Princeton Weekly Bulletin   December 17, 2007, Vol. 97, No. 12   prev   next   current



Ignacio Rodríguez-Iturbe, the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has been named a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

The academy, while under the direct protection of the Pope, is an autonomous body comprised of 82 scientists from around the world. Previous and current academy members include many Nobel Prize winners.

The academy’s mandate is to serve as a source of objective scientific information for the Vatican and the international scientific community. Members are neither selected because of nor influenced by national, political or religious factors.

The purpose of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is to promote the progress of the mathematical, physical, and natural sciences, and the study of related epistemological questions and issues.

A native of Venezuela, Rodríguez-Iturbe is one of the world’s leading authorities on hydrology and is considered one of the fathers of ecohydrology, a field that integrates the hydrological and ecological sciences. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering as well as a number of other academies throughout the world.

Before joining the Princeton faculty in 1999, Rodríguez-Iturbe taught at Zulia, MIT, Universidad Simón Bolívar and Texas A&M.

Pope Benedict XVI will formally receive Rodriguez-Iturbe into the academy in a Solemn Pontifical Audience in October 2008.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation has named Boaz Barak, an assistant professor of computer science at Princeton, one of 20 new recipients of Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering. Each Packard Fellow receives an unrestricted research grant of $625,000 over five years.

Barak will use the grant to study cryptography, focusing on developing protocols with proven guarantees of security properties such as confidentiality and integrity.

Before beginning his teaching position at Princeton in 2005, Barak was a postdoctoral researcher for Avi Wigderson in the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study.

The Packard awards go to “unusually creative researchers” who are in the first three years of their faculty careers. The awards are designed to allow researchers to pursue scientific discovery unhindered by funding restrictions.

João Biehl, associate professor of anthropology, has won the 2007 Margaret Mead Award, one of the most prestigious honors for anthropological books.

Biehl’s book, “Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment,” was published in 2005 by the University of California Press, and this is its sixth major award.

The honor, jointly awarded by the American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology, goes to a young scholar whose work interprets anthropological data and principles in a manner accessible to the public and brings anthropology to bear on vital social and cultural issues.

“Vita” tells the story of a young Brazilian woman living at Vita, an asylum for the sick, mentally ill and poor. Due to a misdiagnosed neurodegenerative disorder, Catarina becomes paralyzed, is considered insane and is abandoned by her family. Biehl studies the circumstances of Catarina’s illness to uncover the forces — economic, medical, political, familial — by which Vita and other poorly funded, ungoverned institutions of last resort have proliferated in Brazil.

  • PWB new logo
  • The Bulletin is published weekly during the academic year, except during University breaks and exam weeks, by the Office of Communications. Second class postage paid at Princeton. Postmaster: Send address changes to Princeton Weekly Bulletin, Office of Communications, Princeton University, 22 Chambers St., Suite 201, Princeton, NJ 08542. Permission is given to adapt, reprint or excerpt material from the Bulletin for use in other media.
  • Subscriptions. The Bulletin is distributed free to faculty, staff and students. Others may subscribe to the Bulletin for $30 for the 2007-08 academic year ($18 for current Princeton parents and people over 65). Send a check to Office of Communications, Princeton University, 22 Chambers St., Suite 201, Princeton, NJ 08542.
  • Deadlines. In general, the copy deadline for each issue is the Friday 10 days in advance of the Monday cover date. The deadline for the Bulletin that covers Jan. 14-Feb. 3 is Friday, Jan. 4. A complete publication schedule is available at pr/ pwb/ deadlines.html; or by calling (609) 258-3601.
  • Managing editor: Eric Quiñones
  • Assistant editor: Jennifer Greenstein Altmann
  • Calendar editor: Shani Hilton
  • Contributing writers: Chad Boutin, Karin Dienst, Ushma Patel, Teresa Riordan, Ruth Stevens, Isabel Wilkinson
  • Photographer: Denise Applewhite, John Jameson
  • Design: Maggie Westergaard
  • Web edition: Mahlon Lovett
  • Subscription manager: Elizabeth Patten
  • PU shield