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May 30, 2000

Five Receive Honorary Degree at Princeton University Commencement

Princeton, N.J. -- Princeton University President Harold Shapiro today awarded honorary degrees to five individuals who have made major contributions in science, education and technology. The degree recipients are: Val Logsdon Fitch, a Nobel Prize winner in physics; Mae Jemison, a former astronaut who now teaches environmental studies at Dartmouth College; Wendy Kopp, founder and president of Teach For America; Mary F. Lyon, a geneticist; and Gordon E. Moore, the co-founder of Intel Corporation.

Val Logsdon Fitch, Doctor of Science

Val Fitch, Princeton's James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Physics, studies high-energy particle physics. With James Cronin, he was awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in physics for the experimental discovery of "charge parity" violation in the decay of the elementary particles called K mesons. The discovery offered manifold consequences for our understanding of the physical world. The most dramatic of these concerns the origin of the universe: We now believe that a net positive amount of matter, the stuff of which the stars and ourselves are made, is created in the Big Bang only because of CP violation. Val Fitch's legacy to the field of physics encompasses also the gifted teachers and researchers who are his former students; his contributions to the nation include his term on the President's Science Advisory Council and his presidency of the American Physical Society.

McGill University (B.Eng., 1948); Columbia University (Ph.D., 1954)

Raised on a ranch, where he recalls spending most of his time fixing things, he turned his talents to the laboratory, where he has spent his career fitting the apparatus of high-energy physics to the fleeting behavior of the K-meson and other subatomic particles. His experiments have caught the momentary violation of symmetry by which matter gains an edge over antimatter and time acquires a direction. Persuaded that the world holds surprises even for the most brilliant theorists and that "the delights and challenges of discoveries will continue always," he has provided inspiration to colleagues and guidance to students in exploring the frontiers of observation.

Mae C. Jemison, Doctor of Humanities

Mae Jemison practiced medicine as a volunteer in a Cambodian refugee camp and as a medical officer with the Peace Corps in West Africa. In 1987, NASA selected her for astronaut training; five years later she was a mission specialist aboard the space shuttle Endeavor, becoming the first African-American woman to enter space. Jemison resigned from NASA to found the Jemison Group, Inc., which seeks to foster sustainable development in developing nations. Among other projects, the Jemison Group is using satellite-based telecommunication systems to improve healthcare in Africa. Jemison also founded The Earth We Share, an international science camp for students 12 to16. She is a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College ,where she directs the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries.

Stanford University (B.S., 1977); Cornell University (M.D., 1981)

The space shuttle Endeavor once allowed her to defy gravity and the barriers of color and gender in space exploration; her personal endeavor now is to conquer down-to-earth challenges, especially in the developing world. To educate youngsters in science; to provide sustainable energy sources and better health care; to extend the benefits of technology while respecting both the physical and the cultural environments of countries throughout the world &emdash; all these fall within the orbit of her enterprise. She remains a pioneer, for whom the sky is no limit.

Wendy Kopp, Doctor of Humanities

Wendy Kopp is the founder and President of Teach For America, a national corps of recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public primary and secondary schools. The idea took shape in Ms. Kopp's Princeton University senior thesis in 1989. Following graduation that year she started the corps with a seed grant and the help of several other recent college graduates. Since 1989, 5,000 members have taught in thirteen locations nationwide, from South Central Los Angeles to the Mississippi Delta to the South Bronx. Ms. Kopp was the first woman to receive the Woodrow Wilson Award, which Princeton gives each year to an undergraduate alumnus or alumna whose career embodies the call to duty in Wilson's famous speech, "Princeton in the Nation's service." In addition, she is the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service.

A.B., 1989 (Princeton University)

Her Princeton senior thesis tapped the latent social conscience of her generation and proposed the creation of a national corps of academically talented recent college graduates who would commit at least two years of their lives to teaching "in the nation's service." Turning vision into action, in the year immediately following her graduation she raised the resources to test her thesis and placed her first 500 teachers in schools with large populations of disadvantaged students. Today, ten years later, her experiment has become an important American institution, with 1,300 corps members reaching 100,000 students in 13 locations throughout the country. As they teach for America, they lead us closer to her goal of quality and equality in education for all.

Mary F. Lyon, Doctor of Science

A British geneticist, from 1962 to 1986 Mary Lyon headed the Medical Research Council Radiobiological Unit in Harwell, England, where she still continues her research. Her work in mouse genetics has contributed to our understanding of human genetic inheritance. In particular, her discovery of X-chromosome inactivation, the process by which one of the two X chromosomes in females becomes inactive early in the development of the embryo, led to increased understanding of the nature of diseases that result from mutations in genes on the X chromosome. She has been responsible for advances in the field of environmental mutagenesis and devised new ways of assessing risks from chemical mutagens. Among her awards and honors are the Royal Medal of the Royal Society and the Wolf Prize in Medicine.

Cambridge University (B.A., 1946; Ph.D., 1950)

Her discovery of X-chromosome inactivation in mammals and her meticulous investigation into its mechanism and medical implications afforded crucial insight into the processes and evolution of sexual differentiation and made "Lyonization" a model system for the study of how cells read their genetic code. Through her deep understanding of the mechanisms of mutation, she has provided leadership both in identifying and measuring the environmental factors that trigger genetic defects and cancers and in establishing policies to protect us from them. Insisting on the scientific kinship of mouse and man, "the two genetically best understood mammals," she built the infrastructure that will culminate in the determination of the genome sequence of the mouse.

Gordon E. Moore, Doctor of Laws

Gordon E. Moore co-founded Intel in 1968 to develop and produce large-scale integrated products beginning with semiconductor memories. He has served as president and chief executive officer, 1975-79; chairman and chief executive officer, 1979-87; and chairman emeritus since 1997. Under his leadership, Intel developed the first microprocessor and the Pentium chip. Moore is widely known for "Moore's Law." He predicted in 1965 that the number of microscopic transistors that could be etched onto the surface of a given piece of silicon wafer would double approximately every 18 months and that their cost would fall. He has received several awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), along with the Founders Award from the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Medal of Technology. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the IEEE, and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology.

University of California, Berkeley (B.S., 1950); California Institute of Technology (Ph.D., 1954)

He pioneered the integration of large numbers of transistors into a single circuit and charted the course for the explosive growth of the microcomputer industry. Recognizing in 1965 the rapid and steady rate at which the capacity of circuits was doubling, he decreed the law that has provided reliable milestones of computing power for developers of the hardware and software that have packed the world into the computer and placed the computer in the home. His entrepreneurial spirit and relentless drive for quality have made it possible for modern alchemists to turn silicon sand into virtual memory, putting the world first on our desk top, then in our lap, and now in the palm of our hand.