High above the surfboards and beach umbrellas, a telescope on Hawaii’s tallest mountain is about to get a makeover. In collaboration with researchers from Japan, Taiwan, Brazil and France, Princeton astrophysicists are adding new instruments to the Japanese-run Subaru Telescope at Hawaii’s Mauna Kea observatory with the goal of surveying distant galaxies and expanding our knowledge of the universe.
This collaboration among astrophysicists from select universities around the globe is one of four new Global Collaborative Networks at Princeton. These networks — two in anthropology, one in classics and one in astrophysical sciences — encourage Princeton researchers to engage with centers of learning worldwide.
These initiatives complement the many informal collaborations among faculty members. The new programs create research opportunities for junior scholars such as postdoctoral researchers and graduate and undergraduate students at Princeton and its partner institutions. The centers are funded by the Princeton Global Collaborative Networks Fund and supported in part by Spanish bank Banco Santander and the University of São Paulo in Brazil.
“At Princeton, ’going global’ means not only shipping Princeton researchers out into the world but also bringing the world to Princeton,” said Jeremy Adelman, director of the Council for International Teaching and Research and the Walter Samuel Carpenter III Professor in Spanish Civilization and Culture. “Researchers from Princeton and our global partners will benefit from the ’coattail effect’ of bringing what they have learned back to the home institution.”
The network program is one of several initiatives that strengthen the University’s relationships with exceptional research institutions around the world. Last year, Princeton began planning a new strategic partnership with the University of São Paulo, Latin America’s top-ranked university. The University also is launching long-term partnerships with renowned institutions in Japan and Germany.
“Princeton places high value on interactions with leading scholars from around the globe and the intellectual achievements that arise from these collaborations,” said Provost Christopher Eisgruber. “We are in the process of strengthening ties that have tremendous benefits for the advancement of knowledge, both within our community of scholars and with scholars at other institutions.”
In fall 2012 researchers obtained the first images from a new camera attached to the Subaru Telescope. The camera is part of an international collaboration called the Subaru Measurements of Images and REdshifts, or SUMIRE (soo-mee-ray).
The SUMIRE network is a collaboration between Princeton and astrophysical scientists from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan as well as researchers from other institutions in the United States, France, Taiwan and Brazil.
The Princeton team is led by astrophysical sciences professor Michael Strauss; James Gunn, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy Emeritus; and Edwin Turner, a professor of astrophysical sciences. Also on the project are Robert Lupton, a senior research scientist, and Jenny Greene, an assistant professor, both in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences.
With the camera and another instrument called a spectrograph to be installed in the next few years, the research team will survey and catalogue galaxies, stars, quasars and other objects that populate the universe. “We will be able to probe questions about dark matter and dark energy and make a 3-D map of the distant Universe,” Strauss said.
The network will bring Princeton anthropologists together with scholars from South Africa, India, Brazil and Japan. The goal is to send students into the field with research questions and methods that are relevant and appropriate to the groups they are studying, and to connect students with anthropologists housed in international institutions.
“We have such a wonderful opportunity to learn from our colleagues in research institutions in the regions where we study,” said Princeton professor of anthropology and African American studies Carolyn Rouse, who co-leads the network with anthropology professors John Borneman and Rena Lederman. “Yet too often we miss out on this resource. This effort is about getting researchers in the field to tell us what matters.”
Rouse said she noticed the need for input from regional scholars when setting up her own research project, which involves building a high school on the outskirts of Accra, Ghana.
“University students conducting independent research abroad are not always aware of the concerns of the people they come to study,” Rouse said. “For example, students may think health is the most important issue. But in Ghana, agriculture, land, mining and now oil extraction are also critical issues.”
The anthropology network of scholars will enable students to connect with regional scholars who will give them a greater sense of all the research possibilities, Rouse said. “If you really want to be able to listen, you have to put your expectations aside,” said Rouse, noting that some Western scholars will have to break out of their comfort zones. “If we make it easy for ourselves,” she said, “then we are not doing the work we need to do.”
Just as the monuments in our nation’s capital were inspired by the designs of ancient Greece and Rome, so have many cultures embraced ancient objects, texts and concepts for their own use.
The exploration of how these ideals and artifacts have been received by later societies is called “reception studies.” The post-classicism network aims to move beyond the study of how classics were received to incorporate their importance for the present and future.
To encourage new opportunities to shape this growing discipline, the network engages researchers in England, Germany, Italy and Australia with Princeton researchers led by Constanze Güthenke, associate professor of classics and Hellenic studies, and Brooke Holmes, the Elias Boudinot Bicentennial Preceptor and associate professor of classics.
“This effort moves beyond a collection of individual or national case studies in reception studies to the question of what a global field of classics in the 21st century would be,” Güthenke said.
Race and citizenship in the Americas
Brazil and the United States are both post-slavery societies, and both have striven to address racial segregation in different ways with mixed success. The race and citizenship in the Americas network aims to explore and compare the ways that these two nations, as well as other nations in the Caribbean and Latin America, have attempted to reverse the legacy of slavery. Through this network, researchers from the University of São Paulo will exchange ideas and knowledge with Princeton students led by Pedro Meira Monteiro, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese languages and cultures and João Biehl, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Anthropology.
“We want to study the interface of race, citizenship and social mobility through a comparative perspective that will bring together Princeton and Brazilian scholars from a variety of intellectual traditions and diverse disciplinary perspectives,” Biehl said. “Our idea is to sustain these partnerships over time and to bring a collaborative critical perspective to the intellectual debates and concrete struggles over concepts of race and citizenship.”