JHUMPA LAHIRI awarded National Humanities Medal

PHOTO BY MARCO DELOGU

PHOTO BY MARCO DELOGU

Jhumpa Lahiri, whose novels and short stories explore the immigrant experience, family, love, language and cultural identity, was named a recipient of the 2014 National Humanities Medal. The medal was conferred by President Barack Obama at a ceremony at the White House on Sept. 10, 2015.

The citation for the award honored Lahiri, who joined the faculty in 2015 as a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, “for enlarging the human story. In her works of fiction, Dr. Lahiri has illuminated the Indian-American experience in beautifully wrought narratives of estrangement and belonging.”

Her 1999 debut collection of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, which probes issues of love and identity among immigrants and cultural transplants, won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New Yorker’s Best Debut of the Year Award. Her 2013 novel The Lowland was a National Book Award and Man Booker Prize finalist. Her 2003 novel The Namesake was released as a film in 2007.

Lahiri’s most recent book of short stories, Unaccustomed Earth, received the 2008 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and was a finalist for the Story Prize. Her forthcoming book, In Other Words, explores the often emotionally fraught links between identity and language.

–By Jamie Saxon

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BONNIE BASSLER receives Shaw Prize in life science and medicine

PHOTO BY ALENA SOBOLEVA

PHOTO BY ALENA SOBOLEVA

Bonnie Bassler, the Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology and chair of the Department of Molecular Biology, was named a 2015 Shaw Laureate in life science and medicine on June 1, 2015. Awarded by the Hong Kong-based Shaw Foundation, the Shaw Prize honors recent breakthroughs by active researchers in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and life and medical sciences.

Bassler was recognized for her well-known work in quorum sensing, a widespread process that bacteria use for cell-to-cell communication. Understanding quorum sensing “offers innovative ways to interfere with bacterial pathogens or to modulate the microbiome for health applications,” according to the prize citation. Bassler, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, shares the $1 million prize with E. Peter Greenberg, a University of Washington professor of microbiology. The 2015 prizes were awarded during a Sept. 24 ceremony in Hong Kong.

–By Morgan Kelly

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MANJUL BHARGAVA awarded Fields Medal in mathematics

Discovery_2015_Manjul

PHOTO BY DENISE APPLEWHITE

Manjul Bhargava, the Brandon Fradd, Class of 1983, Professor of Mathematics, was awarded the 2014 Fields Medal, one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics, in recognition of his work in the geometry of numbers. The International Mathematical Union (IMU) presents the medal every four years to researchers under the age of 40 based on the influence of their existing work and on their “promise of future achievement.”

The honor, often referred to as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics,” was awarded to four researchers at the 2014 IMU International Congress of Mathematicians held in Seoul, South Korea. The prize committee commended Bhargava “for developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers, which he applied to count rings of small rank and to bound the average rank of elliptic curves.”

The IMU further wrote that his “work in number theory has had a profound influence on the field. A mathematician of extraordinary creativity, he has a taste for simple problems of timeless beauty, which he has solved by developing elegant and powerful new methods that offer deep insight. … He surely will bring more delights and surprises to mathematics in the years to come.”

–By Morgan Kelly

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JEREMIAH OSTRIKER and LYMAN PAGE receive Gruber Cosmology Prize

Lyman Page

Lyman Page. PHOTO BY DENISE APPLEWHITE

The 2015 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize has been awarded to Jeremiah Ostriker and Lyman Page for “individual and collective contributions to the study of the universe on the largest scales.”

The two share the prize with John Carlstrom of the University of Chicago. Half of the $500,000 prize went to Ostriker, while Carlstrom and Page divided the other half. Each also received a gold medal at the XXIX General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu, Hawaii, on Aug. 3, 2015. Ostriker is the Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy on the Class of 1897 Foundation, Emeritus, and Page is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Physics.

Jeremiah Ostriker

Jeremiah Ostriker. PHOTO BY DENISE APPLEWHITE

According to the award citation, Ostriker was honored for his “groundbreaking body of work over a five-decade career,” while Carlstrom and Page “have each overseen ground-based experiments providing a wealth of information about the origins and evolution of the universe. Together the theoretical and experimental work of these three scientists has contributed to, clarified and advanced today’s standard cosmological model.”

–By Catherine Zandonella

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ROBERT KEOHANE receives James Madison Award in American political science

PHOTO BY SAMEER A. KHAN/FOTOBUDDY

PHOTO BY SAMEER A. KHAN/FOTOBUDDY

Robert Keohane, professor of public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School, received the 2014 James Madison Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA).

The award, given once every three years, “recognizes an American political scientist who has made a distinguished scholarly contribution to political science.” The official citation describes Keohane as a “complete scholar” and cites his extensive writing in the field of international politics, his mentorship of generations of students, his dedication to the discipline, and his commitment to the association as the basis for his award.

APSA also cited Keohane’s past work, including After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy (1984) and Designing Social Inquiry (1994), as having had an impact on scholarship in international affairs for many years.

“We are thrilled that Bob received the James Madison Award,” said Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Woodrow Wilson School and the Lawrence and Shirley Katzman and Lewis and Anna Ernst Professor in the Economics of Education. “His work has had and continues to have a profound impact on the profession. We celebrate his honor as one of the leaders in political science.”

–By Eric Wilkens

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DAVID TANK receives Brain Prize for advance in microscopy

PHOTO BY WINFRIED DENK

PHOTO BY WINFRIED DENK

David Tank, the Henry L. Hillman Professor in Molecular Biology and co-director of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, has been named one of four winners of the Brain Prize, an honor that recognizes scientists who have made outstanding contributions to brain research.

Tank was presented the prize by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark on May 7, 2015, in Copenhagen. He shares the 1 million euro, or roughly $1,085,000, prize with Winfried Denk of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Munich; Arthur Konnerth of the Technical University of Munich; and Karel Svoboda of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The researchers were selected for the invention, development and application of two-photon microscopy, a technology that combines advanced techniques from physics and biology to allow scientists to examine the finest structures of the brain in real time.

“Thanks to these four scientists we’re now able to study the normal brain’s development and attempt to understand what goes wrong when we’re affected by destructive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia,” said Professor Povl Krogsgaard- Larsen, chair of the Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Foundation, which awards the prize.

–By Michael Hotchkiss

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