Profiles, Features, and Interviews

Vocals, Guitar, and Stethoscope
A profile of Suzie Brown, a Harvard Medical School-trained cardiologist turned bluesy singer-songwriter.
(Harvard Magazine, September 2011)
The Perils of Parenting Style
A profile of University of Pennsylvania sociologist Annette Lareau, who conducted a groundbreaking ethnographic study examining the influence of social class on parenting style.
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, September 2011)
The Ink of the Letter of the Law: an interview with Penn Law professor Stephen Burbank
Burbank’s interdisciplinary work—joining law, history, and political science—has shown how seemingly esoteric changes in the Federal Rules of Civil and Criminal Procedure can have a profound impact on the way the courts deliver justice, and how in recent times a more assertive Congress has seized on this form of “backdoor” lawmaking.
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, January 2011)
The Perils and Promise of Synthetic Biology
After more than 10 years of work, Venter’s laboratory announced that it had created life. Working on a kind of updated version of the Frankenstein model, his team digitally sequenced a bacterial genome, physically built genetic code out of four chemicals, and inserted it into an empty cell that had been vacated of its own DNA. He hailed their creation as “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer.”
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, November 2010)
Stimulus Man
At 63, Ed DeSeve might have been ready to ease into a routine split between his appointment as a senior lecturer at the Fels Institute of Government and fly-fishing on the Delaware. Then in early March 2009 he got a call from the vice president’s office, asking him to come down to Washington for a chat. A few weeks later he was officially announced as the new owner of the largest purse in the country.
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, June 2010)
Crime and (Incoherent) Punishment
“Legislative haste has resulted in inconsistencies in the law that border on the farcical. Keeping an adult as a slave is treated as equivalent to assaulting a sports official (they’re both first-degree misdemeanors). Reading someone’s email without permission is a third-degree felony punishable by up to seven years in jail (thanks to the imprecise wording of an electronic-surveillance statute).”
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, February 2010)
Interview with Independent Filmmaker Mynette Louie
“Going into Sundance, our expectations were realistic. We understood that distributors don’t know what to do with a movie with no stars and Asian-American actors.”
(Harvard Magazine, February 2010)
Cigarettes and American Life Expectancy
For the 50-year period ending in 1985, American personal health practices were in fact the worst in the world, at least as measured by per-capita cigarette consumption. During that time Americans smoked in excess of eight cigarettes a day, which at times was double the rate of the next closest country. Preston’s research shows that our decades of heavy smoking set the stage for substantial downstream health costs.
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, 2009)
Unintended Consequences of the War on Drugs
It is a sign of the complexity of the illicit drug trade that one of the great anti-drug successes of the last decade is regarded today as the beginning of Mexico’s cocaine addiction.
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, 2009)
“Academic Activist,” Emeritus
In the 42 years Furstenberg has been at Penn, he has seen the social sciences evolve dramatically. “If I go back to when I was being trained, there was a lot of talking about society writ large,” he says. But sweeping statements and broad judgments have a smaller place in academics today, where research methods have been codified, fidelity to hard data is ascendant, and specialization is the norm.
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, 2009)
Ranking the Presidents: An interview with Penn adjunct professor Alvin Felzenberg

Convinced that presidential rankings have grown stale, Alvin Felzenberg, adjunct professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, reshuffles the deck in his recent book, The Leaders We Deserved (And a Few We Didn’t): Rethinking the Presidential Rating Game. He places some familiar names at the top (Lincoln, Washington) and the bottom (poor James Buchanan), but makes some major revisions in between.
(The Pennsylvania Gazette, 2009)