Rex J. L. Heymann Lecture Fund Series

The Rex J. L. Heymann Lecture Series Fund was established in 1988 by the late Rex J. L. Heymann, W’48, and his wife, Margaret J. Heymann. The purpose of the fund is to provide support to invite prominent speakers to present lectures that would be of interest to undergraduate majors, graduate students, and faculty of the Regional Science program as well as from other areas of the University.

Rex J. L. Heymann received the Alumni Award of Merit from Penn in 1964, the University’s highest alumni honor. In a letter to Penn when she established the award, Mrs. Heymann wrote: “Rex Heymann was learned, enthusiastic, engaging and considerate. It is my hope that speakers selected to participate in the lecture services bearing his name will reflect these qualities.”

Rex J.L. Heymann
Inaugural Rex J.L. Heymann Lecture: Mario Small, Quetelet Professor of Social Science, Columbia University

The Rex J. L. Heymann Lecture Series fund was established to support public lectures on the relationship between space and social life at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Rex J. L. Heymann was a war hero in World War II.  He received a bronze Battle Star for the Rome-Amo campaign as well as a Combat Infantry Badge in August of 1945. 

Our first inaugural Rex J. L. Heymann Lecture was given by Dr. Mario Small the Quetelet Professor of Social Science in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University. The title of his talk for the lecture is, "Neighborhoods, Financial Institutions, and Racial Inequality." In this research, Professor Small examines how living in minority neighborhoods affects ease of access to conventional banks vs. to alternative financial institutions (AFIs) such as check cashers and payday lenders, which are often more expensive and have at times been called predatory. Results suggest that race is strikingly more important than class, as the AFI is more often closer than the bank in well-off minority neighborhoods than in poor white ones. 

Dr. Small
This Year's Rex J.L. Heymann Lecture: Sarah Brayne, Associate Professor of Sociology, The University of Texas at Austin

Our second annual (2024) Rex J. L. Heymann lecture will be given by Dr. Sarah Brayne, who is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. The title of her talk is, "Data-Intensive Surveillance, Individual Outcomes, and Group Disparities Across Space"

In this talk, Professor Brayne will examine the power of data-intensive surveillance to influence individual trajectories, population-level disparities, and inequalities long important to sociologists. As demonstrated, surveillance influences outcomes through a process of making individuals legible to the state—that is, expanding the depth and breadth of the state’s capacity to “know” its population. Building a theory of institutional legibility, she will leverage two empirical cases. The first draws on ethnographic and interview-based research conducted within the Los Angeles Police Department to understand the social and spatial process of data-intensive surveillance. She will reveal how the police leverage predictive analytics and new surveillance technologies to allocate resources across space and codify risk, shifting discretion to earlier, less visible parts of the policing process. The second case seeks to understand the ambivalent role of the criminal legal system in tethering individuals to the state. She will use demographic methods to analyze incarceration and spatial variation in life expectancy across the United States, with a focus on racial disparities in mortality. Taken together, this research provides key insights into the conditions and consequences by which the state—and increasingly private actors—render populations knowable (and thus governable), and how this process has been transformed through mass digitization and mass incarceration.

In her research, Dr. Brayne uses qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze the social consequences of data-intensive surveillance practices. Her first book, Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing, draws on ethnographic fieldwork within the Los Angeles Police Department to understand the social implications of how law enforcement uses predictive analytics and new surveillance technologies. In earlier work, she developed a theory of "system avoidance," using survey data to test the relationship between criminal legal contact and involvement in medical, financial, labor market, and educational institutions. Currently, she is analyzing the relationship between criminal legal contact and racial and educational disparities in life expectancy. Dr. Brayne is the founder and director of the Texas Prison Education Initiative (TPEI), which offers credit-bearing college classes to incarcerated people in Texas.


Photo of Dr. Brayne