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Nobel laureate examines embryonic science

In the preface of his Albert Einstein Memorial Lecture, delivered Jan. 30 at Robertson Hall, Nobel laureate and Princeton molecular biology professor Eric Wieschaus spoke about the everyday joys of laboratory science. “What drives us, often, is not just intellectual curiosity, and it’s not just the great social goals and the good that science can bring,” he said, “[but also] the inherent human pleasure that scientists take in doing things with your hands in the lab.”

Using examples drawn from the hands-on experimental work of his colleagues, Wieschaus examined what scientists have learned in the last two decades about how embryos develop in fruit flies, frogs, and mammals. He also said a “sea change” in embryology is underway, with the field turning its focus to the logic and circuitry that generates patterns in the development of embryos. Future embryologists will need to be fluent in computational biology, he predicted, because these molecular circuits “may be better described in the language of physics and math.”

Wieschaus, a winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Medicine, was the 13th Nobel laureate to deliver the Einstein Lecture. The event is presented annually by the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

On the scene: Brrrr

It may have been 21 degrees outside, but nothing stops the Orange Key tour guides. Sarah Harrison ’09, left, leads a group of hardy visitors Jan. 26 on a brisk walk across campus.

Photo by Frank Wojciechowski
Alumni in the news

Michelle Obama ’85, the wife of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, was profiled in a Jan. 21 Chicago Sun-Times article. The story included quotations from her sociology thesis about Princeton’s black community, in which she wrote, “I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my White professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus, as if I really don’t belong.” … Former Congressman Jim Leach ’64 joined the Woodrow Wilson School faculty Jan. 24, accepting a three-semester appointment. The 15-term Republican from Iowa told the Iowa City Press-Citizen that in addition to teaching, he plans to write and reflect on his career in public service. … Gayle Delaney ’72 was featured in a Newsday article about dreamwork – “a more nuanced, personalized meditation on one’s dreams” – on Jan. 29. … Judson Wallace ’05, a professional basketball player for Germany’s Eisbaren Bremerhaven, scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the victorious North team in the German league all-star game Jan. 29. … The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys added Jason Garrett ’89 to their coaching staff Jan. 25 but declined to designate his job title. The Associated Press reported that Garrett is a candidate to become the Cowboys’ head coach, but if another head coach is hired, he will be the team’s offensive coordinator. Garrett won the Asa S. Bushnell [’21] Cup as the Ivy League’s top football player in 1988 and played in the NFL for 12 seasons, including seven with the Cowboys.
A day to play

Princeton athletes will celebrate National Girls and Women in Sports Day Feb. 3 with a program that includes an interactive sports fair for girls, run by women on the lacrosse, rowing, softball, and soccer teams, and three Ivy League varsity contests. Women’s swimming and diving completes its two-day meet against Harvard and Yale at noon at DeNunzio Pool, women’s hockey hosts Yale at 4 p.m. at Baker Rink, and women’s basketball faces Brown at 7 p.m. at Jadwin Gym.
Sigman ’89 *98 explores ‘breaking and healing’

Choreographer and dancer Jill Sigman ’89 *98’s new show, RUPTURE, will debut in New York City Feb. 8 at 8:30 p.m. at Danspace Project, 131 East 10th Street. The multi-media dance also will be performed Feb. 9 and 10 at 8:30 p.m. and Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. According to Sigman’s Web site,, the show is “set in a charged landscape that includes hundreds of broken eggshells” and it explores “breaking and healing on personal, architectural, and global scales.” Sigman was profiled in PAW in January 2006.
Posted by Brett Tomlinson, Princeton Alumni Weekly