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Beginning with the class of 2019, in order to graduate as Benjamin Franklin Scholars, seniors must choose a research finding they have made over the course of their time at Penn and present it as a Ben Talk.

The Ben Talk is a 6- to 8-minute video that begins with the question, "What has been your most intriguing research discovery at Penn?"  The Ben Talk will explain what that finding is to a non-specialist, and then explain why it is important.  Please see Ruth Lee's Ben Talk as an example.  You may present work from a course or Penn-sponsored research.  It could be a summary of findings from your senior thesis, or a seminar paper you are particularly proud of, or research work you did in a lab, or helping a professor research her next book, or on a Penn Global Internship.  Non-Penn-sponsored research work, while it might be interesting and important, is NOT an eligible subject for a Ben Talk.

Examples of Penn-sponsored research work (eligible):

  • Paper that was part of Penn coursework (could be a BFS seminar but doesn’t have to be)
  • Senior Thesis
  • Research work with Penn faculty/staff (paid or unpaid)
  • Research work with non-Penn researchers that was funded through a grant from Penn
  • Paper that was part of coursework you did at another university that was part of study abroad
  • Work on a summer internship sponsored by Penn (Global Internship Program, e.g.)

Examples of non-Penn-sponsored research work (ineligible):

  • Work on a summer internship that was not sponsored by Penn
  • Independent research that does not fall into the eligible categories listed above

Ben Talks are reviewed by a committee of BFS faculty determined by the BFS Faculty Council.  Production bells and whistles are not as important as substance. Ben Talks that fulfill the requirements – that is, they a) explain your chosen research finding and b) tell why it is important – will be considered for the Ben Talks prize
Submitted Ben Talks will be showcased on our Ben Talks page (with permission), which will be a legacy of our scholars’ exploration and discovery for the coming years.

One Ben Talk will be selected for the Ben Talks Prize, which will be announced and awarded at the end of the school year.

Ben Talks Timeline:

  • Fall semester 2022:
  • November 2022: Prepare
    • Visit the Ben Talks Canvas site, where you’ll learn how to submit your talk.
      • Contact Dr. Christine Muller at if you will graduate in May or December 2023 and you do not have access to the Canvas site.
    • Register your topic for OPTIONAL pre-approval on Canvas.
    • Start working on your Ben Talk
  • Sunday, February 5, 2023: Register your Ben Talk topic by February 5th to get OPTIONAL pre-approval.
  • Saturday, April 1, 2023 – Ben Talks submission deadline
    • Complete the Video Consent Form on Canvas.
    • Upload your Ben Talk to Canvas
  • May 2023 - Ben Talks Prize winner announced