January 2021 Newsletter: Innovating in Unprecedented Times

Jan. 14, 2021
Public affairs icon

The University has been working on all fronts since the start of the fall semester to prepare for the safe return of students to campus later this month – designing housing alternatives, academic instruction options, and testing plans that strictly adhere to public health guidance; establishing an on-campus COVID testing laboratory, and launching a public health campaign to educate and inspire Princetonians to reduce the spread of COVID and keep our community safe. Find out more in the Princeton Playbook.

In the midst of preparing to safely welcome students back to campus, we all watched as violence arrived at the United States Capitol. In response to these events in Washington, D.C, President Chris Eisgruber, a constitutional scholar, shared his views on his President’s Blog, saying, “I hope and believe that we will prove to ourselves and the world that this country is the America we want it to be.  I expect that all of us, in the Princeton community and throughout our country, will seek out opportunities and occasions in the days, weeks, and years ahead to come together on behalf of those ideals.”

Throughout these tumultuous months, the research mission of the University has continued unabated, with University researchers announcing major advances in issues including climate change, community-engaged scholarship, and the forecasting of future pandemics.

This issue of "@princeton.edu" looks at these groundbreaking advances, as well as several ways in which the University has made a continued commitment to the Princeton community and to New Jersey’s innovation economy. 

Princeton University and New Jersey

Princeton to be among first tenants in "The Hub," New Jersey’s new innovation site

Princeton University will be the first institutional tenant in The Hub, a new collaborative site in downtown New Brunswick that aims to foster research, entrepreneurship, innovation and startup incubation in New Jersey. Rutgers University, Hackensack Meridian Health and RWJBarnabas Health, announced as core partners in the project, will also be initial tenants. Learn more.


Face shields

When a local hospital experienced a surge in coronavirus patients last spring, it tapped Princeton University researchers for urgent solutions to help protect its healthcare workers. Since then, University labs have delivered more than 3,000 reusable face shields to hospital staff in the emergency department and other areas of Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center, as well as 1,500 specialized covers for the powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs) used by medical workers in high-risk environments. University labs recently received a request for another 1,000 PAPR covers. Learn more.

Municipality, University reaffirm shared priorities in extending voluntary contribution agreement

Reflecting the strong and mutually beneficial relationship between the Municipality of Princeton and Princeton University, the town and the University have agreed to a two-year extension of the voluntary contribution agreement that outlines funding the University provides to support municipal operations. The extension runs through 2022. Learn more.



Recycling Award
Princeton Receives NJ Recycling Award

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Association of New Jersey Recyclers recognized Princeton University for outstanding achievement in recycling at a virtual award ceremony in November 2020. Twyla Seward, Director, Building Services, Facilities Operations, in accepting the award for Princeton said, “The University’s recycling achievements have been the result of the collaborative planning and hard work of the Building Services and Office of Sustainability teams.” Learn more.


Innovation to Climate Control and Community-Engaged Scholarship

Net Zero
Big but affordable effort needed for America to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, Princeton study shows

With a massive, nationwide effort the United States could reach net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050 using existing technology and at costs aligned with historical spending on energy, according to a study led by Princeton University researchers. The new “Net-Zero America” research outlines five distinct technological pathways for the United States to decarbonize its entire economy. The research is the first study to quantify and map with this degree of specificity, the infrastructure that needs to be built and the investment required to run the country without emitting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than are removed from it each year. It’s also the first to pinpoint how jobs and health will be affected in each state at a highly granular level, sometimes down to the county. Learn more.


Princeton disease ecologist C. Jessica Metcalf and Harvard physician and epidemiologist Michael Mina say that predicting disease could become as commonplace as predicting the weather. The Global Immunological Observatory, like a weather center forecasting a tornado or hurricane, would alert the world, earlier than ever before, to dangerous emerging pathogens like SARS-CoV-2. Learn more.



The fall course, taught by professor of psychology Casey Lew-Williams, drew on research from many fields including psychology, neuroscience, education, linguistics, sociology, public policy, and medicine. As part of the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES), the course gave students opportunities to apply their studies to work with three New Jersey-based nonprofits: Advocates for the Children of New Jersey, Children’s Futures, and The Father Center of New Jersey. Learn more.