You’ve all probably heard the news by now: President Tilghman will be leaving us at the end of the year, ending her 12-year term as Princeton’s first female president. Her announcement yesterday caused a media frenzy and a slew of related commentary. For a visual reflection of this response and of President Tilghman’s legacy, check out this wordle, based on the first two pages of hits for a Google search of “Shirley Tilghman”:
The most visited posts in
the past two weeks:
Articles filed under “Faculty”
Name: Cecilia Elena Rouse
Hometown: Del Mar, CA
What did you do this summer?
I spent a good part of the summer with my family in France, Switzerland, and Prague. We took a long overdue vacation.
What do you think are the most pressing policy issues, domestic and international, that we need to work on?
I believe that ensuring public institutions (of all kinds) are structured adequately for our changing population and the increasingly global economy is key, especially as we continue recovering from the Great Recession. I’m thinking of not only of reform of our entitlement programs and provision of education and health care, but also of the various policies in place that affect the business environment.
Who’s your favorite Princetonian, living or dead, real or fictional?
There are too many wonderful Princetonians to choose from.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in Princeton?
My husband’s chicken with black beans and rice.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day?
At the moment, as dean I’m spending a lot of time listening.
What is your greatest guilty pleasure?
Watching bad movies.
What is the one thing you want to change the most about Princeton/WWS?
More places to go for lunch and dinner.
Much like the late Kim Jong-il who liked to stare at things (and not unrelated to his son Kim Jon Un clapping at things), our beloved and often incomprehensible mathematician John Nash also likes to look at things. Edit: We realize this is probably not good for any of his lingering paranoia that people are watching him at all times. Apologies to Dr. Nash.
Kudos to the clever Princetonian who came up with this tumblr, as spotting a rare John Nash out in the open is a momentous occasion.
EDIT: They never accepted my submission, “John Nash NOT Looking At Paul Krugman”:
Cornel West, African-American Studies/Religion professor and one of our many celebrity academics, recently announced that he will be leaving his Princeton post in 2012 to teach Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, the school where he first began his career in academia.
For his time at Princeton, West will be remembered for more than just his commitment to paideia (which I learned is not a Spanish rice dish), his multiple political arrests, and his theological bromance with fellow professor Robbie George.
Oh, and that time his cartoon self roundhouse kicked some R. Kelly supporter in the Boondocks.
Since he began teaching at Princeton in 2001, West’s radical liberal politics have made him a controversial figure. A smattering of editorials and always well-phrased comments in the Prince since his arrival highlight the various opinions on West: “Princeton’s foremost hire” to “clownish entertainer,” “hero” to “charlatan,” and “exemplary human being” to “media whore.” My crowd of friends isn’t a big fan of West either, and as one friend once put it: “Why is he in academics at all? Why does he matter?”
I’ll be honest. Despite his platitudes, gangster proclivities, and propensity for showmanship, I believe Professor West matters.
Apparently, Dr. West is back in Princeton, after getting arrested on Sunday for protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court in DC as part of the Occupy movement.(Certainly, not the first time this G’s been behind bars). No charges were pressed, but I’m guessing he’s lying low in Princeton for the time being.
West, who’s been on leave from his teaching post at Princeton this semester, has been very vocal about his support for Occupy Wall Street.
Without getting into a whole kerfuffle about #Occupy and the 99%–for interested students, Princeton’s ACLU is holding an event: #OccupyWallStreet: An Examination next Tuesday, October 25, at 4:30pm. Location: TBA– I will ask this: Is it just me, or does Cornel West only own one type of suit? Maybe he didn’t have time to change since his arrest.
After almost four decades of work exploring the causal relationships between policy decisions and the economy, Sims and Sargent received the Nobel Prize this morning in recognition of their independent, but complementary, research.
While Sargent’s research focused on more long-term economic trends as inflation targets, Sims, the Harold H. Helm ’20 Professor of Economics and Banking, focused more on short-term economic developments. Through statistical analysis, Sims and Sargent investigated whether changes in economic policy cause these developments, or whether policy-makers anticipate these developments when shaping policy.
And although the Nobel Prize website has yet to post details about the research and the winners, congratulations have already begun to flow in from around the world, some more cryptic than others. A personal favorite? “go VIKINGS we fianlly [sic] won.” Surely somebody gets it…
In an interview with the New York Times this morning, Sims said that his research holds real and important implications for the current state of global economic affairs, and recovery from it:
The methods that I’ve used and that Tom has developed are central for finding our way out of this mess.
When pressed for a simple policy solution, though, he hesitated. Whoever finds one of those, it seems, will be in the running for the next Nobel.
Princeton University joined MIT and Harvard in adopting an open access policy for all scholarly publications.
At the most recent meeting of the Faculty of Princeton University, members voted unanimously to grant “The Trustees of Princeton University a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide license to exercise any and all copyrights in his or her scholarly articles published in any medium, whether now known or later invented, provided the articles are not sold by the University for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same.”
Basically, professors are no longer allowed to give up all rights to their work when publishing, as some academic journals now require – especially in fields like English, history, and chemical engineering. Professors usually publish without expecting compensation, but journals still charge readers around $30 per article, as anyone who’s tried to do research off campus knows. The change would let the university make their work freely available.
While professors can request waivers to the policy if a publication refuses to budge, the faculty hopes that the policy will give them extra leverage to push to retain their rights. Professor Andrew Appel, a member of the committee studying open access, said the Provost is also planning to create a public repository for their work to make it more accessible.
So, why do you care?
It’s a win for the “information wants to be free” camp, but even if you’re not an open access advocate, you can still get excited about never again needing to pay for a Pequod version of any article by a Princeton faculty member.
Appel has the full report here.
Another Princetonian is likely to join the Obama administration this Fall. Earlier this week, the President nominated Princeton economics professor Alan Krueger to head the White House Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). In addition to teaching labor economics, Krueger has contributed an impressive quantity of novel research to the study of labor markets. His work includes, among other things, a study with economist David Card that downplays the negative impact of raising the minimum wage. Krueger has met criticism on both sides of the political spectrum. Republicans predictably dislike his emphasis on job creation rather than deficit reduction. Some Democrats feel the professor may be too specialized for large-scale macroeconomic decision-making. Regardless, Krueger’s nomination will likely be approved by the Senate due to his recent stint as assistant secretary and chief economist at the Treasury Department. Score one more Princeton faculty members.
Former White House Budget Director Peter Orszag was Krueger’s student at Princeton. In an August 29th New York Times article regarding Krueger’s nomination, Mr. Orszag wrote (in an email), “He was one of my best professors…He taught labor economics and was very clear in explaining the field. He was also very engaged with the class, and used thrilling real-world examples to illustrate his points – very empirical. He also had the whole class over to his house for a cookout.”
The “summer jam” is certainly a cliché — the type of hymn or tune that can only come out of your tattered Jeep Wrangler or FJ Cruiser (for the modern, upper-middle class bohemian). But the “summer jam” — “summer song”, “sound of the summer,” whatever incarnation you please — is one of those weighty clichés that actually means something. At least in the case of the noteworthy professors so many of us students neglect throughout the year due to schedule and (more likely) due to fear, one’s choice of summer jam gives some gritty emotional information that normally takes serious office hours to uncover.
We asked some of Princeton’s most revered intellectuals for their summer jams. Though it took almost an entire summer to compile — you weren’t the only ones doing nothing — they are finally listed below. Think of this almost-mixtape as an ode to the last hurrah that is Princeton’s awkwardly pushed back start date.
If this photo’s any indication, it looks like even Dean Malkiel is ready to kick back, eat, drink and be merry this weekend. Pictured here at Dean’s Bake–happening now!–Malkiel was quick to remind the audience that even if she loved all three finalist cakes, she would be awarding only one first place prize. Swing by Frist now to find out who took home the title–and maybe even snag some leftover slices.
more photos after the jump….
The grant is called Project X. The project in question? MAE professor Edgar Choueiri’s “Pure Stereo” filter, which promises sound like you’ve never heard it before.
Project X funds unconventional research projects, and “3D sound” definitely qualifies. Unlike other recordings, Choueiri’s attempt to capture the location of the sound, so that you can, among other things, realistically hear a fly buzz around your head. It’s a little like that cool effect in movie theaters where the sound seems to come from behind you.
Hal Espen of The Atlantic visited Princeton recently to check it out. His descriptions read like a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory of sound:
Choueiri leaves. A few seconds later, the sound of flowing water fades in and rises in both volume and presence. I have the uncanny sensation of standing neck-deep in a river, with its plashing surface spreading around me. Next, a buzzing fly circles my head. Then an aural nightscape of crickets and the loud croaks of a frog, precisely over there. An excited crowd, children shouting. A train chugs in from the right and comes to a halt across the platform.
Musical selections follow—an a cappella choir in some vast reverberant space, a New Orleans street band, a quartet of classical guitars—featuring shockingly expansive soundstaging, exact source positioning, and vivid ambience. Then Choueiri’s virtual voice is speaking in my left ear, my right ear, behind my head, and lastly he’s simulating giving me a haircut, with scissors snipping sides, top, and back.
Choueiri reappears at the door. “That was absolutely fantastic,” I tell him.
Here’s a video from the Star-Ledger explaining how it works.
Biophysics seems like a feel-good field … it’s always telling us how well-made we are. A recent piece in the Times Science section served up a crash course on that discipline, alluding to the work of William Bialek, who is a professor of physics, an architect of the Integrated Science curriculum, and apparently the happy owner of an “impish, abstractedly cerebral face and full, free-wheeling beard.”
In the article, Bialek explains why the photoreceptors in our eyes are so ideally constructed: they are designed to respond to even single photons, which are the smallest discrete units of light. “Light is quantized, and you can’t count half a photon,” he says. “This is as far as it goes.” So, at the risk of inane analogy, it’s kind of like a perfect gumball machine that would accept even pennies, accommodating the smallest extreme of currency.
That’s the basic idea behind optimization. Evolution has made some biological systems really, really, unsurpassably good at what they do, as good as the laws of physics will allow. According to the article, biophysicists have spotted such systems throughout the living world — in bacteria, in fruit fly embryos, in sharks, in us. Also,”tenets of optimization may even help explain phenomena on a larger scale, like the rubberiness of our reflexes and the basic architecture of our brain.” (Personally, I would be interested in the basic architecture of Bialek’s beard — build some sophisticated mathematical models for that puppy. You’re welcome, Biophysics Student Still Looking For A Thesis.)