Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences student Andrés Oliveros González wins at this year’s Penn Grad Talks

Photo collage of Penn Grad Talks winners
LPS professional master’s students (left to right): Andrés Oliveros González, Dinisha Mehta, Antonia Offen, Lixian Xie, Hang Zhao

The College of Liberal and Professional Studies is pleased to recognize the LPS students selected to participate in the Professional Master’s program category of this year’s Penn Grad Talks. The competition, which took place at the Penn Museum on February 23, features TED Talk-style presentations by Penn Arts and Sciences graduate students from the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and professional master’s programs. Winners from each program category plus an overall audience choice awardee were announced on social media.

This year’s professional master’s programs category winner was Andrés Oliveros González who discussed the connection between storytelling and influence. Watch Andrés’s presentation on Vimeo.

The LPS student presentations included:

The Balloon Theory: Not all Kinds of "Bubbles" are Restrictive!

Dinisha Mehta, Organizational Dynamics

Dinisha discussed the balloon theory of psychological resilience and how we can each apply lessons from positive psychology to manage the one constant in all of our lives: change. By adapting our mindsets and adopting habits that encourage positivity, we can improve our optimism, gratitude, grit, and more. These resiliency attributes, she shared, align with improved personal well-being and professional success.

Shoring Up Against Hurricanes: Water Utility Resilience in Puerto Rico

Antonia Offen, Environmental Studies

Antonia shared the urgent need for water utility system improvements in Puerto Rico, which will improve the Caribbean island’s ability to recover quickly from devastating weather events like 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Though utility resilience repairs have begun—such as adding alternative energy sources and improving water storage and physical infrastructure—more work is needed, particularly when it comes to the water workforce. Antonia illustrated how expanded staff, better pay, and enhanced emergency training are also essential to Puerto Rico’s storm resilience as climate change increases the intensity and frequency of storms. 

Three Stories Every Student Needs to Tell

Andrés Oliveros González, Behavioral and Decision Sciences – Program category winner

Andrés argued that great talent and great ideas aren’t always enough to get you noticed and bring success. Compelling storytelling, however, can be the bridge to win people over and get your ideas heard. Origin stories convey your purpose and build trust; insight stories about your expertise shape credibility; and connection stories make you likable and relatable. By using these three types of stories in everyday conversations, you can successfully express who you really are and influence others.

Using AI-Driven Coach to Enhance Well-Being among the Global Chinese Population

Lixian Xie, Organizational Dynamics

Lixian shared that the global Chinese population struggles with mental illness and emotional challenges without the same access to mental health resources and well-being interventions as people in Western countries. To address this disparity, she developed an AI app based on coaching models and psychological theories to provide personalized coaching services. AI-driven coaching, she argued, is an affordable, accessible, and scalable care option that can close the treatment access gap and improve well-being around the world. 

The Role of Carbon Management in Reaching United States' Climate Neutrality Goal

Hang Zhao, Environmental Studies

While transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy is an essential pathway toward the country’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, Hang argued that the US must also invest in carbon management, which includes carbon capture, removal, transportation, storage, and reuse. Weighing the risks and benefits, Hang concluded that carbon management is a feasible technology-based solution to mitigate carbon emissions.

Congratulations to Andrés and to all of the LPS students who participated in this year’s Penn Grad Talks! 

Watch a recording of the live-streamed event, including all the LPS student presentations with opening remarks from Vice Dean Nora Lewis, on YouTube.

Learn more about Penn Grad Talks >