Category Archives: Tiger of the Week

Tiger of the Week: Football Broadcaster Ross Tucker ’01

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy

Ross Tucker ’01 (Courtesy

Fans often dismiss the NFL’s preseason games as meaningless exhibitions, but broadcaster and former pro lineman Ross Tucker ’01 sees something different. “I love preseason football,” he told PAW, “because I know how important it is to the people participating in it” — particularly the second-team players, who begin each game knowing they’ll play “15 to 20 snaps for all their dreams to come true.”

Not long ago, Tucker was one of those anxious dreamers. He played for five teams in a seven-year NFL career, primarily as an offensive guard. After retiring, he joked in guest column for Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback that he was “the only 28-year-old Princeton grad that has been fired five times already.”

Tucker prepared for life after football with offseason internships in several fields, including commercial real estate, finance, and sports marketing. But the experience that made the biggest impression was an NFL-sponsored broadcasting boot camp, where he learned the basics of TV and radio. The former politics major also was ready to give writing a try. “I figured if I can write 18 pages on Machiavelli, I probably could come up with 1,000 words on the Bengals’ offensive line,” he said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Keyboardist Gavin Black ’79

Gavin Black ’79 (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

Gavin Black ’79 at the harpsichord bench. (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Gavin Black ’79 has devoted his entire adult life to studying, performing, teaching, and recording 17th- and 18th-century keyboard music. But he knows that studying Baroque music on antique instruments isn’t an easy sell.

“The harpsichord is not remotely as popular as the piano,” he laughs from a bench at the Princeton Early Keyboard Center, the non-profit music studio he founded in 2001. It offers harpsichord, clavichord, and organ lessons for students, composers, and group classes.

Black discovered the organ and harpsichord at age 14, after a stint taking piano lessons left him curious about Baroque music.

As a freshman at Princeton, he would practice the organ alone in the vast and empty University Chapel, lit only by moonlight, courtesy of a special access key. He served as an assistant university organist at Princeton, and recorded an album on a harpsichord he kept safe in his senior-year dorm room.

Black earned his Master of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, and he has been teaching the organ, harpsichord, and clavichord for over 30 years.

Though the Princeton Early Keyboard Center occupies only one room within Christ Congregation Church, across the street from Westminster Choir College, the carefully air-conditioned studio holds no fewer than five instruments, each uniquely ornate: a late-17th century Italian harpsichord; a mid-18th century German clavichord; a Flemish-style harpsichord build in 1986 by Hill & Tyre; a small Renaissance-style clavichord built in 1983 by Hill & Tyre; and a German-style, two-keyboard harpsichord built in 1978 by Keith Hill.   Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Grant Wentworth ’09 Swims With Sharks to Raise Money for Cancer Care

Grant Wentworth ’09 (Courtesy Jason Graziadei, Nantucket Cottage Hospital)

Grant Wentworth ’09 (Courtesy Jason Graziadei, Nantucket Cottage Hospital)

While he was a student at Princeton, Grant Wentworth ’09 didn’t swim at all, preferring intramural basketball to the pool. But in the six years since graduation, Wentworth discovered a passion for open-water swimming and recently attempted something that has only been accomplished once before: a solo swim across more than 24 miles of water between Cape Cod and Nantucket.

During the early morning hours of July 24, Wentworth began the swim at Cape Cod’s Seagull Beach in West Yarmouth. More than 12 hours later, after a journey that included hundreds of tiny jellyfish stings and a shark-fin sighting by the crew that followed alongside him in kayaks, he arrived at Great Point Lighthouse, at the northern tip of Nantucket island.

“I didn’t sleep at all the night before … there was a feeling of excitement, nervousness, and anxiety,” he said. “I had to strip down, it was cold, there was a breeze. I was just wearing a Speedo, swim cap, and goggles. We cleared the water, and at that point, it was just like, ‘Alright, it’s finally here.’ There had been so much build-up to that moment.” Continue reading

Tigers of the Week: Zachary Pincus-Roth ’02 and Eve Weston ’01 Win Journalism Awards in L.A.

Eve Weston ’01 and Zachary Pincus-Roth ’02 (Courtesy Eve Weston and Zachary Pincus-Roth)

Eve Weston ’01 and Zachary Pincus-Roth ’02 (Courtesy Eve Weston and Zachary Pincus-Roth)

Aside from being Princeton alumni and accomplished writers, Zachary Pincus-Roth ’02 and Eve Weston ’01 have another thing in common: They happen to be married to each other.

Although the two overlapped during their years on campus, Weston and Pincus-Roth didn’t connect until 2007, when they were introduced by a mutual friend from Princeton at a networking event in Los Angeles.

Fast-forward eight years, and the two are happily married and recently received first-place recognition from the Los Angeles Press Club for feature pieces they wrote for the alternative newspaper LA Weekly.

Weston won the top prize in the Best Entertainment Commentary/Reviews category for her post, “Does Into the Woods Punish a Wife for Adultery and Not a Husband?” and Pincus-Roth won Best Entertainment Feature for his cover story, “Can TV Save India?” The pair also won third place honors for Best Humor/Satire Writing for a piece they co-wrote, titled “Cards Against Humanity: Los Angeles Edition,” also published in LA Weekly.

“It was my first time winning anything for journalism,” said Weston, a TV writer who has contributed to shows like Better Off Ted, The Megan Mullally Show, and Will & Grace. “I was really excited, it was a real honor to be recognized by talented journalists for my work in a field that’s still new to me.”

Pincus-Roth, the deputy editor overseeing arts and culture coverage at LA Weekly, has won several awards from the LA Press Club in the past, but said that this year’s honor was extra special.

“When I went to India to write the article, Eve came with me and it was really helpful to have her along to help with the interviews, and we did that story together in a way,” he said. “And I was the editor for her story, so it was cool that we both helped each other with these stories … it really felt like they were both group efforts.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Geneticist Leonid Kruglyak ’87

Leonid Kruglyak ’87 (UCLA)

Leonid Kruglyak ’87 (UCLA)

When PAW’s pages last featured Leonid Kruglyak ’87, the Princeton ecology and evolutionary biology professor had developed a new way to understand the genetic basis of complex traits influenced by multiple genes. This method, published in Nature, examined chemical resistance and mitochondrial function in a study of millions of yeast cells.

Five years later, Kruglyak is being honored for his contributions to the fields of genetics and genomics. Now a professor of human genetics and biological chemistry at UCLA, Kruglyak will receive the Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics Oct. 9, which recognizes outstanding scientific achievements in human genetics.

His UCLA lab currently conducts experiments aimed at understanding how changes at the level of DNA are shaped by molecular and evolutionary forces and how those changes lead to the observable differences among individuals within a species.

Kruglyak told The New York Times in 2012 that geneticists had long recognized that mutations could “throw sand in the gears of the brain” and that complex traits arose in complicated ways.

“Talking about a ‘a gene for a trait’ is a shorthand at best,” he said, “and a well-known fallacy at worst.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Jasmine ‘Jazzy’ Ellis ’10, Professional Stunt Performer

Jazzy Ellis ’10 (Courtesy Jas Productions International Digital Media)

Jazzy Ellis ’10 (Courtesy Jas Productions International Digital Media)

As a religion major on the pre-med track at Princeton, Jasmine “Jazzy” Ellis ’10 never thought she’d be jumping off of buildings and working with people like Gerard Butler, Oprah, and Arnold Schwarzenegger for a living.

But that changed after graduation, when Ellis moved to New Orleans to start a teaching job and began doing some modeling work on the side. After almost three years of teaching, Ellis realized she wanted to pursue something else. When her modeling agent suggested she try acting in commercials, Ellis decided to give it a shot — and fell in love with the film industry immediately.

“It just blew up, it really worked,” she said. “The more people I met in the [film] industry — and there are a lot of people in the industry in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana — the more I just got enraptured with it. There was no way I couldn’t do film.”

As Ellis began to think about the next step in her career, she realized she still had many things to check off of her extensive bucket list — things like learning to fly a plane, ride a motorcycle, light herself on fire, and surf.

“I realized that a lot of these things on my bucket list that seemed crazy, I could do them as a stunt performer,” she said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Hamilton College CIO Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99

Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99 (Jay Ackerman)

Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99 (Jay Ackerman)

As a child growing up in a small town in Washington state, Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99 had little knowledge of Wall Street and didn’t know what a banker was. When she was accepted to Princeton, Dinneen planned to take the pre-med route to become a doctor like her father — but everything changed during her sophomore year, when she took professor Burton Malkiel’s *64 introduction to economics class.

“That was kind of when the switch was flipped,” Dinneen said. “I think that first exposure to economics, specifically in Malkiel’s class, triggered an interest and a passion — and that’s a bit where my life changed.”

Now, 18 years later, Dinneen is the chief investment officer at Hamilton College, where she is responsible for managing the institution’s nearly $1 billion endowment. One of the youngest endowment CIOs in the country, Dinneen previously worked at the James Irvine Foundation for 11 years, where she had a similar role as an investment manager of the nonprofit organization, overseeing its endowment.

“It’s a similar way of managing institutional money,” she said. “An endowment is so important when you think about everything it funds — faculty, facilities, scholarships, research — it’s so important to the health of a college. We’re really helping to secure the future of this school.”

Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Rick Hamlin ’77 Commemorates a Milestone with Songs

A screen shot from one of Rick Hamlin ’77’s #60SongsIn60Days videos. (Courtesy Rick Hamlin)

A screen shot from one of Rick Hamlin ’77’s #60SongsIn60Days videos. (Courtesy Rick Hamlin)

Rick Hamlin ’77 turned 60 this year and is celebrating the occasion with a creative twist: Since May 22, Hamlin has recorded himself singing one song each day on his phone and has been posting the videos on social media. Now on day 41, Hamlin plans to continue until he reaches day 60, and even came up with his own hashtag for the project – #60SongsIn60Days.

“I’ve always had lots of songs spinning around in my head, and often a song is linked to a place,” said Hamlin, who began singing when he was a child and was a member of the Glee Club, the Footnotes, and Triangle Club while at Princeton.

Each of Hamlin’s videos is unique because he sings each song in a different location. Most of them are recorded in Manhattan, where he lives and works, and backdrops range from the George Washington Bridge to Times Square to Wall Street. His dedication to the project is unfaltering — Hamlin continued to post songs regularly when his family took a trip to Hungary and Austria mid-June, where he sang “lots of Sound of Music.”

Despite the vast distances he has traveled to record his videos, Hamlin doesn’t necessarily know what song he’ll be singing or where he’ll be performing when he wakes up each morning. “I’ll check the lyrics beforehand, but that’s all the planning I do,” he said.

Hamlin said he often chooses the song based on geographical cues, depending on where he happens to be during the day, but he also has sung special songs relating to holidays or weather conditions. He did a rendition of “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” by Noël Coward during a heat wave in New York last week.

Surprisingly, Hamlin said his favorite place to sing was not in front of any of the churches or castles he visited in Europe, but is instead in a location much closer to home.

“The subway tunnels — I love the acoustics,” he said. “But I have to time [the recording] before a train comes, because once it pulls in, its too much noise. But it’s worth it, you get really nice acoustics.”

Before the 60 days are up, Hamlin plans to tap into his Princeton roots by singing “East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)” by Brooks Bowman ’36 and “Goin’ Back to Nassau Hall.”

“But I’m still taking requests!” he said.

 WATCH: A video from Hamlin’s #60SongsIn60Days (Cole Porter’s “At Long Last Love”)
Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Journalist Ben Taub ’14

Ben Taub ’14 (Brad Catleugh)

Ben Taub ’14 (Brad Catleugh)

Earlier this month, Ben Taub ’14 published what for many journalists would be considered a crowning jewel in their careers: a 9,000-word investigation into the European jihadi pipeline that ran as a cover story in the June 1 issue of The New Yorker.

In a sense, Taub had already begun working on the piece two years ago, when he first spent a summer on the Turkish-Syrian border in 2013, supported by a grant from Princeton’s Council of the Humanities. He returned to that dusty town of Kilis, Turkey, in the summer of 2014, where he met two middle-aged Belgian fathers.

“One of them, Dimitri Bontinck, was trying to help the other, Pol Van Hessche, plan a trip into parts of Syria controlled by ISIS, to search for Pol’s runaway jihadi son,” Taub wrote in a blog post for the Overseas Press Club of America. “Dimitri had previously undertaken a similar hunt. In early 2013, his own son, Jejoen, a teen-age Muslim convert, traveled to Syria to fight against Assad’s army, expecting to ‘fall martyr within a short time.’ ” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Jay Xu *08, Expanding the Reach of Chinese Contemporary Art

Jay Xu *08 (Courtesy Asian Art Museum)

Jay Xu *08 (Courtesy Asian Art Museum)

When PAW profiled Jay Xu *08, director of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum, in 2012, the Ph.D. alumnus spoke about bringing museum visitors into closer contact with emerging Asian artists. “Asia is one of the most dynamic regions right now in terms of opportunities and challenges,” he said, “and this museum will be a wonderful platform for visitors to explore that.”

Xu’s work toward that goal continues with “28 Chinese,” an exhibition of works by 28 contemporary Chinese artists that opened earlier this month. While established stars (Ai Weiwei, Huang Yong Ping) are included, the gallery also aims to introduce a new generation of artists. A review in SFWeekly hailed the “provocative photography, installations, painting, and new media,” and the San Jose Mercury News noted the “undeniable impact” of works in the exhibition, including several by artists who use traditional materials in nontraditional ways.

Earlier this year, Xu was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences — one of 16 new members from the arts and humanities. Xu, the first Chinese-American director at a major American art museum, joined the Asian Art Museum in 2008 after chairing the Department of Asian and Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Engineer David Billington ’50

In presenting honorary degrees at Commencement, Princeton honors a wide range of notable individuals, from Supreme Court justices to entertainers and athletes. The tradition also allows the University to spotlight exceptional people on campus — a list that in recent years has included former men’s basketball coach Pete Carril and departing Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman.

David Billington ’50, right, with President Eisgruber ’83 at Commencement. (Beverly Schaefer)

David Billington ’50, right, with President Eisgruber ’83 at Commencement. (Beverly Schaefer)

Last week, a few days after his class marked its 65th reunion, longtime engineering professor David Billington ’50 received an honorary Doctor of Science degree for his inspiring work in the classroom and the lab. “[H]e introduced us to the engineering pioneers who revolutionized the world and opened our eyes to the creativity of engineering at its best,” the degree citation read.

Billington, the Gordon Y.S. Wu Professor of Engineering, Emeritus, taught at the University from 1960 through 2010. Early in his career, he was chosen to teach a class on structures in engineering to graduate students in the architecture school. The architects grew bored by the technical formulas, Billington told PAW’s Kathryn Beaumont ’96 for a 2003 feature, and clamored to “study something beautiful.” They showed him pictures of Swiss engineer Robert Maillart’s thin, concrete bridges sweeping across ravines and through the mountains of the Swiss countryside. “We all have some aesthetic sensitivity and respond to beauty in various forms,” Billington says. “But then I wanted to see if this was good engineering. And I realized that Maillart was the best technical engineer.”

Billington’s teaching celebrated Maillart and others who blended technical expertise and aesthetic beauty. And like a graceful, well-constructed bridge, his work has spanned generations: At his retirement celebration, the professor received a poetic tribute from Randy Evans ’69 and his daughter Annie ’04, two alumni of his courses.

READ MORE: The full degree citation for David Billington, Doctor of Science Continue reading

Tigers of the Week: Veneka Chagwedera ’09 and Jared Crooks ’11, Nourishing Children

Veneka and Jared (Courtesy Veneka Chagwedera)

Veneka Chagwedera ’09 and Jared Crooks ’11 (Courtesy Veneka Chagwedera)

By Agatha Gilmore ’04

In 2011, Jared Crooks ’11 was working at the National Academy of Sciences while Veneka Chagwedera ’09, now his wife, was starting an MBA program at the University of Virginia. With busy lives and an interest in staying healthy, the pair began making their own snack bars in their Washington, D.C., kitchen. They leaned on Crooks’ science background to cook dates, chocolate, and cashews into organic bars. Chagwedera’s growing expertise in entrepreneurship and the pair’s longtime interest in humanitarianism led them to found Nouri, which donates a portion of the proceeds of each bar to provide hot meals for children at school.

Nouri bars, made with all-natural ingredients from farms in the United States and manufactured at a facility in California, are sold at Whole Foods, local stores, and online. Crooks helps run the company while attending a joint masters-degree program in public policy and mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton. Chagwedera works at the University in the development office.

Nouri, which has 10 employees and is profitable, has sold more than 100,000 bars and provided the same number of meals to children at schools in Botswana, the Philippines, Guatemala, Detroit, and Oklahoma City.

The couple eventually hopes to produce the bars in other countries as well, using local labor and ingredients to promote development, job creation, and sustainability. Children are “more able to focus on classes when their stomachs are full, and it gives them more incentive to attend school,” Chagwedera says. “We hope that they can go on to graduate and make a difference as well.”  Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Star Sculler Gevvie Stone ’07

Gevvie Stone ’07 (Courtesy

Gevvie Stone ’07 (Courtesy

When PAW’s pages last featured Gevvie Stone ’07, the elite rower was on the verge of competing for the United States in the London Olympics — and also midway through medical school at Tufts University.

Three years later, Stone is continuing to balance a career in medicine with her athletic goals. She completed her M.D. last year, and she remains the top American woman in the single scull. Earlier this month in West Windsor, N.J., a few miles from Princeton, she won her event in the National Selection Regatta, a key step on her quest to return to the World Championships. (Stone finished ninth at Worlds in Amsterdam last year.)

In the National Selection Regatta finals, Stone was pushed early by former U.S. champion Emily Huelskamp, but she took control and won by more than seven seconds. “It was fun,” Stone told U.S. Rowing. “Emily put together a good fight, and I really had to execute my best piece. And I did.”

If Stone can follow up her selection-regatta win with a top-7 finish in one of the remaining World Cup races, she’ll earn a place on the 2015 U.S. National Team that will compete at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France, Aug. 30-Sept. 6. She’s also among the top contenders for the next Olympic team, which will row in Rio de Janeiro in August 2016. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Four-Star General Mark Milley ’80

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 (U.S. Army)

Gen. Mark Milley ’80 has been described as “an Ivy League graduate and career grunt” (Army Times), “a soldier’s soldier” (defense adviser Maren Leed), and “a warrior and a statesman” (Defense Secretary Ashton Carter). He’s also Princeton’s first four-star general and, pending Senate approval, will soon head the Army as its next chief of staff. Carter introduced Milley as President Barack Obama’s choice for the post at a press conference in Washington May 13.

Milley, a politics major, ROTC cadet, and varsity hockey player at Princeton, was commissioned after graduation. In the last decade, he served on the secretary of defense’s staff at the Pentagon and oversaw NATO operations in Afghanistan. He currently directs the U.S. Army Forces Command, known as Forscom, the Army’s largest command. Based in Fort Bragg, N.C., Forscom includes more than 750,000 active-duty, reserve, and National Guard soldiers.

In a 2014 interview with PAW contributor E.B. Boyd ’89, Milley spoke about the pressures of being responsible for the lives of soldiers, specifically the 100,000 NATO troops who were under his command in Afghanistan:

“It’s incredibly high stress. You’re looking at four hours of sleep, maybe five on a good night. Usually it’s interrupted. I had 122 [U.S. and NATO soldiers] killed in action while I was over there, and several hundred more seriously wounded. That weighs on you heavily — every day, day in and day out — and it’s never far from your mind. But through training, through experience, through a strong sense of purpose and a strong sense of the moral rightness of your cause, you learn to deal with the stress.”  Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Sarah Sherman ’08, Studying Earth From Space

Sarah Sherman ’08 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Dutch Slager)

Sarah Sherman ’08 (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Dutch Slager)

When the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite launched smoothly on Jan. 31, Sarah Sherman ’08 had cause to celebrate. As the mission’s launch-phase lead at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the Caltech-managed NASA center in Pasadena, Calif., Sherman was in charge of putting procedures and contingency plans into place, as well as executing dress rehearsals of the launch.

SMAP uses the radar and radiometer it has on board to gather soil moisture data, which can be used to monitor droughts, predict floods, and improve weather forecasts, among other things. Sherman is now doing operations for the satellite, which involves being on console as a systems chair and overseeing the 90-day commissioning phase that precedes the beginning of the three-year science, or data-collection, phase.

Perhaps that seems like a lot of responsibility for someone who hasn’t yet hit 30. In reality, however, Sherman has been working on SMAP for almost seven years, since the summer after she graduated from Princeton. Before that, she worked in the summers of 2006 and 2007 as a Caltech research fellow analyzing wind models of Titan and developing control algorithms to steer a hot air balloon in its atmosphere. Her next project will be as a mechanical engineer on the Sample Caching System of the Mars 2020 Rover. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Actor, Musician Valerie Vigoda ’87

Valerie Vigoda in 'Ernest Shackleton Loves Me' (photo by Jeff Carpenter for ACT Theatre, Seattle)

Valerie Vigoda ’87 in ‘Ernest Shackleton Loves Me’ (Jeff Carpenter for ACT Theatre, Seattle)

Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, which stars Valerie Vigoda ’87 and is now playing at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, has an unusual premise: Kat, a blue-haired video game composer and single mother, has been when for 36 hours when Ernest Shackleton, a polar explorer famous for keeping his entire crew of 27 men alive for nine months after their ship Endurance sank in Antarctica, travels across time to reach her. Vigoda, who sings and plays her Viper electric violin as Kat, also co-wrote the music and lyrics for the show with her husband and partner Brendan Millburn.

“I’m passionate about all the work that I do and that I have collaborated on for the past many years,” she said. “But for me, this might be the one I’m most passionate about.”

Part of the reason is the nature of the story. Ever since she saw a museum exhibit about Shackleton’s harrowing adventures in Antarctica, Vigoda has been “sort of obsessed” with the explorer, she said. For her, the musical is “a combination of this inspiring story and the resonance of this modern character.”

Unlike Kat, Vigoda did not have blue hair or tattoos before she slipped into her role. She now embraces the head turns when she walks into a space. In addition to the musical, Vigoda is working on a solo album called Just Getting Good, which was fully funded through Kickstarter in the fall. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: First-time Novelist Lili Anolik ’00

Lili Anolik ’00

Lili Anolik ’00

Lili Anolik ’00 has just published her debut novel, Dark Rooms. It is a story of “sex and murder and glamour set at a New England prep school,” as she describes it. Both a mystery and a coming-of-age story, Anolik wanted to write something that was “heavy on mood and atmospherics … sly and seductive … spooky, and [has] a fairy tale quality.”

The novel was six years in the making. “The writing process was pretty brutal,” Anolik said. “I loved writing the book but it definitely wasn’t a snap.”

Anolik was an English major and tennis player at Princeton, and wrote for The Daily Princetonian her senior year. Princeton, she said, “was hugely influential on my taste and sensibility.” She recalls the many great and inspiring teachers she had — Laura Quinney on film noir, Larry Danson on Shakespeare, Michael Cadden on Irish drama — but also the slow, agonizing process of churning out papers. “I used to spend forever on my papers when I was an undergraduate — was just completely anal retentive and obsessive about them,” she said.

As a contributing editor now at Vanity Fair (a “contributing editor” is actually someone who writes regularly for a publication; it doesn’t involve any editing), Anolik works on profiles and cover stories regularly.

“I think writing for Vanity Fair is the best job in the world. Not only does the magazine give its writers space, it’s respectful of voice. Meaning they don’t mess with your prose!” she said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Writer, Editor Landon Y. Jones ’66

Landon Jones ’66 (Courtesy Landon Jones)

Landon Jones ’66 (Courtesy Landon Jones)

While the diploma of Landon Jones ’66 may say that he graduated from Princeton with a degree in English, the St. Louis, Mo. native who claims to have actually “majored in The Daily Princetonian.” His dedication to journalism eventually led to a career at Time, Inc., which honored Jones last week with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award at the company’s annual Luce Awards.

On one assignment for The Prince, Jones had the opportunity to interview Malcolm X in the Firestone Library. Despite the activist’s fiery reputation, Jones found Malcolm X to be thoughtful and good-natured. “It was a lesson to me that sometimes what you expect is not what you get, and as a journalist you need to keep your eyes open to that,” he said.

After a brief stint at Life, Jones returned to Princeton to serve as the editor of the Princeton Alumni Weekly from 1969-75. From writing articles to working on the layout to proofreading, Jones performed any and all roles at the magazine. Rather than just continue with business as usual, however, he applied his experience as a student journalist to more accurately capture the politicized environment of the campus.

“I took it from a fairly conservative [magazine] to reflect the way the campus was changing, from Vietnam, to female empowerment, to sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll,” he said.

After his work with PAW, Jones wrote for Time and People before becoming the editor of Money magazine from 1984-89, and, later, serving as the editor of People from 1989-97. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Stu Nunnery ’71, a Musician on the Comeback Trail

Stu Nunnery ’71 (David H. Wells/The Wells Point)

Stu Nunnery ’71 (David H. Wells/The Wells Point)

As an undergrad at Princeton, Stu Nunnery ’71 played guitar and sang at Tower Club (and at the Holiday Inn on Route 1). After college, he released an album that placed two singles on the top 100 of the pop charts. And in the decade that followed, Nunnery had a successful run composing songs for the advertising industry.

Nunnery’s life in music ended abruptly in the early 1980s, when he suffered a serious hearing loss. Relying on hearing aids, he was able to converse in everyday life, but his ability to hear music was gone.

This month, however, with help from advances in hearing-aid technology, a stint in what he calls “music rehab,” and a successful Kickstarter campaign, Nunnery is preparing to return to the recording studio to complete a new album. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Reporter Danielle Ivory ’05

Danielle Ivory ’05 (Courtesy Danielle Ivory)

Danielle Ivory ’05 (Courtesy Danielle Ivory)

Last year, more than a dozen automakers recalled over 60 million vehicles in the United States alone. In part, this was thanks to a multiplatform series of news stories that revealed industry-wide neglect of safety defects in vehicles.

Danielle Ivory ’05 of The New York Times worked on a team that spent 10 months reporting the series, titled “Fatal Flaws,” which recently won a Scripps-Howard award for public-service journalism.

Starting with an article in March 2014, the Times revealed that auto regulators had dismissed a defect that has since been tied to 13 deaths and reported that G.M. had misled grieving families on a lethal deflect in their cars. The series went on to detail the “untold heartache” suffered by the families of the victims “whose deaths General Motors has linked to an ignition switch defect that can cause a loss of power in cars. In September 2014, they exposed that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a federal regulatory agency, had over the past decade been “slow to identify problems, tentative to act and reluctant to employ its full legal powers against companies.”

In their comments, the judges praised the series’ “exhaustive reporting, damning detail and expert analysis,” as well as the “the incisive, emotional quality of every story, headline, graphic, photo and caption.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Wyoming Legislator Mary Throne ’82

Mary Throne ’82 (Louis Jacobson ’92)

Mary Throne ’82 (Louis Jacobson ’92)

By Louis Jacobson ’92

These days, getting elected as a Democrat in Wyoming isn’t easy. While the Democrats have won the governorship as recently as 2006, it could be a long while before they win it again. The Republicans currently have a lock on every elected statewide office and have monopolized the congressional delegation for years. And the GOP holds an overwhelming lead in the state Senate (26-4) and in the state House (60-9).

In other words, the political hand dealt to Mary Throne ’82 — the Wyoming House Democratic Floor Leader — is far from ideal.

“It’s really hard to overcome the dislike of President Obama,” Throne said. “And the national energy policies are not good for Wyoming — that’s really the source of most of the angst. All that makes it very hard for a statewide Democrat.”

That said, Throne and her fellow party members are able to pick their spots. Education policy is a good example. Even as other Republican-led states have been urgently backpedaling from the Common Core — the set of standards created by and adopted by a majority of states, then later touted by the Obama administration — Wyoming lawmakers have minimized the flack and forged ahead with implementation on a bipartisan basis. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Scott Clemons ’90, Sharing His Passion for Books

Scott Clemons ’90 (Courtesy Scott Clemons)

Scott Clemons ’90 (Courtesy Scott Clemons)

While most students’ bookshelves at Princeton are lined with dog-eared textbooks and hand-me-downs, Scott Clemons ’90 lined his shelves with something a little different: rare books.

Clemons, now president of the Grolier Club in Manhattan, co-organized an exhibition that opened at the club last month titled “Aldus Manutius: A Legacy More Lasting Than Bronze.” Aldus Manutius, who died 500 years ago this year, was a famous scholar-printer of the Italian Renaissance.

Gutenberg may have invented the movable-type printing press, but “anyone who has ever sat in a cafe, or in the bath, with a paperback owes a debt to Aldus and the small, cleanly designed editions of the secular classics he called libelli portatiles, or portable little books,” wrote The New York Times.

“It’s become a cliché to call them the forerunners of the Penguin Classics,” Clemons told the Times. “But the concept of personal reading is in some ways directly traceable to the innovations of Aldus’s portable library.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Nick Guthe ’91, Director of ‘The Billion Dollar Game’

Nick Guthe ’91, left, with Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt ’81, one of several Princeton basketball alumni featured in The Billion Dollar Game. (Courtesy Nick Guthe)

Nick Guthe ’91, left, with Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt ’81, one of several Princeton basketball alumni featured in The Billion Dollar Game. (Courtesy Nick Guthe)

With the cameras rolling at Jadwin Gym last May, Nick Guthe ’91 set to work solving a Princeton basketball mystery: In 1989, when the Tiger men were preparing for their showdown with top-seeded Georgetown, who came up with the plan to go the barbershop for Hoosiers-style buzzcuts?

“Whose idea was it?” Guthe asked, sounding faintly like Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. “Whose idea was it?”

Under the bright lights, Jerry Doyle ’91, a starting guard for the ’89 team, grudgingly admitted the idea was his. When the crew paused to switch tapes, Doyle, a Duke Law grad, smiled and shook his head. “You should be a prosecutor,” he said.

Filmmaker suits Guthe just fine. A writer and director with a background in TV and movies, Guthe returned to Princeton to work on his first documentary, a short film titled The Billion Dollar Game, which premiered on ESPN’s today.

The film, which features Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril and several Princeton basketball alumni, explores Princeton’s thrilling NCAA Tournament loss to Georgetown and its effect on the sport’s future. The Tigers’ near miss helped to preserve automatic tournament bids for small-conference teams. It also proved compelling to executives at CBS, the network that subsequently paid $1 billion for the tournament’s exclusive broadcasting rights and expanded coverage to include all first-round games. “It really changed the way that people consume college basketball,” Guthe said. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Stephanie Flack ’92, Bringing Environmental Films to the Big Screen

Stephanie Flack ’92 (© Amy Moore)

Stephanie Flack ’92 (© Amy Moore)

By Louis Jacobson ’92

Last year, Stephanie Flack ’92 decided to leave a job that she says she could have stayed in forever. For the previous 18 years, Flack had worked with the Nature Conservancy, a major environmental group, during which time she spearheaded a landmark effort to preserve the biologically rich Potomac River watershed.

“It was a great place to be — it never got boring, and I was proud to be part of this big, successful organization,” she said. But she’d also felt she’d “gotten into the weeds” during a lengthy technical project, so when the opportunity arose to lead the Washington, D.C., Environmental Film Festival, she took it.

The festival — which at 23 years is the longest-running environmental film festival in the United States — will be held between March 17 and March 29 and is scheduled to include more than 160 films from 31 countries. Many of them are premieres, and many will be shown along with presentations by the filmmaker or other expert speakers. Last year’s festival attracted 33,000 people to films at dozens of venues, many of them free to the public. “It’s not a niche festival,” Flack said. “Everybody should care about these topics.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Bioethicist Jason Schwartz ’03

As the latest measles outbreak made headlines nationwide last month, one important question arose about the ethics of mandatory vaccinations: Are there beliefs — parental or religious — that ought to allow parents to opt out of vaccinating their children?

Jason Schwartz ’03 (Margaret Andrews)

Jason Schwartz ’03 (Margaret Andrews)

As an expert in bioethics, Jason Schwartz ’03 actively weighed in on the debate, speaking on public radio stations WHYY and WBUR. The consensus right now, Schwartz told PAW, is that exceptions should be available — but that they should be “pretty hard to get.” It shouldn’t simply be a matter of signing a form or checking a box, but “really making a parent explain their sincere beliefs about vaccination.”

Schwartz majored in classics and was also a pre-med student as an undergraduate. For a long time he thought he would be a physician or surgeon, but soon discovered, while pursuing graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, that he was much more interested in policy and social issues around health and medicine. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Sitcom Star Ellie Kemper ’02

Ellie Kemper ’02 (Josephine Sittenfeld ’02)

Ellie Kemper ’02 (Josephine Sittenfeld ’02)

Six years ago, we checked in with Ellie Kemper ’02 just after the young comedian and actress landed a role on NBC’s The Office. “I am a huge fan of the show,” she told PAW. “Being on set with them is like being in a dream, except the dream is real and I can reach out and touch them. Except I am trying not to touch them too much, because I was raised right.”

That earnest charm and humor came through in her character, receptionist Erin Hannon, and Kemper found a niche on the show for its final five seasons. She also built a career in movies, with credits that include Bridesmaids and 21 Jump Street.

Beginning next week, Kemper will take on a new role as the star of the Netflix sitcom Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Kemper plays a woman who is freed from a doomsday cult and decides to start fresh in New York City — a notable challenge for someone who has been locked away from the world in an underground bunker.

Fey told Dave Itzkoff ’98 of The New York Times that she and Carlock developed the show for Kemper, who has a history of playing roles that project “sunniness, but also strength.” Kemper added that the Kimmy character is “resourceful and crafty and incredibly tough” — which should give the actress a chance to show more of her own range. As author and friend Curtis Sittenfeld wrote in a January Vanity Fair profile, “she has an edge, of the good variety.”

Below, watch a trailer for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, courtesy of Netflix. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Filmmaker Andrew Jarecki ’85

Andrew Jarecki ’85, left, with Robert Durst, the subject of Jarecki’s new documentary series. (Courtesy HBO)

Andrew Jarecki ’85, left, with Robert Durst, the subject of Jarecki’s new documentary series. (Courtesy HBO)

Andrew Jarecki ’85 has devoted much of his filmmaking career to stories of crime and deception, with credits that include the 2003 Oscar-nominated documentary Capturing the Friedmans and the 2010 fictional drama All Good Things. The latter was inspired by the story of accused murderer and real-estate scion Robert Durst, who takes center stage in Jarecki’s new project, The Jinx, a six-part documentary series that debuted on HBO earlier this month. hailed the documentary’s complexity and Jarecki’s technique of “gently withering away our self-certain narratives.” The Wall Street Journal called the series “an unusual hybrid” — an extensive investigative reporting project and a deep character study that humanizes Durst, who sat for 20 hours of interviews with Jarecki. And Esquire summarized its take with a question about the filmmaker: “Why does this man keep making us relate to psychopaths?”

That was actually the title of the Esquire Q&A, not a question in the piece. But Jarecki did provide an answer of sorts. “I’m always skeptical when somebody says that another person is evil,” he told the magazine. “I think it’s an excuse to separate ourselves and to say, ‘Well, I can’t even conceive of the possibility that I could be capable of such things, because that person is “evil.”’ But the truth is all people do strange things.”

Jarecki will be on campus for a Feb. 20 event that includes a screening of the first two episodes of The Jinx and a conversation with the director and producer. Continue reading

Tigers of the Week: Nonprofit Entrepreneurs Mark Smith ’09 and James Burgess ’09

Mark Smith ’09, left, and James Burgess ’09. (Carolyn Edelstein ’10/OpenBiome)

Mark Smith ’09, left, and James Burgess ’09. (Carolyn Edelstein ’10/OpenBiome)

Clostridium difficile colitis, commonly known as C. diff, infects some 500,000 people per year in the United States, with sometimes deadly effects, according to the American Gastroenterological Association. But Mark Smith ’09 and James Burgess ’09 have a safe and effective solution to fight the intestinal bug — and it uses material that normally gets flushed down the toilet.

Smith and Burgess are cofounders of OpenBiome, a nonprofit organization in Massachusetts that provides stool samples used in a procedure called fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), which introduces microbes from healthy stool to fight C. diff. If you think it sounds a little weird, you’re not alone. Smith, a microbiologist, said he had the same reaction when he first heard about FMT.

As a graduate student at MIT, Smith studied the human microbiome, the collection of microbes that live in or on the human body. After reading about FMT and its effectiveness, he asked Burgess if there might be a business opportunity for a stool bank, to provide the specimens needed for the transplant. But with the procedure’s intellectual property largely in the public domain, Burgess did not see much potential for profit.

The idea remained dormant until a friend’s relative contracted a persistent C. diff infection and struggled to find a medical facility that would provide the FMT treatment. (He eventually received a successful fecal transplant, after a year and a half of recurring infections.)

Smith and Burgess returned to their plans and decided to try launching a nonprofit. They researched the relevant regulations and developed protocols for screening donors and processing samples. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Curator Jodi Hauptman ’86

Jodi Hauptman ’86 (The Museum of Modern Art)

Jodi Hauptman ’86 (The Museum of Modern Art)

Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs, a much-praised exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art scheduled to close next week, is the latest noteworthy project of curator Jodi Hauptman ’86, who also has helped MoMA showcase works by Georges Seurat and Odilon Redon in recent years. The Matisse exhibition was organized by Karl Buchberg, senior conservator at MoMA, and Hauptman, along with assistant curator Samantha Friedman.

The exhibition and a companion publication, co-authored by Hauptman, explore Matisse’s materials and methods, and how the cut-outs, created late in the artist’s life, fit into the broader context of his career. In a New York Times interview last June, Hauptman debunked one commonly held belief about Matisse’s choice of medium: “It was always thought that he was too frail to paint and hence turned to cut-outs, but we believe cut-outs allowed him to answer questions about color and drawing, bringing them together.”

While The Cut-Outs earned critical acclaim and a healthy stream of visitors, it also broke new ground in the art world when it kicked off a film series of exhibitions, screened at movie theaters around the country.

Hauptman, who majored in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, studied art history at Yale, earning her Ph.D. She joined MoMA in 2002 and was promoted to senior curator in the department of drawings and prints last year. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Web Privacy Advocate Jonathan Mayer ’09

Jonathan Mayer ’09 (Peter Stember)

Jonathan Mayer ’09 (Peter Stember)

Jonathan Mayer ’09, a leading online privacy advocate and proponent of the “do not track” initiative, made headlines again last week after he uncovered a digital advertiser’s use of tracking cookies that are difficult to delete.

As Mayer explained on his blog, Web Policy, he was looking for companies that were taking advantage of data from Verizon’s controversial advertising header, released last year. He found that one Verizon partner, Turn, was using Verizon data to generate cookies that kept coming back, even if a user followed the recommended opt-out mechanisms. The investigative journalism nonprofit ProPublica also reported on Turn’s tracking tricks, after confirming the tests outlined in Mayer’s blog. The advertising company announced that it would suspend using the regenerated tracking cookies, also known as “zombie cookies.”

The New York Times, in a Jan. 26 story, reported that Verizon had not been notified of Turn’s specific use of the telecommunications company’s customer codes. But that, Mayer, explained, is at the heart of the issue. “Verizon is not in a position to control how others use its header,” he told the Times. “There’s no doubt that this particular approach does introduce new privacy problems.”

Mayer, a lawyer and computer science graduate student at Stanford, was featured in PAW’s Jan. 8, 2014, issue. His work on privacy began at Princeton, where the Woodrow Wilson School major explored internet anonymity and digital fingerprinting in his senior thesis, a paper that later caught the attention of experts at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Sometimes academia feels like you are writing into a great abyss,” Mayer told PAW contributor Nicole Perlroth ’04. “That was my realization that you can have a big impact.” Continue reading