Author Archives: Brett Tomlinson

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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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

Tiger of the Week: Nushelle de Silva ’11, Building Bridges in Sri Lanka

Nushelle de Silva ’11, center, with children from the Building Bridges program. (Courtesy Nushelle de Silva)

Nushelle de Silva ’11, center, with children from the Building Bridges program. (Courtesy Nushelle de Silva)

By Jeanette Beebe ’14

Nushelle de Silva ’11 grew up in Sri Lanka. In 1983, before she was born, the country erupted in what would be a 25-year civil war.

“My parents, who were fairly young at the time, saw the horrific violence that erupted on the streets,” she says. Then, she pauses. “I don’t want to provide details that run the risk of flattening what was a very complex conflict.”

Sri Lanka is a country that de Silva’s parents left and returned to — despite the civil war. After a stint in Sydney, Australia, where Nushelle was born, the family moved to Colombo, the southwestern capital, when she was 7.

In 2004, during a ceasefire, de Silva’s K-12 all-girls’ school visited a sister school in Jaffna, the country’s northernmost city. “It had a huge impact on me as a young girl,” she remembers.

“My childhood was certainly filled with bomb drills and curfews and explosions that took the lives of many — my school was damaged by a bomb a few years before I enrolled — but none of us saw the kind of violence these girls saw on a daily basis,” she says. “It was a sobering visit for a 16-year-old to make.”

Last year, de Silva earned a master of science in architecture studies, a two-year research degree at MIT. Now, she is a first-year Ph.D. student.

In December, de Silva was honored with the Queen’s Young Leader Award for “Building Bridges,” a series of arts workshops for ethnically diverse children and youth in “recently rehabilitated communities” in northern Sri Lanka.

De Silva founded Building Bridges in 2012, with the support of a Princeton ReachOut 56-81-06 grant. She launched the program after graduating from Princeton with an A.B. in architecture and certificates in urban studies and theater. Continue reading

Tiger of the Week: Architect and Professor Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72

Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72 (Courtesy Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)

Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72 (Courtesy Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning)

Architect and professor Douglas Kelbaugh ’67 *72 recently was selected to receive the Topaz Medallion for Excellence in Architecture Education in recognition of his efforts “to shape a generation’s thinking about the environmental aspects of architecture,” according to the award announcement from the American Institute of Architects and the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture. Kelbaugh is a former dean of the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, where he continues to teach. Before coming to Michigan, he served as chair of the architecture department at the University of Washington.

Kelbaugh studied architecture as both an undergraduate and graduate student at Princeton, and he launched his career not far from his alma mater. One block away from Nassau Street, he built an innovative solar home in the mid-1970s, incorporating a Trombe wall, a south-facing glass wall backed by a concrete wall that collects and radiates heat.

“That house garnered a lot of publicity,” Kelbaugh recalled. “We stopped counting, but I think it was in over a hundred books, magazines, periodicals, newspapers, you name it. Even in magazine ads, it was showing up, for products that had nothing to do with the house!”

As a pioneer in passive solar architecture, Kelbaugh took a deep interest in energy conservation. He later partnered with Peter Calthorpe, a founder of New Urbanism, and pursued transit-oriented development projects. Continue reading

Hirshfeld ’73 To Open Hatcher Lecture Series at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Alan Hirshfeld '73 (Sasha Helper)

Alan Hirshfeld ’73 (Sasha Helper)

Astronomer Alan Hirshfeld ’73, author of the book Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe, will deliver the opening talk in the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s Ronald E. Hatcher Science on Saturday Lecture Series Jan. 9 at 9:30 a.m.

Hirshfeld, a professor at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth, leads off a string of lecturers with Princeton connections in this year’s series, which also includes former University president Shirley Tilghman (Jan. 16); Frank von Hippel, co-founder of the University’s Program on Science and Global Security (Jan. 30); chemical and biological engineering professor Lynn Loo (Feb. 6); mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Edgar Choueiri *91 (Feb. 13); molecular biology professor Coleen Murphy (Feb. 27); and astrophysics professor David Spergel ’80 (March 12). View the complete schedule here. Continue reading

Tigers of the Week: 2015

tow_collage-1021PAW’s Tiger of the Week feature will be taking a break for the next two weeks, but we encourage readers to keep sending nominations of alumni doing interesting or notable things (see the form at the bottom of this post). About half of our 2015 honorees were nominated by PAW readers. Many have made local or national headlines, but thanks to your input, we’re just as likely to profile alumni who’ve made their mark away from the public spotlight. Follow the links below to read about the 53 alumni featured in the last 12 months.

Mike Condon ’13David Zabel ’88Mark Pavlyukovskyy ’13Randy Hobler ’68Daniel Velasco ’13Arron Melvin ’01 *07Chris Hamm ’14John Oakes ’83Monica Greco ’13Doug Emlen *94Luna Ranjit *04Allegra Wiprud ’14Vin Gupta ’05Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi ’00Christian Birky ’13Ajay Kapur ’02Patrick Ryan ’68Ross Tucker ’01Gavin Black ’79Grant Wentworth ’09Zachary Pincus-Roth ’02 and Eve Weston ’01Leonid Kruglyak ’87Jasmine ‘Jazzy’ Ellis ’10Anne Matlock Dinneen ’99Rick Hamlin ’77Ben Taub ’14Jay Xu *08David Billington ’50Veneka Chagwedera ’09 and Jared Crooks ’11Gevvie Stone ’07Mark Milley ’80Sarah Sherman ’08Valerie Vigoda ’87Lili Anolik ’00Landon Y. Jones ’66Stu Nunnery ’71Danielle Ivory ’05Mary Throne ’82Scott Clemons ’90Nick Guthe ’91Stephanie Flack ’92Jason Schwartz ’03Ellie Kemper ’02Andrew Jarecki ’85Mark Smith ’09 and James Burgess ’09Jodi Hauptman ’86Jonathan Mayer ’09Claire Max *72 and David Weinberg *89George Hawkins ’83

Nominate your top Tiger

Do you have a nominee for Tiger of the Week? Let us know. All alumni qualify. PAW’s Tiger of the Week is selected by our staff, with help from readers like you.