April 2020 Newsletter: Mobilizing to Find Solutions

April 21, 2020
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Before the cascade of closings, escalating social distancing directives and unfathomable growth in COVID-19 cases, in what is hard to believe was just over a month ago, Princeton University began to grapple with the wrenching decision of whether or not to send students home.  Describing it as "a difficult day that I will never forget," President Chris Eisgruber marveled at the speed at which remote learning came online while also lamenting the loss of once-in-a lifetime experiences for the seniors leaving behind their undergraduate experience.

Since that time, the University community members who remain, whether working remotely or on campus, have mobilized their abundant talent and tools in support of the battle to stop the spread of COVID-19.

This issue of @princeton.edu shares stories of University contributions to our local communities and the state; University researchers seeking to tackle challenges in testing, treatment and contact tracing; and staff working around the clock to serve the needs of students who needed to remain on campus.

No institution in this country has been untouched by COVID-19.  This work, and the challenges ahead, will continue to be guided by four principles set forth by President Eisgruber in a recent address to University staff: ensuring the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff; restoring our teaching and research activities to normal operations once it is safe to do so; sustaining our commitments to access and affordability; and retaining and supporting our talented workforce.



Stacks of boxes of latex gloves

As part of Princeton's ongoing efforts to support New Jersey and our neighboring communities, the University has made a number of donations to state and local partners that are working to help protect health care workers and emergency responders amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The University also is helping to address hunger and local food insecurity in a time of economic uncertainty and will continue to work with the community and the state to find ways to help and support this fight over the long term.  Learn more.

Donations have continued since this article was written, and to date, the University has contributed over 130,000 pieces of PPE.

In addition, Princeton University is please to support the American Red Cross by holding several community blood drives at the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, located at 58 Prospect Avenue, in Princeton, NJ.  The first blood drives took place on April 16 and 17.  Additional drives will be held on May 11, May 12 and July 7.  Please note appointments are required to participate.

greenish-blue image of COVID-19 at microscopic level
Princeton awards over half-a-million dollars in funding for rapid, novel and actionable covid-19 research projects

With the aim of accelerating solutions to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton has awarded University funding for seven new faculty-led research initiatives with strong potential for impact. The projects include research in asymptomatic transmission, immunity following infection, vaccines, new treatments, contact tracing, economic implications of social distancing, challenges unique to urban environments, and strategies for reducing pandemic-associated domestic violence.  Learn more.

One of these initiatives also received National Science Foundation RAPID grant funding, awarded to two research teams at the University, for the purpose of developing new ways to better track and contain pandemics.  Learn more.

Princeton University Campus Dining staff member with bags of dry goods for students
University staff work 24/7 to support on-campus community during coronavirus pandemic

From broad-based efforts - such as providing COVID-19 testing to students on campus and maintaining safe, clean dormitories - to the tiniest details - like a birthday cupcake baked by Campus Dining and delivered to the room of a student in isolation - staff members are working diligently and creatively to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the campus community.  Their work is in addition to the faculty and academic staff who are leading the University's virtual instruction program for students who are on and off campus.  Learn more.


Politics and Polls podcast logo with faces of Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang

Julian Zelizer and Sam Wang talk with Ellen Weintraub, Federal Election Commissioner, about ensuring election integrity, and with Dr. Richard Besser, of the RWJ Foundation and one of Gov Murphy's appointees to the multi-state council on restoring the economy.






Woman with face shield administering COVID-19 test to a person



Navigating the pandemic trilemma

Harold James, Professor of History and International Affairs, writes on Navigating the Pandemic Trilemma, or how to weigh public health concerns with economic growth and political liberty.






Storefront with double glass doors and a "Temporarily Closed" sign


Unemployment, economic recovery and the coronavirus

Cecilia Rouse, Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, speaks on NPR's "On Point" about umemployment, economic recovery and the Coronavirus.










Princeton University SCRAP Lab logo with apple going into a biodigester

In honor of Earth Month and the governor's recent signing of legislation to require food waste recycling by large food waste generators, take your mind off of COVID-19 for a couple of minutes and watch this video of how food waste at Princeton goes from kitchen to biodigester to University grounds.

Learn more about the SCRAP Lab.