Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Nobel laureate examines embryonic science

In the preface of his Albert Einstein Memorial Lecture, delivered Jan. 30 at Robertson Hall, Nobel laureate and Princeton molecular biology professor Eric Wieschaus spoke about the everyday joys of laboratory science. “What drives us, often, is not just intellectual curiosity, and it’s not just the great social goals and the good that science can bring,” he said, “[but also] the inherent human pleasure that scientists take in doing things with your hands in the lab.”

Using examples drawn from the hands-on experimental work of his colleagues, Wieschaus examined what scientists have learned in the last two decades about how embryos develop in fruit flies, frogs, and mammals. He also said a “sea change” in embryology is underway, with the field turning its focus to the logic and circuitry that generates patterns in the development of embryos. Future embryologists will need to be fluent in computational biology, he predicted, because these molecular circuits “may be better described in the language of physics and math.”

Wieschaus, a winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Medicine, was the 13th Nobel laureate to deliver the Einstein Lecture. The event is presented annually by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

On the scene: Brrrr

It may have been 21 degrees outside, but nothing stops the Orange Key tour guides. Sarah Harrison ’09, left, leads a group of hardy visitors Jan. 26 on a brisk walk across campus.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Alumni in the news

Michelle Obama ’85, the wife of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, was profiled in a Jan. 21 Chicago Sun-Times article. The story included quotations from her sociology thesis about Princeton’s black community, in which she wrote, “I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus, as if I really don’t belong.” … Former Congressman Jim Leach ’64 joined the Woodrow Wilson School faculty Jan. 24, accepting a three-semester appointment. The 15-term Republican from Iowa told the Iowa City Press-Citizen that in addition to teaching, he plans to write and reflect on his career in public service. … Gayle Delaney ’72 was featured in a Newsday article about dreamwork – “a more nuanced, personalized meditation on one’s dreams” – on Jan. 29. … Judson Wallace ’05, a professional basketball player for Germany’s Eisbaren Bremerhaven, scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the victorious North team in the German league all-star game Jan. 29. … The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys added Jason Garrett ’89 to their coaching staff Jan. 25 but declined to designate his job title. The Associated Press reported that Garrett is a candidate to become the Cowboys’ head coach, but if another head coach is hired, he will be the team’s offensive coordinator. Garrett won the Asa S. Bushnell [’21] Cup as the Ivy League’s top football player in 1988 and played in the NFL for 12 seasons, including seven with the Cowboys.

A day to play

Princeton athletes will celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day Feb. 3 with a program that includes an interactive sports fair for girls, run by women on the lacrosse, rowing, softball, and soccer teams, and three Ivy League varsity contests. Women’s swimming and diving completes its two-day meet against Harvard and Yale at noon at DeNunzio Pool, women’s hockey hosts Yale at 4 p.m. at Baker Rink, and women’s basketball faces Brown at 7 p.m. at Jadwin Gym.

Sigman ’89 *98 explores ‘breaking and healing’

Choreographer and dancer Jill Sigman ’89 *98’s new show, RUPTURE, will debut in New York City Feb. 8 at 8:30 p.m. at Danspace Project, 131 East 10th Street. The multi-media dance also will be performed Feb. 9 and 10 at 8:30 p.m. and Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. According to Sigman’s Web site,, the show is “set in a charged landscape that includes hundreds of broken eggshells” and it explores “breaking and healing on personal, architectural, and global scales.” Sigman was profiled in PAW in January 2006.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson, Princeton Alumni Weekly

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Crunch time

The intensity of preparing for fall term final exams shows on the face of Melissa Saiontz ’10 as she studies in Frist Campus Center on Jan. 20. At left, with her back to the camera, is Ivana King ’08.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Returning to the court

Princeton men’s basketball will be back in action Jan. 29, playing Seton Hall at the Continental Airlines Arena in the Tigers’ first game after the first semester exam break. The Tigers struggled in an 0-2 start in Ivy League games, but they have played well against non-league opponents, posting a 9-4 record. The game will mark the first time that the two schools have met since 1988-89, the same year that the Pirates reached the NCAA Final Four. Seton Hall leads the all-time series, 8-3.

Now available at PAW Online

PAW’s Jan. 24 special issue, Global Princeton, is now online, with feature stories about American University of Beirut president John Waterbury ’61 , the relationship of American universities with their counterparts in China, alumni involved in international affairs, where Princeton alumni make their homes around the world, the teaching of Woodrow Wilson School lecturer and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer, and Princeton’s international campus.

PAW Online also includes the following web exclusives:
On the campus – Student interest is spurring Princeton to enhance its offerings in less familiar languages, Joy Karuga ’09 finds.
No path to citizenship – Ilya Shapiro ’99 tells how U.S. immigrations laws keep foreign professionals from serving their adopted country.
Under the ivy – When new buildings replace the old on campus, something is lost, Gregg Lange ’70 writes.

Princeton blog watch

Jan. 24 – Princeton computer science professor Ed Felten examines a new Wikipedia feature aimed at fighting spam. … Jan. 20 – Jon Solomon of the Princeton Basketball News blog covers John Thompson III ’88’s recent trip to New Jersey with his Georgetown men’s basketball team. The Hoyas beat Seton Hall, Princeton’s next opponent. ... Jan. 15 – Lauren S. Necochea *06 of the Princeton AIDS Initiative takes a closer look at a recent study that uses economic principles to examine the African AIDS epidemic.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson, Princeton Alumni Weekly.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Just in time

On Jan. 16, Princeton students celebrated Dean’s Date, the biannual deadline for turning in end-of-semester papers, with a 5 p.m. gathering on Chapel Drive that included music from the Princeton Band and tacos and hot chocolate provided by the University. This semester’s last-minute finishers included walkers, runners, a mountain biker, and a half-dozen sneaker-clad streakers who sprinted across McCosh Courtyard at 5:07 p.m.

Cowher shines in Ivy action

Women’s basketball star Meagan Cowher ’08 earned her second consecutive Ivy League Player of the Week award after scoring 31 points and 35 points, respectively, in a Jan. 12 win against Columbia and a Jan. 13 loss to Cornell. Cowher, who is averaging a team-best 19 points and 7.6 rebounds, is now 34 points shy of becoming the 11th Tiger woman to score 1,000 points in her career. With 11 games remaining, she also is on pace to break Sandi Bittler ’90’s single-season scoring record, set in 1988-89. The women’s basketball team returns to action Feb. 2 and 3 with home games against Yale and Brown.

Young scientists at work

Eighth-grader Varnika Atmakuri and eighth-grader William Ying team up during the tower-building event of the N.J. Science Olympiad Jan. 9 at the University. Looking on are post-doctoral student Mark Dobossy, left, and Roland Heck, associate dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. More than 500 middle school and high school students took part in the competition.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Earth, through the eyes of teens

Alumni Katie Carpenter ’79 (producer) and John Heminway ’66 (executive producer) recently released a two-part documentary, A Year on Earth, which debuted on the Discovery Kids Channel in December and will be screened at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (Jan. 27 through Feb. 4). The film follows three teenagers as they travel to five continents to “take the pulse of our planet and report back to their generation,” according to the film’s Web site. Carpenter, who was a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton last spring, said students in her documentary filmmaking course had a chance to see the project’s rough cut and “gave excellent notes.” The producers also solicited feedback from experts at the Princeton Environmental Institute. Discovery Education is distributing copies of A Year on Earth to 70,000 schools, and the film is expected to air again on the Discovery networks early in 2007. Check local listings.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson, Princeton Alumni Weekly


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Switching jobs: Alumni in the news

Two Woodrow Wilson School alumni made national headlines by taking new jobs in Iraq last week. On Jan. 5, President George W. Bush selected Lt. Gen. David Petraeus *87 to be America’s chief commander in Iraq, and three days later, the president named Ryan Crocker, a former Wilson School mid-career fellow, to replace Zalmay Khalilzad as ambassador to Iraq. In one report, NPR took note of Petraeus’ Princeton background and the topic of his Ph.D. thesis: "The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam.” Petraeus was featured in a 2004 PAW story and a 2002 PAW interview. … Several New York newspapers reported the appointments of incoming Gov. Eliot Spitzer ’81, which include at least two Princetonians. David Nocenti ’80, who was Spitzer’s counsel in his time as New York’s attorney general, was named counsel to the governor. Anthony Shorris *79, a Wilson School lecturer and former director of Princeton's Policy Research Institute for the Region, will be the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. … And elsewhere in New York, former Tiger baseball star Ross Ohlendorf ’05, a minor league pitcher, was one of four players traded to the New York Yankees Jan. 9 in a deal that sent Yankee star Randy Johnson back to the Arizona Diamondbacks. New York Daily News columnist Bill Madden highlighted Ohlendorf as the key prospect in the trade, reporting that he could find his way into the Yankees’ bullpen in 2007 or 2008.

Wedding smiles

Alexis Chiang ’98 and Tim Colvin ’97 of New York City take advantage of the mild weather for outdoor photos after their wedding ceremony Jan. 6 at the University Chapel. Temperatures were in the 70s as the couple posed near Whig and Clio halls.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Before exams, Ivy tests

In the last weekend before the first semester exam break, several Princeton winter sports teams will face Ivy League opponents in key games. On campus, women’s basketball and men’s hockey are the headliners. Women’s basketball beat Penn Jan. 6 in its Ivy opener as Meg Cowher ’08 (22 points) led Princeton in scoring for the 11th time in 15 games. The Tigers host Columbia Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. and Cornell Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. At Baker Rink, the men’s hockey team will try to rebound from last weekend’s loss to Quinnipiac, facing Yale Jan. 12 at 7 p.m. and Brown Jan. 13 at 7 p.m.

Princeton men’s basketball will start its Ivy season on the road with games at Columbia Jan. 12 and at Cornell Jan. 13. At 9-4, the Tigers are off to the best start of the eight Ivy teams, but they are taking nothing for granted entering the weekend: The Lions and the Big Red each split their games against Princeton last season.

Math and card tricks converge

Longtime Princeton faculty member and Plasma Physics Laboratory scientist Martin Kruskal died Dec. 26 at age 81, but his contributions will live on in applied mathematics – and in a card trick that bears his name.

The “Kruskal Count,” employed by amateur magicians, is a trick that uses a standard deck of 52 cards and the mathematical principle of Markov chains. The magician asks a subject to pick a number between 1 and 10, which the person does not reveal. Using that number, the subject works his way through a deck of cards using the following rules: Count off the secret number of cards to get a “key card”; in the example below, the subject’s number is 7, so the first “key card” is the four of spades. Then, use the number on the key card to count to the next key card. Aces are worth one and face cards are worth five. The subject's sequence is shown with blue dots below, and the subject is asked to reveal the cards evenly, as not to tip off the magician. At the same time, the magician follows the same counting process, shown with yellow dots, starting with his own secret number. (It helps to use 1, as in the example below.) When the subject reaches his last key card, the magician can identify it because it is the magician’s key card as well. The chains have converged.

The Kruskal Count works about five out of six times using the rules above, according to a 2001 paper by Princeton Professor Robert Vanderbei and two colleagues. “But if it fails,” Vanderbei noted, “the magician must fall back on his own wits to entertain the audience.”

America’s long relationship with the Middle East

In Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (W.W. Norton), historian Michael Oren *86 explores the history of America’s involvement in the Middle East from George Washington to George W. Bush. Drawing on a range of government documents, personal correspondence, and the memoirs of merchants, missionaries, and travelers, Oren reconstructs the diverse channels through which the United States has interacted with the Middle East. Oren, a historian of the Middle East, lives in Israel. For information about other books by alumni and faculty, visit New Books at PAW online.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson, with reporting by Katherine Federici Greenwood.
Princeton Alumni Weekly


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Eyes on the ice

Members of Princeton’s women’s hockey team keep a close watch on the action against Ohio State Dec. 30 at Baker Rink. The Tigers lost to the ninth-ranked Buckeyes 3-2, but came back to beat Ohio State 2-1 the next day.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

Shooting for a winner

With a 6-1-1 record in its last eight games, Princeton men’s hockey is on the verge of climbing above .500 for the first time this season. The Tigers host Quinnipiac on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. at Baker Rink. With a balanced attack that includes seven players with 10 or more points this season, Princeton has won four consecutive games, including one-goal wins against Nebraska-Omaha and Minnesota State Dec. 30 and 31. Fans in New England can watch the Princeton-Quinnipiac game on NESN.

Men’s and women’s basketball will play key weekend games as well. On Jan. 6 at 2 p.m., the Princeton men host Rice, a team that includes national scoring leader Morris Almond (30.3 points per game). The Tigers, who lead the nation in scoring defense (an average of 50.9 points allowed), will aim to contain the 6-foot-6-inch swingman. In women’s basketball, Princeton opens its Ivy League schedule at Penn Jan. 6 at 7 p.m. The Tigers shared the Ivy championship with Brown and Dartmouth last season.

Faculty clips

In December and early January, several Princeton faculty members put their writing skills to use in the popular press. Peter Singer, the DeCamp Professor of Bioethics, wrote a Dec. 17 New York Times Magazine cover story about charitable giving, making a case for “donating more than you’re comfortable with.” He also wrote an opinion piece in The Australian Jan. 3 about the difficult medical decisions involved in treating or withholding treatment for extremely premature newborns. Alvin Felzenberg *78, a visiting lecturer at the politics department, wrote an appreciation of President Gerald Ford in the op-ed pages of the Washington Times Dec. 28. Ford, he wrote, “provided service to his country in ways that went beyond his cleaning up for his predecessor.” And two other professors took turns as book reviewers. Michael Wood, Charles Barnwell Straut Professor of English and Comparative Literature, critiqued Thomas Pynchon’s latest novel, Against the Day, for the London Review of Books, while James McPherson, the George Henry Davis Professor of American History, emeritus, examined Doris Kearns Goodwin’s latest book about Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet for The New York Times.

Winter notes at Richardson

Musical performances by jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan ’81 and singers from the Trenton Children’s Chorus Covenant Singers and the Princeton Day School will highlight the University’s Martin Luther King Day Celebration at Richardson Auditorium Jan. 15 at 1 p.m. The program will examine the music of human rights movements, with an address by Daphne Brooks, an associate professor of English and African American studies.

Richardson also will host three orchestral events in January, starting Friday, Jan. 5, with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, which will play a lineup of Beethoven’s Eighth Symphony, John Adams’ Shaker Loops, and Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, featuring solo violinist Jennifer Koh. The Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra takes the stage Jan. 20 for its 45th annual winter concert, and the following day, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra will play selections from Schubert and Beethoven in an afternoon performance. To complete the month’s string selections, the Artemis String Quartet, a German traveling group, will perform Jan. 25.

Posted by Brett Tomlinson.
Princeton Alumni Weekly


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?