JAMES GUNN, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy, received the National Medal of Science during a White House ceremony Oct. 7. Gunn was honored for his contributions to modern stargazing, which include theoretical and observational work as well as instrument design.
Princeton biogeochemist DANIEL SIGMAN has been named a 2009 MacArthur fellow. He will receive a $500,000 “genius” grant over a five-year period in support of his research, which focuses on the large-scale systems that support life on earth over millennia. Sigman’s contributions to his field include the development of methods for tracking current and past flows of elements necessary for life (such as nitrogen and carbon).
Sigman, the Dusenbury Professor of Geological and Geophysical Sciences, said the grant will allow him “to obsess more creatively, to increase the number of stupid things I try, and to spend more time interacting with colleagues and with my own research group on topics other than how tightly to seal a vial.” (For a report on another MacArthur winner, Theodore Zoli ’88, see page 28.)
SUZANNE AGINS ’97, a lecturer in theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts, will direct Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady Nov. 13–14 and 19–21 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. LAURA HANKIN ’10 will play Eliza Doolittle for her theater program senior thesis. Agins has taught “Beginning Studies in Acting: Scene Study” since 2006.
Public-opinion polls can be used to help predict the likelihood of terrorist activity, according to a study by Princeton economist ALAN KRUEGER and Jitka Malecková of Charles University in the Czech Republic. Analyzing public-opinion polls and terrorist activity, they documented that terrorist acts are more likely to occur when people in one country view negatively the leadership and policies of another country. The polls, conducted by Gallup, asked residents of 19 Middle Eastern and Northern African countries how they felt about the performance of leaders in nine designated world powers. The opinions expressed were compared with the number of terrorist attacks by residents of the 19 countries against the nine powers from 2004 to 2008. Krueger is currently on leave from Princeton as assistant secretary for economic policy and chief economist at the Treasury Department.
IN MEMORIAM: Former Princeton trustee Donald Fisher, who co-founded the apparel company Gap Inc., died Sept. 27. He and his family — including sons Bob ’76, Bill ’79, and John ’83 — have been among Princeton’s leading donors, with gifts that include funding for a Whitman College dorm and the home of the economics department. Both are named Fisher Hall. Fisher was an honorary member of the classes of 1950 and 1976.
HEARD ON CAMPUS: “The constructive and peaceful policies we implement in our region are important not just for us, but are important in serving global peace.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo˘gan, in a Sept. 23 policy address at Richardson Auditorium. Erdo˘gan said that by building trust and solidarity, the international community can find solutions to important problems ranging from terrorism to climate change.