Research

Tuesday, Jul 18, 2017
by Catherine Zandonella for the Office of the Dean for Research
Researchers used computer modeling to show how cells can feel their way through their surroundings, important when, for example, a tumor cell invades a new tissue or organ. This computer simulation depicts collagen fibers that make up the extracellular matrix in which cells live. Local arrangements of these fibers are extremely variable in their flexibility, with some fibers (blue) responding strongly to the cell and others (red) responding hardly at all. The surprising amount of variability in a local area makes it difficult for cells (represented by green arrows) to determine the overall amount of stiffness in a local area, and suggests that cells need to move or change shape to sample more of the surrounding area.
Tuesday, Jul 18, 2017
by The Office of Communications
Peter Grant, the Class of 1877 Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, and professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, emeritus, and B. Rosemary Grant, senior research biologist, emeritus, ecology and evolutionary biology, have been named recipients of the Royal Medal in Biology. The Grants’ legendary explorations of the group of 18 bird species known as Darwin’s finches that populate the Galápagos island of Daphne Major — which is in an entirely natural state unaffected by humans — over four decades have produced an array of dazzling insights into evolutionary theory.
Thursday, Jul 13, 2017
by Kristin Qian
Jo Dunkley, a professor of physics and astrophysical sciences who joined the faculty last year, asks big questions about the universe and the fundamental laws that describe nature. She is also a mentor to women in science. Dunkley, who had her second child this spring, said she feels it is part of her job to “figure out how to have a family, be a mother, and be a professor.”
Wednesday, Jul 12, 2017
by Suleman Din for the Office of Engineering Communications
Finding an alternative vehicle fuel poses a difficult challenge: it has to be relatively cheap and able to reduce carbon emissions without using up valuable crop land or trees from forests. Now, researchers at Princeton’s Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment say one possible solution might be all around us. In a recent paper, the researchers evaluated a method that creates fuel from wood residues, sawdust and branches. The method, called catalytic hydropyrolysis, could use the refining and distribution systems now used for gasoline to create a fuel that would work in modern engines.
Wednesday, Jun 28, 2017
by The Office of Communications
Princeton University neuroscientist Sabine Kastner comes prepared for a meeting with her youngest collaborators, packing a model of the human brain, a collection of preserved animal brains and a video demonstrating a single neuron in action. Those collaborators — fifth-graders at Riverside School in Princeton, shown in the video above — are prepared, too, with questions, ideas and enthusiasm.
Tuesday, Jun 27, 2017
by Julie Halsey, Princeton Entrepreneurship Council
Last month, the Princeton Entrepreneurship Council (PEC), in partnership with Princeton University Press, held a TigerTalks in the City on “Breakthrough Books,” featuring four Princeton faculty members discussing their most recent books, all published by PUP, in New York City. The quarterly series is designed to bring Princeton research to New York. The faculty participating in the evening’s panel discussion are all Princeton University Press authors: Sir Angus Deaton, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Professor of International Affairs, Emeritus; Nancy Malkiel, professor of history, emeritus; Dalton Conley, the Henry Putnam University Professor in Sociology; and Alexander Todorov, professor of psychology.
Thursday, Jun 15, 2017
by Julian Zelizer & Sam Wang
One of the ongoing challenges in American politics is appealing to younger demographics - not simply through elections and voter turn-out but engaging young people with the political process. Today’s young people - and even some adults – find politics difficult to digest and unappealing, presenting challenges in the ways that Americans learn, interpret and analyze politics. Gabe Fleisher, a 15-year-old student in St. Louis, is looking to change that with his newsletter “Wake Up to Politics,” which is sent to 36,000 readers every morning. Our youngest guest to date, Fleshier discusses his newsletter and how to make politics appealing in this episode of Politics & Polls.
Thursday, Jun 15, 2017
by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Environmental Institute
The premise of "The Environmental Nexus,” a class which debuted in the spring semester at Princeton, is that the undergraduates of today will be left to deal with the future effects of the global environmental crisis, particularly climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and food and water shortages. These calamities are expected to peak around 2050 when the first-year students of 2017 are around 50 years old. Because every facet of the students’ lives will be touched by the environmental crisis, the unique structure of “Environmental Nexus” approaches the topic from distinct perspectives represented by the four Princeton faculty who co-teach the course.
Thursday, Jun 15, 2017
by B. Rose Kelly, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Sir Angus Deaton testified June 8 before the U.S. Senate’s Joint Economic Committee on the economic aspects of the opioid epidemic. In his testimony, Deaton provided an overview of the study he published in 2015 with Anne Case, which was the first to detect a rise in all-cause mortality driven by deaths from drugs, alcohol and suicide among middle-aged Americans, especially those without a college degree. These “deaths of despair” — defined as suicides, deaths from alcoholic liver disease and deaths from illegal and legal drug overdoses — cannot be explained by the Great Recession or current unemployment rates, Deaton told committee members. Instead, the deaths are a response to prolonged economic conditions, social dysfunction and a loss of meaning in the interconnected worlds of work and family.
Thursday, Jun 8, 2017
by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research
Rising seas are making flooding more common in coastal areas around the country. Now, a new collaborative study by researchers at Princeton and Rutgers universities finds that sea-level rise will boost the occurrence of moderate rather than severe flooding in some regions of the United States, while in other areas the reverse is true. The study found that along the southeastern coast, where severe flooding due to hurricanes is relatively frequent, cities such as Charleston, South Carolina, will see a disproportionate increase in moderate flooding. However, areas that have little history of severe flooding, such as Seattle, are likely to experience a greater uptick in the number of severe, or even historically unprecedented, floods. The study, published June 7 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, looked at how climate-driven sea-level rise is likely to amplify coastal flooding — which already costs municipalities along the East and Gulf coasts $27 billion annually — over the next 50 to 100 years.

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