Faculty Advisors

Headshot of Dean John L. Jackson, Jr.

Dr. John L. Jackson, Jr.

Dr. John L. Jackson, Jr. is the Dean of the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania. His research examines racial and class-based differences in contemporary urban environments, including a focus on how urbanites themselves theorize and deploy those differences in everyday interactions. Dr. Jackson’s scholarship uses ethnographic research methods to extend and expand Critical Race Theory as an analytical and explanatory framework for understanding contemporary social conflicts.

Headshot of Dr. Danielle S. Bassett

Dr. Danielle S. Bassett

Dr. Danielle Bassett is a Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a physicist using tools from network science and complex systems theory to enhance our understanding of connectivity and organizational principles in the human brain. Combining a strong background in physics with training and collaborations in neuroscience, Bassett adapts mathematical approaches associated with the study of complex networks (such as computer or social networks) to analyze interactions among neurons in different regions of the brain while a person does certain activities (e.g., learn something new or try to remember a face), thereby unraveling how these connections give rise to the functions or jobs the brain performs.

Post-Graduate Fellows

Headshot of Arjun Shankar

Dr. Arjun Shankar

Arjun Shankar is the first CfC postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, School for Social Policy and Practice. He has received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in anthropology and education. As a teacher, writer, researcher, and media-maker. Arjun encourages teachers at all levels to “think with multimodality”, making the audiovisual part of classroom instruction as well as classroom assignments. During his time as a Curiosity Fellow, he will be developing an anthropological theory of curiosity and conducting ethnography on mental health and its relation to curiosity in the university. Read more at

Headshot of Perry Zurn

Dr. Perry Zurn

Perry Zurn is Curiosity @ Penn’s incoming post-graduate fellow. He previously worked as a visiting assistant professor of applied ethics, received an MA from Miami University and a PhD from DePaul University. He researches and teaches in the areas of contemporary continental philosophy, social and political philosophy, feminism, environmental ethics, and critical prison studies. During his time as a Curiosity Fellow, he will be conducting research on the philosophy of curiosity.