David MacMillan, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, received the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his role in inventing the field of organocatalysis, which finds revolutionary ways to design and build small organic molecules to drive chemical reactions.
Organocatalysts, which are greener than traditional metal catalysts, are used to construct new drugs and materials, and their impact ranges from industrial applications to pharmaceuticals to everyday products like clothing, shampoo, carpet fibers and more.
“All scientists have so many ideas along the way,” MacMillan said. “We have way more ideas than ever succeed — but this one took off, and it took off like gangbusters.”
NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS
‘Following my curiosity’
By Liz Fuller-Wright
Princeton University senior meteorologist Syukuro “Suki” Manabe received the Nobel Prize in physics for his climate science research, which laid the foundation for the development of current climate models.
Manabe has been on the Princeton faculty since 1968. During a press conference on the day of the announcement, Manabe repeatedly cited the “great fun” to be had in modeling Earth’s climate and urged students to follow their curiosity and their joy, rather than trying to predict what research may prove impactful in future decades. “I never imagined that this thing I was beginning to study [would have] such huge consequences,” he said. “I was doing it just because of my curiosity.”
NOBEL PRIZES FOR PEACE, ECONOMICS
Safeguarding freedom, insights on the labor market
By Denise Valenti
The 2021 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Princeton graduate Maria Ressa of the Class of 1986 for her efforts to “safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” Ressa has been a journalist in Asia for more than 30 years, serving as CNN’s bureau chief in Manila and Jakarta and founding the online news site Rappler.com.
Princeton alumni David Card and Joshua Angrist were awarded the 2021 Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences for providing new insights about the labor market. Card (Ph.D. ’83) taught at Princeton from 1983-96 and is now at the University of California-Berkeley. Angrist (Ph.D. ’89) is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.