June 2018 Newsletter: The High Value of Higher Education

Written by
Maura M. Fennessy
June 11, 2018

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At Princeton University's 271st Commencement ceremony on June 5, 2018, President Chris Eisgruber implored graduates to respond to the swelling voice of critics who claim that a college degree is not worth the cost, by becoming advocates - for the importance of degree completion in reaping the rewards of the investment; for America's public institutions of higher education as engines of social mobility and innovation; and for the importance of enabling more students from low-income families to earn degrees.

This issue of @princeton.edu celebrates the parting messages and role models offered to this year's graduating class; shares groundbreaking research in cancer, neuroscience and political science; and features the role of the university in convening conversations and events on public policy priorities.

NJ figures play prominent role in Commencement events

U.S. Senator Cory Booker speaking at Princeton University Class of 2018 Class Day ceremony

Senator Cory Booker stresses the power of small acts during Princeton's Class Day
United States Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey addressed the Princeton Class of 2018 during the Class Day ceremony on Monday, June 4.  Booker told seniors their power is not in the degrees they hold or how physically strong they are, but in the small acts of kindness and love they show every day.  Learn more.


Four outstanding secondary school teachers honored at Princeton University's 2018 Commencement ceremony, pictured along with President Chris Eisgruber and Todd Kent from the Program in Teacher Preparation

Four outstanding NJ secondary school teachers honored at Princeton Commencement

This year's honorees were Eleni (Helen) Coyle of Tenafly High School, Irma Seltzer of Bergen County Academies, Sean Turkington of Ridgewood High School and Christine Willitts of Lenape High School.  The teachers were selected for the award based on nominations from public and private schools around the state.  They each received $5,000, as well as $3,000 for their school libraries.  Learn more.


Five individuals receive honorary degress from Princeton at 2018 Commencement ceremony - Rev. Gregory Boyle, S.J., Lonnie Bunch III, Robert Geddes, Barbara Gitenstein, and Carla Diane Haydenpictured along with President Chris Eisgruber

Princeton awards five honorary degrees, including outgoing president of TCNJ and "a kid from New Jersey"

Princeton University awarded honorary degrees during Commencement exercises Tuesday, June 5, to five individuals for their contributions to architecture, education, the humanities and public service:  Rev. Gregory Boyle, S.J., founder and eecutive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles; Lonnie Bunch III, fouding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture; Robert Geddes, an architect and professor at Princeton; Barbara Gitenstein, president of The College of New Jersey; and Carla Diane Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress.  Learn more.


Groundbreaking Research

Mammary stem cells image

Immune cell provides cradle for mammary stem cells

Researchers in the laboratory of Yibin Kang have made new discoveries about how an immune cell known as the macrophage, which normally fights infection by swallowing foreign invaders, nurtures mammary gland stem cells through a chemical signaling molecule.  The study may provide clues about the roles of macrophages in breast cancer progression.  Learn more.


Image of neurons

Princeton researchers crowdsource brain mapping with gamers, discover six new neuron types

By turning a time-intensive research problem into an interactive game, Princeton neuroscientist Sebastian Seung has built an unprecedented data set of neurons, which he is now turning over to the public via the Eyewire Museum.  Learn more.


Image of hand dropping purple card into a ballot box

Purple districts elect the most extreme legislators, driving polarization

So-called purple voting districts that change hands between Republicans and Democrats - rather than reliably conservative and liberal districts - are an underappreciated source of rising political polarization in state legislatures, according to a study co-authored by a Princeton University researcher.  Learn more.


Convening Thought Leaders on Campus

NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy attends Young Women's Conference in STEM

NJ First Lady Tammy Murphy joins more than 700 girls at PPPL's Young Women's Conference in STEM

New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy came to the Young Women's Conference in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) organized by the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory on May 21 to cheer on the more than 700 seventh-to-tenth grader girls having fun with science activities and promote STEM education in the state.  Learn more.


NJ Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker and Princeton Professor Robert Socolow speak at Northeastern Legislative Climate and Energy Summit

Princeton hosts "Northeastern Legislative Climate and Energy Summit" to discuss regional carbon reduction

Legislators, state officials and industry leaders from 10 East Coast states and Quebec, Canada, gathered at Princeton University's Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment to discuss nonpartisan, regional solutions to reducing carbon emissions while fostering economic growth.  Learn more.


Ribbon cutting ceremony at Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs with Princeton University President Chris Eisgruber and local and university officials

Princeton Innovation Center BioLabs opens doors for science-based business incubation and technology conversation.

With a ribbon-cutting, speeches and tour of its extensive laboratory space, the formal opening of the new high tech Princeton Innovation Center Biolabs incubator was celebrated Thursday, May 17.  The faculty offers co-working lab and office space for high-tech startup companies formed by Princeton University faculty, student and alumni as well as members of the wider New Jersey community.  Learn more.

On Thursday, April 26, Princeton BioLabs was honored to host a hearing of the Assembly Science, Innovation and Technology Committee on blockchain technology, which is used to facilitate the exchange of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.  Learn more.

Princeton University General Counsel Ramona Romero speaking at Diversity Summit

Princeton hosts regional "Diversity Summit" for minority-owned and women-owned small businesses

Nearly 200 people gathered at Princeton University on Friday, May 4, for the fourth annual Capital Region Minority Chamber of Commerce Diversity Summit" to connect minority-owned and women-owned small businesses with institutions of higher education.  The University was the host sponsor for the event that brought together representatives of nearly 100 companies and organizations hoping to expand and extend their sales with representative of colleges and universities looking to diversify their supply vendors.  Learn more.