Five individuals received honorary degrees during the May 31 virtual Commencement ceremony in recognition of their contributions to science, engineering, philanthropy, communications, and financial oversight:
Frances Arnold ’79, the first Princeton alumna to win a Nobel Prize and professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering, and biochemistry at Caltech, has pioneered the practice of “directed evolution,” using mutations in bacteria to explore proteins with applications ranging from renewable fuels to medicine. Arnold’s honorary-degree citation said she approaches her cutting-edge work “with the same creativity of thought that she poured into Russian literature, economic theory, and solar panel design during her undergraduate years at Princeton.”
Ray Chambers, the former chairman of Wesray Capital Corporation, is a philanthropist with deep ties to global health and education. He co-founded Malaria No More, working with the United Nations to eliminate malaria around the world, and America’s Promise Alliance, devoted to increasing the graduation rate in American high schools. He also has been “a staunch friend to his native Newark, N.J., which he has helped revitalize,” according to his degree citation.
Robin Roberts, a longtime ABC television anchor and reporter, has been honored for her professional work on Good Morning America and her tireless efforts to raise awareness for bone marrow donation as a partner of Be The Match, an international registry of donors. Roberts, a survivor of both breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome, “has taught us, as she says, to ‘make your mess your message’ and to find the grace in life’s challenges,” her degree citation said.
William D. Schowalter, Princeton’s 1950 Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, emeritus, helped to shape the chemical engineering department’s research during more than three decades on the faculty. A leading authority on the processing of complex fluids, he left the University in 1989 to become dean of engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign but returned to live in Princeton following his retirement in 2001. Since then, he has been “an international ambassador for higher education,” according to his degree citation.
Linda Tsao Yang, whose career spans finance and government, became the first woman and first person of color to represent the United States on the board of a multilateral financial institution when she was appointed and confirmed as U.S. ambassador and executive director to the Board of the Asian Development Bank in Manila in 1993. From 2001 to 2014, she chaired the Hong Kong-based Asian Corporate Governance Association, a nonprofit that conducts research, education, and advocacy to improve corporate governance practices in Asian capital markets. “With her passion for equal opportunity … [Yang] has widened the path for all who would follow in her footsteps,” according to her degree citation.