Alum of the Month

October 2016

October 2016
Jonathan Moreno and Jamie Morris

Jonathan Moreno

Q & A:

  • Can you please provide us with a brief update of what you have been doing since we last spoke back in 2007?
    Wow, it's been an intense nine years. Besides teaching bioethics at Penn, I've given a ton of talks, served on numerous panels, published a couple of books, and have done a lot of travel. One of the books, The Body Politic, won an award from Kirkus Reviews. I updated Mind Wars for paperback in 2012, which was translated into Japanese in 2008 and will be in Chinese soon. I've also been blogging pretty regularly on The Huffington Post and sometimes on other sites like Psychology Today. I had my first online teaching experience with a CourseEra class on ethics in neuroscience, and I think my group at Penn will be offering more online bioethics education. I've done a lot of work for the National Academies, including serving on committees on issues of emerging technologies and national security. I'm also the U.S. member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee where I've helped write and edit reports on bioethics and human rights, especially one on the refugee crisis that will be completed next year. And last April I ran the first Penn Bioethics Film Festival where we showed a number of recent movies about social psychology experiments. One of them, Experimenter, was about the "obedience to authority" experiments in the early 1960s that I studied as a psych major at Hofstra.
  • What was it like serving as a member of President Barack Obama's transition team?
    It sounds a lot sexier than it is. The main job of a transition team is to help the president understand what's going on throughout the executive branch and how that activity does or doesn't fit with the new president's policies and priorities. Mostly you end up talking to a lot of people and staying up late writing memos. Since I was committed to being in China for a Gates Foundation project for some of that period, I received requests for items at midnight Beijing time and due to fast turnaround needs I was writing into the small hours.
  • What is currently going on in the field of bioethics that fascinates you the most?
    If you'd asked me 10 years ago, I would have said the most interesting stuff is going on in stem cell biology, but a lot of that is well-established and less controversial now. Since then I'm still trying to understand what's going on in brain science and what it all means. For many bioethicists that is the most stimulating area. In another field, the way that clinical trials are done is changing quickly, especially in cancer research, which is starting to focus on tumor genes rather than on the organs in which cancers appear. Some of that work involves the use of new and powerful lab technologies called gene editing. Because of these breakthroughs we will have to face the question whether in some cases the DNA we pass on to our children should be technologically modified or not.
  • What was your inspiration behind writing your newest book, Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network?
    Impromptu Man is about my dad's pioneering work on improv theater, group therapy, and social networks. It's being translated into several languages – Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese – because he has a pretty big international following. He died in 1974 when I was 21, and since I was getting to the age he was when I was born and it was the 40th anniversary of his death, I thought it was the right time to write about him. He was quite famous in the worlds of theater and science from the 1930s to the 1950s (a pretty unusual combination), but by the time I came along his ideas were being integrated into the culture, often without crediting him. It was painful to watch a great innovator feel as though his time had passed, but in fact his ideas permeate our society. For example, he did the first social network analysis in the early 1930s, and social graphics like the ones created by Facebook are just modern versions of the group diagrams he drew then. This was a very satisfying book to write because I felt like I had a unique opportunity to honor his memory. By the way, many Hofstra professors at the time knew about him and one of them, a sociology professor, hired me to teach a summer course while I was a grad student. I've always appreciated that, as it kept me in lunch money that summer!
Jonathan Moreno

Jonathan D. Moreno is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor at the University of Pennsylvania where he is a Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) professor. At Penn he is also professor of medical ethics and health policy, of history and sociology of science, and of philosophy.

His latest book is titled Impromptu Man: J.L. Moreno and the Origins of Psychodrama, Encounter Culture, and the Social Network (2014), which Amazon called a "#1 hot new release." Among his previous books are The Body Politic, which was named a Best Book of 2011 by Kirkus Reviews, Mind Wars (2012), and Undue Risk (2000). He has published hundreds of papers, articles, reviews and op-eds.

Moreno frequently contributes to publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and Nature, and often appears on broadcast and online media. In 2008-09 he served as a member of President Barack Obama's transition team. His work has been cited by Al Gore and was used in the development of the screenplay for The Bourne Legacy. His online neuroethics course drew more than 36,000 registrants in fall 2013. The American Journal of Bioethics has called him "the most interesting bioethicist of our time."

Moreno is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and is the U.S. member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee. A Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., Moreno has served as an advisor to many governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including three presidential commissions, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He holds the Visiting Professorship in History at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. Moreno's writings have been translated into Chinese, German, Japanese and Portuguese.

Moreno has a B.A. in psychology from Hofstra University, holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Washington University in St. Louis, was an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University, and is a recipient of the Benjamin Rush Medal from William & Mary Law School, the Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award from Tufts University, and the Penn Alumni Faculty Award of Merit.

Jamie Morris '07

Q & A:

  • Can you please provide us with a brief update of what you have been doing since we last spoke back in 2010?
    Since 2010, I have continued reporting traffic, but also moved up to a DJ and fill-in morning show co-host on multiple IHeart Media NYC radio stations.  Currently, I'm getting ready to launch a brand new morning show right here on Long Island!  The WALK Breafast Club with Mark and Jamie is coming to WALK 97.5 in just a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!
  • What is your favorite part of being a radio DJ?
    My favorite part about being a DJ is connecting with my audience. I work early in the morning, and I love when someone can call me just to say "Hi" or tell me what's up for their day.  It's so flattering that they want to include me in their morning routine.
  • Who is your current favorite artist to play on the radio?
    I am always excited to hear new music from Lady Gaga, and I'm pumped about new stuff coming soon from Bruno Mars. Twenty One Pilots and The Chainsmokers have been a lot of fun to play this summer, too!
  • What do you do as a voiceover artist?
    As a VO artist I've been involved in voicing a lot of radio/TV commercials and a number of campaigns, including radio commercials for Hofstra! It's a lot of running around to audition after audition and crossing your fingers – it's crazy competitive. It's a business you have to dedicate a lot of time to if you're going to be serious about it!
Jamie Morris '07

Jamie Morris is the co-host of Long Island's newest morning show, The WALK Breakfast Club with Mark and Jamie, which can soon be heard every Mon-Fri 5-10am on WALK 97.5. Prior to WALK, Jamie was the ultimate utility player for iHeart Media's New York radio cluster for almost 10 years! She has been most notably known as "Julie Moore," Z100's morning traffic reporter, but has also been a DJ and morning show co-host fill in for 103.5 KTU, 106.7 Lite FM, and 710 WOR. You can hear Jamie's voice on numerous radio and TV commercials for brands like Seagrams, Schwinn, Heluva Good Dips, and of course - Hofstra University! When she's away from the mic, she's spending time with her two kids - two year old Jack and newborn Autumn - and her hubby, Dennis!