Celebrated mathematician WILLIAM P. THURSTON, a Princeton faculty member from 1974 to 1991, died of cancer Aug. 21 in Rochester, N.Y. He was 65 and had been a member of the mathematics faculty at Cornell since 2003. Thurston, whose expertise was in geometry and topology, received the Fields Medal in 1982 for his work on manifolds, a generalization of surfaces. Known among his colleagues for his ability to visualize complex shapes and problems, Thurston may be best known for his Geometrization conjecture, in which he postulated that all possible three-dimensional spaces are made up of eight types of geometric pieces.
RICHARD BURGI, professor emeritus of Slavic languages and literatures, died July 26 in Athens at the age of 90. Burgi joined the faculty in 1962 and retired in 1992. He specialized in Russian and played a significant role in establishing modern Greek studies at the University. Richard Garner, honors-college dean at Adelphi University, said Burgi’s linguistic ability was “phenomenal. Greeks thought he was Greek, Russians thought he was Russian. His French, Italian, and German were impeccable.”
LELAND C. ALLEN, professor emeritus of chemistry who made lasting contributions to the field of theoretical and quantum chemistry, died of Alzheimer’s disease July 15 in Princeton. He was 85. Allen served on the faculty from 1960 to 2001, producing more than 400 scientific publications. He perhaps is best known for developing a uniform method for estimating the electronegativity (which he described as “the third dimension of the periodic table”) for chemical elements using universally available data. Allen was passionate about scientific progress, the value of education, and equal rights for women.
Former geology professor HEINRICH D. HOLLAND ’47, a pioneer in research on Earth’s geochemistry with a special focus on geochemical and biogeochemical cycles, died May 21 in Wynnewood, Pa. He was 84. Holland escaped from Nazi Germany, earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Princeton, and while serving in the U.S. Army worked on postwar classified projects with Wernher von Braun. After 22 years on the Princeton faculty, Holland joined the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University in 1972. Retiring from Harvard in 2006, Holland became a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.
GEORGE A. MILLER, professor of psychology emeritus and a pioneer in the study of language and cognition, died July 22 in Plainsboro, N.J. He was 92. Miller’s 1951 book, Language and Communication, helped establish the field of psycholinguistics, and his later work influenced the cognitive revolution in psychology. He joined the faculty in 1979, and with philosophy professor Gilbert Harman established the Cognitive Science Laboratory. Miller was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1991.
FRANCES FRANKEL, a longtime administrator for Princeton Hillel and the Center for Jewish Life, died July 16 in Princeton. She was 85. She assisted many students during their University years and stayed in touch with them as alumni. “Many generations of students are in her debt,” said Rabbi Edward Feld, former Hillel director.