People of PCI: Jessica Jones Gupta

The Penn Center for Innovation is often the behind-the-scenes force promoting Penn discoveries, innovation, and technology. With this new blog series, we’re moving the amazing PCI staff into the spotlight to learn about what they do, what led them to PCI, and how their work helps the greater Penn community.

The first spotlight shines on Jessica Jones Gupta, the newest member of the PCI team.

What is your role at PCI?

I’m the Communication and Marketing Manager overseeing the website, print and digital marketing, social media, and events. On any given day, I may write a blog or press release, take photos at an event, then work with a partner on designing a poster or guide. I love the work, because each day is different, and I will eventually get to collaborate with all the staff.

Wait…Is it Communications or Communication?

For the longest time, I referred to my work as Communications – and that is often how it is displayed in titles and programs. The problem is that our advancement in the study of how people communicate has required a separation between the word, with and without, the s:

Communications is the study or practice of transporting messages, such as telecomm, the internet, and the technology that allows us to communicate.

According Dr. John L. Jackson, Jr., the Dean of the Annenberg School of Communication, “The field of Communication is an intellectually generous one, connecting with history, sociology, anthropology, psychology, political science, and other fields.” It’s how people engage with each other, whether through marketing, visual and digital forms, across global and inter-sectional boundaries, and between the public, private, and governmental institutions.Communications is the tools we use, while communication is everything else (and that’s a lot).

As a part of the PCI team, I focus on communication to educate faculty, staff, business leaders, partners, and students about the innovation and technology emerging from Penn, and how they are helping to make the world a better place.

What led you to PCI?

My background is environmental communication – I have a Bachelor’s from the University of Maryland in Environmental Science and Policy, and a Master’s from NYU in Environmental Conservation Education. Until PCI, my 12+ year career was spent at environmental nonprofit organizations and governments, advancing their “green” programs, including volunteer events, radon, stormwater management, tree planting, citizen science, energy, etc.

When I moved to Philadelphia in February, I decided I wanted to pivot and try to utilize my skills and tools beyond the environment. I now get to talk to the public about the environment, as well as, medicine, engineering, robotics, and technology. Every day at PCI I learn something new.

What should people expect from communication at PCI in the coming year?

There are still faculty and staff who do not know about the support PCI can offer to their research. Making PCI universally known across campus will be a big theme of our marketing campaigns. We will also be promoting Penn inventions and businesses at events and conferences. Last year, Penn went to SXSW, the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, and the BIO International Conference. By going to events, we show that Penn, and Philly at large, is welcoming to innovators and startup businesses. We can attract more talent and investors, who will in turn, support Penn researchers.

We also plan on expanding our Celebration of Innovation in December with more opportunities to network, get face-time with industry leaders, and advice from those who have gone through the process of idea to invention to patents to licensing, alliances or new ventures.

Tell us about yourself outside of work.

I grew up in NYC, spent many years in DC, and just recently, moved to Philadelphia. I am a city girl, through and through, and much prefer to walk or hop on the bus instead of drive.

Along with exploring SEPTA, I also volunteer with PAWS as a foster mom to kittens. Most recently, I took care of 3 neonatal kittens from 5 days old to adoption. Waking up every 3 hours at night was exhausting, but so worth it, when they finally reached their fur-ever families.

For questions on PCI Communication and Marketing, email Jessica at

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