Jeanette Beebe is a
poet & independent journalist.
She covers public health, medicine, neuroscience, tech, & the politics & policy that propel health care.
Her reporting often follows under-served populations — especially seniors and their caregivers, women, and the LGBTQ community — as they work, see the doctor, make time for family, pay bills, and vote.
Jeanette reports health and science stories for The Daily Beast, and she has reported for NPR's Philadelphia affiliate (WHYY) for over two years (first as a Newsroom Intern). Her radio stories air on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and NewsWorks Tonight, with web stories on WHYY.org.
She's got two sidelines: as an in-person recordist (BBC, Gimlet Media, NPR's investigative desk, WBUR) and as a fact-checker-for-hire.
Her Scientific American story on the world's first pizza chef robot was called "creepier than lice and spiders" by The New York Post. Her reporting has also appeared in the Philadelphia Business Journal, The Tab, and the Princeton Alumni Weekly.
Born and raised in Iowa, Jeanette has lived in New Jersey for over a decade. Based in Princeton, halfway between New York and Philadelphia, Jeanette is a long-time commuter, and travels light.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. April 12, 2018.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. April 12, 2018.
HOST: Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul spoke at Princeton University yesterday. For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports he tried to put President Trump's Russian tweets into context.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Before he began his talk, Former Ambassador McFaul addressed President Trump's tweets threatening Russia with a missile strike into Syria. The president said Russia shouldn't be -quote- "partners with a Gas Killing Animal," referring to the apparent poison gas attack in Douma on Saturday. Trump also tweeted that relations between the U.S. and Russia are worse now than they were during the Cold War. McFaul was blunt.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. December 25, 2017.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. December 25, 2017.
HOST: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a bill that requires insurers to pay for a six-month supply of birth control. For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Longer prescriptions means fewer trips to the doctor and the pharmacy. That means patients are less likely to run out before the next refill. says Dr. Donald Cannon of OGBYN Care of Southern New Jersey, in Camden County.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | November 23, 2017.
HOST: The New Jersey Department of Health it targeting five million dollars for substance abuse programs that serve pregnant women addicted to opioids. For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Robins Nest, a community health agency in Glassboro, Gloucester County was awarded over $635,000 for its new sober living program, “A Place to Call Home.” Melissa Fox, their COO, envisions it helping a woman who is …
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | October 5, 2017.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | October 5, 2017.
HOST: On Thursday, the New Jersey Senate's oversight committee will hold a hearing on the state's Board of Nursing. Some lawmakers and advocates say it’s improperly funded and under-staffed to the point of "crisis." For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Keith Hovey says the New Jersey Board of Nursing is broken. He's an attorney who represents nurses who face disciplinary charges, from fraud to negligence. The problem, he says, is the Board is backed up with so many cases that it can take months or even years to get a hearing.
2 CUT-SCRIPTS (read during newscasts) | September 15, 2017.
On Friday night, friends, family, and colleagues of Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang lit candles and called on the government of Iran to release him.
The cavernous courtyard on the Princeton University campus was filled with reflection and silence.
Wang was sentenced to ten years in prison by authorities in Tehran for espionage. In July, he lost his appeal.
While on a research trip for his Princeton dissertation, he was arrested and convicted of what the State Department has called "fabricated national-security related charges."
His wife, Hua Qu, was the first to speak.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | August 23, 2017.
HOST: A hidden camera program designed to catch elder abuse in New Jersey is reaching new territory. The state Attorney General's "Safe Care Cam" program was launched last fall, and originally loaned cameras to families who've hired live-in caretakers. Now, the state says the cameras can be used in nursing homes. For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: When Rich Allegretti's mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia in her '60s, he knew he needed to get help.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | August 20, 2017.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | August 20, 2017.
HOST: This week, thousands of people across Mercer County, New Jersey found a lead level advisory in their mailbox. Trenton Water Works was required by law to warn its customers of a recent water test. Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: The Trenton Water Works test found dangerously high lead levels in more than 10 percent of the homes it sampled. Hamilton Township Health Officer Jeff Plunkett says the utility didn't tell anyone in his office about the advisory. Not even the Mayor.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | May 2, 2017.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | May 2, 2017.
HOST: President Trump recently tapped New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to lead a new federal commission on combatting addiction, with a focus on the opioid crisis. Today, he spoke about these issues at the New Jersey Hospital Association's annual summit. For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Governor Christie cited last year's overdose numbers. More than 50,000 overall and more than 30-thousand from opioids. He says that rivals the HIV/AIDS epidemic at its height as well as car crashes and gun deaths combined. Christie says despite a lot of candid talk, those fighting addition still feel stigma.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | April 27, 2017.
WEB STORY: Read on Newsworks.org. | April 27, 2017.
HOST: The FDA has announced a nationwide recall for Phenobarbital, a drug prescribed to young children and pets to treat epilepsy. The company, Truxton Incorporated, is based in Bellmawr, South Jersey. For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: The nationwide recall is for 15 milligram bottles of Phenobarbital. One batch was filled with pills that were twice as strong. Paul Devine owns Truxton, Inc. The family-owned company is a distributor, not a manufacturer. He says he doesn't know yet how many bottles had the stronger pills.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | April 24, 2017.
HOST: Veterans and military service members in South Jersey have another option for getting healthcare when the V-A system is too slow. For WHYY, Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: It’s called HeroCare Connect. Even after the V-A offered options to see private doctors, some vets still struggle to get timely appointments. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says it’s time for veterans to feel in control of their own healthcare, to be in charge.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | March 10, 2017.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | March 10, 2017.
HOST: The charismatic leader of a social justice movement that’s gained national attention addressed a packed crowd in Trenton, New Jersey last night. At Shiloh Baptist Church, Reverend William Barber urged for his ‘Moral Mondays’ movement to spread to New Jersey. WHYY’s Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: From the stage, Reverend Barber said he came to Trenton as a pastor to preach social justice. At Shiloh Baptist, which calls itself the ‘Church of the Open Door’, the Barber's voice boomed out into the street. He called for a new wave of action as powerful as the Civil Rights Movement.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | Feb. 09, 2017.
HOST: Amazon plans to hire 100,000 people in the next year and a half, with 2,500 new hires in New Jersey. These are not minimum-wage jobs, but WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports the pace of work can be very demanding.
JEANETTE BEEBE: As a business, shipping is like real estate: location is everything. That's why Amazon has 8 fulfillment centers in Pennsylvania, and 7 in New Jersey: to deliver to your door as quickly as possible. But John Carr, a spokesman for the Machinists Union, says the fast, "free" shipping from Amazon comes at a cost.
WEB STORY: Read on Newsworks.org. | Oct. 14, 2016.
HOST: A major traveling art exhibit has opened at the D&R Greenway Land Trust in Princeton. James Fiorentino debuted 25 new wildlife paintings, with proceeds benefitting the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.
WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports Fiorentino has a second specialty.
JEANETTE BEEBE: James Fiorentino is best known for his portraits of sports stars. At 15, he became the youngest artist to be featured in the National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum for his rendering of Yankees right fielder Reggie Jackson. He says there's a lot more stress painting a famous ballplayer than the natural subjects on display in this show.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | May 23, 2016.
HOST: It took nearly four years and tens of millions of dollars, but the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory celebrated a milestone in its research on fusion energy. WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz just toured the upgraded research facility.
JEANETTE BEEBE: What if we could build our own star? The Princeton Plasma Physics Lab's National Spherical Torus Experiment — NSTX-U — is a man-made star. Like the sun, it's powered by fusion. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz dedicated NSTX-U after a $94 M upgrade. He said to counter-act climate change, we must research new, clean energy sources.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | May 1, 2016.
HOST: Back in its heyday, Trenton, New Jersey was famous for manufacturing wire, pottery and sinks, among other things. But you probably didn't know it also made cars in the early 20th century. WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Trenton makes, the world drives. In the start-up days of the car industry, one company got to market first: the Mercer Automobile Company.
It was founded by two industrial families, the Roeblings and the Kusers.
Finley Porter was Mercer’s chief engineer. In 1910, he designed the Mercer Raceabout. His innovation lit the spark plug that exploded the car industry.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | March 25, 2016.
HOST: For 15 years, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory has been gathering students for its Young Women's Conference in STEM — that stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. We sent WHYY's Jeanette Beebe to the event — where, she says, she saw science "up close."
JEANETTE BEEBE: It was a loud, busy day. The Princeton Plasma Physics Lab packed the conference with science booths and STEM groups.
Nearly 600 seventh- to tenth-grade girls lit bubbles on fire, dug into evidence with the F.B.I., and watched super-fast cameras in action. They also met female scientists, potential mentors.
Matawan Aberdeen Middle School science teacher Patricia Hillier brought ten girls. She remembers feeling "different" for loving science when she was a student.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | February 12, 2016.
HOST: Today, poet and translator Idra Novey will celebrate the debut of her first novel, Ways to Disappear, at a book launch in New York City.
Novey, who teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University, is building connections between poetry, fiction and translation. WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Idra Novey's Ways to Disappear is about Beatriz Yagoda, a Brazilian author, who just — vanishes. Emma is her American translator. She vows to find Beatriz, and sets off on an adventure.
WEB STORY: Read on Newsworks.org. | January 15, 2016.
HOST: As the final season of Downton Abbey plays out on WHYY TV, PBS is rolling out another period drama, Mercy Street. It's set in a Civil War hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, and it premieres this weekend. WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports the show's creator — a Princeton graduate — is a stickler for medical accuracy.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Mercy Street is bloody. It's a hospital drama — where the patients are soldiers, and the doctors are inventing modern medicine. Sometimes the wounds need wrapping; sometimes the limbs must be amputated.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | January 09, 2016.
HOST: Today, the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory will launch its annual "Science on Saturday" lecture series.
The first lecture of the series is called "Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe." WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: The lecture series is named for Ronald Hatcher, a beloved engineer and educator from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
HOST: Rising heroin use has public health officials in New Jersey worried for a new reason. A recent study shows it’s leading to more Hepatitis C cases. WHYY’s Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: Call it collateral damage. This study from the inpatient facility Princeton House says 44 percent of new patients tested positive for Hepatitis C. And almost two-thirds were younger than 35.
Dr. Neal Schofield, Chairman of Psychiatry at Princeton House says while his facility’s patients are older, they often start using heroin in early teens.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | December 9, 2015.
HOST: Last week, doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital canceled a kidney transplant surgery under unusual circumstances. The donor, Glenn Calderbank, was diagnosed with liver disease on the operating table. WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports the case was also part of a growing trend: organ donations born online, not through traditional channels.
JEANETTE BEEBE: This transplant began on Craigslist. After waiting a year for a kidney, Nina Saria posted an ad asking for an organ. Glenn Calderbank clicked on it. Joel Newman, of the United Network for Organ Sharing, says families going the traditional route often wait four to seven years for a donor.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | November 26, 2015.
WEB STORY: Read on Newsworks.org. | November 26, 2015.
HOST: The holiday shopping season used to kick into high gear on Black Friday.
To jumpstart sales, more and more stores are opening up shop on Thanksgiving Day. But as WHYY's Jeanette Beebe reports, not everyone is planning to pound on shopping mall doors.
JEANETTE BEEBE: In October, an employee at the Deptford Mall in South Jersey created a petition on Change.org, demanding the mall to stay shut on Thanksgiving Day.
Why? So even people who work retail get to spend time with family. It didn't work. The mall will open at 6 P.M.
In contrast, R.E.I., the outdoor gear and apparel chain, will be closed not only for Thanksgiving — but for Black Friday, too.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | November 22, 2015.
HOST: Today (Sunday) in Princeton, New Jersey, LGBT activists will hold a state-wide vigil of remembrance to honor transgender men and women killed in the past year.
From Princeton, WHYY’s Jeanette Beebe reports.
JEANETTE BEEBE: This afternoon’s service in the Princeton University Chapel will, as usual, be solemn. It might take longer, since there are more names to read.
Mara Keisling, founder of the National Center for Transgender Equality, says it’s difficult to accurately count the lives lost to anti-transgender violence. However, she says the number is definitely growing.
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | November 19, 2015.
In the 1960s, Gloria Steinem was on the front lines of the second-wave feminist movement.
Last week, she brought her credo — a simple belief in the equality of men and women in all areas of life, and on social, economic, and political levels — to bear on eating disorders.
Steinem, who delivered the keynote address at the Renfrew Foundation's 25th Anniversary Conference, said many women struggle with eating disorders because they feel social pressure to be "perfect."
AUDIO STORY: Listen on Soundcloud. | November 11, 2015.
HOST: Yesterday was the first open enrollment day for Healthcare.gov, the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. This year, the Obama administration is giving an extra incentive to boost enrollment for 20 cities nationwide — including Philadelphia. For WHYY News, Jeanette Beebe has this report.
JEANETTE BEEBE: It’s called the “Healthy Communities Challenge,” and the prize is a visit by President Obama. To win, Philadelphia needs to sign up the most people for health care in the Marketplace by the end of the open enrollment period. That’s January 31.
Philadelphia currently has a 12% uninsured rate. Julia Cusick, the Pennsylvania Communications Director for the advocacy group Enroll America, says the goal, of course, is 0%.
CUT-SCRIPT #1 (read during newscasts) | November 4, 2015.
Philadelphia Mayor Nutter spoke at City Hall today about the attention his administration has given to boys and men of color. His loudest and most enthusiastic guests sat several rows deep, in matching black and gold jackets. They chanted and cheered for PowerCorps P-H-L, a jobs training program. With a glimmer of emotion, the Mayor addressed the young men directly.
“I can’t do anything about what happened yesterday. But we can all do something about what’s going to happen tomorrow. And a part of that is steppin’ up — which you are — and it’s our duty and responsibility to open that pathway up and give you an opportunity to come into city government or some other job with a salary with benefits with a paycheck every two weeks so that you’re not doin’ something else. All right?”
There’s more work to be done in the fight for racial and social equity, Mayor Nutter said. He added that the city’s in good hands — but Mayor Elect Kenney must step up, too.
CUT-SCRIPT #2 (read during newscasts) | November 6, 2015.
Philadelphia Mayor Nutter spoke at City Hall on Wednesday. Now near the end of his term, he spoke about the fight to combat racial inequity and to improve the lives of young men of color. He called out several successful city initiatives, including My Brother’s Keeper Philadelphia.
But there’s still much more work to do, said Mayor Nutter. He had some advice for his successor, Mayor Elect Kenny.
“And I would expect that he will be a great champion for this program, for PowerCorps Philadelphia, for young people moving their lives along. Because he understands that if we don’t do these things, he will not be able to make the kind of progress, he will not be able to fulfill many of the items of his own agenda without supporting this population.”
My Brother’s Keeper Philadelphia is holding a two-day summit this December. Mayor Nutter says that Mayor Elect Kenny is on the guest list.
WEB STORY: Read on WHYY.org. | October 30, 2015.
CUT-SCRIPT (read during newscasts). | October 30, 2015.
Halloween is a time when bats get a bit more attention than usual.
Bat researchers are excited about promising work to combat White Nose Syndrome. 98 percent of cave-hibernating bats have died from the deadly fungal disease. In Missouri, a research team has successfully treated 75 bats infected with White-Nose Syndrome, and then released them into the wild.
Travis Lau, spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, says that this research is encouraging news, but won't change things overnight.
"So when you're talking about these huge, devastating losses - even if White Nose were to go away tomorrow, it would take decades and decades to restore that population to the levels it was pre-White Nose."
Lau says the goal is to prevent extinction and heal sick bats. In addition, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has developed an ultraviolet light that can quickly diagnose damaged spots on a bat's wing, out in the field.
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | April 5, 2018.
Try to recall a conversation without hearing it in your head. It’s difficult, because sound impacts our memory formation. That’s why we forget the milk at the store, and leave without the one thing we came for: we heard the instructions, but we didn’t really listen.
This cognitive capacity to keep sounds in mind for a short period of time was the focus of a paper published in Neuron by a team at McGill University’s Brain Imaging Centre. The studytested the efficacy of a non-invasive brain therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS. Using a hand-held device placed against the scalp, the researchers positioned the targeted, oscillating pulses (at 5 Hz) into the brain in order to stimulate nerve cells. (The pulses are reportedly not painful.)
The group found some surprising results. TMS seemed to directly improve the working memory of 17 participants in a recall task. Participants were asked to recognize a melody when the order of notes played back was reversed. After TMS treatment, they were able to remember the series of sounds quicker, and more accurately.
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | February 5, 2018.
Imagine sitting next to a bored stranger fidgeting with a pen. The room is silent, except for that pen. Quiet amplifies—it makes everything sound louder. Yet for people who suffer from misophonia, every tap of that pen is louder than a chisel removing tile. The man on the train breathes with more force than a motorcycle. And that co-worker chews gum as if she were a cow in front of a microphone.
Misophonia—an emotional, decreased tolerance to sound—can make some situations feel uncomfortable, or even unbearable: anger, disgust, anxiety, avoidance. But the first trial for the condition, published recently in the Journal of Affective Disorders, claims to have found an effective treatment: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
“Despite the high burden of this condition, to date there is no evidence-based treatment available,” first author Arjan Schröder wrote in the abstract. Schröder and a team of Dutch researchers treated 90 patients with CBT for eight group sessions, every other week, and found that CBT was effective for half of the patients. What’s more, patients who had more severe symptoms were more likely to respond to treatment.
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | January 16, 2018.
If you say that you’re allergic to penicillin—a narrow-spectrum antibiotic that, for many bacterial infections, is still considered to be a “wonder drug”—your doctor won’t prescribe it. Once you write it on those forms in the waiting room, or tell your pharmacist, “penicillin allergy” becomes part of your permanent medical record.
Yet a growing body of evidence suggests that most people who say they’re allergic to penicillin are, well, wrong. In a recent study published in Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology, nearly 90 percent of patients who had “penicillin allergy” listed on their medical charts were found to actually have no such allergy at all.
“There’s this problem—what you could consider an epidemic—of people labeled with unverified penicillin allergy. It’s the number one drug allergy that’s listed in patients’ records,” Dr. Dave Khan, a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and co-author of the study, told The Daily Beast. Over 1 in 10—up to 15 percent—of Americans has a reported penicillin allergy. That’s more than the number of adults in the U.S. who have hay fever (7.8 percent), and the number of children under age three who have food allergies (8.0 percent).
The Daily Beast. | Web Story. | December 24, 2017.
Shortly after five o’clock on a Sunday evening in February 2013, a severe EF4 tornado ripped through Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Winds whirling up to 170 mph tore through town, warping what seemed solid and upending the community. A church’s steeple was ripped off, along with roof after roof on main street. A vehicle parked near the baseball stadium was taken up by the twister and spit out near the pitching mound in the middle of the field, according to the storm report.
“I remember thinking, 'I can see my grandma’s house,'” he recalled. “'But an ambulance can’t get out there!'”
That his grandmother was remote and isolated from emergency help ignited worry within Subbarao, an osteopathic physician specializing in emergency care.
So he began tinkering with a solution: an aerial ambulance that could fly above the chaos on the ground, with live-saving medical supplies in tow.
Princeton EQuad News. | Web Story. | October 25, 2017.
Yi Wang believes in building from the ground up — and across great distances.
A computer scientist turned education app entrepreneur, Wang is, at heart, a connector: he learns the inside of a network, and makes it stronger. As a graduate student in computer science at Princeton, he found solutions to route information faster and more efficiently through the Internet. As a product manager at Google, he worked to improve the infrastructure of ‘the cloud.’ And he holds a patent for virtual router migration.
Wang’s new venture, an artificial intelligence-based English language learning app called Liulishuo, is built on this principle of connection. Available in the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store, Liulishuo has over 50 million registered users, making it one of the most popular language learning apps in China.
“We have built the world’s largest speech corpus of Chinese people speaking English,” said Wang, who earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Princeton in 2009, during a recent visit to Princeton from Shanghai, where he’s now based. “On top of this valuable data set, we were able to build the world’s most advanced speech assessment engine for English language learners.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | September 18, 2017.
Hundreds of candles were lit as more than 100 colleagues, family, and friends gathered in East Pyne courtyard Sept. 15 for a vigil to support a Princeton graduate student imprisoned in Iran.
Xiyue Wang, a fifth-year graduate student in history, is serving a 10-year prison term after his conviction on two counts of espionage. He was arrested by Iranian authorities in the summer of 2016 as he was completing archival research in Tehran for his dissertation on Eurasian history and has been in custody since then. The University has said that the charges against Wang are “completely false.”
Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, told of how she has dealt with the circumstances, day by day. “During the ups and downs of the past year, my hopes for Xi’s release have been shattered time and time again. Every time I think about him, I have stopped imagining how he spends his days, and how long the next 10 years may mean to my family,” she said. “My husband’s health is deteriorating fast.”
Wang, 36, is a naturalized American citizen who was born in Beijing. Qu, an attorney who works in Manhattan, and their 4-year-old son are Chinese citizens.
Princeton EQuad News. | Web Story. | September 11, 2017.
Turbulence jostles a rough flight, mixes rivulets in a stream, billows smoke into mysterious swirls. Though ubiquitous in nature and technology, these chaotic movements of fluids have defied thorough scientific description for centuries.
The late Sin-I Cheng, a long-time professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, studied turbulence with a patient passion. As a researcher who specialized in fluid dynamics, Cheng was fueled by this phenomenon of disruption. He brought clarity and rigor to the irregular and chaotic, always working and re-working toward a deeper understanding.
His first focus was instability of flight. As the United States entered the space race in the 1950s, Cheng pioneered the math that gave engineers the assurance that the burning of fuel would propel – not explode – a rocket. But his lifelong quest was much broader: to find an analytical theory of turbulence, to understand and predict it.
“Everything in life is some form of chaos presenting itself to us,” said Irene T. Cheng, one of Cheng’s four children. “In his quiet way, he always believed in that, and he would look at all facets of life through that lens, seeking order where there was none apparent.”
Cheng recently made a gift to name a professorship in engineering in honor of her father, who was a faculty member at Princeton for over four decades. He died of cancer in 2011, at the age of 89.
Pizza has a proud history of fueling late-night lab work, and scientists in Naples—an Italian city famous for its slice—have easy access to some of the world's tastiest take-out. But what inspires engineer Bruno Siciliano is not just that first bite so much as how the dish is made.
“Preparing a pizza involves an extraordinary level of agility and dexterity,” says Siciliano, who directs a robotics research group at the University of Naples Federico II. Stretching a deformable object like a lump of dough requires a precise and gentle touch. It is one of the few things humans can handle, but robots cannot—yet.
Siciliano's team has been developing a robot nimble enough to whip up a pizza pie, from kneading dough to stretching it out, adding ingredients and sliding it into the oven. RoDyMan (short for Robotic Dynamic Manipulation) is a five-year project supported by a €2.5-million grant from the European Research Council.
The Tab. | Web Story. | February 14, 2017.
Being a woman in science isn’t easy. In most situations, you have to deal with everything that comes with being the only woman in the room. In Hidden Figures, a new film based on the true story of NASA’s female “computers”, Taraji P. Henson depicts this perfectly as legendary mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, who was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2016 for her contributions to the space program.
Katherine G. Johnson’s calculations got us to the moon — but for many women studying and working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), race and gender can be a strong tether. Everyone brings their own assumptions to work. What’s difficult on the daily can be a range of unequal treatment, access, and bias, from micro-aggressions to sexual harassment.
This week, on February 11, the UN Headquarters in NYC hosted the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, with actions to reduce gender bias and increase opportunities, funding, and social support for women who study, research, and work in STEM.
Keystone Crossroads. | Web Story. | February 9, 2017.
Amazon plans to hire 100,000 workers in the next year and a half, with 2,500 of them in New Jersey.
While they are not minimum-wage jobs, the pace of work can be very demanding.
As a business, shipping is like real estate: Location is everything. That's why Amazon has eight fulfillment centers in Pennsylvania, seven in New Jersey, and two in Delaware to deliver to your door as quickly as possible. But John Carr, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the "free" shipping from Amazon comes at a cost.
"Their performance standards are very, very high. When you meet one, they tend to ... raise that speed and standard of how many orders you can pick and pull and pack in a certain amount of time. And Amazon tracks that," Carr said. "I think a lot of these workers get hurt because of the pace that they have to maintain to meet the goals set by Amazon."
Machinists were behind at least one failed drive to unionize the warehouses. Company spokeswoman Lauren Lynch said Amazon gives warehouse workers the exact same benefits as other employees, including health insurance, retirement plans, paid parental leave, and company stock.
The stone monuments of Italy's Certosa di Bologna cemetery have stood for more than two centuries as symbols of peace and eternity. But even stone does not last forever. So Enrico Sassoni, a visiting postdoctoral research associate in Princeton's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is working to protect the marble monuments and even make them stronger.
"In spite of being apparently very durable, marble is actually sensitive to several deterioration processes," Sassoni said. "Environmental temperature variations cause the opening of cracks inside marble, and rain causes dissolution of the carved surface."
With the help of an international team, the Princeton researchers have developed a low-cost and nontoxic treatment that might someday help art preservation and conservation specialists.
How? By applying a thin film of a calcium compound commonly found in bones and teeth. This calcium compound, called hydroxyapatite, is formed by the reaction of a water-based phosphate salt solution and calcite, the mineral that makes up marble. The solution seeps into and binds cracks in the marble's surface.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | September 28, 2016.
Nancy Rappaport ’82 has devoted her entire career to medicine. A child psychiatrist and associate professor at Harvard Medical School, she’s worked in the Cambridge, Mass., public school system for over two decades. Rappaport says her specialty is “angry teenagers” — and something about her hearty laugh says she doesn’t usually have trouble keeping up.
In August 2015, she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. With three children of her own — one currently in med school — the longtime runner (13 Boston Marathons and counting) says she was stopped in her tracks.
“That transition — going from a doctor to a patient — has really opened me up,” she says. “For me, it was early-stage breast cancer. For other people, it could be a mild heart attack, or a major depression. Those things are relatively common for doctors to manage, but still, it can feel like earth-shattering news.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | August 24, 2016.
Izzy Kasdin ’14 is a proud local. She knows the rhythms of the town and University: how the campus fills and empties each year, marked by a calendar of beginnings, breaks, Reunions, and departures. She grew up in Princeton.
At 14, Kasdin began volunteering as a docent with the Princeton Historical Society, a non-profit committed to sharing its own sense of the “local.” In January, the organization named Kasdin as its new executive director.
“It was a complete shock,” Kasdin remembers. She says although she didn’t formally apply to the position, her return to Princeton “makes perfect sense.”
It was the Historical Society, after all, that first introduced her to the field of museum curation and preservation. As a teen, her first task was to greet visitors at the door. Then, in 2008, the Historical Society organized an exhibition about political participation and activism. At the closing of the exhibit, Kasdin remembers taking the time to carefully pack up a women’s suffrage banner.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | July 27, 2016.
Fifteen blocks. That’s how far Puerto Rican spoken word poet Ian Martinez ’01 walks every Wednesday, blasting his pump-up playlist through his headphones.
For Martinez, it’s not just a walk through Seattle. It’s a step away from his “white-collar job” at Microsoft, and a step towards the microphone on the intense-yet-intimate stage at Jai Thai on Broadway, home of the Rain City Poetry Slam.
Though he considers himself to be a “real newcomer and rookie,” Martinez is the current Grand Champion of the Rain City Poetry Slam. He earned that title by winning the Rain City slam’s finals in April, which attracted 250 people.
“Spoken word is a unique art form because it combines storytelling, traditional verse, and wordplay,” Martinez says. “Your energy has to match the room’s, and then take it up a notch. If you deliver, and the room gives you back the love you put into the poem, that’s the greatest feeling an artist can have.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | July 6, 2016.
Glenn H. Shepard Jr. ’87 has a lush and noisy backyard: Toucans squawk, parrots chatter, monkeys howl. He lives in the middle of the jungle. Settled in Belém, at the mouth of the Amazon, Shepard works as a full-time researcher and ethnology curator at the Goeldi Museum in Belém do Pará, Brazil.
Some might say Shepard lives in paradise. Yet as an ethnobotanist — a researcher interested in how cultures use plants, especially as medicine — Shepard’s work focuses on illness, pain, and stress. Every culture, he says, has found ways to heal.
Shepard is a medical anthropologist who has dedicated himself to the Matsigenka, an indigenous people who live in Manú National Park, an isolated natural wonder deep within the Peruvian rain forest. This June, Shepard’s work was featured in National Geographic: “This Park in Peru Is Nature ‘in Its Full Glory’—With Hunters,” by Emma Harris.
The Princeton Hidden Minority Council presented green graduation cords to 33 seniors during a ceremony May 15 for first-generation and low-income students. About 55 people attended the event in the Carl A. Fields Center. Speakers included council co-founders Brittney Watkins ’16 and Dallas Nan ’16 and management consultant Jeremy White ’96, who gave the keynote address.
About 600 people attended the Pan-African Graduation May 29 in Richardson Auditorium. Tennille Haynes, director of the Fields Center, said the event recognized students’ “hardships and their struggles. With sit-ins and protests, our students have been creative in finding ways to be heard.” Seniors Aisha Oxley and Kujegi Camara performed a spoken-word poem about learning to stand up for their identities as students of color.
The final scene of Stephanie Leotsakos ’16’s chamber opera, OMG, opens with a World War II veteran clasping an amulet to his heart, weeping about the memory of his mother, Anna. His daughter, Anna Francesca, walks into the room, distracted by her cellphone. Her Snapchats and emojis are projected onto the screen behind the stage; for a moment, the only music is the sound of screen swipes and texting. Then Anna looks up — and she sees her father crying. “OMG,” she sings, and drops her phone.
OMG, Leotsakos’ senior-thesis opera, premiered April 23 in Taplin Auditorium. The 51-minute production featured eight singers and 10 musicians. The story opens in A.D. 550 near the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy; over six scenes, it moves toward the present day.
“OMG is by far the most complex thing I have ever created,” said Leotsakos, who learned the violin at 3, the piano at 4, and the viola at 9. She started composing two years ago.
Philadelphia Business Journal. Web Story. May 23, 2016.
The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) just celebrated a milestone in its research on fusion energy. After nearly four years of round-the-clock work by 250 people, the PPPL completed a $94 million upgrade to its flagship fusion facility, the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX-U).
Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz donned a white hard hat to tour the NSTX-U's test cell facility and the 85-ton machine at the center.
The NSTX-U is a fusion energy experiment contained in a spherical tokamak reactor. This design is an apple-core shape that requires less energy than traditional tokamaks, which are bulkier (and often more expensive to operate).
Like the sun, the NSTX-U is powered by fusion.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | May 11, 2016.
War, a new play directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz ’06 and written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins ’06, premiered May 21 in New York at Lincoln Center’s Claire Tow Theater. It’s a story about family battles: Siblings Tate (Chris Myers) and Joanne’s (Rachel Nicks) relationship turns combative when their mother (Charlayne Woodard) has a stroke, and an inheritance is in limbo.
As director and playwright, Blain-Cruz and Jacobs-Jenkins are creative siblings, so to speak: They have supported one another for nearly a decade.
“Branden and I met as classmates,” says Blain-Cruz, a Yale M.F.A. grad who directed War’s world premiere at the Yale Repertory Theater last year. “We’ve each seen almost everything the other has done. And this play — a huge play about family and history — felt like the right piece for us to work on together.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | April 20, 2016.
This spring, Diana Weymar ’91, a textile artist and curator based in Victoria, British Columbia, returned to Princeton. A mother of four, she left the view from her studio desk — a Blue Heron nest, grazing deer, a salty waft settling in, blocks from the ocean — to be the Anne Reeves Artist-in-Residence at the Arts Council of Princeton.
Weymar’s collaborative sewing project, “Interwoven Stories,” seeks to stich the Princeton community together.
“This project asks participants to stitch a page — and some are spending months on it — to then contribute to the community,” Weymar says. This spring, she led sewing workshops and handed out nearly 230 blank “pages” at the Princeton Public Library.
“So often we make something of importance or value to us and then keep or sell it,” she continues. “It’s a risk for some, and second nature to others. Each person has a different reaction to the blank fabric page.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | March 30, 2016.
“Read me, it called then. It still does,” writes Lauret Savoy ’81 in her new memoir, Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape, a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award and nominee for a Pushcart Prize.
This is how Savoy, a professor of environmental studies and geology at Mount Holyoke College, describes the beloved map she’s carried for years — a large, “creased, taped, and re-taped” roll she’s unfurled on every cross-country trip since Princeton, “since that day in college when Professor Judson handed out copies to his geomorphology class.”
Savoy’s map, as she recalls in Trace’s fifth chapter, “What’s in a Name,” is a hand-drawn and inked copy by “master cartographer-artist” Erwin Raisz. It’s also something she “reads” — which suggests that Savoy sees her map as something more than the shaded, textured terrain of “physiographic landforms”; her map, like Trace, is a text.
The Tab. | Web Story. | February 28, 2016.
Barefaced and Beautiful — what a concept. On Monday, in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (#NEDAwareness), the Renfrew Center Foundation is asking women to go “make-up free” for a day — something that might seem like no big deal. But there’s a small catch. The Renfrew Center, which is based in Philadelphia and has treated more than 65,000 women with eating disorders in its 30-year history, is asking women to take one more step: to post a make-up free, “untouched” selfie, and to share it with the world, using the the hashtag #barefacedbeauty.
According to this campaign, girls who decide to go with this “no-makeup look” are making a big statement. But is this a radical idea, really? And is this a new thing?
If this barefaced and beautiful idea sounds familiar, it’s because — well, it kind of is. This is the fifth year of Renfrew’s annual Barefaced and Beautiful campaign. Even former Princeton Prof. Melissa Harris-Perry posted her own selfie sans make-up on MSNBC, in a piece titled “The Naked Truth About Body Image.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | February 24, 2016.
The pair met at Theatre Intime and the Princeton Triangle Club in the fall of 2003.
“Triangle is a pre-professional kind of experience,” said Fornarola before a Thursday night performance of Straight in New York. “It’s as close to what it’s like to do a show here as I imagine most people could have in college.
“You’ve got a creative team. You’ve got investors that you present a show to, and they give you feedback. You’ve got audiences to think about. It’s a big budget show on a big stage. The chance to do that twice a year is second to none.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | January 27, 2016.
Nushelle de Silva ’11 grew up in Sri Lanka. In 1983, before she was born, the country erupted in what would be a 25-year civil war.
“My parents, who were fairly young at the time, saw the horrific violence that erupted on the streets,” she says. Then, she pauses. “I don’t want to provide details that run the risk of flattening what was a very complex conflict.”
Sri Lanka is a country that de Silva’s parents left and returned to — despite the civil war. After a stint in Sydney, Australia, where Nushelle was born, the family moved to Colombo, the southwestern capital, when she was 7.
In 2004, during a ceasefire, de Silva’s K-12 all-girls’ school visited a sister school in Jaffna, the country’s northernmost city. “It had a huge impact on me as a young girl,” she remembers.
Michael Lemonick has marked many seasons in Princeton. He was born and raised here. He’s watched the winter turn to spring year after year. And when he talks about the weather, it’s not small talk.
For three decades, Lemonick has been one of the nation’s eminent science writers, notably for Time Magazine, for which he wrote more than 50 cover stories. In November, he became the opinion editor at Scientific American. And in between, he spent seven years as the senior science writer at Climate Central, the Palmer Square-based nonprofit, nonpartisan research and media organization that employs climate scientists, researchers, fellows, and journalists.
Lemonick knows it’s been a warmer winter. But, he says, that doesn’t mean we should assume this year’s milder temperatures are due to climate change — especially since last year’s winter was quite cold.
“The fact that it’s warmer this year than last year? No. That has nothing to do with climate change,” he says. “The fact that, on average, it’s warmer in every state in the winter than it was in 1900, and that it’s been steadily rising? Yes, that has everything to do with climate change.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | December 16, 2015.
On Dec. 7, in front of a full-house audience of star-struck undergraduates and artsy locals, David Zabel ’88 spoke from a stage that supported the early days of his career — literally. It was at 185 Nassau, the longtime home of the arts at Princeton, that he spent hours and hours at late-night rehearsals and intensive writing workshops.
Once he discovered the theater at Princeton, Zabel said, his other interests (history, for example) quietly faded away. It snapped his future into focus.
“I was interested in a bunch of different things,” he said. “It was just theater that embraced me — earliest and most fully.”
Zabel is now an award-winning television writer, producer, and director. He wrote more than 45 episodes of ER, the medical series on NBC. He was the showrunner of ER for the program’s final five years, and he was also the showrunner and executive producer of Detroit 1-8-7 and Betrayal (both on ABC).
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | November 18, 2015.
Outside Daniel Velasco ’13’s classroom window at the 21st Century Charter School in Gary, Ind., stands an abandoned building with boarded up windows. But the view doesn’t bother Velasco — his focus is on his students, not his surroundings.
“I absolutely love all of my students, even those that make me want to pull my hair out,” Velasco said with a chuckle. “The greatest lesson I have learned from them is patience.”
This is Velasco’s third year at the charter school. During his first two, he taught full time as a Teach for America fellow. Velasco taught AP United States history, AP world history, economics, government, and world history. He has also tried to build relationships with his students, and to connect with them as a mentor.
“When I teach my kids, stay after school with them, and host tutoring sessions during breaks, I think about the teachers that did that for me,” he said.
On a windy night in September, Tracy K. Smith — cloaked in an elegant gray frock that was wrapped in a mysteriously tidy way, as if by magic — was the picture of a professor. A sea of eager undergraduates set their phones to “silent” and tucked their pea coats, book bags and pumpkin spice lattes under their seats. Alone in the front row, Smith sat quietly, listened intently. And then, as if lit by a lamp from within, she warmed up, smiled and walked to the podium.
Smith, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, memoirist, and professor of creative writing at Princeton University, had been invited to be the keynote speaker for the Princeton University Women’s Mentorship Program’s annual kick-off event. Under the gothic chandeliers of Mathey College’s Common Room, Smith unfolded her notes and began.
“In my first years as a teacher,” Smith said from the podium, “I wanted to feel solidarity with my students. So, I completed the assignments I gave them. I wrote what they wrote.”
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | October 28, 2015.
In September, John Oakes ’83, a veteran book publisher based in New York, returned to the Princeton campus for “Careers Beyond Wall Street,” a panel sponsored by Princeton Progressives. He described a shrinking industry that is, well, still stuck in the Stone Age.
“I think going into book publishing — certainly the traditional side of it — is tantamount to apprenticing yourself to a potter. Or a stone carver,” he said.
Book publishing is “quaint, time-consuming, frustrating, and occasionally thrilling,” he said — and it’s in the midst of a massive transformation.
As the co-publisher at OR Books, an independent press that sells e-books and paperback books direct to readers, and prints on demand, Oakes is shaping that transformation, one book at a time. In the coming year, Oakes also plans to re-launch The Evergreen Review, a groundbreaking literary magazine, with Editor-in-Chief Dale Peck.
Web: September 16, 2015. Print: October 21, 2015.
Meru, a Sundance Audience Award-winning white-knuckler of a documentary, follows three elite mountain climbers on their quest to conquer the 21,000-foot summit of Mount Meru, the most technically difficult peak in the Himalayas. It’s a death-defying expedition into sub-zero temperatures that involves extraordinary risks.
But the mission that climbers Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk, and Jimmy Chin share is not only physically grueling; it’s emotional. Meru tests their friendship, and their relationships with their families back home.
No one knows this better than Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi ’00, who co-directed and co-produced the film with Chin. The directors fell in love through the making of Meru, and they married in 2013. Now, they split their time between the Upper East Side of New York City and the big blue skies of Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | September 30, 2015.
Allegra “Lovejoy” Wiprud ’14 gets emotional when she recalls her first land stewardship trip at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, an 18,000-acre land preservation and conservation nonprofit. It was an invasive species removal job in Hopewell, N.J. That day, the dangerous plant that her team tracked down, cut back, and destroyed — the climbing growth that covered, choked, and threatened to kill a tree — was English ivy (Hedera helix).
Perched on a picnic table outside the Johnson Education Center, a historic barn overlooking Greenway Meadows, Wiprud mimes how she removed the ivy, grabbing the vine with her hands as if it were a snake coiled around her neck. By clearing the ivy away, she says, “We can give the tree its life back.”
Ivy might look quintessentially Princeton, but as Wiprud is learning, the non-native plant climbs and grows so fast that it smothers other plants and starves trees of sunlight.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | August 26, 2015.
Patrick Ryan ’68 doesn’t do “art speak.” But he does know how to command the stage at an auction, rattling off antiques and art at break-neck speed to the highest bidder. Last Saturday, at the historic Benjamin Temple house and dairy farm in Ewing, N.J., where he was born and raised, Ryan auctioned off more than 80 items in 2 1/2 hours under a blazing hot sun — all for charity, to support the Ewing Township Historic Preservation Society.
Ryan has led a life of talking fast and moving faster. A long-time art collector and gallery owner, Ryan is just as comfortable in overalls and work boots as in seersucker shorts and a polo shirt.
He reckons he somehow “inherited the Irish gypsy gene,” a drive that rattled against the quiet rituals of his father’s 166-acre dairy farm: rising at 4:30 a.m. to milk 50 cows, twice per day. “The cows don’t care if it’s Christmas,” he remembers.
Princeton Alumni Weekly. | Web Story. | August 12, 2015.
Gavin Black ’79 has devoted his entire adult life to studying, performing, teaching, and recording 17th- and 18th-century keyboard music. But he knows that studying Baroque music on antique instruments isn’t an easy sell.
“The harpsichord is not remotely as popular as the piano,” he laughs from a bench at the Princeton Early Keyboard Center, the non-profit music studio he founded in 2001. It offers harpsichord, clavichord, and organ lessons for students, composers, and group classes.
Black discovered the organ and harpsichord at age 14, after a stint taking piano lessons left him curious about Baroque music.
As a freshman at Princeton, he would practice the organ alone in the vast and empty University Chapel, lit only by moonlight, courtesy of a special access key.
Megan Connor is a budding film buff. She's headed to the New York Film Academy this fall, and she's also a member of the nonprofit Princeton Garden Theatre on Nassau Street. She believes in movies. Even older ones. But she’s not convinced that the classics have any bite left — even Jaws.
“Jaws isn’t going to be scarier on the big screen — it’s like 40 years old!” Connor, 18, rolled her eyes with a playful smirk in the lobby of the Garden Theatre on June 25. As a Millennial, Connor was raised on easy, 24/7 access to small screen entertainment. At the Garden Theatre, she's learning to love old movies — but with a filter of ironic nostalgia, because "classic" is cool, and "vintage" is hip.
Planet Princeton. | Web Story. | July 23, 2015.
“It’s a popular venue. You just gotta sing clearly for the grandmas in the back.”
In the balcony of the Nederlander Theater on 208 W. 41st St. in New York City, after a Saturday preview matinée, Michael Dean Morgan talks easily over the clatter of mic checks, an active orchestra pit, and a tour below. Even the noise of a yodeling voice warming up backstage doesn’t faze him.
Jeanette holds an A.B. in English from Princeton, where she was lucky enough to write a book-length poetry thesis advised by Tracy K. Smith. Her poem "How A Mirror Is Made" was nominated for the 2018 Best New Poets anthology, and her poem "A Color a Man Can't Be—Or, How to Cover Up" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poem "Given Up" was a semi-finalist for the Crab Creek Review's Poetry Prize. Her poems have also appeared in Heavy Feather Review, Matador Review, Nat Brut, Rogue Agent, Tinderbox Poetry Review, and elsewhere, and are forthcoming in Avatar Review, Construction, Dialogist, and Fjords Review.
Jeanette got her start in journalism as a staff writer for the culture section of the Daily Princetonian, where she interviewed voting machine researchers a decade before they sounded the alarm that made international headlines.
Her reporting has taken her to the launch of the world's most powerful spherical tokamak fusion reactor, to tracking white-nose syndrome's impact on bats in Pennsylvania caves. She's reported on an uptick in Hepatitis C cases among heroin users in New Jersey, and on a rising trend of kidney transplants begun on Craigslist. She's profiled an environmentalist turned memoirist, a cancer survivor and psychiatrist turned playwright, and a medical anthropologist in the Amazon.
Through reporting assignments, training, and seminars — including the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association's Student Project in Washington, D.C. — Jeanette has developed a beat reporting on issues relevant to the LGBTQ community, with stories on same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, gender identity-based workplace discrimination, and the Transgender Day of Remembrance. She reported a radio story for WHYY on eating disorders featuring Gloria Steinem, and filed stories on body-positive selfies and young women physicists for The Tab.