Alumni Day features family activities, award winners
Presentations of Princeton's top awards for alumni and students, along with lectures and family activities, were among the full day of events held across campus Saturday, Feb. 26, during the University's annual Alumni Day program.
Cellular biologist Elaine Fuchs, a 1977 Princeton graduate alumna who received the top honor for graduate alumni, the James Madison Medal, and federal judge Denny Chin, a 1975 Princeton graduate and this year's recipient of the highest undergraduate alumni honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented morning lectures at Richardson Auditorium of Alexander Hall.
Later Fuchs and Chin were honored at a luncheon in Jadwin Gymnasium with winners of the University's highest honors for undergraduate and graduate students.
Fuchs, who is the Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology at Rockefeller University and a pioneer in the study of skin biology, detailed advances in her field in a lecture titled "Skin Stem Cells: Their Biology and Clinical Promise." An outspoken advocate for and mentor to female scientists, Fuchs also noted that she was one of a few female graduate students in the sciences at Princeton in the early 1970s and that some faculty who initially were not receptive to her eventually became important mentors.
"This is really the place that gave me a chance," she said. "The professors here gave me a chance to demonstrate whether I had what it takes … and what I really find important is that they were willing to change their views based on what they were seeing."
In Chin's lecture, titled "The Life of a Judge: From Megan's Law to Bernie Madoff," he used humor to bring levity to an overview of the many weighty and often emotional, high-profile cases he has overseen in his 17 years as a federal judge. These included examining the constitutionality of the Megan's Law sex offender registry and the 2009 trial of financier Bernard Madoff. Chin, who was born in Hong Kong, also discussed his family's journey to the United States and reflected on his standing as a prominent Asian American judge.
"My appointment was important to many people," he said. "It's hard to imagine that today I am still the only active Asian American federal appellate judge in the country."
In addition to Fuchs and Chin, top student award winners recognized at the Alumni Day luncheon were graduate students Giada Damen, Marcus Hultmark, Noam Lupu and Silviu Pufu, who each won the Porter Ogden Jacobus Fellowship, Princeton's top honor for graduate students; and seniors Alex Rosen and Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux, who shared the Moses Taylor Pyne Honor Prize, the highest general distinction conferred on an undergraduate.
Princeton President Shirley M. Tilghman said in introducing the student award winners, "This year's honorees have impressed us all with their accomplishments and their promise for the future."
In addition, a daylong slate of activities for alumni, parents of current undergraduates and families took place in several campus locations. These included tours of the new Frick Chemistry Laboratory and of the prehistoric "Dinosaurs and More" holdings in Guyot Hall; a panel discussion with the first students who participated in Princeton's pre-enrollment service abroad initiative, the Bridge Year Program; lectures by University faculty on topics such as Greek tragedy, immigration, health and happiness, electronic plastics, and North Korea's nuclear situation; a discussion led by Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye on "Navigating the College Admissions Process"; and a service of remembrance honoring deceased Princeton alumni, students, faculty and staff members.
Videos of Alumni Day lectures will be posted for later viewing on the University's Webmedia site.