January 2018 Newsletter: Research With An Impact

Written by
Maura M. Fennessy
Jan. 25, 2018

Princeton University Office of Public Affairs social media icon

Princeton University recently opened the doors of Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs, a new business incubator space along Route 1 in Plainsboro to support early stage companies formed by faculty, students and alumni as well as the wider NJ community, with dry labs for computational and mathematical research, web labs for chemical, biological and pharmaceutical research, and office space for general use. Earlier this month, the university hosted a board meeting of Choose New Jersey, bringing to campus many of the state's top corporate, union, trade and education leaders. Late last year, the University released the Campus Plan for 2026, a strategic framework that prioritizes, among other things, new and improved research facilities, and space to accommodate academic partnerships with the corporate, government and nonprofit sectors in an expanded innovation ecosystem. And this past fall, Princeton University President Chris Eisgruber was honored to be appointed to the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Business Partnerships.

All of this activity serves to underscore the university's increased efforts to catalyze the innovation ecosystem in central New Jersey.

As officials here in New Jersey and down in Washington, DC grapple with how or whether to extend protections to undocumented students who arrived in the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers - including students at Princeton University - President Eisgruber continues to lead advocacy and legal efforts on their behalf.

This issue of @princeton.edu features research, both fundamental and applied, intended to benefit society at large and the stories of the people working every day behind the scenes to expand the limits of human knowledge.


Discovery magazine cover photo

DISCOVERY: Research at Princeton

Researchers at Princeton University strive every day to uncover new explanations for how things work and how people think. The University's most significant research advances, initiatives, projects and honors in the fields of engineering, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities are featured each year in DISCOVERY: Research at Princeton. Below are just a few of the articles featured in this year's issue.




Going Green: What we can learn from a little alga

We are concerned, rightly so, about the amount of carbon dioxide accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere. But to most plants, which use carbon for photosynthesis, the amount we have is not enough. Learn more.



Flow pic

Let it Flow: The ideas, the creativity, the findings, the impacts, the benefits to society

The researchers in Princeton's Complex Fluids laboratory are sometimes inspired by a cup of coffee or a permanent marker. Such everyday items may seem like odd subjects of inquiry in a lab known for its cutting- edge research, but in fact the coffee - a latte actually - acts as a model system to study pattern formation in liquids, which could lead to applications in food science, and the permanent markers may suggest ways to transfer patterns of micro-fabricated electronics from one surface to another.  Learn more.



Better decision-making for the planet

We might think we have control of the mix of decisions we make during the day. But it turns out that our brain gives us subconscious nudges, preferring some choices over others. Elke Weber, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, studies how the science of human behavior can inform policies that encourage people to make good choices for the environment. Learn more.



Money matters: an economist on the Fed, the banks and the future

It's been nine years since the start of the Great Recession, and economies are still recovering worldwide. Economists are still debating - not about the causes of the crisis, which involved shoddy lending standards and economic opportunism - but about what can be done to prevent future calamities. Markus Brunnermeier's research explores the underlying mechanisms behind the crisis and suggests possible solutions.  Learn more.


Equad news winter

INQUIRY, INSIGHT, IMPACT: News from Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Science

Two times a year, Princeton's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences publishes EQuad News, a digest of their latest research advances. The winter issue highlights fundamental research, which Dean Emily Carter describes as, "research that targets root questions, rather than a narrow, short-term problem... research that combines curiosity and wonder with a discerning eye toward what roadblocks need to be cleared for innovations that might be 10 or more years away." Read on to learn more about new drug delivery approaches to help deliver critical medicines to the developing world, an app that turns a smartphone into an environmental data collection tool, the future shapes of photovoltaics, and more.


Gates foundation

Life saving medicines grow from fundamental chemistry, win Gates Foundation backing

By the time Robert Prud'homme visited the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle two years ago, his technology for encasing medicine in ultra-small particles had already led to new drug delivery approaches for high-value medical applications, including oncology. But Gates Foundation officials posed a new challenge.  Read more.


Smart phone app

Navigating the urban environment, smartly

Elie Bou-Zeid's research team has planted environmental sensors around Baltimore and New Jersey and built models to forecast shifting winds in towns and cities. Now, he wants to put that information at the fingertips of smartphone users.  Read more.


Solar power

New forms shape solar power

The common image of solar power involves big, blocky panels bolted to a roof. But in the lab of Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo, photovoltaics are freed from this cubist form. Read more.