Category Archives: Tiger of the Week

Tiger of the Week: John Sawin ’07, Amateur Golf Standout

John Sawin ’07, at the U.S. Amateur qualifier in Elverson, Pa., July 16. (Courtesy the Golf Association of Philadelphia)

John Sawin ’07, at the U.S. Amateur qualifier in Elverson, Pa., July 16. (Courtesy the Golf Association of Philadelphia)

Last year, John Sawin ’07 was working 80 to 90 hours a week in an investment banking job in California, using whatever free time he had to play golf, a sport he’s loved since childhood and excelled in at Princeton. He managed to play well enough to earn a spot in the U.S. Amateur Championship — his first USGA qualification after a dozen years of trying — and later won the Stocker Cup Invitational, a top amateur tournament in Northern California.

With his game reaching a new peak, Sawin made the bold decision to leave his job as a vice president at Barclays Capital and spend a year competing in amateur golf events around the country.

“I wanted to see how good I could get,” Sawin told PAW. “What would happen if I spent all my time playing, and preparing to play, competitive golf?”

What has been a rewarding experience got even better last week as Sawin qualified for two national championships in the span of six days: He shared medalist honors at the U.S. Amateur qualifier at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa., July 16, and gained entry to the U.S. Mid-Amateur, for players age 25 and older, in a July 21 qualifier at Huntingdon Valley (Pa.) Country Club. (Michael Davis, an incoming Princeton freshman, caddied for Sawin in the latter event.) Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Danielle Allen ’93, Up Close and Personal With the Declaration of Independence

Danielle Allen ’93 (Laura Rose)

Danielle Allen ’93 (Laura Rose)

Can a single period change the way we think about one of the United States’ founding documents? Danielle Allen ’93 thinks so. Allen, a professor and political theorist at the Institute for Advanced Study, notes in her new book, Our Declaration, that there is a discrepancy between the parchment version of the Declaration of Independence and the official transcript in the National Archives: In the latter, a period appears after the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” reshaping the meaning of a section that discusses both individual rights and the government’s role in protecting those rights.

“The logic of the sentence moves from the value of individual rights to the importance of government as a tool for protecting those rights,” Allen explained in The New York Times. “You lose that connection when the period gets added.”

The historical detail was big news on the eve of Independence Day, receiving coverage from the Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, PBS NewsHour, and dozens of other media outlets. But it was just one example extracted from a remarkably detailed examination of the Declaration of Independence. As Washington Post reviewer Thane Rosenbaum noted, relatively few Americans have read the full 1,337-word document or can recall much about the group of five men who drafted it — no, it was not Thomas Jefferson’s work alone. But Allen, applying a “geek’s gaze” and her experiences as a teacher and scholar, brings the full story to life, Rosenbaum wrote, with a book that is “not just an invaluable civics lesson but also a poignant personal memoir.”

Allen, a classics major at Princeton, completed Ph.D. studies in classics and government at Cambridge and Harvard, respectively, before joining the faculty at the University of Chicago. She joined the Institute for Advanced Study in 2007, and in a PAW feature published the following year, she talked about her book about the Declaration of Independence, then it its early stages: “People have a very clear narrative about liberty, and they’re very confused about equality. You need both to have a successful democracy. It seems to me it’s time to go to work on rebuilding our understanding of what the concept of equality means, why it’s important, and what it takes in order to secure its value through democratic politics.”

Tiger of the Week: Art Historian Jonathan Brown *64

By David Marcus ’92

Jonathan Brown *64 (Courtesy of The Frick Collection, New York; photo: Michael Bodycomb)

Jonathan Brown *64 (Courtesy of The Frick Collection, New York; photo: Michael Bodycomb)

Jonathan Brown *64 is one of the most important art historians of the last 50 years. In books and exhibitions he has explored the work of Spanish Golden Age artists such as Velazquez, Ribera, and Zurburan in a rigorous yet approachable way and set it in a rich political and religious context. Brown offers a more personal view of his subject in his most recent book, In The Shadow of Velazquez, which is based on a series of lectures he delivered at the Prado Museum in Madrid in 2012.

Brown’s parents, Leonard and Jean, started buying art in the 1950s, when they acquired paintings by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem De Kooning. As those men became art-world superstars with prices to match, the Browns moved on to collect documents and publications by the Surrealists and members of the Dada movement. After Leonard died, Jean focussed on the work of the Fluxus group and other “anti-artists” of the 1960s. She sold her collection to the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in 1985.

Brown grew up surrounded by his parents’ growing collection, but his choice of career was determined by a year of study in Madrid while he was an undergraduate at Dartmouth. The city was only a generation removed from the civil war in which General Francisco Franco had seized power, and its university still showed the signs of the conflict, Brown remembers: “Buildings partially in ruins, bullet holes in the walls of structures that had remained standing, broken windows waiting to be replaced.” He was also struck by “the omnipresence of police officers; it was a vivid introduction to the machinery of a military dictatorship.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Hester Blum ’95, Scholar at Sea

Hester Blum ’95 (Courtesy Hester Blum)

Hester Blum ’95 (Courtesy Hester Blum)

Ishmael, the narrator of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, memorably noted “a whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.” Hester Blum ’95 had the benefit of a Princeton education — plus a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania — but as a scholar of Melville and oceanic studies, she’s often yearned to experience a bit of Ishmael’s maritime schooling. Next week, she’ll have that opportunity.

Blum, an associate professor of English at Penn State University, will be spending two days at sea on the Charles W. Morgan, a recently restored 19th-century whaling ship, and writing literary reflections about her experiences. Mystic Seaport, where Blum has conducted some of her research on sea narratives, launched the months-long “38th voyage” of the Morgan to promote interest in America’s maritime heritage. “Where once the Morgan’s cargo was whale oil and baleen,” Mystic Seaport’s website said, “today her cargo is knowledge.”

Two days is a far cry from the two-to-four-year journeys of 19th-century whalers, but Blum said that the voyage is a rare opportunity to “inhabit the space of the artifact that I’m usually encountering on paper.” Her work often takes her to archives, to read out-of-print books or never-in-print manuscripts. This time, it will take her to the narrow perch of a night watchman, like the one Ishmael describes in “The Mast-Head,” one of Blum’s favorite chapters from Moby-Dick — and the inspiration for the title of her book The View from the Masthead, a study of the role that seamen played in American literature of the 1800s.

Tiger of the Week: NBA Newcomer David Blatt ’81

David Blatt ’81 in 2012, when he was the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv. (© Sebastian Kahnert/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)

David Blatt ’81 in 2012, when he was the head coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv. (© Sebastian Kahnert/DPA/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Until this week, David Blatt ’81 was arguably the most accomplished basketball coach outside the NBA. He’d coached in Israel, Turkey, Russia, and Italy, winning league championships, a European title, and an Olympic bronze medal (with the Russian team in 2012). Now, fresh off a stunning Euroleague championship with Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv, Blatt has made history as the first international coach to jump directly to a head-coaching position in the NBA.

The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Blatt as their new coach on June 20, and praise soon arrived from past players, basketball experts, and a certain Hall of Fame coach who lives just down the road from Jadwin Gym. Pete Carril, Blatt’s mentor during four seasons at Princeton, told Star-Ledger columnist Dave D’Alessandro that the NBA newcomer has great potential. “He knows the game. He knows how to teach it,” Carril said. “Now let’s hope he has the kind of guys who understand what he’s selling.”

Blatt, a native of Framingham, Mass., has lived abroad since graduating from Princeton, first as a professional player in Israel and then as a coach. With the Tigers, he was a talented point guard, making second team All-Ivy his junior year with a team that tied for the league title. But that did not guarantee a starting spot in his senior year, as Carril told PAW contributor Tim Warren in 2007. “I had to bench him and put in a freshman,” Carril said. “It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. But instead of pouting, Dave worked even harder. And in the second-to-last game of the season, we were losing and my freshman wasn’t doing anything. Dave scored six or eight points in a short time, made a couple of steals, and we won the game.”

With similar perseverance and patience, Blatt worked and waited for his shot in the NBA. In October, he’ll take the floor for the first time with his new team — and in a twist of fate, the Cavaliers will be facing his old team, Maccabi Tel Aviv, as part of the NBA’s series of exhibition games against international clubs.

Tiger of the Week: Jason Aramburu ’07, Green Entrepreneur

Jason Aramburu ’07 (Courtesy Edyn)

Jason Aramburu ’07 (Courtesy Edyn)

Jason Aramburu ’07 has had his eye on soil since his undergraduate days. As an ecology and evolutionary biology major, he conducted senior-thesis research in Panama, studying how a population of ants chose nesting sites based on soil properties. After graduation, he started a company called Re:char, which developed a charcoal fertilizer and brought it to farmers in developing countries.

Now, Aramburu’s devotion to soil is coming to gardens in the United States. His new company, Edyn, has created a Wi-Fi-enabled probe that measures soil properties and uses the data to automatically regulate irrigation through a solar-powered water valve.

The product received positive reviews in The New York Times and Wired last week, and funding for its Kickstarter campaign more than doubled its $100,000 goal in less than two weeks.

Aramburu told PAW that while his biology background has been immensely important, a course outside his department also had a major influence: Ed Zschau ’61’s High-Tech Entrepreneurship. “It was an incredibly inspiring class and made me think about doing something entrepreneurial,” Aramburu said.

Re:char launched in 2009 and has been adopted by thousands of farmers in Kenya, Aramburu said, and its proceeds helped him to create Edyn. Perhaps the most valuable experience was doing soil research in Kenya — that’s where Edyn’s first prototypes were developed.

Aramburu said that other Princetonians have contributed to his new company’s promising start. Paul Cowgill ’08, is a software developer for Edyn; Ron Sachs ’88 was among the first investors; and Aaron Lee *00, the chief technology officer at Home Depot and cofounder of Redbeacon, serves as a company adviser.