Most Memorable Jefferson Moments of 2021

The Nexus looks back at the biggest University stories from the past year.
Headshots of faculty and students
Some members of the Jefferson community who shaped 2021, including (clockwise from top left) visual communication design alumna Abbey Pitzer, medical students Noor Shaik and Paul Endres, doctor of physical therapy student Vincentia Thompson, law and society program director Evan Laine, and associate professor of architecture Chris Harnish.

As with 2020, the pandemic dominated many of the headlines this year. The Nexus explored how the University banded together to face unexpected challenges. We also examined how COVID-19 put our College of Population Health—and its students—in the spotlight; the best ways to cope with pandemic burnout; and the extensive preparation behind the successful vaccine clinics.

Beyond the pandemic, we shared the stories of successful alumni, trailblazing students and faculty, groundbreaking and far-reaching research and much more. Take a closer look at the biggest Jefferson news of 2021.

From Jefferson to the White House
Visual communication design alumna Abbey Pitzer joins Joe Biden’s Office of Digital Strategy team. “It will be about connecting the White House to the American people in transparent and engaging ways,” she explains. “There’s an incredible opportunity to bring people together, and digital plays a huge role in that.”

Ravenhill Mansion

In Photos: See Ravenhill Mansion, a Historic Jewel on East Falls Campus
The building dates back to the 19th century. Among others, actress Grace Kelly and Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, attended school here.

Jefferson Pro Bono Clinic Provides Care to Philly’s Underserved Community
Physical therapy students gain real-world skills while helping patients in need. “From the first day they walk in to when they leave, you can see the difference,” says student Vincentia Thompson. “We’re impacting their lives. They wouldn’t be able to get the care otherwise.”

Dr. Stephen K. Klasko Announces Retirement Plans
The trailblazing Jefferson President and CEO, recently named one the most influential Philadelphians by Philadelphia Magazine, will continue his efforts to transform health care.

Designing a Prosthetic to Help Surfers Catch a Wave
Two industrial design students create a low-cost, waterproof prosthetic that increases ankle mobility for adaptive surfers.

Can Social Media Sites Be Held Accountable for Users’ Posts?
The law and society program director breaks down the Section 230 debate.

A Scientific Journey of Adaptation
From switching fields to studying microorganisms that live in extreme conditions to setting up a lab during the pandemic, Dr. Manuela Tripepi shares her story of persistence and creating opportunities for underrepresented scientists.

Student Amirah Hutchinson

Celebrating the Class of 2021
Graduating students reflect on their time at Jefferson as they look ahead to bright futures. Sidney Kimmel Medical College students also they found out where they matched and became the first class to complete the JeffMD Curriculum. In addition, The Nexus welcomed the new class of undergraduates and medical students.

Medical Student Paul Endres’ Coming Out Story
“Coming out to me is living your most authentic life—for yourself, not for anyone else,” he says.

Multidisciplinary Effort Aims to Create ‘Neurodiverse Furniture’ for Specialty Care Pavilion
It’s never too early to brainstorm ways to “improve lives” for Jefferson students and patients.

a photo of Earth from the International Space Station windows

University’s Global Reach Will Soon Extend Into Space
Thanks to the Jefferson Israel Center’s innovative relationship with Sheba Medical Center, three scientific experiments were selected for a 2022 mission to the International Space Station.

Jefferson Propels Students to the Next Career Step
Undergrads achieve over 96% employment, grad school success rate.

How Can Interdisciplinary Collaboration Best Serve the Growing Healthcare Needs of Africa?
Chris Harnish, associate professor of architecture, bridges the gap between the medical and design professions.

Nafees Norris JIB outside

Growing the Next Generation of Therapies
As the first African American man admitted to the Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing, Nafees Norris paves a path for others. Watch more about Norris on 6ABC.

Distressing COVID Scenes From India Inspire Medical Student to Take Action
With much of her extended family living in Bangalore, Noor Shaik sparked a massive PPE donation drive. Read more about Shaik’s work in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Lily and on CBS3.

Using Innovation to Clean Up Plastic Pollution
Engineering students design solution to remove trash from the Schuylkill River.

Aaron and Dr. Serruya with arm brace

Mind Over Matter
One stroke patient’s journey to help researchers understand if brain implants connected to a robotic arm brace can help him—and eventually other survivors—restore movement. CBS Sunday Morning interviewed the team behind “the pioneer in stroke recovery.”

Creativity Sparkles at Celebration of Innovation
Seven student projects stem from interdisciplinary collaborations across the University.

Fashion Film

Fashion Design Film Highlights Students’ Four-Year Journey
COVID forced the program to reimagine the in-person fashion show; designers and faculty adapted and showcased their work.

Separating Fact From Fantasy
Law and society program director Evan Laine explores the significance of conspiracy theories—and Senator Arlen Specter. Also, Laine and Dr. Raju Parakkal, associate professor of international relations, discuss how 9/11 conspiracy theories fueled the war on reality with the Washington Post.

Herb Magee’s Hall-of-Fame Coaching Career to End After This Season
The Jefferson coach has been in charge on Henry Avenue since 1967, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Plus, women’s basketball coach Tom Shirley earned his 800th career victory, and the women’s and men’s cross country, women’s soccer and women’s volleyball teams all won their respective CACC championships.

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