Yes, those were University faculty members you saw in a pair of recent advertisements that played up the image of a brainy Princeton professor.
Mathematics professor Maria Chudnovsky *03 (above, left), a MacArthur “genius award” recipient, was featured in a TV commercial for TurboTax. Called in to help a woman who wonders if she can deduct her student-loan interest on her tax return, the professor (identified by name and as a “super-smart mathematician”) takes the woman’s smartphone and asks the TurboTax app for the answer. The app replies, “In her case, yes; the amount goes right here.” Chudnovsky repeats the advice to the woman, then smiles as the tagline comes up: “It doesn’t take a genius to do your taxes.”
Asked about campus reaction to the ad, Chudnovsky said that “people are a bit surprised and mildly amused.” She was invited to audition for a movie, “but they found someone who can act instead,” she said.
For a Pizza Hut promotion in conjunction with Pi Day (March 14), mathematics professor emeritus John H. Conway wrote three math problems “varying in level of difficulty from high school to Ph.D. level.” Winners were promised enough gift cards for 3.14 years of pizza.
Conway was quoted as being “eager to challenge America with these problems and find the next great pizza-loving mathematician that can solve them.” Pizza Hut reported that Conway’s toughest challenge (http://bit.ly/ConwayPiDay) stumped all entrants, however.