Viviana Zelizer receives highest award from American Sociological Association

By Daniel Day The American Sociological Association (ASA) recognized Viviana Zelizer, the Lloyd Cotsen ’50 Professor of Sociology, for her pioneering contributions with its highest honor, the W.E.B. Du Bois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award. Continue Reading →

Ecologist Jeanne Altmann and ethicist Peter Singer honored with Frontiers of Knowledge Awards

By Liz Fuller-Wright and Daniel Day Two Princeton professors, Jeanne Altmann and Peter Singer, have been awarded 2023 Frontiers of Knowledge Awards by the BBVA Foundation. The awards recognize basic research and creative work worldwide Continue Reading →

Four engineering professors receive Moore Foundation experimental physics awards

By the Office of Engineering Communications Four Princeton University researchers — Nathalie de Leon, Julia Mikhailova, Barry Rand and Jeff Thompson — have won a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Experimental Physics Investigators Initiative award. Continue Reading →

Bryan, McComas and Buschman receive prestigious honors from the National Academy of Sciences

By Liz Fuller-Wright Three Princetonians are among the 16 scientists receiving the highest honors given by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). These major awards recognize extraordinary scientific achievements in a wide range of fields Continue Reading →

Elliot Lieb wins American Physical Society’s highest honor, and mathematics’ Gauss Prize

By Liz Fuller-Wright Elliott Lieb, Princeton’s Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics, Emeritus, and professor of mathematical physics, emeritus, received the 2022 American Physical Society (APS) Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research for “major contributions to Continue Reading →

Breakthrough Prize goes to Cliff Brangwynne

By Scott Lyon Princeton bioengineer Clifford Brangwynne won the 2023 Breakthrough Prize for Life Sciences in recognition of his contributions to the study of living cells. Brangwynne’s research has changed how scientists understand cellular organization, Continue Reading →

‘Fantastic giant tortoise,’ believed extinct, confirmed alive in the Galápagos

By Liz Fuller-Wright A tortoise from a Galápagos species long believed extinct has been found alive and now confirmed to be a living member of the species. The tortoise, named Fernanda after her Fernandina Island Continue Reading →

Solar technology marks major milestone

By Scott Lyon Researchers have developed the first perovskite solar cell with a commercially viable lifetime, marking a major milestone for an emerging class of renewable energy technology. The research team projects their device can Continue Reading →

Ben Bernanke, former Princeton professor and economics department chair, receives Nobel Prize in economic sciences

By Denise Valenti Ben Bernanke, a Princeton professor of economics and public affairs from 1985 to 2002, chairman of the economics department from 1996 to 2002, and founder of the Bendheim Center for Finance, is Continue Reading →

The Matter of Black Living: The Aesthetic Experiment of Racial Data, 1880–1930

University of Chicago Press, April 2022 Autumn Womack, Assistant Professor of African American Studies and English As the nineteenth century came to a close and questions concerning the future of African American life reached a Continue Reading →

India Is Broken: A People Betrayed, Independence to Today

Stanford University Press, Feb. 2023 Ashoka Mody, Charles and Marie Robertson Visiting Professor in International Economic Policy When Indian leaders first took control of their government in 1947, they proclaimed the ideals of national unity Continue Reading →

The Price of Slavery: Capitalism and Revolution in the Caribbean

University of Virginia Press, March 2022 F. Nick Nesbitt, Professor of French and Italian The Price of Slavery analyzes Marx’s critique of capitalist slavery and its implications for the Caribbean thought of Toussaint Louverture, Henry Continue Reading →

Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Oxford University Press, Feb. 2022Laura F. Edwards, Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty What can dresses, bedlinens, waistcoats, pantaloons, shoes and kerchiefs tell us about the legal status Continue Reading →

Cancer connection

Combining therapeutics with dietarychanges could prove effective against some forms of cancer. Continue Reading →

Climate in crisis

Advances in reclaiming carbon from wastewater, lithium-ion-battery recycling, innovative building materials and new approaches to urban infrastructures are active areas of research at Princeton. Continue Reading →

Between living bodies and objects

Text courtesy of the Lewis Center for the Arts Dancers navigate sculptures’ dangerously sharp elements in the performance installation Two Person Operating System Type 2, a collaboration between Lewis Center for the Arts’ Martha Friedman, Continue Reading →

A NOBEL YEAR – Princeton scholars and alumni received an unprecedented five Nobel Prizes

Nobel medal
David MacMillan


‘This idea took off’

By Liz Fuller-Wright

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.”

Princeton University senior meteorologist Syukuro “Suki” Manabe


‘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.”

Maria Ressa, Joshua Angrist and David Card


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

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.

Dean’s welcome

Computer drawing of proposed entrance to new facility
Pablo Debenedetti

An extraordinary year for research

If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that research can provide solutions to global challenges.

Without research, we would not have the benefit of highly effective and safe vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. We would not understand how the virus spreads, and how important masking is as a public health measure. In other words, we would not have the tools that will help us turn the corner on this deadly pandemic.

As we celebrate research that provides direct benefits to our everyday lives, it is important to recognize that many of these discoveries originated as open-ended explorations, questions asked not with personal or corporate gain in mind, but because the asker wanted to know the answer.
Princeton is a place that encourages the pursuit of open-ended questions of the kind that can lead to unexpected places and, in some cases, to great societal rewards. Whether the research is aimed broadly at enriching human knowledge or aimed at a specific challenge, curiosity is often the starting point.

This year’s Nobel Prize winners, five of whom have substantial ties to Princeton, remind us of the
impact of open-ended, curiosity-driven research. Two faculty members received Nobel Prizes, in
chemistry and physics, and three alumni won Nobel Prizes, one for peace and two for economic sciences.
Physics Nobelist Syukuro Manabe, a senior meteorologist who has been at Princeton since 1968, earned the prize for work that laid the foundation for the development of current climate models. Manabe stated of his research, “I was doing it just because of my curiosity. I really enjoyed studying climate change.”

David MacMillan, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry, was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for making catalysts from inexpensive organic materials. Little did he know at the time that the innovation would transform the manufacture of products like pharmaceuticals, clothing and shampoo. “What we care about is trying to invent chemistry that has an impact on society and can do some good,” MacMillan said, “and I am thrilled to have a part in that.”

These are sentiments that most of our faculty researchers at Princeton can endorse, whether we are conducting open-ended, theoretical work or, as you’ll read in these pages, trying to address societal challenges such as preventing pandemics, treating cancer, or protecting our environment.

At Princeton, research and curiosity are integrally woven into the endeavors of our undergraduates and graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty and research staff. I believe these values help explain Princeton’s disproportionate share of Nobels this year.

And when the next pandemic strikes — or when we are called upon as a society to address the consequences of our continued reliance on fossil fuels — curiosity will be one of the drivers that spurs our researchers to bold explorations, some producing tangible benefits for humankind, and others enriching our intellect.

Pablo G. Debenedetti
Dean for Research
Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science
Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering