Princeton part of $40 million Simons Observatory

PRINCETON RESEARCHERS will have an integral role in the Simons Observatory, a new astronomy facility in South America recently established with a $38.4 million grant from the Simons Foundation. The observatory will investigate cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation to better understand the physics of the Big Bang, the nature of dark energy and dark matter, the properties of neutrinos, and the formation of structure in the universe.

The project is a collaboration between Princeton, the University of California-San Diego, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, all of which will provide financial support. The Heising-Simons Foundation will provide an additional $1.7 million of support. The observatory will be located in Chile’s Atacama Desert, a longtime site for astronomy and CMB research because of its elevation and near absence of precipitation.

The project manager for the Simons Observatory will be located at Princeton, and Princeton faculty also will oversee the development, design, testing and manufacture of many of the observatory’s camera components.

Suzanne Staggs, Princeton’s project lead for the observatory and the Henry DeWolf Smyth Professor of Physics, said the mission of the Simons Observatory builds on the University’s long history of advancing the understanding of the CMB. Princeton faculty members Lyman Page, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Physics and department chair, and David Spergel, the Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy on the Class of 1897 Foundation, also will participate in the Simons Observatory. –By Staff

Students explore sustainable building with bamboo


Watch the video

LAST FALL, two undergraduates approached Sigrid Adriaenssens, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, about working together on their senior-thesis projects, from different angles.

Lu Lu, who is from Chongqing, China, wanted to work on sustainable construction with a focus on design and digital modeling. Russell Archer, who is from East Orange, New Jersey, wanted to physically test building materials. Adriaenssens served as the adviser for both students, who graduated in 2016.

With the help of a graduate student in Adriaenssens’ lab, the seniors identified a partner, the Administrative Department of Environmental Management (DAGMA), in Cali, Colombia. The students and the group collaborated on a project involving bamboo architecture and construction — the entrance canopy to a park to be used by schoolchildren.

Bamboo grows quickly and is lightweight but strong. It has been used as a building material for centuries, but little engineering analysis has been done on it. Lu focused on the structural form of the canopy, and Archer analyzed the effectiveness of the fishmouth joints used in the designs.

Last March, with funding from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, they traveled to Cali to meet with the DAGMA architects and engineers, share their results, and inform the design and construction of the bamboo canopy.

“I couldn’t have imagined I would be traveling to Colombia,” said Archer, who plans to pursue a master’s degree in structural engineering. “I’m really impressed by the broadness of the entire project.”

“I really enjoyed this project because engineering is not only hard-core science — you calculate something but that’s it,” Lu said. “There’s a very strong social component.”

–By the Office of Communications

F. Duncan Haldane receives Nobel Prize in Physics

F. Duncan Haldane, Princeton’s Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics, was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics “for theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter.” Considered key to finally realizing highly efficient and powerful quantum computers, topological materials exhibit unique properties, particularly great stability and efficient particle movement. Haldane shares the prize with David Thouless of the University of Washington and J. Michael Kosterlitz of Brown University.

 

 

ROBERTO CAR receives American Chemistry Society national award

Roberto Car

Roberto Car (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Roberto Car, the Ralph W. *31 Dornte Professor in Chemistry, was recognized for his innovative research by the American Chemical Society (ACS) during a ceremony March 15, 2016. He received the ACS Award in Theoretical Chemistry for the “depth, originality and scientific significance” of his work.

Car’s research explores materials at the level of atoms and electrons. He uses theoretical tools and numerical simulations to gain insight into the chemical and physical processes underlying chemical reactions. While Car’s research is theoretical and fundamental, his discoveries may have technological implications that can aid in the design of new materials and devices with desirable properties. Car, who is a professor of chemistry and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials, is known for the invention of an ab initio moleculardynamics method with Italian physicist Michele Parrinello that is now a standard tool for molecular simulation. The method has been applied to a variety of problems in condensed matter and chemical physics, materials science, geosciences, chemistry and biochemistry.

 

Princeton Research Day highlights student and early-career work


Watch the video

MORE THAN 150 undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers presented their work at the first Princeton Research Day held May 5, 2016.

The event highlighted research from the natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and the arts in formats including talks, poster presentations, performances, art exhibitions and digital presentations — all designed with the general public in mind.

“It’s a wonderful cross section of the research enterprise at Princeton,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti, the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science, and professor of chemical and biological engineering.

In all, Princeton Research Day presented an important opportunity for undergraduates, said Dean of the College Jill Dolan, the Annan Professor in English and professor of theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts.

“Princeton is one of the very few universities in the world where undergraduate students are encouraged to do the kind of original research that every single undergraduate on this campus does,” Dolan said. “So taking the opportunity at the end of the year to do a major public event in which students can present that work is groundbreaking.”

Princeton Research Day was a collaborative initiative between the offices of the dean of the college, dean of the faculty, dean of the graduate school and the dean for research. The second Princeton Research Day is scheduled for May 11, 2017. –By Michael Hotchkiss

JANE COX receives the Ruth Morley Design Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women

Jane Cox

Jane Cox (Photo by Evan Alexander)

Jane Cox, senior lecturer in theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts and director of the Program in Theater, was presented with the Ruth Morley Design Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women on May 3, 2016. The annual award recognizes leading female designers working in theater and film. Cox is an award-winning lighting designer and has been a lecturer at Princeton since 2007. Her recent projects include Hamlet, starring English actor Benedict Cumberbatch and directed by Lyndsey Turner, and the new musical Amelie, directed by Pam MacKinnon. She received a 2016 Drama Desk Award nomination for her lighting design on the Broadway revival of The Color Purple.

SIMON LEVIN wins National Medal of Science for unraveling ecological complexity

Simon Levin

Simon Levin (Photo by Brian Wilson)

Simon Levin, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, received a National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor. Levin was honored at a White House ceremony in early 2016 along with eight fellow Medal of Science recipients, and eight recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Levin focuses his research on complexity, particularly how large-scale patterns — such as at the ecosystem level — are maintained by small-scale behavioral and evolutionary factors at the level of individual organisms. His work uses observational data and mathematical models to explore topics such as biological diversity, the evolution of structure and organization, and the management of public goods and shared resources. While primarily related to ecology, Levin’s work also has analyzed conservation, financial and economic systems, and the dynamics of infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance.

PAUL CHIRIK receives Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award

PAUL CHIRIK

Paul Chirik (Photo by C. Todd Reichart)

Paul Chirik, the Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Chemistry, was among five recipients nationwide of the 2016 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Awards presented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Chirik was recognized for discovering a new class of catalysts that produce silicones without using hard-to-obtain platinum, which could dramatically reduce the mining of ore and reduce costs, greenhouse-gas emissions and waste. The winners were recognized during a ceremony June 13, 2016.

MARINA RUSTOW, historian of the medieval Middle East, wins MacArthur Fellowship

Marina Rustow

Marina Rustow (Photo courtesy of John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Marina Rustow, the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East and professor of Near Eastern studies and history, has been awarded a 2015 MacArthur Fellowship.

Rustow is among 24 scientists, artists, scholars and activists who will each receive $625,000 no-strings-attached grants over a five-year period from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a capacity for self-direction.

Rustow’s area of specialization is the medieval Middle East, particularly texts from the Cairo Geniza, a cache of more than 300,000 folio pages of legal documents, letters and literary materials that span more than a millennium and were preserved in an Egyptian synagogue. In its announcement, the MacArthur Foundation cited Rustow for research on the Geniza texts “that shed new light on Jewish life and on the broader society of the medieval Middle East. Rustow’s approach to this archive goes beyond decoding documents, in itself a formidable task, to questioning the relationship between subjects and medieval states and asking what that relationship tells us about power and the negotiation of religious boundaries.”

GUGGENHEIM FELLOWSHIPS awarded

Two faculty members and a visiting lecturer have received 2016 fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in recognition of their excellence in scholarship or creative work. The fellowships were awarded to Daniel Garber, the A. Watson Armour, III, University Professor of Philosophy, for his project, How Philosophy Became Modern in the 17th Century; Juri Seo, assistant professor of music, for music composition; and Raphael Xavier, a visiting lecturer in dance and the Lewis Center for the Arts, for choreography.

Garber researches the history of philosophy and the history of science in the early modern period, especially the questions of what is considered philosophy and what is considered science, and how that has changed over time. He is the author of numer- ous works on the science and philosophy of Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and others.

Seo is a composer and pianist who writes music that is unified and fluid but also complex in structure. She brings influences from music of the past century into her compositions, which are serious and humorous, lyrical and violent, and use fast-changing dynamics. She has earned many composition honors and joined the Princeton faculty in fall 2014.

A hip-hop practitioner since 1983, Xavier is a choreographer with a profound understanding of movement, sound and musicality. In addition to his success at integrating hip-hop styles into dance theater, he has created an approach to dance that helps with physical healing and makes movement accessible to any body type. His artistic work also includes photography, film and music.

Raphael Xavier

Raphael Xavier (Photo by Brian Mengini)

Juri Seo

Juri Seo (Photo by Andrew Wilkinson)

Daniel Garber

Daniel Garber (Photo by Nick Barberio)