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Coglianese and Roberts win cross-disciplinary grants

April 13, 2016

Penn Law professors Cary Coglianese and Dorothy Roberts were among the winners of the Fels Policy Research Initiative’s inaugural collaborative research grants, which recognize faculty who work across disciplinary boundaries on complex problems.

Penn Law’s Coglianese and the College of Arts & Sciences’ Richard Berk won for their project “Optimizing Government: Policy Challenges in the Machine Learning Age.”

Their collaborative research will build on an initial university-wide workshop on artificial intelligence that the Penn Program on Regulation convened in January at Penn Law. They will connect scholars from across at least six schools at Penn to analyze the institutional and policy challenges that government agencies must confront to be able to use machine learning as an effective partner to enhance both governmental decision making and the delivery of government services.

The Law School’s Roberts and the College of Arts & Sciences and the Medical School’s Sarah Tishkoff won for their project “The Global Impacts of Race in Biomedicine.”

Roberts and Tishkoff have found that countless studies have failed to uphold a biological basis of race, and the two have argued, in a recent issue of Science, for an end to the use of genetic concepts of race in biological research.

“We are incredibly proud of the work Professors Coglianese and Roberts are doing,” said Ted Ruger, Dean of the Law School. “Their scholarship tackles important questions in policy and law, and they’ve shown why cross-disciplinary research is necessary in confronting the critical issues of the day.”

Coglianese is the Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Penn Program on Regulation.

Roberts is the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor and the Director of the Program on Race, Science, and Society. She is also the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, and professor of Africana Studies.

Penn Law faculty members are known for research that reaches across the boundaries of disciplines. In addition to being experts in the law, approximately 70 percent of faculty members hold degrees beyond the JD, and nearly half hold secondary appointments or affiliations with other Penn professional schools, departments, or centers.