W. Jason Morgan *64, a geophysicist whose theory of plate tectonics was among the field’s revolutionary developments, died July 31 at age 87. Perched at a drafting table in 1967, Morgan applied spherical trigonometry to explain the movements of ocean floors and continents, according to a 2017 Quanta magazine story, and supplanted the earlier theory of continental drift. Geosciences colleague Anthony Dahlen called his work on plate tectonics “one of the major milestones of U.S. science in the 20th century” in a Princeton Weekly Bulletin article published in 2003, the year Morgan received the National Medal of Science. A faculty member from 1966 to 2004, Morgan made several lasting contributions, including research on mantle plume, which influences the formation of some volcanoes.
Harry G. Frankfurt, a professor of moral philosophy who published a bestselling book late in his career, died July 16 at age 94. Frankfurt taught at Princeton for more than two decades, focusing on topics such as metaphysics and epistemology. He had transferred to emeritus status before his provocatively titled essay On Bullshit — written 20 years earlier — was repackaged as an 80-page volume by the Princeton University Press. A surprise hit, it topped The New York Times nonfiction bestsellers list in 2005 and has sold more than 700,000 copies worldwide. Frankfurt told Editor & Publisher that the essay was sparked by a lack of respect toward truth that posed “a real threat to fundamental values of civilization.” His follow-ups included On Truth and On Inequality.
Vivian B. Shapiro, the wife of former University president Harold T. Shapiro *64 and namesake of the Frist Campus Center’s Café Vivian, died May 29, according to a family obituary. She was 85. Shapiro, a researcher of child development and mental health, was an associate professor at the University of Michigan before her husband’s appointment as Princeton president. She received her Ph.D. in social work from Smith College in 1994 and co-authored a book about adoption and clinical psychology in 2001.