a particular disease—and detected a potential culprit on a region of one particular chromosome.

    “The landscape for the genetics of depression is no longer as bleak as it once was,” she notes. “What’s exciting about this paper’s approach is that a giant international consortium is now trying to do what we’ve done in Sweden all over the world, building up much larger samples of individuals who have received ECT to gain more traction in analyzing a more homogeneous subset. Identifying more severely affected subsets is a good direction for researchers studying autism to go, as well.”

    Clements defended her dissertation, “Phenotypic and genotypic heterogeneity of autism spectrum disorders,” last spring and will graduate when she finishes her internship in August. She is applying for postdoc positions in which she can continue to study the biological basis of autism and plans to pursue a career in academic research.

    “I like to see patients because it keeps me in touch with clinical issues,” she says, “but gaining knowledge about why a child has autism is cathartic for families, and my priority is to do research that helps answer these questions.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:59 am on January 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A close look at thin ice", , , , Two-dimensional ice, University of Pennsylvania   

    From Penn Today: “A close look at thin ice” 


    From Penn Today

    January 1, 2020
    Katherine Unger Baillie

    On frigid days, water vapor in the air can transform directly into solid ice, depositing a thin layer on surfaces such as a windowpane or car windshield. Though commonplace, this process is one that has kept physicists and chemists busy figuring out the details for decades.

    1
    An international team of scientists, including atmospheric chemists from Penn, describe the first-ever visualization of the atomic structure of two-dimensional ice as it formed. (Image: Courtesy of Joseph Francisco)

    In a new Nature paper, an international team of scientists describe the first-ever visualization of the atomic structure of two-dimensional ice as it formed. Insights from the findings, which were driven by computer simulations that inspired experimental work, may one day inform the design of materials that make ice removal a simpler and less costly process.

    “One of the things that I find very exciting is that this challenges the traditional view of how ice grows,” says Joseph S. Francisco, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Pennsylvania and an author on the paper.

    “Knowing the structure is very important,” adds coauthor Chongqin Zhu, a postdoctoral fellow in Francisco’s group who led much of the computational work for the study. “Low-dimensional water is ubiquitous in nature and plays a critical role in an incredibly broad spectrum of sciences, including materials science, chemistry, biology, and atmospheric science.

    “It also has practical significance. For example, removing ice is critical when it comes to things like wind turbines, which cannot function when they are covered in ice. If we understand the interaction between water and surfaces, then we might be able to develop new materials to make this ice removal easier.”

    In recent years, Francisco’s lab has devoted considerable attention to studying the behavior of water, and specifically ice, at the interface of solid surfaces. What they’ve learned about ice’s growth mechanisms and structures in this context helps them understand how ice behaves in more complex scenarios, like when interacting with other chemicals and water vapor in the atmosphere.

    “We’re interested in the chemistry of ice at the transition with the gas phase, as that’s relevant to the reactions that are happening in our atmosphere,” Francisco explains.

    To understand basic principles of ice growth, researchers have entered this area of study by investigating two-dimensional structures: layers of ice that are only several water molecules thick.

    In previous studies of two-dimensional ice [PNAS], using computational methods and simulations, Francisco, Zhu, and colleagues showed that ice grows differently depending on whether a surface repels or attracts water, and the structure of that surface.

    In the current work, they sought real-world verification of their simulations, reaching out to a team at Peking University to see if they could obtain images of two-dimensional ice.

    The Peking team employed super-powerful atomic force microscopy, which uses a mechanical probe to “feel” the material being studied, translating the feedback into nanoscale-resolution images. Atomic force microscopy is capable of capturing structural information with a minimum of disruption to the material itself, allowing the scientists to identify even unstable intermediate structures that arise during the process of ice formation.

    Virtually all naturally occurring ice on Earth is known as hexagonal ice for its six-sided structure. This is why snowflakes all have six-fold symmetry. One plane of hexagonal ice has a similar structure to that of two-dimensional ice and can terminate in two types of edges—“zigzag” or “armchair.” Usually this plane of natural ice terminates with a zigzag edge.

    However, when ice is grown in two dimensions, researchers find that the pattern of growth is different. The current work, for the first time, shows that the armchair edges can be stabilized and that their growth follows a novel reaction pathway.

    “This is a totally different mechanism from what was known,” Zhu says.

    Although the zigzag growth patterns were previously believed to only have six-membered rings of water molecules, both Zhu’s calculations and the atomic force microscopy revealed an intermediate stage where five-membered rings were present.

    This result, the researchers say, may help explain the experimental observations reported in their 2017 PNAS paper, which found that ice could grow in two different ways on a surface, depending on the properties of that surface.

    In addition to lending insight into future design of materials conducive to ice removal, the techniques used in the work are also applicable to probe the growth of a large family of two-dimensional materials beyond two-dimensional ices, thus opening a new avenue of visualizing the structure and dynamics of low-dimensional matter.

    For chemist Jeffrey Saven, a professor in Penn Arts & Sciences who was not directly involved in the current work, the collaboration between the theorists in Francisco’s group and their colleagues in China called to mind a parable he learned from a mentor during his training.

    “An experimentalist is talking with theorists about data collected in the lab. The mediocre theorist says, ‘I can’t really explain your data.’ The good theorist says, ‘I have a theory that fits your data.’ The great theorist says, ‘That’s interesting, but here is the experiment you should be doing and why.’”

    To build on this successful partnership, Zhu, Francisco, and their colleagues are embarking on theoretical and experimental work to begin to fill in the gaps related to how two-dimensional ice builds into three dimensions.

    “The two-dimensional work is fundamental to laying the background,” says Francisco. “And having the calculations verified by experiments is so good, because that allows us to go back to the calculations and take the next bold step toward three dimensions.”

    “Looking for features of three-dimensional ice will be the next step,” Zhu says, “and should be very important in looking for applications of this work.”

    Joseph S. Francisco is President’s Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Chemistry in the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences.

    Chongqin Zhu is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences.

    Francisco and Zhu’s coauthors on the study were Peking University’s Runze Ma, Duanyun Cao, Ye Tian, Jinbo Peng, Jing Guo, Ji Chen, Xin-Zheng Li, Li-Mei Xu, En-Ge Wang, and Ying Jiang; and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Xiao Cheng Zeng.

    The study was supported by the National Key R&D Program (grants 2016YFA0300901, 2017YFA0205003, and 2015CB856801), National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants 11888101, 11634001, 21725302, and 11525520), Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Science (Grant XDB28000000), Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission, and U.S. National Science Foundation (Grant 1665324).

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, w
    ith 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:25 am on September 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Where ethics; welfare; and sustainability meet swine", , , For most farmers farming is not just a livelihood it’s a lifestyle. So if they lose social license not only do they lose their livelihood but they lose their lifestyle., Parsons and his colleagues have spent years crafting and refining their swine unit at Penn with the aim of making pig farms more sustainable nationwide., Swine Teaching and Research Center at the New Bolton Center campus., University of Pennsylvania   

    From Penn Today: “Where ethics, welfare, and sustainability meet swine” 


    From Penn Today

    September 3, 2019
    Gina Vitale
    Eric Sucar, Photographer

    At New Bolton Center’s model pig farm, free-roaming sows are implanted with RFID chips, nourished by organic feed, and powered by solar energy.

    1
    Thomas Parsons, director of Penn Vet’s Swine Teaching and Research Center, cradles a piglet at the school’s facility on the New Bolton Center campus. Parsons and colleagues have worked for years to improve animal welfare and environmental sustainability at the swine unit, and with recent improvements, are setting a new standard for the industry.

    At Penn Vet’s Swine Unit at New Bolton Center, 500-pound pigs squeal and strut in a sunny outdoor pen. Thomas Parsons, professor of swine production medicine and director of the Swine Teaching and Research Center, leans down to pat them on their sides as they sniff at his denim overalls.

    Parsons and his colleagues have spent years crafting and refining their swine unit at Penn with the aim of making pig farms more sustainable nationwide. Their “farm of the future,” with humane conditions and efficient use of resources, stands to reshape the environmental and social impacts of raising swine.

    The way Parsons sees it, to define a pig farm as sustainable, it must be both socially acceptable and economically viable.

    “For most farmers, farming is not a livelihood, it’s a lifestyle,” Parsons says. “And so if they lose that social license, not only do they lose their livelihood, but they lose their lifestyle.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:09 am on August 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Materials for a more sustainable future", , , , , University of Pennsylvania   

    From Penn Today: “Materials for a more sustainable future” 


    From Penn Today

    August 12, 2019
    Erica K. Brockmeier Writer
    Eric Sucar Photographer

    Using a collaborative approach and their expertise in fundamental chemical research, new Chemistry Department faculty member Thomas Mallouk and his group address challenges faced by engineers and materials scientists.

    1
    Thomas Mallouk is the new Vagelos Professor in Energy Research who brought his lab to Penn in May. His group conducts fundamental chemistry research that helps solve problems faced by engineers and materials scientists.

    On the second floor of the Chemistry 1958 building, just above the general chemistry labs, the Mallouk research group is busy at work. Between long lines of lab benches, computer desks, and even a small glassblowing workshop, their work spans a wide range of applications, from motors smaller than the width of a human hair to biologically-inspired solar batteries.

    Thomas Mallouk, who came to Penn’s Department of Chemistry in May, and his team work in the area of materials chemistry and have several ongoing projects on renewable energy and sustainability. Mallouk is also the Vagelos Professor in Energy Research at the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology (VIEST), where he will support ongoing and burgeoning collaborations between the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

    Mallouk and the students in his lab bring a unique approach to fundamental chemistry research. “Our most effective work has been taking somebody else’s problem, often an engineering or physics problem, fields populated by very smart people who have one thing in common: They’re not going to synthesize something new,” explains Mallouk. “Then we try to apply what we know about chemistry to their problem.”

    2
    Graduate student Jeremy Hitt, who also works on fuel cells alongside Yan, enjoys the open culture of the Mallouk lab, where everyone is willing to lend a hand and eager to collaborate with other researchers.

    One problem that Mallouk is excited to pursue further is energy conversion and energy storage in solar cells. Because solar energy is costly to store, the energy has to be used or converted at the same time it’s collected. A viable long-term storage solution would allow solar energy to be used during seasons or days when there is less light available, and Mallouk’s group is focused on gaining fundamental insights using electrochemistry research to get there.

    Several researchers in his group, including graduate student Zhifei Yan, use inspiration from biology to build dye-sensitized solar cells that convert solar energy into electricity, hydrogen, or other energy-rich fuels such as methanol. “It’s an inorganic mimic of a biological system, like a plant,” explains Yan. “The ‘leaf’ absorbs the energy, and then it oxidizes water into oxygen and reduces carbon dioxide into compounds that store energy in chemical bonds.”

    3
    Post-doc Luis De Jesus Baez works on 2D materials, atomically-thin synthetic materials that exhibit new properties because their atoms are confined to two dimensions. He was recently awarded the IUPAC-SOLVAY International Award for Young Chemists for Best Ph.D. Thesis.

    The Mallouk lab also works on 2D materials, atomically-thin synthetic materials that exhibit new properties due to their atoms being confined to two dimensions. Postdoc Luis de Jesús Baez is studying the different aspects of these unique materials, and how their properties can be tuned. “We can synthesize, stabilize, and make the materia] better. We can functionalize their structures and make them do specific work, like CO2 reduction or for energy storage in batteries and supercapacitors,” de Jesús Baez says.

    But it’s not all about energy. The Mallouk lab has also been working with autonomously powered nanoscale and microscale swimmers, about the size of a bacterial cell, that are propelled by either electrochemical reactions or ultrasound. Graduate student Jeff McNeill is looking for ways to control their movements using magnetism and is also exploring ways to power the microrobots with different fuels, like urea or glucose, so they could be used inside of the human body.

    And while these microscopic swimmers have a number of possible applications, from cleaning wastewater to delivering drugs, Mallouk says he enjoys working on this project in part for the fun of it. “The problem of anthropogenic climate change has become increasingly urgent, and this motivates our focus on energy-related projects. But we also want to explore pure science questions, and that is what our nanomotor project is about,” he says.

    4
    Along with the nanomotors project, McNeil is also working with a type of nanowire that moves in unexpected patterns in response to acoustic waves. They are working with physicists in France to try to understand the theoretical underpinnings of this phenomenon.

    Whether the group is focused on sustainability, energy, or miniaturized motors, the approach is always the same: Focusing on problems and using their expertise in materials chemistry to find a solution. “We want to solve problems by understanding the fundamental processes that are happening and then solving it little by little,” says de Jesús Baez. “There is beauty in tackling problems by considering different perspectives.”

    By actively collaborating with other groups, including several engineering labs, the members of Mallouk’s group are able to diversify their skillsets and focus on problems without limiting themselves to one method or area of study. “It’s easier to do interdisciplinary work,” says Yan about their group’s approach. “We borrow from other areas, so we won’t limit ourselves to just electrochemistry. We just solve the problem.”

    But because of the broader nature of their work, de Jesús Baez says, collaborations are instrumental for delving deeply when a problem requires a closer look. “Sometimes you want to get into that specific detail that will really hit the nail on the head. If you look from too high you may forget to look at the small things, and collaborations help you maintain this view in focus,” he says.

    Because of the importance of collaboration in his group’s progress, Mallouk says that coming to Penn at this stage of his 34-year career was the perfect move. “More and more, chemistry is becoming very interdisciplinary and integrated with other sciences, and that happens here at Penn a lot. There’s an opportunity for a tremendous number of new collaborations here,” he says.

    Mallouk’s students and postdocs, all of whom were responsible for physically packing up the lab and shipping the numerous boxes of equipment and supplies to Philadelphia earlier this summer, are also looking forward to the new types of research that they can do here. “It will be really nice having the med school right there,” says McNeill. “I could envision myself sitting down with a physician and saying, ‘What can we do with these nanomotors and materials that would be beneficial to you?’”

    Mallouk is also looking forward to working with VIEST, where he will serve on the executive committee and manage resource allocations for internal grant proposals. He also hopes to gain some externally-funded projects on energy in the future. VIEST “is a lively place that brings people together with all different kinds of expertise and gets us talking and thinking of energy-relevant ideas,” says Mallouk.

    VIEST director Karen Goldberg says that bringing Mallouk to Penn is a huge win for the Institute. “We are looking forward to Mallouk playing a leading role in our solar energy conversion efforts. His expertise in electrochemistry and materials is unparalleled, and his team brings unique vision, tremendous knowledge, diverse instrumentation, and wonderful scientific curiosity and enthusiasm,” she says.

    Mallouk will be teaching general chemistry in the fall and is looking forward to “assembling an army” of undergrads for his lab. They will join the 10 graduate students and two postdocs who moved with him from Pennsylvania State University, as well as two new Ph.D. students who have joined the group at Penn. But looking beyond his first year of teaching and getting his lab established, Mallouk says that he’s excited for what the future has in store for his research group.

    “I want to continue to work on good fundamental science,” he says. “We often diffuse into areas just from a chance conversation, but we’ve had a very long focus on energy, an increasingly urgent problem, so I want to continue to work in that area.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:09 am on August 12, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "How to make a better water filter? Turn it inside out", , More than 800 million people lack access to clean and safe water., Nanoscale water filters, , University of Pennsylvania   

    From Penn Today: “How to make a better water filter? Turn it inside out” 


    From Penn Today

    August 9, 2019
    Erica K. Brockmeier

    1

    More than 800 million people lack access to clean and safe water. Recent advances in water filtration technology have created new ways to filter water and make it drinkable, but many of these applications are too costly and cumbersome to be used in remote parts of the world. Reverse osmosis, for example, can make sea water drinkable, but the process is incredibly expensive and requires a large amount of energy.

    A new study from the lab of Chinedum Osuji describes a novel way to create nanoscale water filters that are flexible and robust, and even have antimicrobial properties. Postdocs Xunda Feng, now at Donghua University, and Yizhou Zhang and graduate student Qaboos Imran are the co-first authors of this paper. Their work was published in Science Advances.

    When designing a nanoscale filter, engineers usually start with something that resembles a microscopic strainer or a sieve. Water travels through individual holes that are spread along the strainer and are held together by a solid material that fills the space around them.

    Osuji’s group, which includes experts in modifying the chemistries of block polymers, large chains of molecules with large “blocks” of repeated sequences, found something unexpected while studying another similar material. Their discovery led them to “inverting” their design strategy: Turning the “holes” of the strainer into solid fibers, leaving the previously solid portions of the structure open.

    “But if you then take a material like this, why won’t these fibrils just float apart?” Osuji asks. The group recognized that the material was comprised of something akin to a complex mesh of interconnected threads, or fibers, but with the important distinction that the space between the fibers was explicitly defined by the structure of the molecule that made up the fiber. They realized that the fiber’s seemingly random “topological interconnectedness” held the structure together while still allowing water to flow through.

    2
    A diagram of how the nanofilters are made (top panel) and their microscopic structure (bottom panel). After the polymer molecules self-assemble in solution (top left), the selectivity of the nanofiltration membrane (top middle) was tested by measuring its ability to remove dye (top right). An illustration (bottom left) shows how the fibers of the nanofilter remove contaminants from water, with its mesh-like patterns clearly visible using atomic force microscopy. (Image: Xunda Feng)

    Using this novel “inverted” approach, the group created and tested membranes, bringing ideas to life by combining unique nanostructures devised by Feng using methods for fabrication and characterization developed by Imran and Zhang. Zhang, who has expertise in the area of membrane fabrication, joined the group soon after Osuji came to Penn last fall, and Zhang played a key role in collecting critical transport data.

    “Historically the group’s expertise has been in manipulating and characterizing the structure of materials, and we didn’t know how to translate that into a real working membrane,” says Imran. “We had a proof-of-concept, but it took us some time to make it a reality, to get to a point that both the membrane community and the materials community can appreciate. ”

    The material, similar in composition to polymers previously used in hard contact lenses, was also engineered with cross-links between individual fibers to add support to the material. The polymer also includes chemical structures that give the filter antimicrobial properties, meaning that the material won’t become clogged by bacteria during water purification.

    The group is now studying new processes to make the material so it can be thin enough to fit within the existing nanofiltration workflow. They also see this approach as useful for future applications beyond water filtration. “At the end of the day, this is a precisely structured porous material with versatile surface chemistry, so you could imagine many applications,” says Imran. “It can be a membrane in a fuel cell or in a battery.”

    For Zhang, the impact of their latest study comes from what they learned about the material itself in the process of characterizing it. “This is a new nanostructure for membranes, and it’s exciting to have proposed it and demonstrated its utility. It’s also exciting because the structure can be leveraged in applications beyond nanofiltration,” he says.

    Osuji is also eager to see how their unique, inverted approach might be used in the future. “On first inspection, it’s this unexpected idea that you can make membranes using this sort of approach. Once you understand that, you can just change the chemistry, target different applications, so I hope that others will follow this approach,” he says.

    In terms of water purification, Osuji hopes to see nanofiltration become more widely adopted as a way to remove harmful chemicals without the costs associated with other techniques. “Reverse osmosis is highly developed and very efficient at removing all but the most challenging contaminants, but there are places where it is not cost effective, such as in the treatment of brackish water, treatment of industrial wastewater before discharge, or water softening. There is a possibility to push these new membranes into those regimes,” he says.

    This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants PFI:AIR-TT IIP-1640375, CBET-1703494, DMR-1119826, and DMR-1410568, and by the Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:19 pm on April 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , P. Roy Vagelos C’50 PAR’90 HON’99 and Diana T. Vagelos PAR’90 have made a gift of $50 million to Penn Arts & Sciences for a new science center to house researchers focused on energy scienc, University of Pennsylvania   

    From University of Pennsylvania: “Record gift from Roy and Diana Vagelos to create new energy science and technology building” 

    U Penn bloc

    From University of Pennsylvania

    April 4, 2019
    Amanda Mott

    1
    Roy and Diana Vagelos

    P. Roy Vagelos, C’50, PAR’90, HON’99, and Diana T. Vagelos, PAR’90, have made a gift of $50 million to Penn Arts & Sciences for a new science center to house researchers focused on energy science. In support of the Power of Penn Arts & Sciences Campaign, the gift is the largest in the School’s history.

    The new building will be named in honor of Roy and Diana Vagelos and located at 32nd and Walnut Streets. It will provide state-of-the-art research space that connects physical scientists and engineers. The new Penn Arts & Sciences and Penn Engineering facility will house the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology, which brings together researchers from both Schools to solve scientific and technological problems related to energy. It will also be a home for the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research (VIPER), an undergraduate dual degree program run jointly by Arts & Sciences and Engineering.

    “Roy and Diana are extraordinarily strong, prescient, and generous supporters of Penn’s highest priorities,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “Sustainable energy solutions are among our nation’s most pressing needs. Supporting pathbreaking energy research is a key priority of the Power of Penn Campaign. We know that Penn’s distinctively interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to energy solutions provides the path to progress. I am deeply grateful for Roy and Diana’s longtime partnership and this exceptional support of our stellar researchers in energy science.”

    The new building represents Penn’s commitment to energy research and capitalizes on growing momentum across the University. It will be an incubator for scientists and engineers to engage in cross-disciplinary work and train postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates as future leaders in the field.

    Steven J. Fluharty, Dean and Thomas S. Gates, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Pharmacology, and Neuroscience, says, “At this critical moment for energy research, I am delighted by the generous gift from Roy and Diana. Creating a sustainable planet is a priority for the Power of Penn Arts & Sciences Campaign and the new building is a vital part of that effort. It will be host to the forward-thinking, creative work of Penn’s scientists and engineers and facilitate the collaborative solutions that the problem demands.”

    “This transformative gift will supercharge Penn Engineering’s interdisciplinary and innovative culture, while nucleating new collaborations with Penn Arts & Sciences,” says Vijay Kumar, Nemirovsky Family Dean. “There is no bigger challenge for our planet than the creation, storage, and conversion of energy in a clean, efficient and cost-effective way. Penn engineers and scientists are partners in working toward a sustainable future.”

    “Energy research has been important to me and to Diana for years,” says Vagelos. “We’ve seen students and faculty doing extraordinary work and our hope is that this new building will provide the home and resources that this effort needs to create solutions.”

    P. Roy Vagelos, a chemistry major who graduated from Penn in 1950 before going on to receive a medical degree from Columbia University, is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co. He currently serves as Chairman of the Board at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. Vagelos served as Chair of the University’s Board of Trustees from 1995 to 1999, and he is a former member of the Penn Arts & Sciences’ Board of Overseers and the founding Chair of the Committee for Undergraduate Financial Aid. Diana T. Vagelos is a former overseer of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

    The Vageloses’ longtime support of Penn Arts & Sciences includes the Vagelos Institute for Energy Science and Technology, the Vagelos Professorships in Energy Research, VIPER, and several other science-related programs, undergraduate scholarships, and endowed professorships.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: