“PennFaces” Website Aimed at Curbing Ivy League Isolation

Emily Hoeven. This is not her "Penn Face."

Emily Hoeven.

Have you heard about the “Penn Face?”

It’s the face that Philadelphia’s Ivy League students wear out into the world, projecting happiness and resolve in the face of overwhelming schedules, competition, and pressure to succeed. And to hear Penn students talk, it’s a real problem — it’s even been discussed in connection with a series of suicides that have received attention on campus the last few years.

“Everybody puts on this mask all the time,” says Emily Hoeven, a Penn sophomore from California.

That’s why Hoeven is spearheading a forthcoming “PennFaces” website that will feature pictures, stories and more from students, and is aimed at helping isolated students know they’re not so alone as they may think. The website, after a year of planning, is expected to debut in April. Read more »

Penn Vet Students to Star in New Animal Planet Series, Penn Vet

Photo | Penn Vet

Photo | Penn Vet

The next time your new kitty won’t eat and keeps coughing up hairballs, you might want to check the mirror before you rush her off to Penn Vet. Animal Planet just announced a new series featuring “the first-ever behind-the-scenes look at the University of Pennsylvania’s highly competitive veterinary school.” Taking advantage of what it promises is “unprecedented access,” the series, titled (duh) Penn Vet, will shadow students in their fourth and final year as they’re taught and mentored by Penn’s renowned animal docs. Read more »

11 Vintage 1890s Philadelphia Ads From the Archives of the Daily Pennsylvanian


Whether or not you enjoy my work, you have The Daily Pennsylvanian to thank/blame for it.

I went into college not sure what I wanted to do with my career. Maybe I’d be a computer programmer. Maybe I’d be a teacher. Maybe I’d go into finance. Maybe I’d just stay in school forever. But I stumbled into a DP recruitment meeting my freshman year, and within a year I realized I wanted to become a writer. I spent much more time at the newspaper than I ever did on classwork. I never would have become a writer without it.

Last week, the archives of the Daily Pennsylvanian went live online. Currently, there are 5,306 issues comprising 57,136 pages and 254,685 articles digitized on dparchives.library.upenn.edu. By the time Penn is finished with the effort, about 158,000 pages will be online and searchable.

Because I’m a huge nerd, I’ve spent the last few days going through the archives of The Daily Pennsylvanian (formerly The Pennsylvanian). In some of the really old newspapers, I’m fascinated most by the advertisements. Here are things that used to be for sale in Philadelphia! I’ve collected 11 of my favorite ads to share with you. Read more »

Penn Students Can Ferment Beer 9 Times Faster

Siddharth Shah, Shashwata Narain and Alexander David, the winners of this year's Y-Prize Competition.

Siddharth Shah, Shashwata Narain and Alexander David, the winners of this year’s Y-Prize Competition.

A group of Penn students have a plan to streamline the beer-making process — and it just earned them $10,000.

Siddharth Shah, Shashwata Narain and Alexander David took home the grand prize of the 2016 Y-Prize Competition from the University of Pennsylvania for developing a process that speeds up the fermentation process in beer production by up to nine times — while maintaining alcohol quality and composition. Not to shabby for three students in the Wharton School and the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Their advisors include executives from some of the biggest brewers in the world: MillerCoors, Anheuser-BuschInBev, Biocon India and Heineken. Read more »

Local Colleges Still Losing War Against Student Drinking

Pity the poor American institution of higher learning. Student drinking on campuses leads to property damage, arrests, injuries and deaths, hazings, and a tsunami of reports of student sexual assaults. (Research shows that 89 percent of those assaults involve drinking.) A recent study declared Pennsylvania colleges sixth in the nation in alcohol arrests of students, led by Shippensburg, East Stroudsburg, Lehigh, Penn Tech, Penn State and Kutztown — not the sort of high ranking universities crave. So naturally, administrators are doing their damnedest to clamp down on alcohol. At Swarthmore College, for example, new rules — no more hard liquor at school-sponsored parties, no more drinking games like beer pong, no more punch or party bowls — went into effect on campus in the fall of 2014. Students, predictably, were not enthused. “Seriously — can the admin with a straight face — indeed genuinely — defend these rules?” one incredulous undergrad demanded in the student newspaper, the Daily Gazette.

A year and a half later, a new report from Swarthmore’s department of public safety shows that while alcohol incidents at the campus’s three major social events dipped slightly in the first year of the more stringent prohibitions, they’ve since soared to new heights. (Nifty chart here.) Read more »

Lin-Manuel Miranda to Speak at Penn Commencement

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the composer behind the hip-hop Broadway hit Hamilton, will be the featured speaker at Penn’s 2016 commencement. The university made the announcement today.

“Miranda is one of the most innovative and stunningly brilliant artistic voices of and for our time,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “As a lyricist, composer, playwright and actor, he has accomplished nothing short of remaking the great American artistic form of musical theater and telling the history of our founding through the most creative, evocative and thought-provoking contemporary lens.” Read more »

At Penn, Joe Biden Spells Out How Cancer “Moonshot” Will Work

Vice President Joe Biden, pictured with Penn's Dr. Amy Gutmann, launches a "moonshot" initiative to hasten a cure for cancer at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia on January 15, 2016.

Vice President Joe Biden, pictured with Penn president Dr. Amy Gutmann, launches a “moonshot” initiative to hasten a cure for cancer at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center in Philadelphia on January 15, 2016.

Joe Biden called it a moonshot, but the vice president says he’s realistic about the fight against cancer. He doesn’t want people to think the push against cancer, announced by President Obama in Tuesday’s State of the Union address, is some over-the-top declaration that we’re going to find a cure for cancer immediately.

“My goal is that we find absolute cures, but for some cancers where we get to the point where we can manage them and they become chronic diseases,” Biden said at Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center on Friday afternoon. “The goal is: Whatever breakthroughs we can make in 10 years, my goal is to make sure we can do it in five years.”

Biden was in West Philadelphia to talk with doctors and kick off the push against cancer, which Biden says is less of a program and more of a way to see how he and the U.S. government can be a “value-add” to the fight against the disease. Biden’s son, Beau, died of brain cancer last year at the age of 57.

Read more »

A Penn Graduate Was the Inventor of “Bowie Bonds”


Not an actual Bowie bond.

After learning the news of David Bowie‘s death yesterday, musicians worldwide expressed their gratitude and called him an inspiration. Banker David Pullman was praising and thanking Bowie, too, for giving him the chance for his big break. Pullman invented a new type of financial instrument in the 1990s: Bowie bonds.

“I was going to the most savvy conferences, these world summits of the industry,” said Pullman, who spent four years as a Penn undergrad and also went to Wharton. “The first question the rating agencies, the investors always asked was, ‘Did you meet David Bowie?’ The second question always was: ‘Did you meet Iman?’ Every single conference it was the same questions about meeting Bowie and his wife. I was at Gleneagles … and they played ‘The Man Who Sold the World.’ I’m waiting to go out on the stage, and this music is exactly what happened. I sold these bonds to the world.” Read more »

Does Anyone in Philly College Hoops — Besides Villanova — Have a Shot at the March NCAA Tourney?

St. Joe's DeAndre Bembry (left); Villanova's Josh Hart (right)

St. Joe’s DeAndre Bembry (left); Villanova’s Josh Hart (right).

The January break is over, and all six of the area’s Division I men’s college basketball teams have started division play. With no hope of sporting glory among the pro ranks — except maybe the hard-charging Flyers — it’s now time for Philly sports fans to turn their attention to the college hardwood. So who would make a run to the NCAA tournament this season?

As has been true for every year for about a decade now, the best team among the Big 5 is Villanova. The Wildcats (12-2) are 11th in the AP Top 25, a rank that’s sure to rise when the next poll is released today. Nova is coming off a 2-0 week that included a road win over Butler yesterday.

But Villanova is ranked even higher among computer polls. The Wildcats are the No. 1 team in the nation in RPI, which is the tool the selection committee uses to help them select the bracket. They’re also No. 2 in the Kenpom rankings and No. 7 in ESPN’s BPI.

The Wildcats trailed by 7 in yesterday’s game about three minutes into the second half, but Ryan Arcidiacono sparked a 17-4 run. Villanova led by as many as 9, and held off a late Butler charge to win 60-55. Josh Hart had 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the win. The Wildcats do pretty much everything well this season except shoot threes. But as college hoops scribe Ken Pomeroy has persuasively argued, there’s reason to think they may improve.

Villanova is already 4-0 in the Big East, a conference with enough quality teams that a solid campaign in it could land the Wildcats another No. 1 seed. Now, about MarchRead more »

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