Category Archives: Alumni News

Names in the News: Kagan ’81 on Writing, Massey *78 on Immigration, and More

When Supreme Court Justice ELENA KAGAN ’81 drafts opinions, she writes “so that a non-lawyer can understand it,” according to a recent interview published in The National Law Journal. Kagan, a former dean of Harvard Law School, also said that law schools need to do more to help their students become better writers.

How did CHARLIE STILLITANO ’81 become the best-connected American in European soccer? Close friendships with the likes of former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson have played a big role. “You earn trust by your behavior with people,” Ferguson tells Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl ’96. “I’ve got a million Charlie stories. He invites you over for dinner when he’s at home, and it’s a long day of humor, fun and good food.”

The Bitcoin Foundation’s former chief scientist, GAVIN ANDRESEN ’88, told MIT Technology Review that the crypto-currency is in urgent need of changes to help it process more transactions. Otherwise, he said, the $3.3 billion system may become “congested and unreliable.” Earlier this month, Princeton launched an online course about Bitcoin on Coursera.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s view of illegal immigration is at odds with the statistical trends, which show the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico in sharp decline, Princeton sociology professor DOUGLAS MASSEY *78 told The New York Times. Massey’s research was featured in PAW in 2012.

Names in the News: Full ’15’s Clever Design, Cabral ’12 Runs at World Championships, and More

030613coverEDEN FULL ’15, the engineer, entrepreneur, and Thiel Fellow featured in PAW’s March 6, 2103, cover story, has continued to pursue innovative solutions to generating power and providing clean water for communities in developing countries. Design News called the latest version of Full’s SunSaluter “a clever idea to address these two problems simultaneously.”

TerraCycle, the Trenton, N.J., waste recycling start-up that TOM SZAKY ’05 founded as a Princeton freshman, is the focus of an ongoing reality TV series, Human Resources. Szaky, who dropped out of college to build the company, told The New York Times that he hopes “to show that doing good can also create revenue and phenomenal value.”

Congressional candidate LINDY LI ’12 faces an uphill battle as she tries to unseat three-term incumbent Rep. Pat Meehan in Pennsylvania’s 7th district in 2016. But according to a recent Washington Post profile, Li has a stubborn confidence and the “special brand of optimism” of the millennial generation. If elected, she would be the youngest woman in the history of the U.S. Congress.

Track star DONN CABRAL ’12 finished 10th in the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing Aug. 24. Kenya dominated the race, capturing the three medal positions and the fourth-place slot as well. Cabral, one of three Americans in the top 10, told Runner’s World that he was not happy with his race. “This is probably the least I’ve managed to show up when it counts,” he said. “That said, I’m not going to bang my head about it for too long. I think I had a great season.”

Gen. MARK A. MILLEY ’80 was sworn in as the U.S. Army’s 39th chief of staff Aug. 14. In his first official remarks, he spoke about the nation’s preparedness for conflicts of many kinds. “As America, we have no luxury of a single opponent,” Milley said, according to The Washington Post. “We have to be able to fight guerrillas and terrorists all the way up through nation-state militaries. If we do not maintain our commitment to remain strong in the air, on the sea and yes, on the ground, then we will pay the butcher’s bill in blood, and we will forever lose the precious gift of our freedom.”

Service Abroad: O’Connell ’14 Volunteers in Ukraine

During Princeton’s graduation events last year, Mark O’Connell ’14 noticed a common theme delivered by the speakers: the importance of giving back, with the corollary idea that service “can take many shapes and forms.”

Mark O’Connell ’14, second from left, with friends and fellow volunteers at Ukraine’s Military Medical Clinical Center of the Western Region. (Courtesy Mark O’Connell)

Mark O’Connell ’14, second from left, with friends and fellow volunteers at Ukraine’s Military Medical Clinical Center of the Western Region. (Courtesy Mark O’Connell)

Earlier this month, O’Connell found his service niche in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine, where he and a group of friends volunteered at three local hospitals. The recent college grads rewrapped bedsores, shadowed surgeons, and assisted injured veterans.

O’Connell, who is half Ukrainian, grew up in Connecticut and studied Ukranian history, culture, and grammar at weekend classes in New York City. He majored in sociology at Princeton and began working at a tech startup in January. But he also has an interest in health care and public health, which made the volunteer trip an ideal opportunity.

The last year and half has been particularly difficult for the people of Ukraine, and though Lviv is geographically removed from the country’s conflict with Russian separatists, the fighting remains on the minds of its residents. “The entire country is under duress — politically, economically, and socially,” O’Connell said. Continue reading

Names in the News: Berlin ’07 on Lunch Ladies and Admissions; Berlind ’52’s Tony Winners; More

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Lev Berlin ’07 (Courtesy Lev Berlin)

Can a high-school lunch lady help you get into Princeton? Maybe, LEV BERLIN ’07 wrote in an essay for — or maybe not. It’s not clear whether a phone call from his lunch lady to a prominent alumnus helped his application, but in any case, Berlin advises, “Be nice to your lunch ladies, people.”

Broadway producer ROGER BERLIND ’52’s string of hits continues. Berlind co-produced two of the 2015 Tony Award winners: Best Play honoree The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Skylight, which won in the Best Revival of a Play category.

Author and professor RUTH BEHAR *83 has joined with poet and fellow Cuban-American Richard Blanco to launch a new writing project called “Bridges to/from Cuba,” which aims to give Cubans a forum for sharing their hopes for the future of U.S.-Cuba relations. Behar, who moved from Cuba to New York City at age 5, is the author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in Between Journeys. Continue reading

In Memoriam: Merrell Noden ’78

We are heartbroken to report the death from cancer May 31 of our colleague and friend, Merrell Noden ’78, a longtime PAW contributor. For about two decades, Merrell wrote the stories of some of Princeton’s most captivating people and programs, always with eloquence and heart.

Merrell Noden ’78 (Frank Wojciechowski)

Merrell Noden ’78 (Frank Wojciechowski)

You could tell a lot about Merrell from his articles. He was as curious as they come, happily taking on any topic we could throw at him — from word puzzles to Vietnam to mathematics geniuses. He loved running and literature and brought them together, once writing a piece for Sports Illustrated about Charles Dickens’ obsession with race-walking. He was full of good will, gratitude, and wonder, peppering his drafts with exclamation points that sometimes were deleted during editing, lest all that enthusiasm boil over.

About Professor Simon Morrison *97’s research on the composer Sergei Prokofiev, Merrell wrote: “Lucky Prokofiev! Few geniuses have had the good fortune to be served by someone as diligent and honest as Morrison.” In another piece, Merrell recalled the famous math-department teas: “What teas those must have been! It wasn’t just professors and grad students who came, but undergrads, visiting fellows, and brainiacs from the Institute.” He wrote about the digitization of books, noting that some people were questioning why we needed a bricks-and-mortar library at all. Merrell needed two exclamation points to comment on that prospect. “Aaaaarrhh!!” he wrote. “If, like me, you recall the libraries of your childhood as magical places, this comes close to sacrilege. Those libraries were warm and safe; you could spend entire afternoons opening books onto worlds you never knew existed, with the only threat being the sharp tongues of zealous librarians.”

As I re-read his emails and stories to write this note, I kept smiling.

Over the last few years, as Merrell endured the energy-sapping ups and downs of cancer treatment and it became harder for him to get around, he continued to take on PAW articles, saying they helped him feel connected to the campus and people he cared about. He submitted two pieces, well done as always, for our June 3 issue, then followed up with a warm note about the interesting assignments. His wife, Eva Mantell, said later that Merrell was quite ill when he was working on the last piece but cared deeply about completing it.

There is no number of exclamation points that can capture how much Merrell will be missed.

READ MORE: A selection of Merrell’s stories for PAW Continue reading

Names in the News: Taub ’14 Explores ISIS Recruiting; Gowin Exhibit at The Morgan

BEN TAUB ’14 wrote “Journey to Jihad,” the lead story in the June 1 issue of The New Yorker on European teenagers who join ISIS. Taub used money he received as a contestant on The Voice to fund reporting trips to the Turkish-Syrian border, he said in an MSNBC interview.

Influential photographer and emeritus professor EMMET GOWIN’s work is featured in a new exhibit, “Hidden Likeness,” at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City through Sept. 20. Peggy Fogelman, the Morgan’s acting director, said that Gowin’s art has “creative and often surprising linkages with Morgan objects of widely different eras and artistic disciplines.” Continue reading