Category Archives: Tiger of the Week

Tiger of the Week: Chris Hamm ’14, Helping to Build a Better Solar-Powered Home

Chris Hamm ’14 was part of a Stevens Institute of Technology team that built the winning entry in the 2015 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. (Courtesy Chris Hamm)

Chris Hamm ’14 was part of a Stevens Institute of Technology team that built the winning entry in the 2015 Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. (Courtesy Chris Hamm)

Last month, after more than a year of planning, four months of construction, a cross-country voyage, and nine days of on-site assembly, Chris Hamm ’14 and his teammates from Stevens Institute of Technology were ready to show off their work: SURE HOUSE, a “sustainable and resilient” solar-powered home that was among more than a dozen entrants in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in Irvine, Calif.

The biennial competition rates projects in 10 categories, including architecture, engineering, and energy balance. At the end of more than a week of judging, the Stevens team topped the final rankings.

For Hamm, a master’s student who directed energy analysis for the project, creating the 1,000 square-foot home presented challenges he’d never encountered before. “Seeing a project through, from the beginning design phases to actually building it, requires another level of collaboration and compromise,” he said.

Hamm studied environmental engineering at Princeton and took a strong interest in sustainable building and energy modeling during his junior and senior years. His undergraduate thesis explored strategies for adapting Passive House, a popular building-energy standard developed in Germany, to apply to homes in various climates in the United States. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Publishing Veteran John Oakes ’83

John Oakes ’83 (Courtesy John Oakes)

John Oakes ’83 (Courtesy John Oakes)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

In September, John Oakes ’83, a veteran book publisher based in New York, returned to the Princeton campus for “Careers Beyond Wall Street,” a panel sponsored by Princeton Progressives. He described a shrinking industry that is, well, still stuck in the Stone Age.

“I think going into book publishing — certainly the traditional side of it — is tantamount to apprenticing yourself to a potter. Or a stone carver,” he said.

Book publishing is “quaint, time-consuming, frustrating, and occasionally thrilling,” he said — and it’s in the midst of a massive transformation.

As the co-publisher at OR Books, an independent press that sells e-books and paperback books direct to readers, and prints on demand, Oakes is shaping that transformation, one book at a time. In the coming year, Oakes also plans to re-launch The Evergreen Review, a groundbreaking literary magazine, with Editor-in-Chief Dale Peck.

The Evergreen Review, created by Barney Rosset, the late publisher of Grove Press, published a sea of cultural legends — including Susan Sontag, Malcolm X, Jean-Paul Sartre, Vladimir Nabokov, Allen Ginsberg, and Samuel Beckett — in its original run from 1957 to 1973.

Oakes first met Rosset, Beckett’s American publisher, in 1982, when he found himself knee-deep in his English department senior thesis. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Monica Greco ’13, Helping Refugees in Jordan Start a New Life

Monica Greco ’13 (Hesham Elnagar)

Monica Greco ’13 (Hesham Elnagar)

After Monica Greco ’13 graduated from Princeton, she packed her bags and flew to Amman, Jordan, to begin her yearlong Fulbright scholarship to study Roman military history. But while living in a country in the midst of a refugee crisis, where many families were seeking to start a new life after fleeing from violence in nearby countries, Greco started volunteering with a small nonprofit refugee-aid organization called the Collateral Repair Project (CRP).

“I spent a lot of time on public-policy stuff at Princeton and have always been interested in emergency aid,” said Greco, a classics major who earned a certificate in the Woodrow Wilson School. “CRP is like an extension of me, or I am an extension of it — I’m not sure at this point.”

CRP is located in Amman’s Hashmi Shamali neighborhood, which is home to a large number of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. When a refugee family crosses the Jordanian border, adults are forbidden from working in the country in almost all cases, Greco said. CRP’s emergency-assistance program provides basic amenities like food, medical support, mattresses, cooking utensils, heaters, and fans to families in dire need.

“Things are very, very hard — people can’t work, which means they can’t support themselves,” she said. “So while there’s this relief of not being subject to bombings, violence, kidnappings, and torture, things are still hard when they get to Jordan.” Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Doug Emlen *94, Author of ‘Animal Weapons’

Doug Emlen *94 (Courtesy Doug Emlen)

Doug Emlen *94 (Courtesy Doug Emlen)

Doug Emlen *94, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Montana, thought that writing was his “A-game” — a strength, a specialty even. He’d written textbooks and taught classes about science writing. But when he began working on his first book for a general audience — an exploration of evolutionary arms races in the animal world — Emlen realized he still had much to learn.

“I would send these things that I thought were masterpieces to my editor,” he recalled with a laugh. “And she’d turn around and say, ‘You sound like a professor.’”

As Emlen searched for his narrative voice, he drew inspiration from his days as a Princeton graduate student, when he spent periods of seven or eight months researching dung beetles on an island in the rain forests of Panama. “I was writing these letters back to my then-girlfriend, who’s now my wife, and she kept them all,” Emlen said. “All these incredible things came flooding back, and so that’s how I was able to start working in these back stories and adventures. I’d actually written them down in my letters, 20 years ago.”

The grad-student adventures are woven into a wide-ranging review of biological research in Animal Weapons: The Evolution of Battle, which won the 2015 Phi Beta Kappa Book Award in Science earlier this month. In the words of one selection-panel member, it’s a “lively, engrossing account of the arms races in animal evolution, development, and ecology.” (Joan Breton Connely ’76 also was among this year’s Phi Beta Kappa honorees, receiving the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award for The Parthenon Enigma: A New Understanding of the West’s Most Iconic Building and the People Who Made It.) Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Luna Ranjit *04, Working for Social Justice

Luna Ranjit *04 (Aaron Colussi)

Luna Ranjit *04 (Aaron Colussi)

Luna Ranjit *04, a Woodrow Wilson School MPA graduate and native of Nepal, began working with Nepali immigrants in New York City 10 years ago as one of the founders of Adhikaar, a Queens-based community organization that takes its name from the Nepali word for “rights.”

“Although our focus is the Nepali community, we’ve never called ourselves a Nepali organization,” said Ranjit, Adhikaar’s executive director. “We’re a social-justice organization which happens to serve some of the most marginalized groups within the immigrant community.”

Ranjit and her colleagues set their sights on a range of community needs, including workers’ rights and access to health care, while building a more prominent voice for one of New York’s fastest-growing immigrant groups.

In the last year, Adhikaar has made headlines for its community leadership in the wake of tragic earthquakes in Nepal and its advocacy on behalf of workers in New York nail salons — shining a light on health and pay issues that were featured in The New York Times in an in-depth investigative report and editorial last May. Adhikaar helped to catalyze change, including new workplace safety regulations in the state, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in July, and a wage-bond requirement that went into effect Oct. 6. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Allegra Wiprud ’14, Conservation Leader

Allegra Lovejoy Wiprud ’14 (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

Allegra “Lovejoy” Wiprud ’14 (Jeanette Beebe ’14)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Allegra “Lovejoy” Wiprud ’14 gets emotional when she recalls her first land stewardship trip at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, an 18,000-acre land preservation and conservation nonprofit. It was an invasive species removal job in Hopewell, N.J. That day, the dangerous plant that her team tracked down, cut back, and destroyed — the climbing growth that covered, choked, and threatened to kill a tree — was English ivy (Hedera helix).

Perched on a picnic table outside the Johnson Education Center, a historic barn overlooking Greenway Meadows, Wiprud mimes how she removed the ivy, grabbing the vine with her hands as if it were a snake coiled around her neck. By clearing the ivy away, she says, “We can give the tree its life back.”

Ivy might look quintessentially Princeton, but as Wiprud is learning, the non-native plant climbs and grows so fast that it smothers other plants and starves trees of sunlight.

Unlike the local flora, Wiprud, a native of Brooklyn, has flourished amongst the ivy. While at Princeton, she meditated, studied, and practiced yoga. She quickly found a home in Murray Dodge Hall, a center of religious and spiritual life on campus. Eventually, she unearthed and discovered within herself a new belief: Hinduism. She took the lead in student religious groups, planning programs, retreats, and service projects for the interfaith Princeton Religious Life Council and the National Hindu Student Council. Continue reading