September 2017 Newsletter: Making a Difference in the World

Written by
Maura M. Fennessy
Sept. 7, 2017

Princeton University Office of Public Affairs social media icon

As students return to college campuses across the country, debates will undoubtedly abound over the seemingly never-ending stream of hot button issues at the national level. In a "State of the University" letter issued earlier this year, President Chris Eisgruber stated that, "Universities have an obligation to get at the truth by assessing claims rigorously, debating ideas openly and courageously, and steering clear of the biases that flow from partisan agendas or ideological prejudices. In an age dominated by short-term perspectives, great universities, with their dedication to durable truths and impartial scholarship, make a contribution to the world that is more valuable than ever."
So this issue of features some of the work underway on campus to make a contribution to the world - developing the next business ideas and leaders; providing a more sustainable future; and improving our understanding of how young minds learn and grow.

The arts, as a tool for creating beauty as well as for encouraging cultural self-reflection, feature prominently on Princeton's campus, particularly now as stunning new arts spaces are slated to open their doors after 4 years of construction. Save the dates - October 5 through 8, 2017 - for the Festival of the Arts at Princeton, the grand opening of the Lewis Center for the Arts, at the heart of the University's Arts and Transit neighborhood around the Dinky train station.

Sign up for our newsletter mailing list.


Keller Center Programs Engage Students Locally, Globally

This summer, over 150 students and recent graduates built their entrepreneurial skills through programs at the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, including the eLab Summer Accelerator and Tiger Challenge.  

Students from HomeWorks presenting at rhe eLab Demo Day 2017

Student- and alumni-launched business teams such as HomeWorks, which provides a local, after-school enrichment community for at-risk high school girls in Trenton, or BoxPower, which supplies renewable power solutions to off-grid and under-served markets worldwide, got support from the eLab Summer Accelerator.  The program culminated in Demo Day, at which the teams made their pitches to potential investors.  


Students participating in Tiger Challenge project to reduce lead paint exposure in Trenton, NJ

The Tiger Challenge program supports student groups during the summer and throughout the year seeking to solve intractable problems such as decreasing the number of new cases of lead poisoning in Mercer County and helping resettled refugees build fulfilling careers in New York and New Jersey.  Read more. 


Paying it Forward

Studens from Minding Our Business program for middle school students visit Princeton's eLab

The summer eLab students got a chance to share their new knowledge and exchange ideas with a small group of New Jersey's youngest entrepreneurs from Minding Our Business. Minding Our Business is a non-profit organization supported by Rider University that provides middle school students from Mercer County and the region with the educational and financial support to launch their own small businesses. 


BoxPower staff sitting in front of a mobile renewable energy power station

BoxPower, one of the summer eLab participants, demonstrated its growth, both as a company and as a good citizen, by donating its prototype mobile renewable energy power station to the Ramapough Lenape in Mahwah, NJ. The unit, housed in a standard-sized shipping crate, will provide roughly 2.5 kw per day to the Split Rock Sweet Water prayer camp.



Claire White

Taking concrete steps toward lower carbon dioxide emissions
The hardest thing about concrete just might be the problem of how to make the ubiquitous building material in an environmentally friendly manner. Recent laboratory results at Princeton indicate that the challenge of making greener concrete may eventually be cracked. Read more. 


Before and after image of impact of dumping orange peels into Costa Rican forest

Orange is the new green: How orange peels revived a Costa Rican Forest
In the mid-1990s, 1,000 truckloads of orange peels and orange pulp were purposefully unloaded onto a barren pasture in a Costa Rican national park. Today, that area is covered in lush, vine-laden forest. A team led by Princeton University researchers surveyed the land 16 years after the orange peels were deposited. They found a 176 percent increase in aboveground biomass - or the wood in the trees - within the 3-hectare area (7 acres) studied. Their results are published in the journal Restoration Ecology. Read more.

Solar panel arrays

Sunlight to electricity: Navigating the field
Will solar power become a primary contributor to the world's electric power system by mid-century? The Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment analyzes the future of solar power around five questions: Will distributed and centralized deployment both flourish? How much can balance-of-system costs be reduced? Will crystalline silicon remain the workhorse of solar power? Will solar power subsidies disappear? Will the intermittency of solar power soon throttle its expansion?  Read more.

Image of impact of eutrophication, or nitrogen pollution on waterways

Projected precipitation increases are bad news for water quality
If climate change is not curbed, increased precipitation could substantially overload waterways in the United States with excess nitrogen, according to a new study published July 28 in the journal Science. A team of researchers, including those from Princeton University, reported that climate change-induced precipitation changes will increase nitrogen pollution, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. This will, in turn, worsen eutrophication, a process by which waterways become overloaded with nutrients.  Read more.


Image of child understanding the word for dog in two different languages

Bilingual babies listen to languages - and don't get confused
Are two languages at a time too much for the mind? Caregivers and teachers should know that infants growing up bilingual have the learning capacities to make sense of the complexities of two languages just by listening. In a new study, an international team of researchers, including those from Princeton University, report that bilingual infants as young as 20 months of age efficiently and accurately process two languages. Read more.

Princeton University neuroscientist Sabine Kastner working with fifth-grade students from Princeton

Kastner opens frontiers for young minds
Princeton University neuroscientist Sabine Kastner comes prepared for a meeting with her youngest collaborators, packing a model of the human brain, a collection of preserved animal brains and a video demonstrating a single neuron in action. Those collaborators - fifth-graders at Riverside School in Princeton - are prepared, too, with questions, ideas and enthusiasm. Read more.


Peter Baker, Chief White House Correspondent, The New York Times; author, "Obama: The Call of History"
Monday, September 25, 7:00pm - 8:30pm 
Peter Baker will deliver a public lecture on Monday, September 25 at 7:00pm in the Arthur Lewis Auditorium in Robertston Hall.  A book sale and signing will follow the discussion.  Learn more.  
An Important CHOICE: Differing perspectives on American banking regulation
Tuesday, September 27, 4:30pm - 6:00pm
The Financial CHOICE Act is a bill that aims at rolling back many provisions of the Dodd-Frank legislation enacted in response to the financial crisis of 2007-08. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives on a strictly partisan vote last June and is now in the Senate.  The CHOICE act includes major changes on how we handle a failed financial entity (orderly liquidation authority), how Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are regulated and how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau operates.  Will these changes, if enacted, make the financial system stronger and create jobs or will they bring us to the brink of another major crisis and reverse gains made by vulnerable consumers? This will be the focus of the discussion of the expert panel.  Learn more.

A Festival of the Arts at Princeton University

A Festival of the Arts at Princeton: Opening Weekend
Thursday, October 5 through Sunday, October 8 
An exciting multi-day festival including concerts, plays, readings, dance performances, art exhibitions, multidisciplinary presentations, community workshops and site-specific events planned in celebration of the opening of the new Lewis Center for the Arts complex.  Learn more. 

Logo for Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Tours of the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab
First and third Fridays of the month, through December 15, 2017
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the only national laboratory where scientists are trying to create "a star on Earth." The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory offers free public tours of its research facilities at 10 a.m. on the first and third Friday of the month at 100 Stellarator Rd., Princeton, New Jersey. Participants must pre-register on the tour website.  Learn more.