The 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Was Bestowed Upon Dr. Danielle Bassett

The International Biomedical Research Alliance introduced two new recognition awards designed to honor the achievements of alumni and newly-graduated students of the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program. The ceremony to honor the winners was held during the 2020 NIH Global Doctoral Partnerships Research Workshop June 15th-18th.  

Dr. Danielle Bassett, J. Peter Skirkanich Professor, Bioengineering (BE), Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE) at the University of Pennsylvania, was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award which recognizes achievement of an exceptional nature in scientific and medical inquiry, professional practice, and enhancing the lives of others both personally and professionally. This Award is not given in recognition of a single remarkable achievement but is reserved for an NIH-OxCam alumni who has attained and maintained extraordinary impact throughout their career in their chosen fields of endeavor and in their service to society at large.  Dr. Bassett completed her PhD in 2009 from Cambridge University. Her mentors were Daniel Weinberger and Ed Bullmore. 

Dr. Bassett is well known for her work blending neural and systems engineering to identify fundamental mechanisms of cognition and disease in human brain networks. Her journey to academia was extremely unique as detailed in a feature article published in Science magazine (https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6436/118). She is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards, including a MacArthur Fellow Genius Grant in 2014.  She is the author of more than 290 peer-reviewed publications, which have garnered over 22,000 citations (h-index 63), as well as numerous book chapters and teaching materials. She is the founding director of the Penn Network Visualization Program, a combined undergraduate art internship and K-12 outreach program bridging network science and the visual arts.

Dr. Bassett is committed to extending her work beyond the sphere of academia and into the lives of the community, including presenting her work to middle school, high school, and college youth students. Dr. Bassett is also deeply committed to enhancing and supporting diversity in science. She has been involved in organizations supporting women in STEM since her time as an undergraduate. Since arriving at Penn, she spent 5 years as the Faculty Co-advisor for Society of Women Engineers. She has also given talks and engaged in discussions at many events advancing women in science. She is currently spearheading efforts in Penn’s School of Engineering to support LGBTQ+ graduate students, and serves as a formal point-of-contact for graduate students who would like to discuss issues of diversity or climate in Penn’s Department of Bioengineering specifically and School of Engineering & Applied Science broadly.  More recently, Bassett has begun contributing to the scholarly study of gender and racial disparity in academia, and developing tools to mitigate that disparity. The work began with a study of “The extent and drivers of gender imbalance in neuroscience reference lists”, now in press at Nature Neuroscience (2020; Preprint available here https://arxiv.org/abs/2001.01002). Dr. Bassett’s laboratory has proven to be an excellent training ground for new scientists. Eleven graduate students or postdocs for whom Dr. Bassett has served as either primary or secondary mentor have been placed in faculty positions. Eleven graduate students have received their PhDs and have been placed in prestigious postdoc fellowships including positions at Princeton University, University College London, and University of California San Francisco.