Violinist Perlman’s Advice to Seniors: Do What You Love

Itzhak Perlman at the White House in 2007. (Shealah Craighead via Wikipedia)

Itzhak Perlman at the White House in 2007. (Shealah Craighead via Wikipedia)

Violinist Itzhak Perlman and his wife Toby had a simple message for the Class of 2016 in a Last Lecture event on Feb. 9: Do what you love.

“Part of the secret of life is loving your work and positioning yourself so that your work nourishes you,” said Toby Perlman, who also pursues a musical career as founder of the Perlman Music Program for gifted young string players.

Creative nourishment comes from continually seeking out challenges in one’s work, the Perlmans said. School provides a natural environment for growth, but it’s harder to find opportunities for inspiration after graduation.

“Never miss an opportunity to teach,” Itzhak Perlman said, explaining that teaching has challenged his own playing to take on new levels of meaning. “When you teach others, you teach yourself.”

And his thoughts on the Perlmans’ own futures? “I don’t like to plan stuff. It’s nice to be surprised,” Itzhak Perlman said. “A lot of the great things that happen to us in our lives just come without a plan.”

Tiger of the Week: Nanotechnology Innovator Jackie Ying *91

Jackie Ying *91 (Courtesy the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology)

Jackie Ying *91 (Courtesy the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology)

By the time Jackie Ying *91 arrived at Princeton to begin work on a Ph.D. chemical engineering, she had a passion for chemistry, sparked by a high school teacher in Queens, N.Y., and cultivated during her undergraduate years at Cooper Union. In graduate school, she found the faculty to be engaging — “They really got to know every single one of us very well,” she says — while also providing freedom and flexibility.

Ying’s time at Princeton, along with industry research experience at Bell Labs and a post-doctoral position in Germany, started her on a successful path in biomedical research and nanotechnology. She joined the faculty at MIT and was promoted to professor in 2001. She left that post in 2003 to lead the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore, the country where Ying spent most of her childhood.

Last December, Ying was named one of the first two winners of the Mustafa Prize, a $500,000 award for top scientists in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states, presented biennially by the government of Iran. Ying says the award — and the impressive list of nominees — shows that “science and technology is a common language” around the world.

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Princeton Men’s Basketball Beats Harvard, Dartmouth by Drilling the Details

Princeton men’s basketball improved to 4-1 in Ivy League play with wins against Harvard and Dartmouth Feb. 5 and 6. On Friday night, the Tigers beat Harvard, the reigning conference champion, for the first time since March 2013. Harvard has won the league’s “14 game tournament” for the past four years, but this year, a trio of contenders — Yale, Columbia, and Princeton — appears to be on its way to breaking that streak.

Steven Cook ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Steven Cook ’17 (Office of Athletic Communications)

Steven Cook ’17 led the Tigers to a win over Harvard with 21 points — a season-high that he beat the next night, scoring 27 points against Dartmouth.

“I thought Steve Cook had a terrific weekend. He’d been hard on himself going into this season. He’s one of the leaders on this team, and he showed that this weekend,” head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 said.

But Cook takes none of the credit. He said the win over Harvard came from the defensive side. “Defensively we really stepped it up compared to Yale. We really wanted to focus on that. We were more prepared for Harvard this year,” Cook said. “We managed to stop their three-point shooters for the most part and rebound as well, because that’s a big strength of the Harvard team.”

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Agus ’87’s Pens Guide to Harnessing the Advances of the ‘Lucky Years’

David Agus ’87

David Agus ’87

Health care isn’t a right; it’s a responsibility. That’s one of the premises of The Lucky Years by oncologist David Agus ’87. What Agus calls “the lucky years” is the era we live in now, the first time “we have at our disposal all the information we need to design our own health.” Thanks to a wealth of technology and data available, those living in developed countries have the potential to live longer than ever. But with those advances comes the potential for confusion and misinformation.

Drawing on his experience as a physician and a biomedical researcher, Agus writes about everything from genetic testing to mobile apps, helping readers navigate the sometimes contradictory information about new technologies and debunking misconceptions, such as the necessity of surgery to cure appendicitis. (In 2015, he writes, studies showed that 70 percent of appendicitis patients who took antibiotics did not need surgery.) He also addresses advances in cancer treatment, such as the benefits and perils of sequencing tumors to reveal gene variants that can be targeted with drugs. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Mattie Brickman ’05 To Debut a Reunions-Themed Play in L.A.

Mattie Brickman ’05, third from right in the front row, with the cast of Reunions, Reunions, Reunions. (Courtesy Mattie Brickman)

Mattie Brickman ’05, third from right in the front row, with the cast of Reunions, Reunions, Reunions. (Courtesy Mattie Brickman)

Mattie Brickman ’05 has enjoyed explaining the phenomenon of Princeton Reunions to her friends in California. “They go back every year?” people often ask. “What do they do every year?”

But for Brickman, a playwright and screenwriter, there’s more to reunions than fun and revelry. Revisiting your alma mater fits a more general storyline of “going back to an evocative place that formed you,” she says. That was a driving force in the development of her new play, Reunions, Reunions, Reunions, which debuts Feb. 5 and will run through Feb. 21 at the Studio Stage Theater in Los Angeles.

Set at a fictional college, the play features four main characters, including Courtland, who is coming back for her first reunion. She visits her boyfriend’s father, a professor obsessed with turning points in history, to pick up a gift that becomes, in Brickman’s telling, something of a Pandora’s box.  Continue reading

A Debut Novel by Professor Idra Novey Tackles Translation

Professor Idra Novey

Professor Idra Novey

The protagonist of Idra Novey’s debut novel Ways to Disappear is a translator of Brazilian literature named Emma, who lives in Pittsburgh with her rather boring boyfriend. When Beatriz Yagoda, the author Emma has spent her career translating, disappears, Emma takes the next flight to Brazil to contend with loan sharks, washed-up literary agents, and the unfinished draft of Beatriz’ latest book to search for the missing novelist.

Novey, a lecturer in creative writing, is the author of two books of poetry, including Exit, Civilian, which was a National Poetry Series winner, and a translator of Spanish and Portuguese authors. She teaches translation at Princeton. Novey spoke with PAW about the art of translation, loan sharks, and surviving a monsoon.

The novel deals with the art of translating and Emma’s complicated relationship to her author. How much do these relationships draw on your own experience?

I translated a novel by a Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, who died long before I translated her, which meant I couldn’t ask her any of the questions I had about her work. As a result, she became a kind of phantom voice in my head. Continue reading