FOUR PROFESSORS Receive Presidential Science Awards

PECASE award winners

Clockwise from top left: Abigail Doyle, Yael Niv, Ramon von Handel and Rodney Priestley

Four professors received the 2013 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers.

Associate Professor of Chemistry Abigail Doyle, Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute Yael Niv, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Rodney Priestley, and Assistant Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering Ramon van Handel were among the 102 researchers at American institutions selected by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. The winners received their awards at a White House ceremony on April 14, 2014.

“The impressive achievements of these early-stage scientists and engineers are promising indicators of even greater successes ahead,” President Barack Obama said in a release announcing the award. “We are grateful for their commitment to generating the scientific and technical advancements that will ensure America’s global leadership for many years to come.”

The annual award, established in 1996, recognizes researchers’ “pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.”

–By Emily Aronson

SIMON LEVIN Receives Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement

Simon Levin

Simon Levin (Photo by Brian Wilson)

Simon Levin, the George M. Moffett Professor of Biology, was awarded the 2014 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement for bridging ecological research and environmental policy, economics and social science.

Levin received an award of $200,000 with the prize, which was established in 1973 and is awarded by the international Tyler Prize Executive Committee with the administrative support of the University of Southern California. Levin received the prize at a ceremony on April 25, 2014, in Los Angeles.

Levin, whose research has revealed the multifaceted relationships between species and ecosystems, has played a foundational role in shaping environmental policy and advancing the study of complex ecosystems, according to the Tyler Prize Executive Committee.

“What is so impressive about Simon Levin and his work is that he is a connector,” said Owen Lind, chair of the committee and a biology professor at Baylor University. “His work has bridged the theoretical with the work of ecologists in the field, and connected complex ecological systems to social science and environmental and public policy. It is rare to see one expert have such a dramatic impact on so many fields.”

–By Holly Welles

YING-SHIH YU Receives Inaugural Tang Prize in Sinology

Ying-shih Yu

Ying-shih Yu (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Ying-shih Yu, the Gordon Wu ’58 Professor of Chinese Studies, Emeritus, was awarded the inaugural Tang Prize in Sinology in 2014. The Tang Prize Foundation selection committee recognized Yu for his “mastery of and insight into Chinese intellectual, political and cultural history with an emphasis on this profound research into the history of public intellectuals in China.”

The prize, established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin, takes its name from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a period considered to be the height of classical Chinese civilization, characterized by liberal policies and robust cultural activity. One of the world’s authorities on the Tang Dynasty, Yu has researched and written extensively on every period of Chinese history, from ancient to modern. As the first Tang Prize laureate in sinology, Yu received NT $40 million (U.S. $1.33 million) and a research grant of up to NT $10 million to be used within five years, as well as a medal and a certificate. He received the award on Sept. 18, 2014, in a ceremony in Taipei.

–By the Office of Communications

DANIEL KAHNEMAN Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

Daniel Kahneman

Daniel Kahneman (Photo by Larry Levanti)

Daniel Kahneman, the Eugene Higgins Professor of psychology, emeritus, and a Nobel laureate in economics, is one of 16 people who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest civilian honor in the United States — in 2013 from President Barack Obama.

The citation for Kahneman issued by the White House reads: “Daniel Kahneman is a pioneering scholar of psychology. After escaping Nazi occupation in World War II, Dr. Kahneman immigrated to Israel, where he served in the Israel Defense Forces and trained as a psychologist. Alongside Amos Tversky, he applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002.”

Deborah Prentice, dean of the faculty and former chair of the psychology department, said she was delighted that Kahneman received this honor. “Danny was also one of the first to see the enormous potential for behavioral-science research to improve public policy,” Prentice said. “Here at Princeton, he created and co-taught the first course on behavioral policy and championed the appointment of many talented behavioral scientists to faculty positions in the Woodrow Wilson School. Behavioral approaches are now gaining in prominence in policy schools, think-tanks and government agencies, thanks in large part to Danny.”

–By the Office of Communications

JILL DOLAN Receives Distinguished Scholar Award for Theater Research

Jill Dolan

Jill Dolan (Photo by Hope van Cleaf)

Jill Dolan, the Annan Professor in English, professor of theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts, and director of the Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, received the 2013 Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society for Theater Research (ASTR). ASTR is a U.S.-based professional organization that fosters scholarship on worldwide theater and performance, both historical and contemporary.

The award committee commended Dolan as “someone who has been a visible presence in every aspect of our profession for over 30 years.” The award was presented at the ASTR conference in Dallas on Nov. 9, 2013.

–By the Office of Communications

PETER SARNAK Receives Wolf Prize in Mathematics

Peter Sarnak

Peter Sarnak (Photo by C. J. Mazzochi)

Peter Sarnak, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Mathematics, was awarded the 2014 Wolf Prize in Mathematics. The Wolf Prizes are awarded annually by the Wolf Foundation in the fields of agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, physics and the arts. The prize was awarded to Sarnak, along with seven laureates from other fields, by Israeli President Shimon Peres on June 1, 2014, at the Knesset.

The Wolf Foundation noted that Sarnak is “a mathematician of an extremely broad spectrum with a far-reaching vision. He has impacted the development of several mathematical fields, often by uncovering deep and unsuspected connections.” The award citation further noted his work on eigenfunctions of quantum mechanical Hamiltonians, his work on L-functions, and the exploration of the link between random matrix theory and the statistical properties of zeros of the Riemann zeta function. Sarnak’s work has also had “a huge impact on combinatorics and computer science,” according to the citation, which also noted: “By his insights and his readiness to share ideas he has inspired the work of students and fellow researchers in many areas of mathematics.”

–By Molly Sharlach