2021 Year-End Student Projects (Video)

Penn Arts & Sciences students present research on urban water solutions, energy science and technology, and visual studies.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The spring semester culminated in the presentation of student research projects undertaken throughout the year. The remote nature of many of these collaborations with faculty and other students created a uniquely challenging—and rewarding—process. Below, we highlight the output of three centers and programs: The Water Center, VIPER (the Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research), and Visual Studies.

Water Center Graduate Student Showcase

The Water Center connects research and practice to develop integrated urban water strategies that address public health, infrastructure, and the socioeconomic and environmental challenges of long-term urban water sustainability and resiliency. Graduate students from across Penn who received Water Center support presented their research in a virtual showcase in April. Meg Kramer, Director of Strategic Development, and Karl Russek, Director of Programs and Applied Research, say that the range of topics is indicative of the center’s broad, multidisciplinary approach to water solutions.


The graduate student showcase highlighted the following research:


Anna Mueser, History and Sociology of Science

Land after Technology—the intersection of memory, technology, and land through the lens of the remembering and maintaining of New York City’s water supply system.

Anuj Krishnamurthy, Computer Engineering

Ensuring equitable drinking water in a changing climate: salinization risk and adaptive capacity of water agencies in the southeastern U.S.

Greg Donworth, Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences

How can a water utility bill be redesigned to promote high payment rates, household sustainability practices and more equitable water utility practices, which subsequently achieve high payment rates?

Jaydee Edwards, Earth and Environmental Science

Investigation of Microplastics as Emerging Contaminants in Philadelphia’s Freshwater Sources

Mrinalini Verma, Environmental Building Design and Landscape Architecture

Closing the Water Loop in Floating Designs—involves innovating the use of renewable systems to create a net-zero lab.

Samuel Geldin, City and Regional Planning

Reinventing Strategic Retreat in the Philippines: Assessing State Practices for Supporting Adaptation in Place

Zoe Covello, City and Regional Planning

Salt Intrusion in Santa Ana River Watershed (stakeholder engagement and cost effectiveness of solutions)

Ashley Krauss, Applied Geosciences

Mapping Acid Mine Drainage in the Upper Schuylkill River Watershed

Robert Levinthal, Environmental Planning and International Development

Environmental Injustices in Mississippi and Yazoo River Watersheds

VIPER Senior Day Presentations 2021

The Vagelos Integrated Program in Energy Research, or VIPER, was designed to prepare students to advance sustainable energy science and technology. VIPER students earn degrees from both Penn Arts & Sciences and Penn Engineering, combining their majors to design a path that fits their interests. They also begin working with faculty on energy-related research in their first summer and continue throughout their time at Penn.

During the VIPER Senior Presentations in April, the students reflected on their lessons learned and the impacts they have made through their work in energy research. The event included an address from P. Roy Vagelos, M.D., C’50, whose vision and generosity has launched and sustained the program. “There’s urgency to do this, and you are the answer—you and your colleagues in the rest of the world who understand technology and science and policy,” he said.

To watch the presentations, click here.


Senior presentations included:


Ben Hammel, B.A. in chemistry, B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering

Becoming a Chemist Materials Scientist Materials Chemist

Bhaskar Abhiraman, B.A. in Physics and Astronomy and M.S.E. in Electrical Engineering

Manipulating Heat and Light with Nanophotonics

Natalia Acero, B.A. in Physics and B.S.E. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Life Smart or Book Smart? How an Interdisciplinary Curriculum Taught Me Both

Felipe Contipelli, B.A. in Physics and B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering

Nature’s Greatest Mystery

Will Deo, B.A. in Physics and B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

The VIPER Rollercoaster: Becoming Energy Literate

Mohamed Elshabrawishy, B.A. in Physics and B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

Two Sides of the Same Coin: The Lessons Learned Through My VIPER Journey

Ashwin Koul, B.A. in Biology and B.S.E. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Finding My Passions Through Research

Trevor Pennypacker, B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering and M.S.E. in Embedded Systems

Autonomous Drones for First Responders

George Popov, B.A. and M.S. in Physics and Astronomy and B.S.E. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

Solar Propulsion

Adam Richter, B.A. in Biology and B.S.E. in Bioengineering

Energy in Medicine

Abhi Ramkumar, B.A. in Physics and B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering

Leveraging an Interdisciplinary Curriculum to Discover Passions

Bernie Wang, B.A. in Chemistry and B.S.E. in Materials Science and Engineering

Utilization of Carbon Dioxide as a Feedstock

The Online Exhibition of the Class of 2021 in Visual Studies

The exhibition included projects that reflect the intellectual and creative diversity of the program itself. Visual studies combines philosophy, psychology, history of art, fine arts, architecture, and other relevant perspectives. In pursuing the major, students complete course work in these various disciplines and choose an area of concentration within them. Each project is distinctive and represents the interests of the student, whether in the form of a research question concerning vision and action, the psychology of visual media, the visual history of social phenomena, or as works of art that are theorized in a distinctive manner from within the framework of visual studies.

The 15 seniors prepared projects were completed remotely, with visual studies’ year-long seminar meeting virtually from the beginning. Students built their community from Philadelphia to Italy, India, and Malaysia. Many projects challenge the audience to face anxieties and questions of identity. From food to media representation to Zoom appearances, the senior projects ask questions about the role of the image in mediating our thoughts and perceptions.


Senior projects included:


Veronica Fenton

Un-“real” Background

Amelia Roessler

On Sculpture and Architecture: Blending Structural Labels in the Built Environment

Paolo Nasr

Multiple Masculinities | Investigating the Impact of AIDS on Representations of Masculinity in Fashion Photography

Ki Shi

Where Is the Asian Body? The Problem of Erasure in Western Visual Culture

Jean Chapiro

Fear of Monsters and Monsters of Fear: Beneath Repudium

Zovinar Khrimian

A Visual Interface for Collective Ritual Experience | The Perceptual Mediation of Self-Transcendence and Social Interconnectedness in Contemporary Ritual Spaces

Justine de Jesus

Tracing Memories | Exploring the Connections Between Art & The Multiple Trace Hypothesis

Keri A. Zhang

“How to have a comfortable relationship with beauty: A tutorial”

Priyanshi Pokharna

Comfort in Form: Curvilinearity and Pre-fabrication in Post-pandemic Architecture

Olivia Schiff

Physicality to Digitization: Examining Internet Art and Relationism

Harold Milton-Gorvie

A story about a young Black gay man coming to grips with the reality that to truly live a happy life he must accept ALL facets of himself.

Aubrey Luk

Human Motion and the Expression of Anxiety through Animation

Maya Johnston

The Importance of Visual Storytelling in Marketing for Fashion: Insights for Sustainable and Luxury Brands following COVID-19

C. F. Fariello

Visual Politics: A Hyperobject of Slow Violence
Disinformation, Misinformation and Bias Traps

Adam First

Curating Experience

Click here to learn more about the exhibiton.