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Desmond Patton and the science of being human

Desmond Patton stands beside a reflection of himself in a window

Authored by: Penn Today

Faculty & Research


As one of Penn’s youngest Penn Integrates Knowledge (PIK) University professors, SP2’s Dr. Desmond Patton studies grief and loss, joy, and well-being. Calling himself a social worker first and foremost, he integrates communications and data science to study the human experience.

“What I began to understand is that the human condition, the human experience, is diverse and it’s extremely complex, complicated and varied. So, for me, that meant that there are a multiplicity of approaches and understandings that need to be at play,” he says.

With appointments in the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2), the Annenberg School for Communication, and a secondary appointment in psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine, Patton crosses disciplines and boundaries.