Notebook: January 24, 1996
One senior and a recent alumnus won Rhodes scholarships, and three seniors won Marshall scholarships in December. The awardees will study in England next year. Harvard produced the most American Rhodes scholars, seven undergraduates and one from the medical school, and the most Marshall scholars, four. Stanford came in second for Rhodes scholars with three. Like Princeton, MIT and Indiana University had three Marshalls.
The U.S. Department of Education compiled enrollment by race and ethnicity at colleges and universities across the country. Collected in the fall of 1993, this information is the latest data available. The distribution is based on each school's total enrollment, including full-time and part-time students and undergraduate and graduate students.
Silver says the course, which considered the potential of genetic technology and its consequences, often provoked such reactions. "They're freshmen; they have an immediate response to things-like a lot of people do-without thinking them through. But I tried to force them to consider things logically." The students discussed current complex practices like diagnosing genetic diseases (e.g., cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, or sickle-cell anemia) and birth defects in embryos, "wombs for rent," and the selection of children-to-be from embryo pools. They also considered potential genetic technologies: shared genetic motherhood or fatherhood for gay couples; profiling the physical and behavioral characteristics of embryos (predicting attributes such as the shape of the child's nose, intelligence, musical talent, and personality); and genetic manipulation of embryos (enhancing strength and coordination to maximize athletic potential, for example).
Each class began with an introduction to the scientific problems and techniques that underlie genetic technology.
Among other issues the class discussed was determining whether certain choices by parents-to-be constituted child abuse. The students talked about an unusual case in which a husband and wife, both of whom were deaf, wanted to use genetic technology to ensure their child would also be deaf. Most felt making a child deaf was abuse, but one student argued it might bring the child closer to its parents.
With the help of the campus-computer network, arguments about this case and others continued between classes in electronic form. Students were required to react to each week's assigned reading and E-mail their thoughts to every classmate.
The E-mail conference not only made it possible for students to debate issues at length, but it also gave students more confidence. "Some students were shyer about talking in class than others," says Silver. "For instance, one guy didn't say much in class, but his E-mail messages were fantastic." The professor hopes the spirited debates in class and via E-mail taught his students how to consider difficult problems. "I forced them to give answers to moral and ethical questions that have no answers. I wanted them to realize that many, many problems don't have simple answers."
Silver studies how genes affect embryonic development and their relation to reproductive biology and behavior. By examining genes that are common to humans, mice, chickens, flies, and worms, he traces how specific genes evolved over time -"DNA archaeology." Silver also uses mice to identify how specific genes can affect human behavior. He's particularly interested in the genetic components of reproductive and aggressive behavior. (For example, scientists have discovered that damaging a particular gene in mice made males rapists.)
Studying genetic control of development will enable scientists to help parents, doctors, and society determine how to use biotechnology, says Silver. Although the potential for abuse is "very, very great," he thinks the overwhelming majority of parents won't use genetic technology. "When I ask parents, 'Would you want a way to make your child bigger and stronger?' they say no. But I bet that if I found a gene that conveyed resistance to AIDS, people might reconsider. . . . Other than that, I can't think of anything that would make people go through the hassle of in-vitro fertilization. The woman has to have eggs removed, the man has to give sperm . . . it's all done in a laboratory. You're separating sex from reproduction. Most parents who aren't carriers of a genetic disease are probably just going to have children the old-fashioned way."
-Paul Hagar '91
A journalist for 38 years before his retirement from The Washington Post in 1993, Oberdorfer was the newspaper's diplomatic correspondent for 17 years. He also served as the White House correspondent and the Northeast Asia correspondent, based in Tokyo. Oberdorfer brought his expertise to Princeton students when he served as the Ferris Professor of Journalism in 1977, 1982, and 1986.
Oberdorfer is the author of three books, including Princeton University: The First 250 Years (Princeton University, 1995), a history book celebrating the university's 250th anniversary. He is now writing a history on North-South relations in Korea since 1972.
A celebrated scholar and orator, West is a primary voice in the national dialogue on race relations. Through his academic work and public appearances, he exhorts his audiences to think critically about the state of race relations in our society. A former professor of religion at Princeton and an honorary member of the Class of 1976, he believes we must listen to our differences if we are to overcome this "terrifying moment in this experiment we call American Democracy." He speaks to both this nation's most powerful and most disenfranchised citizens to bring them both toward common ground.
Alumni Day weekend marks the official beginning of the 15-month celebration of the 250th anniversary. Opening Ceremonies will be held on February 23, in Alexander Hall, where former President Robert F. Goheen '40 *48 will speak. The weekend will include lectures, on-campus alumni colleges, and a hands-on computer tour of campus.
A scholar of 19th-century French literature, he was a professor of French and comparative literature, emeritus. Sullivan earned his BA (1936) and PhD (1941) at Harvard. He taught at Harvard and Radcliffe, served four years in the Navy during World War II, then came to Princeton as an instuctor in 1946. He served another year in the Navy during the Korean War and spent a year in Paris as a Fulbright research professor at the Sorbonne before being named a full professor at Princeton in 1958. From that year until 1966, he chaired the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures.
As dean of the college from 1966 to 1972, Sullivan played an important role in the introduction of undergraduate coeducation at Princeton in 1969. He chaired the Council of the Humanities from 1974 until his retirement in 1982. Sullivan was an honorary member of the Class of 1936.
E. Dudley H. Johnson '34, a leading authority on life and manners in Victorian England, died of cancer on December 9. He was 84.
Werner E. Schmid, an associate professor of civil engineering and operations research, emeritus, died of prostate cancer on October 23 at his home in Madrid, Spain. He was 68.
Thomas R. Walker, a professor of music, died of cancer on October 22. He was 58. Walker was an expert on 17th-century Italian opera and the music of the early 20th-century Danish composer Carl Nielsen. Appointed professor of music at Princeton in 1989, he served as acting music-department chairman in 1991-92. A 1961 graduate of Harvard, he studied at the University of Copenhagen for a year under a Fulbright scholarship and did his graduate work in music at the University of California, Berkeley.
Awards: Professor of Mathematics Andrew J. Wiles and Robert Langlands, of the Institute for Advanced Study, were named cowinners of the Wolf Prize in mathematics. Two decades ago, Langlands defined a series of conjectures that unified and generalized certain results in number theory. That became the basis for new work that provided the foundation on which Wiles built his 1994 solution to Fermat's Last Theorem. The two mathematicians will share a $100,000 prize, which they will receive at an awards ceremony to be held in March in Jerusalem. Professor of Engineering David P. Billington '50 was selected as the 1995 New Jersey Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The award recognizes "extraordinary dedication to teaching and commitment to students." Assistant Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures André A. Aciman was among 10 writers who received the 1995 Whiting Writers' Awards. He was recognized for his first book, Out of Egypt (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995), which chronicles his childhood in Alexandria, Egypt. The awards are worth $30,000 each.
Physics gift: An $8 million gift honoring aerospace pioneer James S. McDonnell '21 will be used to build a new facility for the teaching of physics located between Jadwin and Fine halls, which house the physics and math departments, respectively (Notebook, December 6). His sons, James S. '58 and John F. '60 *62, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation donated the funds. All three McDonnells studied in the physics department as undergraduates. The building will be named in honor of McDonnell, the founder of McDonnell Aircraft Corp., which later became McDonnell Douglas Corp. The McDonnell family has given more than $18 million in recent years to fund professorships and research.